Category Archives: Writing life from inside prisons

BLOGS & MORE

BLOG

by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

A friend read a few books and magazines on Positive Psychology and become a psychologist, at least, in his mind he did.  He does offer some periodic, beneficial advice.  In a conversation about my blogs and desire to increase the web traffic, he suggested I blog on more positive topics.

 

I learned a similar principle about writing when I took a writing course through the Long Ridge Writers Group, almost ten years ago.  Life contains enough pain and negativity for each of us; many read to escape the realities of life, or want to read things to make them feel good about themselves or their environment.

 

Doom and gloom feeds the news channels, so why doesn’t it work for bloggers?  Well, maybe it works for some.  Not me.  Actually, I don’t feel I write much doom and gloom in my blogs; however, I do confess that many are based on negativity.  Hey, to create lightning, it takes a negative charge.  Did I hear it thunder?

 

BLOG:  According to Mr. Google, a blog is a “regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”

 

I write in an informal and conversational style.  I get a lot of local conversation based upon my blog content, unfortunately, my biggest audience cannot go online to click to “Like” or comment on my blog posts.  Hundreds of my readers can only read my blogs from the “inside view,” through TRULINCS, and cannot access the Internet because most prisons prohibit us from doing so.  (TRULINCS is the system Federal prisoners pay to use for emailing and phone services.)

 

HELP!  My fan base continues to grow but I need your help to make it grow enough to attract advertisers so the blog pays me instead of me having to pay to blog (I pay $0.05 per minute to type the blogs to send to my publisher/friend, who converts it into the proper format and posts it online for you to read).  Please share my link with others.  Thanks!

 

BLOGGING FOR DOLLARS:  In 2015 I wrote a blog titled the same.  I am still working on how to blog for dollars, but as stated, I do need your help to increase traffic/page views, because without the web traffic, advertisers will not want to pay to advertise on my sites.

 

Bloggers may use Google Adsense to attract advertisers.  If you are reading this on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com, you may see a periodic ad posted by different businesses.  I am not sure about the waynedowdy.weebly.com blog.

 

Maybe my publisher already listed the website with Google Adsense and I’m earning a few nickels to help pay the bills and I just don’t know it.  🙂

 

WHAT DOES BLOG MEAN?  The Internet Slang says, “BLOG means ‘Weblog, online diary.'”

 

A log of online posts/Web entries, I reckon it is, something burned into the memory of the deep blue web, where “WEblog.”

 

The Acronym Finder shows BLOG as an acronym for “Web Log,” “Better Listing on Google,” “Buy Locally Owned Group (Canada),” and my favorite, “Big Load of Gossip.”  Copyright 1988-2014, AcronymFinder.com.

 

With the help of one of my dear sisters, I investigated what a blog is because numerous people have asked me over the years.  I knew what a blog was and what it meant to me, since I have blogged for the last few years, but I was unaware of the actual meaning or if “BLOG” was an acronym for some mysterious online organization.

 

Now that we know the official definition for “Blog” (according to the referenced sources), I present a blog on my Independence Day at this facility (holiday events vary between prisons).

 

INDEPENDENCE DAY & GRATITUDE:  One blog a lot of people liked in the free society and on the inside, staff and inmates alike, is “Gratitude & More” (12/19/16).  I wrote it from a positive perspective, so maybe what my friend suggested is true?

I need to turn over a new leaf and let signs of a positive life flow from my fingertips.

 

Lightning flashes and then it thunders.

 

I began the day with instant coffee and watching videos on CMT and MTV-2.  I’d switch from Country music on CMT to Pop to Rap to Hip Hop, and whatever else MTV plays.

 

COUNT TIME:  at 10:00 AM, we were locked in our cells and then stood to be counted.  During the count, I listened to my antique Sony Walkman radio as I worked on math problems in preparation for the tests I’ll take to graduate WorkKeys next week.  Nineteen Eighty-two was the last time I worked on Advanced Math in college, and trying to relearn it has been a challenge, but one I have accepted and succeeded at handling.

 

After the count cleared and we were released from our cages, I stood around watching but not listening to any of the ten televisions, wondering why our unit hadn’t been released for chow.  Two and a half hours later, we got to go eat.

 

Any change in the regular routine creates drama in here.  The staff are “supposed to” follow a set schedule to let each cellblock out to eat.  The one I live in was supposed to get out fourth in the line of twelve listed on the Weekly Rotation.  The rotation ran awful slow or we didn’t get out in the scheduled order.  I had skipped breakfast and was ready to eat by the time the cellhouse officer yelled, “Main Line.”

 

CHOW TIME:  Over a hundred of us took off walking fast, like a bunch of hungry critters heading for the food trough, trying to outrun the others to get first choice.  I didn’t outrun everyone in this cellblock but I did outrun a few.  🙂

 

I stood in line for the noon meal and was happy to see peaches being served.  I love peaches, especially, Georgia Peaches, the two legged kind and the ones that stimulate the taste buds.

 

The serving line ran out of peaches with the person before me.  Peaches were replaced with watermelon.  I love watermelon!  I can eat half of a large watermelon by myself.  The Inmate Server put a tiny piece on my tray, one so small that the edible content would not fill a 12-ounce glass.  I did not feel grateful.

 

I still smiled and said thank you, as I customarily do, even when I don’t feel so thankful.  I try to be polite and treat people the way I want to be treated, not the way I may feel they deserve to be treated.

 

When I first arrived at this institution in 2004, I noticed ethnically-different, inmate servers, looking up to see who’s next in line.  And if the person was white, and not one who pays for larger portions, sort through the food to select a smaller piece while staff watched.  I experienced violent thoughts about using a serving tray as an assault weapon.  Not now, though.

 

I smile and say thank you and tell myself the person is trying to help me fight high-cholesterol I do not have, by finding a smaller piece of fried chicken or meat to give me and any other non-paying person.

 

THE HOLIDAY MEAL:  For lunch today, I had a chunk of beef so tough that a pit-bull would have struggled to chew it.  Tough or not, it tasted good and I am grateful to have had it to eat.

 

Too many people in the world, who are not in prison, did not have any food to eat yesterday and today.  Why haven’t we figured out how to feed everyone in the world or big cities in America?

 

I also had corn on the cob that I gave away, sour cream, baked potatoes, broccoli, and a tasty little apple pie, to go with the piece of beef and micro-watermelon slice.  Who but a whiny prisoner would complain about a meal like that?

 

Most people who paid for the meal would have wanted a refund on the terribly-tough, tasty beef.  Regardless of that, though, we got fed and filled our bellies, so I can’t rightfully complain, even though I did.

 

Prison is not supposed to be a pleasurable experience.  The meal we had was better than what millions of people around the globe ate that day.

 

GRATITUDE:  While sitting at a table eating, I suffered from Watermelon Envy as I eyed the peaches and slices of watermelon on the trays of my peers, their watermelon slices larger than mine.  A friend must have saw the look in my eyes and gave me his watermelon.  After eating it, I felt better before leaving, my belly full of gratitude for a moment.

 

Leaving the chow hall, I walked with a Mexican and African-American.  We were given a paper sack lunch for our evening meal: cold cut slices of various meat, a slice of cheese, four slices of bread, and pastries.

 

The African-American says, “I got two cinnamon rolls.  Did you get two?”

 

I peeked into my sack and only saw one.

 

The Mexican said, “Yeah, I got two of ’em too.”

 

I said, I only got one.  A cracker ain’t got nothing coming, I somewhat joked.

 

I returned to the cellblock and thought about the experiences during the meal and then remembered the premises I wrote about in Gratitude & More.  As I did so, I took everything out of the bag, then noticed I did have two cinnamon rolls.  The two packages were stuck together, which I didn’t notice when peeking into the bag.

 

GOD-SHOT:  I felt a God-Shot when I realized how things changed when I thought to be grateful for what I had, rather than complain about what I did not.  God gives me lessons each day.  I grow each time He does, if I learn what He wants me to learn.

 

It thunders when He speaks; oftentimes, it takes lightning to get my attention.

 

CONCLUSION:  I spent the latter part of the day studying more math and listening to music, periodically venturing out of my cell to look at the televisions.  Later in the evening, I went to the recreation department to walk the asphalt track and to print a draft copy of an earlier version of this blog.

 

Several of my peers ran the track, others screamed and shouted as they played basketball, softball, handball, and various other games.

 

Dark clouds filled the horizon and approached fast, pushed on by strong winds as a storm approached that caused the staff to close outside recreation.  Children cannot play outside when it storms; especially, those with a history of misbehavior and absconding from justice.  We rushed inside before it rained.

 

I did succeed at printing the draft and walking a few laps before returning to work more on this blog and read legal news on the electronic bulletin board.

