Evidence 101

EVIDENCE 101...Wherever you go, there you are...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Blue Umbrellas of Respect

The cure to saving humanity is: be kind. There. I solved the world's problems.

So let us give a statement of the problem:

1. People are killing cops. More so than before.
2. We have school shootings. More so than before. School is out for the summer. Relief.
3. Bullying is now a policy and might become law.
4. Terrorists are prevalent in every country. Attacks usually accompany them.
5. Gas is almost $3.00 a gallon and was over that a few weeks ago. We still drive. Like everywhere. We showed them supply and demand manipulation. Not.
6. Media are part of the problem but claim to have all the answers. Yet, they lie, skew, and cheat to pass an agenda. Look at what they have taught generations.
7. We have raised entitled brats because we wanted to give them more because we had more and suffer not. Yikes. We didn't pass on the coping skills.
8. Technology took away social skills.
9. Our rights are being chiseled away all in the name of public safety. This includes all rights, not just the 1st and 2nd amendments.
10. No one suffers any consequences. Prison does not work. The justice system does not have punishment fit the crimes. Reform is just a word.

11. Chicken Little used to be a moral of the story. Now it is the way of the world.

I could go on. But those are some basic observations. Amidst all this doom and gloom, I found some hope of humanity and respect left in our nation. Where? At a baseball game.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Breaking Curtis

It was an old building in disrepair. No one would know we were there. The clicking of my boots on the 70's tile flooring was far from stealthy. He knew when I approached the room with no hint of surprise. I wondered if he counted my steps and knew from my stride how tall I was, whether I was a man or a woman, and if I was mean or gentle. The door creaked as I opened it carefully to monitor my subject. Only emergency lights were on and the room was dimly lit. I had to fix that. If I was going to meet my match, I had to look him in the eye. 

[click the overhead light on, move the chair aside]

His books reflect a brilliant mind. I had to know more. Like...what makes him tick? What secrets does he NOT want us to know? The Grey Man series gives us insight into John Cronin, the ornery law man. Rimworld is about sci-fi on a whole new level. And then...there is Calexit. 

"Good evening, Mr. Curtis. Hope no one was too rough on you. I have several questions I would like to ask you. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Whiskey? A fine micro-brew, perhaps?"

"I'm fine. Let's get on with this."

"Ok, then. No need for introductions and pleasantries. I'm familiar with you and you know what I let you know about me. We're somewhat on the same page. Where do you get your ideas? Are they drawn from real life experiences and people or total imagination?"

"Most of them are based in reality. Or at least reality as 'I' know it... Like the characters, they are composites of incidents that may roughly resemble real life."

"Ah. The famous Curtis riddles. What do you mean by 'reality as I know it'?"

"My reality". 

"Yes, I know. But what do you mean? Describe some of your reality."

"You wouldn't understand." 

"Try me."


"Well, then just entertain me."

"Next question."

"Getting words out of you is going to be a task, eh? That's Ok. I'm used to people playing hardball. Does writing making you energized or send you into exhaustion?"

"It depends... Writing I enjoy, editing and roofpreading drive me nuts!"

"Roofpreading? What is roofpreading? A new term? Is it a device? An operational tactic?"

"Proofreading. Damn Auto Correct!"

"Mr. Curtis, we are chatting. Auto Correct does not apply."

"It's my reality."

"Well, keep roofpreading a secret then. We will get the codes!"

 [slams The Grey Man Twilight down on the table] 

Do you ever get writer's block? What do you do to overcome it if you do?"

"I always have more than one book going at a time. If I get stuck on one, I will switch gears and move to another book until the muse decides to come back and play in the right place."

"Seriously? How do you do that without hurting your brain? My mind can multitask, but several authorship works at once? You need more captains to man those ships."

"I'm retired. I write. I shoot guns. I attend things."

"Attend 'things'. Like gardening? Animals?"

"I 'attend things' not 'attend to things".

"Semantics.The Grey Man series is set in a western culture. Why western law enforcement? What brought you to that setting while planning your series?"

"Growing up spending summers in that part of the country, and a lifelong respect for law enforcement. And I know a number of old retired Deputy Sheriffs... :-)."

"What does colon, dash, parenthesis mean? Is it a secret code?"

"It's a smiley face with a nose."

"I realize that when I look at it. But when you speak it, it makes no sense. Why would you say that? Why wouldn't you just smile?"

"Because you emailed me these questions.We aren't really having this conversation."

"But I'm talking to you now. Oh, I get it. Spy stuff. Right. Right."

