From the Stump

Words Aplenty, Wisdom Optional (Perhaps, as a writer, I will feel insecure about my writing until a substantial number of copies are sold.)

Beating of Young Girl on the Street

Posted by milton3 on February 15, 2010

We have seen the video of the young girl being beaten on the sidewalk by another young girl while the security guards and citizens watched. It makes you grit your teeth. Of course, we do not know the history behind it but that is beside the point for this discussion. The fact is, this was in America where we look in dismay at other countries where innocent people are beaten in the streets. This is no different, it is a terrorist attack.

Upon seeing the video several times, I finally picked out what appears to be an adult directing the young girl who was doing the beating. That woman should be arrested and questioned by police.

It is a shame that we have streets in our nation where people have to fear for their lives. Police should not be allowed to avoid such streets simply because they have a history of problems. It is the city leadership’s responsibility to not let gangs rule any part of their city. Citizens expect it.

As for the security guards, what they did was within the rules for security guards but not within the rules of being human. Security guards are nothing more than private citizens who are employed to protect private property through deterrence. They have no police authority and can be sued just like any other citizen who over steps the law. It is an awkward job. At the same time, they do have the same rights as a private citizen. They can engage in self-defense which includes the application of force to protect themselves and others.

We keep seeing these type of things and it is heartbreaking. Bullies are alive and well. I experienced it in school. My children experienced it. It is still a major problem in schools and on the streets. Some children are blessed with more strength than others, it is sad that they use that superior strength to bully instead of protect the weaker. They learn from adults.


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Voyage to the City of the Dead-Alan Dean Foster

Posted by milton3 on February 9, 2010

Voyage to the City of the Dead by Alan Dean Foster. Del Rey, 243 pages, fiction, novel, science fiction. 1984

Book Review.  Mister Foster did weave a fine tale of another world.  It has a surprise at the end so don’t read ahead.  It is a study in human nature as well as that of other species.  The adventure in the book would make a great movie as would the various alien beings.

The goal is the top of the world, not ours, theirs.  There are stories of demons beyond a certain point which happens to be about half way to their destination.  The two stars are conflicted toward each other until final events stir their love to life again.

It is a clean read and there are words I will never be able to pronounce but it is a good story that will be remembered. I’m glad for the gift of this book.

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Eating on the Sharecropper Farm

Posted by milton3 on February 8, 2010

When the garden was coming in, we had quite a bit of variety.  There is nothing like a biscuit and a fresh onion from the garden.  You’d grab the biscuit and take off to the garden.  You find an onion that has a little white showing and pull it up, wipe the dirt off on your pants leg, peel off the first layer and use your finger nails to pinch off the end.  It was good eating after that.

Tomatoes worked well with a biscuit too.  If you happened to remember to get a little salt it was better but fresh off the vine was fine.  You got to remember to wipe it off good on your pants, shirttail or dress tail, if you’re a girl.  Lean over a little when you first bite into it because you will get a squirt of juice that usually misses your mouth.  After the first bite, you can just takes turns with the tomato and the biscuit.  It is always a sad moment when they are gone.  It’s best you not go for another biscuit right now, Mom is probably wondering where the other one went to.

Well, that was the fun part.  There are other times when things are not so rosy.  The weather had a lot to do with farming.  No good weather, no good crops.  We couldn’t afford canning jars, most of the time, so we had little put up for winter.  Sometimes we’d manage to can some beans.  But when it was really bad, it was back to the beans and cornbread.  If we had potatoes, it was a feast.  You just can’t beat a plate of beans on cornbread with fried potatoes and a little pepper juice to pour on it. 

Breakfast was a little different.  Sometimes, in the hard times, we would carry supper over into breakfast.  Cornbread and butter or sugar syrup worked pretty good.  Eggs would have been nice and we had them some before we ate the chickens. 

Then there was hog killing times.  We’d have some meat smoking in the house then.  We could build a rabbit box or two and help out and there was the river for fish and the woods for squirrels.

All in all we did okay.  Back then kids would laugh at you if you took an ear of boiled corn and a sausage biscuit to school.  It was good eating though.  I’d walk in the woods at school sometimes to avoid the laughing of the ‘rich’ kids who got to eat in the lunch room.  I never ate in the school cafeteria.  It looked pretty complicated standing in line and telling the woman in white what to put on the plate and then sitting with a hundred others to eat. I didn’t know how to eat some of that stuff if I got a chance.

I would not swap the upbringing I had for the rich life of the factory workers.  We had our rough spots but we had a big yard and the river banks.  You don’t have those in the city.

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Fonts and Such

Posted by milton3 on February 5, 2010

I have found that Times New Roman works well and converts to PDF well.  As for size, I use 11 and 1&1/2 on the line spacing.  I was using 12 and a single line spacing but the print looks large on the finished product and a single space gives it a crowded look when in book form. 