 

While on the computer terminal, I watched the movie, Mr. Church, staring Eddie Murphy, in a much different cast.  After the computer kicked me off after 30-minutes, I watched the rest of the movie from my cell.  Some darn gnats or something kept getting in my eyes near the end of the movie when Mr. Church died.  I don’t know where those gnats came from.  🙂

 

My day concluded with a shower, talking with my cellmate, listening to the radio some more, and reading before counting off another day from the calendar.

 

All things considered, it was a good day.  I did something for the mind, body, and spirit.  What more can a person ask for in life?  Well, right now I can think of a few things I’d like to be different, but I will close without complaining.  We get what we need and things work according to God’s will, not Wayne’s.  Darn it!  However, the positive side is that if things went according to Wayne, I wouldn’t be “here” to entertain you with this blog.  Thanks for reading my writings!

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Note:  I decided to postpone writing the second eBook in the Fiction Crime Series, “Guns, Drugs & Thugs.”  Read the first of the series at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

 

Visit StraightFromthePen.com for more of my writings.  Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($14.95, USD) from your favorite bookseller; also available as eBooks from Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.kindle, and many others.

 

Contact Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email: MEBooks1@yahoo.com) for inmate book publishing needs or to order my books from the “Inside.”  Thanks!

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ROCKY ROAD TO PRISON

two men to a cell.jpgBy Wayne T. Dowdy

Prisoners do not have a choice about which prison authorities place them in, nor can they control who moves in a cell or dormitory where they live.  At least, legally they cannot, but sometimes do.  Those facts often led to prison violence and negative results.  Prison does not have to be negative as a whole.

DANGEROUS CHARACTER:  Five months before I was arrested, a woman gave birth to a child who grew up to be a tall, handsome, muscular, young man.  He moved into the cell with me on September 21, 2016.  I later learned that he was a paid hit man who severed limbs for a living.

He showed no mercy to the living or the dead as he wielded a chainsaw to accomplish his goals; a highly dangerous, Indiana Jones type of fellow.  He used a shovel and stepped outside the boundaries of the law when he chose to dig up remains left behind by people before him in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

How can another man close his eyes to rest when knowing he is locked into a 8′ x 10′ x 12′ cell designed for one, housing two men in a bathroom, while knowing the other occupant is so dangerous that he dared to dig deep into the soil for artifacts left behind by Cherokee Native Americans?

HIS CRIME:  Arrowheads, that’s right, arrowheads, rocks; he’s in prison for digging up rocks, approximately thirty feet outside an authorized area.

HIS SENTENCE:  one-year probation for a non-violent crime.  And then he violated the terms of probation and landed in a prison cell with a man serving thirty-five years for violent crimes, a man with a long history of committing crimes of violence.

SHARED HISTORIES:  Both of us have a history of substance abuse.  He still struggles.  I do not.  I have lived clean and sober for almost twenty-two years since he was about seven years old.

On August 1, 1985, I was released from the Georgia prison system.  I was twenty-eight years old, his age.  I read the tea leaves and saw him traveling down the same path that I did.  The path that led to me spending most of my life in prison for committing crimes to get high.

During the past five months, I strived to be a positive influence in his life by showing him parts of my life that lead me to “here.”  My life proves people can change.

My hope is for him to get out and stay out of prison.  He made the mistake of choosing the road of Bad Decisions.  That does not mean that he must continue to travel down that road.

Good people make bad mistakes, too!

MENTORING IN UNLIKELY PLACES:  He has stayed clean and sober while here.  I have mentored and tried to help him avoid making decisions with negative consequences.  He listened more often than not and will leave here next week to go back to the peaceful town at the foothills of the North Carolina mountains, where he has a loving family waiting to help him get on with his life.

WHAT IF:  What if he had been assigned to a cell with a practicing addict or knucklehead who thrived on drama?  Seeing or smelling drugs makes it more difficult for an addict to stay clean; especially, when that addict is trapped in a cage with demons he or she fights every day of their life.

In prison, it is common for peers to encourage violent responses when the actions of others are perceived as being disrespectful.  I encouraged him to think of getting back out to be with his family when dealing with perceived threats to the ego.

What if we had not gotten along and got into fights?  I would have probably got my old ass beat up, maybe even accidentally or intentionally killed, or otherwise have had to commit a serious act of violence to protect myself.

Historically, a lot of youngsters ended up in graveyards by messing with old folks.  Besides that, a person can’t win beating up elders:  they look bad if they beat them up and look bad if the older man or woman beats them up, so it’s best to just leave the old, cantankerous rascals alone with their muscle rub, Tylenol, and multiple medications to treat ailments.

What would have been my cellmate’s chance of using prison as an opportunity to change his life, if he had instead fallen into the darker side of prison life, where men prey upon each other to appease their self-interest, rather than to support changes that increase a prisoner’s chance of getting out to live a better life as a productive member of society?

Many men and women come to prison and never get out because of decisions made before or after incarceration.  Society loses when its citizens perish in prison.

ANOTHER LOST LIFE:  In “A Prisoner’s Story,” I began by writing about the murder of “Bandit.”  He battled with another prisoner inside a cell at U.S.P. Lompoc.  He lost.

I wrote, “I had known him for several years.  He and I were all right with each other, but I knew that by the warped sense of justice, silently written into the prison code by unknown authors, that he had it coming because of what he had done to others.  Bandit was a gangbanger who ran with his affiliates and extorted weaker prisoners so that they could buy heroin with the money.  He was also one of the many who I have seen get out of prison and return, a recidivist.  All he needed to walk out the door as a free man was to survive four more months.”

Based upon such experiences, I know how easy it is to make a fatal mistake or to make bad decisions with long consequences.  I made such a decision when I agreed to steal a car to commit a jewelry store robbery that never happened.  I got into the car with two people who became my codefendants in the bank robbery and associated crimes that I am in prison for committing.

It is easy to land in prison for decades or the rest of your life.

I conclude A Prisoner’s Story with, “I have seen many lives devastated by coming to prison for petty crimes and then learning new tricks from old and new prisoners alike, just as I did.  One thing the gullible prisoner fails to consider is the source of the information:  Someone sitting inside of a prison and bragging about how easy it is to get away with crime does not have impressive credentials, considering that they “are” in prison.  If crimes went as planned, then prisons would not be filled to capacity, as they are in the United States.  People have to wait in line to come to prison, because there is a long waiting list, especially for the mentally ill, dope fiends, alcoholics, illegal aliens.”

[Purchase “A Prisoner’s Story” as part of ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy at http://www.straightfromthepen.com or at your favorite online or offline bookseller.

For those who prefer to save trees, download the collection or the essay as a separate eBook (“Authority & A Prisoner’s Story”) at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.  Read my February 13, 2017, blog “Apple & EBooks” for information about Smashwords.com.]

NOT A TYPICAL SIXTY YEAR OLD:  “You aren’t like other old people are.  You like the same music I do and I can talk to you about how I feel or anything else.”

That’s true.  I am not like a normal man approaching sixty.  Experts say that using drugs arrests a person’s emotional growth and development.  I started using drugs at the age of eleven, so I am really thirty-three going on sixty.

Because of that, we can laugh and joke, or engage in meaningful conversations to show the follies of our pasts that ultimately led us to be in a prison cell together.  By us being able to do so, helps him to see why those behaviors are not productive and give a good reason to avoid doing it again.

A GOD THING:  When he first arrived here, the staff at Receiving & Discharge told him to move to cell #409, which was the cell I had moved from that morning.  A prisoner who practiced Islam influenced the cell house officer to move him into cell #414, the cell where we now reside.

BLESSINGS:  He told his mother about the positive influence I was in his life.  “Mother said God knew I needed to be around an older person that I’d listen to,” he said.  God does work in mysterious ways.

God put him in the cell with me without asking my permission.  How dare He do that!  He gives me what I need, not what I want.  In this case, it turned out to be a rewarding and positive experience.  God answered my prayer.  Before he moved in, I prayed my next cellmate would be someone not into any of the things I do not do.

I am not into drugs, alcohol, weapons, or anything illegal.  I am almost a saint, Saint Wayne, I may be called one day.  I let all cellmates know from the start that I do not get high and do not want any BS around me.  When I told him that, he said, “That’s a blessing because I am trying to change my life.”

We knew God had put him right where he needed to be.  God also put him in the cell with me because he was the type of person I needed to be around because I love helping others who want to change their lives in a positive manner.

In my life, God has always worked in mysterious ways.  Who would think He lived in prisons, too?

TREE SURGEON:  Back to my chainsaw wielding cellmate.  He is a tree surgeon people pay to come cut or trim trees to improve the safety of their homes by removing threatening tree limbs, or to beautify their property by taking out unsightly trees and forage.  Trees hate to see him coming!

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight from the Pen.  Visit http://www.straightfromthepen.com today.  Follow his blogs on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com.

