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I DON’T RECOGNIZE MY COUNTRY ANYMORE

Over Eighty Years Watching the Decline of America’s Heart and Soul: Innocence and Compassion Lost.  Both Mine and The Nation’s

Listening to our President and talking heads, I recall the following: when – over time – what we say is different from what we do, people quit listening. Have we stopped listening to each other? I watch the news, pundits talking over each other as if louder will somehow drive home a point of view. We have chosen sides, and God help the other side.

Is this something new, or has it always been like that?

I think back on significant events in my lifetime and how they have changed my country. I was born during the Great Depression, lived through a World War and the ones following. I try to understand how love and hate continue as partners in a constant dance, a dance that isn’t close to finishing.

My country used to feel like a lean and muscular country coming out of the Great Depression years, flexing those muscles in a world war. I wonder when it turned into an obese, flabby state, barely able to live up to the title of a world leader.

The symbiotic relationship between xenophobia and prejudice exhibited by the current administration reminds me of remoras that live on the back of sharks, both needing each other.

In Sunday School, we heard love for one another was a part of the helix that formed our country coil. Has that part of the spiral been stripped apart? I find it hard to see the love in faces of people shouting hateful words, spittle flying as they rant.

I fear it has always been like that, hate and worse hiding under the surface like some primordial ooze, while we’ve been fed sugar cubes to keep us distracted.   

Eighty-three years of observation: newspapers, radio, newsreels, television, and books, and I’m no closer to understanding. My personal cultural and moral values were developed at home and in school, and my faith at church. My patriotism blossomed serving in the military. Maybe as a student of history and having a good memory, I sense I’ve seen what’s happening in our country as an echo of events when I was born. It’s like a stage play, the playwright not telling us how it will end, doomed to slog from one act to the next.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Find a copy of William L. Shirer’s Berlin Diaries. Reading that book will serve as a good reminder that the same white supremacy, racial and authoritarian politics of Germany and Europe in 1937 are alive and seeping to the surface today. We’ve all heard the phrase; the more things change, the more they stay the same.

What’s at stake?

 

The moral compass of our nation is at stake. We see a sharp spike in anti-Semitism. The divide between races, languages, and nationality cries out for a bridge, a bridge that never seems to get built. There all the antis: anti-socialism, anti-fascism, anti-immigration, anti-fill-in-the-blank. Manipulating messages stay fueled by politicians humming songs of hate under their breath.

What we say we are as a nation is poles apart from what we do. We’ve quit listening. The world stops listening.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best. “All we are saying to you, America, is do what you say on paper.” Ouch.

The fog of war (German: Nebel des Krieges) describes the uncertainty of warfare. What about the fog of truth that lies hovering over our nation’s capital, creating insecurity, and obscuring facts?

Ah, scapegoats and distractions are all.

Nazis targeted German Jews the year I was born, were swept up in a category five hurricane of hate. Then, Germany exported their vile philosophy across Europe, finding takers in other countries willing to “get rid of” their Jews.

The tentacles of anti-Semitism reached our country. We were quite happy to develop our version of Nazism.

Never again? Yet anti-Semitism still boils under the surface in this country

It sometimes feels like the inside of that famous Edvard Munch painting, The Scream.

In my childhood, the Germans were bad. Now they’re good. Japanese were bad. Now good. At first, Commies are bad or good, depending on who was talking.

What about the ghost of Senator McCarthy still holding up his list of subversives he claimed to exist in the government? It felt my young head spinning when the HUAC, The House Unamerican Activities Committee, went after a deep state that never was. Today, some nutters believe the attack on the so-called deep state continues, this time led by someone with the odd letter Q, who chooses to remain anonymous apparently.

After the Shoah Jews pledged, “never again!” In the aftermath of slavery and the civil rights movement, other pledges to never let it happen again.

We’ve evolved into a division of Conservatives v Liberals, taking it up a notch or three. The right is fascist, while the left is socialist. Two words, fascism and socialism, I suspect few can define, yet willing to accept as real.

What’s at stake? Truth and the soul of America.

How will the piece start and end?

 

In reality, it’s a story that will never end.

