“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” That’s the original pledge, written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. (Under God was added in 1954.) Francis Bellamy was a Christian Socialist ousted from his Baptist ministry for insisting Jesus was a socialist. He believed the United States should be a worker’s paradise, where everyone had equal incomes. When it came to immigration and universal suffrage, though, his tune wavered. “Where all classes of society merge insensibly into one another,” he said, “every alien immigrant of inferior race may bring corruption to the stock. …there are other races, which we cannot assimilate without lowering our racial standard.” Go figure. But, hell, Bellamy was only mirroring what many folks thought about race at that time.
My paternal grandmother, a southern woman whom we called Mamaw, met good and bad news and off-hand remarks a bit coquettishly by dabbing her lips with a lace-fringed hanky pulled from under her sleeve. She’d then say, “Well, I do declare.” And that was pretty much all she’d say. She would occasionally opine on other things—her garden, the weather. And she’d mention black folk using the ugly word as easily as she talked about her peonies and red sallies. No one ever scolded Mamaw when she used that word. It wasn’t ugly at the time for a lot of folks. Indeed, the lexicon then reflected the personal and institutional biases of over ten American generations.
Slavery was dubbed “The Peculiar Institution” by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. He owned slaves. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Indeed, eight of the first twelve presidents owned slaves. Patric Henry owned slaves. Christopher Gadsen, who designed the “Don’t Tread on Me flag,” was a slaveholder. Nearly 50% of the 55 delegates to the Continental Congress owned slaves. Slavery was a peculiarly American institution.
History is a magnificent leveler, demanding we see both the good and the bad of it. If you ignore one or the other, you’re intellectually dishonest; your gaslight shines brightly. The American history I was taught as a child was almost exclusively good. When I got to college, I discovered, among other things, George Washinton did not have wooden teeth. I also realized Mamaw’s use of the ugly word was deeply embedded in our national psyche.
The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution are the “Reconstruction Amendments.” They abolished slavery, established rights and equal protection for all, and prohibited discrimination in voting. Good for us! Children should be taught that.
Reconstruction after the Civil War saw the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws not only in the south but the north. In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Supremes said a Louisiana statute requiring separate but equal accommodation in passenger rail cars was okey-dokey. The opinion said the Fourteenth Amendment applied only to political and civil rights (like voting and jury service), not “social rights” like sitting in the railroad car of your choice. It was absurd to believe, Justice Hanry Brown said, “…the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority.”
It took the Supremes fifty-eight years in Brown v. Board of Education to decide Jim Crow separate but equal institutionalized discrimination does indeed stamp the “colored race” with a badge of inferiority.
America’s military was institutionally segregated until 1948.
The Federal Housing Administration, created under FDR’s New Deal, advised in its manual that “incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same communities.” Thus, redlining became an institutionalized practice throughout the country. Indeed, in Chandler v. Ziegler (1930), the court held that restrictions against ownership or occupancy of land by negroes in certain districts did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. That case occurred in Jefferson County, Colorado.
Under the guise of election integrity, institutionalized racial discrimination, particularly in states with large minority communities, is having a revitalized heyday in American states to this very day. And, children should be taught the insidiousness of that.
Critical Race Theory? My professors at the University of Colorado—surely a cesspool of liberalism—didn’t teach CRT. Maybe they’d never heard of it. I first heard about it from Trumplicans, though their hair on fire bastardized version is intellectually dishonest. CRT is a dry and esoteric set of ideas debated in obscure academic journals. It simply attempts to explain the effect of institutionalized racial bias extant in our history.
We live in a great country, a once robust but now fragile democracy beholding to the principles of a republic. For as youthful as we are, we have accomplished a great deal. As we recite the pledge, we ought to remember our history. The good and the bad of it.
Our dear friend, Mary, of thirty or more years came to see us yesterday. For twenty-seven years, we lived two doors down from her and her family on 34th Avenue in the West Highlands neighborhood of Denver. Five years ago, we moved up the mountain, and haven't seen Mary since until yesterday.
We watched her two children, Oliver and Antonia, grow up on 34th Avenue. Mary's husband, Gregg, was the go-to person on the block for suggestions and assistance on everything from lawn care to carpentry to electrical to vehicle maintenance to a thousand other things for which those of us less skilled in the practical arts of life sought guidance. As one of our neighbors put it, Gregg was Google before there was Google.
