Morgan’s Point is in paperback

Morgan’s Point, my first novel is now in a paperback edition. It can be ordered on Amazon. The book is also available on Kindle as an ebook.  I am particularly excited about the book in paperback. Being old school I love to hold a book in my hand. It is gratifying that the hard work is over on this project and I can turn all of my attention to completing my second book,  AnahuacAnahuac is the sequel to Morgan’s Point.

Morgan’s Point is a story of a young man named Jim and his birthday wish for manhood. The wish  is granted, but at a price a young boy could have never foreseen. Manhood comes to Jim through an unspeakable tragedy. Jim believes he has exorcised the demons of his youth when he becomes an assistant district attorney and marries Cooper Faircloth, the hard working heiress to a newspaper fortune. Jim’s redemption begins to fall apart when Cooper’s obsessive drive to be accepted in a man’s world of newspaper publishing in the 1960’s leaves him lonely and resentful. Sparks fly with the sudden reappearance of Chinky Mason, Jim’s troubled and alcoholic college sweetheart. When Jim’s ambition allows a clever criminal to outwit a flawed justice system, Jim discovers that his redemption may be illusory. What does a man do when he realizes that his not the man he wants to be and what can he do if he is preordained to fail?

Anahuac  is a story of a troubled young lawyer who defends a popular 1970’s radio evangelist accused of murdering a wealthy spinster in an isolated Texas county brimming with oil, evangelicals and greed. You don’t have to have read Morgan’s Point to enjoy Anahuac, but it would probably make the second book more fun. Anahuac will be on Kindle and Amazon in paperback soon. Thanks to all of you who have sent complements. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

There are other books called Morgan’s Point on the market. If you are interested to buying my book take care to order the one I wrote.

 

I Love You So Much!

My first book, Morgan’s Point, will soon be available in Paperback. I hope that those of you who mentioned to me that you prefer a book to an electronic version will now take this opportunity to read it. I continue to write the sequel entitled Anahuac and hope to have it out in paperback by September.

Austin, Texas has been my home most of my adult life. For the past year I have been away from Austin because of a delay in the completion of my new condo. The lack of any permanency in living arrangements has led to delays in a multitude of aspects of my life. One of them has been the inability to post anything on this blog. I am happy to report that I am moved in and back on task with the blog.

One of the most surprising aspects of a move to downtown Austin has been a rediscovery of the running trail around Lady Bird Johnson Lake and Barton Creek. These are some of the elements (against all odds) that have survived the onslaught of development in Austin. Some of the most beautiful natural spots in the world are in downtown Austin. Barton Springs Pool still flows at 68 degrees or so in the dead of a hot summer. I am going to be writing a series of post in the next few weeks highlighting this beautiful area. The iconic sign below located on South Congress Avenue sums up how I feel about Austin. I hope you will take a trip with me around Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek so that you can see the beauty that is Austin.

 

 

CONTEST: Little Known Texas History

Last week I promised you a Texas history contest. There is even a prize to the person who provides the first right answer to my three part question below. So here goes:

Question Part 1: What town along the Texas Gulf Coast was the site of early conflicts between Anglo Texan settlers and the Mexican Authorities. (Hint: Its name starts with an A)

Question Part 2: What was the name and profession of a resident of this city who became the Commander of the Alamo?

Question Part 3: What County in Texas was named for a partner of the man who is the answer to Question Part 2?

I didn’t say it was an easy test. Think of it as a Texas history scavenger hunt.
The prize is an autographed copy of my novel, Morgan’s Point which will be issued in paper back next month. Have fun and get to work on the test. We are not grading on a curve!

“Can’t You Just Sit Still”

My beautiful Mother said, “Bill, can’t you just sit still.” I was probably no more than five years old. I had no recollection of ever voluntarily sitting still for long. Neither did I understand why it might be desirable. My Mother could have given me a lengthy list. She was weary from tending to my new born brother.

My Father sat at the breakfast table all tall, slender and dashing in his double breasted suit. He quickly finished his breakfast, retrieved his stylish Bogart hat and slicked the brim. “Gotta get to work!”, he said to no one in particular. Then he bent over and patted me on the head. With his head drawn near my face he whispered. “Bill, remember you can’t sit still if you want to get ahead in this world.” Then he was out the door. With no one to arbitrate this clear conflict in parental commands I probably just went back to shoving my eggs and bacon around my plate.