My memories feel like a huge sandwich, filled with war, then not war. Then peace, then no peace. Much of the sandwich is garden variety hate, the kind that that visited Charlottesville? My brain feels like it’s exploding when I tally the people killed in the name of genocide. Germany, Uganda, Bosnia, names at the top of the list. Uganda and Bosnia are already fading from memory. Will the Shoah be far behind? I’ve heard ranting anti-Semitism, ignorant anti-Muslim tirades Post 9/11. I witness prejudice leading up to – and following – the Civil Rights Movement. How often will I hear “never again,” only to be followed by again, and again, and again, and again?

Oh, there’s a lot of meat stuffed in the sandwich.

It would be a dreary piece, however, if it ended with hate. I have to believe in goodness. There were many examples of good, of love. How many have paid the price for the freedoms we have left? Non-Jews, who took a stand, becoming The Righteous Among Nations serve as an example of what’s right!

Who will stand up today and quiet the dog whistles? If you’re still reading, it takes you and me. Our faith, be it Judaism, Muslim, Christianity, or any commitment to a moral code, can serve as guidance.

Or, simply watch our new American-made Storm Troopers using tear gas and rubber bullets. If that doesn’t convince you, you might be a candidate for the latest crackpot conspiracy idea that the Covid-19 virus will actually inject us all with mind-controlling microchips.

Oh, my.

Chuck Waldron

The above is an expression of my thoughts alone. Agree or not, I don’t care. But we ignore our nation’s divide at our own peril.

 

 

One Nation Under God?

The Corporation, Hobby Lobby, spent a lot of money to pay for a full-page advertisement on page 16A in the Treasure Coast Newspapers on July 4th.

There it was. One Nation Under God

One Nation Under God?

It reminded me of something I read earlier. It was a simple statement. A person referred to this country as a Christian nation. Really?

I thought about the pledge I learned to recite in elementary school.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

A lot can change in eighty-plus years since the year I was born, 1937. I found a list, and these are just a few that happened during my first decade alone.

  • Digital computer and polarized sunglasses (1937)
  • Soft serve ice cream (1938)
  • Automated teller machine (1939)
  • Acrylic fiber (1941)
  • Cruise control (1945)
  • Tupperware and credit card (1946)
  • Transistor and defibrillator (1947)
  • Cat litter (1948)
  • In 1949 Frank J. Zamboni invented the first ice resurfacer called…wait for it…The Zamboni

And I can’t forget the big one, actually two:

  • Fat Man and Little Boy

Back to that Pledge of Allegiance. To counter the Red Scare, the fear the Soviet Communists were taking over our country, the U.S. Government added some words in 1954.

Take that Moscow.

All it took was inserting four words, “one nation under God.” The words weren’t added without controversy. Many still consider the words to be the government endorsement or religion, hence unconstitutional.

But whose God? The Republic of the United States of America is a place of Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and many other religious beliefs.

Is it a God who reigns down thunder and punishment, or a God of love? What about those who don’t believe in God?

Fortunately, our Constitution, the highest law in the land, says there will be no State religion. In fact, people are free to practice no religion at all.

I want to believe we’re still governed by the Constitution even though it feels as if it’s under attack. Yes, this is a nation of Christians. It is also a nation of Jews, Muslims, non-believers and more. We all live under the same tent while reciting the pledge, or not.

We’re told to stand at attention, hand over heart, as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, it’s even in the flag code.

But to those who remain troubled by the four words added in 1954, one can remain silent with hands to the side. In fact, hundreds of thousands of men and women have fought and died for the right to protest – silent and otherwise.

When protest involves taking a knee or refusing to stand during the national anthem, many feel disturbed, even outrage.

If somebody makes one uncomfortable by refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, you and I may not like it, but like I said above, a lot of blood was shed to make sure we all have that choice. We have freedom from established religion, the freedom of speech, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Many consider such things to dishonor the many who sacrificed for our freedoms. I think it’s the opposite. It’s an honor to what the sacrifice was for.

Just a thought as we celebrate Independence Day, 2019. A day that honors the beginning of the fight for those freedoms when we declared our independence from England…and from England’s church.

WRITING A NOVEL? PART 5

BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS, SWEAT . . . EDITING

Editing, blech!

You’ve finished your novel? If so, you know only too well the blood, toil, and tears needed to reach the finish line. That’s the time to put our feet up, pour a glass, sit back, and smile.

That’s when the plot bunny on the shoulder whispers the dreaded word . . . “edit.”

Editing . . . Blech!

Editing is the sweaty part of fictioneering, be it short story or novel. I’m the first to admit to the perils of rushing to print, relying on MS word to correct my spelling and grammar.

