As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to write stories and entertain people. But many of my tales have a dark edge to them, including my very first story that I gave my mother when I was five. Personally, I do not recall writing it, but I grew up hearing about it. The Peanut with Measles was the title, and I guess the peanut didn’t make it.

But not all my early writing was oddly dark. My maternal grandmother passed away back in 2000. After the funeral, my mother gave me a slip of paper that my grandmother had kept in her Bible for over twenty years. It was a handwritten note: I love you, and I know you love me.

And that reminds me of a poem I wrote when I was in kindergarten. Again, the actual words cannot be remembered, only the events around them and the reactions of others. Seems I had a crush on this little blonde girl. I wrote her a poem, but a couple of bullies found it and ripped it up in front of me and started making fun of me. This neither devastated me nor prevented me from writing more. I realized very early in my life that I had the power to move people with just my words.

In high school—a period discussed in an earlier blog where my anarchism flourished—I took a stance against the practice of drinking and driving. My mother, who never let me wear a Spud MacKenzie Bud Light t-shirt, allowed me to purchase a shirt that said “See Dick Drink. See Dick Drive. See Dick Die.” And on the back, it read, “Don’t be a Dick.”

A “vulgar” phrase can sometimes be the wake-up call we need.

Seems the school administration had a problem with the shirt. Everyone could wear shirts promoting Bud Light, but I could not wear one against the combination of alcohol consumption and the operation of motor vehicles. So, I wrote a letter to the editor. Called into the office. I wrote a flyer and passed it around school. Called into the office.

And when I offered to cover up the offending name on the back of the shirt with the name of a school administrator, I was told to “Get out.” Not out of school. I was neither suspended nor expelled. They just wanted me out of the office. As a result, I took it on myself to wear the offensive piece of clothing once every two or three weeks.

My childhood taught me many important lessons. And one of the most important was that words have power, and I should learn to wield them. Twenty years after graduating high school, I finally earned my English degree from the University of Arkansas. Slow learner, I guess.

WHAT I’M UP TO

WRITING: I finished up the rough draft of the short story Synthia (Tomorrow, You’re Going to Die) and will be sharing it with my critique group tomorrow. And I am still typing up those pesky edits for Slipping the Cradle, which should be done by the end of the month. Both the story and the novel take place in the same Lonford Universe. The events in the story occur after Slipping the Cradle on the timeline but before the second novel The Cold Dark of Quiet.

FICTION: I have started reading two books at the same time. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. Clementine by John T. Biggs is a post-apocalyptic novel which I have been intrigued by the cover since it came out last year. The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is a science fiction dealing with a man at the end of his rope that travels to a remote colony world to investigate the ecological impact of humans on giant indigenous organisms that live in the sky. It also has intriguing cover art.

Clementine by John T. Biggs and The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

NONFICTION: When I was doing research for Slipping the Cradle, I read Acquiring Genomes by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. The two scientists contend that inherited variation in species is accomplished through infection, feeding, and other ecological associations. Thought I’d do a refresher.

A book on the variation of species caused by cross contamination.

TELEVISION: Have not been able to watch much television these past two weeks considering all the events that have occurred in the family’s lives recently.

MOVIES: See above. Trying to decide between Last Blood and Ad Astra in theaters this weekend.