In January, 2019, Gregg died in his bed, in the house on 34th. He was only sixty-four, but had gone through two heart surgeries over the years, and had recently completed treatment for prostate cancer.
Perhaps to assuage the pain of her husband's death, in February Mary got two wee dogs from a rescue group, Muffin and Maggie, both Chihuahua mixes. To get away from the house for a while, she took her wee pups to the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs for a few days. She stayed in a cottage there, and when she opened the door for a bellhop, Muffin rushed outside, never to be seen again. A forest borders the Broadmoor grounds, and Mary did not have to be reminded there were coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears roaming the countryside. Her pup's fate was probably sealed the moment it scampered out that doorway.
Since losing her husband and one of her dogs in a span of two months, Mary still fought the lingering pain of those losses by rescuing another wee dog whom she named Lucy, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell/?? mix who would be Maggie's new companion.
Fast forward to yesterday when Mary arrived up the mountain with Maggie and Lucy. We spent an hour or so inside, catching up on the lives we'd led over the past five years. Mary brought us-up-to date on what has happened on 34th Avenue, while we, David and I, provided insight on what it's like to live in the forest.
After a while, we all went outside--Kuma, our Malamute stayed inside--and the wee pups scampered about our side yard that was erected for Kuma, a 105 pound dog, and not for Mary's little girls. And the inevitable occurred.
Lucy dashed for the gap in the gate, got outside the fence and headed out into the forest where, yes, just like the area surrounding the Broadmoor, there are coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears.
Mary followed Lucy into the tree line and down the steep hill on the northwest side of our property. David followed her, as I stayed in the side yard with Maggie who was frantic to get to Mary and her buddy, Lucy. I couldn't get close enough to snap a leash on her. Again, the inevitable occurred. Maggie slipped through the same gap in the gate, and she too was lost to forest, but in the opposite direction Lucy had gone.
As Lucy explored the forest with Mary close behind, Maggie disappeared down our access road. After about forty-five minutes, Mary managed to lure Lucy to her, slipped a leash on, and brought her back to the house. Now, the search for Maggie was on.
Luckily, I'd gotten pictures of both dogs while we were in the side yard, and quickly posted a notice and picture of Maggie on our mountain community Facebook page. I also sent the same information to our HOA for an email broadcast. Then we began searching for Maggie, both driving and walking, heading in the direction she was last seen. We notified our neighbors, and told hikers we came upon to be on the lookout for a small brown dog. For three hours we searched for Maggie without a single sighting. Maggie was gone.
We couldn't quite believe what had happened. For Mary, my thought was just how many times can a heart be broken and still believe the pain of loss can somehow, someway be assuaged. Mary interspersed comments with sobs, and, after three hours, she decided to head back to Denver, leaving Maggie's small soft crate open on our front porch just in case she found her way back. When Mary went inside the house to use the restroom before she left, I was in my study trying to find another lost pet site in our area, when David shouted from the front porch: "There she is. I saw her!"
"There," David said, pointing to a power pole at the head of a hiking trail near the entrance to our access road. "She was right there!"
David and I knew we would only scare Maggie if we approached her, so Mary walked alone to the hiking trail while we watched from the front porch. When Mary got to where David had seen Maggie, we watched as the wee brown critter ran circles around Mary. Mary attempted to pick her up, but soon realized Maggie was too excited to be corralled, and she simply started walking back to the house with Maggie still running circles around her feet. Finally, Mary was able to pick up Maggie, walked to a small sandstone bench just beyond our porch where she sat, hugged Maggie and quietly cried.
I don't know if there is always a reason some things happen, but if there is I suppose the answer to the question I'd earlier asked myself might apply: Yes, once a heart is broken twice, it begins to heal because a third heartbreak is not allowed, not in the cards. And just as you're about to suffer that third heartbreak, the planets align, the angels sing, Mother Earth smiles, and, yes, the enormity of the opportunity for healing presents itself. I suspect Gregg had something to do with it too.
2019 was the cruelest year for Mary, and certainly for her children, Oliver and Antonia. I do believe the future is bright... with one caveat: Wee doggies and the forest are not compatible. Wee doggies in the forest secured with leashes is a happy adventure for all concerned.
“Write what you know.” That was Mrs. Frances Toepfer’s advice on the first day of English Composition class at Abraham Lincoln High School in southwest Denver more years ago than I wish to acknowledge. She then raised her glasses from the chain around her neck, studied us for a moment, expecting, I suppose, questions. When none came, she lowered her glasses and we got back to work on the assignment she’d just given us.
