Monday, February 27, 2012

Way Above and Far Beyond - Number 1

Today, Eugene Drinkard, who was our regular mail delivery person, for two years,  inspired me to begin a blog series.  It is only fitting that he should be the first subject of the series that I will call Way Above and Far Beyond…
In the United States, mail delivery routes are put up for bid (probably every 12 months, but I don’t know that for a fact).  Three years ago, no one wanted the route we live on, no one but Eugene Drinkard, that is.  In spite of his lack of seniority, Eugene won the route because he was the only one who bid for it.
I don’t know if Christmas gifts are an accurate measure of Eugene’s customer satisfaction rating, but if not, they are probably as accurate as any other measure.  And I know this, during Christmas season; Eugene carries a pre-signed stack of thank you cards and gives one to everyone who gives him a gift.
I also know that we miss him.  You see, two years after Eugene took over our route; things had changed so much the route suddenly became very attractive, and Eugene was outbid by a senior mail delivery person.  Now we see him only when that person calls in sick (which is often, thank goodness) or has Union Stewart duties to attend to, which is why I talked with and was inspired by Eugene today. 
I’m glad our regular mail delivery person/postal employee union steward is in Tunica Mississippi, the casino capitol of our part of the world, taking care of Postal Employee Union Members’ business.   His union business inspired me to begin writing about people who live “way beyond and far above” the requirements of their career. 
     This morning, I left the house to run a few errands, and a couple of blocks into my journey, I saw Eugene going about his appointed rounds.  I knew it was Eugene because he was three hours earlier than our current regular delivery person.
    I slowed to speak to him, and he waved and then held up a square white box and silently asked if I would like to have it.  I nodded yes, pulled over, parked, and ran back to his truck.  By the time I got there, he had gathered all of our mail and handed it to me along with the box which happened to be a birthday present for Christina.
That is way above and far beyond his job requirements.  So is walking to the door of every person on the route that has difficulty getting back and forth to their mailbox.  So is picking up outbound mail that wasn’t in the box when he made the first delivery.  This isn’t Great Britain, but with Eugene, we enjoy two mail pickups.  To walk to the porch and pick up any item too large to go in the mail box is way above and far beyond the requirements of his job, as are the ever-present smile, wave of the hand, and feeling that if you don’t meet anyone all day who was glad to see you, you met Eugene Drinkard, and there is no doubt in your mind he was glad to see you.
We weren’t the only one of Eugene’s customers who were upset by his departure.  Quite a few of our neighbors complained to the postmaster.  Of course, that was a waste of our time, beyond letting the postmaster know that we do appreciate way above and far beyond service and we miss the hell out of Eugene.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Willie Nelson and Triberr

Marshall Chapman is a great singer, a great song writer, a great writer, and a all-around good person.  Her latest book, They Came to Nashville, is a series of interviews that Marshall conducted with a number of country stars and future stars.   Feb 6, 2011, I posted a blog entry about Marshall's show in Birmingham.   At that show, she told about her interview with Willie Nelson, a longtime friend, and she told about the four days she spent with Willie, his sister Bobbie, and The Family.

Before I tell the story here’s a bit of background that will make it understandable.  Willie Nelson stays on the road more than he's off - check his schedule and you’ll see what I mean. He and “the family” are resting today, at the ranch.  On March 3, it’s “on the road again,” time.  Willie and The Family have 12 dates in March, 11 in April, and on and on. 

While you are on his site, look at the pictures - there are 61 pages of them.  You'll see Willie with a lot of different people, from the President of the United States to a fan with Willie's photo tattooed on his back, and, you'll see a lot of photos of Willie with his sister, Bobbie.  The two have played together for more than seventy years, which includes the thirty years that Bonnie has played the piano with the Family.  Willie will turn 79 April the 30th; January 1, 2012 Bonnie celebrated her 81st birthday. 

Curious about what keeps them going?  The answer is LOVE!  They love each other, they love The Family, they love music, and they love what they are doing.

