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I am known as “the mother of those three” – energetic, intelligent, competitive, independent boys. The number of complaints I and their father fielded on a daily basis while they were in primary and secondary school grew exponentially as each followed his brother into the hallways of government-run (public) schools.

The main complaint? “They always have to be first.”

GetStartedHmmm. Isn’t that the point of education — to encourage children to do their best to succeed? Isn’t that what spelling-bees and team sports encourage — to build intellect and physical ability to achieve?

Why then complain about that spirit that drives a child, a team, a business, a nation to be the best?

Instead, our children are discouraged from excelling, doing their best to win, developing the skills and values they will need to survive as adults. Too many schools coddle their students from the realities of living in a social environment. This accomplishes nothing for the children and encourages the suppression of the natural inclination to compete and achieve.

Who among us is happy to be mediocre? DontTryDontGet

Yet, in an environment of “no losers” there are no winners. No one gets the prize because everyone gets one. There is no reason to excel or strive or improve when we cannot win. We respond to rewards but in a mistaken effort to prevent ‘hurt feelings’, we allow educators to dampen-down the enthusiasm all children have for winning.

Truly, there are no losers when every child is encouraged to reach the pinnacle of their ability — whatever that pinnacle is. Not every child will be a multi-million dollar sports / music / science / entertainment / arts icon.

But every child has the right to make the effort to be great.


(c) photographs, memes and content 2015 Leigh Verrill-Rhys

 

RWA's RITA

RWA’s RITA

Tonight, one of the most prestigious contests for writers of romantic fiction, The RITA, has just come to its conclusion; the winners have been announced and the prizes have been awarded.

With the coming year end too fast approaching (as always), for some of us the time is right to begin planning for 2016 and our next career moves. Besides writing and publishing, hunting for agents, publicists, contract lawyers, publishers etc., some of us will be checking through the lists of contests to enter and deciding whether this is a worthwhile effort for us.

As Betty White once said, “I enter for the thrill of winning.” Winning a contest is fun. But what happens if we don’t? Let’s face it. As much as we want to win and as much as we don’t want to lose, in both cases, someone has to. And, much more often than not, it’s the latter. Does that mean we crawl into a hole and never come out? Hardly. Didn’t we have a great time anticipating the joy of winning? All those weeks or months of the positive thoughts count for something.

My First Prize for Writing

My First Prize for Writing

Every day is a win-lose proposition. We can be the kind of person who is overjoyed to wake up to try again. And when we do win, we can hold fast to that great sensation for a long time. But more important, we can let those losses fade while we plan the next effort.

A few days ago, Kate Steinle was murdered at a popular tourist location less than six miles from my home. Her killer was a five-times deported, recently released felon awaiting another deportation hearing. (http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Pier-shooting-suspect-had-been-released-from-S-F-6365228.php).

A young woman, living just 20 miles from my home, was brutally raped and beaten by a gang of young men and so horribly injured that she will never fully recover (https://www.baycitizen.org/news/crime/hearing-reveals-horrific-details-crime/). Prior to this, not far away, another girl was sexually abused and her humiliation made public, causing her to commit suicide (http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/calif-teen-commits-suicide-after-alleged-rape/).

Women and girls who are trafficked into my state are raped as they cross the border, their underwear hung on ‘rape trees’ in a neighboring state(http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/news-politics/rape-trees-found-along-southern-us-border) as trophies by the ‘coyotes’ who tattoo them with bar codes to facilitate their sale into sex slavery and subsequent rental for sexual services (http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/branded-by-a-pimp-sex-trafficking-victim-speaks-out/).

There are several unifying details in all of these stories (the very tip of the gory pile of crimes committed within the past few months).

  • The Main Stream Media ignore all this evidence of the threat to the citizens of the United States. Why? If latina.com is horrified by what is being done to women, why aren’t the MSM equally outraged?
  • Although so many of the victims of these crimes are women and girls, there is no collective outcry from other women. Why aren’t women’s rights advocates outraged?
  • The vast majority of the these savage acts were perpetrated by a particular ethnic group, the MSM rarely mention either the ethnic group or their legal/illegal status as residents. Even some of the more conservative news outlets will not say “Illegal Aliens” – most stick with the innocuous “immigrants”.

Immigrants are people who chose to leave their homeland to make a new life in another country, embrace the traditions and laws of their chosen country, enrich their new country with their energy and talents, and make an effort to assimilate into the civic life of their new home.

Many of my family emigrated to the US before it became a country. More recently, members of my family emigrated legally, standing in line, paying their fees, submitting to medical examinations, providing stacks of legal documents, waiting for appointments, waiting for letters, waiting for interviews, waiting for approval, giving their word that they will never become a burden on the public purse.