We all knew what we’d done on our summer vacations, as well as the gamut of experiences from our American middle class upbringing. We knew other things, too. Although I wasn’t interested in comic book superheroes, many of my peers were. That’s what they knew. I, on the other hand, also attended Mr. Dobrovolny’s Russian I course just down the hall, where he attempted to teach us the language, but succeeded in recounting vivid images of the Russian people and their history. That fascinated me. That’s what I knew.
Taking Mrs. Toepfer’s advice to heart, I wrote a story about a Siberian hermit whose two sons had gone off to fight the Nazis in WWII and never came home. Chosen to appear in Lincoln High School’s annual literary publication, Touchstone, I’d titled my story “Kolya’s Valley.”
I recall a fellow contributor to Touchstone—you know the one; the kid who had six separate works, poems and prose, in the collection to everyone else’s single contribution—who told me he really liked my story because it reminded him of Hemingway’s style. After I’d taken a closer look at Hemingway’s writing, my clipped sentences terse to a fault did indeed reflect Hemingway and I thought that was pretty cool. I hadn’t intended to emulate him, but what the hell… Moreover, I’d become sort of a published writer. Not that that meant anything to high school kids in general, but it did to me.
Writing what you know is a good idea. Too many times, though, folks write what they think they know, resulting in Aha! moments which, when found, usually provide cause for the careful reader to set the storytelling aside as unworthy of their time, sending them over to Goodreads to point out the author’s failings.
I was reading a private eye novel not long ago, enjoying it for the most part, and then it happened: The protagonist pulled out his .45 semiautomatic, slid the slide back to seat a cartridge, fired, took cover, and then slid the slide back again for his next shot. Oops. Nah, that’s not how that weapon works. I didn’t hurry over to Goodreads to shame the author, but did look for something else to read.
Careful readers expect credibility from authors. There’s a bond created between authors and readers that lasts as long as what the author has to say is credible, as long as the author provides evidence s/he knows what the hell s/he’s talking about.
I suppose careless readers can stomach careless writing. But who among us would admit to either?
Then again, fantastical writing where the author creates new worlds, visits ancient universes, creates as yet unknown beasts, tweaks known beasts with new twists, or other chimera from the wildest meanderings of their mind probably allows, no, begs for the kind of incredulity we love to explore and believe because it takes us away from our otherwise grounded reality. By what standard do we then judge that author’s credibility?
I wrote a novel not too long ago that included shifters, or what my Navajo character in the book called skinwalkers. I’d never ventured into this realm before, though the plethora of like subject matter, werewolves mostly, seemed to constitute about three-quarters of all novels offered on Amazon at the time, providing me with ample research material before beginning my novel. What I found, however, was a veritable bottomless pit of takes on what these critters did or didn’t do, what they looked like, what their hierarchy was (hierarchies are apparently very important to werewolves), and other details that seemed, oh, affected—the kind of incredulity I really had no interest in experiencing. Then it occurred to me the Navajo peoples’ lore touched on skinwalkers, and wouldn’t it be more worth my time to see what they had to say about them? It was more worth my time, and what my research gave me came from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Write what you know. Alternatively, perhaps better said, don’t write anything before you research what it is you want to write about, using credible sources to glean at least the basics. (No, you don’t have to seat the cartridge manually with your semiautomatic weapon after the first shot. It does it all by itself.) Then again, if you’re creating worlds out of whole cloth, you’re actually writing what you and only you know. You’re the only credible source. In which case, I guess it’s your job to write well enough so the reader is willing to spend some time with you, to let their reality become yours however incredulous it may be.
First five people to send me a note on my contact page or just leave a comment here, will get a free Audible download of my novel, "Listening to the Dead," thanks to my publisher Steve Berman of Lethe Press.
In The Joy of Music, Leonard Bernstein wrote about Beethoven: “Imagine a whole lifetime of this struggle, movement after movement, symphony after symphony, sonata after quartet after concerto. Always probing and rejecting in his dedication to perfection, to the principle of inevitability. This somehow is the key to the mystery of a great artist: that for reasons unknown to him or to anyone else, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another inevitably. It seems rather an odd way to spend one’s life, but it isn’t so odd when we think that the composer, by doing this, leaves us at the finish with the feeling that something is right in the world, that something checks throughout, something that follows its own laws consistently, something we can trust, that will never let us down.”
