Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Category: Musings (Page 1 of 41)

Random Thoughts

A couple of things caught my eye this morning as I was drinking my first cup of coffee and scanning headlines and social media. The first is that I am really, REALLY glad I don’t have to be on I-30 this morning in Arlington. Traffic is never fun during rush hour but this morning it is much worse than usual. Several hours ago, police began a slow speed chase in Hunt County of an RV. According to reports, the driver allegedly shot a woman who managed to escape and call for help. However, there were children onboard so the cops had to act carefully to make sure nothing happened to them. Long story short, the RV caught fire in Arlington. Fortunately for the kids, the man did go to the back where they were and let them out. Then, according to latest reports, he shot himself. Tragic events that could have been much worse. Over the next few days or weeks, I’m sure we will learn more about what started this terrible chain of events but, no matter what, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved and most especially to the kids.

I’ve kept quiet, for the most part, about what happened in Manchester. For one, I wanted more information before commenting. However, as it becomes more certain the bomber was an Islamic extremist, I have a couple of things to say. First, we can’t condemn every follower of Islam for what this man — and I use that term loosely — did. As with any religion, there are fanatics. Islam has more than its fair share but to paint them all with the same brush would be just as wrong as painting every Christian with the same brush as Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps.

Second, we can no longer sit back and rely on memes and hashtags and “I stand with …” to fight back against those like the bomber. It is time to cut the head off the snake, salt the ground, saturate it with pig’ blood and end the matter. ISIL and organizations like is hide behind the Koran, knowing the West will bend because they are simply following their “religion”. Nope. They are not religious warriors. They are terrorists and the sooner we deal with them as such, the better. We are at war and, whether we want to admit it or not, war is not civilized. We can’t expect the enemy to play by any rules, much less ones we try to impose on them. It is time we adapt and overcome. If not, we will continue to see soft targets being hit and, next time, it might just be on U.S. soil.

On a lighter note, it’s 40 years ago that Star Wars opened. Some of us remember when there were no prequels — hiss, burn them!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who purchased or downloaded through KU, Battle Wounds. I have a favor to ask as well as a question. The favor is simple. If you’ve read Battle Wounds, or any of my other work, would you take a few minutes and go to Amazon to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long. The thing is, reviews help not only entice other readers but Amazon has a threshold number of reviews you have to reach before it starts listing your title in the “other customers bought” section.

Now the question. It takes time to write novels — duh. I’m averaging one every 3 – 4 months. There are a lot of variables. Sometimes is isn’t quite as long and other times it is a bit longer. So, would you like to see more short stories, not only in the Honor and Duty series but my other series as well, in between? This wouldn’t impact release times for the novels. Let me know.

I guess it’s time to get to work. Nocturnal Rebellion is coming along. It looks to be on target to come out next month. Target date is June 20th, give or take a day or three.

Call them what?

I’ve come to expect all sorts of things that have me scratching my head when I scan the morning headlines. Like many of you, when I get up each morning, I take time to check various media sites, both traditional and non-traditional, look at social media and let the brain start working. Almost every morning, at least one story strikes me in such a way that I wonder what sort of world we are going to leave our children and grandchildren. No, this isn’t another post about the bombing in Manchester.

This is a post about an example of going too far to make sure we don’t label someone. Fresh from the state of Washington, we have an internal memo from Acting Department of Corrections Secretary Dick Morgan renaming those incarcerated in the prison system there as “students”.

Yes, you read that right, people like Gary Ridgway, the infamous Green River Killer, are now “students” according to the DOC. Why? According to Morgan, “The term ‘offender’ does have a negative connotation and significantly impacts a broad group of people and communities.”

Wait, “offender” has negative connotations that impact a broad group of people because someone has been convicted of a felony. So, to avoid that negative connotation, you are going to call those convicted “students”. What about all those students enrolled in pre-k – college you are now lumping in under the same label as the convicted felons? Are we going to have to find a new name for them so they won’t be negatively impacted as a result of this idiocy?

