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. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Three of Me (Being a bi-polar author)

So, non-sorta-book related. But definitely related to me. 

I recently had a convo with my best friend and we were discussing my "people gravitating" personality at signings and such. She was surprised to learn that when I'm in that "mode", I could actually be having a bi-polar episode. In other words, my brain is firing on every single cylinder at an extreme rate. I'm charismatic, I'm sharp and witty--able to entertain and make the party. That's not really a full-picture of who I am, as a person.

Here's the thing many are not aware of when it comes to some mental illness (because that is what depression in any of it's forms is...an illness). Sometimes, it's not always easy to tell if someone is in a emotional crisis. They always think it's when the person is down, sad, not wanting to meet the day, staying in bed or just dropping off the radar. 

Sometimes, it is opposite end of that spectrum. Full of energy as if bursting with it. Socializing with everyone and having the best time possible. Their minds are going a million miles a minute and everyone is amazed at this dynamo of a person. Their creativity may be a hyper-level as well. Able to complete a book in days. Edit in hours. Crank out short-stories or poetry on the fly. 

That too, is an emotional crisis when you have bi-polar depression. That's how it is for me. In my Shadow-Keepers stories, I talk about the Void. Where if it is kind enough to restore one to life, it always has a price. This is my creative way of saying what it's like for me. 

With me, my creativity is my life-giving resource to get through my days. Writing is my therapy and a much needed one. But when depression is my own personal "Void", it's like part of me is dying. I can feel it to the very depth of my soul. And I am desperate to fight my way out of the void. The void yawns wider after I've had one of these highs from bi-polar. 

The higher the fly, the lower the drop. 

So after events like RT that are several days long, while I'm flying through it and finding amazement among my peers, I know that the fall is going to hurt. I know that my Void will want a price for giving me life. No brain, no person can go at that level for any substantial amount of time. The human mind is just not engineered that way. The "normal" (and I use that term with a smirk...) mind keeps a happy medium between the highs and the lows. Normal depression may bring bring low back to the normal, but with bi-polar, we swing way beyond the normal. Extremely polar opposites hence the name.  I also have PTSD and that makes those lows very hard to get past. 

I, and others that suffer from bi-polar-ism, have incredible highs and then we have devastating lows. 

So, back to the point. No one knew I was having a crisis at that event or any others before it. No one knew that when I took all those bathroom breaks, I was having a bit of a break-down. I was either crying or throwing up as my brain chemistry ran the gambit. Sometimes, all that was needed for the anxiety of it was some quiet time away. Other times, it manifested in my throwing up, killing some of those high made influences in the act of it. Heaven help me if I hadn't eaten in awhile. Dry heaves suck. I don't sleep for days. I don't think I had 6 hours total the whole time and that was with dealing with my personal life while RT was going on. I wouldn't have slept regardless.

You all had no idea I was in a crisis, how could you? You just saw someone that was on their game. In their zone...and I was. But it's one that I knew I would have to pay the price to.

After this last event, I was barely able to function for days. I was dragging, I was depressed and I had to force myself to focus on even  the simplest of tasks. But I've dealt with being me for a long time, so I still posted positively on my social media sites, presented myself as professionally as I could for my day job. But as with all my lows, my health took the hit too. I developed a cold, headaches, nausea and my energy level was zero. I had one instance where I completely blacked out and was dizzy. But I made it through. And today, I'm back to my "normal" level in the middle. 

The problem with all this is very simple: If you meet me in a less stressed situation, I may not be the same "person" you met at an event. I might be more reserved even withdrawn. I can't promise that at the next event I won't be high. I can't assure you I won't be low. I can't commit to be in the middle For lack of a better way of saying it. I may just be me...

But that's wrong too. 

I'm always me. When I'm high or when I'm low. Or when I'm riding in the middle of my wonderful yet complex mind. I'm still. Me.