APPLE & EBOOKS by Wayne T. Dowdy

EBook sales of my published works surpassed paperback sales in 2016.  2017 looks to be the same for eBooks.  I have already sold more eBooks, so I delayed doing another paperback until I complete other short stories to combine into a collection.

Book 4 cover.inddMidnight Express Books released GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  DRUG STORE SPREE by Wayne T. Dowdy on February 1, 2017, now available on Smashwords.com and other online distributors for $0.99.

FORMATS FOR ALL:  Smashwords is an eBook distributor that makes eBooks available in the following formats and applications:  epub (Apple iPad/Books, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, most ereading apps, including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital editions, and tablets); mobi (Kindle), pdf (Desktop; best for technical, illustrated, or photographic works); irf (Older Sony readers), pdb (Older Palm devices), txt (Archival; contains no formatting), and html for reading online.

PERSONAL PERMISSION TO PRINT:  For those who prefer to hold the words in your hand, download “my” eBooks in the pdf. format to your PC and print.  (Smashwords Support Center FAQ contains instructions on how to download to various eReading devices.)

Two of the twenty-one eBook retailers that receive my eBooks from Smashwords, are the Apple iBookstore and Barnes & Noble.  Most downloads came from the Apple iBookstore.  I have no way of knowing if those downloads were for reading on iPhones, iPads, or other eReading devices.  Barnes & Noble placed second.  (Smashwords’ sales exceeded Amazon Kindle.)

UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Wayne T. Dowdy and my free essays picked up the majority of downloads from Apple.

Note:  Buy your copy of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE now to avoid the March 2017 price increases of the paperback and eBook.

FICTION CRIME SERIES IN PROCESS:  “Drug Store Spree” is the first of my GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS fiction crime series.  I’m working on the second short story now.  GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  PILLS & THRILLS begins with more violence than I normally write.  Some readers commented on the violence in UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.  This series will make it read like a love story in comparison.

The tentative completion date for “Pills & Thrills” is before July 2017.  Read on for a peek into both short stories.

I wrote Drug Store Spree based upon real life experiences.  Because of Son of Sam laws that prevents people from making a profit by selling a book or movie written about a crime they committed, I made a few minor changes to convert it into fiction.  The setting is in Georgia, 1978.

Most of what I write in the rest of the series will be fiction with truth woven through its fabric, whereas Drug Store Spree is truth containing fiction.

The following is an excerpt from my latest:

GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  DRUG STORE SPREE

11:00 AM, August 14th:  Three thugs cruised through the parking lot of a shopping mall in a small North Georgia town of the southeastern United States.  A sawed-off shotgun laid under the driver’s seat.  The black handle of a semiautomatic pistol protruded from the waistband of the shotgun rider’s pants.  Another gun stretched across the back seat and floorboard at an angle.  A merciless August sun bore down on the Dodge Charger as the thugs eased by the line of stores on the right side of the car.  The rumbling of the headers on the 440-magnum echoed under the canopy where patrons strolled before entering the stores.  A REVCO drug store sat at the end of the long-line of businesses.  I’m one of the thugs, a retired thug.

Nathan drove the car, I rode shotgun, Rodney sat in the backseat.  Each of us had been awake for days, me for over three weeks, other than a four-hour Quaalude-induced nap.  I pointed toward a bank in the far left corner of the plaza, beside where the parking lot met the road.  “When we come out we’ll go that way,” I said.  “Any cops should come from the other direction.”  As we drove by the drug store, I glanced inside to check the layout.  Nothing seemed any different than all of the other REVCOs.  After we passed by, we checked out the route we’d take when leaving, especially if pursued by the law.  No one liked that thought, of course, but I had prepared for it by purchasing a clip-fed, bolt-action, twelve gauge goose gun with a thirty-six-inch barrel, the gun taking up space in the backseat.  With two boxes of shotgun shells, I figured I could change any cop’s mind about pursuing us for long enough to ditch the car and take another one from some unsuspecting victim if needed.  It wasn’t what I wanted to do.  It was what I knew I would do to avoid going to jail. ….

[To read the rest of the story, click https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/700815 to purchase your copy.]

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The following excerpt is edited due to profanity used in the original manuscript.

GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  PILLS & THRILLS

Salazar gripped the steering wheel to stop his hands from trembling.  The cargo meant life in prison if found.  They couldn’t stand a shakedown.  He whispered, “Don’t move.  Here he comes.”

Officer Barge shined his flashlight in the rear window of the minivan, rented on a stolen credit card, before he edged toward the front of the vehicle.  His right hand rested on the handle of a .40 caliber Glock.

Kager laid motionless in the fetal position to avoid detection; his finger rested on the trigger guard of his Desert Eagle .44 Auto mag.  The projectile of the chambered round would disfigure steel or destroy any living organism it contacted.  An old military tarpaulin covered his long-limbed, sinewy body and chiseled face.  His face tightened as he held his breath when the light illuminated the van.

Officer Barge stood five feet from the door on the driver’s side.  “Turn off the engine and roll down your window.”

Salazar obeyed.  “What did I do wrong, Officer?”

“You failed to use your turn signal at that last intersection.  I need to see your driver’s license and insurance card.”

“My wallet’s in the glove compartment.”

He moved closer to the window.  “Do you have any weapons, drugs, or anything in the vehicle that I should know about?”

“No, Sir.”  His heart pounded inside its cavity.

“Open it and get your wallet.”

Droplets of sweat gathered on Salazar’s forehead.  “Yes, Sir.”  His hands jittered when he reached to open the glove compartment.  He remembered leaving his wallet at home.  For a couple of seconds, he fumbled with the warranty and other papers.  “It’s not in here.  I must have left it at home.”

Kager wrapped his finger around the trigger.

“Step out of the vehicle, please.”

Before he could open the door, Kager slid from under the tarpaulin and fired through the window.  BOOM!  BOOM!

The first shot whizzed by Barge’s head.  The second one ripped through his left shoulder, obliterating bone, cartilage and muscle tissue.  The impact of the projective spun his body as he crashed to the ground.  Blood gushed from the gaping wound.  He grunted as he rolled over to un-holster his gun.

Salazar covered both ears with his hands.  The blasts had made them ring.  He whirled around to face Kager.  “What the f***, man, you–”

Kager sprang to the front seat and shoved him to the side.  “Move,” he said.

Salazar fell against the dash as more rounds from the Desert Eagle exploded in rapid succession.

BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!  All three projectiles ripped through Barge’s body before his gun cleared its holster; two struck him in the chest, the other in the stomach.

“Shot, a, a cop.  You shot a f****** cop.  We’re f***** for sure.”  Sweat poured from every sweat gland in his body.

Kager jumped out of the van to make sure the cop was dead.  Assured that he was, he turned to face his crime partner.  Damn, I gotta shoot him too.  He’ll tell on me if we get caught.  I’ve got to do it.  Not now, though.  I’ll do it later.  “Let’s go,” he said, as he climbed back into the van.  “We’ve got to get the hell out of here and ditch this van before someone identifies us or his backup arrives.  We can’t afford to loose all these pills.”

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I hope you enjoyed the clips and will purchase the eBooks.  More will be revealed.  Thanks for reading my writings!  Wayne

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Visit http://www.straightfromthepen.com for more books, essays, and short stories by Wayne T. Dowdy.  Become a regular follower of his blogs at https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com.  After connecting to the site, press Ctrl End to go to the end of the current blogs, where you will see how to sign up to be notified of each post.

Click https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy to download his eBooks now.  “No Sympathy” and the most downloaded eBook (“A Prisoner & a Poem for a Princess”) are available for free.  Both essays are part of ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.  The benefit of the paperback is to see a copy of a Card from an Angel.  🙂

Purchase paperbacks online or offline at your favorite bookseller.  To purchase paperbacks direct from the publisher, contact Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (e-mail: MEBooks1@yahoo.com).  Get his best-selling novel for $10.95 (UNKNOWN INNOCENCE).  Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN for $8.95 (USD).  Shipping & Handling charges may apply.

GRATITUDE AND MORE

from Wayne T. Dowdy

PRISONERSLast year on December 23, 2015, I posted “Plot to Stop Santa by Mr. D.” to add a little humor to the holiday season (read it on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com and check out Santa’s militarized sled). This year I am writing along personal lines and will share some previous messages I sent out to those on my Corrlinks contact list. My hope is to create a sense of gratitude.

12/25/2011: On Christmas Day, I sat in my cell reading my favorite magazine (THE SUN). “Chow time,” the guard shouted.

I rushed to the chow hall. Inside, I sat at a rectangular table of four with three of my peers. One person stood to leave. Each of us exchanged Christmas greetings, wishing him a Merry Christmas before a 27-year-old youngster sat down to take his place.

