Nocturnal Lives

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

Category: Musings (Page 1 of 44)

Free Speech, the NFL and More

I hadn’t planned on writing this post. After all, you can’t turn on the news this morning without seeing what happened at the beginning of the NFL games yesterday. The story isn’t over, either, because there is another game tonight. But comments by Pittsburg Steelers coach Mike Tomlin force my hand. His attitude, combined with the events — or non-events — at UC Berkley over the weekend, are indicative of a problem in this country that the media refuses to cover. Very simply put, free speech is approved only so long as you are doing or saying what the “cool kids” approve of. In this case, the cool kids are the media, Antifa and the like.

We saw a perfect example of someone doing what he felt was right yesterday. Steelers player Alejandro Villanueva came out of the tunnel and stood, hand over his heart, during the playing of the National Anthem. He was the lone Steeler to take to the field. Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, had the courage to stand in respect and in support of the flag he served and the country he loves. None of his other teammates can say the same.

Not that they had the choice. Coach Tomlin made the call they wouldn’t take the field until after the Anthem was played. Here’s what Tomlin (who, along with several of his coaches, did take to the field and stand for the Anthem) had to say:

We’re chasing something special here in 2017 and we’re not going to play politics. We’re football players. We’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance.

People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t have to be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today. That’s our decision. We’re going to be 100 percent. We came here to play a football game. That’s our intent.

Now, at first blush, this seems reasonable. However, look a little closer. He says they aren’t going to play politics but that’s exactly what they did. It was a political statement made in response to President Trump’s comments about firing those players who don’t stand for the playing of the Anthem. There’s no way they would have responded in the same way had it been anyone else to say what Trump did. they might have given the reporters a soundbite but that would have been all. No, this was exactly what Tomlin claimed it wasn’t. It was a political statement. But there’s more.

He goes on to say people shouldn’t have to choose. But isn’t that exactly what he, and the rest of the coaching staff, did for the players? They chose to make a statement by staying inside the tunnel, a choice that was not unanimous. In fact, I have yet to find out how many of the players actually voted to remain off the field. Was this a case where the few made the decision for the many? Even if it was a majority, that took the decision away from those who, like Villanueva, wanted to pay respect to the flag and the anthem.

But there is another quote, even more telling, that came from Tomlin later.

When asked by a reporter about hero Alejandro Villanueva coming out of the locker room to stand for the national anthem, instead of staying inside like the rest of his teammates, coach Tomlin said, “Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team.”

That doesn’t sound like he’s willing to let his players make a decision, to make a choice. Will any of us be surprised to find he disciplined Villanueva for not standing down? If so, he will have simply proven the double-standard that is so evident right now when it comes to the topic of free speech. And no, I’m not talking about “freedom of speech” as guaranteed in the Constitution. I’m talking about the ability to say what we want, as long as it doesn’t violate the law, without fear of reasonable reprisal.

Yes, an employee has to consider how what he says or does reflects on his employer. If he does something that reflects negatively on his employer or that could negatively impact the brand, it is reasonable that he will face reprisal from the employer. However, the key is “negatively impact”. Standing for the National Anthem will not reach that threshold. Now, it is debatable if kneeling for it will. Considering the decline in rating for NFL games, it can be argued that it does. However, that is for the bean counters to decide.

What is so troubling about what happened Sunday is that there were those who wanted to show their respect for the flag, for the anthem and for this country and were not allowed to do so by their coaches. How dare they! If you say in one breath that the NFL isn’t going to play politics and then, with the very next, do something like that, you are worse than those you condemn.

Like it or not, those players who choose to take a knee can do so. I don’t have to like it but I won’t attempt to stop it. I will simply make my feelings known in ways that can impact their bottom line. I won’t buy their jerseys. I won’t go to games they play in. However, when management inserts itself into the equation and claim politics isn’t involved, I will call bullshit. I will turn off the TV when their team is on. I won’t buy from the businesses advertising with them. Since I have no doubt Roger Goodell, head of the NFL, will do anything about the situation, I have no qualms about tuning out. I will also recommend the Pentagon and other governmental agencies withdraw any financial support, through ads etc., from the NFL as well. After all, why should the NFL benefit financially when it won’t take a stance to allow all its players to have a voice in this issue?

