Category Archives: People Watching

“Live more. Be less afraid.” #BHBW author @jmcgarra Jim McGarrah answers 25 Q #authorspotlight

JimPrincetonJim McGarrah:  Marine, social worker, carpet layer, janitor, bartender, race horse trainer, and college professor, McGarrah now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.  Jim McGarrah’s poems, essays, appear frequently in literary journals such as The American Poetry Journal, Bayou Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Connecticut Review, and North American Review.  He is an award-winning poet and author of four books of poetry: Running the Voodoo Down (Elixir Press, 2003); When the Stars Go Dark (Main Street Rag, 2009); Breakfast at Denny’s (Ink Brush Press, 2013) and the Truth About Mangoes (Lamar University Press, 2016).  His memoir of war, A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007) won the national Eric Hoffer Legacy Non-Fiction Award, and the sequel, The End of an Era, was published in 2011. He is editor, along with Tom Watson, of the anthology Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana and the former managing editor of Southern Indiana Review. His memoirs Off Track and Midemeanor Outlaw were published by Blue Heron Book Works.   

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing does both things, especially if you feel like you’re writing well. The energy that generates my creativity is often very emotionally intense and when that energy is spent, I’m drained emotionally for a time. I had a mentor in grad school years ago, a very highly respected poet, who cautioned me that the type of writing I did would cannibalize my emotions and I would need to rest from time to time and replenish that autobiographical material. I’m one of those people who live to write and write to live. This isn’t my job. It’s me.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

No. That would defeat my purpose, I think. My identity is at the core of my writing.

  1. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers and the audience what they want?

This requires balance. Solomon said in Proverbs that there was nothing new under the sun. And, there was an Egyptian writer whose name I can’t remember and couldn’t pronounce even if I did who wrote about his battle 4,000 years ago to say something that hadn’t already been said. So, the struggle for originality lies in the “way” we say things, not the themes we reflect on. To answer the question, I want to be original in how I write and connect with my audience in what I say. But, for me that requires a certain honesty that means I can’t always give the audience what they want to hear. As a poet and an essayist, I think my function is more related to describing what it means to be human, which isn’t always pleasant and doesn’t always have a happy ending. I want what I write to be true and in a way that is accessible to others both.

  1. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? 

Certainly. The emotionally depth of what is written depends on context. A writer of a brilliant technical instructional book does not have to be emotional invested in the information to communicate it. On the other hand, literary writers are most assuredly and deeply connected to plot, character development, and themes in their material. And in telling a story or writing a poem, the writer needs to communicate that emotional connectivity to a reader. Literature we understand, but don’t necessarily feel, tends to be a huge sleep aid.

  1. What other authors and creative people are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have a fairly large network of writers and poets that I stay in touch with, some whose names you would recognize instantly, and some who are better writers that you’ve never heard of and probably never will. I have two or three close friends that I rely on for “first” readings of my material because they are excellent editors as well as writers and they’re honest with me. If something isn’t working they have no qualms about saying, “Jim, this sucks.” That forces me to re-evaluate, revise, and reflect on what I’m doing and why. But, I don’t limit my association to writers. That seems a good way to limit rather than expand your thinking.

  1. What sort of projects are you working on now? 

I’m in the process now of putting together a “New and Selected” volume of my poetry from over the past twenty years for a university press. Also, I’m trying to help sell copies of my newest nonfiction work from Blue Heron Book Works – Misdemeanor Outlaw. Unfortunately for my editor Bathsheba Monk, I’m a terrible business person.

  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each of my ten books so far does stand alone, but although I’m not attempting to make connections, they are inherently connected because I’m an autobiographical-type of writer. Most of my work is based, in some way, on my life experiences.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Live more. Be less afraid.

  1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Fifteen years ago I won a national book competition with my first full-length collection of poems. One of those good writers and friends we were talking about earlier, Victoria Redel, laughed and said over a celebratory drink, “Enjoy yourself tonight because tomorrow you’ll wake up and find that the world is the same. Nothing has really changed. You just go back to work.” She was correct.