The one who sat to the right of the youngster had just complained how the Cornish game hen was small. I had previously tried to maintain the attitude of gratitude at the table by commenting how it was good, though, it was smaller than those we had had in the past. It was still tasty. I simply agreed with the other guy about it being smaller than usual. I labeled it as a “Cornish Game Chick.”

That’s when the youngster sat down. “There sure are a lot of complaining people at this prison,” he said.

His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.

The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.

I shared my favorite saying by an author whose name I do know to give him or her their credit due (“I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”).

I continued to express gratitude for the well-prepared meal; knowing we were all fortunate to have what sat before us, as we compared our plight to others incarcerated in state and other federal prisons, who probably wished they could eat as good as we were.

This is what we had to complain about: a Cornish game hen, black-eyed peas, which were really good; collard greens, rolls or wheat bread (I chose wheat bread); an individually packaged cherry pie, chocolate cup cake, and some other stuff I probably forgot. I ate my fill.

Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life.

Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.

Sincerely,
Wayne

**********
Along the same theme as above, I wrote this on America’s Turkey Day:

THANKSGIVING DAY 2016: Happy Thanksgiving Day to each of you. If you feel like you don’t have much to be thankful for because of the hardships life has thrown at you this year, stop to think of all you have to be grateful for; perhaps you have food to eat; two feet, two arms, shoes on your feet, and clothes to warm your body, a place to stay and be safe. Feel fortunate.

When I find myself disgruntled for having to wait for an hour in the commissary to purchase a few items, I try to stop and remember those who wish they had my problems, financially able to shop for a few items needed to maintain a decent level of living inside this prison. That makes me feel grateful for the opportunity, rather than disgruntled and agitated for having to wait as I listen to loud mouths shouting to the man next to them, disturbing the peace, killing the sound of silence.

Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

**********

For those of you who follow me through other means of social media, you may have read the message below that I wrote after losing one of my brothers, Larry. I once had a mother, father, three brothers and two sisters. I am now down to one brother and two sisters.

In 1978 I lost Stanley, my older brother. In 1982 I lost my father, and then in 2016 I lost my younger brother, Larry, after having lost my mother eight months before him.

The loss of two loved ones in the same year was why I wrote what I did about “the hardships life has thrown at you this year”; including myself in the equation. I write to show we still have things to be grateful for in light of the hardships we experience as the cost of our love for others.

Some people lost their whole family and suffered tragic loss of limbs and even more severe health issues. That makes me grateful to still have family members who remain in my life. I am also grateful for my less-than perfect health.

The families of some prisoners abandon them because they go to prison. My family has stood behind me, even though my actions were unacceptable to them; my actions that landed me in prison. I am fortunate!

**********
September 18, 2016: One of my two younger brothers moved on to the next phase of existence around 3:00 PM today. Larry was the most gentle and innocent of the four sons birthed by our Mother. Not that he was innocent; he wasn’t, but he was not driven by hate or anger and he never intentionally harmed anyone that I know of. Him and Jeff, the youngest of us, were never the rowdy type, whereas me and Stanley were hell raisers.

Larry was a kind and all around good person. It hurts like hell to know he is gone, but I do rejoice in knowing he no longer suffers from his illnesses. He lives without pain in some other place we all must go one day. Maybe he fishes from a rainbow, catching a few rays, as he surfs the ocean in pursuit of eternal peace. I hope he catches an abundance of love and happiness during his journey. No doubt, many here on earth loved and will miss him.

Ironically, he passed away on my ex-wife’s birthday. Our Mother passed away on the birthday of our son, Jonathon. For those of you who believe in God, please keep the family in prayer as we go through a difficult time. Thanks! Wayne

**********
December 18, 2016: Yesterday my remaining siblings came to visit me. We had a good visit. Though each of us are grateful to still have each other in our lives, I sensed the emptiness from the unspoken loss of our loved ones.

Loved ones fill a space in our hearts that no one else can replace. God made that spot just for them, whether our memories and feelings are good or bad, that space is theirs.

I am grateful to have been blessed with the love given to me by those, whom that power greater than myself, put into my life.

I am also grateful for my eyes* and other physical features that I use to write and send my words beyond the walls and barbwire fences that surround me at this juncture of my life.

Prison only confines my body: I refuse to allow it to consume my sense of being, or to rob me of my dignity and integrity. I am a man first and a prisoner second.

My mind and spirit are freer today than when I roamed the streets in 1988 before my arrest. God gave me a life worth living.

Better days are on the horizon. When I walk out of these prison doors, Straight From the Pen will come alive, more like straight from the keyboard.

In an upcoming blog, I will share a former prisoner’s inspiring story. Brandon Sample is one who proves people can leave prison and succeed in life, by beginning to build the path toward a better life while inside doing their time.

Miracles happen. Have faith and never loose hope. Hope keeps the world going.

________________________________
* I have an essay titled “Eyes” that I wrote in gratitude of my eyesight that I am fortunate to still have. It is an inspiration story you can read it in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

Purchase UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($10.95 USD) and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) while the prices are low. Available in paperback at Amazon, Createspace and other online booksellers, and as eBooks at Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.Kindle, and other eBook retailers.

RESCUED


This blog is a reprint of my essay published in the Prisoner Express Monthly Writing Themes, June-July 2016. Prisoner Express comes from Cornell University’s CTA/Durland Alternatives Library, 127 Anabel Taylor Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-1001 (www.prisonerexpress.org). Prisoners may receive the “Prisoner Express Newsletter” free.

The program is important and deserves public support through donations from those in a position to do so; whether financially, politically, or socially, please show your support.

The program offers the following projects for prisoners: “Poetry Projects”; “Telling Your Story”; “Grammar Studies”; “Journal Project”; “Chemistry of Climate Change”; “Artknow”; “Buddhist Studies and Meditation Newsletter”; “Exploring the Ocean,” and “Songwriting Instructions.”

“Prisoner Express provides rehabilitation by providing information, education, and opportunities for creative self-expression to incarcerated individuals throughout the United States. … The Durland Alternatives Library which sponsors PE is a project partner of the Center for Transformative Action. Additional support comes from the Cornell Public Service center and the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI).” Prisoner Express Newsletter, Summer 2016.

This is a copy of the original essay submitted for publication, not the edited version, as published.

RESCUED by Wayne T. Dowdy

Sad to say but it is true. Yes, I was rescued. God saved me from myself by allowing me to go to prison to serve a thirty-five year federal sentence for armed bank robbery and associated charges. What is best, to live in prison or to not live at all? That’s a debatable question, no doubt. In 1988 when I began serving this sentence, my answer was different than today. Now that I am near the end of it, I’m pleased to have survived long enough to discover my journey to recovery.

RECOVERY is the process of returning to the “Being” God created, in contrast to the one I become based upon life experiences. To recover, reclaim something lost. Rescue innocence. Innocence lost as a child. A child whose path lead to crime, drugs, and incarceration.

RESCUED: For me to admit that the government rescued me is growth, since my pride often denied the truth. I humble myself and am honest when I confess my imperfections because doing so tramples on the Ego.

My pride and ego have been my worst enemies. The two are running partners–one does not act without the other. My first sponsor in a Twelve Step program said that his head was the type that thought it could kill the body and keep on living. Mine, too.

RENEWED: Living in a renewed state of mind enables me to see life as it is, even when it is not how I planned for it to be, instead of painting a distorted picture of reality inside my head to make me feel okay when I am not.

God doesn’t ask my advice on how I want life to happen. As a human, if God did ask my advice, I’d mess things up by allowing my character defects of pride, lust, anger, greed and gluttony to influence my decisions, or by letting emotions drive action instead of intellect.

FANTASY: In prison and life in general, a common behavior is creating fanciful scenarios of past experiences and personal histories. The reporting of a fantasy life on the outside is common inside prison. Some prisoners bum commodities and claim to have been millionaires on the streets; others claim to have been “Scarface” style drug kingpins, when in truth, they may have been a homeless, street hustler, dope fiend, or prostitute.

TRUTH: The truths of my life contain a mixture of success and failure, a mediocre existence, nothing fancy or extravagant to report. I experienced success by working for two reputable companies in Atlanta, Georgia, where I climbed the ranks and did well, until my worst enemy appeared–Mr. Ego, demanding more than life was giving.

I quit good jobs and forfeited lucrative careers because of Mr. Ego, who drove pride with a distorted view of reality. The drugs I used altered my perception of truth. I told myself I deserved more money than I was earning. The companies weren’t paying me what I was worth. Those thoughts justified my struggle to survive with my unhealthy habits.

The truth was that I mismanaged my earnings and made unsound business decisions. I spent more money on shooting and smoking drugs than I did on rent, car payments, insurance, utilities, and groceries, which explains why a repo man chased me for months to take my car. I shot more drugs in a day than I could work and pay for in a week. I reverted to crime to cover the cost. When I landed in jail with multiple felonies, facing the rest of my life in prison, the truth set in and I wanted to commit suicide to end the pain caused by my past. I’m glad I didn’t chose to end my life.