If Tomlin wants an all or nothing proposition, I’m more than happy to give it to him.

Guns, Violence and Journalistic Integrity

Sunday night there were a number of watch parties going on in the DFW area. It was the first game of the regular season for the Dallas Cowboys. Zeke Elliott was playing, after weeks of uncertainty. Dak Prescott was starting his second season at quarterback and everyone waited anxiously to see if he could continue the magic of his rookie year. Added to that was the fact the ‘Boys were playing their arch rivals, the New York Giants. Unfortunately, one of those parties exploded in a hail of bullets that left, as of this morning, 9 dead. Cue the media to start yet another round of calls for gun control and cue the local media to forget all about journalistic integrity and identify the shooter even though his name has not yet been released by the authorities.

Let’s start with the latter first. Only one of the victims has been identified so far. She was the owner of the house. Her mother has claimed to the media that the shooter was her estranged husband. That is the only information we have so far and yet the media has been running with it. A local columnist has used this alleged identification as the basis for an op-ed piece calling for more gun control because we can’t let guns get into the hands of folks who might have anger issues.

There was a time when the media wouldn’t identify a victim — or a suspect — until that identification was verified by the authorities. It certainly wouldn’t identify someone killed, whether in an accident or as the result of a crime. It was part taking the time to make sure the facts of the incident were confirmed and part because it was the decent thing to do. They gave time to the authorities to notify the family of the person killed. But I guess that’s no longer a consideration in this day and age of reporters not reporting the news but wanting to shape it and make it. To hell with the emotional toll such actions might take on family members who had nothing to do with what happened.

Well, to hell with these so-called journalists.

Moving on. I start getting concerned when people want to limit the right to own, much less carry, a gun because of the possibility someone might have anger issues. How is this possibility supposed to be judged? More importantly, who is supposed to make this assessment? To limit a right based on something that might happen at some point in the future based on some set of circumstances that might never occur is not only foolish, it’s unreasonable.

But let’s be honest, this is simply another way the anti-gun faction wants to limit gun ownership. At least this particular columnist finally turned her post into the need to address impulse control and anger issues. But all too many will take what happened in Plano to argue that anyone going through a divorce shouldn’t be allowed access to guns or to argue that everyone wanting to buy a gun go through psychological evaluations.

Not only no but hell no.

The media needs to take a step back — maybe several, especially if a tall cliff is involved — and remember what it is there to do. Unless it is an editorial, they are there to report the news. They should pride themselves on presenting the facts in a fair and unbiased way. Reporters should report and not be part of the news. They should help us shape opinions based on facts and not on their own personal biases.

Newspapers and network news wonders why they are losing followers. It’s simple. We are tired of being shown slanted views of events. We are tired of being considered too stupid to know what is happening. With so many new ways to find out what’s happening in the world, the media should be adapting instead of digging its heels in. Of course, considering it is the twin to traditional publishing, their approach doesn’t surprise me. All I can say is that they will continue to lose viewers and readers until they once again put facts above opinion, integrity above attempting to manipulate the issues.

Grow up, news media, or go home.

Remembering 9/11

(This post first appeared on Mad Genius Club on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. What I said then still applies to today. As we reflect on what happened that day, on its causes and its effects and on what still needs to be done, we should also reflect and take a moment to thank those men and women who dedicate their lives to keeping our country safe, to their family and loved ones who watch them leave and wonder if they will return and we should also remember those who have given their lives for our country. And now, to that original post.)

Tribute in Lights, 9/11 2013

Ten years ago today, they say the world changed. I’m not sure the whole world changed, but my piece of it did. For the first time in my life, I understood how my parents’ generation felt when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Gone was the sense of safety of living in the United States, secured by oceans on two sides and allies on the other two sides. We’d been attacked, not by a military force but by fanatics who didn’t care about the innocents they killed in an effort to make their statement.

I know some of you are wondering what this has to do with writing. After all, Mad Genius Club is a blog about writing and the publishing industry. There is no simple answer. But there are answers and I’ll try to explain.