Yes, it’s a stupid question but so is the ruling. Morgan is worried about communities being tied with a crime or criminal and the negative impact that has on the area or on families. Well, who is it hat propagates this connection? The media. In most cases, it is the media that gives a suspected serial a name, ie the Green River Killer. It is the media that focuses on the family and community instead of on the victims.

But it is soooo much easier to take the stigma away from the ones who were actually convicted of the crime. While Morgan might have nothing but good intentions with this idiotic memo, it is ill-conceived and will do nothing to deal with what he perceives as being a problem. What you call the criminal won’t matter as long as the media continues its circus-style coverage.

But it is all about the feels.

For once, I’d like someone to consider how their actions will impact others. Morgan wants to call those in the state penal system students to keep their families and communities from suffering ill-effects by being called “offender-communities” or “offender-families” (terms I’ve never heard used). Say the new DOC agrees and leaves this order in place when he or she takes office. Somewhere down the road, someone is going to walk into an interview, be it for a job or volunteer position or college admission interview. They sit down and across the desk from them sits someone who is looking at their resume/application.

“Mr. Jones, I see you were a student before you applied here. Tell me, were you a student in the state education system, home school or in our glorious penal system?”

Mr. Jones sits there, wondering whether the interviewer is joking or has lost his mind because he doesn’t know convicted felons were called “students” instead of prisoners or offenders or anything else. “Ummm, state education system.”

“Excellent. Did you attend x-district or y-penal institution?”

You get my drift. It’s silly and stupid and more than a little sad. Why not just call them what they are? Convicted felons. As for the impact on their families or communities, that’s on the media and, let’s be honest, on the felons themselves. Calling them “students” or “zebras” or anything else isn’t going to change that.

So, Mr. Morgan, apply a bandage to your bleeding heart and focus on real issues within the DOC instead of idiotic things like this.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough to make you wonder what the hell is going on in the state of Washington, a story from two days ago recounts how Seattle police are no longer allowed to refer to alleged criminals as suspects but must refer to them as community members.

A few thoughts.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a storyteller. I made up stories when I was young to entertain myself and, later, my friends. Once I learned how to write, I started putting my stories on paper. Somewhere, I have an old spiral notebook with what would now be called fanfic (I didn’t know the term back then) that I showed my 7th grade English teacher. I’ve kept it all these years because she was the first to actually see my creative writing. That was important all on it own. Making it more so is the fact she encouraged me to keep writing.

Now that I write as my profession, I face the same challenge every other writer and want-to-be writer faces — how to get my work out in front of the public. There is no one right way to do so. What works for one person might not work for the next. It is also hard work and something we have to dedicate time to doing. Because self-promotion isn’t something that comes easy to a lot of us, the temptation to take shortcuts is very real. Some authors, and even some publishers, succumb to it. They might get away with it for awhile but they are eventually caught.

Authors have had their accounts closed at Amazon and other e-stores for buying reviews or for creating sock puppet accounts and posting reviews of their own work. It is clearly written out in the rules, and easily found if you search the FAQs at Author Central that an author can’t review his own work. I’ve seen reports of Amazon not allowing friends and family post reviews — those reports have not been substantiated, at least not that I’ve seen but it is something to think about. Amazon has even initiated a rule, iirc, where paid reviews have to be noted as such.

Why has Amazon taken this stance? I can’t speak for them but my guess is it is two-fold. The first is that there is a very definite ethical issue with an author posting reviews for his own work. The second is probably more important to Amazon. It comes down to the bottom line. False reviews, be their bought or straw man reviews, impact the number of books sold and the last thing Amazon wants to do is deal with returns when the customer realizes they’ve been had.

So, when I see authors wanting to review their own work (and, at last count, I’d seen approximately half a dozen contemplating it in the last six weeks or so), my radar goes off. If you are so worried about your ranking that you are contemplating reviewing your own work to get said ranking up, you need to step back and consider why readers aren’t liking your book — or why they aren’t leaving reviews. It’s hard, I know, to look at your baby and admit it might be ugly. But it is necessary sometimes.