It's not easy to get to know me and it's even harder to understand me. The few friends I have, completely do and I am so grateful for that. Family has tried their best, but I'm one very complicated person.  After all, it's hard enough to fully understand ONE me, much less...THREE me's. It's EXTREMELY hard for me to make long-lasting friends or even have relationships. Such is the nature of the disease. it's been an issue for all of my adult life. But in the last few years, I've come to terms with it--it's not completely me that's screwing up every single relationship, it's the illness having a big hand in it. And I am honest and tell people, welcome to my roller-coaster. Hope you know how to strap in...rather than hide and fake my way through my days to those closest to me. 

For those that have read my books, you suddenly have a light bulb go on when you see I've laid all of this out in my characters. A split personality of three-- one dark, one crazy and one that everyone loves.  See...write what you know. 

I don't know why I felt the need to write this. Maybe it's to spotlight the least known end of the depression spectrum, since I met so many of you. I really hope I didn't just shoot myself in the author foot and now events are rushing to remove me from their attending author lists. Please don't. I can promise you, even without the high, I'm pretty cool. I'm also asking not to be "observed" or "whispered about" to try to look for the signs at the next event. Please don't. Just let me be me, and you be you. I REALLY didn't put this out there for future speculation. 

I love my books. And I love my readers. I love being an author and a part of this wonderful writing world, even if it complete frustrates and babbles more days than not. But writing and creating are LIFE SAVING to me. They are my medication beyond the ones I'm prescribed. I need them. As much as the RX. On the days when I'm having a low and sitting here crying  to look for some light in my void, it's as simple as a person saying they read my books or a fellow author sharing my teasers. Or hell, just doing something silly with one of my fan-fiction characters in social media and making someone, somewhere, somehow....laugh. I gave what I don't have myself at the moment, as a way to finding it in myself when I need it. 

I'm always in some sort of crisis. Some are big. Some are small. Some are not there or barely at all (gee, went kind of Dr. Seuss there...).  All I ask, as anyone who suffers from a mental illness should, is just respect and know that it's my crisis to deal with. Just know I'm quirky and diverse and every single one of you are so important to dealing with it all.  And help in ways you may not even be aware of...just by being here. Even if you're silent. Even if you're not. Just don't look for the signs of where I am in my mind...

Just be willing to respect the pathway I'm taking and know it's going to be a very interesting trip.  And all I can hope is you're willing to help me when I fall or applaud me when I run... Or just let me find my footing on my own. 

Because, it's just me...

Being me. 

Thank you and take care. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review - The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

So, I dove into J.R. Ward's new non-vampire/non-paranormal series - The Bourbon Kings. I used to love the BDB series until the 3-4th book and lost interest. Characters all seemed the same and the males well....became wusses. (IMO)
But I did love those early books, the way they were written and add to that? She based it in my beloved Kentucky.
OR..supposedly it's based in Kentucky. I can't get more than a 1/3 of the way in because she made of names for EVERYTHING. The Derby? Different name. The historic racetrack where it takes place? Different name.

She even gave my UK Wildcats a different mascot and calls it The Kentucky University.

It was honestly like reading a book about Kentucky written by someone who knew NOTHING about Kentucky...except they knew KY has horses and bourbon--that's all we need to reference, right? That'll make it pass as being based in the state? Therefore they decided to do ZERO research to find out any of the real facts and/or places.

Now, that's amateur mistake or someone that just doesn't care about reality...or a fantasy book. But none of those facts apply:
1. J.R. Ward is an accomplished best selling author on all the lists.
2. This book is based as fiction, but not fantasy nor paranormal. The places, history and people of Kentucky are very real and should be treated as such.
But the biggest thing is this-- Ward actually LIVES in Kentucky, so the research was fairly easy. She claims to love the region and it's history yet not enough to give it the spotlight in a book that will surely hit the best-sellers due to who she is? (And now it's going to be a TV show). Was she afraid she'd have to pay them royalties? No, she'd simply had to request a right for usage and not defame or slander the public entities. They are public domain--actual streets, schools, places....
It makes no sense to me. So, as she's making up names for all the iconic places that are actually known by most as being Kentucky, I found myself finding that since the places she references are given fake names etc, the whole book feels, well, fake. (It would be like someone referencing in a book over and over - Times Circle in the middle of New Fork, New Fork).
Now I know, there is no Caldwell, NY but that's also clearly all made up for the BDB series which is a fictional/fantasy/paranormal series. So I go into that being none of this is real..its an escape and fantasy as that type should be. So I needed no real connection to enjoy the books.
But Kentucky has very real and historical connections and therefore, when she bastardized those for her own use without consideration, I decided I can't read any more of the book. Add to that the perceived stereotypical "southern" flavor she portrayed it's people as having...
The Bourbon Kings just seemed like a cheap bottle of Mad dog 20/20 rather than a smooth, Kentucky Bourbon as it should have been.
Take care - JTW

