Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Story of The South - Through the Eyes of A Child

I'm going to tell you a story. It doesn't have any twists. No plot ploys. No taboos. Just reality. I know that's not in style, but today, more than ever, maybe we need some reality. I should warn you now... It doesn't have an HEA. It has no hero. No damsel and no supernatural badass to save the day. Just some reality from the past of a girl, living in the south... Read at your own discretion.
I was raised in the deep south of Texas. In the very heart of the KKK in this region. So much so that I had family that were in the klan. I was raised around it. Offered allowance to help do banners and signs. It was every day life and just a fact of it.

That all changed when I was six years old. We were coming back from visiting family through a town by the name of Vidor, Texas. See, Vidor was well known back then as a racists community. Everyone knew it. It too, was a fact. There was a time when the government wanted to diversify that small Texas town. So they did what they thought would change it's factual existence.

They moved in people of color.

I remember hearing my relatives rant and rave about action. The government had NO SAY so in what they believed worked for their community. I myself, wondered how those families of color felt. Were they scared like I was when I got in trouble for trying to friend the little black girl in my class? Yeah, my teacher told on me for that. I didn't know it was wrong. I didn't even know those banners and signs meant I was supposed to hate people of color. I would be EXPECTED to when I was older. I didn't even know what the "N" word meant... not really. I just filled in the colors on the signs that were painted.

So back to that one night. I was sitting in the back seat and the car slowed down. I sat up and looked out the front windshield to see a bright light. That made no sense to me. We were on the back roads and far from town. It wasn't Christmas either. We came to a stop and I saw something that made no sense to my young mind.

It was a burning cross. Huge, burning cross. And it was burning in the front yard of a home. All these people had stopped to watch. Some tail-gated. Laughed and cheered. That confused me... why? It didn't look that entertaining to me. But there those people were. All watching this whooping and cheering activity in at a family's home. As I looked, I saw men in white sheets and hoods, much like the ones I've seen hanging in the homes of those around me, cheering and chanting too. Some were pointing at the house, screaming and I am so grateful now that the windows were up to keep out the black smoke as it drifted on the wind.

Then, being the inquisitive kid that I was, I looked closer. And that's when I saw a family huddled in front of a window watching the "show" too. But they didn't look to be entertained. No. They looked scared. Really, scared. Just a father, and his wife with what appeared to be two little kids, younger than me. Their faces lit by the flames that were eating up that wooden cross not even 10-feet from their front window. I remember feeling so bad for them. But didn't know why they just sat there and watched that. How could they? Shouldn't they just ignore it, wait for the flames to go out and it would go away?

As I look back at that night, it's amazing how clear it is in my head. How it's still so vivid. But now, I can answer the questions I had back then as a child who was on the cusp of becoming a racist. Which luckily, that night helped pull me from that horrible edge.

The father was watching out of diligence. Horrified, terrified, enraged diligence. See, he had to watch that to wait AND ANTICIPATE if one of those burning maniacs on his yard threw a burning bottle at his house. If one of those men smashed out his window. Went inside. Harmed his kids. Raped his wife. Killed him. He had to suffer watching people cheer and encourage as they poured on more gasoline on that burning cross to make sure it stayed lit for as long as they needed it to be.
Why didn't he send his kids to another room with his wife? That's easy too. What happened if he did that and someone broke into the back door? Got between him and his loved ones? And he could do nothing? No....that wasn't an option.

Why couldn't he go out there, scream, rant and maybe even brandish a gun at the haters in HIS yard? That's fairly simple too. The haters were armed. What if he went out there and they shot him? His wife? His kids? Or worse, he was killed and couldn't defend them?

See, it wasn't about the house. It wasn't about that cross. It wasn't about the man being weak. Or not as powerful. Nor was it about his family's right for the pursuit of happiness, home and safety.
No. It was about hate. I'm sure the man with his family HATED those men as much as the men that were trying to destroy his family.

But was it the man in that house's fault?
Did ANY of those haters know him? At all?
It was because the color of his skin.
Just pure, total, complete hate.
Can I blame that black man for being there? With his family? Trying to have the American dream just like the rest of us? No.