Facebook groups and mailing lists are another sore point for a lot of people. Authors, usually indies and that pains me to say it, all too often add people to their groups or pages or mailing lists without asking permission. Don’t. Just don’t. When folks find out they’ve been added without permission you risk not only having them leaving the group but blocking you. That means they won’t see your announcements about upcoming projects or sales. It might also mean they tell their friends what happened, leading to more bad PR for you. The same goes with mailing lists.

This morning, I woke to a couple of emails from the same author but from two different mailing lists. Both had the same message. I posted a generic message on Facebook about how I didn’t want to be added to groups or pages or lists without being asked and that if you have a mailing list, make sure you aren’t sending out multiple copies of the same message to people. Considering the number of folks I’ve seen similar posts from recently, I’m not the only one having this sort of trouble, whether with the same authors or others.

Anyway, the author saw my post and admitted he was the guilty party. That’s his right. Just as it is his right to be a bit defensive about what I said and his own motivations. However, in the end, he asked what he could do to promote his work if it wasn’t by doing this sort of thing.

My first reaction, one I didn’t follow because I was on my way out the door, was to say not to own up to being the guilty party in public. For one, we are in a private writers group on FB where he could ask. If he didn’t want to do that, he could have PM’d me. No, he wanted to do it in public and he is going to have to deal with the consequences of it.

Now, I’ll admit, none of the instances I’ve mentioned rise to the “OMFG, have you lost your mind” level of bad author behavior we’ve seen some folks do. There have been cases of traditionally published authors going off on their editors in public, commenting on not only the editor’s work but getting profane about other aspects as well. Talk about killing one’s career. Then there are the authors who have made it their life’s work to rebut, usually with a full head of steam and no thought to the consequences, every negative review given on their work.

So, no, these two scenarios are nowhere near that level. However, as indie authors we fight an uphill battle. Part of that is a battle of appearances. As I discovered last week, using one word you didn’t mean to can bring down an avalanche of condemnation. Doing anything that doesn’t appear to be on the up-and-up does the same thing. So when I see an author saying she’s putting a book up for a certain award of hers up for an award and wants you to vote for it and spread the word, I take a step back from that author. Sure, ask your fans to nominate the book if they think it worthy, but don’t nominate yourself. That’s like reviewing your own work.

But that’s just me. To each his own.

Shrug. Just remember that people might not remember an author’s name if they dislike what that person does but they will remember the author was an indie. That is changing but that stigma that we aren’t quite good enough, haven’t paid our dues and are taking shortcuts still exists in the minds of all too many. So let’s not play into their hands.

 

Consequences redux

First off, thanks to everyone who came from Instapundit last night and this morning. Welcome, pull up a seat and look around. I do my best to blog M-F and at least once on the weekends. You might not always agree with me but that’s okay — as long as you’re up for a discussion.

Which brings me to this morning’s post. Yesterday, I blogged about taking a step back and thinking about what you’ve just written (or are about to say) before hitting the “enter” button. I knew, when I chose the examples I did that I might rub some folks the wrong way. I’ll even admit to possible poor word choice when I said Ailes was “probably” guilty of sexual harassment instead of using the word “possibly”. That’s on me and I’ll own it.

So far, I’ve had a handful of comments hit the moderation queue. I am about to let one of them through. One and only one and that is not my usual practice. I can’t recall a time when I’ve not allowed a person’s first comment through. Yes, “first” comment. That qualifier is there because there’s a rather inventive troll who keeps changing his handle and IP address. The only thing he, he’s predictable in what he calls himself. So, he gets blocked automatically.

As for the ones I’m not putting through today. I don’t mind anyone not agreeing with me. What I do mind is someone who comes here and simply makes personal attacks and doesn’t even try to have a discussion. That, my friends, pretty much falls under the sphere of what I wrote yesterday. You have to think about what you are about to say and what the consequences are. The consequences in this instance happen to be that the comments won’t go public.

As for the one I’m letting through, it raises a valid point and one I will do my best to answer. Yes, I misspoke (mistyped?) when I said Ailes was “probably” guilty, especially after saying I wasn’t going to comment on his guilt or innocence. That’s what happens when I do these posts before the coffee sinks in. I honestly meant to say he was “possibly” guilty.