Now, here's Marshall's story.  Willie and the Family tour in four custom buses.  Willie and Bonnie share one of them.  Two years ago Marshall Chapman joined Willie and Bobbie in Memphis to interview Willie for her book.  She said that after every concert, Willie signs autographs, talks with the fans, and once she saw him take a fan's cell phone and talk to the young man's girlfriend on the boy's behalf.  Finally, back on the bus, Willie showered, changed into an extra-large, black, Snoop Dogg t-shirt and a pair of black socks and joined Bobbie back at the front of the bus where, with Bonnie playing a lap-size keyboard, they sang until almost sunup.  Willie and Bonnie Nelson and The Family is the real deal - that's why they pack the seats everywhere they go - there aren't a whole lot of examples of that kind of love on the planet today.
If you don’t sing and play but you write or read books and would like to join a family – I’d love to have you join the Writers and Readers Tribe, on Triberr.  In the six weeks we’ve been together we have become a family – every member supports every other member and we’d love to have you.
If you’d like to be part of our family, send me an email and I’ll send you an invite (when you email let me know if you’re already in Triberr, because the invitation process is a bit different for members and non-members) – my email address is

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, My Love...

I’ve loved Vancouver, B.C. since I first saw it in 1989.  I love it more today than ever, because in 1993, Christina Bell came to a workshop I was co-facilitating in Burnaby, B.C., a Vancouver suburb, on a Friday night early in the year.

She didn’t want to be there.  Her boss insisted that she attend.  When the workshop ended at 9:30, Christina was more than ready to go home.  However, she was forced to go to a nearby restaurant with the event sponsors, the speakers, and a few other hanger-ons, by the same boss who had insisted she attend the workshop, the one who had picked her up in Vancouver and drove her to Burnaby.

I was never happy about socializing after speaking.  Three hours of maximum energy expenditure never left much for conversation.  It was only natural that Christina and I talked quietly at the end of a long table while the rest of the party paid homage to each other at the other end.

We talked about a lot of things our first hour together.  I remember two of them like the conversation occurred last night.  I am a Vietnam Veteran.  I volunteered to serve there and had to extend my service obligation sixteen months in order to go to Vietnam.  Christina was a Vietnam War Protester.  She wasn’t a wave-a-sign on a sunny day protester, but rather a protester who gave up her family, her position in a doctoral program, and her country for her convictions.  When she finished telling me her story, she waited for my reaction.  I looked in her eyes and said, “You were right, you know.”
The second thing I remember from that first conversation is inviting her to Sunday’s workshop.  Not only did she attend, she sat on the front row.

We became pen pals.  Over the next two years we filled seven large journals with our correspondence.  We had three of the books in play at all times.  We each had one, which we made entries in, until the one in the mail arrived.  At that time, we had twenty-four hours to send the one we had been writing in.

Late on a July afternoon in 1996, I pointed my red Jeep west and left Alabama – my destination, Vancouver.  I took a slight detour in Iowa to visit the bridges of Madison County.  Because I couldn’t wait any longer, I asked Christina to meet me in Missoula, Montana.  She didn’t have a problem with that.

Two days later we left Vancouver with a large U-Haul trailer behind the Jeep.  We drove to Edmonton, where Fred, Christina’s ex, hosted a going away party and we picked up Christina’s great dog, Tigger. 

That happened almost seventeen years ago.  Today (Sunday Feb 26,2012), my wife, Christina Carson, is celebrating her sixty-sixth birthday.  Nineteen of those years have included me – every day of each one of them has been special.

Happy birthday, my love…

Friday, February 24, 2012

Luck is not a factor

I am an indie writer.  At this point In time, I am a virtually unknown indie writer.  That isn’t always going to be the case.  I will be a successful indie writer.  Not because I’m lucky, but because I have chosen to be successful, and I know that I will be.

I’ve read a number of how-to books on the subject of indie writing.  Every one of them attributes some part of being a successful indie writer to luck.  That is a lie!

Luck is a word we use to explain our failure to achieve our announced objective.  Luck is what we label as the difference between those who made it and those who didn’t. That isn’t true.  Luck is a cop out.  Regarding your success, or failure, there is no luck.  There is only what you believe with the total power of your being, and what you do not believe.

Einstein wasn’t kidding when he said, “I’ve come to believe that he (God) doesn’t play dice.”  Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said, “As you believe so it shall be done unto you.”  Vince Lombardi wasn’t kidding when he said, “The only way I can reconcile a loss is with the knowledge that if we had stayed out there long enough we would have won.”