There are some beautiful fonts that I would like to use in my books.  The problem comes in converting them to PDF.  It can turn into a mess.  I am sure there are ways to avoid this but I have not found them yet.  I am not very good at going into the advanced stuff to do things like embed fonts and, quite frankly, do not know what it means. 

I am still wishing for one of those programs that take away all the questions and just let me tell my story.  Any suggestions?

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Page Breaks

Posted by milton3 on February 4, 2010

I use page breaks to keep my chapters from jumping when a document is converted to PDF.  Sometimes, however, I need to delete those page breaks.  I figured out if I arrow down the blank part of the page the page break will appear as a 1/2 size cursor.   You got to remember those page breaks when editing, i.e. adding or deleting text.  It will move them around. Just thought I’d mention it in case someone besides me is still using Microsoft Works.  Oh, to be able to afford a higher version.

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Book Review-chindi by Jack McDevitt

Posted by milton3 on February 4, 2010

chindi by Jack McDevitt, Ace Books, 511 pages, fiction, novel, space, 2002

Chindi is my kind of book. McDevitt is my kind of author.   

If you like stories about space travel, you will love this book.  I know I’m late getting to it but it was still rich with adventure.  I spent the better part of today finishing it. 

An unlikely heroine, Hutch, takes her passengers on a regular trip so they can get the feel for space and investigate a signal from ‘somewhere’.  They are not professionals but they got the money and the academy needs the new ship they are offering.  The signal leads them on a mission beyond the boundaries of known territory. 

I can’t tell you more without ruining the story but it is well worth the read.  He makes it so it is more like a chronicle of what really happened.

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Going to Church in the Old Days

Posted by milton3 on January 27, 2010

It must have been about three miles from our house to the little white church. Sometimes most of us children walked to church, sometimes it was just some of us. I do not remember a time when we all went at the same time. My brother just older than me usually went every Sunday. It was hard on the little girls to make the trip but they did very often.

(In my early childhood, I remember us all piling into the ’48 Ford and going to cottage prayer meetings. I always got the space over the back seat under the big back window. Even earlier than that, I remember going to church on a wagon with no bed but it had rubber tires and was pulled by mules. But back to my story.)

The road was dusty with dried out clay. I think it was what they used to make the roads passable in those days. That stuff was two inches of dust in dry weather and two inches of sticky yellow mud when it rained. Usually the cars would make two tracks in the wet clay and it would be a hard packed place to walk but you had to keep your balance. When a car came along, we’d have to get out of the tracks. Since cars did not always stay in the tracks, we got off in the trees until they passed. By that time, we would have sticky mud on our shoes which we had spent some time getting clean.

We tried to wipe them off with pine needles or leaves but inevitability we would get to church with mud on our shoes and half way up our britches’ legs. It dry weather we’d be covered with dust from passing cars.

Walking into church we would always be greeted with smiles. The thing I remember most about church was the beautiful singing. I was really shy so I seldom went to the choir. I loved to hear the ones who did go though. Another thing I remember was the smell of gas from the gas heaters. There is just a certain smell from gas heat whether the heaters are on or not. Then there were the wasps that would start to swarm when the church building got good and warm. That was usually about the time the preacher got going good. Sometimes one would get stuck in a lady’s or a girl’s hair and us boys would sit and try to decide whether to grab it, knock it or just watch it. You might get stung by the wasp or the girl if she thought you were flirting.

Going home was always an experience. Sometimes we would get a ride. One lady had a T-model pickup and we would pile in the back or hang on the running board. Others had regular cars and would sometimes give us a ride. Once we rode home on the back of a pulpwood truck, loud mufflers and all. It had no bed so we just hung on to whatever we could. I had the pleasure of hanging on to one of the girls who sung in the choir and to a cross member on the truck. When she lost her hold on the truck, I was holding me and her both to keep us from falling in front of the dual wheels. As much fun as it was, I was never so glad for a vehicle to stop.

There were many times when we walked all the way home in the dark. Sometimes there was a moon, sometimes we walked by the outline of the trees beside the road. We had to walk beside a pasture fence part of the way. We often heard some critter walking along beside us just on the other side of the fence. We later discovered that there were panthers in those woods beyond the pasture.

In the following years, because we seldom had a working car, I still walked to church but often it was alone. At one place we lived there was a dark woods on both sides of the road most of the way home. People had to go to work the next morning so mostly I walked home after church. I remember that after this last patch of woods there was a long stretch where there were no trees and I could see the porch light that Mama left on for me. I always looked forward to seeing that light. It did nothing to light my way but I knew that I would be home soon. It seems now, that I am growing old, that I am in that last patch of woods looking for the porch light.

Milton is the author of a number of stories which can be found at this website.