Why say “possibly” and not “probably”? And why make the clarification?

First, as for the clarification, it is a consequence of my not using the right word, the word I meant. So, I will own the mistake and do my best to correct it. Unlike all too many, or so it seems, I’ve never claimed to be infallible or to have a crystal ball. So, when I screw up, I do my best to own it.

As I am now.

Second, I still believe in the key building block of our judicial system. You are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. That proof does not take place in the court of MSM. It doesn’t take place in the court of social media. It takes place in a courtroom where the accused has the right to confront his accusers — or to plead guilty. Yes, in some ways, it can also take place in the civil courts. Has that happened where Ailes is concerned? To the best of my knowledge no. So, it is possible he is guilty of doing everything alleged but it has not yet been proven.

Look, let’s make it even more fundamental. There is a group of people out there who claim that we must believe a woman if she claims to be raped. There should be no presumption of innocence for the man because of all the years men have held women down socially, professionally and every other way possible. If the accused is male, he is automatically presumed guilty.

That’s pretty much what we saw with the allegations against Ailes. His accusers were female. He was male and white and rich and that meant, to those condemning him, that the burden should be on him to prove his innocence.

Bullshit!

Anyway, back to yesterday’s post. I will own misspeaking. I will not, however, allow folks to come onto my blog and call me names without at least trying to debate the issue. My sandbox, my rules. Don’t like it, there’s the door and don’t let it hit you on the ass on your way out.

Oh, and for those of you poor guys who were so incensed that I didn’t declare Ailes a victim and condemn his accusers and could only call me “bitch”, “cunt” and even less imaginative names, grow up. Or at least go do some reading and expand your vocabulary. Let me give you a little hint. It’s guys like you that are giving the real men of this country a bad name. You perpetuate the myth of men, mainly gamers, who live in their mothers’ basements, eating Cheetos and drinking Red Bull and never seeing the light of day. In other words, you are not only continuing the stereotype but expanding it until there are too many folks who believe it to be real.

So grow the fuck up.

Now, to answer the questions I think you guys raised. Do I think Ailes was guilty of harassment? I don’t know. We’ve only seen basically one side of the story. I won’t make my mind up based on the biased reports out of the msm. However, he did himself no favors by resigning from Fox and not publicly fighting the allegations against him, especially once more of them began to surface. Hence the stance that it is possible he was guilty.

The consequence of my using the wrong word is this post and having to deal with a-holes like the ones I’m not letting through the moderation queue. Overall, minor complications in what is going to be busy day today.

Until later with a more upbeat post.

Think before speaking — or hitting the enter button

This morning, it was announced that Roger Ailes died. Over the last year or so, Ailes has been in the news, not for his contribution to the industry but because of allegations lodged against him that he had sexually harassed (and more) certain female employees over the years. This isn’t a post about Ailes and whether or not he was guilty of the allegations against him. That is for another day.

No, this post is about what is happening right now on social media and how that same sort of behavior is being played out in the real world.

Go onto Facebook or Twitter and you will find numerous posts praising the fact that Ailes is dead. Unfortunately, the posts don’t end there. Those hitting the enter button are spewing invective and more at Ailes and all but dancing on his grave. Why? Because he was accused of behavior in the media that is abhorrent. But it is more than that. He is being vilified for being white and rich. He is being called a sexual predator — which he probably was. But mainly, it is because he was rich, white and of a certain age and, therefore, inherently evil.

Oh, and let’s not forget male.

When anyone tries to comment that it is a bit unseemly to act this way when someone has just died, those people are attacked. There is no concern for what Ailes’ family or friends might see. There is no compassion for those who cared for the man. Because this group of people decided he was evil, we must all agree — or at least hold our tongues and nod as they pillory him at the time of his death. Yet, if the deceased had been one of their favorites and the other side was acting as they are, they’d be outraged. Why do they get to act in one way and insist everyone acts in another? It’s that sense of entitlement and the knowledge that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.

