Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays from R. E. Bradshaw Books

Dear Readers,

     I have begun and stopped a Christmas story several times. I wanted to give you all a little something, like I did with "Rainey’s Christmas Miracle" last year. Alas, with a sick dog and the tragedy of Sandy Hook School, I haven’t been in the holiday spirit. Then I remembered a manuscript I started and stopped last year, entitled “Sand Letters.” I intend to finish this novel at some point, but thought I’d share with you this little tidbit.
     The main characters are Margie and Ruth Ann. Margie is a fifteen-year-old girl, living on Hatteras Island. She is wrestling with her sexuality when she finds a book written by twenty-six-year-old Ruth Ann, a southern belle coming out story called “The Belle Cracked.” After reading the book, which answers so many questions for her, Margie meets Ruth Ann in person. Ruth Ann vacations on Hatteras Island every year and the two strike up a friendship. They write letters back and forth over the years, as Margie grows to adulthood. Ruth Ann serves as a mentor and a kind older friend, who understands the angst of a young lesbian growing up in the less than accepting environment of the seventies.
     The other characters are: Ida, Margie’s mother, who desperately wanted a debutante and instead has a basketball playing tomboy in Margie. Amy, Margie’s first real girlfriend, whom she met when Amy moved to the island during the current school year. Debbie, Margie’s best friend for years and the girl she had “experimented” with, while exploring her attraction to girls. She becomes very jealous of the new girl, Amy, even though Debbie has a boyfriend and only kisses Margie when she feels like it.
     The following letter from Margie explains what happened during preparation for the Christmas pageant and the aftermath. Enjoy, and happy holidays to you all. May the New Year bring you peace and joy.
R. E. Bradshaw

Excerpt from "Sand Letters"
by R. E. Bradshaw 

January 2, 1977
Dear Ruth Ann,
     You are never going to believe what happened. We got out of school on Dec. 17th. (I made all A’s, by the way.) We had a game that night and then I went home with Amy. Her parents were gone for the weekend. I convinced Ida that we were making homemade tree ornaments and wouldn’t she rather me mess up someone else’s kitchen, so she let me go. I’m not going into detail here, but I got my Christmas present from Amy that weekend. Wow!
     We did make the plaster ornaments, but mostly we just, well, you know. Anyway, we had to go to church on Sunday and I was sure I would burst into flames when I went in the door, but nothing happened. Then we had Christmas Pageant practice that afternoon. Amy, Debbie, and me were the oldest girls in the pageant. We have to move to the junior choir next year. We were changing into our costumes in this little room. Two other girls, freshmen, were in there, too.
     Suddenly, Debbie screams, “What’s that?” and points at my neck.
     I have no idea what she’s talking about. I thought a spider or something was on me, so I started jumping around, swatting my neck.
     Then she says, “It’s not a bug. You have a hickey on your neck.”
     I tried to remain as calm as possible, but I really wanted to run. I looked over at Amy. She was studying her costume, as if it was some kind of puzzle, and pretending she hadn’t heard a word of what Debbie said.
     I said, “It can’t be a hickey. I must have rubbed on a branch in the woods.”
     “That’s a hickey, Margie, and I bet I know who gave it to you!”
     Debbie screamed that so loud, I thought someone would come bursting through the door any minute. Then totally out of the blue she charged at Amy and pushed her down. By now, Debbie was crying and any attempt I made to get her quiet just made her louder.
     She yelled at Amy, “Why did you have to come here? Everything was fine before you came.”
     Now, you have to know Amy knew nothing about Debbie, other than she’d been a bitch to her. She thought it was because I was Debbie’s friend before, and nothing else. Well, she knows everything now, because Debbie turned on me after she got done with Amy, and said, “I’m going to tell your mother.”
     I forgot about the other two girls in the room. I also forgot that Amy didn’t know about Debbie and me. I shot my mouth off, “Yeah, well if you tell about me and Amy, then I’m telling about you and me.”
     The next thing I knew, they were both trying to kill me. Amy broke the shepherd’s staff over my head and Debbie tried to beat me to death with the Baby Jesus. They didn’t stop whacking me until they realized the two freshmen girls were trying to escape. They let me go and tackled the other two. After some serious threatening, we let the other girls go. I think we scared them really bad. Debbie told them we’d sneak in their rooms at night and cut off their hair, if they told. If they’ve spoken a word of what was said in that room, I haven’t heard it. If those girls ever wise up and realize they can blackmail us, we’re in deep shit.
     After pageant practice, Amy wouldn’t speak to me and neither would Debbie. I was so mad at Debbie. She ruined everything. I tried to talk to Amy on Monday, but her mom said she was sick and couldn’t come to the door. I went home and stole Ida’s green food coloring. I snuck into Debbie’s house and put the dye in her favorite green apple shampoo. Her brothers would have had to take the blame, if Ida hadn’t decided to make Christmas tree cookies and couldn’t find the green food coloring. She put two and two together after talking to Debbie’s mom at the store.
     So, to make a long story short, Amy quit talking to me, Debbie was a bitch with green hair, and I had blue hair, because that’s the food coloring Ida had in her hand when she attacked me in the shower, after she got back from her little chat with Debbie’s mom. Thank god, she didn’t see the hickey. It’s gone now.
     We all appeared in the pageant together, after a talking to by the preacher about forgiveness. I think Debbie’s green hair contrasted very nicely with her all white angel costume, but her wings were still bent from the fight the week before. Both Baby Jesus and my shepherd’s staff benefitted from the healing powers of Duct tape. Ida didn’t manage to get all my hair, but the bright blue stripe down the middle of my scalp was less than appealing. The dye has faded some now, but you can still see it.
     Amy finally started speaking to me again a few days after Christmas. I told her I was sorry that I didn’t tell her about Debbie and I think she understood. We talked about what people would say if they found out. We decided to head off the rumors by sleeping with our boyfriends. We didn’t go all the way, but just enough to give them something to talk about. I endured a night of groping and pawing. Boys are not very good at that sort of thing in my opinion, but it worked. We’re now sluts. I can’t win for losing, but at least they don’t tar and feather the sluts. We’re more popular than ever.
     School starts back tomorrow. I read Hemingway and Steinbeck over the holiday. They wrote so much; I think I’ll switch to someone else for a while. I also read, “The Children’s Hour,” by Lillian Hellman. Were you saving that for later? I wanted to strangle that little girl. I loved it, but why are the lesbians always so sad? Oh, by the way, we won the holiday tournament and I played in it with blue hair. I didn’t mind. Debbie had to cheer with her green hair. Her skin was kind of green too and since our school colors are green and gold, she looked like Gumby with pompons.
     Happy New Year!
Your friend,