Those are not three unrelated statements.  Combined, they tell a simple story of how the universe works, and how we can work it, if we understand.
What Einstein was saying is, there is a system, a method, a way, that once learned, opens the door to everything.  Jesus wasn’t subtle.  He said, what you believe is what you will manifest.  Lombardi wasn’t a poor loser.  He knew that given time he could accomplish any objective he set for himself (and his team).

I’ve combined those three into what amounts to the secret of success.  When you know with all of your strength and power that you will succeed at the task you have chosen, you will.  There is no room for luck when you understand how things work and work them accordingly.

Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science, put it this way, “Change your mind, change your life.”    

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thoughts on Presidents' Day...

A little research revealed that there is a fair amount of dissention regarding whose birthday we’re celebrating today.  Wikipedia says it’s Washington’s birthday.  On the other hand, the U.S. Parks Service says it’s a day set aside to celebrate both George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays.  Then there’s the fair state of Alabama, my home state, which officially celebrates the day as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson Day.
     I’m going to go with Washington and Lincoln, because I am thinking about them.  I invite you to take a minute or two and join me in those thoughts.  This country would not exist had not each of them appeared when they did or had either of them failed to act as they did.
     In the beginning, before there was a United States, there existed a group of colonies who were very wealthy but practically powerless.  A few of the richest members of those colonies were incensed at the amount of money they paid to the king who had set them up in business.  Determining to do something about their situation, they convinced one of their numbers, George Washington, to put together a ragtag army and take on their oppressor – the King of England.  Then, the men who recruited Washington to fight for them, failed to support him monetarily, or in any other way that mattered.  That pretty much took away his home field advantage.
     The fact that George Washington, with little or no help from anyone, did in fact win the war, is a tribute to the power of his conviction, intention, and ability to motivate – being in the right place at the right time didn’t hurt anything either.  However, winning the war and freedom from England wasn’t George Washington’s greatest gift to America.  It’s what he didn’t do that made the United States what it is today.  George Washington went against the wishes of his supporters and constituents by refusing to become the King of America.   That’s right.  The first Americans did not want a President.  They wanted a King.  Washington made it clear that the only way he would lead the country was as its President.
     And what of Abraham Lincoln?  If you want to consider a bad job description, think of what the relatively unknown politician, and eight-time failure from Illinois was up against.  Half the country believed that slavery was acceptable, the other half believed it wasn’t, and both sides were willing to kill anyone who opposed them.  Ultimately Abraham Lincoln reunited the country and, yes, it did cost him his life. 
     Washington created the United States as we know it, when he refused to become its king.  Lincoln saved it during the hour of its greatest peril when he followed his heart, knowing he could well lose his life.
The darkest hours this country has ever faced brought forth its two greatest leaders.  
     The world, not just America, owes them both more than we can imagine.  It’s fitting to consider them today, and every other day that brings a threat to the freedom of even one man, woman, or child on this planet.  It brings me a measure of peace to know that on at least two occasions in history, that threat itself has brought forth its resolution.
This is a perfect moment to consider a few of the words of President Abraham Lincoln, spoken at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863 -------
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Do You Know How To Work A Zipper?