  1. Is there any one author that influenced you somehow?

I’d have to say Hemingway and Mark Twain in how to tell a story, Dylan Thomas in the use of language, Bruce Weigel and Tim O’Brien in how to write about the hard things in my life. But, I’d hope that everything I read teaches me something.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos

  1. As an artist, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I’m going to answer that with a poem from my latest collection of poems The Truth About Mangoes (Lamar University Press, 2016)

How to Find the Animal Inside

 

Today I took a quiz,

one of those internet pseudo-scientific lists

that some fool thought up while snorting bath salts,

and found out my past life was spent roaming

among trees and rivers in the American West.

No, I was neither cowboy nor Indian.

As it turns out my personality evolved

from Canis lupus in various tell-tale ways.

I am swift, agile, and cunning. Well,

at least I’m a cunning linguist.

If you ignore the bad knees and arthritic hip,

one out of three ain’t bad.

I value my family’s well-being above all else.

That’s true, but they refuse to believe it if I’m driving.

As far as being master of both day and night,

I nap well in darkness and light.

This quiz states that the wolf has a fiery temper,

which may explain my multiple marriages and a face

remodeled several times by knuckles. To be fair,

my father compared me more often to a catfish than a wolf.

He said, “You’re all mouth and no brains.”

Of all the answers given that prove my swap

from wolf to human, the most accurate is “not very social.”

Ask a friend of mine, if you find one. I’d like to say

this self-examination, like my last testicular one, found no

abnormality or tragedy,

but the wolf may not agree.

 

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Three

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

A better brand of bourbon

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Most of my research comes from living as vividly as I can. I will do some historical research, especially news media, when writing nonfiction (names, dates, places, etc.)

  1. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I’m not really sure what this question means. I’ve always believed that fiction (i.e. the writing and telling of imaginative stories) is an art form that far surpasses the recording of history itself in what it reveals about the society and culture that creates it because it allows the reader into the minds of the characters. I guess some would argue that since its conception of an actually form called the novel, probably somewhere around Cervantes and Don Quixhote, novels have entertained and educated us in ways no other genre has done. And, some would argue that the form of the novel has become stagnant since Barthelme and post-modernism, that it has reached the outermost limit of its evolution. I can see both sides. My favorite period in fiction runs from Conrad and Joyce through Hemingway and Faulkner. I guess critics call that the Modernist period. Certainly, the current darlings of the critics like Jonathan Franzen bore me to death. But, I still see really good stuff, especially in historical fiction, because written well it speaks to contemporary issues as your own The Master and The Maid speaks to present roles of women in our society, how they’ve changed and how they still need to change even more.

  1. Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Sure. Even the negative ones give the book free publicity. I deal with them like I deal with writing workshops. I listen. What improves my writing I incorporate, what doesn’t or is personal, I ignore.

  1. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really secrets. I deal with nonfiction-memoir events that really happened to me personally and how I remember them, so I do often change the names to keep from embarrassing the innocent and the not so innocent. Maybe in that way, I hide certain things.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

I think the scene of combat in which I lost a very close friend and my violent reaction afterward in the book A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007)

  1. Do you Google yourself?

Sure, when I’m drunk. It helps me remember that I’m only a legend in my own mind.

  1. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

I don’t have the slightest idea since it is so tied with my own identity, my self as it were.

  1. What is your favorite childhood book?

As a pre and early teen I was fascinated by the romantic adventures written by authors like Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers) and Raphael Sabatini (Scaramouche) and Stevenson (Treasure Island) and the biographies of famous 20th century baseball players like Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and others. One I especially enjoyed was the story of Jim Thorpe, the great Native American athlete.

  1. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I haven’t the slightest idea.

  1. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written ten books, twelve if you count two not good enough or ready to be published, in the last 15 years. Sometimes, I’ve worked on two at simultaneously. But, I’m seventy years old and slowing down somewhat.

  1. Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Not as most people believe in it. There is a difference between writing and writing well. There are no periods when we can’t write, but there are certainly periods when we don’t write well. I’ve learned to adjust to those periods by labeling them hot and cold in my mind. Although my shrink tells me that most writers have to deal with some bi-polar traits, I simply call them my times of writing new stuff (hot) and my times of revising old stuff (cold). My doing that, I stay busy and don’t get bogged down by inertia or existential dread.