There’s a thread that’s been going on in one of the email groups I belong to where someone asked if our writing is influenced by world events. You can imagine there were folks coming in on both sides – some saying yes and others saying no. For me, I have to admit that I really hadn’t given it much thought. I knew the events of 9/11 affected me, but I hadn’t really taken time to think about if they had influenced my writing.

I still didn’t think much about it until the list of free titles available from Amazon crossed my desk the other day. I didn’t know whether to be thrilled or appalled to see all of them that dealt with that horrible day. I truly believe we need to remember what happened that day and do all we can to make sure it never happens again – here or anywhere else. One way to do that is to write about it.

But what appalled me were the number of books that had clearly been written just to cash in on the ten year anniversary of that horrible day. We’re not talking books that have been out for months or years and are just now being made free as promotions. No, we’re talking books that have never been available before. Books I couldn’t bring myself to download.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for authors using events, real and imagined, in their books. But to use a tragedy like 9/11 or the Holocaust just to sell books is more than I can stomach. Releasing those books so close to the anniversary of that horrible day without thought or concern about what it would do to those who survived or those who lost loved ones makes my blood boil. There are some lines I simply can’t step over.

That said, I will fight for these authors’ right to publish such books, whether I like them or not. That freedom of speech is one of the things that makes this country what it is. Within certain very limited provisions, we can write what we want, when we want. The fact that so many of us have different views on what and how we write is in the best interest of the reader.

On 9/11, I slept in later than I usually do. As I stumbled into the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, I turned on the TV. There are three things I do every morning: drink coffee, read the paper and watch the morning news. So there I was, coffee cup in hand, staring in disbelief as the second jet crashed into the Twin Towers. It had to be a nightmare. There could be no other explanation. Numb, praying for those people who were obviously trapped in the towers, I sat and watched, just like so many others that morning.

The images from that day are indelibly etched into my memory. So are the emotions. The shock, the fear, the anger. But so is the feeling of solidarity, of needing to do something as I stood in line at the local blood bank waiting hour after hour to donate blood in case it was needed. Hundreds of people turned out that day, too many for the small center to handle. No one wanted to go home. This was something they could do. Something they had to do.

Those who were turned away made appointments to come back the next day. Then they left, only to return later with water and food for those of us still in line. A couple came back with radios and TVs so we could watch the latest. No one asked them to. Everyone thanked them. We were all pulling together and it was happening across the country.

The emotions I felt that day were so strong. So were the reactions of the people I saw. The only day that had come close to it was the day when the American embassy in Tehran had been taken over, beginning more than a year of nightly reports about what was happening, reports that became ABC’s Nightline. Back then, I was attending Texas Tech. A number of my classmates were former Air Force officers. As we sat in the break area of the law school after the news broke, each of them were doing what was necessary to make contact with their former C.O.’s, doing what they felt was necessary – offering to return to the service of their country.

As I write this post, I realize there is one thing about 9/11 that has influenced my writing. After feeling so deeply, after seeing others do the same, I became more aware of how my characters should feel and react. I hope I am able to write characters who are no longer cardboard cut-outs. Emotions are what make us human and are what drive us, for good or bad.

I’m not a subscriber to the idea that you have to suffer for your art. Hell, I do my best to avoid suffering – at least in the way it is used in that sentence. But to be a good writer, you have to not only know what the emotions are, you have to know what they feel like – whether you have experienced them yourself or know someone has. More than that, you have to be able to express those emotions in your writing in such a way your characters don’t appear to be cartoonish or cardboardish.

I remember the feeling of helplessness as I stood in line at the blood bank, wondering if my son was all right. He was at school that day. When the district announced parents could come get their kids, I called my ex-husband to see if he was going to pick our son up. (It was his week to have the kid) I wanted to go so badly, just to be able to see for myself that my son was all right. I wanted to be the one to explain to him what had happened and to reassure him that I would do everything in my power to make sure nothing happened to him. I might not have been able to pick him up – my ex did that – but I did get to talk to him afterwards, to explain what happened and what might be happening over the next few days and weeks.

I can channel those emotions into my characters. It’s easier to write about the mother whose child is in danger. I understand the fear and anger and the need to protect. I can write about the everyman who feels helpless as he watches some disaster – be it natural or manmade – unfold before him. It is up to me now to hone my craft so I can write it in a believable way.