[groans, rolls eyes]

"Your Rimworld series is a fascinating series. It reminds me of The Twilight Zone in the new century mixed with a new spin. How did this come to be your creation and what inspired it?"

"Actually, it was a challenge from LawDog and Peter Grant. They wanted me to branch out. Hence the Rimworld short story, from a maintainer's point of view. And I spent a dozen years working around and with some brilliant scientists at various Applied Physics and Applied Research Laboratories. So I try to mix in the possible with things that I've never seen 'covered' in science fiction. I try my best not to do handwavium, but go for the art of 'possible'. And do a lot of research."

"Research. Tell me more about that. He must have been a good dog if you named him LawDog. Followed the rules. I don't get how he challenged you, though. At least, I am assuming it is a boy dog. How did you interview a dog? Do you have to ask it yes and no questions? Do you have this on video? Is it part of the laboratories?"


 "Ok, So now we get to the laboratories. Interesting. What goes on in there?"

"It's classified."

"No, it's not. You are just telling me that so you don't have to talk about it."

"I just don't really want to answer your questions."

"Come on, Mr. Curtis."


"It's Ok. I will find out another way. I am quite intrigued by Calexit. We certainly cannot brush off the unique problems going on in California. Did the Jefferson Movement have anything to do with this take off? Or is is all your political twist close to plausible reality?"

"Sadly, the Jefferson Movement is a small 'logical' part of it. The rest is based on logical extensions of what is currently happening in California today, based on the past fifteen years of actions by various administrations (and I was stationed out there three times, twice in the 1970's, again in the late 1980's, and I worked out of California in 1997-1998."

"Go on."

"That's it."

[shaking my head]

"Do you think someone could be a writer if they don't have a passion or emotion for life, writing, stories, or reading?"

"I really don't have a good answer... People can and often do have strange passions, in strange directions that take them down much different paths than their careers might predict."

"Hey, stay on track. We are not talking about my life. This is about you. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not? Are there any secret works out there from JL Curtis?"

[Mr. Curtis laughs out loud]

"No I haven't. I figure JL is enough of a pseudonym."

"How do you select the names of your characters?"

"Random name generator, or for different ethnicities, name lists from the web."

"Huh, interesting.  What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?"

"Editing and roofpreading. For 30+ years, I wrote technical documents and test plan documents. Grammar and punctuation are NOT strong suits in those. Now days, it takes almost as long to do those two editing steps as the actual writing. I am blessed with excellent alpha and beta readers who are NOT shy about criticism, and I relish that. They deserve a lot of the credit for the quality of the books!"

"Aha! You mention it again. Is roofpreading where you throw someone off the building if they don't tell you what you need to know? You read them on the roof? Is it Chinese accent for roof pleading? Like pleading for their life? On the roof? Dangling?"

"I have no idea what you are saying."

"That word."

"I just typed it really fast. It's supposed to be proofreading. I hate proofreading! Are all of you this hard headed? There is nothing secret here. It is proofreading!!!!"



"And what?"

"I was waiting for the Sgt. Hans Schulz to come out in you...'I know nossink!'"


"Is this almost over?"

"I will break you, JL Curtis."

"I know. That's what I'm afraid of."

"Do you feel gut wrenching pain when you have to cut something out of your books? Do you save it for another time and table the idea?"

"I never throw anything away. I save it in a pieces/parts file. I may have to file off the serial numbers, or change characters, but those bits can come in handy. The SASS segment in book 5 was actually written in 2015! It took three years to find a home."

"Where are those secret files kept? The password?"

"What secret files?"

"The pieces you keep. With the stuff. The bits! When you were in Area 51, did you touch the alien bodies? Do they feel like alligator skin or spongy? Are their eyes really that big?"

"What? Area 51 has nothing to do with this. The files. On my computer. They are not secret files. They are parts I don't use on one book and might on another."

"So you say. But it came from your head, right? Do you Google yourself? Why or why not? Do you ever look around the internet to see what people are saying about your books?"

"Not really. I get plenty of direct feedback, both positive and negative directly from the readers. Occasionally, friends will point out reviews, especially the one stars! Those tend to actually sell more books!!!"

"Well, if you are so passionate about one stars, I will give you a few under some fake profiles.Do you pay attention to your reviews? Have you gotten a negative one? Well, I assume so, if you like the one stars. If so, how did that affect you?"

"I generally look at the trends. There are always people who will not like what you write. Or feel they have the right to pick it apart for (insert reason here). I figure if 75% of the readers like it, I'm good. "

"75%? That's a C. You have to do better than that. You are a man of few words, Mr. Curtis. Anything you would like to add?"