It was years ago when I first read this, long before I could claim to be a published author rather than a writer striving to be just that. My first thought after reading it, though, was, yes, shouldn’t writers strive to emulate the kind of inevitability Bernstein saw in Beethoven’s work—a one word following another inevitably in their storytelling? Shouldn’t the reader expect an author to show them something right in the world? Shouldn’t a writer give the reader words they cannot help but remember, one word after another that remains with them for, well, forever? (James Dickey writes in Self-Interviews: “I think poets value remembered things beyond what most people do, and they cannot bear to believe these things will ever be totally expunged.”)
The conclusions I made about a writer’s responsibility to their readers was an embracement of writing where the writer’s voice is unique, strong, even poetic at times. I believe literary rather than genre fiction best reveals the quality of a writer’s voice. Connan the Grammerian, written by Susan Mackay Smith describes the essence of voice: “Voice: the most indefinable, elusive, subtle qualtiy of writing. …Conan can’t define voice but knows it when he reads it.”
I once presented a story at critique about a rumpled, sad, lonely office worker named Dimley (yes, very dark literary fiction) who spent his lunch hour feeding pigeons within a grotto-like recess made from the backs of buildings on three sides. It was raining, and a single streetlamp, “…fooled by the day’s dark, still beamed at the mouth of the grotto.” I ended the story with the pigeons taking flight, the moisture on their wings forming a mist that caught the streetlamp’s glare, thus creating rainbows. “Very near to smiling, Dimley grunted and said, ‘Ah, rainbows.’ He lowered his head, plodded back to the sidewalk, back to the swarm of the salient dread.”
I’ll never forget a comment from my one of my critique partners: “Wouldn’t it make more sense if he just looked toward the street and saw a woman wearing a rainbow-colored skirt?” I was speechless. My voice lost. How could someone not see the inevitable rightness of that rainbow?
Remembered words are the gems of the writer’s voice. The second paragraph of Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News comes to mind: “Hive-spangled, gut roaring with gas and cramp, he survived childhood; at the state university, hand clapped over his chin, he camouflaged torment with smiles and silence. Stumbled through his twenties and into his thirties learning to separate his feelings from his life, counting on nothing. He ate prodigiously, liked a ham knuckle, buttered spuds.”
Then there’s Mark Spragg’s Where Rivers Change Direction: “I was a boy, and I believed deeply in the sightedness of horses. I believed that there was nothing that they did not witness. I believed that to have a horse between my legs, to extend my pulse and blood and energy to theirs, enhanced my vision. Made of me a seer. I believed them to be the dappled, sorrel, roan, bay, black pupils in the eyes of God.”
There are wee gems too, like one sentence from Cormack McCarthy’s Suttree: “Under the fanned light of a streetlamp a white china cup handle curled like a sleeping slug.”
I suppose the key to good writing is, firstly, that the writer knows how to write well—there is a difference. Whether that is done through academics, critique sharing, or self-learning from reading the masters probably doesn’t matter that much. (I will admit I still don’t know for sure where the damned comma goes.) But, writing well becomes profoundly good writing only when the muse insists we give away our energies and even our lives (our memory and imagination) to make sure one word follows another inevitably. Genre writing should not preclude occasional literary excursions that cannot help but enrich the storytelling—that component of a good writer’s talent called voice, the elusive stuff of the craft readers cannot help but remember.
Update as of 9/11/2019: Received a call from an FBI agent in Maryland. Seems the subject of this post is doing the same thing to someone else. Gave my information to the agent, and hopefully something can be done. With regard to the subject of this post there is only one conclusion--you can't fix stupid.
Update as of 5/6/2019: I received a call from the Denver FBI Safe Streets Task Force in response to the complaint I filed on the US Attorney's website. The agent and I discussed the below described issue, and left me her number if there are any further developments. I didn't expect to receive a response at all, and am happy to see they're interested.
Haters gonna hate. I’ve said that a few times, usually with a sigh and a shake of my head. The phrase encapsulates an obvious truth along with the acknowledgment there’s not a helluva lot anybody can do about such a thing—a powerlessness that probably defines the world we live in these days, something reflective of Trump’s America, something emboldened by Trump’s America.