But for all of that, 9/11 reminded me of something I hadn’t really forgotten but had, like so many others, taken for granted. It reminded me of how much I love this country. I honor and thank those who willing put their lives on the line every day to protect it, be they police officers, firefighters, EMTs, soldiers, whatever. I thank their families for supporting them. Most of all, I thank God for the fact that I live here, in a country where I can write what I want and not have to look over my shoulder in fear that the thought police will be there to arrest me.

That son I worried so much about ten years ago is now a young man. One year ago today he signed his contract with the Air Force. It was his choice and one I am very proud of. It’s also one that can’t help but scare me some as well. And that is yet another emotion I can channel, if I dare.

In closing, and on a very non-writer note, I offer up a prayer for all of those who lost their lives a decade ago and I pray we never again see another 9/11, here or anywhere else.

 

Light Magic and the Evil Muse

Moving from one writing project to another isn’t always a smooth process. That is especially true when, like me, you have an evil muse. Myrtle, my own particular evil muse, loves to torment me by giving me the basic plot of a book but multiple ways to start it. I swear she does it because she knows it will drive me crazy. But I guess that’s better than having no idea how to start a book. Of course, I wouldn’t argue if, for once, I didn’t start and stop several times before getting to the opening that works best. Still, the stops and starts on Light Magic will have been worth it if the opening is as successful and i think it will be.

Which is what I have finally done.

I think.

I hope.

Okay, that’s enough insecurity from this writer. Light Magic is under way. With the change in opening, there will be a slight change in the plot, but nothing major. The biggest issue I have where this book is concerned is finding time to write. Fortunately, this one has the feel of one of those that won’t fight me every step of the way. If that is the case, my beta readers will be getting it within the month. Snippets should start in two weeks or so. I’ll keep you informed.

One way Light Magic has changed is that it will be bridging the “normal” plot and characters of Slay Bells Ring with the “Others” of Witchfire Burning. Some of that started with Witchfire but this will cement it even more. Of course, this being Mossy Creek, nothing is ever as easy and “normal” as one thinks. That is something Meg Sheridan will learn quickly. It will take her a bit longer to understand why her mother told her to run to Mossy Creek if anything ever happened to her.

Now it’s time to do the mundane things of life — take out the trash, check email and figure out what I have to do today that can’t be postponed for a day or two. Once all that’s done, I can sit down to write. In the meantime, I have a guest post up on According to Hoyt about heroes and sports figures. Take a few minutes to check out Victory Girls as well. Posts this morning (so far) include covering the Equifax breach and how some of their execs made a financial windfall by selling off stock while the company kept quite about what happened and a great short fiction piece that brings home the impact 9/11 had one some of us.

Customer Service Fail

This isn’t the post I’d planned for this morning. That one would come later. This is a rant. I spent too many years working jobs where I had to deal with the public on a regular basis. I understood when I did that I represented not only myself but my employer. So, no matter how bad my day might have been, I did my best to show a good face to the customers. That’ why my experience with one of the local grocery stores this morning hits my hot buttons. Not only was the clerk less than helpful — we won’t even discuss cordial, etc. — but the store manage had completely fallen down on the job and no one working seemed to care one bit.

A little background. I made a quick run to the store to pick up coffee — cooooffffeeeee — and get some cash. It was approaching 0730 when I arrived. The first indication I should have had that this was not a smart move was when the doors that should have been unlocked half an hour earlier hadn’t been. Okay. No sweat. I could walk the short distance to the other set of doors.

It didn’t take long to find coffee that didn’t completely suck (yes, yes, I’m a coffee snob. There’s a reason I order Death Wish coffee each month). So I made my way to the only shopping lane that had an actual human to check out customers. That should have been my second clue. This store, which is located within a mile of several schools and has heavy early morning traffic because of it, was understaffed.

On a side note, it was also under-stocked. But that is nothing new. And then they wonder why people aren’t shopping there as much as they used to.

Anyway . . .

I finally get to the checker, hand over my coffee, my discount card as a “valued customer” and slide my credit card. Simple enough. Then, because I needed some cash, I hit the cash back option. And I wait. And wait. And wait.

