Want to Be A Writer? Cut the Crap!

Steinbeck - Writers Clowns

Welcome to the world of Clowns and Trained Seals…or somewhere in between.

A little over two and a half years ago, I published my first novel, Eyes of the Predator, on Amazon. I make no claims to be an expert in writing, publishing or making a ton of money as an author (I wish), but I have had a modicum of success and a few observations that might be of help if you are a new Independent Author. Or you might, just decide the old man is full of…well, you know. Only way to know is to read on, or not…your choice. I did learn that lesson early on in my writing career.

First, learn to write. Seems to be a no-brainer, right? Not so much.

If you haven’t already discovered it for yourself, there is a lot of junk out on the various ebook publishers’ sites. When I first started publishing my novels, I read that one way to become known is to do book reviews for other Independent Authors. I thought, great idea, and started building relationships on Social Media and soon had a few requests to review books for authors. I soon stopped that practice. Why? Because most of what I was reading was silly drivel, poorly written and poorly edited. I could not in good conscience give a positive review, and my personal feeling is that if I can’t say something positive about an author, struggling as I am in my own writing experience, I prefer to say nothing at all.

So, learn to write. How do you do that? Pretty simple really…write.

Oh, you can spend months researching, studying, reading, listening to advice from “experts”, but in the end you must write. I would also add, that you must read. Reading increases your feel for language, the conveying of emotion, sensory perception, drama and tension through words.

When, I go back and reread one of my novels, I invariably find passages that I wish I had written differently. Maybe one day I will return to the manuscripts and rework them, but for now, I push on, and I…yes, that’s correct…I write.

Second, cut the crap. Why, Glenn, whatever do you mean? Writing is my passion…my calling…he/she said, as he/she puts a wrist to their forehead and gazes dreamily into space overwhelmed by the majesty of the artistic calling of authorship…Bullshit.

Once you have decided to string words and sentences together in such a way that others will want read them, it is time to cut the drama…and the crap. Trust me, readers don’t give a flying &8$# about your calling. They want a good story, a riveting plot, characters they can relate to…they want to be entertained, or educated, or elevated in some way. They want to laugh, cry, feel fear, and hope, happiness and pain…they want a good book!

I am constantly annoyed by the drama I see in various writer’s groups, seminars, circles etc. I freely admit that I am not a young man and I tend to be easily annoyed by many things and people anyway, but I have a special distaste for the need of some to create drama in their lives. I do not speak of the drama in a good plot. I am talking about the personal, self-inflicted, breast-beating, look at me world sort of drama, or as I have termed it…crap.

For those authors who feel they must opine about their calling as a writer, I say…shut the hell up! Want to know what may be preventing you from fulfilling your “calling”, your “passion”? Forgive me for being direct (actually I don’t care if you forgive me or not), but the self-indulgent, narcissistic need to explain your calling and passion is sure to inhibit your focus on what you claim to be…a writer…. Additionally, it will annoy others (read Glenn). Seriously, cut the personal drama and write. You will be surprised at how much better you become at your “calling”.

 Third, be careful from whom you accept advice (including from me). Find your own way. Discover your own writing voice, style and way of sharing your stories with the world.

That is not to say that you can’t mimic styles. We all do, whether we admit it or not. Somewhere along the way, however, your style of writing becomes yours…personal and recognizable as belonging to you.

Fourth, writing is your job…your business. If you say to yourself, “I write for the joy of writing. I don’t care if anyone reads my words or not.” I say to you…Bullshit. (I use that word a lot I guess…call it my writing voice. I found it years ago,)

If you feel that way, you are a hobbyist. You are not a writer. Sorry if that sounds harsh. There is a place in the world for hobbyists, but not in the world of writers.

My advice, don’t take yourself as a writer too seriously (see Steinbeck’s quote above), but take the business of writing, damned seriously. Those of you who are engaged in the struggle to become published authors know that writing words means that you want someone, somewhere to read them. That’s the point of it all! There is no shame in being honest and admitting it. Deny it and you are a damned liar, or supremely confused about what being a writer entails.

How do you treat writing as a business? Have a work ethic. Go to work, so to speak, daily and write. Sit down and do it…stop talking about it. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Imagine that.

Fifth, promote your writing…your business. In fact, promote, promote, promote. No way around it, unless you have one of the premier literary agents and a sweet contract with one of the big publishing houses (In which case, you will likely not be reading this post).

Learn marketing and promotion so that others (call them readers…or even customers) know you are a writer and want to read what you have written. Be shameless about it. Are you proud of your work? Then promote it. If you don’t, no one else will.

Marketing and Promotion is a big topic. I am currently gathering some data that may be of interest to you about independent marketing. I will share it in an upcoming post…maybe. Until then, do what I did. Figure it out and keep promoting.

Oh, by the way, you must have a backlist…more books…lots more books. If you write one book, promote the hell out of it and have some success, readers will want to read more from you. If there is nothing to read, they (your readers…customers) will soon go somewhere else. I learned this the hard way. I’m slow, but eventually I figure things out. So as I have said above, write and keep writing!