My day job takes me into day care centers.  There I meet teachers, parents, and kids.  Tuesday afternoon, I saw a mother pick up her daughter, who I would guess to be six years old, and her son, who is probably four.  The mother found the son’s jacket, helped him get it on, and then turned to assist her daughter.  The boy totally focused on the task at hand - zipping his jacket - concentrated for a long moment on the slide and then the zipper.  After a bit of hesitation, he jammed the two together.  I watched him silently struggle to get them apart.  After a few seconds he stopped, looked across the room, stared into my eyes, and asked, “Do you know how to work a zipper?”
I said, “Yep,” and motioned for him to come to me.  He did so without hesitation, and together we figured out the problem and resolved it.
Twelve months ago, I finished writing Fourth and Forever, the story of a close knit family of three: Josh, the husband who happens to be a career Army helicopter pilot, Kathy, his high school sweetheart and wife, and Bobby, their son, a high school senior who has worked hard to become an outstanding football player.
Thanks to the able proof-reading and editorial assistance of my wife, Christina, an accomplished writer, I declared the manuscript ready to publish.  Well, almost ready.  I needed a cover.   I didn’t think that would be a problem.  An acquaintance of ours does book covers professionally.  Our friend said she had never done an eBook cover, but I convinced her to take a shot at it.  The results were beautiful – a distant view of football team with a football helmet in the foreground.  It was a beautiful cover, for a hardcover book, but not an eBook. 
I didn’t realize that at the time, so I published Fourth and Forever with the beautiful cover.  In three months, I sold less than a dozen copies, and I knew almost everyone who had purchased one.  In July, I decided the cover was the cause of my nonexistent sales performance.  I found a copyright free graphic of a football player and asked our partner, Adrienne Wall, to use it to create a new cover.  She did, and I replaced the beautiful cover with the new creation. 
Sales are up but not by much, and I know the change in covers has had nothing to do with it.  Sales are up because I’m blogging more, and twittering more, and I’ve discovered Triberr, which has greatly expanded my blog reach.  That means more people are hearing about me and out of curiosity some of them are buying my books. 
The beauty of Triberr is, not only are more people reading my blogs, I am reading more blogs.  One of the blogs I’ve recently become a fan of is, The Writing Bomb by Jeff Bennington.  Jeff, a writer, blogger, and eBook marketing whiz, is on the verge of publishing a new book, an indie author self-help book, he calls The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe.  Most of Jeff’s recent blog posts have been excerpts from the guide.
I’m not as quick a study as my young friend at the day-care.  It took me a year to finally ask the equivalent of, “Can you work a zipper?”   What I said was, “Jeff, whatever it costs, I want you to help me.  I know Fourth and Forever is a good book.  Will you help me market it?”   That’s my version of, “Do you know how to work a zipper?”
To make a long story short, Jeff said, “Let me read the book.”  He did and then said, “Yep, I can work a zipper.”  We made a deal, and he said, first, you need a new cover.  You’re book isn’t about football, or at least not just football.  It’s about war, and veterans, and PTSD, and a whole lot more. 
Here’s the new cover.  But the cover is just the beginning.  Jeff gave me a step by step marketing plan, the details of which I cannot divulge without having to… you know the rest of that line.  But I can tell you this, I’m going to follow every step, and with Jeff’s guidance, I’m going to learn to work a zipper, and in the process, I’m going to master eBook marketing and see Fourth and Forever become a best-seller.
If your book isn’t selling the way you expected it to sell when you published it, contact Jeff Bennington – don’t wait a year – do it now - ask him if he knows how to work a zipper.  He’ll know what you’re talking about, and I can tell you this, he does. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

How I Write

A while back, Stephen Woodfin, emailed, asking if I'd write a guest blog for Venture Galleries.  
I replied, "Sure."  
A few days later I emailed him and asked what I should write about.  
He said, "Write about how you write," and he added, "We'll run it on Monday, February 13."
I thought about that for a while, and then I wrote this...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Class of 1960

Fifty- two years ago today, the class of 1960, Palatka Senior High School, Palatka, Florida, was thinking ahead ninety days, to our long awaited graduation day.  There were two hundred and twelve of us in the class, all anxious to be away and about the business of conquering the world.
Now there are one hundred and seventy-nine of us, as best we can count.  A few members of the class, all girls, by the way, try to keep tabs on the rest of us, but it’s a tough job.  Some of our number, like my good buddy, Jeff Eberhart, have never been accounted for. 
If we had a wall, like the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, there would be a quite a few of us listed as missing in action, along with the thirty-four that have died in action.
This New Year didn’t start very well for the Class of ’60.  Frank Falls and Jordan Matthews left us in January.  They were both eighteen, when I last saw them.  Frank was heading for dental school, and Jordan to a business career.  They left fine legacies, but they are both gone; two more eighteen year old friends, who for me, will always be eighteen years old, now on the 1960 Wall.

Frank Falls - 1960
Jordan Matthews - 1960

The year hasn’t been a loss though.  Today, February 9, 2012, one of our favorite teachers, Mrs. Sproull, is celebrating her 100th Birthday.  



And that's why I'm writing this post.  We will all be on that wall someday, but we won't all celebrate our 100th.  Mrs. Sproull is still teaching us and teaching us well.
Happy Birthday Mrs. Sproull,
You did very well by us, and we all appreciate you very much.

Bert Carson


One war and four marriages later.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Holding out for a hero

WARNING - This post has four videos and 360 words.  The videos have a total play time of less than six minutes.  Regardless of your reading speed you should be able to read the text in less than two minutes.  From start to finish this blog post will take less than eight minutes of your time.  If you don’t have eight minutes, come back when you do.