Then the oh-so-bored cashier informs me she doesn’t have any cash.

Wait? what?

You’re running a till and you don’t have cash?

Well, not exactly but she only has a few dollars in the till. She might be able to give me my change but it would all be in ones and fives. Did she offer to give it to me? Hell no. Instead, when I continued to stare at her, dumbfounded and kicking myself for not going to the other store in the area that’s only slightly further from home, she finally calls to see if anyone has any cash.

Now, there were four self checkout lanes open as well. I was told after being insulted by the way she referred to me on the phone with her co-worker that I needed to go to one of those lanes and I would be shown the one that had cash. I asked if she had canceled the transaction and she actually did an eye roll at me and did everything but go “Duh!”. (And yes, I did check my account before leaving the store to make sure it had been canceled.)

So, muttering imprecations, I crossed to the far end of the store where the self-checkout lanes are located. Then I asked the checker stationed there to “help” which register I should use so I could get cash back. Mind you, this is the same person the original checker spoke to. I think you can imagine my reaction when I was told I’d just have to pick one and see because she didn’t know.

Yes, I made a comment about being unprepared for the business day and having less than stellar customer service. Worse, I needed a specific amount of money for something today and couldn’t request that amount because the self checkout lanes let you choose in increments of $20. So, I left with $10 more than I needed and also had the need to break a $20 so I had the exact amount for the yard guy. Which meant stopping somewhere else to get change.

Needless to say, I’m not a happy camper. The only reason I’d been going to this store the last month or two has been for its butcher block. But they aren’t keeping it stocked and its prices are far above any other store now. After today, I doubt I’ll be back in. What store opens without having cash in the cash drawers? What store opens without having its shelves stocked? Here’s a hint for grocery stores everywhere. You customers don’t want to have to trip over stockers during the middle of the day — and yes, this has happened more than once in this store — in order to pick up a loaf of bread or cat food or whatever.

Now I’m home and have a fresh cup of coffee and ready to settle down for work. As for the neighborhood store, it lost a customer this morning. I can forgive a bad customer service once. Sometimes even twice. But when it becomes clear this is a trend the store management isn’t putting an end to, it is time to say “bye” and move on. Fortunately, there are two other major grocery stores within 2 miles of my house and two smaller stores within 4 miles. Giving this one up will not be any sort of hardship, something the managers would do good to remember.

The Question Has Been Answered

When I published Nocturnal Rebellion last week, I’d secretly wondered if there would be any more books. I had finished the story arc and, to be honest, I had no idea where the series might go from there. I think that’s one reason I’d been so busy making notes on other projects. Some of you told me you hoped there would be more books and that means more to me than you know. I love Mac and company and really didn’t want to think of not writing in that universe again. But I had no idea what to do next.

Then, BAM!, inspiration hit. It started subtly. Questions began to form in my mind that would need to be answered if I took the series any further. Before I knew it, I had something like three pages of notes and questions. But I still didn’t have a real plot, only things to keep in mind. I didn’t worry. The fact the questions were starting to hit meant my subconscious had been working on the issue without me realizing it.

So I kept making notes. Music played, coffee was had and, before I knew it, I had the bare threads of a plan. No, not an outline, but enough to let me know where the next book or two will go. It’s enough for me right now. I’ll finish up the basic notes today and then file them away. Next week, I’ll review the various projects I have waiting on my desk and pull together a more concise publishing schedule. For now, however, I am turning my attention to two things. The first is finishing up the special edition of Vengeance from Ashes. I am really excited about the additional material I’m adding to the original version. It doesn’t change the story but it does expand it. Once that is finished, I’ll pick back up with Victory from Ashes (and that title will change). I have the book drafted but set it aside for awhile. Now I can go back with fresh eyes and do a hard edit and rewrite what’s needed. In the meantime, I’ve been working on Light Magic, the next installment in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series..

For relaxation, I’ve been replaying the Dishonored games. I’ll admit, I owned Dishonored for probably a year before playing it the first time. My son recommended it. My initial hesitation about the game came from the stealth aspect. I’m not a big fan of games where stealth is the major component. So, the game sat on my hard drive until I needed something new to play. That’s when I realized it was so much more than a simple stealth game. This is my third play through of Dishonored and I’m enjoying it as much now as I did the first time.