LOVE AND PAIN: Things change. Love and resentment kept me alive. I loved my family and knew they loved me. I didn’t want to hurt them by killing myself, even though I did sometimes feel their lives would be better without the pains I caused by living a self-centered life.

The resentment originated from my interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I refused to cooperate. The lead F.B.I. agent said, “I’m going to put you in prison for the rest of your life.”

“I will kill myself before I let you do that,” I said.

His response: “Do it!”

That made me want to live to avoid satisfying him, and to live to see the day I could make him regret saying it. Today I am thankful for him. God used him to rescue me from an abyss filled with anger and self-hatred.

THUG LIFE: From a thug point of view, I lived a life filled with danger and excitement by using guns to rob drug stores and other businesses to take what I wanted, using violence to accomplish my goals. Even inside prison I lived the thug life by playing the drug game, running gambling operations, and making decisions that affected the lives of others through prison politics. In my youth I did several things that gave me clout as a prisoner. For instance, kept my mouth shut when arrested; in the Georgia prison system, I assaulted two guards and later escaped with ten others by taking over a control room; made homemade wine and moonshine, sold drugs, and was later falsely accused of murdering another prisoner. I still held strong and did not rat on anyone. Those things happened many years ago when I was young and dumb, a phase most people seem to go through.

RETIRED: Seven years into this sentence, I retired from all the above because I tired of the associated drama. I was killing myself and acting insane by staying involved in dangerous situations to stay high and in control.

If God had not saved me from myself, my life of crime would have lead me to death row or the graveyard. I’m glad I was rescued, even though I do wish the path hadn’t been so rough.

______________________________________
Wayne T. Dowdy writes straight from the pen. Visit his website at http://www.straightfromthepen.com to purchase his most recent novel, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE (over 80,000-words for $10.95 USD); and a collection of his writings in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD). Also available in print from your favorite bookstore, or from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616. Purchase the eBooks from all major eBook distributors, including Amazon.kindle, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

Sign up to follow his blogs at https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and http://waynedowdy.weebly.com/blog. To voice comments, post them on this site, or email him at waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com. Write to Wayne T. Dowdy, #39311-019, Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 725, Edgefield, SC 29824-0725.

BLOGS, BOOKS & GOOGLE

By Wayne T. Dowdy

I have a beef with Google for damaging my reputation with inaccurate information. I will explain.

Please do not judge UNKNOWN INNOCENCE based upon what I write in this blog, because the novel is about much more than prison and these repulsive characters.

DESPICABLE CHARACTERS: In one blog I included an excerpt from a chapter about one of my despicable characters: “Zachariah Zambroski, Attorney at Law,” November 13, 2015.

Another despicable character I wrote about was Jake (keep reading for more on him).

Zach was not as bad as Jake, but he was despicable for selling out his client, and thus putting an innocent man in prison to avoid going there himself.

A corrupt agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, coerced Zambroski into throwing Big Bobby’s case, who was framed and went to prison for the murder of a famous senator’s son.

In my January 21, 2016, blog (“Despicable Characters”), I wrote about my most despicable character: Jake, a pedophile and necrophiliac who ends up in prison to meet his fate.

A SICK ONE: The following is part of an excerpt from the chapter, “Jake.” He raped and murdered his niece before going to prison on another charge.

“He had stashed her in the bushes three counties away. At night he’d go back to her until the stench of rotting flesh kept him from having her again. Then he buried her in a shallow grave and went on to find four more victims during the next five-months, before law enforcement officials sent him to prison on an unrelated charge.”

As I explained in the opening paragraph of Despicable Characters, “UNKNOWN INNOCENCE contains a variety of characters with various traits and characteristics. When I wrote UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D., now at the core of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, I needed to create a character everyone would hate so that when Karma delivered its blow, the reader would rejoice or feel he got what he deserved. I thought of two degenerate, despicable, sick and evil serial killers, executed for their repulsive crimes: Ted Bundy, a necrophiliac (performed sex on deceased victims); and John Wayne Gacey, who raped, tortured, and murdered children before burying them under his house.”

(That paragraph is behind my beef with Google’s search engine.) After I explained my objective to those who read my draft, each person said I had succeeded at making them hate Jake.

THE PROBLEM: My sister googled “Unknown Innocence by Wayne Dowdy” (she left out the “T” in my name). One search result showed an inflammatory association with my name:

“The draft contained ‘Wayne T. Dowdy’ and ‘UNKNOWN INNOCENCE … (performed sex on deceased victims); and John Wayne … Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person and UNKNOWN …”

APPALLED BY INACCURACY: I was appalled when I read that and wanted to somehow correct the search engine, which seemed to suggest I did what Jake did, but then I thought, maybe the absurdity will make someone want to click to learn more about someone who performed sex on deceased victims. Reading on would vindicate me from the inferred search engine accusation.

Wayne T. Dowdy is innocent. Mr. Google falsely accused him. Jake performed sex on deceased victims, not Wayne T. Dowdy, Mr. Google! Read the book, Sicko!

Dumb Google, do better research next time before you assassinate my fine name and character with inaccurate information!

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: The phrase, “Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person and UNKNOWN …” came from the Introduction to UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Jeffrey P. Frye, who wrote the following:

“It takes a special kind of person to turn their adversities into success, their sadness into joy that’s used to entertain others.

And it takes a person with tenacity and depth to continue to see the sunshine when all you’ve ever known is the rain. And it takes a person with natural talent to be able to write a story under these conditions that’s captivating and that you don’t want to put down.

Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person, and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is such a story. ….”

Mr. Frye did such a good job on the Introduction that I chose to include an excerpt from it on the synopsis. He wrote:

“UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.”

He described the novel accurately, and in a way I would not have considered if asked to describe what it was about. Read “An Introduction to UNKNOWN INNOCENCE” on this blogspot (June 21, 2015), or by going to my author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy), or preferable, by buying the 85,000-word book for $14.95 from your favorite online or offline bookstore, or by ordering it from the publisher:
Midnight Express Books
P.O. Box 69
Berryville, AR 72616
(E-mail: MEBooks1@yahoo.com). The eBook is priced at $0.99 for a limited time offer so download it now to save $$$.

_______________________________
Wayne T. Dowdy writes straight from the pen. Follow his blogs on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com. Purchase his books, essays, and short stories from StraightFromthePen.com. Click on the link of your favorite book and it goes to secure sites on Smashwords.com for eBooks, or CreateSpace.com for paperbacks. Industry discounts available for multiple book purchases over $200.00.

REENTERING SOCIETY

by Wayne T. Dowdy

When my day comes in the near future, I will be approaching the free society like the Columbia Space Shuttle reentering the atmosphere without all of its protective tiles, or like a meteor heading straight for a collision course with the earth:  I will burn up because of the friction created in the atmosphere of society, caused by my reentry into a distant world of free citizens, unless I proceed with caution and the protection of knowledge, draped in a determination to succeed against the odds.

I must remain constantly aware of the transitional aspect of my journey and how I am affected by all that has changed since my departure three decades ago.  Upon my reentry into a time-warp-zone, I will fail to become a productive member of society if I do not take advantage of the available help now available to prisoners, which will help me ease into a normal life, whatever a normal life may be “out there.”

After my release, death will be inevitable but I will have a choice on whether it will come to me while I am a free man, or as a recidivist who returns to prison because of his thug lifestyle, or as a drug addict who dies because of his addiction and lifestyle, or as a man who fought to change and succeed at changing his life.  My choice is the latter.

COVER.inddIn “No Sympathy” I wrote about my transition into society after serving seven years in the State of Georgia’s prison system and my eventual return to prison (recidivism).  I use my experience to show others that it did not have to be that way:  I did not have to return to prison.  I made choices that led me to where I now write.  I use my story to promote change in a broken criminal justice system and am pleased to see that some of the issues I pushed for over the years have come into existence.

In May 2015, I had my publisher to send Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, an email for me and an electronic copy of my blog (“Snake vs. Politics,” 03/13/15).  In my blog, in the section subtitled, “Political Promises & Incarceration,” I praised Governor Deal for what he had done and planned to do in the Georgia Criminal Justice system and its prison system.  I know his action will lead to favorable results; e.g., his creating re-entry programs for those released from prison and juvenile diversion programs to stop the flow of juveniles becoming career offenders.

In another essay I wrote and then posted on my blogs (The Truth About Incarceration, Part II); in a subtitled section, “Reentry & Recidivism,” I wrote about the Honorable Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and President Obama for creating reentry initiatives to help ex-offenders find employment, treatment for drug, alcohol problems and mental health issues.