This is an election year.  Once again we are going to have the opportunity to choose a leader from one of the two political parties whose combined activities have gotten us in a horrible situation.  Not only are we in trouble because of their foolishness, every country on the planet is feeling the effects of their bumbling.

Here’s the first video – you might have to watch it more than once to believe the democrats actually paid an ad agency a lot of money to put this together.

Before you form a conclusion about my politics let me assure you, I have none.  That said, here’s a Romney paid political ad.  As of last night this ad had accumulated 787 likes and 2,249 dislikes.  I don’t believe Democrats are responsible for the dislikes.  I don’t think Americans care for either of their choices.  323,000 people have watched this and less than 10% bothered to indicate whether they liked or disliked it.

America needs a hero and Americans know in their hearts  that he or she isn’t coming from either political party.   We are waiting for a hero.

I doubt if Clint Eastwood is any more interested in being President of the United States than Lee Iacocca was.    I am not expecting him to announce his candidacy, but I love that video.  We have to find that spirit, that optimism, that willingness to get the job done.

In eastern traditions there is an ancient adage that goes like this.  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  When this country is ready; when you are ready and I am ready, the one who will lead us out of this quagmire of conflicting philosophies and immoral actions will appear.

It’s time to get ready America!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Last night I saw Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Lest you think this might be a movie review, let me say up front, it isn’t.  I’ll just say this about the movie; if you haven’t seen it, put it on your list of movies to see.  If you have seen it you’ll know why it triggered the memory that led to this blog.
The photo on the left was taken in 1944, a couple of months after my second birthday.  I’m the short sailor – the tall one is my daddy, the second, Bertram Lee Carson.  I’m the third.  I’ll tell you about the original in an upcoming blog.
 Daddy and I loved each other, but we weren’t close.  There were a couple of reasons for that.  First, we were so much alike he could read my mind simply by thinking what he did in the situations I found myself in, and second, because I failed to do the one thing he regretted never doing, finishing college. 
I graduated from high school in 1960.  Three months later, I enrolled in the local junior college.  I did pretty well there, so when I told my parents I wanted to go to a four year school, and I didn’t want to wait until I finished at the community college, they agreed.  When I told them I’d chosen Alabama College, (now The University of Montevallo), near Birmingham, Alabama and five hundred miles from our home in Palatka, Florida, they didn’t try to talk me out of it, in spite of the extra cost of out-of-state tuition.
I lasted a little over three months before dropping out a week before the end of my first semester.  I’m not stupid.  I belong to both Mensa and the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry.  My problem was, I couldn’t handle being 500 miles away from home with no class attendance requirements.  Or to put it another way, there was no time in my social schedule to attend class.
A week before final grades were published, I left school and drove home.  I pulled in my parent’s driveway just as daddy was leaving for work.  He walked toward my car as I rolled the window down.  A couple of feet away he stopped, looked at me, and said, “I guess it didn’t work out.”
“No sir, it didn’t.  I guess I was just wasn’t ready for it.”
He nodded then said, “Go on in the house and take a nap.  Tell your mother I’ll be home for lunch, and we’ll talk then about what’s next.”
The next thing was a job.  They were plentiful in those days.  I moved back into my old bedroom and that was that – for about a month.  Then I started thinking about my girlfriend at school, and how much I loved her.   In an amazingly short period of time, I was obsessed with the idea of going back to the school and making things right with her.
A couple of days later, daddy came home from work, and I was waiting for him.  Before he was three steps into the house I blurted, “I have to go back to the school.  I have to make everything right with my girlfriend.  I know if I do that everything will be alright… then I’ll have some peace-of-mind about this.”
I paused and looked at Daddy, who was as silent as a statue, his eyes searching mine, I suspect for some sign of sanity.  Before he could say anything, I continued.  “I know this will work.  I have to do it.  And… and… I don’t have any money, so I need to borrow some.”  I thought for a second, did some figuring, then said, “Two hundred dollars ought to do it.”  Then I shut up.
Daddy looked at me for a while.  Finally, I saw what I thought was a smile starting on his face and I thought, everything is going to be OK.  Then he spoke, and I knew I’d been wrong. 
“Son, I know you think that’s the thing to do, but let me assure you, that’s the last thing you need to do right now.  You need to be still, physically and mentally.   I won’t loan you the money to do anything I know isn’t the right thing for you to do…”