Not that this behavior is surprising. Something has happened with this country over the last decade or three. We have become a country where there is an increasing number of those who think they are entitled to do or say whatever they want without fear of consequence. Common courtesy is something of the past with them. Don’t believe me, go sit for a few hours in a restaurant or coffee shop. Or go to the mall or simply watch what happens in your own office.

Here’s an example.

Yesterday I was sitting in the local Panera’s, trying to get some work done. Music was playing overhead. There were at least another dozen or so people in the dining area, all talking or typing away on their laptops. In other words, it wasn’t quiet. Also, I was not sitting anywhere close to the cash registers. So, when I hear a woman raising hell, it caught my attention.

It seems this woman didn’t like what she had gotten as her order when she went through the drive-through and, by God, she was going to get satisfaction. There was no carefully explaining what she ordered and what was wrong. Oh no. What there was was a woman who just knew she was right and she wanted everyone, including those two buildings over, to know.

I slid my chair back so I could get a look at what was going on. Hey, I’m a writer. It’s what I do to get inspiration. Anyway, from where I sat, I couldn’t get a clear view. There were others in my way as well as part of the partition separating the dining area from the order area. Not that I needed to see. I could hear every word she said.

When the assistant manager tried to help her, she didn’t want to deal with him. You see, he wasn’t bending and scraping and kissing her feet. He wanted to know what she had ordered and if he could see her receipt. That’s pretty standard, especially if you claim to have gone through the drive-through. Oh, how her tone and voice level went up. How dare he question her!

Long story short. When he didn’t immediately do as she wanted, she demanded to see the manager. When he came forward, she proceeded to rip the assistant manager a new one. While she didn’t call him every name in the book, it was implied. She did say he had been unprofessional, etc., and that he should not have a job there.

And why?

Because she had gotten the right order. She had been the one to make the mistake. She ordered something without reading the description and got bread she didn’t want. But did she apologize? Oh hell no. Because, I guess, they should have read her mind. Instead, she once again voiced her negative opinion of the assistant manager and the restaurant and stormed out, swearing to never darken their doors again.

This woman was in the wrong and yet she still had to have the last work and she still expected them to bow to her will. Even when the manager offered to make her a new sandwich with the bread she wanted, she wasn’t satisfied. They’d had their one chance — a chance she screwed up — and would get no other.

Not enough proof? Look at Ethan Couch and his family. Look at our schools where teachers aren’t allowed to grade homework — or, in some districts — even assign it. Or where students are allowed to take tests over and over again instead of having to do something radical like study.

No consequences have, well, negative consequences.

Hell’s bells, even in writing they have them. I know there will be some folks who are not going to agree with me, especially when it comes to what I wrote at the beginning of the article. I recognize that fact and hope they understand I am not commenting one way or the other on whether or not Ailes was guilty of the allegations against him. I am talking solely about the behavior now being displayed by people online.

There are other ways what we do as authors can have a negative impact on not only ourselves but others we might work with. If you become an ass about just about anything, you can and probably will drive off readers. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean it or not. If you troll other sites and social media accounts because you think it’s fun, there will be push back. If you spam with promo posts your mailing lists or other people’s social media accounts, there will be push back. What you have to think about is that it will impact your sales but it can also impact any project you are a part of.

How many of us have seen people not only say they won’t read or watch something because so-and-so is in it but that they will do all they can to keep others from doing so as well? Well, they do and it does work. I found myself this morning looking at an anthology I have been waiting for and hesitating. Why? Because of at least one of the authors involved. No, I won’t name the antho, nor will I say when it was published or by whom. It isn’t the first time it has happened nor will it be the last. The question I have to answer is whether I will reward the author(s) I swore I wouldn’t buy or penalize the other authors in the antho. So, the actions of a small number of those involved in the antho may have a negative impact on the majority.

So, even as I consider the possible consequences of my pushing the publish button for this post, I urge each and every one of you to think about the consequences of that email you’re writing or the Tweet you are about to send or how you are about to deal with the guy who just shoved past you in line at the grocery.