 

 

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5***** #review for #historicalfiction novel THE SOLDIER’S RETURN #germany

SoldiersReturnSquare

Author’s new book receives a warm literary welcome.

Readers’ Favorite announces the review of the Fiction – Historical – Personage book “The Soldier’s Return” by Laura Libricz, currently available for Kindle and in paperback at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0999146017.

Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

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Reviewed By Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite:

After ten years, a young Dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, is returning to Amsterdam in chains, after being captured and imprisoned in the Spice Islands. But he can’t stay in Amsterdam. After his escape, the only place he hopes to find solace is Sichardtshof, a farm in Franconia, Germany. But after being away for ten years, will it still be the same and will he still find the hospitality and warmth of the patrician, Herr Tucher, and his maid, Katarina? Follow the protagonist during a period of turbulence, of conflict between Catholics and Protestants. It is against this backdrop that Pieter navigates through deadly traps and dangerous terrain to find refuge, but can he? The Soldier’s Return by Laura Libricz is a powerful historical novel with a strong setting and memorable characters.

The language is what first caught my attention: it is beautiful, at times poetic, and it unveils elements of the religious, historical, and cultural settings in intelligent and relevant ways. Apart from writing a gripping story, Laura Libricz has taken readers on a historic ride to relive the religious conflicts of the seventeen century, weaving into her narrative great social, religious, and political commentaries. I enjoyed the descriptive style of the narrative, the well-written dialogues, and the surprises and twists in the plot. The tone is unique and compelling, the conflict huge and masterfully handled. It is no wonder that The Soldier’s Return will appeal immensely to fans of historical novels with great settings and compelling characters.

 

#Writing about a location – Do you have to go there? @dmassenzio ‏

Great post from Don Massenzio regarding writing about a location:

Author Don Massenzio

One of the most important aspects of your writing is the setting. You want to accomplish a couple of things when you write about a particular place. First, you want to give your reader a sense of the place you are writing about in a descriptive way that transports them there. There are books I have read that have made me feel that I was experiencing the place even if I hadn’t been there. One of my favorites, To Kill a Mockingbird, made me feel the humidity of Alabama. The Shining gave me a chill through Stephen King’s description of the unrelenting winter around the Overlook Hotel.

There are authors that excel at describing their surroundings. Dean Koontz is especially astute at describing indigenous vegetation in California, where many of his books are set. In his Odd Thomas series, the fictional California desert town of Pico Mundo comes to life…

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A fascinating scene from Ibiza, Spain – August 1977 #memoir @fredsdiary1981

Please welcome today’s RRBC RWISA guest blogger, Robert Fear:

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The Fight

by Robert Fear

Es Cana, Ibiza, Spain – August 1977

Jose took an immediate dislike to me.

He worked as a waiter at the Panorama hotel near the seafront. I had been there to see Diane, an English girl I met while at work in Grannies Bar. Petite and with short blond hair, she had a delightful personality. She was also a real head-turner.

Diane came to Ibiza on a two-week holiday with her friend, Elaine. It felt fantastic she wanted to spend time with me, but Jose thought his role was to be her protector. He glared at me every time he saw us together

Towards the end of her holiday, Diane spent a night with me and I didn’t get her back to the hotel until breakfast time. Jose was on duty and spotted us outside as we kissed. That just made things worse.

After Diane left for home, things deteriorated. The next Friday evening, as I walked to work, Jose headed towards me with a group of Spanish lads. Their intentions were obvious as they stared, raised their fists and shouted at me across the street.

Before they could catch me I escaped down the steps and into Grannies Bar. Their taunts still rang in my ears as I headed for safety.

Friday nights were always manic. Eager drinkers packed the outside terrace after a day in the sun. A queue of customers had already formed as I dived behind the bar to help serve them.

Four of us; Mick, Pat, Graham and myself, worked that evening shift. Pat was half cut and spent most of the evening with her friends. Mick’s mood was not good as a result, but the three of us got stuck in and served the eager punters.

After six weeks at Grannies, I knew the routine. We served drinks and collected pesetas in quick succession. Spirits were easier to serve than at home. Two ice cubes got thrown into a glass and the vodka, gin or brandy poured until the ice floated. Then the mixer was added.