How did this come back to me all these years later? I was working at the ranch today trying to brush away the rust of the winter from the plants in the greenhouse. Shoving the heavy pots outside to meet the gentle spring sun taxed my muscles, but satisfied some deep-seated need to grow things. I had come to the ranch to vegetate. I have been juggling some real life stresses lately that have finally resolved themselves. With them behind me I only wanted to go to the hill country to rest, regenerate and revitalize. The simple life was my quest as I rocked on the front porch, but the siren song of “Gotta get to work” called out. In a few minutes I was knee deep in the greenhouse.

I worked for several hours hauling my plants to just the right place around the house. As I stood dripping with sweat (that gentle spring sun was not so gentle), the question “Bill, why can’t you just sit still?” came back as if it had just been asked. The question I was pondering was not the one that my Mother had asked. This was a hardball existential inquiry and one that stopped me in my tracks. The corollary question of “what’s wrong with taking it easy?” also came to visit. Clearly, nothing is wrong with taking it easy. But because of DNA, environment or some other reason I don’t understand, I’m wired this way. After having thought about it I realized that I neither have to apologize for it nor do I have to regret it. I love writing my novels, writing this blog, traveling back and forth to Washington, D.C. and shoving dirt around at the ranch. It’s not right for everyone, but it is what keeps me alive and healthy. I wish you would all share what keeps your motor running.

One more thing, next week there is going to be a pop quiz on Texas history. There was a famous Texas hero who started a dust up with the Mexican army well before he met his untimely demise at the Alamo. I can’t wait to see if you can answer my tough question. I came across it while I was researching my next book. That’s all the clues you get for the moment. The first right answer will win a prize.

Be Careful What You Wish For Santa Anna!

Today is San Jacinto Day in Texas. It is the day Mexico lost Texas. For those of you that aren’t familiar, this is the day that Sam Houston’s irregular militia of Texican’s defeated a strong Mexican Army in a bloody eighteen minute battle at the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou near Galveston Bay. The Mexican Army was led by Generalissimo Santa Anna who was also the President of Mexico. The Texican’s were in full rebellion against the Government of Mexico. Now some might say they were ungrateful guests who came to dinner and stole the house. The Texican’s had legitimate grievances caused by a change of the Mexican Constitution, but I will leave you to your own to research to understand the complex situation  For our purposes understand that a wild frontier called Texas had been populated by the Government of Mexico with a large number of U.S. citizens used to rights they had left in the United States. A group of revolutionaries had met at Washington on the Brazos, formed a government and issued a Texas declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. That made Santa Anna mad.

Santa Anna had set off from Mexico before the Declaration was signed and marched the Mexican Army to Texas. In 1836 it was no hike in the forest. Once in Texas the armies were a nightmare for the Texicans. Santa Anna’s armies mopped up on small groups of revolutionaries at the Alamo and Goliad. After those victories Santa Anna set his sights on Sam Houston and his army now retreating across Texas toward the U.S. border. At least that is what it looked like to some Texican’s who wanted to go fight before they were ready. Santa Anna’s fondest wish was to find Sam Houston and finish off the last Texican army.

Find him he did on April 20, 1836 in the last place on earth that military person might pick. The two armies were separated by no more than than a few hundred yards. Each army had a body of water behind them with no way to escape. The Texican’s late afternoon charge into the Mexican camp on April 21st surprised the Mexican Army and they were routed. The end result was a treaty that at least for the moment made Texas independent. This is a long way around to say “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.”

Another question is whether the whole thing was predestined. Was it Texas’ destiny to be freed from Mexican rule or was Santa Anna’s Waterloo the result of a willful man exercising his free will and paying the consequences. The young Jim Ward in my novel “Morgan’s Point” only wished for manhood. The price was steeper than he could have imagined. Santa Anna’a wish changed the world, just not in the way he imagined.

San Jacinto Day was a big deal when I was growing up. I wonder if I took a poll on the streets of Austin this afternoon of random folks if most of them every heard of it. We as Texasans need to do a better job of explaining our history to new folks who are coming in town. Most think the city named Bowie street for the recently departed English singer. Oh, wait a minute I think the city council is considering that now! Come on native Texans get with the program! We love our State and our proud of it. If we work to preserve our heritage we will all be better off. I am proud of Texas and I think the new folks would be too if we educate them about the sacrifices that were made to make the Texas of today. Saturday the 23rd there is suppose to be a reenactment of the Battle. I plan to be there if the creeks quit rising. Hope to see you. Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!

When Austin had more bats than people

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little city that had more Mexican Free Tail Bats than people. The citizens were blissfully living their ideal lives without fear of the furry hoard that dwelt among them. In 1980 the Congress Avenue Bridge that spans Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin needed to be renovated. Crevices created under the bridge by the work set up the perfect environment for the Mexican Free Tail Bat to roost. An alert citizen discovered the city’s plight and raised a call to arms. “Exterminate them!” the populous cried. There were studies commissioned and volunteers sought to rid the city of its curse. Fate however had put the right person at the right time to add some intelligence to the conversation.