Monday, August 10, 2015

Up up and, oh wait.

So today I had to fly out for business. It was a sunny bright day in Houston, and of course, hot as well, Houston.

I'm leaving for two weeks to go to Lexington Kentucky and theres a bittersweet vibe around it. After living there for almost 14 years and loving it, but having to leave my beloved farm and life behind when first my job went away. And then my marriage.

So here I was. Once again employed by my former employer (thanks for that by the way) and going back to the scene of the crime where my life imploded.

The airport stage was perfect. Heck...security didn't even hassle me (TSA usually does...a drug sniffing dog actually peed on me once) and I even found a comfy chair and a plug to charge and wait out my boarding time.

That's when things went wonky.

First...they overbooked and carry-on was a luxury only first-class got to have. The rest of us "valued" customers had to gate check our bags. Uh. No. It's got my WIP, my flash drive of books and for lack of a better way of saying it, my underwear  (don't judge, other bag was full). But I've done the travel thing and if my luggage was lost, it was NOT going to include my in editing copy of LUST, my WIP on my flash and well, commando just makes me feel weird.

So, I explained I needed that bag for medical reasons (aka I would kill innocent people if I lost its contents) and got to keep my bag.

So, got to my seat and settled in. It was easy from here, right? Hah.

Second was  Puke Barbie. Yes, yes...that seems derogatory, but she was blonde, she was tan and tall and she had a tshirt that actually said...Barbie. (See, you judged too soon, didn't you). But apparently Barbie had too much bar drinks and needed to let it go. Literally. Cue Barbie running down the aisle to the bathroom at takeoff saying she needed to puke.

She didn't make it to the bathroom because its happy seatbelt time. Stewardesses tried to point this out. Puke Barbie don't care. Puke Barbie gonna hurl.
On my shoes. And that bag I had shoved under my seat. Yep. That happened. So, plane is halted, cleaned and Puke Barbie escorted away. I'm guessing to call rehab Ken.

So...what else could happen? Right?

Third...Oh...I don't know. Anyone order a side of screaming child of 3 of parents that don't speak English? Sitting right across from them? I think they were Arabic, but no one on the plane spoke it or if not, not that either. They tried explaining screaming 3-year old had to be in a seat and buckled. The parents just smiled, nodded and held child in lap. This went on like this until poor kid was having a melt-down that nice flight lady was touching him. Or really hated seatbelts. Or Barbie had scared the beegesus  out of him. I know my shoes had that fear fulfilled.

So, apparently, if you're asked to do something three times on a flight, its FAA rules you are non-compliant..at 3 years old...and not knowing English. Smiling and nodding does not compliance make.

So plane gets sent back to the gate again. Elaborate hand gestures, loud talking (because talking English LOUD makes it more universal, right?) did not alleviate the situation and the captain pulled the "off of my plane" power. Family had no idea what's going on. Child is getting more upset and the family is trying to explain...in non-not-english words.

Now the whole time this sad drama is going on people are getting pissed. Chants of kick them off and boot them (all in very colorful English) are being heckled about in the puke scented, child freaking space and me?

Well, see...plane aisles are narrow and since a lovely yet round stewardess is trying to control the situation (and doing so LOUDLY)... Her equally round and not so lovely rear is all but in my face. Literally...like RIGHT there. She's one of those physically animated talkers and that butt was bobbing and weaving with each LOUD vowel. And a few adjectives. And I was really wishing I was off the plane with Puke Barbie at that moment.

So, the family was ejected off the plane, people cheered and we were off again.