We could drink behind the bar, provided we remained sober enough to serve. Pat loved her gin and tonics and often wasn’t! Mick, Graham and I had regular supplies of vodka and orange but remained level headed as we rushed around serving eager customers.

Willing female hands often helped out. They collected glasses and washed them up in the sink at the end of the bar. As a reward, they had drinks bought for them and got the chance to pull Graham, myself or even Mick on occasions.

Work finished at 3 am. We headed to El Cortijo for another drink and a dance. A group of Spanish lads hung around near the entrance, but I thought nothing of it. Only later did I found out they were Jose’s friends.

The disco pulsed and the dance floor heaved. Lights from the ‘disco ball’ flashed around scantily clad bodies as they cavorted to the sounds of Abba, Rod Stewart and Status Quo. We caught John’s attention, and he passed us a bottle of San Miguel each.

Graham and Mick met up with two girls they had chatted up in Grannies earlier. Pat had gone back to their villa with her friends so Mick was free for the night. Propped at the bar I sipped my beer and relaxed after a hard night’s work.

By instinct, I spun round to find Jose stood behind me. He glared at me and mouthed something. The music drowned out his words. Jose beckoned for me to come with him. Even though it was obvious he wanted a fight, I went. By the time I got outside it was too late.

My fighting skills were minimal. I had been the object of bullying at school. One lad taunted me with the repeated chant, ‘Freddy’s got a rudimentary organ’, while in the showers. This hurt me and screwed with my teenage sensibilities. I tried to avoid the shower room when he was there.

Two other lads pushed me around and sometimes thumped me. They wanted money, but I had none to give them. One time I gave in to their pressure and stole books for them from a sales exhibition held in the school hall. I never thought of fighting back. I did not know how!

Now I stood on the dusty wasteland twenty yards away from the front entrance of El Cortijo. Jose faced me, surrounded by his group of friends. The atmosphere was menacing and none of my friends were even aware what had happened.

‘So, you silly man, what you say?’ screamed Jose in broken English as he edged towards me.

‘What did I do wrong?’ I retorted.

I sweated in the heat of the August night and he must have sensed my fear.

‘You took girlfriend, English scum.’

‘No I didn’t. Diane wanted to be with me you arrogant pig.’

I amazed myself with that response. The drink from earlier in the evening gave me a false sense of courage. Things were dire and soon became worse.

Jose swung his right fist toward my head. I ducked and there was a whoosh of air as he missed.

He turned round and aimed another punch at me. This time he connected and his fist crunched into my jaw. I reeled backwards. Maybe I should have just gone to ground and admitted defeat. This time I fought back.

Well, fought might be too strong a word for it! I stumbled forward and made a dive for his midriff. Jose grabbed me by my shoulders and flung me to the ground.

I spat out a mouthful of dust before I tried to get back up. Then I saw the flying feet of Jose and his mates. It became obvious they wanted to give me a severe beating.

In defence I rolled into as tight a ball as possible with my hands wrapped around my head. The kicks and punches continued and my senses faded as protection against the pain.

Then it stopped. Shouts came from the front door of the disco and the Spanish lads scattered. John, Alan and two others screamed at the top of their voices to get them away from me. A German girl on her way to the disco had seen the scuffle and dived into El Cortijo to get help.

Worried faces peered at me as I uncurled myself. Although bruised and battered there were no broken bones. I hauled myself to my feet. With support from my rescuers, I struggled back to the disco for another drink.

An uneasy truce existed between Jose and me for the rest of the summer.

Please visit Robert’s RWISA page for more links to his work.

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Overcoming #shame: Time to Let in the Light @harmony_kent #RRBC #MondayBlogs

Today I’d like to welcome RRBC RWISA author Harmony Kent to share her piece: Live or Die?

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Live or Die?

by Harmony Kent

Sometimes, you need to accept help. Sometimes, you need to admit that you need it. Sometimes, you need to take the hand that’s offered. You reached out and took my arm. I let you. I took the assistance I needed. I gripped your hand so that you could pull me to my feet. The last thing I needed was for you to slit my wrists. So much blood. All that carnage. My heart ripped right out of my chest.