"It's been an interesting ride! One of the first rejections I got said I'd never sell 200 books if I vanity published it myself. I topped 10,000 total sales last month, and I'm happy with that, considering it's all Indie, no real advertising other than blogs and Facebook, and word of mouth. I would just say this, the only way to be a writer is to write! All the books in the world don't help, it comes down to sitting in front of the computer, or pad of paper, and putting words on 'paper'. And doing that day after day. Much like 'new' technology, it doesn't happen overnight, contrary to what one may be told. It's grinding along in obscurity, networking, and being willing to accept criticism of your 'baby' that will eventually end up with a written novel."

"Well, I am very happy about your writing success. I just wish you would publish those great adventures you keep inside your steel trap. They have to be fascinating!"

"I prefer the series I have going on now. Much entertainment still to be formed!"

"Guards, take him away. We got what we needed out of him.Drop him off at the hotel. Make sure he isn't ruffled up and looks presentable. We don't want people to get the wrong idea.I am going to have to get on Amazon and pick up some more copies of Curtis's books. Everyone of you is going to read them. We will find it! It's code in there somewhere!"

Friday, May 4, 2018

Chatting With Robert Blake Whitehill

"Mr. Whitehill, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions and extinguish some curiosity. Dog & Bitch Island is riveting and takes the reader on a thrill ride. While writing this story-line, what things do you focus on to keep the reader intrigued?"

"I need to write plenty of action to keep the reader (and myself as author) intrigued by the story’s progress.  Yes, a novel is the one place a writer could stretch out the interior monologues of the characters, but there needs to be plot twists, and plenty of mayhem to keep up the pace.  It’s not a thriller if the main character takes long, soulful, introspective walks in the forest.  There’d better be a sniper behind a tree, or a pitfall trap, or a rabid bear pretty darn close by to keep the adrenaline flowing."

"Snipers...bears...traps. Sounds right up my alley. Tell us, Mr. Whitehill,  a little about your research or experience for the accurateness in the military and law enforcement processes. What background fun facts can you give us?"

"To keep the military and police procedures as accurate as possible, I spend plenty of time researching on the internet.  I also have contacts at the FBI who are very generous with their time informing me of leadership hierarchy, and the roles of folks at various strata of the organizations.  To learn about the Bermuda Police Service in regard to Dog & Bitch Island, I must to give a shout out to the many officers there who fielded my questions.  That said, any errors are my own by oversight or intentional invention."

"I like how you cover all the important details. How are you molding Blackshaw's character with each book in the series? For example, you portray real life struggles and flaws. It is like we read along with the life shaping events.  He is not a perfect character like some authors have written into their books. Tell us more about that."

"Blackshaw is flawed.  He makes mistakes.  He’s got his wife, LuAnna, and good friend, Ellis, to work with him on being a better person, but there is always friction; he has too much animal force in him to go along just to get along.  If there was ever a burnt gunpowder aftershave, you’d swear Blackshaw wore it. 

In the first book, Deadrise, I had to establish Blackshaw’s credentials as former military with an investigator’s mind.  His conflicts with his own neighbors on Smith Island were almost as deadly as with his sworn enemy, Maynard Chalk.  I mean, even after five titles, Blackshaw is still a roughhewn guy, but now, mixed in with his Viking Berserker’s savagery in battle, we’re also seeing he is capable of great tenderness. As the books progress, a growing sense of darkness lurks in his soul because of what he must do during the missions to survive; that’s balanced by the light that comes from a deepening of all his relationships, and greater self-awareness."

"I think you passed all that onto the reader quite well. This animal force...beast mode...sounds primal. I guess we all might have some of that deep down. Are you get emotionally attached to these characters? What decides their fate?" 

"I am quite emotionally attached to my characters, the good and the bad too.  To develop an excellent character whom Blackshaw readers will care about requires that I really flesh them out and make them real.  No one will feel anything if they are two dimensional cardboard cutouts.  They need full backstories, worries, and goals.  Even antagonists get up in the morning believing in what they must do.  It’s just that in their moral chemistry, a bad person puts his own needs before the needs of the many, and the laws that shape them.  They’re human. 

I let the course of the plot dictate who lives, and who dies.  For a time I fell under the sway of a Game of Thrones style of storytelling, in which characters are drawn really well, and then killed off for the emotional boomerang, the shock such deaths might give the reader/viewer.  I have since found it more challenging to keep a character alive to see how much worse I can make things can get, and to deepen the emotional impacts without killing somebody off.  That’s an art.  Sometimes, death is too good for an evil character.  If I keep them alive, I get to make them suffer longer for their disgusting ways, and Blackshaw is right there to help me do it."