Ten years ago, I wrote a novel about a young man who returned to Colorado and Wyoming after serving honorably in combat with the US Army during Desert Storm in Iraq. I gave the young man a last name I’d first heard when I was in college more years ago than I wish to admit. The name belonged to a kid I’d washed dishes with in the dorm, both of us working our way through school. His home was in Northeastern Colorado, a farming and ranching community near the Wyoming border. When I began to write the novel, I immediately thought of my friend and his life on the high Colorado prairie, and believed that vision was a perfect starting point for my novel, a work of fiction drawing on my memories. My friend absolutely did not share my sexual orientation, and mirrored nothing of my fictional character's traits. When it came time to give my protagonist a first name I knew what it would be. How could it be anything else? Here’s my protagonist’s mother telling him how that went:
“Skunk drunk, standing over the birthing bed, you came two weeks early,” his mother had told him more than once. “Your daddy breathin’ pure fumes, wobblin’ on his feet, a fat ol’ cigar rollin’ side to side across his mouth, he looks down at you in my arms and says, ‘Gonna name him Big.’ ‘Roy,’ I says, ‘what you got in mind for a big name?’ Well, he stops chewin’ on that cigar and stares at me real serious. ‘Big,’ he says. ‘Gonna name him Big Diehl.’ Well, wasn’t no arguin’ with your daddy, as you surely know.”
MLR Press published the novel in 2010, with the protagonist’s name prominently displayed on the cover. It was a gay-themed novel with snippets of intimacy here and there, but intended to portray this young man as an honorable, good and decent person caught up in circumstances he was hard-pressed to control.
Fast forward to last week, I received a comment on my author website reading:
Why are you illegally, unlawfully, criminally, and corruptly using my name in your crazy gay psycho books? What should I say and do to you for all that?
The comment included the email of the individual whose last name shared my fictional character’s name. I responded:
Hello, . If I knew you, and if I my intent was to maliciously defame you, then you might have a point. I don’t know you, the name ‘Big Diehl’ is a fictional character created ten years ago, and here’s what the copyright says: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Now, if it is your intent to threaten me, that’s another matter altogether, something which is covered by Colorado statutes and, I suspect, statutes in whatever state you live in.
In response to my initial comment to him, he then proceeded to send about forty emails—all harassing, and most threatening. His contention is that his name is licensed and registered:
An I'm the Owner, President, CEO, COO, CFO, Chairman, Director, Shareholder, and etc. My schedule is open all year. We can absolutely set up a meeting when EVER and meet face to face an I'll most certainly tell you about it with my Registration and License in my hand and the Law Book!
Well, I don’t know what corporation he claims to own, nor is there any ability to copyright a name, but what seems to be the gist of his contention is that I am sexually harassing and threatening him via my ten year old book. He has made of himself a victim, a convoluted argument that defies logic.
And are you aware that you're sexually harassing me and stuff with your gay whatever that is using my real name in your gay fictional book?
Do you know what happens to you because you homosexually harass me and try to use my name and fraudulently write about me? Do you really know how much SEXUAL HARASSMENT that is and what REALLY happens to you for it and all the people involved with you in the conspiracy?
Should we set up a meeting in Colorado so we can talk face to face about it? Idk. I definitely got people out there!
With stuff like this I think the small hairs on your neck begin to twitch when the prospect arises that some faceless person might head your way for a confrontation, or, indeed, that his people might pay you a visit.
What's your address in Colorado? I think you need to meet Mr. Diehl or Big Diehl. Don't you?
After twenty or so emails, here’s what I told the guy:
Wonder why I haven't blocked you yet, ______ . Got a nice collection of threats to show law enforcement, and attorney. Additionally, like my fictional character, Big Diehl, I learned a lot of skills at Fort Polk, LA. There's no "meeting" to be set up. This is Colorado Law:
1.1. The legal definition of “credible threat”
“Credible threat” means a threat, physical action, or repeated conduct that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear for the person's safety or the safety of his or her immediate family or of someone with whom the person has or has had a continuing relationship. The threat need not be directly expressed if the totality of the conduct would cause a reasonable person such fear.1
Credible threats can be made in-person or by:
written or typed letter,
any other means of communication.
Well, that didn’t set to well:
FUCK YOU AND YOUR REPULSIVE GAY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO FUCK YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VERY BAD SHIT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU AND THE PEOPLE INVOLVED, YOU CRAZY PSYCHO FAGGOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And fuck you for threatening me with law enforcement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I WILL FUCK YOU UP FOR ALL THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! An I'll tell law enforcement and the whole world about it and not give a fuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll BREAK your faggot arm off first, Mr. Seaton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DO you see how much threat you're under and how way too much of a risk EVERYTHING and EVERYWHERE is for you because you fraudulently use my name and try to write about Big Diehl, Mr. Seaton???????????? You can see that??????????!!!!