 Happy Holidays, y'all!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shame of Them

     I have passed into the angry portion of the stages of grief. I’m angry that some kid who obviously needed help took so many innocent lives. I’m angry that a gun owner took no measures to secure her guns from this obviously disturbed young man. I’m angry that assault weapons are sold over the counter to anyone that wants one. I’m angry that Autistic kids around the world are being looked at differently today because of ignorance and misinformation. That leads me to why I am most livid – THE NEWS MEDIA. Shame on them.
     What happened to checking facts before reporting them? There was too much misinformation during the coverage of this tragedy. I’d like to shake every one of those jackasses who sat in front of a camera and spouted one untruth after another. They mislead the public time and time again. Most of what they reported was totally bogus and to what end? Rushing to get the next tidbit of information out, in order to be the first with “Breaking News,” just infuriates me. Then, even after some of the “facts” they reported were proven to be untrue, they continued to repeat the falsehoods. The police spokesman would say the stories they were reporting had no basis in fact, but even that didn’t stop them. Shame on them.
     There was a lot of misinformation, but what absolutely tipped the scale for me was the claim the shooter was Autistic. Would it have been too much to ask for someone to contact an Autism specialist, before they set an already maligned group of kids up to be bullied and feared? If you don’t think that was the reaction, call a school administrator and find out how many calls they fielded this weekend, asking that Autistic kids be separated from the “normal” kids. I’m not making that up. It is happening all over the country. Worse though is the fact that they reported it in the first place. They ran with an unverified story, and then after the fact asked the experts who told them in no uncertain terms, preplanned acts like this are not symptomatic of Autism. Yet, they continue to say, “We understand he may have been Autistic.” Shame on them.
     Accountability went out the window. Where is the apology from the news outlets? When are they going to say, we’re sorry we put ratings above truth? When are they going to start reporting the facts and not making them up as they go? I thought the election coverage was bad enough, but this - this makes me sick. The behavior of the news networks during this tragedy has been disgusting. This wasn’t journalism. This was downright gossip mongering. Shame on them.  
     Get out of that town and let these people mourn. Leave law enforcement alone and let them do their jobs. Stop making up the news. I, for one, would rather wait and hear the truth than wade through all the bullshit the media has been throwing at us. Lord, help us if we ever need the truth from these clowns to survive a catastrophe. I don’t believe a word they say anymore, none of it. I thought the purpose of the fourth estate was to make sure the truth prevailed. Shame on them, all of them.

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.” — Edward R. Murrow

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Child Loaned

I am a writer and usually not at a loss for words, but I have none of my own for the tragedy at Sandy Hook School. My heart cannot comprehend the loss of all those children. As a parent, I have no words to express the sorrow I feel for those innocent souls. My heart breaks for the families of the adults that lost their lives. It is my personal belief that these children needed those adults to help them walk the path they are on now. This poem, written by Edward A. Guest and published in the Fort Worth Star mid 1930s, gave me a little peace. I post it here in the hope it will offer you the same.