Those reentry initiatives are more of what I pushed for and know will have a positive impact on the lives of those released from prison, as well as for American society as a whole.  (We are all a part of “one,” whether we want to be or not.)  I cried out for all of that in “No Sympathy” when I revised it in June 2014 before I put it in my personal magazine (ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN) and posted it online as an eBook and then on my blog for everyone to read for free.

I have written other blogs that mention recidivism rates and my experiences over the years that will increase my chances of getting out and staying out when released.  Some blogs contain humorous parts but still draw attention to important issues.

In “Rain, Blogs, Frogs & Politics” (November 3, 2015), and in “Vacation in Prison” (April 8, 2015), I wrote about my position in the Federal Prison Industries (trade name UNICOR).  My experiences and skills learned in the organization will help me to secure employment upon release.  I have been fortunate to have obtained legal skills foreign to most prisoners.

Then in “Teaching Cons New Tricks–Creative Writing and Q.A. Apprenticeship Program” (April 15, 2015), I did the same (wrote about skills learned to help me reintegrate into society).

UNICOR is a non-profit organization set up by Congress in the mid-thirties to make various cotton duck cloth items, originally strictly for the military and other government agencies.  The business structure of UNICOR operates similar to the United States Postal Service by generating its own funding, rather than depending on Congressional budgets.

I show in my essays that UNICOR reduces recidivism by teaching inmates marketable job skills.  Even though in recent years, UNICOR seems to have lost focus of the fact that Congress created the organization as a work program for inmates; not as a conglomerate to become a good-ole-boys fraternity or undercover, profit-generating organization, where profits must disappear into staff bonuses and purchases of elaborate office furnishings or maybe into expense paid trips justified as business necessities.

By their Program Statement, UNICOR has an Inmate Scholarship Award where UNICOR contributes funds to assist inmate employees in paying for college courses; however, the budget for the Inmate Scholarship Awards disappeared, probably into some lavish furniture or extra large bonus for Washington Officials who stripped the funding from the program.  Imagine that, misuse of government funding:  Spend funding on unnecessary items rather than on maintaining a program known to reduce recidivism.

Programs that allow inmates to learn new skills, improve their education, and to learn a new way of life benefit inmates and society:  It is a cost-effective way to reduce recidivism and to help create more productive and constructive members of society.  In “Snake vs. Politics,” I challenged all politicians to read “No Sympathy” when deciding on what is needed to reduce recidivism rates in America.  Maybe some of them actually took me up on the offer.  I feel reasonably assured that Governor Nathan Deal accepted the challenge.  He continues to strive toward making prisons do what society needs done to shut the well-known “revolving door” of recidivist that plague the nation.

CONCLUSION

I will write a more technical blog on Reentry and Recidivism next time I have time to write.  Most of my time has been going toward legal work to help other prisoners file post-conviction relief motions, in an effort to help them obtain their freedom.  I won two out of the last five and hope to go five and O.  🙂  Now, due to a long-shot chance I have at obtaining my own freedom, I must rush to seek permission to file a motion to challenge my own conviction before the June 26, 2015, deadline.  Recent changes in law due to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (June 26, 2015) is what has changed.  As I wrote in “Violent Crime Misconception,” Johnson invalidated a provision of the Armed Career Criminal statute, known as the “Residual Clause.”  Some courts are rightfully applying it to other similar provisions in various statutes, such as Title 18, Section 924(c)(2)(B), which is where “crime of violence” is defined and contains similar language, as does the statute for immigration (18 U.S.C., Section 16(b)).  I have to show armed bank robbery is not “categorically” a crime of violence because a person can commit the crime without rising to the level of violence required to show it is a violent crime. A lot of legal jargon with lots of meaning for those fighting to live another day as free men and women.

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09012015002004Purchase “No Sympathy” as one of eleven essays in the collection, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy, $8.95 USD, available from all major bookstores and eBook retailers.  Read No Sympathy for free online or by downloading the individual essay from Smashwords.com and other eBook retailers.

Due to technical issues, the release of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE was postponed.  The pagination was reduced and the book reformatted.  The tentative plan for release is June 15, 2016.  The listed price is $14.95, USD.  At 85,000-words, that is a deal:  Two books in one.  Those without Internet access may purchase it from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com).  All others may buy it from their favorite bookstores or eBook retailers, including the AppleiBookstore.

Follow my blogs at straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com.  Send comments to waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.  I will respond when my publisher forwards them to me, when a response is permissible.

 

 

WORD USE & PRISON LIFE

by Wayne T. Dowdy

prison mail“Words pack a punch, whether written or spoken, words have the power to change or destroy lives. I choose my words carefully and hope the ones I select affect a positive change.” Teaching Cons New Tricks–Creative Writing & Q.A. Apprenticeship Program. (April 15, 2015) straightfromthepen.wordpress.com.

In my March 8, 2016, blog post (“Manuscripts Worth Stealing”), I wrote about two of my manuscripts that I suspect a corrupt federal employee stole or destroyed. Readers who know me commented on my unusual display of anger in what I wrote. One friend in particular, Jeff B., commented about my statements concerning what I felt the culprit deserved if caught; how I started off in an aggressive tone and went on and on, and that it made him feel like I wanted to do to the culprit what I said he or she deserved, going by what he read.

I clarified that I did not say I would do those things. I let him reread my statement in the third paragraph:

“I do feel sorry for the idiot who gets caught for doing it. Risking five-years in prison for stealing a manuscript in the mail takes a real devious person, or someone who is just downright ignorant or stupid. However, if the person does get caught and goes to prison, I would not weep if he or she experiences extreme levels of physical and sexual abuse by prisoner predators. Tampering with someone’s mail is a killing offense for some of those confined inside American prisons. For a person convicted of committing such a crime, to be raped and brutalized would be letting them off easy. I do not approve or endorse predatory behaviors, but in this case, Karma seems to demand an exception.”

PRISON LIFE: The above quote was only a comment. I know that many in society think of prison life completely different than its reality. When discussing what to blog about to get more followers, a staff member shared how her friends thought it necessary for her to have armed guards sitting in a classroom to protect her as she taught prisoners. She laughed in telling me that, because such thoughts are so common, and yet indicate something so far away from the truth about prison life that it is comical for those who live or work inside and know the truth.

Given that line of thinking, a common misconception about prisoners and prison life is the caliber of people inside. (Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part I” for a realistic view of what prison life is really like for MOST prisoners.) Everyone in prison is not violent and we do not typically run around raping and robbing each other, or battling over food in the chow hall. In the more violent prisons, some prisoners may rob, rape, or take food or commissary items from weaker prisoners, but those things do not happen on a regular basis.

NOT ME: Back to the missing manuscript and my word choice. I do like to entertain my readers, but this blog is not the place to read about wild adventures. My censors would disconnect me from the outside world if I got carried away with content. Maybe later, once I am released, I will post more on the wilder side of prison life, but just for the record, I am not into raping and brutalizing men, women or animals. Sorry, that’s just not me.

NON-VIOLENT: I avoid committing violent acts and would only do so to protect myself from physical harm. I used to view myself as a violent person living a non-violent lifestyle, until I shared my feeling in a twelve-step meeting. One of my sponsees said, “I don’t see you that way. I see you as a gentle, kind, and compassionate person who is capable of being violent.”

His words changed my self-image. He spoke the truth.

Even offenses against my delicate ego do not warrant violent reactions or responses to something as trivial as someone stealing or destroying a manuscript in the mail; however, I do understand and know what some of my peers would do to someone for doing similar things. That is why I wrote what I did, not because it was what I would do if given the opportunity. If I did anything violent in response to their action, the most it would be is a bitch slap to get their attention. Years ago I would have done that and more without hesitation before I decided to change my evil, wicked ways.

WORD POWER: As for what I wrote, okay, I confess, empathy and compassion escaped me. My words did not suggest sympathetic feelings or forgiveness for the villain. I used coarse statements and calloused words for literary and personal reasons. I hoped the perpetrator would read what I wrote and think about the severity of his or her actions.

One of my sisters agreed and commented that my blog may change the life of the person who stole the manuscript by making him more aware of the potential consequences of what he did.

I hope so. That would turn a negative into a positive. I like doing that; especially, if I can do it with words alone.

In “Manuscripts Worth Stealing,” my powerful words painted graphic images to deter the offensive behavior of mail theft; however, I did not indicate, suggest, or imply that I would commit those acts if given the opportunity to execute revenge against the one(s) who took my manuscript(s), providing what I suspect did happen. I am convinced by the facts that it did. I put it in the hands of the United States Postmaster General to determine what happened.

FIGHTING FOR MY PEERS: I did not want to file a complaint with the Postmaster General, but I had to think about the risks to my peers if someone lacking morals is left in charge of their mail. Those who put legal documents in the mail to fight for their freedom deserve protection.*

One of my friends mailed his post-conviction relief motion on Friday, March 18, 2016. Mailroom officials weighed his package and told him the amount of postage needed.