Now I'm in flight and we have a ton of turbulence (Barbie would have never survived, poor thing) and I'm thinking about that whole bad things come in threes, right?

Which, of course, led to going down in flames. In hitting a mountain. Or birds. Or alien space ships. Anything really that would change the current 20,000 feet in the air status. Quickly. As in aaaaa...splat.
My author brain went to this:
Oh crap. Whose going to finish my books? There's so many to write!
Hmm...did I leave the cat enough food?
Shoot...I'll never finish my edits.
Oh look, soda. In tiny cans.
And finally...

If I die right now, what is the last thing I have to leave behind before I go?

Hmmm...Puke Barbie and Loud English. What I legacy I'm leaving behind. :)

Oh, if you're wondering, I survived and am in Charlotte. Guess who else is here too...anyone got a barf bag for my next flight?

Take care, JTW

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Business of a War

So, I live in the south. Have lived in the south I guess most my life since the state of Kentucky calls itself the south. The rest of the time, good ole' Southeast Texas. I would be blind or in coma not to be aware of the current debate over the confederate flag. 

Let's not even discuss the sick murderer who killed those people for it was pure and simple - a hate crime. He hated. Now he pretty much told us he's a racist. Done. No need for discussion...I personally hope his hatred filled ass gets the death penalty. The color or creed of his victims doesn't even need to be discussed, so I won't. He's hateful. Simple as that. 

But...it did make for a very heated debate about the confederate flag. Let's clear up a little history in a simple way.  

The confederate flag came about when some states decided not to support our president - Lincoln when he took the step to emancipate the slaves of the United States. When he decided that all men (because women got their rights after the African-American's did) had the right to be free and therefore the right to vote. 

Seems honorable and in my opinion, it was. 

But back to that flag. The southern states hated that idea. They relied on slaves to do their free labor. Now, focus on that. Free. Labor. A slave was normally given a meal a day, worked long hours, the simplest clothes and sometimes the simplest of housing--if they were given housing. Some masters treated their slaves better than others. Some whipped them and beat them and killed them. Some mated with the females only to have children they refused to acknowledge. Now before you get your hackles up...I'm not making this up. It's the history. Not the history they show in  movies, but the actual way it was. There were good masters. And there bad masters. The same could be said for about every person in power.

So, the southern slave owners, some of them very prominent government officials, did the math. If they had to start paying slaves to do the work, they would lose a lot of money. If they had to pay other immigrants (let's not forget that the Irish and the Scottish were also traded as slaves in our country) then they would have to pay more. Keep in mind that most plantation owners were rich. As in, in some cases, treated like royalty. Real blue bloods. 

But above all, they were businessmen, so right or wrong, they made a business choice. It had nothing to do with heritage, being proud of being southern or fighting for what was right (because enslaving any person is wrong. By today's standards and at the time, their own, due to new laws). 

That choice was to protest the government. Go against it's laws and disobey and declare war on their fellow man and the president that ruled over them all. But they needed a flag that symbolized their cause. So the confederacy flag and it's own currency was created. (There are actually several different versions...but lets stick with the one everyone knows). 

For those that aren't clear about the civil war, let's summarize that with the facts:

Until the Vietnam war....the Civil War...aka the right to own slaves war between the Northern States and the Southern had more lives lost than all other wars before Vietnam combined. That's right folks. And who were those lives lost? Americans. Yeah, we were killing each other. 

  1. Roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation's wars--620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts. It was only as recently as the Vietnam War that the amount of American deaths in foreign wars eclipsed the number who died in the Civil War.

For a business plan.  The South lost by the way. Just in case you didn't know.

Now, lets fast forward to now. 

All over local and state governments are taking down the confederate flag. Uh, it's a flag. I  understand Southerns are pissed that it's being done. I've heard the reasons - It's our heritage. It's our right to show our history.

Uh...I myself am kind of ashamed of that part of our history. And not because I'm racist. I'm not but because...620,000 lives were lost. Brothers fighting against brothers. Fathers lost and never seeing their families again. And those lives...were all  colors.