Merlin Tuttle brought Bats Conservation International to Austin in the nick of time. He educated us and calmed the fears of the citizens about the bats. Now the bats are a tourist destination. An armada of boats sets out each night when the bats are in residence and provide a great time. Just remember if you are looking up from under to bridge to close your mouth. I had a chance to take Mike Pearce’s
Lone Star Riverboat cruise the other night and it is a blast. If you are in Austin and want a different experience try it out. If you do go,  remember to thank Merlin Tuttle and BCI for their part in keeping Austin weird.

Was God’s Bracket about to be busted?

Maybe its not the right week to post a something with this title, but I always have, “it was predestined” to fall back on. I watched bits and pieces of the NCAA tournament yesterday. There were two games that stood out. The Notre Dame/Stephen F. Austin and the Texas A & M/Northern Iowa games had strange finishes. In both games improbable comebacks put Power Five Conference teams into the Sweet Sixteen.

The Aggies and Northern Iowa game was particularly crazy. The Aggies made up 11 points in 44 seconds to send the game (which they eventually won) to overtime. This game was interesting to me because it was Northern Iowa who sent my Longhorns packing on a 50 foot shot for a last second win on Friday night. Those of you who read yesterday’s post know the Aggie’s coach had commented on the shot as a “Grace of God” thing. Those of us on the other side of the lost didn’t feel like it was so graceful. The Northern Iowa fans were appropriately ecstatic at the end of the Friday night win and I’ll bet there was a feeling that they were on there way to big things because “it was their destiny.” Fast forward to Sunday night and Northern Iowa’s loss of a key player at just the wrong moment with 44 seconds left in the game. I think life is full of these moments. We are on top one minute and in the dumpster the next. Is it a learning experience or just a random walk? Those of you who commented yesterday started a lively discussion. I’m happy if you want to talk Predestination or March Madness.

Oh yeah, the Notre Dame game ended with an improbable put back basket by a Notre Dame player who had been inserted in the lineup for defensive purposes. The winning goal was the only basket he scored. After the game Mike Bray, Notre Dame’s coach addressed his team in the locker room and reminded them of a bitter last second loss last season in the NCAA tourney. He exclaimed something like “after last year’s loss and this game today, I think its our DESTINY to win the championship. Well, maybe so. Notre Dame may have a favored spot in God’s bracket. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

“Just pray,” he said. “Pray it doesn’t happen to you because that’s the grace of God when you make a shot like that.”

The title is a quote from Coach Billy Kennedy of the Texas A & M Basketball team that plays in the round of 32 today in the NCAA Basketball Tourney. Austin American Statesman March 20, 2016.

The truth is that it did happen to the Texas Basketball Team and me (a big fan). Those on the winning side celebrate. Those on the losing side might ask if it truly was because of God’s grace. “What did I do to deserve this?” The gospel according to Kennedy is not in the Bible. We are left to look to the Bible itself to determine if a gut-wrenching last second loss on a half-court shot has something to do with God. When I started this blog I said I’m no expert on the Bible, but I sure am interested in the concept of predestination. Predestination is mentioned in several places and ways in the Bible. I wrote the novel Morgan’s Point to explore the meaning of how predestination might change our view of free will. I am working on a sequel called Anahuac that explores coincidence, free will and predestination in the administration of human justice. Truth is I see way to many coincidences in the world to believe that they are “only a coincidence.” I have no answers and that’s where you come in. Tell me what you think and pray. Pray that its not God’s will that a mid-major hits a half-court shot to bust your tournament bracket and send your team home early.

The President visits Weird Town

Last Friday, the President of the United States visited Austin, my town that is struggling to stay “weird.” He made a presentation to the assorted techies in town for the SXSW extravaganza at the Long Center. I’m back from a lengthy winter visit to D.C. and within walking distance of the Long Center. The weather was great and I was curious to see something that is commonplace in D.C. happen in the middle of my little city.

The President in Austin, for those of us of a certain age, is not so unusual. Lyndon Johnson popped up everywhere when he was Vice-President. As President he was still visible albeit mostly at a distance. For a year I served breakfast to President Johnson’s daughter, Linda. Before you get any crazy ideas, understand that I was a lowly server on the food line at Kinsolving Dormitory on the University of Texas campus. Our fleeting visits continued after I left the food service industry to become a librarian in University’s Newspaper Collection in a tiny corner of the basement of the Tower. Each day there were newspapers from all over the world to be sorted and placed in display racks. It was the only place on campus that a wide array of daily newspapers, usually a day old before they reached us could be accessed by students and faculty members. Fortunately for my studies few people even knew it was there. Normally I spent an hour working and three hours in blissful isolation studying my law books.