I did my best.

Though, what kind of an epitaph is that?

Do I want that immortalised on my headstone?

Does that adequately sum up a life?

What about all the rest?

At the end of the day, what’s left to show for all that struggle, all that pain?

Right now, only one thing remains certain, that things can never be the same. That river? Already crossed. That road? Already travelled. That life? Already lived.

No going back. Not ever.

Going forward, though? Now, there’s the question.

For this gal, only one choice remains. Live or die?

Sometimes, you need to accept help. Once bitten, twice shy and all that, though, ya know? Truth be told, I’ve come to the end. Like I said, no going back. The rub is that I can’t go on either. The wind whips my hair into my face and throws cold pellets of rain at me. I shiver and dig deep for the courage. Never did like heights, yet here I stand. To jump or not to jump? That is the question.

The darkness wraps around me and locks the breath in my lungs and my feet in place—leaves me perched here in a daze. The metal burns cold within my death grip. With pulse racing, I edge my left foot forward a couple of centimetres, and then bring the right one up level. Perforce, I have to let go of the steel girders now. I’ve taken a step too far. Sweat breaks free from every pore and soaks this trembling mass of flesh, muscle, and sinew. With a heart this broken, how does it even continue on?

‘Miss? Are you okay? … Miss?’

At the unexpected voice, I twist and startle. A man reaches for me, indistinct in the arc-sodium lights.

‘Miss? Here, take my hand.’

A sudden gust buffets me from behind, and I stumble forward, a scream frozen in my terrified throat. All of a sudden, it hits me, I don’t want to die. Too late, however, as I’m off balance and too close to the edge. Dimly, as I fall, I see that it’s not about living or dying but about having the choice. It seems the wind has finished your job for you. Limp and spent, I plummet to the waiting river below, which sends up cold plumes of spray and waves like open arms welcoming me in and under to die beneath.

Sometimes, you need to admit that you need it. At the first swallow of brackish water, I swallow my pride, and every molecule of this being cries out for help. I should have grabbed his hand. Should have, but could I have? Would I have if given the chance? More ice-cold water pours into my throat and drowns my lungs. All the philosophising ceases as it becomes a fight for life. The cold pierces and stabs like a knife.

Tired and afraid, and no longer quite so numb, I kick, searching for the surface. Already, my limbs have gone stiff. The pressure in my chest has grown unbearable, and I have to take a breath, even though I know it will mean certain death. I just can’t do it. Can’t hold it all in anymore. Bubbles erupt when the life-giving air breaks free of my now open lips.

They show me the way when they float up, up, and up.

For a second, I hesitate. Do I go for it or not? Here is my chance for total surrender. To not have to fight any further. Do I have the energy? The will? At the end of the day, what’s left to show for all that struggle, all that pain?

I did my best, but I don’t want that on my epitaph.

My legs kick and arms stroke, pushing through the murk and trying for air. With this exhaustion and cold, I doubt I’ll get there. By now, the bubbles have long gone, but I’ve come near enough to discern the orange city glow. Not far now. One more kick. One more. That’s it. Just one more.

Sometimes, you need to take the hand that’s offered. I come to, afloat on my back, and the icy waves provide my waterbed. Way up high, atop the bridge, come the blues-and-twos, as the emergency services rush to the scene of my demise. Don’t they realise that I’ve fallen too far from reach? Beyond any assistance or redemption.

It seems as if hours pass me by while I drift in and out and upon. This time, a deafening roar causes me to rouse. A shadow flies through the sky, trailing a bright beam. The search is on. These arctic temperatures have other ideas—so much so that I’ve begun to feel warm. A bad sign. Sleepy too.

Impossibly white light hits me and burns my eyes. I raise a hand to cover them and, immediately, lose my buoyancy and sink back into the dark. The search light now glows dimly above the water. Too tired, too cold, too done to even try and fight, I let the river have its way.

The universe has other ideas, it seems, and once again, I lose the choice. Strong hands grip my armpits and haul me upward. To the artificially lit night and the cold and the air and the despair. Oh, love, what did you do to me? So much blood. All that carnage. All those lies and abuse. What’s the use?