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Transient – The Tommy Bookmark Story

Posted by milton3 on January 25, 2010

Tommy was a writer who fell in love with a farmer’s daughter.  He came south to get material for a book he was writing.  He landed in a small town with an old hotel.  The hotel was the gathering place for the local citizens and so, was a good place to get to know them.  Around the big supper table, there was talk between friends and strangers.

Later, when organized crime came to town, Tommy left the farm work to rid the county of the hoods.  When the war came, Tommy put on a uniform and waded in the trenches of Europe. 

He was always trying to get back to his writing and his family but duty seemed to pull him away.  This is his story,  a meek man who reluctantly used his fist and his gun to protect those he loved.  You may download or purchase a hardcopy at this link.

“A car came down the wide street after turning off of the Georgia Turnpike. The driver waited until he got where he was going to apply the brakes. The motor adjusted to the sudden stop with a loud backfire out the tailpipe. Those dozing on the wraparound porch jumped from the noise and spilled anything they were holding, onto themselves or the porch. Mary came to the window to see what the commotion was all about. The doctor stood in the doorway near the clerks counter holding his reading glasses between his fingers.

A stout looking man exited the car just as the farmer’s horse gave the fender a mighty kick. The man ran around to that side of his car and tried to give the big horse a shove away from the car. The horse did not move a step. The man squeezed into the small space between the horse and car to inspect the damage. He bent over to take a better look. The horse, already upset, took the opportunity to take a bite at the target presented him. The man straightened and leaped onto his car, then to the other side. The horse dropped his head and went back to his daydreams about hay and things.

The farmer came down off the porch to try to apologize to the man but he would have none of it. The farmer’s name was Bill. Bill tried to explain that the horse was an ornery old cuss and that he was worth all the trouble he caused because of the work he could do. The man from the car did not appreciate the horse’s abilities. He demanded satisfaction for the damages to his car. Bill was slow to anger, like the good book said to be, but his neck was getting red from trying to hold his temper.

“Mister, I do not have any cash money. I can pay you off in eggs and a sack of po’taters.” Bill said.

The man from the car started to walk back and forth, rubbing his behind, right in front of the ladies, one of which was the farmer’s wife.

“Mister, if you can help it, you need to stop rubbing your behind in front of my wife and the rest of the ladies. It’s a might embarrassing.” Bill said.

The man stopped rubbing but said. “It’s a might painful, too.” He rolled his lips back over his upper teeth to poke a little fun at the way Bill expressed himself. By now, Bill had moved to within snatching distance of the man from the car. The man was still pacing but when he turned around the last time he butted into Bill’s chest. It seemed to make him even madder when he realized he was not the biggest man around. He tried to push off from Bill with his hands against Bill’s chest. He went back a ways but Bill did not move.

“Now, I don’t want any trouble. I am sorry my horse hurt your car. I will trade out the damages, if you want me to. Besides that, there just ain’t nothing else I can do.” Bill said.

“Well, there is something I can do.” The man said as he took a swing at Bill’s exposed chin. His fist hit the big jaw causing Bill’s head to jerk slightly to one side. He drew back for another swing but before he could Bill grabbed him by his shoulders and set him on his own car hood. They heard the booming voice behind them at the same time and both men turned to see who was talking.

“My wife said there was something going on down here at the hotel. I guess she was right. What’s the problem?” Sheriff Harley Singletree asked as he belched on his own stomach full of dinner. Sheriff Harley, as they called him, was a pretty big fellow but his belly hung over his belt as he walked with a ‘it don’t matter to me’ swagger. Many mistook him for a pushover. To their surprise, would-be-criminals found him to be very strong under his layer of flab.

The man from the car spoke first. “This fat hillbilly let his horse kick my car and I want satisfaction.”

“Bill maybe could be called a hillbilly but that is not fat you are looking at, except maybe between his ears.” The sheriff said.

“Now Harley, you got no call to talk about me like that.” Bill said.

“Don’t get all red-in-the-neck again Bill. I was just trying to calm you men down.” Sheriff Singletree told him.

“Just what I needed. A hick town where everybody is just one big happy family.” The man said.

“Listen young man. We ain’t always happy and some of us ain’t no kin, but if you are looking for trouble I can help you with that little problem. My jail just happens to be empty.” The sheriff said.”

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Reading Phase

Posted by milton3 on January 18, 2010

My post here are sparse now because I am going through my reading phase again.  I will be back but first I have some stories to get to the bottom of.  Feel free to tell your story in the mean time.  Oh, I know there are hundreds of writing sites but it could be that someone digs in this well and sees your words.

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Tell Your Story

Posted by milton3 on January 14, 2010

You are invited to tell your personal story of how you became a writer. 

How do you go about coming up with a story?

How did you get published?

Why do you write?

They will appear as comments to this post.  Thanks for your participation.

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