The confederacy is no more. It hasn't been a governing body in a very long time. Why does its symbol belong or have the right to be hung next to that of our United States (see that word? UNITED)?  Why does it fly next to our States, some of which - Texas - had it's own war to be a part of that United status.  And won. 

I live in the South. I've been raised in the south. And ANYONE who lives here will tell you--you fly that flag, you are not exactly considered a opened minded person if you support the beliefs that flag represents. Sure, it doesn't mean slavery supporter per se. Nor does it say, "Hey, I'm a racist. Someone go get me a slave," but it does say that you are proud of some of the portions it represented. And since we can't label it with just what portions you do support, the racist and redneck ignorance label going to be applied.

It's a flag of a lost war. Of a business decision of the rich to go against their own country. And before you vilify me with your I'm not loyal to my heritage crap, back off.

I love the South. I love the people and the kindness that we show. I love how when bad times hit us we bond together and help any way we can.

But proud of a history that deserves to be put away and not reminded of by a flag of an ideal lost in battle long ago....probably not. In fact, not at all.

Isn't it time the South is known for more than what that flag represents? Yes....finally.

Take it down, put it in museums and let the past go. 

We have ENOUGH problems in our present. As a country, we ONLY need one flag--and I would like to point out it has different colors too. It may not represent ALL the colors that make this country so great in its threads of red, white and blue, but we as a people know that all colors can stand proud under those colors as it waves overhead. It's the only one that matters. For if we lose sight of being a UNITED states of America, UNDER god....then we might as well just roll up all the flags and let them fall because our future is doomed. 

Thank you. 

An Island Survival Story

I thought about writing this post for awhile. Why you ask?

Because nowadays it seems like just about EVERYTHING can be spun around to be about race, gender, sexual preference and I didn't want to stir the already boiling pot. But...I decided to post it...
Recently I went through my first tropical weather event here on the island. Now, I've lived in this region most of my life but just recently moved to the actual coast.

I watched as those four children moved through the masses, a smirk appearing on my face as they moved towards those precious cases of water. I thought to myself--this is a riot in the making. I knew what was about to go down.

But here's the thing I, nor perhaps anyone saw coming. 

See, if you've never lifted a case of 24 bottles of water, they're rather heavy. Try lifting four--yeah, that's a feat. But as I stood there watching this all play out, those boys were grabbing four cases--two to a team--and putting them in OTHER people's carts. They were incredibly polite and they didn't do it for just one or two, they did it for everyone that was there--or at least they offered to.

Then when the poor, overworked Walmart employee pulled a pallet of the last water to be had in the store, those boys then went on to help him upload those and continue to assist customers with loading that water in carts. The water was distributed fairly quickly and the aisle started to clear.

Some people said thank you. Some people declined help politely and some seemed almost insulted or disgusted that their buggy was touched and they approached.

But not once did these young people not smile and be polite. They just moved on and helped someone that didn't mind the assistance. I shook my head in amazement at the giving nature of some and the ignorance of others in the midst of it.

As I walked with my buggy full of one case and supplies in the still bright sunlit day, I glanced over to see that the mother and her children were now outside waiting on the sidewalk in front of the store. All four kids looked like they had ran a marathon and the mother was busy looking for change to buy them a generic soda in the machine. I stopped and happily offered the few actual dollars I had since the machine didn't take debit/credit. She shyly thanked me and I couldn't help but notice she had gotten the bare necessities in her buggy and she still held the receipt and food stamp card in her hand as she dug for that change. Each boy thanked me and were happy to get those cold sodas after working so hard.

Walking away, I glanced back once more to see the family was waiting for the public bus that serviced the island. The boys helped the mother bring her groceries up into the bus and then the doors closed and the bus drove away.

Now...this is a simple story. And not that incredible in today's society where people are pulling people out from in front of trains or finding the lost. But to me, it spoke volumes in the one fact that seems to be lost to so many.

There's no need, as some tellers of the tale might do, to say the race of the family. There's no need to describe the age, gender of those that accepted the help and those that treated it like it was something malicious.

No, because in the end, the one word I will use to describe the demographic of all those involved in the Island survival story is this...