Don't blame the ones that are forced to stand up for themselves or try to make a choice when others with hate comes knocking.
Blame the ones that brought the hate to their door.

By the way - I'm not a racist. Never have been. And I prove, that it's a TAUGHT nature, but not one that can't be changed.

Please... don't bring hate to any door.

But if someone does? We have to NEVER sit by and just be entertained. Someone, WE have to be willing to kick down that cross and tell them to go...

Because right now? It feels like we have one HUGE burning cross in the middle of America's front yard.

To join in on the discussion of this post, please join me on Facebook where there has been so much insight on this subject. Take care- JTW


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Favorites from My Books

What can I say about COWBOY - Book Three of the Shadow-Keepers series?  It's hit on the Top 100 on Amazon for it's primary category more time than I can count, top 10 a handful of times. And it's been a year since it released! 
Readers love a badass, charming, sexy, cowboy Breaker with fangs.

As I write on MURDER, I am re-reading the last book written in my series and I find myself really loving some of the scenes within the pages. I thought I'd share one here.

And if you haven't ridden our Grid Cowboy, the link is here - get a taste. You will want more. :)


From Chapter Four

Jess has grown up as an orphan in a brothel in the American Old West and has had a crush on the brothel's madam for years. He also has a split personality that demands darkness--so he gets in fights when that need gets too great. This is right after such a fight. And what led to his very deadly and doomed future... 


Kid, hey kid, you alive?”
Before Jess could respond, he felt cold and wet followed by sputtered water as he pushed away from the man that was holding him under it. Looking at the watering trough before he brushed wet hair from his brow, he blinked to look up at the asker of the question. The man was older and stood with five other men, all staring down at him in obvious amusement—apparently they had thought dunking in the cold water was helpful...  
He blinked and spit out water mixed with blood before he nodded. He was back out driving and every bit of him ached from the beating. He looked around, saw that night had fallen over the town and he had apparently been lying in the grungy alley next to the saloon for hours. Grasping the wooden trough, he pulled himself up to his feet with a hiss of pain but was glad to actually be able to get upright. He swayed a bit as he sized up the men around him and prayed they weren’t there to give him a beating like the last group had done; Sundown was most likely snoozing after being fed so well.
“I’m alive, mister.” Jess glanced back at the water container and shrugged. “Though drownin’ could have changed that. Am I supposed to say thanks for that?” He went to walk away from them, spitting out more blood but his arm was grasped by the man to halt him.
“Hold on there, kid.”
Jess looked at the guy and pulled his arm away; he stepped up close to find he was actually broader and taller than the man. “Why? If you want to beat on me, how about you give me a minute to grab some grub, dry off and let my balls drop from the last beatin’? That would be polite and all.”
The man laughed as well as the others. “Damn, you’re a big, smart ass one, ain’t you? How old are you?” Sundown growled a bit in Jess’ head but he ignored it, really not wanting to brawl so soon. The apparent leader didn’t even seem blustered by Jess standing tall to him. “Actually, we came up on the tail end of your ass whoopin’ and were pretty impressed. How would you like to do a job for us? Something simple but a way to prove you’re not a kid but a man. Sound like a deal you’d be interested in?”
Jess gave the man a smirk followed with a shake of his head. “I’m fifteen.  And I ain’t no kid. Or boy. So, unless you’re goin’ to hand out some money mister, I ain’t interested.” He went to once again walk away and a leather tied sack of coins hit the dirt in front of his feet. He stared at it like it had fallen from the sky or something, almost too afraid to pick it up and find out if it was real. But curiosity got the cat, and yep, him too as he bent over to pick it up. Looking inside, he saw buffalo nickels and even a silver dollar; Hell, maybe two and he smiled. “A’right. Now you have my interest. What is it you want me to do?”

