Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Recommendations

Recently I got a recommendation for a book of fiction by a longtime friend (thanks, Bill!). He read a book that he liked and took the time to recommend it, pointing out a few things specifically that he thought I’d like. That got me thinking about recommendations and friends and book reviews and such.

Ages ago, when I was still a student at Hinds Junior College, I used to work at Camelot Music. This was in the days when Camelot’s walls were full of cassette tapes and the racks were full of vinyl…before the cd took over. Over time, I noticed that frequent customers would return to specific employees to ask them for a suggestion for something to buy or for their opinion on something new. I realized that customers came to rely on and trust the opinions of the various employees. Yes, I even had folks come to me to ask if I’d heard an album and what I thought of it.

I think of it much in the same way that I’ve said about feedback on creative work: accept it all but evaluate the source. Country music or rap fans never came to me because they knew I didn’t listen to that style of music. Writers of romance have to take my opinion with a grain of salt—if the romantic parties don’t wear spandex and capes, then I’m probably not interested.

I don’t do a lot of book reviews here, but I do them once a month or so. I often wonder if anyone reads them because I figure the majority of the readers of my blog do not read many comics or superhero related books. Yes, I’ve often wondered about how some of my entries work to create my “writer’s platform”…and then I don’t worry too much because as I’ve said before, that’s okay because I pretty much write this journal—oops, I mean blog—for me.

But when I do book or comic reviews, you the reader, have to evaluate the source (for those who attend Ole Miss, that source would be “me.”). It helps to know me personally and to have had conversations with me so you’d know I like superheroes, civil war and American history and I’m NOT a big fan of the greatest American tyrant, Abraham Lincoln. Oh, you don’t have to know me personally to have gotten that, but see—when you know those things, it helps you evaluate the source when I talk about whether a comic/book/film/whatever is something I liked.

You shouldn’t just do that for the things “I” review, but for every review/recommendation you read.

So, when my longtime friend Bill Sawyer—who knows all those things about me and more—suggests a book I might like, there’s a pretty good chance I will. I hope that you do the same thing when you read any reviews/suggestions/recommendations that “I” make.

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Lost electricity and I got an agent!

My daughter came up with a very good funny the other day…was so good it put me in stitches. Many are aware of the line of really nasty storms the mid-south region has had the last few days. Friday afternoon was the worst one here: started around 4 p.m. with large marble-sized hail. First time since we’ve lived here that both vehicles sat (mostly) under the garage.

We lost power around 4:30.

As things go, we ate dinner and played Uno by kerosene lamps. Brett was able to play his various electronic games until the batteries all ran out and Brittany was able to watch her DVD player also until the battery ran out. I sat on the couch and continued reading Last of the Mohicans by the oil lamps. As it came time to go to bed, I jokingly told Brittany that Abraham Lincoln had to do all his reading by oil lamps. Without pausing to even think, she said “maybe that’s why he signed all those things he shouldn’t have signed—he couldn’t see!”

I got a very good belly laugh out of that.

But while we’re talking about reading and writing, I’m very pleased to announce that an agent has offered to represent me and my works of fiction, especially The Gifted, which is what caught her attention. Yes, you could say that I’m incredibly excited. I intend to sign, seal and deliver the offered contract this week. I would have done it already, but BJ insists on taking pictures of the actual signing—I was trying to just stage it but she would have none of that.

The agent is Kimberly Shumate and a link to her blog is here—go visit it and tell her what a “smart” decision she’s made! 😉 It’s all new ground to me, so I’m sure I’ll be talking about some of it here.

So, my revision of The Gifted is finished and I’m now working on a “proposal” in the format sent to me by the agent. I guess I should say “my agent.” J It’s quite detailed and is proving to take a lot of time.

Fun time, though!

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American History 101

Okay, time for a history lesson. Kids, pay attention, because you won’t read this in your public school textbooks. The really good history teachers will confirm it, but you won’t read it in your schoolbooks.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln never freed a single solitary slave.