You can imagine my shock when one afternoon a serious looking man in a suit proceeded through the door with a young woman whom I immediately recognized. Suddenly I was talking to a Secret Service Agent and then to the President’s daughter. “Yes, I can get you copies of the Washington Post, yes the N.Y Times too, Chicago Tribune, yes, Dallas Morning News, check. Please have a seat an I will bring them right to you.” I said with what was probably a slightly trembling voice. After her initial visit it became a much more relaxed setting. I was often amused to hear Ms. Johnson hurling a forceful invective toward some reporter in a distance place who had said something nasty about her father. Age and perspective has given me a better sense of what it was like for her. It was her dad for God’s sake.

Those memories receded and once again I found myself standing behind the rope line along Riverside Drive across from the Long Center. I remembered an amazing coincidence. Before Lady Bird Johnson did wonders to beautify the downtown lake front in Austin there was a large open field behind where I stood. One Sunday morning in 1964 I traveled to the 7-11 to buy a Sunday paper. On the way down Riverside Drive I was surprised as a single black Lincoln Continental roared up from behind and passed me. The solid looking vehicle veered off the road, jumped the curb and raced across the the vacant field where a large helicopter was prepared to take off. Lyndon Johnson jumped out of the Lincoln, climbed in the helicopter and was gone so quickly I was scarcely sure I believed my eyes. My memory of that day was interrupted by a cacophony of police motorcycles roaring to life behind me. Vehicles from across the street at the Long Center were moving. The crowd that included a black man with a microphone decrying the murder of black men and the woman and her companion carrying a huge white cross, whom a moment before had been shouting to “do God’s will” were drown out by the crowd’s shouts and applause. The twin Presidential cars made it hard to make out which car held the President. It did not matter. For a moment we had been part of the pomp and circumstance of the Presidency. I never tire of seeing history unfold. Get out an take a look. It will amaze you.

Witnessing History at The Supreme Court

Those of us who love history are usually only able to experience it through books, movies or television. I had an opportunity to be an eyewitness last night here in Washington, D.C. Early in the day I watched the arrival of the hearse bearing the casket of Justice Antonin Scalia at the Supreme Court on television with my wife. She said at the time that being lawyers we should go to the Supreme Court to pay our respects. As with what happens to most of us, our day began to slip away and we had not found time to travel up to Capitol Hill to the Court. Mid-afternoon a dear friend called and asked if we would accompany her to a movie. The movie turned out to be “Race” the new release about Jesse Owens, the great Olympian. The painful history of race relations in the U.S. were contrasted with the ghastly specter of Nazi racism. It is an uplifting movie, but not always easy to watch.

When the movie was over it was dark and quite cold. As we walked back to the house my wife said, “Let’s go to the Court.” It was already 6:30 and since the movie house is only two blocks from our house we hadn’t really dress warmly. There was a momentary urge in me to just bag it. The Supreme Court was scheduled to close at eight o’clock and was 25 minutes away by cab. Better instincts took over we jumped in a cab. When we arrived at the Court we saw that there was still a very long line going up the street beside the Court. We began searching for end of the line and to our dismay it simply went and went and went. We walked at least five long blocks before we found the end of the line. Every instinct in me said, “Wow, too cold and too late. Let’s go home.” But there was great comradery in the line and quickly we lost the will to leave. Two hours later (they extended to hours until 10:00) we were inside the Supreme Court. We made new friends. In two hours of blistering wind and cold our little cadre of line dwellers talked about everything in the world. Now you might think that the conversations would reflect the tone of the rhetoric of today’s political climate, but it did not. The collegial atmosphere among an extremely diverse group of citizens was refreshing. It was clear that there was a wide spectrum of political opinions represented, but we were a group of citizens united in our quest to pay homage to a man who had served his country and to reaffirm the institution that is the Supreme Court. One side note is that there was a pronounced absence of people texting and talking on their cell phones. We were talking to each other as humans. The politicians will battle over replacement of the Justice, but the government will survive. Why do I say that? Because of that line of Americans coming together as we always have in death and tragedy to reaffirm our form of government. Witnessing history gives you the opportunity to understand that concept better than any hour of MSNBC or Fox news. Don’t miss being a part of history. It will change you for the better.