And now, because I am an author and have a new story out,  check out Battle Wounds, the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned.

 

Hump Day!

Before we get started, I want to thank everyone who bought Battle Wounds on its launch day yesterday. I have a favor to ask of all of you. Once you’ve had a chance to read it, please leave a review on Amazon. Those reviews help more than you realize, not only by giving authors feedback but by letting others know what others readers thought about the story.

I have a guest blog up at According to Hoyt this morning.  Go take a look when you have a chance and leave a comment.

Yesterday was a non-writing day for me. I had some things to do around the house and I needed a day to switch mental gears from the Honor and Duty universe back to the Dallas of Nocturnal Lives. Starting today, I’m back into that world and should have Nocturnal Rebellion finished in a couple of weeks, max. Projected publication date is June 2oth. That date is not set in stone yet. I’ll have a more concrete date next week.

Next up will be Victory from Ashes (working title and more than likely changing before publication). Then the next Eerie Side of the Tracks novel. In between will be a couple more short stories/novellas. Yes, it’s a busy schedule but workable, knock on wood.

Anyway, it’s time for me to go find another cup of coffee. In the meantime, if you missed the announcement yesterday about Battle Wounds, here it is.

Battle Wounds is the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned. It will probably come out around the time the next book in the series does because, well, that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse has decided and I learned long ago that it is easier to give in to her than to try to fight.

Here’s the blurb:

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has faced the realities of war. Death is her constant companion, an unwelcome one. After losing four of her company in an ambush that never should have happened, she is asked to accept a special mission. Command suspects a traitor has infiltrated their ranks and they want Ash and others to act as bait in an attempt to draw them out.

Worse, at least as far as Ash is concerned, FleetCom is focusing on only one possible explanation for the ambush. That narrow view could lead to even more deaths before those responsible for betraying Fuercon are identified. All Ashlyn can do is keep her eyes and ears open and pray the Marines onboard the Dresden are as dedicated to keeping Fuercon safe as are the Devil Dogs.

And God help the traitor should Ashlyn discover their identity. No one betrays home and Corps and gets away with it.

Memories and Inspiration

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Garrison Keillor perform. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to the evening. Lake Woebegone was fun — in small doses. This was NOT Lake Woebegone. The was Keillor at his best. For a little more than two hours, he gave a performance that left me gasping for breath and laughing so hard not only was I crying but I swear I might have broken something. There were stories about growing up, dirty limericks and hymns. Yes, hymns. That he managed to get the audience to join in on. A very fun and worthwhile evening.

One that go me thinking and you know what a dangerous thing that can be.

As a writer, I do my best not to draw on my own family for inspiration. For one, no one would believe me. For another, my family doesn’t just carry a grudge, it nurses it, feeding it and letting it grow. So, nope. Not about to write anything one of them might think they have a role in. Nope and nope and nope again.

Yet, as I was talking to a friend this morning, I was reminded of something that happened when I was younger, something that has stuck with me and still brings tears to my eyes and a sense of wonder to my heart. It is something that will, before long, become the basis of a story or, as he suggested, a prompt for an anthology.

My dad was born and grew up in Ardmore, OK. He and my mom met on a blind date. Mom had moved to Ardmore from Tulsa to work at the hospital there. When I was maybe 14 or 15, the three of us took a day trip up to Ardmore to see my grandmother and other members of our family. We stopped on the way to my grandmother’s house to visit a wonderful lady (in the truest sense of the word) my mother knew from her days working at the hospital.

This lady worked in housekeeping at the hospital. She was one of those people who made anyone she spoke to smile and feel better. No matter how hard her life might have been, she made the best of it and never let on that there might have been problems.

She also baked the cake for my first birthday and she loved my mother.

Anyway, Mom wanted this wonderful woman to meet me as a teen. So we parked in front of this small house, really nothing more than a cottage. It was old, like so many homes in Ardmore, but well maintained and you could tell by looking at it that whoever lived there loved not only the house but the neighborhood.

Inside, the house was as carefully maintained as it was outside. It felt like a home, not just a place where people lived. You could almost feel the history in the house, not only of the good times but of the bad. What we didn’t know as we walked through the door was just how bad some of those times had been.