Illegal Aliens have already broken the laws of the country they have invaded, are already a burden on the public purse, too many of them are here to steal, sell their drugs, provide the dregs of society with gross services at the expense of their trafficked victims.

Their presence drives down the wages of American workers, displaces Americans from low-skilled jobs, and the MSM repeats the absolute lie that they do the work Americans won’t do.

I have cleaned houses. My mother cooked school meals. My father picked potatoes. My husband has waited on tables. My sons have scrubbed hospital floors, flipped hamburgers and stocked shelves.

AdiosAmerica

I consider Ann Coulter a hero.  She tells the truths that sycophantic politicians, so-called civil rights advocates and lily-livered news outlets refuse to tell.

We have to ask, “Why?”

boneyard 

 

 

WeekendWarrior

 

 

sweetspot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linton Robinson has a writing style like no other. From the first of his books I had the pleasure to read, Sweet Spot, to one of his most recent, Boneyard 11, I have been enthralled by his humor, caustic wit, sarcasm, insights and social commentary.

MaryOfAngelsIf Mary of Angels is anything like Weekend Warrior, fans of contemporary, humorous fiction may enjoy this latest effort from Lin.

“Cops, traffickers, immigrants, whores, politicians, dogs and kids” – what more could you want in a book?

ThisCantBeLoveCoverFinal200.jpgWhen I first started writing This Can’t Be Love, my focus was exclusively on the relationship between Mike Argent and Jakki Hunter. Once the antagonist, Gavin Andrews, hit the stage, one of the ideas driving my characterization of the ‘bad guy’ was his arrogance and his presumption that he could do whatever he liked, with impunity, because of his position in society.

The same presumption of right enables David Gitano’s parents-in-law, Elizabeth and Donald Seger-Tomlin, in Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, to harass and undermine him and his small family at every opportunity.

Fiction thrives on conflict. Without that tension between characters, stories struggle to move ahead. The adversarial relationship enlivens and motivates the fictitious situation and we pit one against the other, doing our utmost to ensure that good conquers evil.

The interpretation of what constitutes evil is a matter of personal discernment and social mores. In classic literature of the Victorian era, the tension between good and evil was often demonstrated through the thwarting of the personal happiness of a character by a more powerful actor. George Eliot’s Middlemarch is an example where the scholarly, Edward Casaubon, allows his jealousy of his young wife, Dorothea’s friendship with Tertius Lydgate, to rule his judgment and seeks to punish her after his death. Charles Dickens allowed his ‘evil’ character, Scrooge,  redemption in A Christmas Carol and is ferocious in his portrayal of the manipulative criminal, Fagin, in Oliver Twist.

Both Casaubon and Fagin exert undue influence over others and assume they have the right to do so because they have power. This the basis of abuse in all circumstances regarding the interchange between human beings. While it makes for good reading in literature of all genres, we consider this behavior unacceptable in real life.

Or do we?

My portrayal of Gavin Andrews (This Can’t Be Love) is based on documented mob behavior. He is likened to Robespierre and his victim, Jakki Hunter, is seen by Mike Argent (the hero of the tale) as Marie Antoinette. If we read documented historical evidence of the brutality of the French Revolution, we can’t help but see the mob for what it was, bloodthirsty and vengeful. Robespierre suffered the fate of his victims when the mob turned on him. In my most recent novel, the ‘mob’ of Gavin’s making fades away every time they are confronted with the consequences of their actions.

SDwPtPBCover831In the instance of the miscreant parents-in-law (Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls) who plan to get custody of their grandchild in order to have access to David Gitano’s finances, I ensured that the Seger-Tomlins failed in their attempt, yet it is not David’s understanding of the law but Emily’s understanding of human nature that wins the day.

As the writer, I am in control of the situation—although my characters make wild and wily attempts to lead me astray.

In real life, the circumstances are different. Although taking personal responsibility for our actions and their consequences is the first lesson of adulthood, we step away from consequences, hide in the anonymity of the being ‘connected,’ behave as badly as we choose toward our fellow citizens – secure in the fallacy of unaccountability. When we abdicate our responsibility and ignore the consequences of our actions, we are more easily swept into the mob.

We fall back on the impulsive, thoughtless behavior of children. We throw tantrums of rage when we don’t get what we want. We shout and scream and storm away if we perceive we have been denied our due. We call other people hateful names if we disagree with them and are outraged when they do the same to us. We cover our ears when we don’t want to listen to another point of view, just like spoiled teenagers.

Writers are ultimately observers of human behavior. We also have the unique opportunity to expose and comment on what we see. After all, we can always put that in a book and we do. Abdicating that responsibility is not a decision we make without recognizing its own consequences.

We have a love/hate relationship with the law. We must have rules to build a society. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding gives us the story of lost boys forming their own laws in an imperfect society to control their fear and desperation, a social order based on the example set by their experience of an adult model, equally imperfect.