 If you are a writer, and I have offended you…well, it wouldn’t be the first time. If you are a “writer by calling” (sigh of passionate joy at the thought of your literary calling)…I don’t care.

But, if you are serious about writing…if you want to write…take the mystery out of it and…Write!

Book Review – The Happy Spinster, by Karena Marie

Happy Spinster As I have said in the past, I read everything, and yes, on occasion I have been known to read erotica, but when I do it is only the best….and Karena Marie is the best.

Why is she the best? Have you ever noticed that many, most even, authors of erotica write as if they are scripting a scene from a C level porn video (Not that I would know anything about porn videos, of course).

Ms. Marie is not a porn writer, she is an author whose specialized niche is erotica. As in all of her books, the most erotic part of the book is the reality of her characters and the situations they encounter. There are no silly pretexts leading to the erotic scenes.(Nurses, pool boys, lonely housewives, etc.) Her characters are real, in real situations and that makes all the difference.

Sexuality is a part of life, a darned good part if you ask me. In the way that the most terrifying horror stories and thrillers have some basis in reality (Hitchcock’s Psycho, and The Rear Window come to mind), for me, the most tantalizing, scintillating erotica comes from the real world.

Karena Marie’s work is based in reality, and the reality increases the erotic tension of her stories. The Happy Spinster is no exception. Tawny is a believable character,  in control of her life and sexuality. Her encounters, while graphic, are believable , making them even more erotic.

Yes, I read everything. I like a good story and when I read erotica, I want it based in a lusty reality that I can envision.

In short, when I read erotica, I read Karena Marie.

Book Review – ‘From Manassas to Appomattox Memoirs of The Civil War in America’, by James Longstreet

longstreetThe war of northern aggression…the War between the States…the Civil War…call it what you will, the conflict that took more American lives than any other war and more than almost all of our other wars combined, changed the United States from a collection of, mostly independent, states into a nation. Without the Civil War, the history of this continent would have been vastly different.

For the record, I am a southerner, born in Georgia. I am not an apologist for slavery or the plantation society that made the south of the 19th century one of the richest places on earth at the expense of the terrible bondage of other human beings.

There is no doubt that many of the rank and file felt that they were fighting for freedom from the aggression of the Federal government, intent on preserving the union of states. Most southerners, in fact, did not own slaves. But, for those of my southern friends who try to justify the war on the basis of state’s rights, make no mistake about it…the states’ right they were trying to preserve was the right to own slaves.

Having said that, I have respect for my forebears who, misguided and wrong as they were, fought against overwhelming odds to secure what they mistakenly and ironically thought was “their freedom” to enslave others.

James Longstreet’s memoirs of the war is, perhaps, one of the finest and most detailed accounts of a great portion of the conflict that tore the country apart and resolved the issue of slavery that the Founding Fathers had put aside during the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Full of details and descriptive accounts of the movements of troops, battles and statistics Longstreet takes the reader backstage, into private meetings and strategy sessions with Lee and other generals as they planned campaigns and fought to stave off their eventual defeat.

His memoirs begin with his service in the Mexican War and subsequently in the west as a fairly junior officer. When war breaks out, he and a number of other officers, resign their commissions to return home and fight for their native state (country). During the course of the war, he rises to the rank of Lieutenant General, commanding the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of the strategies and battlefield conflicts, Longstreet gives us a rare, eyewitness view of the personalities involved, from his perspective.

The memoirs occasionally take on a tone of self-justification that the reader may not understand without knowing in advance that at the conclusion of the war, there were those in the south who tried to blame Longstreet for the south’s loss. To many at the time, it was impossible that Robert E. Lee, who had been elevated to almost god-like status, could have made mistakes. Instead, some found a scapegoat in Longstreet, claiming that he had not carried out orders aggressively enough or had failed to carry them out at all. Longstreet goes to great lengths to provide letters and documentation, many from Lee himself, to prove that his actions were in strict accordance with orders and with the military protocols of the day. The truth was that many of his detractors were covering their own failings and culpability for the loss of the war.

In the end, the discussion of responsibility for the loss of the war is moot. The south was destined to lose, as long as slavery was an accepted institution authorized by the government and as long as the north had the will to fight on and incur the significant losses in men and material the south inflicted on them. Certainly, when Ulysses Grant took command of union forces, the war became a war of attrition. The south could not replace losses as quickly as the north. At that point, the war was lost, as Longstreet, forcefully points out.

Longstreet writes in the 19th century style, which may make it a bit tedious for some readers, but if you are student of the Civil war, it is necessary reading in order to gain a full understanding of the relationship between what was happening on the battlefield and the political atmosphere of the day.

Want to understand our nation today, and the struggle that continues to put the shame of slavery behind us? If so, ‘From Manassas to Appomattox Memoirs of The Civil War in America’, by James Longstreet is a must read.