When Dishonored 2 came out, I wasted no time buying it and playing it. I’m not sure the story was quite as compelling as the original, but I enjoyed being able to choose between Corvo (the playable character in the original game) and Emily (a grown-up version of an NPC in the original). The two characters had different powers and that helped give a different feel to the game depending on who you chose to play as.

The reason I’m replaying the games right now is because a third game, Dishonored: Death of the Insider, will be released next month. It takes another NPC from the first two games, Billie Lurke/Meagan Foster (sorry, spoiler there), and makes her the playable character. Also returning is Doud, the playable character from two of Dishonored’s dlc-s.

It is obvious, not only from the price of the game but from comments from the developers, that this isn’t a full-length game. However, it is supposedly more than a dlc campaign. We’ll see. I may regret paying full-price but the develops didn’t disappoint with the first two games, so I’m going to trust them this time.

Here’s a clip showing some of the gameplay.

I am looking forward to seeing if the game pans out. Now it’s time to get to work.

Later!

Busy writer is, well, busy

First off, today is my day over at Mad Genius Club. Please check it out. I talk about changes in plans and writing habits and a little bit more.

As noted over at MCG, one of the things I’ve done over the last week is set up my publishing schedule for the next year or so. I say “or so” because Myrtle the Evil Muse made sure to infect me with several titles I hadn’t planned on. One of them I am really excited about. It is in the Eerie Side of the Creek series and introduces some new and, I think, exciting characters. Yes, our regular cast of zanies and not-so-zany is there as well. I know the basic plot and my subconscious is already tweaking some of the plot points I noted down. More on this when I start writing it.

I also want to thank those of you who have bought or borrowed Nocturnal Rebellion. I’d really appreciate it if, after you read the book, you went over to Amazon and reviewed it. Those reviews help.

Yesterday was spent writing a series of blog posts, some for here and some for other sites. I’ll post links to them on this blog when they go live. It was fun writing them but it also meant little fiction was written yesterday. So today I have to double-down.

One thing that surprised me after finishing Rebellion is my reading. Usually when I finish a project, I tend to spend several days reading fiction. The first day is light, easy reading. Titles I don’t have to really think about. This is reading to escape and relax. After that, I might go to more challenging books. This time, it’s been non-fiction from the start. Among the titles I’ve either read or am reading right now are:

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell.

Now it’s time to get to work. Until later!

Holy Cow!

I am late posting today because I’ve been doing some writerly housekeeping. I love writing series but the problem is it sometimes gets difficult to remember exactly what you have planned in the future and which series is supposed to come next in your publishing schedule. That is especially true when you have an evil muse like mine. Yes, Myrtle, I’m looking directly at you.

So, I sat down this morning and decided I needed to get down on paper — well, on my hard drive — a few notes about the projects I have coming up. It’s my way of looking at my schedule, seeing if it is workable and where I can fill in with some of the new projects I’d like to do.

What I came up with are basic plot outlines or simple notes on six different titles, belonging to three different series. So, here’s what I have on my plate over the next 12 to 18 months. Remember, there will probably be other titles as well because I have a couple of stand-alone books I want to do.

Victory from Ashes (current working title and will probably change). This is the 4th book in the Honor and Duty Series. I have updated my plot notes to go along with the very rough draft I already have written.

Foil of the Gods (current working title). This is the 3rd and final installment in the Sword of the Gods series. I have a very, very rough draft I wrote some time ago but wasn’t happy with. Today I pulled together some plot notes (6 pages of them to be exact) that will help pull the draft together and bring the series to a satisfactory end.

There are four titles currently set in the Eerie Side of the Creek that I’ve plotted out over the last two days. Two will be novellas. One is, I think, a short story but it might morph into a novella. One is a novel. The two definite novellas are the continuation of Skeletons in the Closet and will bring that particular story arc to a close. Again, I’d had other ideas for the follow-up to Skeletons but they didn’t feel right. These do.