Winston Churchill’s great speech referring to blood, toils, tears, and sweat was his call-to-arms when Britain faced an imminent threat of invasion and war.

It also serves as a call-to-editing. In fact, Churchill was no stranger to editing. He rehearsed and edited his famous speeches up to the last moment. As a writer, he was a relentless self-editor.

I’m still learning the craft of self-editing. That said, our writing must be subjected to a third party. A friend, if need be. A professional, if possible. Having a novel in print with CHAPTER THIRTEER serves as my reminder.

It’s hard, I know. But the rewards are worth it. I can’t emphasize the importance enough.

There are some great resources. I use Grammarly. It costs but serves as an added layer of protection. MS Word is getting better. The two of them combined help, but there (or their) are gremlins that slip by. That’s why a careful reading of your own is critical.

I’ll end this with some tips below. I found them helpful. They’re from Sterling Watson, author, and Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Eckerd College.

Good luck, and good writing,

Chuck

 

Odds and Ends in Editing

Sterling Watson

 

  1. The ing problem. Convert going, doing, saying to past tense, went, did, said, unless you really need to describe a process that is ongoing.
  2. The then problem. She then did this, he then did that.  The next thing done is always done then.  Also, never proceeded to except in comedy.
  3. The problem of expected language or language that fails to surprise. This is not writing we would call cliched, but it makes holes in the page.  Verbs like swigged, shimmered, trudged and swirled usually qualify.  All memo language qualifies: “He had progressed in his job to a position of authority.”  Flaubert said, “Astonish me.”  A lot of people have said, “Make it new.”
  4. Too many semi-colons. Yes, you know how to use them, but don’t.
  5. Using too many character names. Usually, after establishing the names of the characters, the fictional convention is to use the pronouns he or she to designate the protagonist/point-of-view character and names for the other characters.  This contributes in a subtle way to a feeling of emotional and intellectual closeness to the protagonist.  In most contemporary fiction, point-of-view is used so that closeness to the protagonist is a virtue.
  6. Cut modifiers when you can. The superstructure of a good sentence is Subject – Verb – Object.  If these words are chosen well, your need for modifiers decreases.  Cut quickly and slightly as often as possible.
  7. Don’t change tenses indiscriminately. Use as few tenses as you can (you almost never need the conditional tense).  Know that tenses are used in sets: past with past perfect (did, had done); present with present perfect (does, has done).
  8. Use contractions in dialogue unless expressing especial emphasis: “I don’t/ do not want you to go.”
  9. Don’t make excessive references to time (At that moment, he . . .). Just let the action happen.  Also, be careful with suddenly.  Just make it sudden.
  10. Don’t underestimate the power of short declarative sentences, especially at the beginnings and ends of paragraphs.
  11. Don’t write, “He thought to himself.” To whom else would he think?  Well, maybe in science fiction.
  12. Don’t use towards, forwards, backwards, or ways, as in, “It was a ways farther.” Further means discourse (“He speculated further.”); farther means physical distance.
  13. Put a comma before the conjunction in a compound sentence but not before the conjunction in a sentence with a compound verb. He went to the store, and he bought groceries.  He went to the store and bought groceries.
  14. Unless there is a compelling reason not to do so, report actions in the order in which they happen; e.g., don’t write, “After killing Jim and burying him, she went home and had a drink.”
  15. First lines of stories and novels are important and should be memorable if possible. Last lines, too.
  16. Be careful not to confuse your reader at the beginning of your story. Clear details of time, place, and character will keep your reader from wanting a divorce. Burroway says we should know on the first page gender, age, race, nationality, class, period, region, profession, and marital status.
  17. Don’t start sentences with there. There was a man standing at the counter.  A man stood at the counter.
  18. Don’t compound prepositions. He got up off of the chair.  He got off the chair.  We met up at the dance.  We met at the dance.

 

 

 

Sharing imaginary friends since 1985

My name is Chuck Waldron, and I’m a writer. I love to write.

Previously, a professional mountain climber, if you view work as climbing mountains, I now spend most of my time trying to make sense of what to do when the plot bunny bites with story ideas.

Luckily, when the plot bunny bites, I have many imaginary friends, and yours truly is not afraid to use them. They allow me to tell their stories, on many occasions, even demanding it. Who can ignore their shouting? Not me.

My imaginary friends whisper stories that turn into thrillers mixed with mystery and action, character-driven stories spiced with plot twists.