You reached out and took my arm. It all unfolded in a blur and strobe-like snapshots—the winch into the helicopter, the medi-flight, and them getting me here. Trouble is, I think they left my heart there.

A nurse bustles into the private room and pulls apart the drapes. ‘Time to let in some light,’ she says. Oh, how wrong could she be? The last thing I want to do is see. Right now, only one thing remains certain, that things can never be the same. I want to stay in the dark; hide from my shame.

‘You have a visitor.’ Her voice sounds far too bubbly. It hurts. ‘The police officer who tried to help on the bridge.’ A shadow crosses her face. Then she gets busy tidying the bedding and then me. ‘I’ll just go and show him in.’ Once again, I don’t get a choice. No time to find my voice.

The door opens slowly, and I lay with baited breath. A young man eases in, dark hair and chocolate eyes, with a smile that feels like the most glorious sunrise. ‘May I?’

His question gives me pause. Never before did anyone ask my permission. Dumbstruck, I give a mere nod. My visitor edges to the bed and takes a seat on the hard plastic chair that the nurse placed there. We sit in silence for a while, and then his eyes find my scars. So many. Clouds snuff out that beautiful dawn and darken his face.

Now, he’ll make his excuses and take his leave. He’s done his bit. But no. Instead, he takes my hand. Looks into my eyes. Somewhere from the edges, I register that he doesn’t have on his uniform. ‘It’s okay,’ he tells me, fingers rubbing mine. ‘You’re safe now. We’ll make this right.’

Uninvited, a sob brings the elephant right into the room. ‘No one can,’ I croak.

‘It’s okay. He won’t hurt you again.’

‘You know who I am?’

He nods, gives my hand a squeeze. ‘We know everything.’

All I want to do is shrivel up and crawl within.

With both hands, he reaches out and takes my arms. I let him. He seems an angel in human form, and I feel safe within his embrace. Into my hair, he whispers, ‘It’s okay. I’ve got you. I got you now.’

Can I take the leap of faith?

Now, there’s the question.

Live or die?

Please take the time to visit Harmony’s RWISA page!

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#RRBC Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Blog Tour @NonnieJules

thumbnail_Nonnie ImageBecause of the division that’s going on in our world right now, the hate that’s being stirred up and spewed by these White Supremacist groups, we felt it appropriate and extremely necessary that we share a piece from our RRBC President, Nonnie Jules, that needs to be wide-spread.

 

“DOES MY LIFE MATTER?”

I am a black woman, and because of the shade of my skin and coarseness of my hair, because of the fullness of my hips, my lips and the bold colors I wear…some don’t find me as attractive as my fairer counterparts. You see, I’m no longer your house-maid or here for your sexual pleasure; no longer Mamie to your children, I’m now someone’s Mother…a treasure. But, does my life matter?

I am a black man, and because of my dark skin and the boldness of my stance, because of the kinky in my hair, the anger in my stare, and the wear and tear shown on my hands…some still don’t see me as a man. You see, I’m no longer your field property or your whipping post. I’ve freedom papers and own land now, maybe, more than most. You build cages to hold me, guilty or not; where you should build institutions of higher learning, you lock me away for little things, then leave me there to rot. Do you forever see my bed as a cot? But, does my life matter?

I am a white woman, and because of my milk dove skin and cute, pinched nose, thin ruby red lips and fair skin that glows…with my pearly whites and prominent chin…some still look at me and despise the skin I’m in. I was never privy to the pain that was caused. I was born into that hatred…those God-awful laws. So, does my life still matter?

I am a white man, born into privilege and wealth, easy life, perfect health, yet…I’m still persecuted and referred to as “the man.” I, too, hate the ways of the Ku Klux Klan. My neighbors are black, white, green and red…still, I haven’t fled. To be where everyone looks more like me, is not where I want to be. I, too, would like to one day be FREE. Yes, FREE! It also applies to me! FREE of the labels that bind because of the color of my skin; I’ve never owned any human or degraded any man. But, does my life still matter?

I am a brown-skinned woman and because of my accented words, you think I should be silent…quiet and not heard. I can do more, than clean your windows and floors. Just ask me what I’m capable of, you’d be surprised, I’m sure. I may have come here via the back of a truck, or even the legal route, if I was blessed with such luck. Maybe I was born here, and my parents, too. In your eyes, would that still make me less American than you? Does my life matter?