Guess what happened to the last person who threatened me with law enforcement. Do you think they're alive?
I'm going to make you pay dearly for trying to misrepresent Big Diehl with you and your dumbass crazy psycho faggot shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'll get every single one of your dumbass crazy psycho faggot books and burn them all, live, for everyone to see!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And with you DEAD OR alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You got the biggest problems of your life.
An I'll dedicate the rest of my life to fucking you up and fucking faggots up for all that and eradicate you all from the planet. FUCK YOU, DIE AND GO TO HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After that last nicety, I decided to do three things: 1) File a complaint with the local sheriff up here; 2) File a complaint on the Denver US Attorney’s website (though in Trump world, the Justice Department probably couldn’t care less); and buy a shotgun. I accomplished all three of my goals last Friday.
We live in a rural mountain community where progressive thinking is condemned with words like Libtard and Snowflake, and I didn’t have much faith the Park County Colorado Sheriff’s Department would take this very seriously. Nevertheless, I met with a deputy and gave him a summary of what the issue was, along with a list of all the emails this fellow had sent to me. I told him my only intent on filing a report was to have the incident documented for future reference if the individual actually did take a trip to see me. The deputy was bright, interested, responsive, kind, and professional. He opened a case file, and advised me to tell the guy that any further communication with me would be forwarded to the sheriff, and a criminal investigation would be commenced.
Here’s what I sent:
You will immediately cease any further communication with me. I have filed a complaint with the US Attorney in Denver, and the Park County Sheriff's department, including a detailed record of your harassment, threats, and hate speech. I am blocking you, and if I find additional messages from you in my spam account, I will forward those to the appropriate authorities.
In spite of my demand, he continued:
Do you know you get the DEATH PENALTY for your crazy psycho gay witchcraft? ● Witchcraft Act of 1541 (33 Hen. 8, ch. 8) and Witchcraft Act of 1603 (1 Jac. ch. 12), a felony punishable by death without benefit of clergy. An I want you DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And you and your faggot friends trying to do faggot witchcraft with your crazy psycho fag books WILL serve the DEATH PENALTY, Mr. Seaton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, please, stop threatening me with the police, Mr. Seaton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Worse stuff happens to you and the corrupt police for that, Mr. Seaton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here’s what the Park County Sheriff’s Department sent:
April 26, 2019
First Name Redacted Diehl Email Redacted
Case Report 2019000334
We have received a credible report of threats including an extensive inventory of emails that support the allegations.
This office has opened a case file for the incident.
It is our understanding that the recipient of the emails, George Seaton, has instructed the sender to stop sending emails and stop further communication. If this is not the case, on behalf of George Seaton, this office is instructing the person identifying as First Name Redacted Diehl to discontinue all communications.
If further emails of any nature or any content are sent to George Seaton by the sender identifying themselves as First Name Redacted Diehl, and/or from Email Redacted, this office will consider the communications as a criminal act and we will open a criminal investigation with an end toward prosecution.
Please call me if you have any questions.
I bought a Mossberg 12 gauge, pump action, pistol grip shotgun on Friday. It’s a beauty, holding five rounds of Critical Defense 00 buckshot that travels from the end of the barrel at 1600 feet per second. I already had a Colt snub-nosed .38, and an M 1911-A Remington .45 caliber semi-automatic, but, as the story goes, I needed a bit more firepower.
My father, a career cop in Denver, taught me how to shoot, and the US Army gave me some valuable pointers as well. I’ve got a concealed/carry permit issued by the Park County Colorado Sheriff’s Office, and though I rarely carried after I got it, I have begun to do so.
I and law enforcement know where this guy lives--state, city, and address. We know how old he is, and we have other information that may come in handy later on.
Haters gonna hate. Their illogic defines them, and they wear their insecurities on their sleeves. I believe it is a tribal phenomenon hearkening back to that time when human beings emerged from the primordial soup of life. Somewhere along the lines of our development, the tribes split, some going toward the light, others remaining comfortable in the darkness.