Note – The Kindle version is free ( or was) but does not contain maps, charts etc. Paperback or hardcover editions provide more visual context with maps etc., to help the reader understand the action at times.

 

An Easter Thought

Originally Posted – April 20, 2014

Happy Easter to all. If you count yourself among the faithful Christians, I truly hope the day is more for you and your children than colored eggs, bunny rabbits and candy.

I have been asked in the past about my religion, and my standard reply for those who are curious is that I do believe in God. I do not believe in religion. I should explain.

I have a general, universal distrust for groups, churches, governments, who make rules and laws for others. I think it is a healthy distrust. I am not an anarchist, or opposed to religion or government in general. I believe in law and order and protecting the rights of all people, whether I agree with them or not. And as I stated above, I do believe in God, a creator, if not in religion.

But I do see the tendency for groups of people who band together for whatever the purpose may be…political, religious, social, educational, etc…almost immediately to begin to expand their belief system and attempt to force, coerce or convince others to accept or live by it. Sometimes this expansion of group influence uses brute force. There are countless examples throughout history of brutal, military expansion, one nation forcibly occupying another, one group forcibly enslaving another. 

At other times social coercion is employed to expand the group’s influence and control. There are places where accepting the socially correct religious belief, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Jew, Muslim, is crucial to your ability to conduct business or to be treated as a first class citizen.

Sometimes the expansion is more innocuous. Missionaries knocking on my door to convince me of the truth of their particular belief system seem innocent enough and they generally are. But the act of proselytizing does indicate a general belief that the group feels compelled to convince others of the rightness, the superiority, of their beliefs. 

As an aside, I believe in freedom of religion and absolutely in free speech and would never try to restrict the rights of any person or group to say or teach what they think or believe. I merely use this as an example of the premise that groups of people have a tendency to feel that they have a solution or belief system that others should, or must, subscribe to.

I also, believe that people, individuals are generally trustworthy and good in their hearts. Yes, there are exceptions, and I write about those exceptions in my stories, but mostly, people are good. I trust people. When I stand face to face with another and conduct business, exchange ideas, share a laugh, appreciate a sunset or a mountain view, I respect that person and am grateful for the shared time, thoughts and laughter.

I have read Hawking, Darwin and the Bible. I have many questions about all three, but I have looked in awe at the enormous and magnificently intricate universe around us. I marvel at its beauty and power. I am excited by, and fearful of, its ability to eliminate us in a moment. It is complex and majestic. For me, reason and logic tell me that there is, in fact, a creator. Call him or her, God. That is what I believe.

I might add that the movement amongst atheists to curtail the celebrations of others is repugnant to me. This movement has become a sort of religion on its own, and as I said about groups in general, they always seem to have a tendency to want to control others and expand their belief system. Atheists are no exception to the rule.

Having said that, I am not offended by non-believers, or by those who believe more than I do. The celebration, or lack of celebration, of one group does not abrogate my rights, unless I am forced to subscribe to that group’s belief system.

If you are a Christian, I sincerely wish you the happiest and most meaningful of Easter celebrations. If you do not subscribe to Christianity, I wish you well equally in your own belief system. Most of all I would hope for tolerance and freedom for everyone to believe, or not believe, according to the dictates of their hearts and their reason.

I leave you with the thoughts of a couple of people I admire.

“When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion” ~Abraham Lincoln~ (attributed)

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. ~Albert Einstein~ “Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium”, 1941

Best wishes – Glenn

 

The World Was A Very Dark Place

Try One More Time - Edison

It is uncertain how many attempts Thomas Edison made before he found a suitable carbon substance to use as the filament in the first viable electric light bulb. Different reports  say 10,000 others 6,000. In one interview,  Edison was asked if he felt like a failure and if he didn’t think that perhaps it was time to quit, to give up on the electric light bulb.

Edison is reported to have replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”

His wasn’t the first light bulb. The concept had been around for a while. Others had given up. He did not. The world was a very dark place before Edison.  We hunkered down in the dark, staying close to our candles and gaslights. He changed that, but it took time.

For me, the greatest sin is this…To give up, to allow our lives to be dark and barren because we did not try, because we gave up. Never let others talk you out of your dreams.

Our dreams make our lives.
Best – Glenn

The Great American Novel? uhmmm…. well….Review of Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Review: ‘Moby Dick; or The Whale’ by Herman Melville

The Great American Novel? My high school literature teacher said that it was. I’m old enough now to disagree and say…No. A great American classic. Yes, I would go along with that, but the one great American novel…No.

I don’t believe in a one “Great” anything. There will always be someone or something different or better, including novels. Having said that, I did manage to work my way through Melville’s ponderous, and often tedious classic tale for the second time, and surely the last time, in my life.

So why is it a “Classic”? The story line, I suppose. Melville created a dark, ominous and intriguing character in Ahab, possessed by the need for revenge against the Great White Whale, Moby Dick. His obsession becomes possession, pitting him against pious Starbuck as innocent Ishmael looks on and records their battle for the souls of the crew.