In a place of pride in the front room was a tabletop display case. This wonderful lady showed it to us. Her hand lovingly touched the glass. Inside was a pristine copy of a Look Magazine (or maybe Life) from the Viet Nam War. On the cover was a photo of a GI, obviously seriously wounded, another GI holding him, reassuring him. It was the first of a number of photos that chronicled the death of an American GI in Nam.

That GI was this dear lady’s son.

Her good son.

The son who wrote home every day. The son who had worked hard to graduate with good grades. The son who had promised his parents he would come home and do them proud, helping care for them and his other brother. The brother who was the bad seed. The brother who did drugs and too much booze and who never met a law he wanted to obey.

The son who, one day, quit writing.

For a month, this dear little lady tried to find out if anything had happened to her son. She contacted the Red Cross. She contacted the Army and she contacted the Defense Department. Nothing.

And then, one day after work, she stopped at her mailbox and pulled out her mail. Inside was the latest Look Magazine and she suddenly knew what happened to you son.

That would have broken a lot of us. Me, I’m pretty sure I would have broken and then I would have wanted answers — and blood. But not this little lady. She and the rest of her family mourned the loss of her son. But she also honored him. He died doing what he thought was right — serving his country. Watching her as she told us what happened, hearing the pain and pride in her voice, I learned what grace was that day. This woman who, I would learn later, had suffered so much more than the loss of her son over the years, never let life get the best of her. She continued to give of herself. She put her trust in God and she honored those she loved and lost through service.

How many of us can say we’ve done the same?

This one memory, a visit of less than 2 hours, made a permanent impression on me. It is something I have told my son, more than once. It is something I hold close now that he is in the military. She is long gone now but I know she continues being a guiding light to others, just as she is to me and mine. The memory of her shines on and, in that, she continues to live on, continues to serve and to love.

She was and is an example of what any of us can be. God bless her.

The derp is strong with this one

Yesterday, my friend Nicki linked to an online “letter of resignation” by Jacob Dorman. You see, Dorman was so very upset and worried and traumatize (my words) by the fact that KU was going to allow concealed carry on campus that he was ending his employment with them. That’s his right. His reasoning, however, had me rolling my eyes and laughing out loud. You see, he’s apparently convinced that allowing concealed carry on campus will cause more problems than it will solve and crime will escalate as a result.

Riiiiight.

First of all, he completely ignores the deterrent factor concealed carry has. Sure, there are instances where it hasn’t worked but there are also instances where it has. Just last week, it worked in Arlington, TX. Okay, not in a classroom but in a restaurant. A man walked in, started causing a commotion and, when the manager tried to get him to calm down, he murdered the manager. A customer, who was carrying concealed, pulled his gun and shot the perp. It was later learned the perp had come armed with two guns and two knives. How many lives did that customer save and all because he was carrying concealed?

There’s another argument Dorman and those like him fail to take into account. When you have signs posted all over saying a school — or church or anywhere else — is a gun-free zone, you are simply telling those who are inclined to cause harm that they can do so in that location without fear of someone having the means to stop them. Take away that safety — safety for them and not for those going to school there — and you have a deterrent in place because the perp won’t know who might pull a gun and defend herself and others present.

The other thing Dorman and others like him fail to consider is we have no way of knowing how often this is what’s happened. After all, most potential murderers don’t walk into the police station or call a reporter to say, “Gee, you know, I was going to go into John Doe Elementary School and shoot the place up but decided not to because the teachers can carry concealed.”

But, as you read the Dorman’s “resignation”, you see the real issue. He points out that, because Kansas is a small state, it has to recruit from out-of-state and all those wonderful liberal profs who don’t believe in guns won’t want to come to KU because — gasp — someone might actually have one. Gasp!