A Child Loaned

I'll lend you for a little time a child of mine', he said,
'For you to love the while he lives, and mourn for when he's dead.
He may be six or seven years, or even two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He'll bring his charm to gladden you, and, should his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true
And from the throng that crowd life's lanes I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labour's vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call and take him back again?'

I fancied that I heard them say, 'Dear Lord, thy will be done,
For all the joys thy child shall bring the risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may
And for the happiness we've known for ever grateful stay.
But, should the angels call for him much sooner than we'd planned
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Give Away

Holiday give away from R. E. Bradshaw Books. Just go to my website ( click on "Contact," fill out the contact info, and leave me a message answering one of these questions from REBB 2012 publications:

Out on the Panhandle: What tribe was Meredith "Horse Child" Ethridge born into?
Molly: House on Fire: What was Molly's birth mother's name?

Drawing from the correct answers will be held December 24 for a Kindle Fire HD, 7" HD Display, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Dual-Antenna Wi-Fi, 16GB. (Winner may choose a gift certificate of the same value, if you already have an e-reader.)

Happy Holidays, from R. E. Bradshaw Books

Friday, December 7, 2012

Did I really lose my religion?

     I was brought up going to church every Sunday. My mother was raised in the First Christian church, my father in a Southern Baptist household. As a family, we attended the Methodist church. My brother and I were both baptized in the Methodist church. As an adult, I continued as a member of the Methodist church and my son was christened and baptized there as well. I remained an active churchgoer until I turned twenty-six. That’s when I met my wife, found myself, and lost my religion.
     It wasn’t finally being true to myself and finding the woman of my dreams that caused my departure from organized religion. It was my confusion and doubt, which drove me to my pastor’s office one afternoon, shortly after beginning my relationship with the woman I’m still married to today. I sat down across from this man I had known and trusted for many years, and laid my heart out on his desk. “Help me understand,” I asked, after explaining what was going on with me. His answer, “I really can’t help you and you are no longer welcome in this church." I have darkened the door of a church only twice since then, and that was to attend Christmas Eve services with my family and to bury my grandmother.
     I left the church that day, but not my belief in a higher power. I believe there is something greater than us out there, a collective power of hope, peace, and love. I only have to look to nature and all its wonders to know that is true. I only have to look at the woman I fell in love with twenty-five years ago to know that she was a gift to me. I remember saying to that pastor, “I can’t imagine a God that would give this love to me, and then damn me for it.” He could. That was our impasse.
     So, over the years, I’ve developed my own kind of worship. I thank the universe everyday for the gifts I’ve been given. I seek solace in the wonders of the world. I remain true to the values I was taught in Corinthians 13:13 – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” If the fundamentalist can pick and choose what to believe in the bible, so can I. I choose to love.
     I was standing on my back porch in tears last night, looking up at the heavens, praying, yes praying, that my Dixie would be okay. She has four legs and fur, but she is my baby girl and she is very sick. I stood there trying to decide who to ask for help and what to ask for. I heard a voice in my head say very clearly, “Ask me.” I began to say some of the words to a Native American funeral service, one I learned while writing my last book.

Please help me save my baby girl, but if it is time for her to sing her death song, Father in heaven, know that this is my friend coming. By these words, I ask that our tears of mourning be wiped away so that we may see again. By these words, I ask that our mourning cries may be silenced so that we may hear again. When our friend crosses to the next world, the stars will fall, leaving us in the dark. Help us to lift up the stars and replace them in the sky, so that the spirit of our friend will have light at her crossing, and the path for us here on earth will remain clear. Lift her up, for she is loved.

     I sit now beside her bed, listening to her ragged breaths and I am praying. I realized last night that I never lost my religion. I simply found it in a different place. I have asked the Great Spirit to give me strength, to help my baby girl, and to guide me to know the right thing to do. No, I don’t go to a chapel to pray. I lay my head on her side and know that there is love in this world, and today I am praying hope and faith will get us through.
     Hang in there, Dixie. Momma loves you. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

A Kiss Before Dawn author, Laurie Salzler, tagged me as part of the “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.” The blog hop project is designed to introduce readers to writers and their work. I will be answering questions about one of my books and the author I tag will answer about her work in progress (or published work) next Wednesday. 

So, here we go...

-What is the working title of your book? 
I’m in the very early stages of the next book in the Rainey Bell Thriller series, THE RAINEY SEASON. So early, that there isn’t much I could say about it. When writing these thrillers, sometimes even I’m surprised at how the plot weaves together in the end. I just released OUT ON THE PANHANDLEpublished September 28, 2012, so I’ll discuss that one. 