If society is human-made, it is necessarily as imperfect as its creators. We don’t claim perfection, we do claim effort. Laws are our effort to establish a working social order that is as fair and as enabling as we want our own lives to be. That necessarily means that some human activity is curtailed and some is punishable. An obvious example is causing the death of or injury to another human being. Causing deliberate harm or by negligence is another.

Traitor's_Daughter200When I write about the law, lawyers, law enforcement officers, judges etc., I do so from a perspective informed by my experience of … criminals.

From my first completed and published novel, an historical Romance, written under my pen name, Lily Dewaruile, Traitor’s Daughter, through my latest contemporary novel, This Can’t Be Love, I have had a lawyer somewhere in the works.

The hero in Traitor’s Daughter, Garmon Dolwyddlan,  is a Welsh medieval lawyer working under the codified laws of Hywel Dda in the 10th Century, defending his wife against accusations of assault and bringing false charges against two members of his own family.

SDwPtPBCover831In Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, the hero, David Gitano, is a corporate lawyer in San Francisco, under pressure to break all of his profession’s highest ethics in order to keep his son. Throughout my novel by installment, Nights Before, the law enforcement officer with the nice eyes, Brad Foster, is equally maligned and adored by his wannabe girlfriend, Jocelyn Tavers.

Welsh medieval/Celtic laws play a part in all of the books of my medieval family saga, Pendyffryn: The Conquerors, and are at play in the second generation of this saga, The Inheritors.

ThisCantBeLoveCoverFinal200_thumb.jpgWhen Jakki Hunter is harassed by a former friend when her rescuer, Mike Argent, the construction site manager-hero in This Can’t Be Love, pursues a claim against the friend for damages, Mike’s foreman gives him the business card of his sister, the barracuda of the Edinburgh legal system, Mary McEwan.

When I was in college, I worked as a writer for a newspaper distributed to prisoners throughout California and the U.S. The people who had established the organization publishing this newsletter were all ex-convicts, people with whom I worked daily. There is a reason some people go to prison and a good reason they are forever after known as ‘cons’.

Most of these men and women were intelligent but used their intelligence to nefarious ends, to con well-intentioned supporters into giving them grants and access to power. Some were of a brutal nature, easily manipulated by their smarter con-colleagues into performing their bidding, as Jakki’s tormentor is able to encourage his minions to do.

Cons are masters of manipulation and they are shameless. They are typically self-important and harbor delusions of superiority; nothing pleases them more than convincing the unsuspecting that their ideas and causes are right. They find the weakness in the law and exploit it to their purpose and advantage.

Following my years of training in visiting convicts at San Quentin and Folsom,  listening to the ex-cons gloating about how easy it is to get naïve civilians to believe their games, and the wretched tales of abuse and violence to which their victims were subjected—quite often their girlfriends and wives (Tina Turner, the inspiration for the title of this post, is an example of that)—I can truthfully say the criminal class has contributed significantly to my understanding of human behavior.

LilyDewaruile_Invasion200However, I prefer to make heroes and heroines of those who stand for ‘the right thing’. And it is a great pleasure to bring the cons and thugs in my novels to their just ends. I don’t write crime fiction. I write about the interaction of human beings in ordinary situations. Manipulation, bullying, confidence games, harassment, violence are all part of the mix.

In the novel I’m currently writing, Pavane for Miss Marcher, the hero is – you guessed it – a lawyer. The antagonist is a politician. Caught in the middle is a woman whose kindness and sense of ‘the right thing’ puts her in the clutches of the politician and the care of the lawyer. And the novel I am editing for publication later this year in the Pendyffryn: The Inheritors series, Justice? I think the title answers that question.

So. What’s law got to do with it? A lot!


With thanks to all the men and women who serve and protect our society, defend our Constitution, and uphold our laws.

The House of MirthThe House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The House of Mirth
is an exquisite, classic tragedy. Wharton’s creation, Lily Bart, is among the truly honest, tragic heroines – driven by her best instincts and her highest ideals to make choices that lead to sink further into the mire of her society.

As Wharton explains, Lily Bart was raised to be decorative. When that fails because of her own, inner standards of behavior and expectation, her life takes on the inevitable nightmare of rejection and exclusion.

The two people who love her throughout her descent are blind to her plight in some instances. Gerty Farish is the most faithful friend but her own experience gives her a bias against Lily’s peculiar situation.

Lawrence Selden loves Lily for the very reasons that her position in society is in peril, but when she needs him most, he deserts her.

I read every word of this novel, studied the human frailties and heroism. For many reasons, I believe Lily Bart is one of the greatest heroines of modern literature. I recommend this book to anyone who is a student of humanity.

I doubt there is a finer chronicler of American society of the Edwardian era, pre-World War I, than Edith Wharton.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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