What? You’re shocked! You’re astounded! He is, after all, called “The Great Emancipator.”

The Great Dictator is a more appropriate title.

Don’t believe me? The next time someone tells you that Lincoln freed the slaves, ask them to name one.

Just one.

Any one.

That’s right, they won’t be able to because he never freed any.

You see, Lincoln was very much like Bill Clinton—he was a very good politician and he did things that needed to be done to accomplish his tasks. The Emancipation Proclamation was a brilliant move on Lincoln’s part—it accomplished what he wanted, which was furthering the cause of war. But it didn’t free any slaves. You see, Lincoln’s war wasn’t going well—the Southerners were winning most of the battles and embarrassing the Federal troops. England and France were close to recognizing the South as an independent nation. If that happened, they would likely help the South (because they didn’t really like the U.S.) and then Lincoln would lose his war. Slavery was the issue that was causing England and France to delay so Lincoln CHANGED the war and caused it to be about slavery (more on that at a later date).

But read The Emancipation Proclamation carefully. You can find it easily online. If you need to, check out one of those really cool big wall maps that your history teacher has hanging in the classroom. You’ll note that it does not sweepingly “free” all slaves. In fact, Lincoln did not free any slaves over which he had any authority—he left them slaves. Even the U.S. government acknowledges this, even if not loudly. The archives.gov website explains “the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal Border States. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. … Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, it fundamentally transformed the character of the war.”

If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to do so—it frees slaves “except” those in such and such a county, etc. All other counties, it says “are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.”

If Lincoln had intended to free the slaves, why didn’t he free them all?

It was because he really didn’t want to free them—he wanted to win the war. It wasn’t his intention to free any slaves.

Archives.gov said the proclamation transformed the character of the war. It did indeed transform the war—it changed it from being a federal vs. state war to one of slavery.

Again, we have to credit Lincoln for being a brilliant politician. He was a tyrant and illegally threw many into jail, but he was a brilliant politician. What? You didn’t know that President Lincoln had many people who opposed him illegally thrown into jail? What? Want me to name one? Okay. Clement Vanlandingham. You can look him up easily. If that isn’t enough for you, go next to all the Maryland legislators who were opposed to Lincoln and the war.

The Emancipation Proclamation was simply another war strategy. It was a good one and a good move on Lincoln’s part in the war efforts, but it didn’t free any slaves.

So, the next time you hear someone say Lincoln freed the slaves, ask them to name one—they can’t because he didn’t.

This lesson was free, by the way.

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Travel Woe Is Me!

You would really think that after an adventurous trip last weekend, I’d have smooth sailing this weekend. Not so! To begin with, I didn’t really leave Oxford on time to get to the Memphis airport. I thought it took an hour…it takes about an hour twenty. So I start the trip off running late. No biggie, I’ve got last week’s experience under my belt and actually breeze through security. Looking good so far.

Flight to Cincinnati goes on schedule and I move to my connection flight and stand in line. While standing in line, I hear an announcement looking for 20 volunteers headed to Philadelphia to get another flight. Warning bells go off. When I reach the counter, the lady tells me that I don’t have a seat on the plane. It seems the 70-seater plane has turned into a 50-seater and 20 folks suddenly do not have seats. I was one of the lucky 20.

So, I’m told the next available flight out of Cincy is 3:00…I was supposed to arrive at 12:45, now the earliest possible would be around 5:30. Very frustrating. And, had it not been for what happened next, I would have been writing here to suggest you avoid this airline as much as possible. BUT, the Delta representative paged me to the counter and made my unpleasant situation a little less unpleasant. They gave me a voucher for lunch AND for a future flight. So while I missed half a day in Philadelphia, I get to fly somewhere else at a later date…and likely have a similar experience.