All I can say is that all my relatives who went to KU and were proud grads are shaking their heads — and in a few cases, rolling in their graves — and saying “good riddance”. The fact that Dorman has already secured employment at an out-of-state college shows he had to have been looking long before he submitted his outraged letter. Frankly, his histrionics reminds me of a few of the professors at the University of Texas last year when our state legislature voted to allow concealed carry on our college campuses. Yes, there are ways for the colleges to opt out — just as there are in Kansas (at least I assume there are in KS). But these poor darlings were so traumatized by the possibility someone might LEGALLY carry a weapon, they had to leave the university.

Hey, guys, here’s a little truth for you. Most of those who decide they want to shoot up a classroom don’t worry about if they have the legal right to carry their weapons. However, how many of them will think twice if they know someone else might also be carrying a weapon, someone willing to use it to keep them from hurting anyone?

See what Nicki had to say about this over at the Liberty Zone. She’s linked to some data that puts the lie to some of Dorman’s allegations. Check it out.

Monday Morning Thoughts

Coffeeeeeeee . . . .

Yep, it’s going to be one of those days. At least I have the short story figured out and ready to push through to final edits. I also figured out how to get from Point A to Point D on the next book in the series. Of course, that has to come after I finish Nocturnal Rebellion and send it off to my beta readers.

In the meantime, as I was reading the paper this morning, inspiration hit. There was a story about a 90+ year-old woman on her final cross-country driving trip. The story itself was engaging and reminded me of my cousin Clarice. — full of life and wanting to live it to the fullest until she drew her last breath.

But it was a picture of this feisty little lady that caught my eye and sent Myrtle the Must into overdrive. She was sitting at a table on what looked like an outdoor patio for a shop or cafe. Her head was thrown back and she was laughing. There was a twinkle in her eye with more than a hint of devilment in it. You knew she had just managed to zing someone and loved it.

Making the picture even better was the youngish man sitting across from her laughing with her. Despite the probably 60 or more years difference in their ages, they had connected and were probably getting into trouble together. It’s an image you don’t see every day and it made an impression.

And this woman, Miss Norma, suddenly sprang fully formed in my mind as part of the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe. Whether it will be part of the fantasy side or the “normal” side, I don’t know. All I know for sure, is Miss Norma will be the inspiration for a character in the series. Well, to be honest, the character will be a mix of Miss Norma and Cousin Clarice, and probably my grandmother who was born either 100 years too early or 100 years too late.

Now to go make some notes, enough to satisfy Myrtle so she doesn’t decide I need to write that story right NOW! Then it’s off to finish the short story and move on to the next project.

Until later. Have a great Monday!

TGIF

The title says it all.

Not that I’m taking the weekend off. There’s remodeling of the bathroom to do and writing — lots of writing — and somewhere along the line, I’d like to sleep. But it’s Friday and that has to count for something. Right?

So, let’s get a little housekeeping out of the way before I forget it. Battle Wounds, the next short story in the Honor and Duty series, will be published a week from Tuesday. If I remember correctly, that will be the 16th. Since it’s a short story, I’m not putting it up for pre-order. But I will make an announcement when it is uploaded and then when it goes live. So keep checking here and on Facebook.

Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s a link to a short snippet from Battle Wounds.

What else?

Oh, another book recommendation (and I will have more tomorrow). If you are a fan of space opera, you need to check out Sarah A. Hoyt’s latest entry into her Darkship series, Darkship Revenge. This is one of my favorites in the series.

After winning the civil war in Eden, Athena returns to her calling, collecting powerpods with her husband Kit. Now weeks away from Earth, she goes into labor. To make matters worse, a strange ship attacks Athena and Kit’s Cathouse and kidnaps Athena’s husband. That ship is called Je Reviens. It’s a named steeped in history—and not the good kind of history.

Hot on Kit’s trail, Athena discovers that you shouldn’t name a ship Je Reviens unless you intend it to return. The genetically modified Mules are back, and they have a plan to prevent themselves from being exiled ever again. And if the Mules win, the best thing humanity can hope for is slavery.

The worst is death.

While a bio-engineered plague wreaks havoc on the forces of liberty, Athena must risk herself, her husband, and her child for the survival of humanity.

The Mules may be about to find out what revenge truly is: one angry mother.

 

 

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