These kinds of online harassment, threats, and hate are commonplace nowadays. Those who receive them should take them seriously. Not long ago a young woman obsessed with the Columbine High School shooting who was on the FBI's radar, headed to Colorado from Florida, bought a gun in Colorado, and consequently 500,000 Colorado students were told to stay home until the threat was over. Most of us don't have the FBI at our backs. Most of us have to make do with what we've got.
Be careful out there.
I wrote a shorty story for Dreamspinner Press's 2015 Advent Calendar. I enlarged that little story into a novel. Here's the cover and blurb:
Dreamspinner Press will publish an anthology of short stories this September to benefit LGBT organizations in central Florida. This is in response to the tragedy of the Orlando shooting, with all proceeds going to those organizations. It's a worthy cause, and I'm honored to be a part of it.
To show our support for those affected by the Orlando shooting, our authors, editors, artists, and staff have volunteered their talents to create this anthology. All proceeds will be donated to LGBT organizations in central Florida. Join us as we celebrate the triumph of love over every obstacle.show our support for those affected by the Orlando shooting, our authors, editors, artists, and staff have volunteered their talents to create this anthology. All proceeds will be donated to LGBT organizations in central Florida. Join us as we celebrate the triumph of love over every obstacle.
We've lately gotten hooked on Nurse Jackie. In fact, in our list of all time favorites, it ranks number two, with Breaking Bad topping that list. On a recent episode, they featured Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," performed by Scott Matthew, during a very heartfelt scene. Though Whitney Houston's version was upbeat and up-tempo, Matthew's version is beautifully relaxed and plaintive. And, as I said, I love this! (And, no, this isn't the scene from Nurse Jackie.)
Men in Love (coming Spring, 2016 from BOLD STROKES BOOKS) - final Table of Contents:
Range of Motion - 'Nathan Burgoine
Crewman - Jerry Rabushka
American Master Bakers - Dale Lowry
Bathhouse Backstabber - Michael Bracken
Wilde - Erzabet Bishop
Love in Portofino - Thom Collins
What a Coincidence - Matthew Bright
Firebrand - Megan McFerren
Conversations with an Angel - Kevin Klehr
When the Sun Shines - Kassandra Lee
Photo-Love or Seven Ways to Get the Guy - R.W.Clinger
The Essentials - Vinton Rafe McCabe
The Seven Forty-Five - Richard Natale
The Second Time Around - Maryn Blackburn
6th & E - Gregg Shapiro
The Missing Piece - Colton Aalto
Security Breach - Evey Brett
Continuum - George Seaton
I’ve read a lot of short stories lately, not because I decided to do just that, but because I love the form, and was in between novels. Some of the stories were good, some weren’t, and some fell into that category we all know—good to a point.
I’ve written quite a number of short stories and have endeavored always to give them all a distinct beginning, middle, and end. And, when I read a short story that’s what I want to see.
Most authors will tell you that they believe writing short stories is harder than writing novels. I’ve not found that to be true. I write both, and, for me, the key to writing short stories is in the tightening up of those essential elements of any storytelling—plot, character, mood, scene, etc. When I write a novel, those essential elements of storytelling can—and, I believe, must—give the reader the utmost sense of place and time as is possible; the reader’s imagination is primed only by what you give them with which to work their own magic on their traipse through the universe you’ve created for them. And, when I write a novel, I give the reader a lot with which to work. I love to do that. I believe it enhances the worth of the storytelling.
Short stories should provide the same thing. The only thing I skimp on with a short story is the timeline. The weeks, months, years portrayed in a novel, become only days or less in a short story. The other essential elements are always there, but, as I said, they’re tightened up. If the short story needs some grounding by history, then flashbacks are provided.
That said, again, both forms need a beginning, middle, and end. Most of the short stories I’ve read lately and placed in that good to a point category lacked an ending. There’s a beginning, a passable middle, but no end. That, for me, grates like fingernails across a blackboard.
Leaving a short story unresolved, giving the reader no sense of what the outcome is, or what will or might occur in the future is, I’ve concluded, a lazy author’s way of saying, “How the hell am I going to end this thing? Hell, I have no idea. No matter. Maybe they’ll just think I’m writing literary. Or being innovative. Or, well… Yes, of course. Maybe they’ll just think I’m just smarter than they are.”
I don’t understand this. Oh, I’m sure that with the popularity of series books—You know, number 37 in the “Boys in Love,” sequence of novellas—amorphous endings are probably the regular fare. (I don’t read series books. I read the first book in a very long series by an established M/M romance writer and, yes, the ending was as abrupt as a bull’s ire just released from the chute. Suffice it to say, I didn’t buy the next book in the series.)