I am a brown-skinned man and though maybe a bit stocky, I’m no less in appearance, than your brawn and cocky. I’m not a rapist, a thief or thug…but a man like you, with kids to hug. I’m not ashamed to tend your lawns and trees, but Executive, also a title I wear with ease; whatever it takes…my family to feed. Don’t dismiss, or overlook my face; I may not have been born here, but I’m here to stay. And, with that said, does my life still matter?

With all that’s going on, there’s much racial unrest. It’s time to put differences aside and put real LOVE to the test. We can’t keep fighting each other, when there are real wars going on. We must come together in love, heal and stand strong. There are real enemies among us, and their names we know not. We must stand on the front lines, together and talk.

The differences between us are fewer than those in our heads; and in the end, until we draw our last breath, we all still bleed red. Yes, that small matter is what makes us brothers, and binds us tighter than any other.

That stream of red flowing thru our veins, is what should force us to…
release all blame,
stop the pain,
forge ahead,
no more blood we’ll shed.

Check out Nonnie’s RWISA Page 

 

 

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#RRBC WATCH “​RWISA​” WRITE SHOWCASE​ TOUR @boom_lyn

RWISA TOUR (1)

Welcome to Day 28 of the RWISA Showcase Blog Tour. Today’s blogger is none other than Linda Mims!

thumbnail_Linda Mims

You Take the Blue Pill, the Story Ends. You Take the Red Pill …

By Linda Mims

I was sixteen when I first suspected that I might be the one. I’d seen people in my family striving for excellence all my life. My parents’ friends were creative types who often took time to quiz me about my goals and what I was doing to achieve them. I had been persistently pleading with a leader at my church who had the power to make one of my goals a reality.

This woman headed the Womens’ Ministry. Everything from church announcements to annual celebrations fell under her domain. I wanted to be the youth announcer on the weekly, hour-long radio broadcast that emanated from our church, but she was speaking a language that I didn’t understand.

“Take some speech lessons and come back to me.”

Where in the world was I going to get speech lessons and how would I pay for them? My family knew some people, and the house did overflow from Friday to Sunday with weekend guests, but that didn’t mean we had money. A party costs maybe $25 back then—especially if everybody brought food and drinks.

Bottom line, we didn’t have money for speech lessons. Still, I wasn’t going to give up. I was a spiritual youngster, even before I knew what spiritual meant. I told the Lord what I wanted and then forgot about it. While I was waiting, strange, but wonderful things were happening to me. I was voted vice president of my choir and I was chosen to deliver the Youth Day Address. Go figure!

One Friday evening, my mother received a phone call. The church maven and her assistant had gone on strike. I was too young to understand everything a strike entailed. I just knew that I was being asked to fill in as the main radio announcer for the broadcast; the very thing I’d wanted in the first place. That broadcast went out to hundreds, maybe thousands in the Chicago listening area.

When she returned from her strike, Ms. Maven kept me on as a junior announcer and she became one of my most revered mentors. That was the year I discovered that I was tight with God. I could get a prayer through! Was I the one?

I’m every woman. It’s all in me.

While in college a few years later, I watched a bold, beautiful young woman, with a voice as big as a brass saxophone, sing on a makeshift stage. It was an impromptu concert behind one of the lecture halls on my university campus. The day was balmy and the sun was bright. We shaded our eyes as we stared straight into the golden orb that bathed her in its light.

She looked like a woman and a child at the same time. She wore very few clothes. Just a band around her breasts, a pair of short shorts, ankle boots, and a tall feather stuck in the crown of one of the biggest afros I’d ever seen.

We were fascinated, and her voice held us captivated. After the performance, members of the group handed out bills that said their name was Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan. They would be performing at a local club that night.

We showed up to the club, but a multi-ethnic crowd had filled the place to capacity. You don’t need to ask for racial diversity once everybody realizes you have something we all desire. Anyway, we couldn’t get in. That day would be the first and only time I’d hear Chaka Khan sing for free. At the time, I wondered if she was also the one!