I want to share my imaginary friends. That’s a tall order. I must keep them. It’s a crime to cheat readers out of their precious reading time.

I’m in awe of readers. They can give a story five stars. What writer doesn’t want that?

What about thumbs down. Oh no, you say? Smart writers learn from mistakes. The reader is the ultimate judge.

Credentials? Does one need a license to get creative?

When I found out I didn’t need a government-issued permit to write a story, it was simple. I just started. I still laugh at the what Anonymous said, “the beginning is easy; what comes next is hard.”

It started with a story in the local newspaper. My wife said, “you might be interested in something like this.” My writing education began with a class in writing short stories. It was serendipitous. Or was it? It was the beginning of a love affair and a short story oeuvre of fifty-six titles. Some are excellent, some good, some merely taking up space in the virtual file cabinet. The practice and discipline required to write a short story helped me leash a runaway imagination.

Those short stories still point at my writing compass true north.

I quit adding totaling writing workshops, conferences, and peer groups. Without a doubt, they’vel enhanced my craft. It’s my fault if I haven’t paid close attention to what I’m doing well . . . and not so well. Any writing errors of commission or omission rest entirely on my shoulders. However, I do wish I’d stayed awake in Miss Chalmer’s high school English class. Too late, now.

Writing my first novel, I reread my very first short story, Tears in the Dust. I wondered if the storyline had what it takes to grow it into my first manuscript. That short story is now buried in my first novel, near the halfway point of the story.  Later, I added: Remington and the Mysterious Fedora, Served Cold, and The CleanSweep Conspiracy. My imaginary friends told me to keep going. The sequel, The CleanSweep Counterstrike will be out early spring 2018

 Still under Construction

The CleanSweep Conspiracy is a story four years in the making. The plot finally crystallized into an ominous, sinister and creepy story. A cautionary tale, reading today’s news. It’s a conspiracy page-turner, touching on lack of privacy, intrusive surveillance, with mysterious figures behind the scenes. What thriller fan does not want a story like that, eh?

If you like Matt Tremain and friend in The CleanSweep Conspiracy, the conspiracy takes on global implications in the sequel, The CleanSweep Counterstrike.

There always seems to be an etc.

My writing and life have been anything but a journey traveling a straight line, beginning on an August morning so long ago. From then, so many zigs and zags. But the dead ends and detours have more often provided some splendid delights. Best of all, I’ve learned to wait for what comes next.

What began in America’s heartland, took a meandering wonderful Canadian journey, before coming to rest on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

I like to pretend interest, often lack perseverance, and could use a good talking . . .

. . . until it comes to writing. Then, it is all about the next story.

My wife and I are now warmed by a sub-tropical sun where I write while keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and Burmese Pythons.

Chuck

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

WRITING A NOVEL? PART 4

Ready, Fire, Aim: Getting it wrong

When I asked someone in a writing group what her story was about, she said she didn’t know. Said, “I simply start writing. Eventually, I find out the direction the story is taking.” Huh?

I think that’s wrong. What about you?

Do you know what your story’s about? Have you ever started a road trip, route planned, map ready, car fueled, only to find a detour along the way? What if we never make it to the destination? I’ve had some happy memories visiting unplanned places. But to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never started the car, heading down the road with absolutely no clue where I’m going. Okay, that one time might be blamed to too much . . .

I think writing’s like that. That first sentence is pointing to the last, the finale. My characters take detours, often ending up in unplanned places, but they always seem headed toward that last sentence.

If the story-line takes a detour and doesn’t get back to the map, it may require taking an editorial knife to it.

Skip the editing, and you’re sure to get it wrong

Informed that Beat leader Jack Kerouac never rewrote after putting words to paper, Truman Capote commented, “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

Every time I’ve rushed or relied on grammar technology, I’ve learned to regret not taking the time for the sweaty part, editing, rewriting, editing and rewriting.

For those of using MS Word, it’s easy to get lazy, waiting for Word to catch the mistakes. After all, Word even checks for context now. For those of who use Grammarly, we think we’ve got mistakes covered, for sure. What can slip by both Word and Grammarly? Theirs always a catch, catch? And the POV police are waiting around the curve. I found out the hard way. I thought I’d perfected self-editing, used grammar software, and sent it off to a real editor. I had 424 double-spaced pages, with mistakes on every page. I even paid him to show them to me.

Can’t it be fun?