I don’t know if he had anything else to say or not.  I jumped up, ran outside, got in my car and headed for town.  As I drove, I began thinking, that’s OK, I’ll come up with the money I need.  I’ll go back to school, and I’ll handle this.
To make this part of the story a bit shorter, my good friend, boss, and later my brother-in-law for a while, knew a golden opportunity when he saw one.  Minutes after storming out of the house, I sold Joe my custom built ski boat and my full collection of Snap On tools for $120.00.  Joe still thinks it was funny, and I still grieve for the boat. 
I knew I was cutting it close to attempt a 1,000 miles (round trip) on $120.00, but a nineteen-year-old on a mission can rationalize anything.   Before the sun went down, I was heading west on Highway 100.  Eight hours and $75.00 later, I was parked beside her dorm, which wasn’t co-ed, so I huddled in the cold car until she came out at 8:00 AM.  She took one look at me and shouted, “Bert Carson, I’m done with you.  I don’t ever want to see you again.  Ever!” 
I was speechless.  She spun on her right heel, and resumed walking to her first class.  I watched for a moment knowing there was nothing I could do to stop her.  I also knew Daddy had been right.  Then I thought, if I drive straight home maybe daddy will never realize I’ve been gone.  As I walked to the car, I mentally counted the money in my pocket and did some math.  I figured if I drove slow and didn’t eat anything, I would be able to make it.  The last thing in the world that I wanted was to call daddy and ask him to bail me out.
I headed back toward Montgomery.  Just south of the city, I had a flat tire.  There was no money in the budget for tire repair, so I put on my spare, which was slightly larger than the other three tires.  Going down the road, the car looked like an old hound dog running a bit off center, which, as I think about it, was very appropriate. 
I conserved gas like I never had before or since.  Just outside of Lake City, Florida, with a single quarter left in my pocket, and so low on gas the gauge bounced off empty every time I hit a bump, I had my second flat tire.
I coasted off the pavement onto the sandy shoulder in the middle of pine forest that seemed to stretch for ever in every direction.  I don’t know how long I sat behind the wheel, before I heard a car coming.  I stepped out just as a deputy sheriff pulled in behind my obviously disabled vehicle.  Before he could say anything, I told him my story… the long sad version of it, and he listened to every word. 
When I finished he said, “That’s tough.  If I had some money I would help you, but I don’t.”  He thought for a moment while I waited.  Finally he smiled, and said, “There’s a store down the road a piece.  I’ll take you there.  Maybe the owner will help you out.”
Minutes later he let me out in front of what was obviously the general store for backwoods area.   I was a bit hopeful, when I saw the single gas pump and the weathered Pure Oil – Firebird sign in front and noticed the rack of new and used tires beside the building.  I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and marched into the store.  The owner called out, come on back, I having a bite to eat back here. 
He didn’t miss a bite of his sandwich while I talked, trying not to think about how long it had been since I’d last eaten.  I must have talked for five minutes, and he hung on every word.  Because he listened so intently, I was sure he would help me.  I ended with, “and if you’ll let me get a tire and a tank of gas, I’ll come back tonight and pay you.”
I stopped talking, and he stopped eating.  There was a long moment of silence, and then he shook his head, wiped his mouth, and said, “Son, I’d love to help you, but I have a rule, and it’s simple.  I don’t help anyone with a sad story and no money.  I just can’t afford to.”
I turned and headed for the door.  I had taken five steps, and I remember every one of them, when he called out, “Wait a minute..”
I turned back toward him as he asked, “What’s your name?”
I said, “Bert Carson.”
He was transformed.  When he regained a bit of composure, he asked, “Son, why didn’t you say that when you walked in?”
I managed to ask what difference it would have made and he said, “It would have made all the difference in the world.  You see, your daddy has called every gasoline distributor with stations on the highway between your house and wherever you were going in Alabama.  My distributor called me this morning.  He gave me your name and he described your car.  He told me that if you came in I should give you anything you needed, because it’s all paid for.  You didn’t tell me your name, and you weren’t driving your car, so it took a while to figure it out.  Sorry ‘bout that.”
I got gas, a tire, and breakfast.  An hour later I pulled in the driveway, and once again daddy was just leaving for work.  He walked toward the car, as I rolled the window down.  This time he grinned before he spoke and then he said, “It’s good to have you home, son.  Looks like you could use a nap.”
That happened fifty years and lot of miles ago.  I’ve been in a many tight situations since that day, but I’ve never quit because, thanks to daddy, I’ve always known that someone had my back.  My only job was been to keep going the very best that I could, and that’s what I’ve done.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Russell Blake - Blogs and Books