The “job” had been easy—swipe a top shelf bottle of bourbon from the saloon without being caught and deliver it. Since Jess knew the barkeep—who got discounts at the whore house—it had been a real simple task of abusing that man’s trust without even knowing it and sliding the bottle under his threadbare jacket. He had delivered the bottle to the men who had tasked him with the deed and they have given him even more silver dollars and Jess thought this had to be the best day of his life.  He found out the leader of the gang was named Zack—and they were less than legal cattle rustlers. Jess had found this out when he saw the same lesson learned in Madam Prissy’s applied pretty much anywhere—men who drank, talked. About just pretty much everything that rattled through their liquor fueled brains.
Jess didn’t care that they stole for a living, all he cared about was the fact they were a chance to go beyond this town. To become a man, like the one in black and make something of himself—someone that people respected and looked at in appreciation. So his new goal was set but first, he had a few things to take care of.
The lady at the general store looked like he had grown two heads when he bought the new black shirt, jeans and even nice, shiny boots to match. But those were all just dressings to what he really came there to buy—a brand new, shaped to just his head, Stetson. They didn’t have a silver band to go around the crown but it would do, for now. The final thing he bought was a bath in one of those big tubs at the hotel along with a shave. Something he usually did with his sharp knife in front of a cracked mirror in his room.
Now he was dressed in his new clothes, hat, freshly clean and the final purchase he had in mind before he left town was actually at the place he had called home for years—Madam Prissy’s House of Leisure.
Walking through the front door—something he had been forbidden to do for it was for client’s only—he stood in the front foyer and smiled as one of the girls approached him, his confidence soaring when she didn’t recognize him all spiffed up.
“Can I help you, Sir?”
He smiled and inclined his head up the stairs and removed his hat from his fresh slicked hair. “I want to see Madam Prissy.” It was when he took his hat off that she recognized him and her brows went up as did her smile.
And her cleavage as she showed it off … Damn, he guessed he really did clean up good. But she knew the rules—very few, if any got to be served by the madam, so she stepped up to say low, “I don’t know what game you’re playing, Jess, but I don’t think …”
“That’s quite alright, Delta. I’ll take care of our guest.”
Jess’ eyes went past the young whore in front of him to land on Madam Prissy at the top of the stairs. She was dressed in a red corset with matching silk robe with her red hair piled up in curls on the top of her head. She wore more makeup now, but it didn’t matter to Jess—she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on.
He smiled up at her, his palms starting to sweat around the felt of his new hat in his hand and those new jeans getting real tight in one area by the second. How many times he had dreamed of this moment right here, only to notch it up to only ever being a dream.  But as Madam Prissy took each agonizingly arousing step down those stairs, one slow descent at a time, Jess wasn’t too sure if it wasn’t still a dream now. 
She reached the landing, came to stand in front of him, her red painted lips spreading into a smile as her eyes scanned up and then down to appraise him. “Why, Jess. Why do I believe your time is ending here?” A look of sadness spread across her fine features but then she schooled them as she placed a hand on his chest and the other over her heart. “Did you come just to say goodbye?” She lifted hazel eyes up to his and he once again thought dream time.
Jess placed his hand over hers, knowing she could most likely feel his heart racing like a tom-tom and he pulled out the leather money bag with the other. “Not exactly, ma’am. I have a few other things in mind before I do that.” He reached up to pull her hand away and set the bag of coins in it. “And I have you in mind to do those things with.”
Prissy weighed the bag in her trained hand as one elegant brow went up followed by another. Her smile then changed to one that made Jess ache so badly he thought he’d embarrass himself right there, with his virgin lack of skills ruining his one chance to have his dream come true. But rather than that happen, she took his hand in hers, wrapped her other hand against the nape of his neck to pull him down and whispered against his neck, her perfumed skin making him dizzy. “Well, Sir. I believe I am available.” 
Oh lord. You have got to let me watch. Please let me watch. I need to watch. Do. Not. Keep. Me… But before Sundown could complete his pleas to be a third in in his plans, Jess locked his dark side tight and decided right then and there, this activity was on a list of a few that were his, and his alone.
The thought of creating a list for Sundown fled for later when there was a gentle tug on his hand and Madam Prissy was pressing that amazing soft body against him beckoningly. Then, just like in all those dreams, she was walking him upstairs to that room he thought must be like paradise and closed the door behind them.