You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned anything else happening in the Nocturnal Lives series. Nocturnal Rebellion ended the current story arc. I am starting to get a feel for where the next “chapter” will go but I’m going to let that germinate for a bit. All I can say for sure is I woke up this morning with the sound of Mac’s voice in my head asking if a baby born to two shapeshifters who shifted into jaguars required diapers or kitty litter boxes. Yes, there was more than a hint of panic in her voice. No, I am NOT going there — at least not right now. But there are more stories in that universe to come. Whether they include Mac and a baby — and diapers or kitty litter — I don’t know.

No, Myrtle, we are NOT writing that right now!

So, that’s been my morning. It’s kind of nice — and scary — to see actual words on paper detailing these upcoming projects. It does look like I’m going to be very busy over the next year or so. Guess that means I’d better get back to work.

Oh yeah, you can click on the book covers to the right of this post if you’re interested in any of my work. Now to get back to work.

Murphy, go home!

Life is nothing if not interesting. Of course, when it’s interesting in the proverbial sense, I tend to wish for dull and boring. But it is getting there. I simply need to learn to listen to not only my muse — she is an evil bitch but she does seem to know when I need to switch gears and write something new — and to my gut. In this particular case, it would have let me sleep an extra hour this morning and not have to reschedule a trip to the mechanic. Oh well, I’m up if not fully functioning.

Oh, and the plumber is due later today. Hopefully, since this is just the annual check, he’ll find nothing wrong. Please let him find nothing wrong. We’ve already had one plumbing emergency this month. I don’t need any more.

On the writing front, things are rocking and rolling. I’ve set Nocturnal Rebellion aside for the rest of the week. I’ll pick it up Monday or Tuesday of next week, convert it for my Kindle Oasis, and give it one last read. Then the final file will be uploaded for publication. Remember, it is available for pre-order now. Publication date is August 15th.

I will admit, right now I feel like Mac does in the book. Of course, while she wishes for a simple, straight-forward murder to investigate (one without shifters or the government involved), I just want a week without complications.

I am also about halfway through the updates on Vengeance from Ashes. The expanded version doesn’t change the story line but it does expand on some scenes and there will be a few new scenes/chapters as well. I still love the original novel but this is sort of my version of the “director’s cut” of the book. I’m hoping you guys love the additional material as well.

Next up in that series will probably be a short story followed quickly by the next full-length novel. At least that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse says. Lately, however, I’ve learned there is someone more evil than Myrtle and who has even more control over my writing than she does — Murphy.

And I tell you, whoever invited that Irish trickster and master of chaos into the country, much less to my house, needs to be hunted down and hung. I am so over Murphy right now. So, before he decides it’s time to get up and complicate my life any further, I’m out of here. However, here’s a little tease from Nocturnal Rebellion:

The man crawled slowly toward the bar, dragging himself inch by painful inch. He didn’t know what happened or why. One moment, everything had been normal. Drinking, smoking, whoring. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then the door opened. He’d looked up, as had others, and frowned to see four people he didn’t recognize. Few dared come to the bar without an invitation. Those few who did usually turned around and left before taking more than a step or two inside. That’s all it took to realize The Hellhound was the sort of biker bar outsiders weren’t welcome at.

And there was no way the four were bikers. Dressed all in black, they walked further inside, seemingly oblivious to the looks in their direction. Then they’d stopped. One of them pointed right and then left. Two others broke off, moving quicker and more silently than they should have been able to. As they did, the tension in the room ratcheted up a notch.

That’s when the surreal turned into nightmare. The fourth person, a woman, stepped up to one of the two tops. Before the biker he knew only as Ranger could react, her hand fisted in the man’s long hair. She pulled his head back, baring his throat. A knife appeared in her other hand. Its blade slid along Ranger’s neck. Blood sprayed and she released him, stepping back and watching as he crumpled to the floor. The fallen biker gurgled once, blood flecking his lips, before dying.

Now for more coffee and to get back to work on an editing gig before sitting down to do some more writing. Later!

What say you?

A little more than a week ago, Justine Damond was shot and killed by officers responding to a call about a potential sexual assault. Unfortunately, it is all too common to pick up a newspaper or see internet headlines and seeing a police-involved shooting. But this one, in many ways, illustrates a problem — several problems actually — with the current state of not only police training but the public’s confidence (or lack thereof) in the police.