In truth, there are some literary gems in the book as well. I find the opening chapters, Ishmael’s arrival in Nantucket, the inn, signing on as part of the crew of the Pequod, description of the Pequod’s two owners, Captains Peleg and Bildad and Ishmael’s interaction with his pagan friend Queequeg to be well written and enjoyable by any standard.

After that, the story bogs down in Melville’s tedious and usually incorrect study and classification of whales. Melville maintained, as did many of his day that whales were fish, not mammals, although he was not alone in that analysis at the time.

There are moments of interesting dialogue interaction among the characters, but in general, the parts of the book that everyone knows are the parts that we see in the various film adaptations of the story. There is a reason for this. Melville’s style in Moby Dick is tedious.

Even taking into account that he was a nineteenth century writer, his sentence structure and deeply dramatic descriptive passages can be tiring and sometimes confusing. I enjoy and prefer a number of other nineteenth century writers -Dickens, Cooper, Bierce, Crane, Poe, Emerson, Thoreau- and find their works enjoyable, even if written in the formalized style of the times. Frankly, Melville wears me out, at least in Moby Dick.

A word to all of my animal loving friends. Moby Dick is about whaling and whales are killed. Some of Melville’s best passages relate to the killing of the whales and the men who faced them in small boats on the open ocean. Lest we judge too harshly and impose our twenty-first century morality on those who lived before us, we should remember that the world was a very dark place before electricity. Whale oil made it a bit brighter. That’s not a defense, just reality.

I have no doubt that if Melville were to plop his manuscript down on the desk of a modern agent or publisher he would be rejected with only a form letter and no call back.

Even so, I give it four stars for a couple of reasons. The story is classic. As mentioned above, certain parts of the story and the conflict between good and evil, obsession and reality are masterful. The characterization of people who crewed ships powered by sail, and went out on the waters to face the great whales is honest and real. For its day, Moby Dick was, indeed, a classic.

Here’s a link to get it free on Amazon Kindle if you are courageous enough to give it a try, but no dishonor for passing on it. I’m just a devil for punishment.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004TRXX7C/

Best – Glenn

Good and Evil in A Dangerous World – An Important Discussion

 

Evil Danger - Einstein

I recently posted the above quote on my Facebook page and received the following comment from a very good person. I wish I were as good. My response was too long for Facebook so I thought I would share it here. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts if you want to share. This is an important discussion.

 “You could really spark some real conversations with posts like this, Glenn! So here’s my two cents: I would say that people who think that they have to do something about evil are misguided into thinking that means they have to fight evil. You stop evil by shining so brightly that there is no darkness in which to do evil in. If the people who wish no harm to others are out there supporting and (God forbid) helping each other, then evil cannot get a foothold.

I sincerely appreciate the purity of your comments Sara. You are a good person, much better than I, and I accept your thoughts without dismissal.

Having said that, and meaning it, I feel compelled to add my own comment. In my personal experience, sometimes directly confronting evil is the only way to remove it and that means at times, that good people must face, fight and erase the evil…yes, that’s a euphemism for ‘kill it’.

Good people led their lives and set good examples while the Nazis murdered millions of Jews, Poles, Slavs, Gypsies, the infirm, homosexuals, the handicapped and anybody else they didn’t much like. Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, often forcing them to dig their own graves and then burying them alive so as not to waste bullets. The good people of the world lived good lives, setting good examples all the while. I have personally encountered in my law enforcement career a few truly evil people whose elimination from humanity (read ‘death’) would have made the world a better place. No I didn’t kill them, but could have and slept very soundly for the rest of my life if I had.

As a believer in freedom and liberty for all, I am at heart a non-aggressor…even a pacifist. As long as a person does not try to deprive me, my family, my friends of their liberties, including their lives, I am at peace with them. Do what they will, leave me alone and all is well. However, if a person wishes to deprive us of our basic liberties, then I will confront and erase the threat to liberty.

My definition of evil is this – the deprivation of basic human liberties, natural rights. These are rights we all possess, not because of the country we were born in, but because we were born as human beings. They are the desires of the human heart. They separate us from the other animals. The natural rights include life, freedom of speech, thought, to work, not to work, to worship God, not to worship God, movement, commerce to provide for my family, to protect myself and family, etc. You do not have to be an American to desire these rights; you only have to be born. Those ideas are not original with me. John Locke, Voltaire, Jefferson, Napolitano, Hayek have all written eloquently about these ideas. I highly recommend their works.

Liberty Easy Die - Anderson

So, to me, there are times when one must fight, even die if necessary. Those who would deprive us of liberty, our natural rights, are evil in ways that humanity cannot and must not accept, if we are to remain human.

Remember, Einstein, whose quote about evil began this conversation, fled Germany because of the evil there. By all reports, he was a good person, if somewhat eccentric. His goodness did not change the fact that had he remained in Germany he would have likely died a terrible death in a concentration camp.

There are many forms of evil. In many cases, I agree that setting your own good example, living life peacefully is the best way to address the daily evils around us. But other evils must be addressed, in my opinion, directly.