Russell Blake is a fine writer and he is a friend of mine.  Russell is also a member of the Writers and Reader's Tribe on Triberr.  Unfortunately, his blog, Looting Uncle Sam didn't make it into the Triberr Stream for dissemination, so, without his permission, I went to his site and copied the blog.  Note, clicking on the blog title will take you to Russell's real site.  
Just before I turned out the lights, early this morning, I found a blog, on writing, written by Russell, and posted on Wendy Young's Blog - Wendy L. Young, Writer. It is a great read and super information for all writers.  I don't know Wendy well enough to steal a blog post from her site so here's a link to the post:   The Power of Polish - Guest Blogger Russell Blake

I got an e-mail the other day from a friend who knows I follow events in the U.S. with some fascination – especially the financial situation, which in my opinion is moving from dire to bleak. If you aren’t shocked and furious after reading the following editorial, I can’t imagine what would do it.

The Federal Reserve just created more money than ever in the history of the US, and gave it to for-profit banks, many of which aren’t American. How much? $16 trillion. You are reading that right. Trillion. The money went to US and foreign banks – Citigroup got $2.5 trillion, Goldman (which isn’t a bank in any sense) got $800 billion Banks in the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium… Everyone got hundreds of billions or trillions, bailouts which were never authorized by Congress or anyone but the Fed. Free money, from the American taxpayer, at unprecedented levels, for use however they felt like – and I’m guessing, it was to make big profits.

Here’s the eerie part. None of this was reported. The GAO report linked in the article was ignored. Or if it was, it was so low key as to be invisible. I spent an hour online scouring the news services and couldn’t find anything. No, instead I found the same blurb over and over – that the Fed was going to be handing the Treasury a check for $85 billion, the largest amount of interest ever. Apparently the US media didn’t think it was noteworthy to point out that $85 billion was pennies, whereas the banks it had passed the money to made 2%, 3% or more. It was a news blackout that would have made Stalin-era Russia proud.

To put it all into perspective, the US total GDP is roughly $14 trillion. That’s everything, including what companies like Microsoft, Apple, Ford, Amazon, Ebay, etc. all collectively generate. Every business in the US. Real estate. You name it. And the Fed created well over a year’s total GDP worth of money for the express benefit of its bank friends, at the direct cost to the US population. The country paid to keep Barclays and Credit Suisse and Goldman profiting while it struggles to make ends meet. And there was no coverage. It’s as though it never happened.

This is the biggest financial boondoggle in history. And it went unreported.

How scary is that, and what does it tell you about the media, as well as the government? Think long and hard.

The GAO report I have linked to below via the article says that the loans were repaid. Want to bet that means that the original term of the loan was repaid…with yet another loan from the Fed, but a “new” loan? That’s what crooks typically do in rigged games, where they limit audits – as the Fed did with the GAO. It’s Enron accounting – the “old” loan was “repaid” with the proceeds from a “new, different” loan. The boys on Wall Street invented dodgy tricks. Which is why they won’t allow a real audit. Simple. If you have something to hide, you bluster and obfuscate and deny access. Why anyone would believe that the Fed is any different is beyond me.

I write conspiracy thrillers where a flawed protagonist fights insurmountable odds, usually against a system run amok. They’re racing reads, but in the end we all know, or hope, that they’re fiction. How much is actually fiction I never disclose – I prefer to leave that to readers to decide. Like Robert Ludlum, the line between reality and fantasy is blurry. Deliberately so. But this isn’t a solicitation for you to buy my books. It’s an alarm. A wake up call.

This is real. This is your future. And nobody is telling you. You’re being conned by the largest, most powerful, richest cartel the world has ever known – and you are paying for it. While most can’t keep their heads above water, and are effectively indentured servants for the government’s taxes, the mortgage bank, the car lender, and the insurance company, US and foreign banks were handed more money than anyone can reasonably imagine to use to make even more money.