"Excellent strategies to keep us sucked into the moment and waiting for the next adventure. [giggle] I like the part about keeping evil alive. Dangle things and prolong suffering. Sounds justifiable. What is next for Blackshaw?"

"Dog & Bitch Island took Blackshaw et Cie far from home, ringing the Atlantic with the smell of blood and gunpowder.  In Blast, which I’m working on now, the threat is once again much closer to home in the Chesapeake Bay, and it has the potential to drive all the Smith Islanders from their beloved archipelago forever.  The only problem is it’s the dead of a hard winter, and the Chesapeake is locked up in solid ice."

"Sounds like an iceberg of danger, death, and damnation. I would join Blackshaw in that adventure, you know. I love snow. "

[rolls eyes and sips his coffee]

"Mr. Whitehill, what do you want your readers and Blackshaw fans to gain the most from this book in the series?"

"Glad you asked. In Dog & Bitch Island, it’s absolutely about LuAnna Blackshaw stepping forward into the missions in true 100% partnership with Blackshaw and Ellis.  There is so much more to her character in this book, from how her advanced pregnancy reshuffles all her priorities, to how she uses her investigative skills now that they aren’t fettered by being in law enforcement anymore.  She cuts up rough.  She has always been a key character propelling the plots, and shaping Blackshaw’s character evolution, but in Dog & Bitch Island, she really comes into her own.  I would not be surprised if LuAnna got a full novel all her own soon."

"I noticed her role was evolving. She is a very likable character. Keeps Blackshaw in line. Were there surprising directions in character development in Dog & Bitch Island? Were you always sure of the path of the story-line and characters? If not, what changed?"

"Over all, I was sure from the start that all the relationships in Dog & Bitch Island would deepen in intimacy.  But there is a significant death in the story; and it’s quite surprising how profoundly it is affecting readers.  I have heard that sometimes when someone recovers from a serious illness, they experience a sense of loss or even grief for the illness, because horrible as it was, it took over and shaped their lives completely.  When it’s gone, the patient has a difficult time reorienting toward what it is like to be well again.  I don’t know if that is true, but some of the characters have that strange response to the death of someone very toxic and dangerous, who has been a fellow traveler on this journey with them for a long time."

"Just putting down a book after the final chapter is difficult and feels like the death of a good friend. When you kill off intense or great characters, it kills me. Not that I matter. But I just wanted to pass that along in case you want to take it easy on us in the next book. Anything you would like to add?"

"As always, I want to thank you, Momma Fargo, for your continued interest in Blackshaw and his growth, both as a franchise, and as a character.  I have a feeling he might run into a character very like you at some point down the trail. "

"All be darned. A possible doppelganger. I hope she is awesome. Don't make her look like a boob or have her wear impractical shoes for the operation. But if you do, name her Delilah or Heather. Those names are more appropriate for that type of character.  If she is fantastic I think Fargo or Kathryn are fitting. Final words?"

"I hope all of your tremendous readers dive into the Blackshaw series this spring and summer.  The print books and ebooks are available pretty much everywhere, even at www.Walmart.com now!  The titles in order are Deadrise, Nitro Express, Tap Rack Bang, Geronimo Hotshot, and Dog & Bitch Island.  It’s been so much fun to discuss Blackshaw with you today."

"Thank you, Mr. Whitehill! It has been my pleasure!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Triggered! What a politician should not do during a fiery societal uproar over firearms...

Political chaos in the WH continues. I really think Homeland has a good spin on it. Have you been watching?

Finals week is final. Someday soon in the next few days I hope to decompress the stress from school and move into a normal life for the summer time. Just in time to do it all over again. Alas, I am almost there.

Today is National Walk Out for the 2nd Amendment today. So all you lovelies, watch how many students are in support of the 2nd Amendment. We shall see how it goes. In other news...

the Georgia governor is all on the headlines. Now did he really aim this shotgun at the kid in the ad, or was it just a bad camera angle. The kid looks like he is leaning away in fear, but that really isn't a fair analysis, right? Anyhoozle...who didn't edit this properly before airing it? Hellloooo!!! His team is failing him.
And continuing on to other headline news...the Trump doctor thingy...

While I am not surprised by this notion, I am surprised the doctor has loose lips. Is there nothing sacred in doctor-client privilege anymore? Can't they lose their license? Do they care? Those are all questions I ponder. 

Have a happy Wednesday and pray for me. The grades are not posted yet. My grades need to be A's this semester. I also need prayers for other things because...well...you know my life. I think God will let you lump them all together. Go forth, prayer warriors!