He paid over $9.00 to send it by certified mail. A family member checked on Monday and the post office said it could not be tracked by the tracking number. The receiving stamp provided by local post office was not legible.

On March 24, 2016, he went to the mailroom and discovered that it was returned for $0.84 postage. A staff member who works in the mailroom, had went to the local post office to enquire about his missing mail. The local post office had it laying around. It took six days to learn something that he should have known by Monday (03/21/16). The incident shows the level of incompetence of those who work in the mailing system that we deal with in prison. Sometimes the problem occurs at the institutional level; other times at the United States Postal Service.

RESENTMENT: The manuscript issue is not one for me to waste away my time dwelling on ways to retaliate for wrongs done to me by anyone. I am not a religious person, per se. I do believe in spirituality, which to me, is accepting that every human is flawed and that it is okay; not putting everyone in a box that requires them to think and believe the same. In the book I mention below, as I recall, it essentially said that spirituality is more open-ended, rather than compartmentalized (to be one of us, you must believe, think and act as we do). Spirituality allows us to accept each other in light of our differences.

With that established, when I am angered or struggling with an issue, I let go and turn the matter over to my higher power, whom I choose to call God.

I refuse to harbor resentment. I express my anger, take appropriate action or do not do anything, and then move on with my life. I always had to pay for my dirty deeds and I know everyone else will have to do the same. I am not God’s executioner and cannot control other people. The world’s best selling books says, “We reap what we sow,” and to “judge not lest we be judged by the same token.”

With my history, I need all the leniency I can get, so I try to avoid using a magnifying glass to examine the wrongs of others in hope of one not being used to examine me. I focus on my actions, not theirs, because it is what I do that creates my problems or rewards.

I pray to forgive. I do not have the power to forgive anyone. That is not my department. All I can do is let go and get out of the way to let nature take its course.

Spiritual principles work like math formulas. Add three plus four and you get seven; add four plus three and you still get seven. Subtract three from seven and you get four, or subtract four from seven and you get three. No matter how it is added or subtracted, we get the same result: It works out according to the principles and formulas applied. I receive what I put out.

POWERFUL STORY: In 2004 I read a powerful story in THE SPIRITUALITY OF IMPERFECTION by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum about resentment and forgiveness that went something like this:
Two former Nazi prisoners sat around talking.
One asks the other, “Do you ever think about the Nazis?”
“Yes, I think about them every day of my life,” he said.
“Then they still have you in prison.”

Let it go. Stop dwelling on past transgressions. The same book described a resentment as pain wrapped in anger.

For me to heal, I deal with the pain and get to the anger to let it go.

Do not be a prisoner of those who offend you or do you wrong. With forgiveness comes freedom from the past and the pain of resentment.

LOVE NOT WAR: Karma takes care of those who commit acts that deserve retribution. Personally, I prefer love not war. My fantasy is a fat butt girl with a pecan tan and a Mercedes Benz, to love, hug and hold, not someone to take out aggressive feelings on.

A lot of what I wrote in that sentence is just word play to paint a picture with words. I do not set requirements on finding love. Wealth, fame, economic status, ethnicity or a person’s skin tone does not concern me, if love thrives within our hearts. But I do not need a woman who needs abuse to make her feel wanted. I’m not into that either. I want to cuddle and love, not wrestle and fight.

HONEST JUDGE: In my last blog (“Agape Love”), where I wrote about love, I lost two followers after my publisher posted it. I reckon there are those who want to read hate or anger driven blogs instead of those about love. That is not the first time something negative happened after I did something positive.

In 1986, a friend of the family asked me to be a judge in a Beauty Pageant. I agreed. No one mentioned that I was there to rig the votes. One of the sponsors did point out who their relative was in the toddler division. I voted according to my version of truth about who was the best. My vote cost the relative’s toddler to come in second place.

I never got invited to judge again.

So much for moral rewards when displaying good work ethics and honesty. I’d do the same thing again. Fire me for doing the right thing? All right. That is okay with me. So much is life.

CONCLUSION: My hope is that my words written above will affect a positive change in the life of someone who reads them. The power of words is undeniable.
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* I wrote about a similar issue in “Fighting for Rights to Write,” posted on March 03, 2015, on my blogs at straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com (first published by PrisonEducation.com in February 2014). By the way, I won that battle and others where our right to write was concerned.

Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight From the Pen. Purchase his writings from your favorite book or eBook retailers, or from straightfromthepen.com or Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616. Look for UNKNOWN INNOCENCE within weeks. The release was delayed due to the stolen draft copy of the manuscript written about in “Manuscripts Worth Stealing.”

LIFE BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

By Wayne T. Dowdy

“He died.  He fell out on the yard with a heart attack and had turned blue by the time the medical department got to him,” a friend said about Frank B.

Yesterday, after I began writing this blog, I saw Frank B. in the library.  He let me read his medical reports, which showed he survived sudden cardiac death on New Year’s Eve of 2016.  Frank and I have been friends for over two decades and is someone I know to be honest and straightforward.  According to Frank, ten years ago a doctor said he’d be lucky to survive another year because he had one-hundred percent blockage in four arteries, and that it was a miracle his heart worked at all without those four arteries.

BEATING THE DEVIL:  The first time I saw him after he had survived the last heart attack, I patted him on the back and said, “You beat the devil one more time, my friend.”

He smiled and then said, “Yeah I did.”

After allowing me to read his medical report, he told about a bright light experience.   “I saw two doors, one was a glowing, bright white, and the other one a fiery red.”

That made a good story to support this blog topic.  He didn’t make it through either door.  He confessed to me the next day that he was joking and hadn’t seen anything.  “It was a scary thing, I’ll tell you,” he said.

His medical reports were legitimate.  He had died and been revived.  Oh, well, the two-door-story would have made a good story if true.  I liked the concept of Good & Evil, Hot & Cold, Heaven & Hell.  I do believe in life after death.  I had my own experience to assure me it is true.

ANGELS AND A CARD:  In the experience I wrote about in “A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess,”* I became convinced that life existed beyond the obvious–life as we know it in this World.   One part of the essay is “A Card From an Angel.”  The circumstances surrounding that card convinced me that our spirits live on once the body expires and stops its transportation service for the earthly existence.  But you need to read the essay to learn about the message the card contained that convinced me we live to fight another day on different battle grounds.

The last part of that sentence I added for literary reasons.  I am not aware of any fighting after our spirit exits the body.  No more jokes for this blog!

WRITING WITH PURPOSE:  In my prose, I write about personal experiences and express my views and feelings to open the doors of my life, in hope that my writings will impact the reader and somehow help them along this journey of life.  ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN contains meaningful experiences.  One essay is “The Search for Enlightenment.”  I chose an excerpt from that essay for the synopsis on the collection:  The part I used for the synopsis begins the quote below.

As a child I was suicidal.  I went from wanting to die to fighting to live.  In 1978 I almost met my Maker several times because of the lifestyle I lived.  One incident that I am fortunate to have survived, related to my addiction to mind-altering substances and my attempts to achieve the ultimate high, without crossing the Line of No Return, not really caring if I died during the process.  The excerpt comes from an experience where I came close to death.  If I had pushed the syringe’s plunger a fraction of an inch more to get a few more milligrams of pharmaceutical cocaine hydrochloride, it would have busted my heart.  God preserved my life in that and many other experiences.  Today I live without using drugs or alcohol and offer to help others do the same; it gives my life meaning.

FIGHTING TO SURVIVE:  The selected excerpt follows an event I wrote about, where I played chemist by mixing three drugs in search of the elusive tranquility-and-euphoria-mix to make everything feel right.  After doing too much of the mixture, I injected liquid Demerol to keep from dying.

the lonely Spirit.indd

“My Salvation came in the form of a concept:  fighting poison with poison; the same as using Cobra or Rattlesnake venom to save someone bitten by one of the vipers.  I was the viper-bitten by itself.”

It’s amazing how near fatal experiences can give one a desire to live when such a desire did not exist before the experience.  When living, I used to lose interest in life and then go on sprees capable of causing death.  When faced with death I fought to live:  a paradox of my existence.  I lived hard but have yet to die young.  Perhaps, I’m running out of time for that one.  Since I am now in my mid-fifties, maybe I’ve already outran that cliche (“Live Hard, Die Young”).  If Enlightenment has come along the way, perhaps I missed it, or else it came in secret.  I have had those moments of clarity during meditation where I suddenly felt a part of everything; experienced a sense of “Oneness,” in tune with the whole Universe and beyond, suddenly aware of my existence and the realization that it didn’t matter to the world if I lived or died, but Enlightenment, I don’t know.