Justine Damond, an Australian currently residing in Minneapolis, did what any law-abiding person should do when they think a crime is going down. She called the police. She not only called once but she called at least twice because it was taking so long for a unit to respond and she was worried. You see, she heard something near her backyard that made her fear a woman was being assaulted.

On her last call, she was informed the police were almost there. That’s where things go from real to surreal.

The police unit nears and Damond goes outside. As she neared the squad car, a shot rang out and she went down.

Damond, who was (iirc) in her pajamas and who was unarmed wasn’t shot and killed by the suspect. Nor was she shot and killed by a well-intentioned neighbor. No, she was shot and killed by one of the two officers responding to her call for help.

What makes this case even more of a head-scratcher is that she was approaching the squad car from the driver’s side. However, instead of the driver pulling his service revolver and firing, the shot came from the passenger in the car. This officer unholstered his weapon, aimed across his partner and opened fire. My first thought in hearing this was that his partner would be lucky to get out of that with little to no permanent damage to his hearing. The second was to wonder what the officer saw that his partner, the man closest to the supposed threat Damond presented, did not.

Where this entire incident is troubling is two-fold. The first is that the officers’ body cameras were not rolling. Now, this might be departmental policy. I’ve read that Minneapolis police aren’t required to engage their cameras until they get out of their squad cars. If so, it is a foolish policy. Those cameras, as well as their dash cams, need to be rolling as they near a scene. Any cop with more than a month’s experience on the job will tell you things can and do happen before you arrive at the address where a call originates from. It can be as simple as seeing the suspect walking down the street to getting a better picture for later (as in for court) about what the cop is walking into and what helped form their judgment and caused them to act a certain way.

In this case, we are missing all this. The driver of the squad car said they heard a loud noise and that startled them. Unfortunately, there is nothing to back him up on that. And, to the best of my knowledge, that includes his partner, the shooter. As of last night, when I last searched out information on the case, the shooter had yet to make a statement. Oh, he apparently talked to a friend who said he was startled when Damond came running toward them. But that has been all I’ve seen where the shooter is concerned.

And, frankly, if he was startled by a woman running toward him in her pajamas, there were still steps he should have taken before shooting her. He should have ordered her to stop and hold her hands where he could see them. He should have told his partner to move the car. Those are just two things. But, to the best of my knowledge he did none of them.

Now, according to the friend, he is upset because he is being thrown under the bus by other cops. Perhaps, then, it is time for him to give a statement and tell everyone his side of the story. Otherwise, all we have is conjecture.

Oh, and a supposed witness who may or may not have seen the shooting. The witness most definitely saw what happened afterwards and can testify about the demeanor of both officers involved.

This is a tragedy that never should have happened. I am a supporter of cops and all first responders. However, I look at situations like this and wonder if it was poor training, poor trigger discipline or what that brought about this situation. Sure, Damond should have waited for the cops to tell her to approach but she did what I’m sure any number of us would have done, especially after having to wait for the unit to arrive. She ran forward to, presumably, tell them why she called.

And she paid for it with her life.

It is situations like this that cause the public to lose confidence in our police. I applaud the Minneapolis mayor for asking the police chief to resign. Between this incident and others in the city, it was one step they mayor could take to show the public she was not going to sit still and wait for a repeat. However, it doesn’t bring back Damond. Nor does it answer the questions we all have about why the officer fired.

Worse, there have been stories alluding to the fact the officer has been involved in other incidents that bring his judgment or actions as a cop into question. I’m sure we will hear more about that as the case progresses. My fear is that we will learn this is a cop who should not have been on the street but was allowed to remain there for who knows what reason. If so, I hope to hell Damond’s family and fiance sue the shit out of the city and the cop.

There are a lot of good, reliable and caring cops out there. Just like we don’t see good news reported in the media, we don’t hear about them. That gives us a jaundiced view of our police forces and makes the job harder for those who are good cops. My one hope is if, as I suspect, this turns out to be a bad shooting, the cop feels the full force of the law. That’s not because of his sex or his race or his beliefs or anything except he is a cop and cops should be held to a higher standard than the average citizen in situations like this.

God’s rest, Ms. Damond, and I hope your family eventually finds peace. I doubt there can ever be any understanding in this situation.

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