-Where did the idea come from for the book? 
OUT ON THE PANHANDLE is the second in the Adventures of Decky and Charlie series, following their debut in OUT ON THE SOUNDpublished in 2010. These characters hold a very special place in my heart, as their story was the first novel I wrote. In OUT ON THE PANHANDLE, the two main characters travel to the Oklahoma Panhandle to attend Charlie’s family reunion. The idea came from genealogy research I had just completed on my wife’s family, where I discovered two of her relatives were captured by the Comanche and then rescued by a posse of family members. I read everything I could find on Comanche captives and decided to write that story, with a bit of a twist. In the novel, the reader is in the present day with Decky and Charlie, but also taken into the past (1870s) with the introduction of a secret manuscript, written by Charlie’s great-grandmother. 

-What genre does your book fall under?
General Fiction with lesbian main characters. It’s part romance, part adventure, part historic fiction, with equal parts comedy and drama. 

-Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
This is a tough question. I spent more time on this one than any of the others. I finally settled on Tea` Leoni for “Decky” and Diane Lane for “Charlie.” 

-What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Take a North Carolina beach girl and drop her into her girlfriend’s family reunion on the Oklahoma Panhandle, adding a cow chip throwing contest, cow patty bingo, a fundamentalist sister-in-law, and a deeply held family secret.

-What is the longer synopsis of your book?
Decky and Charlie have been together for two years and are attending Charlie’s family reunion out in Beaver, Oklahoma, home of “The World Cow Chip Throwing Championship.” It’s Decky’s first trip to meet the thundering herd that is Charlie’s family. Charlie has six brothers and three sisters, along with numerous nieces and nephews. The sheer numbers are staggering to Decky, but the more pressing matter is Charlie’s refusal to discuss her sexuality with her family. At age 40, Charlie would rather go along as she has, just not talking about it. It doesn’t take long after their arrival at the ranch for Decky to realize Charlie’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy has been declared over and the conversation Charlie has dreaded for years in imminent. It all seems to be going well, until the fundamentalist sister-in-law’s plan to run Charlie out of town becomes clear.
While the modern family drama unfolds, Decky is presented with a manuscript written by Charlie’s great-grandmother in 1905. Decky is an author of historic fiction and a professional genealogist. As a gift for Charlie’s family, Decky has been gathering research for a family history book. She hit a brick wall while investigating Charlie’s ancestor, Meredith Ethridge. Decky asks Charlie’s mother, Louise, about this man. Instead of an answer, Louise gives Decky the manuscript, telling her that she will find the key to the mystery within the aging pages.
While both stories unfold simultaneously, OUT ON THE PANHANDLE elicits tears one moment and sidesplitting laughter the next, on the way to discovering that true love never ends and some things were just meant to be.

-Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I started publishing my novels in August of 2010, as R. E. Bradshaw Books. (It turned out to be a very wise move. J) 

-How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
With the time spent on research for this particular book, it took about 4 months to write. 

-Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration is and always will be the amazing woman that said yes to me nearly twenty-six years ago. She is my muse, my best friend, my wife, and without her, I probably would have never written a single book. It just so happens that it was her family’s story that led to the historic fiction part of OUT ON THE PANHANDLE, and of course, she did introduce this NC beach girl to cow chip throwing and cow patty bingo.

-What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is something for everyone in this book. (Except erotica. There are some sexual situations in the book, just not explicit. If you're looking for a play by play description, I'm not your type of writer. No offense to those that read and write erotica. It just isn't me.)
Take a trip back in time with Merdy and Grace, Horse Child and Thunder Child. I’m betting you won’t soon forget what happened out on the Plains. Witness the clash of two civilizations - the end of a way of life. Even as they were promised the land would remain theirs “as long as the grass grows and the water runs,” the Plains Indians were hunted down and herded onto reservations. A once proud people decimated by war and disease.
A lot of people don’t realize that Oklahoma has been a state for just a little over one hundred years. The musical “Oklahoma!” is centered on the celebration of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories merging to form the state of Oklahoma. Out on the Panhandle touches on the Native American removal to Indian Territory, the hardships they faced, and the treatment afforded them by the likes of General William Tecumseh Sherman, after his scourging of the South. The novel also explores the life faced by the adventurous men and women who pioneered the settlement of the Republic of Texas and the Oklahoma Territory.

See what the readers are saying about Out on the Panhandle: READER REVIEWS.

OUT ON THE PANHANDLE - available at and Barnes and Noble.

Next Wednesday check out TOUCH ME GENTLY author D. Jackson Leigh’s blog to find out about her Next Big Thing.

 Get info on other novels from R. E. Bradshaw Books