Coincidently, I felt important by knowing I was “Here” for a reason, even though I did not know what that reason was and still don’t!  At that moment, it didn’t matter if I lived or died because I knew I would be okay either way, and yet, I did not want to die.  All I wanted was “To Be”; To be in Harmony with all living things, at peace with my environment; to be at peace with the “Man in the Mirror,” and then I was okay being nobody, somebody special, or just another body.  Life become joy.  I became alive!  Alive, content being Here, although still insignificant to the world, my life no more meaningful than a Jaguar roaming the jungle, or a Tarpon chasing its prey through the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or the fish about to be the Tarpon’s meal, I was okay.  Nothing else mattered; the material value of life had disappeared.  I had entered the spiritual realm of existence.  Freed from EGO, physical properties were meaningless.  With no material or emotional attachments anchoring my spirit, all was well, no resentment or self-pity to poison me; accepting each element of existence equal:  each  valuable, yet, equally insignificant.  I was OK.  Enlightened, though?  Don’t think so.

Now I wonder about Karma. …..”

MORE ON THE SEARCH FOR ENLIGHTENMENT:  I conclude the essay with this:

“Whatever is bestowed upon me, I am okay with however this thing called life ends or begins with the next journey.  Each day is a gift, because I know there is no physiological explanation for my existence.  When the viper struck with its massive shots of venom, I know I should have died, many times over.  For over twenty-five years I acted insane by doing such things, but I am still here.  I am here because I am supposed to be.  When I accept everything as the way it’s supposed to be, or as it was supposed to have been, then I am blessed with serenity.  Life is good today.

Suicide is not an option or the solution.  I am convinced that I can’t go until it’s my time, anyway, so why try to rush the process?  I get high on life these days without drugs or alcohol.  I’m okay without them.  That was then, this is now.”

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If you like what you read above, read the rest of the story in “The Search for Enlightenment,” as part of the collection in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN, Midnight Express Books ($8.95).  Available from your favorite bookstore, eStore, or from StraightFromthePen.com.  EBook available as Reader Sets Price from Smashwords.com, $4.95 from other eBook retailers.  “The Search for Enlightenment” may be purchased as an individual essay for $0.99 in eBook format only.

*****

I chose the above topic in memory of my Mother who passed onto the next phase of existence on January 16, 2016.  Her spirit lives forever.  She loved to fish before dementia took control of her life.  She still remembered fishing until electroconvulsive therapy damaged her memory and the ability to speak without garbled words.  I’ve written an essay to share with the world about the process I feel accelerated her deterioration:  “Euthanized With Love.”  I plan to submit the essay for publication to various International magazines to help prevent the same thing from happening to another person’s loved one.  If no magazine accepts the essay for publication, I will self-publish it because the information it contains will benefit those dealing with end of life choices.

Perhaps Mother is swimming with tarpons and porpoises, splashing water to create a rainbow of colors in the Sun as she moves on to where spirits go.  Whether it’s called Heaven, or not called anything at all, wherever her spirit roams, I hope she finds comfort and peace over the horizon.  Maybe she rides atop of Tornados she feared in her humanly form.

* ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN contains “A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess”; read the essay for free in eBook format from Smashwords.com and other eBook retailers.  “The Lonely Spirit,” included in the collection and available as an individual eBook, is the only short story that I wrote along similar lines about life beyond the ordinary, based upon my experience in “A Prison and a Poem for a Princess.”

DESPICABLE CHARACTERS by Wayne T. Dowdy

FRONT COVER.jpgUNKNOWN INNOCENCE contains a variety of characters with various traits and characteristics. When I wrote UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, now at the core of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, I needed to create a character everyone would hate so that when Karma delivered its blow, the reader would rejoice or feel he got what he deserved. I thought of two degenerate, despicable, sick and evil serial killers, executed for their repulsive crimes: Ted Bundy, a necrophiliac (performed sex on deceased victims); and John Wayne Gacey, who raped, tortured, and murdered children before burying them under his house.

What constitutes a despicable character varies from person-to-person, of course. Some despise drug dealers, others a drug addict or alcoholic, a skid row bum begging for change to buy a fifth of wine or bag of dope to feed the gorilla robbing him or her of life; people who harm animals, thieves, sex offenders, and other criminals who commit horrendous crimes. I concluded that the most likely despised are those who harm children and the elderly. Most all societies despise anyone who physically or sexually abuse children and the elderly. To fill the bill, I created Jake Stephens, based on acts similar to those performed by Bundy and Gacey.

The following is an excerpt from UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, chapter 25 of 39, titled JAKE.* Thousands of you may have read the scene as part of UNDER PRESSURE, so you will know I censored the beginning where Jake committed a horrendous crime, and then helped his brother search where he knew she would not be found by search parties. I will begin with my pick for the most repulsive scene that shows a real despicable character. If you are not one who knows what happened before this part, you must read the book for the rest of the story.**

“He had her stashed in the bushes three counties away. At night he’d go back to her until the stench of rotting flesh kept him from having her again. Then he buried her in a shallow grave and went on to find four more victims during the next five-months, before law enforcement officials sent him to prison on an unrelated charge.

*

He sat in his truck and watched an older lady get out of a van to let her terrier go for a walk on a nature trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near one of the Civil War battle grounds. For the last half hour, he had sat smoking cigarettes and nursing a beer while he waited for someone to pull into the roadside park.

“Here comes one,” he mumbled, when he saw her slow to pull off the main road.

After she had stopped and sat for a moment, she glanced his way. He averted his gaze to look at the dashboard. She opened the door and climbed out with the small terrier in her arms.

Nice legs. I hope she doesn’t get spooked. Clothes look expensive. New van. Maybe she’s got some diamonds or gold. I might have some fun with her, even though she is older than I like. Come on granny. There you go. Go on down that trail.

He checked for traffic on the winding road leading to the site. Satisfied no one else was coming, he opened the door, took a deep breath of mountain air, and then followed her into the woods.

Ruff … Ruff, ruff, ruff.

“Shh! Fee Fee. That nice man’s not going to bother us.”

He saw her watching him coming down the trail, his hands in his pockets. “Hey, how you doing, young lady?” he said. He wanted to get closer to make his move. The dog continued to bark.

“Shh! Fee Fee, I told you he was nice,” she said, and then brushed away a wisp of gray hair from her aged face. Her lips were upturned, her face a rosy read; flattered by his compliment. Fee Fee kept barking. “I’m doing well,” she said. “Just trying to stretch my legs and let my baby relieve himself.” She bent down toward Fee Fee. “Hush, now. Momma’s fine,” Then she turned toward Jake, who was ten feet away. “This is my personal protector,” she said, and then giggled.

“Ha, Ha, Ha,” he said. I’ve got this bitch now, he thought. That dog’s getting on my nerves. I can’t wait to break its little neck. “Those are nice to have around. I have a Yorkshire,” he lied. He removed his hands from his pockets.

“Are you from around here?” she asked, then stepped farther away from him.

Fee Fee growled.

He kicked some leaves; his face slick with sweat, adrenaline flooding his veins. “No, I’m from somewhere else.” That dog is going to get more than he wants. “Where you from?” He shifted his eyes, checked the parking area, reached into his back pocket as he moved closer to her.

“Florida. I came to see this National Park.” She turned away and slid her left thumb under the front of her brassiere strap.

He yanked a hawk-bill knife from his back pocket. “Give me all your money and jewelry, old lady, and there won’t be any trouble. I’ll slice you and that mutt into pieces if you don’t.”

She pressed a micro switch in the lining of her bra to activate the alarm, and then slid a small pistol from under her left breast. Two federal agents burst from the back of the van, guns drawn. Both agents dashed down the embankment with their pistols aimed and ready. The larger of the two shouted, “Drop the weapon. Get on the ground!”

When she heard her backup, Agent Loraina spun around and dropped to a crouch, aimed the gun at his puny chest. “Drop the weapon or I’ll shoot!”

He dropped the knife. “What the fuck is going on?” he said. Then he lay in the leaves; shook his scraggly hair from his face.

“A sting operation,” she said. “We’ve been after you for months for a string of robberies on a federal reservation.”

Fee Fee pranced around him, barking.

“Good job, Loraina,” the case agent said. “You, too, Fee Fee.” He looked at him on the ground and laughed. Then he swatted at a mosquito and said, “Put the cuffs on him and let’s get out of this mosquito den.”

Four months later, he pled guilty to the armed robberies on a federal reservation.

Justice for Marsha and the other little girls, delayed. A year later, the federal marshals escorted him to the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.” [That concludes the excerpt.]

To create a good character, I made Jake display positive characteristics for the environment in which he lived, as I believe all of us have good and bad traits. Some of his good characteristics in the prison setting may not be viewed as good by some in the free society, but a writer must make their characters fit the plot to make the story believable; especially, since most fiction contains a lot of truth. I wrote Jake’s conclusion in “Karma.” He pays a high-price for his evil, wicked ways. