Tiptoeing the Tightrope

Paperback cover   Cropper is out, and conventional publishing wisdom says I should be using this blog to promote my work. So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t read Cropper yet, please go to Amazon.com and order a copy on Kindle or in paperback. It’s been exciting to see the project come to life, and the comments have been better than I’d hoped for. With Mammon currently out to the first round of agents and the ghost writing project ready for submission, I’m ready to start the sequel to Cropper. The working title is Cropper’s Daughter, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something better before it’s done.

This second book about Caleb Muldrow and his family takes place during WWII and the years immediately after. Life was hard for the folks who fought the war, both at home and abroad. The generation before theirs had their own fight. They lived through the Great Depression. For both of those generations, nothing was guaranteed except struggle and sacrifice. Many families worked hard to put three meals a day on the table in the 1930’s. Some were lucky to have even one. During the first half of the 1940’s ration cards dictated life, and for families with a loved one overseas, a simple knock on the door could be devastating.

Things settled down after the war. The economy boomed. Soldiers, sailors, and Marines were home. Rationing was over. The good times rolled. Mostly, anyway. For many veterans, the war raged on. In their dreams, at their jobs, and in their quiet moments danger still stalked them. If they said something about it, they were, almost always, told to get over it. The war is over. Get on with the good times. Don’t be a crybaby. Meanwhile, their families stood by, unable to understand what was happening.

We have our problems today, as every generation does. Many are without work. Homelessness is up as foreclosures surge. Racial tensions are higher than they have been since the 1960’s, and terrorism is the boogeyman waiting around every corner. Most of us, though, worry about getting the newest iPad or tablet. We get mad if the line at Starbucks is too long. We wait for hours outside the store to get the newest iPhone or Android device. And yet we, as a society, constantly wail about how bad things are. We act like a bunch of spoiled children, each of us yelling, “Do it my way, or else!”

A free society can’t flourish without the free exchange of ideas. Open, vigorous discussion is the lifeblood of our nation. Without the empathy and awareness it brings, we withdraw into our own little tribes, and even the smallest differences become a battle of Us versus Them. And Them is always wrong. That’s why literature is so important. It gives us the opportunity to see how others think and to find bits of ourselves in those we consider to be Them. When that happens, Us includes a lot more people.

Our nation today is divided into many groups of Us, and even more groups of Them. We have lost the ability to weigh the intention behind others’ words and actions, deciding instead to be offended simply because Them disagreed with Us. Things have gotten so bad, in fact, that Them must always be silenced and coerced into agreeing with Us. Our sensibilities and egos are more important than truth or our neighbor’s well-being.

As a writer, that puts a little tickle of fear in my brain. Cropper’s Daughter will deal with some volatile, painful subjects, and its characters are strong and practical with little tolerance for foolishness. The book will be as historically accurate as I can make it without regards to current sensibilities or social expectations. On the plus side, maybe it will be deemed offensive. That will mean somebody paid to read it.

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