Friday night I met Lloyd Wagner and his wife. Lloyd is one of the Elfin Writers and is doing some cool research on the ghosts at Gettysburg. I’m sure there are a few things that I’ll need to eventually set him straight on—especially on the subject of Yankees and Abe Lincoln, but I liked hearing about some of the non-comic work that he is doing. I also met Ratna’s son, Robin, who, after being a little shy at first, really seemed to open up and have a good time.

Saturday was the big day of the Convention and I actually enjoyed walking the Con-floor with Ratna, looking at the various methods of marketing and the wide range of product. I will say, not having really read mainstream comics in almost 10 years, I was surprised to find how similar it all looked; even the superhero books not produced by Marvel and DC. It all looks alike!

While there, I had the opportunity to meet some other folks who’ve worked on Elfin projects, including Andrew Harrar, Lewis Helfand and Tony DiGerolamo. I also had the opportunity to bump into (some briefer than others), several pals from days past: Ken Branch, Dan Nakrosis, Jimmy Palmiotti, Tom Romano, Rodney Ramos and Billy Tucci. They were pretty much like you would expect them to be 10 years later…a little heavier, a few more wrinkles and either a little greyer or less hair—some both!

It’s a little spooky walking during the evening hours, especially for a Southern boy feeling very out of place in the big city. I have been amazed to see Philly so busy—people are going to and fro in all sorts of directions. Granted, I have no idea where they’re going, but they’re a whole bunch of them going somewhere. Not only that, I’d have problems driving here. The cars are all so very close to one another—I’d be hitting pedestrians right and left just trying to steer clear of all the cars that look like they’re about to side-swipe me!

Sunday, Howard Mackie joined us and we continued to discuss things like royalties, contracts and story process. We did not go in circles around Philly! But, we did get a lot accomplished and so it is exciting to move forward. Of course, I have a stack of scripts just waiting for me to read!

As I write this, I’m still in the hotel room in Philadelphia. I have no clue what my flight back will be like. I will likely end up going through North Dakota just to get home to Mississippi.

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New Jersey trip part 2

Continuing the story of my whirlwind trip to New Jersey…

It took me 20 minutes riding the tram in two different directions to locate the taxis. I then discovered a cab ride to my hotel would cost me a whopping $70! Gas prices are killing everyone.

The cab driver, an African (not African-American, but African-African), was an incredibly chatty and nice guy…but I think he must have been a NASCAR reject. When he discovered there was an accident on the “Parkway,” he jumped the on-ramp curb and proceeded to take a “shortcut” avoiding the parkway.

I have no earthly idea where he went, we were on a very crowded Frontage road for much of the race—I mean, drive, but I’ll admit I was a little nervous at times.

Forty-five minutes later (normally a 20 minute commute, I later learned), I arrived at the hotel around 8:30. Once inside, I discovered Lou, Howard Mackie, and Ratna Chatterjee, my boss, waiting in the restaurant. I tried to order catfish, but they’d never heard of it. I did order sweet tea, but it tasted like…well, not sweet tea.

We closed the hotel restaurant down and moved to a diner. After discussing marketing, classics, creators, contracts and the like, we finally called it a night and headed back to the hotel. Howard and I, however, were wound up and talked shop until about 1 a.m.

The next morning Lou drove us to the “Fairfield Comic Show,” a local comic show. After the show successfully underwhelmed Ratna, Lou displayed his navigational skills by driving in circles around New Jersey. I must have seen the same Subway about six times. He further took us on a tour of a nearly abandoned mall.

After more circuitous routes, we finally decided to catch lunch where the four of us again talked shop for about 3 hours. And truth to tell, much was accomplished. And while there is a great deal of work in the day ahead, I’m excited that both Howard and Lou are involved and excited about the prospect in the days ahead for Elfin Kids.

My return flight, while late, was much less eventful.

One final note. The collected four of us were a varied group with Lou from Chicago, Howard from New York, Ratna from India and me from The South. Because of their geographical disadvantage, I was forced to spend considerable time educating them on “catfish, hunting, the use of ‘y’all’, and, of course, the evils of Abraham Lincoln.

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