If this sickens you, or if you didn’t know this, please hit the Stumbleupon button (little green one below) and e-mail this blog URL to everyone you know. It’s about time someone told you the truth, even if it hurts. Or do nothing, and wonder why your children will live in relative squalor.

Disclosure: I live in Mexico, a country with its own corruption problems, which are pervasive and non-trivial. But compared to what just happened with the Fed, Mexico is a Swiss bank in terms of integrity, and the Fed is a Moroccan rug merchant. No exaggeration. None required. So don’t attack me. I’m just alerting you to the biggest story of your lifetime, and your children’s lifetimes. What you do from here is up to you. Most will likely try to pretend it didn’t happen, or doesn’t matter. That didn’t work so well for the Romans.

Regarding the Writers and Readers Tribe - we have twelve openings left and we would love to have you.  Read my blog post The Indie Writer Two-Step to Success and let me know if you'd like to join us.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why I Write by R.S. Guthrie

Rob Guthrie is my first guest blogger.  I met Rob last summer through twitter, then email, and finally when he founded RABMAD (Read a Book Make A Difference - an organization of writers who donate a percentage of their royalties to charity).  Since we first met, we've become great friends, and I'm a better person because of it.  It was only natural, when I decided to try guest blogging, that Rob was my first choice playmate.

We've each blogged on the topic - Why I write.  

Here's Rob - 


Why I Write by R.S. Guthrie

When asked this question, as I was recently in being invited to guest blog on the subject with my great writer pal Bert Carson (THANKS, BERT!), it always gives me pause. Not because the reasons are too deep or dark; not because there is no answer; but rather because it’s a bit like answering the question “why do you breathe?”

Think about it.

Why do you breathe?

The answer is not, by the way, “to stay alive”—that is the reason why we must breathe. Think about why you breathe. You certainly don’t have to think about it. Breathing is triggered by an automatic response with strength relative to the level of oxygen in the environment. That’s why you don’t have to think about it. Your body just does it. Above all else, in fact.

If you’ve never heard of them, freedivers are extreme sport individuals who attempt to reach incredible depths while holding their breath (the record for men’s free immersion dive was set in 2010 at 380 feet—a breath that was held for over four minutes). The breathing response can be so strong for freedivers that ignoring the urge to take a breath becomes one of the biggest (and most critical) challenges these superhuman breather-holders face.

Well, I can’t say that my need to write is quite that overwhelming, but it really is something that has been in my bones since I can remember. It is truly an act that does help me to survive—it relaxes me; allows me to release the words that have been building up inside me, needing escape; it also causes me an adrenaline-like influx of positive thought and confidence.

Why do I write, then?


I actually wrote the following a few months ago:

“To the writer, the craft is like BREATHING. You'd never forget to draw a breath; don't forget to WRITE.”

I’ve since wanted to amend that statement. I’m no longer convinced that those who feel writing deep in their souls would be capable of forgetting to write, any more than a human being would be capable of forgetting to breathe. My previous statement implies a choice. There is no choice. If you are a writer, you need to write.

Why do I write, then?

Because I MUST.

Every person has a voice. And it’s not necessarily a vocal thing. I personally abhor public speaking. I hate doing it. It causes me stress, makes me ill—I’d just about rather do anything in this world than speak to an audience. But as a writer I want my words to be read by as many people as are willing. The dream would be thousands. Millions. So the writing is my voice; I do not require the use of my vocal chords to speak—I can do it by putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

Why do I write, then?

Because I have a VOICE.

Writing is a part of me. Perhaps the biggest part. And it has been for all of my life. I could no sooner be myself without writing than without my head or my heart or my hands. People cannot imagine what life would be like without those things that make them who they are. I cannot imagine being me without the words flowing. Even if I were laid up in a bed, convalescent, unable to lift my hands, bereft of the power to move a finger or so much as speak a word, I would still have to write. I would do it on the inside, upon the walls of my mind. It wouldn’t matter. The words would have to flow. The writing would have to go on, for as long as I went on.

Why do I write, then?

Because I AM writing; because writing is ME.


Check out Rob's books on Amazon
Check Rob's Blog for my thoughts on Why I Write and other great posts