In 1978, Chaka Khan recorded her first solo album, Chaka. One song from that album would define the rest of my life. In it, she sang my truth! I’d always felt that I could do anything, but it wasn’t until Ms. Khan sang the words, that I knew how to describe what I’d always known.

“I’m every woman. It’s all in me. Anything you want done, baby, I do it naturally. I ain’t bragging, but I’m the one. Just ask me and it shall be done.”

I had a theme song!

You may not know the purpose, but know that there is a purpose

In The Matrix, one of my favorite movies of all time, there’s the scene where Morpheus gives Neo a choice between the red pill or the blue pill. Neo has been searching for information about the matrix. Morpheus has to convince Neo that he isn’t looking for the matrix, but what he’s really looking for is more. Morpheus believes that once Neo has answers to his questions, he will come to accept what Morpheus already knows. Neo is the one.

Being the one is about knowing that you want more. You want to change things. You may not know what your ultimate purpose is, but you know that there is a purpose. You’re so absolutely self-motivated and focused, that God himself delights in your purpose. I told you I’ve always been spiritual, so, I’ll say that I believe when God and the universe delight in your purpose, there’s no stopping you.

The Matrix is fiction, so let’s take a look at real-life people who wanted more. One such person was the late author, Janet Dailey. A prolific writer, Dailey thought she could write better than most of the romance writers she was reading. She knew she was the one. When people referred to her as “just a secretary” who writes romance novels, Dailey said the following, and I quote:

“One of the things that to me is the biggest compliment any writer can get is hearing from the ones who say, ‘I used to think reading was boring until I picked up one of your books.’ ”

Between 1974 and 2007, Janet Dailey sold over 300 million copies of more than 100 titles. Not bad for “just a secretary”.

Then, there was Steve Jobs. Steve dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon after six months, but he stayed there and audited creative classes over the next 18 months. A course in calligraphy developed his love of typography. Apple and Macintosh computers would be the first to offer creative fonts, including calligraphy, for the consumer’s use.

Steve Jobs partnered with his friend, Steve Wozniak, to start Apple Computer, in the Jobs’ family garage. Steve Jobs said, “I want to put a ding in the universe”.

I guess he knew that he was the one!

Being the one comes with certain responsibilities.

Many of you have already realized that you are the one; you just haven’t taken the red pill yet. When you’re ready, there are some responsibilities:

1. Toot your own horn

2. Don’t give up

3. Throw away false humility

First, toot your own horn! You can’t be afraid of appearing to be too much of a showoff. Waiting patiently for others to give you the rewards you so richly deserve, may yield nothing but hurt and disappointment. Individuals will slink away with your destiny in their greedy little hands without so much as a backwards glance for you.

A few times, I spoke too quietly in meetings or waited until it was too late to claim my own ideas that I’d shared with others in private. I watched, stunned, as another, bolder individual stole my idea, shouted it out, and received my praise. I had to wise up quickly and realize that there are differences in the way that leaders and achievers talk and present. First, leaders declare that they have something to say. Then, when everyone is focused, they speak. They make sure their ideas are credited.

Don’t give up, opportunity does knock more than once.

I’ve learned that opportunity knocks more than once. Heck, when you’re the one, you create opportunities. When one door closes, another door really does open. If

you weren’t ready the first time, the truth is, you can keep reinventing yourself until your moment comes or until you’re tired of trying.

“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” —Steve Jobs

Throw away that false humility! It’s okay to hang back while you formulate your plan. Go ahead! Get the lay of the land. If you are confident in the knowledge that you can do anything, take as much time as you need. Just don’t overdo humble. That’s almost as bad as having too much pride.

It’s permissible to show pride in yourself and your accomplishments. The 21st Century is begging for your stories, calling for your experiences, and expecting you to step up and lead, in every way imaginable. Women like Oprah Winfrey—women like Taylor Swift—they are leading change with their out-of-the-box ideas and sweeping changes to the status quo.

Men like Barack Obama are stepping out of obscurity and into the Senate and the office of the President of the United States. Have the audacity to dream! Wear your mantle of distinction with pride. Step-up, speak-out! You are the one!

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Linda’s RWISA Author Page