As I said, the yearning for those basic natural rights is what makes us human. Those who would deprive or eliminate those rights have demonstrated that they are, in fact, outside of humanity. When evildoers leave the bounds of basic humanity, when their goal is to deprive us of our basic natural rights, then, in my opinion, they must be confronted…and eliminated.

Just the thoughts of an old man…who would protect your liberties.

Best – Glenn

Evil - Rand

Sample – Blood Reckoning: The Pickham County War

PCW Cover 072214B

If you’ve been waiting for the next in The Hunters series, this is to let you know that it will be released in the next few days. Thought you might like to see the cover and a free sample. Best wishes as always, and Have a Great Day – Glenn

1. Perfect Time of Day

It was the perfect time of day. Across the salt marshes, the eastern horizon glowed cherry red. Beyond the marshlands and barrier islands, a shiny sliver of water sparkled at the point where the sky met the ocean.

He rested against the hood of his car watching the sunrise for the moment it would show the top of its fiery head. It pleased him, the anticipation, waiting for that split second when it was visible for the first time that day.

A sultry breeze swayed the saw grass that stretched across the miles of marsh to the shore. Completely content in the moment, he sipped a cup of coffee from a convenience store on I-95. The warmth of the engine through the sheet metal warmed his backside where he leaned against the car. It was a pleasant sensation in the early morning. This close to the Atlantic, the night breeze blowing out towards the water was brisk and fresh, even in mid-summer. Once the sun was up, the wind would change and blow in from the ocean providing relief from the coastal heat. He knew this from experience, not education. This was his home. He had roamed the tidal marshes and shores of Georgia and Florida most of his life.

His reverie was interrupted by the deep-throated roar of a motorcycle pulling off the interstate into the rest area. The man straddling the seat was long-legged; his knees bent high even with the bike’s seat pushed far back from the foot pegs. Behind him, a girl nestled close, arms around his waist, her head leaning against his shoulder as if she were napping as they rode. He noted her full breasts pushed against the biker, the soft, curving bulge from the side of her tank top. He smiled.

The Harley pulled in and stopped a few spaces away, closer to the building and restrooms. The rider cut the rumbling engine abruptly, and the sudden silence was a heaviness that deadened his hearing. Gradually, other sounds replaced the engine’s roar. The gentle rush of the blowing breeze and the traffic droning on the highway brought things back to peaceful, humming normality.

The two got off the motorcycle and stretched. As he had thought, the rider was tall, at least six feet five. He walked into the restroom ignoring the man drinking coffee, watching the eastern sky.

The girl bent over, touching her toes, stretching the kinks out and then stood up, throwing her arms back wide, yawning. He observed with deep interest as the fabric of the tank top pulled tight across her breasts, showing nipples erect in the cool pre-dawn air.

She caught his eye watching her and smiled. “Morning.”

“Morning.”

“Nice view.” She turned and looked from the rest area towards the east. The sky was changing from cherry red to fiery orange as the sunrise approached.

“Yep, it is.” His eyes met hers and he lifted his cup of coffee in a toast to the view, although it was her chest and not the rising sun that held his attention.

With another smile, she flipped her sandy hair over her shoulder and walked to the restrooms. He gave a final look of appreciation at the jeans pulled tight over the curves of her bottom and turned his eyes back to the east. The appointment would be arriving soon. He wanted to see the sun make it above the horizon first.

The bike rider exited the restroom, pulled a cell phone from his pocket and walked further away from the man by the car. The phone at his ear, he paced in a circle in the parking lot speaking softly.

The girl came from the restroom and looked around. Seeing the biker on the phone, she shrugged and walked across the rest area to a fence that marked the boundary. She stood there leaning against it looking over the marshes towards the brightening eastern sky. The man at the car smiled and sipped his coffee. It was a double feature, her smooth round ass under the tight denim and the multi-colored sky.

The arc of the sun flamed suddenly above the horizon. Blazing rays shot up through the sky, intensely bright, after the predawn dusk. The two watchers squinted and shaded their eyes with their hands. The man at the car pulled the sunglasses on top of his head down onto his nose. They smiled at the light, savoring the sudden warmth of it on their faces.

A van pulled off the interstate into the rest area and parked two spaces away from the small car. Lettered on the side of the van was ‘Sylvester Plumbing – Campo, Florida’. A phone number with an 863 area code was stenciled in smaller letters underneath. There were pictures of a pipe wrench and faucet to either side of the lettering.

The driver got out, nodded at the man by the car and walked to the restrooms. When he returned a few minutes later, he found the man still leaning against his vehicle watching the dawn through his sunglasses.

“Any problems?” Sunrise Man spoke without turning his head from the view.

“Nope.” Van Man stood between the two vehicles, waiting.

The sun slid completely above the horizon, its light blazing across the marshes and the rest area, spotlighting everything standing vertical. The people, the vehicles, the motorcycle, even the blades of saw grass in the marsh threw long, dark shadows across the ground. Beside the restroom building, a brown thrasher on its nest in some box hollies began chattering its warning clicks and squawks at the intruding light, as if it could make the sun recede back below the distant curve of the earth.

“Well, let’s get to it.” Sunrise Man turned from the dawn and walked to the other, still standing between the two vehicles.

Both reached in their pockets for the keys to their respective rides. Making the exchange, they nodded. Appointment kept, it was time to hit the road.

The system of courier relays was efficient. One would take the plumber’s van and its cargo another day’s drive north; the other would return south for another shipment. They might see each other on the next trip, or not again for months. It all depended on how the rotations went and whether they were headed north or west next time up the road. The schedule was driven by business.

“That’ll do boys.” The tall biker held a handgun pointed somewhere between the two men, ready to fire a round into either if they gave him a reason. Backlit by the sun, his face was a dark shadow.

Sunrise Man squinted through his dark glasses at the form of the biker. Wondering if he should, but unable to stop himself, he reflexively reached behind him for the butt of the gun in his waistband.

“I wouldn’t.” The girl in the tank top leaned over the car from the passenger side. She held a semi-automatic pistol in a two-handed grip, pointing it at his head.

“Shit. I shoulda known.” He shook his head in wry disappointment at being taken so easily. “Nice gun for a little girl.” He recognized it as a Walther PK, a distinctive gun, light and easier for a girl to conceal than Biker Man’s big-framed Beretta. The bore was small, probably a .32 caliber. “Can you really shoot that thing?”

“You wanna find out?” She tightened her grip, sighting it into the man’s eyes.

“No. I reckon not.” He brought his hand slowly from behind his back, empty.

Van Man said nothing. Pale, afraid to move, he waited, obviously worried about what might come next.

He didn’t have long to wait. A large crew cab pickup pulled into the rest area and stopped at the two vehicles. Three men jumped out. While the biker and the girl held Sunrise Man and Van Man at gunpoint, the men from the pickup took their keys, bound their hands with heavy zip ties and shoved them into the back of the van, cinching more plastic ties around their ankles. It was crowded inside, the van’s cargo taking up most of the space. The bound men were pushed tightly against each other, barely able to breathe. Moving was impossible.

One of the men from the pickup climbed behind the wheel of the van and turned the engine over. The girl seated herself in the car, tossing the pistol on the passenger seat. A few seconds later, both vehicles followed the pickup from the rest area. It had taken less than two minutes to overpower and secure the couriers in the back of the van and disappear onto the interstate.

Biker Man stood watching them leave then walked calmly to the Harley. He gave a last look around. The rest area was awash in the light of the rising sun. They had picked the spot carefully. Early on a Sunday morning, traffic was light. Located on a deserted stretch of the interstate, drivers rarely stopped for the night here. Truckers preferred the major truck stops and their amenities further along the interstate.

Had anyone been there, Biker Man’s final task would have been to eliminate witnesses that made the unlucky decision to stop at the rest area. There were none. That was fortunate. Eliminating witnesses was always the messiest, and riskiest, part of an operation.

He took the helmet off the bike’s seat, pulled it onto his head and gunned the Harley’s engine. Accelerating quickly, he was doing seventy-five when he reached the bottom of the ramp and merged onto the interstate.

The rest area was silent. The brown thrasher had ceased its chatter, finally convinced that it could not force the yellow-orange orb back into the ocean. The flaming rays of the sun were rising now, completely above the horizon. In a few minutes, the security cameras mounted on the building would be able to record images again. Unable to automatically close the lens irises sufficiently to reduce the light, they were blinded each new day for a few minutes by the bright onslaught of the sun. The video recordings were always whitewashed and unusable while the sun burned into the camera’s lens. It was a minor security flaw but not considered a significant one. This was a quiet rest stop. Besides, it was the perfect time of day…for a kidnapping.

Here’s A Revolutionary Idea…Let’s All Tell The Truth

In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

~George Orwell~

Let’s get revolutionary. You want to? I mean let’s set the world on its ear and do something extraordinary, something to be remembered. Let’s tell the truth.

Are you ready? Can you take it? Okay, here’s a truth.

People have every right to protest and demonstrate and work to effect change in a system that they believe is unjust. I may not agree with their assessment, but they have every right to protest, and I will defend their right to do so.

And here’s another truth. No one has any right to deprive another person of their property or to injure them in any way. If you do that, you are just a common thief, thug and bully. Have I mentioned that I hate bullies?

Got that? No one, no matter how much you proclaim your victimization by “the system”, if you believe in freedom and liberty for all then you have absolutely no right deprive anyone of theirs…unless you only believe in freedom for yourself…or unless you are one of the above-mentioned thieves, thugs or bullies.

One more thing. If you go into a store and forcibly rob and intimidate a shop owner because you can, because you are bigger and stronger, you are not a hero. You are not a martyr. You are a bully and a thief.

Okay, we’re on a roll, so here’s another nugget of veracity. Killing in the name of religion, or jihad, or crusade, or apartheid, or separatism, or because your neighbor is a catholic, or a protestant, or a Jew, or of some other ethnic background is…Murder.

That’s right. It’s murder. There, I said it. You scream Allah Akbar and start cutting off heads; you aren’t a soldier or savior of your people. You are nothing but a murderer. This is a truth.

In the interest of Revolutionary Truth, I should also point out that the same goes for crusaders who proclaimed they were doing the work of God as they marched into Palestine and put men women and children to the sword.

Shall I be even more revolutionary? Lest you feel I am being a bit one-sided in my analysis, let me expand my definition. This truth applies to:

–           Protestants and Catholics who killed each other with great energy for years in Northern Ireland,

–           to Nazis who murdered, Jews, Gypsies, Poles, the mentally handicapped and anyone else they didn’t much like.

–           Soldiers who bashed in heads and bayoneted Native American men, women and children.

All right, now I am really going to blow your mind with Revolutionary talk. The truth that such acts are Murder also applies to:

–           Native Americans who made war before the white man came to the continent, killing, pillaging and enslaving other tribes.

–           Japanese soldiers who bayoneted babies at Nanking

–           Jews led by Joshua into the Promised Land who were “told by God” that they must kill every man, woman and child if they were to be allowed to possess the land. In fact, God wasn’t happy in a couple of instances when they spared some people, or so the Bible tells us.

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

~Mark Twain~

Shocked? The world is full of nasty truths like that. We don’t want to believe that our side is doing anything horrific. We must be justified; therefore, we find a cause. Equal rights, and freedom from the “oppression of the man”, that’s a cause some can sink their teeth into and feel justified for their deprivations.

Hey, I feel disadvantaged, so screw you, I’m going to break into your store, take everything inside and for good measure, I’ll burn it to the ground. Oh yeah, and don’t try to stop me. I’ll kill you. But it’s okay. I’m oppressed; I’m justified.

God, that’s a popular one. Committing terrible acts in the name of your God seems historically to be a common justification.

If there is a God, and, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I tend to believe there is, then I hope he reserves a particularly hot and uncomfortable place in Hell for those who use, or have used his name to justify their murders.

Do you have the moral courage to admit it? Are we real seekers of truth and justice, or do we simply want to justify ourselves and the acts performed by those on “our side”?

I just think political correctness is crap.

~Gary Oldman~

Yep, Mr. Oldman, I agree. I wonder sometimes how long any of us can remain free if we only listen to the crap and are unwilling to look honestly at the world around us. Apologists from all sides on every issue work daily to justify their positions and atrocities by making it politically and socially unacceptable to discuss them freely and honestly.

In George Orwell’s cautionary novel, 1984, the government and its functionaries develop a language, Newspeak. It is a language that ensures that the approved position on every issue is presented. It eliminates all thought, debate and discussion. It eliminates truth in favor of the State-accepted position and interpretation of events.

I hate political correctness. It is the Newspeak of our times. It destroys truth. I love truth.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

~Jesus Christ, John 8:32~

Surprised? A heathen like me actually knows a Bible verse, imagine that. It’s a book that I’ve read. A lot of it I get, a lot, I don’t, or at least I don’t agree with.

But I do agree emphatically that Truth, with a capital “T” is the grantor of freedom in this world. Truth will make us all free, if we are willing to seek it out and accept it, despite our own personal, cultural, societal, and religious prejudices and justifications.

The events of this past week are tragic. Unfortunately, they are being used by those with agendas to further their cause, right or wrong and by the media to generate stories.

We will eventually know whether the shooting of a young African American man was justified. The criminal justice system works slowly. It is supposed to. That’s how it protects the rights of the innocent who may be wrongly accused. We are not supposed to rush to judgment.

There has been more than one beheading recently. In the name of their God, the jihadists have raped pillaged and murdered a number of others. The only reason we don’t have much information about these murders is that the victims were not American journalists. They were simply people in a faraway place trying to live their lives in peace and according to their own beliefs.

I leave you with two thoughts, one from Martin Luther King, Jr. and one from H. L. Mencken. They may seem unrelated, but they are not. They are, in fact, interdependent.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.~

If we are not willing to be revolutionary, to speak the truth and shine light into the darkness and to show love where there is hate, the liberties of every one of us are in jeopardy.

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.

~H. L. Mencken~

If some of the things I have said here are too “Revolutionary” for you, I respond by simply saying that I have given you the truth as I see it. I cannot say it better than Mencken did. I will tell the truth. I will live free. I will know and try not to be ignorant.

Best – Glenn

 Truth Free Know - Mencken

 

How Dumb and Silent Are We?

Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.

~George Bernard Shaw~

My God, the world is a terrible place, abounding with idiots, the profane, the angry, the foul-mouthed, and tyrants who should just shut the hell up. If we could just put a gag in the mouths of those who prattle on with their nonsensical, offensive ideas, or take their keyboards, paper and pens away we would all be better off for it. Our heads would not be filled with unwanted images and temptations. The terrible strain of having to filter and reject or accept ideas and thoughts would be lifted from us. We could live in blissful peace…or stupidity.

I’m sorry. Is stupidity too strong a word? Then let’s call it ignorance. Oh, what the hell. You know, and I know that I’m not sorry. Call it what you will, stupidity, ignorance, witlessness, senselessness, dumbness…as Shakespeare’s Juliet says to Romeo, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”…or as foul.

You may have surmised that the opening paragraph above is my poor attempt at facetious wittiness. No, I emphatically do not believe in silencing others, even the profoundly stupid and offensive.

Let me begin again, with what I truly believe. The world is a glorious place filled with diverse and competing ideas, opinions, ideologies, humor, sadness, anger, hatred, love, peace, strife, tragedy, hope and my personal favorite…sarcasm. Make no mistake about it, the earth we have hitched a ride upon as it orbits through the universe, and the diverse cultures and thoughts that cover it are the result of diversity of opinion and ideas. The world is what we have made of it, and without humanity’s constant thought and expression of opinions and ideas, it and we would be mere shadows…fleas riding along on the back of a large planetary dog.

Now I am not saying that all ideas and opinions are good or beneficial. In my opinion, The Third Reich and National Socialism were bad ideas. So were, Communism, the genocides that have, and are, occurring around the world, child pornography, slavery of any kind, the political aristocracy that has evolved in most western style democracies (including the one here in the United States), the loss of freedoms, government intervention in personal lives, soap operas, parents who are afraid to teach or discipline their children, and so on and so forth.

Of course, I do like and think a lot of things that many of you may not. I think beer was a fantastic idea. Guitars are works of art, and I stand humbled before them. I am also quite fond of good cigars, although my wife made me stop smoking them. That reminds me, meeting and marrying my wife was one of the best ideas I ever had, although some (the jealous ones) may disagree. I think that I have the right to say and write whatever I want and to protect my family and myself with all of the weapons I wish to own, including firearms if I choose, and I do. (I can just see the heads spinning off of some of my readers, achieving escape velocity and disappearing into space.)

All right, I think I have made my point. Like you, I find many things, ideas, and thoughts to be good and uplifting, beneficial to life on the planet and to us as human beings. There are many others that are just plain wrong, evil, offensive and stupid.

You may not agree with some or any of my thoughts or ideas. Here’s the really cool thing about life. You don’t have to agree, and I don’t have to care, as long as I cause you no harm, I can think and do and believe what I will.

Conversely, I afford you the right to be different, to think great thoughts, or profoundly stupid ones. It’s okay…really. As long as you abide by the same rule of causing me no harm then I am perfectly content for you to think, say, write, sing, draw, paint, sculpt and express whatever you wish. In fact, I may well be interested in what you say or think. I might even find myself agreeing with you. That’s what happens when people freely exchange ideas.

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.

~Tommy Smothers~

 Now, some of you may say that since I have couched my rejection of censorship of thought and ideas within the concept of “cause no harm”, that we may actually be justified in denying freedom of speech to those with hurtful ideas and which promote violence. To that, I say simply, Hogwash. (You thought I was going to say Bullshit, didn’t you?)

As soon as you and I start deciding what is hurtful and harmful, we begin to erode the rights of others. We also open the door for others to start deciding whether what we say is hurtful or harmful. As Tommy Smothers pointed out, the only valid way to censor others is not to listen, ignore them. Try it; it works.

I do not require the assistance of Big Brother to look over my shoulder and keep me from hearing bad thoughts, ideas, pictures, songs, etc. I can simply choose not to listen. It’s amazing, the power we have when we choose to exercise it.

But, you may ask, what about the children? We must protect them from the terrible ideas and thoughts in the world. My answer is…be a parent. Do your job. You brought them into the world. Stop thinking that it is someone else’s responsibility to see to the well-being of children. As parents, it is ours. If children need protecting, and I agree that they do, protect them. But not at the expense of others’ liberties. Teach them. Control the influences, ideas and media input that they soak into their sponge-like brains. Be a parent. It is not the state’s job to teach your children; it is yours.

 If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

~George Washington~

 There is a reason the founders of the American nation placed freedom of speech in the United States Constitution as the first of the Bill of Rights. All other rights flow from the ability to express oneself freely. Write what you will; say what you will; think what you will. Without that freedom all others are in peril, and as Washington said we may then truly “…be led like sheep to the slaughter.”

A final thought, when the words or thoughts transform into actions that threaten or endanger me, my family, my community, you, I reserve the right to protect us, and I will. Remember. I am armed.

Until then, let’s argue it out. Don’t be “dumb and silent”. Debate me, hate me, agree with me or think I’m the stupidest son of a bitch in the world. It’s okay. Along the way, we might actually exchange a good idea. Bad ideas come and go. The good ideas are what has made our world…and beer, don’t forget beer.

Best – Glenn

Freedom of Speech - Washington

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