Writing is fun for me. Even staring at a blank page all day, if I can come up with a paragraph, it’s been worth it. Then I think of my favorite quote from that well-known writer, Anonymous. “The beginning is easy; what happens next is much harder.”

I have a Chapter Thirteer in one of my novels. The only way I could assuage my embarrassment was to use that page for book signings.

There’s a lot of hard work ahead if you’re just starting out on your writing journey. It can be fun, hard work, agonizing, obsession, and more. Don’t ever be satisfied with the first draft. That’s all I’m sayin’

With that out of the way, the next part will be more enjoyable.

See you then*

*Have you ever enjoyed Where’s Waldo? There are at least 7 intentional mistakes above. I don’t know about the unintentional ones.

WRITING A NOVEL? Part 3

If you read part one, aren’t intimidated by the sheer volume of competition, and still writing, congratulations. Telling stories is what writers do. Set aside dreams of fame and fortune. Those are byproducts for the lucky few. They’re lucky because they kept writing, improving, writing, improving, writing . . . Well, you get my drift.

Part two was the starting point. “I never metaphor I didn’t like,” said Mardy Grothe. I agree. So, here’s mine for today. Writing is like swimming naked in a crowded pool. It takes madness or courage to strip naked like that. Yet, writers do that metaphorically. Some have the self-confidence to do it. If you don’t, the criticism will be embarrassing.

Part three is about commitment and perseverance.

How many times have I had some tell me they would love to write a book or story, but they don’t have the time.

Balderdash.

We make time for the important things. When I hear someone say that, I know they’re wannabe writers. It sounds glamorous to say, “I’m an author.” Hah, the dirty secret is . . .  Drumroll please, time commitment and sweaty work.

Do I mean ignoring family and friends? Do you skip your child’s graduation from kindergarten to write? Am I suggesting giving up vacations and lots of other fun things that enrich our lives? Heck, no to all the above.

If you choose watching reruns of Blue Bloods instead of writing, ask yourself how committed you are to the writing craft. I’m not picking on a TV show. I have most of the show’s dialogue memorized.

But it’s at my peril when I know the Frank Reagan family characters better than the ones in my own writing.

It doesn’t matter if we write in the morning, afternoon or evening. It doesn’t matter whether we use pen and paper or a computer.

Time matters. I speak for myself when I say it’s hard to stay disciplined. When my characters are talking to me, hours pass and I’m still writing. Some days I only have time for a couple of hours chatting with my characters.

But I took Natalie Goldberg’s advice to heart. Every day, I write. If it’s only fifteen minutes, scribbling in a notebook, I write.

Only you can take charge of your writing time. Choose wisely and have fun.

Chuck


The dynamic author of 4 thrillers, Chuck’s an unapologetic wordsmith, and friends with many fictional characters. He’s the creator of the Matt Tremain thrillers series. You can find out more about his novels at Amazon Author Central as well as his website: www.chuckwaldron.com

WRITING A NOVEL? PART 2

Part Two in the series.

In part one, I wrote about the million books that will be published in 2018, seven-hundred and fifty thousand of them self-published. The bad news? Competition, going up against the sheer volume of new novels. The good news? We can get a slim toe-hold in the marketplace. There are three things we can do: have a good story, have a worthy cover, and make sure the interior supports your work.

This part of the series is about step one in getting the story right.

We’re told to follow the rules. After all, writers spend years getting degrees in the fine art of writing literature, learning the arcane terms describing what a novel must have. They should have the following eight components: concept, plot, story spine, character arc, protagonist fatal flaw, antagonist fatal flaw, setting, and voice.

I’m not saying we should ignore the rules of writing, most are well tested. In addition to the eight mentioned above, we’re advised to know the end before we create a beginning. Each sentence should entice the reader to read the next, and so on.

It still comes down to you writing your story. How do you want to tell it? You may have a storyboard outlining your novel. It’s like a triptych, leading you from start to finish

I might choose to start writing and let the story develop as I go. I may have an idea of what the end of a story may look like, but willing to enjoy surprises in the journey. And sometimes surprised by the end.

Either way, it comes to a story we, as writers, must tell, bending the rules to fit the story.

When we get to the editing in an upcoming part of the series, you’ll spot the holes in your story that need fixing.

So, write, write, write, and then write. We’ll circle back to rules later.

I’m reminded of the first rule of planning battle in a war. The rules go out the window with the first shot.

If you’re ancient enough to remember the movie, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I will paraphrase. “rules, I don’t need no stinking rules.”

Sure, we break the rules at our own peril, but I believe a writer’s chore is just write the damn story. Get to know your characters and turn them loose.

I do warn myself and offer the same warning to you. Beware. You may think the writer’s in charge. How often we learn it’s the characters who have the real story.,

Write down the bones, as Natalie Goldberg advises. The writing is easy, what comes next is the hard part.

Stay tuned for part three.


The dynamic author of 4 thrillers, Chuck’s an unapologetic wordsmith, and friends with many fictional characters. He’s the creator of the Matt Tremain thrillers series. You can find out more about his novels at Amazon Author Central as well as his website: www.chuckwaldron.com

WRITING A NOVEL? DO THE MATH

Part one in a series

One million books will be published next year in the U.S.

Seven hundred and fifty thousand will be self-published.

The average length of a novel is estimated to be 60,000 and 70,000. I decided to thread the needle and use 65K, coming up with 48,750,000,000 words self-published each year. That’s 48 in billions.

My 89,342 words face a daunting challenge.

Who wants to be a writer?

Justine Goldberg, writing in Publishing Perspectives, claims 200 million Americans say they want to publish a book.

Wow. Talk about competition.

I sometimes feel like Forrest Gump when he decided to stop running. Is it time to stop writing?

No, it can’t be

That can’t be.

I can’t stop. Writing is hard-wired into my DNA. It’s nothing to do with competition. It’s not about how many words I’m up against. I’m not finished telling stories!

Get it right

Even if 750,000 books are published next year, most will be third-rate, at best, according to Joseph Epstein in The New York Times.

In the Publishing Perspective article, Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks said, “Self-published books are uniformly badly published.”

Tom Dever, TLC Graphics and Narrow Gate Books, added, “If a book looks self-published, readers aren’t going to buy it.”

That’s the challenge, Indie authors. That’s part of the edge against the competition. Books can’t disregard the craft of book publishing. Self-publishers pay a price ignoring in the rush to publish.

It’s easy to self-publish. It’s easy to do it wrong.

If you and I work our hardest to get it right, we leap over a huge number of self-published authors.

Doing it Right

Remember the old expression that everything old is new again? There’s no substitute for:

  • A good story
  • A good Cover
  • Good Interior

A good story doesn’t come out like a newborn baby, fully formed and ready to breathe. To keep the metaphor going, a story is conceived, developed, and birthed.

I know when I’ve written something good, I think. I don’t have an eye for what I’ve not written well. Beta readers and workshops help.

Like many, if not most, Indie authors, I don’t have a lot of cash on hand, but I spend as much as I can on cover design. To me, a cover is an invitation to the dance between reader and author.

The interior is our story on display. We want that dance to end with the reader wanting more. Editing is expensive, but I pay as much as I can. I keep putting comas in when I shouldn’t and leaving them out when they’re needed. Before you point out the coma mistake I just used, I had an editor tell me my use of commas put him in a coma.

In the End

Finished with a story, I sleep easily, knowing I’ve done the best I can.

Somewhere out there a reader is waiting. Print sales are up, eBook sales down, and the use of smartphones as a reading device has gone up 7%. I don’t care how they prefer to read, I love readers.

For me, I’ll keep writing until I don’t have any more stories to tell. I still don’t see the stop sign. How much writing will end as novels? Who knows? My first writing love was a short story.

That’s my story. I would love to hear from you. Agree? Let me know. Disagree? Let me know. I’d love to keep our conversation going. Writing’s a great journey for me, and I wish the same for you.

Thanks for reading,

Chuck

Click and send me your thoughts

 


The dynamic author of 4 thrillers, Chuck’s an unapologetic wordsmith, and friends with many fictional characters. He’s the creator of the Matt Tremain thrillers series. You can find out more about his novels at Amazon Author Central as well as his website: www.chuckwaldron.com


 

EXECUTIVE ORDER #17,342 ~ 0001 HOURS, JANUARY 1

 

Stuart, Florida

“Zup, Billy?

“Did you see it, man? All those cool army trucks?”

“No. Where?”

“The fairgrounds. I’m on my bike. There must be a hundred. They’re still coming.”

“No way.”