Then, of course, is what appears to me to be the tendency of many M/M authors to concentrate on quantity rather than quality. I won’t pursue this thought, other than to suggest no matter how quickly you’re cranking them out, you can still give them a plausible ending.
Oh. In my prior post—my first—I promised an excerpt from “Whispers of Old Winds,” a short story published by Dreamspinner press in their 2015 Advent Calendar.
I’D ONCE told Michael about the Navajo kid in my unit who believed the lore of his ancestors was true and irrefutable. The kid’s name was Joe Hill, and his eyes would sparkle and his arms and hands would speak a language of their own when he’d sit with me and retell the stories he’d been told as a child by his grandparents and the elders of his tribe. There was the Sun God, who rode from east to west each day on one of his five horses, carrying the sun with him. And Spider Woman, who sat upon Spider Rock and taught the Navajo how to weave on a loom, using the sky and the earth as materials, with lightning and sun halos to perfect the strength, vibrance, and beauty of the weave. There was the First Woman, who married the Sun God and gave birth to the Sun God’s child, and then, after resting under a cliff and being sprinkled with stream water, she gave birth to the Water God’s child. Yes, and there were the stories of creatures who were once human but became shape-shifters through witchcraft when they desired to change or when the situation called for it. Joe called these creatures skinwalkers, who could take the form of the animals of the forest, desert, and plains.
“Did you believe the story about the skinwalkers?” Michael asked, his head resting on his arms as he lay on the rug of many colors in front of the rock-lined fireplace. The fire reflected in his brown eyes, and also the crystal glass into which I’d just poured more red wine. His hair, too, shined with the rise and fall of the flames.
“I think he believed it. He was a good kid—a good soldier. He was from northwestern New Mexico.”
The deadly quiet mountain night was upon us, the only illumination in the cabin coming from the fire. The rug provided its own heat, the Puebloan weavers surely having infused it with their own ancestral lore. I sat cross-legged in front of Michael and concluded that any happiness I’d ever sought in this world was at hand. I knew this simple moment would reside forever in that place in my mind where such precious things are stored for later retrieval, for the times when they’re needed the most.
“Were there skinwalkers in Iraq? Afghanistan?” Michael asked.
“Several incidences. Or so Joe said.”
“But you believed him?”
“To a point.” I paused to sip wine.
Michael sat up, faced me, and crossed his legs like mine. “Tell me,” he said, with the expression on his face that had come to explain so much about the man that fate or dumb luck or heaven above had brought into my life when I had needed him the most. It expressed Michael’s insatiable hunger for truths that were hidden behind opaque surfaces; he yearned to get to the bottom of things.
Dreamspinner Press will publish my shorty story, "Whispers of Old Winds," on December 1, 2015. The storytelling will be included in its 2015 Advent Calendar, "Sleigh Ride." The Advent Calendar includes 31 stories, by 31 authors--one story a day through the month of December. This is the first time I've worked with Dreamspinner Press, and the experience has been remarkable, so unlike what I've come to expect from other publishers of LGBT fiction. They are the real deal, so to speak; very professional and thorough.
It is only coincidental that the emergence of this new blog coincides with my initial publication with Dreamspinner.
The blog: Some of the pages are not complete. The "Images" page certainly isn't complete. I have thousands of images, and intend to post only the ones I feel are worthy of sharing. That will take some time. I will periodically add content to the "Remembered Words" page. That page, too, awaits my sifting of all the wonderful words I've collected over the years. And, of course the blog page will hopefully be undated often. One of my favorite quotes is from George Eliot:"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact." I will endeavor to remember Mister Eliot's observation when posting anew. And, "My Books" is not complete either. I'll get the rest up there in time.
Here's the blurb for "Whispers of Old Winds."
"After Sam returns home from two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, he moves to the Colorado mountains, where he hopes to begin a new life with his husband, Michael. Sam becomes the sheriff of sparsely populated Pine County, while Michael opens a curio shop for tourists where he sells his art. When Sam and his deputy attempt to rescue a body from a dangerously fragile mountainside snowpack, Sam’s perception of the world, his husband, and the veracity of "truths" whispered in old winds, are called into question."
I'll add an except after the work is published.
Oh, the bear... He appeared this past summer right outside our living room window. He is significant to my short story. Has something to do with skinwalkers.