“Yeah, way. You gotta get down here and see for yourself.”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

 

Sitting in his office, Dan was daydreaming—woolgathering his grandmother would have said. The smartphone on his desk began to vibrate. He kept the sound off, a courtesy to his cubical mates. Yawning, he picked up the phone and looked at the screen. There was a text from his girlfriend.

SARAH: “Military trucks driving past.”

DAN: “What? How many?”

SARAH: “I quit counting. WTF?”

DAN: “What kind?”

SARAH: “Big ones what do I know.”

DAN: “What direction?”

SARAH: “Looking. Somebody got out of one. OMG, looking up at me. They are all turning in at—”

DAN: “What?”

Dan tried to call Sarah. Voicemail, he sighed. After several more tries, Dan disconnected.

It doesn’t make any sense. Finally, he took a jacket off the hanger. Trying not to be concerned, Dan knew Sarah wasn’t given to speculation. Something about the text ending the way it did was bothersome. Walking to his car, he tried to remember what he had heard on the news this morning, the radio always tuned to news/talk AM 600 WMT.

“Dan, you put too much trust in Rush Limburger,” a friend told him, ruffling Dan’s political feathers.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Aurora, Colorado

 

“Mayor, did you know about this?”

Mayor Slamson saw the caller ID and hesitated. “Fred, you’re always calling about every little thing. What is it this time?”

“What are those damned planes doing, coming here like this? I moved into this RV park ‘cause there ain’t no more flights.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“C-130J Super Hercules. I know my planes.”

“How many…how can they…What the—”

“Counted seventeen, Mister Mayor,” emphasizing the Mister. “There’s a lot of Army trucks unloading troops and supplies.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Chicago, Illinois

 

The Daily Blog: Shining a light on lies in hiding

By, Chris Waltheran

 

Editor’s note: We are publishing the following story posthumously to honor the efforts of Mr. Waltheran to expose the truth behind Executive Order #17,342. Mr. Waltheran reportedly jumped to his death yesterday. We, however, believe it was a staged suicide, not as the government insists. This is goodbye to our many loyal readers. The editors and the entire team at The Daily Blog have been advised by our security consultants to go into hiding.
Roger Cleverton, Chief Editor

 

I admit I never thought we would see anything like Executive Order 17,342. It was signed by the President last on August 25th. The order was kept secret until it’s full implementation the following January 1, at one minute past midnight.

I remembered an earlier story reported on April 12, 2017, in The Washington Post. David Nakamura wrote that the government was looking at ways to set up a countrywide deportation militia, citing the danger set off by illegal aliens.

An internal security assessment was obtained, he wrote, showing the administration had designated about 33,000 additional detention beds to house undocumented immigrants.

A loud cheer came from those convinced illegal aliens are a type of social cancer that needed to be purged.

Those who thought otherwise, not so much cheering.

Buried in the proposal Nakamura obtained was mention of discussions the security agency had with local police forces—empowered with new federal enforcement authority.

Also, it proposed the hiring of hundreds of new Customs and Border Patrol offices, including doing away with polygraph tests, psychological assessments, and fitness tests.

Since then, years of court challenges have worn down the financial resource of activists trying to protest and stop the plan. Finally, out of money, their actions labeled as obstructionist and leftist, their lawsuits have quietly been dropped. Many activists report intimidation, terror, and physical assaults.

Now, the government is quietly making plans to put the scheme into play.

An anonymous source told me the national mobilization of state, and local police forces are underway under the supervision of ASP, Americae Securitatem Primum. This new agency—with the logo of a hissing deadly Asp— replaces Homeland Security. Reporting to the Commander-in-Chief, all police forces, civil servants, National Guard, and military reserve units will now be incorporated, creating a new harmonized command structure.

I know I am in grave peril working undercover. Today, I received a text advising me that my life is in danger. It is with sorrow to write that I am taking my safety very seriously. I hope to be back online from a safe location soon.

Chris.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

He looked at the bedside clock. Was it time to call and wake Angela?

Midnight and the new year was only minutes away. Thad’s life would change at one minute past midnight on January 1.

Joint nationalized security forces began raiding homes, hotels, hostel and other locations. It was the start of a twenty-four-hour operation to arrest and detain undocumented, illegal aliens living in the United States.

Specially selected, secret quasi-military units had been secretly armed and deputized. In training for months, the militias were supplied with uniforms, weapons, and ammunition from Federal munitions depots.

Hearing loud bangs, Thad had never spent time around guns and couldn’t quite identify the sound of gunshots. Annoyed, he rubbed his eyes, thinking about the running argument he had with his neighbor. The sound must be coming from the neighbor’s television, he thought.

“Turn that damn thing down,” he yelled.

He wasn’t quite sure when it occurred to him the noise was coming from the street. Periodic sounds of gunfire mixed with a stereophonic sound of screaming.

Why are they screaming, he wondered, looking at the bedside clock? The readout blinked 01:13.

Gunshots were joined by sirens, a lot of sirens. Dashing to the window, he looked down at the street. Thad lived on the third floor, street side. Powerful lights were turning night into day. Pulling up the blinds, he saw what looked like hundreds of men, women and children lined up, their backs to the storefronts. Some were in nightclothes. Many were in their underclothes, their arms positioned in an attempt at modesty.

As the noise lessened, he heard the cry of a young boy. Thad saw the boy holding his mother’s hand, looking up at her for reassurance.

Large military trucks, belching clouds of diesel exhaust, came from Thad’s left. They filled the street in front of his apartment building. Men and women in uniforms started jumping from the trucks, raising their weapons. The next few minutes passed as if they were mere seconds.

Thad watched—shocked—as the men, women, and children were roughly herded into the back of the trucks. Two armed guards jumped in last, threateningly holding their weapons.

His shock turned to horror when he recognized a family being crowded into one of the trucks. Oh, my God, he thought. What’s happening? That’s Tomas Casillas’s family. Thad tried to figure out why they were being taken away like that.

What was happening looked like a scene from a historical documentary, grainy films of people on their way to concentration camps.

Thad’s horror turned to fear. I must find out what’s going on, he thought.

He turned on the television. All the channels showed the same logo, a crawl at the bottom urging people to remain calm.

Thad tried the radio. All he heard with static until he found one station. “All citizens are to stay calm. Do not approach any of the security officers unless invited. At our 8 am newscast, you will be given instructions on where to report for your new government-issued identification cards. You must bring proof of citizenship—a passport or state-issued license with a photograph. The message kept looping until Thad realized he wouldn’t hear anything new until the broadcast at Eight.

Thad powered up his laptop and waited. A pop-up message appeared, “All internet connections have been disabled due to exigent circumstances,” leaving Thad to wonder if the country was at war.

He decided to text Angela, to see if the same thing was happening where she was. His phone powered up, but all he could hear was another message, “all telephone service, wired and wireless, is disabled until further notice.

Thad sat on the side of the bed, a wave of panic and despair washing over him.

Hearing a gentle rapping on his door, Thad hesitated before opening the door.

There was a look of terror on their faces. They were people he recognized. Four women and two men stood crowded together in the hallway. The taller man at the back kept looking both directions as if expecting a threat.

He greeted them by name, rushing them in so he could close and lock the door.

Grigori, Thad knew, was from Chechnya. Two of the women were friends who traveled together to this country. They were from Columbia. One woman was from Somalia. The fourth woman was new to the neighborhood. Thad didn’t know where she was from. The tall man at the back was from Nigeria.

“They’re arresting friends and families,” the Nigerian said.

“No papers. I’m undocumented,” The Chechen said.

“None of us do,” someone said, Thad wasn’t sure who.

“That’s what the trucks are for,” Thad asked?

“They seem to know—carrying papers with names and addresses. I was at work and saw them coming for me there. I got away just in time,” a woman said with the soft trace of Columbia in her voice.

“Can you help us?” Someone said.

“You shouldn’t have come here,” Thad said. “If what you are saying is true, my name is on the list.”

“How can that be? You’re American.”

Thad went to his desk. He turned and held up his passport. “Canadian. I crossed the border seven years ago. Nobody ever asked any questions, so I figured why to go through the bother with the niceties—”

Wood splintered, a battering ram had shattered the door from its hinges.

Men in camouflage uniforms rushed in, surrounding Thad and the others. The intruders kept their automatic weapons at the ready.

“Don’t move! Hands behind the back,” one shouted, probably the one in charge. He looked at a paper he was holding. “All seven,” holding up photographs.

Thad saw his photo on the top left corner of one page.

As they were ushered down the hall to the stairs, Thad looked back. The neighbor with the booming television was leaning out his doorway, sneering.

“I always knew there was something odd about you,” Thad heard him say.

Marched out through the lobby, people were lining the steps, holding signs proclaiming America First.

 

###

 

Or, is it?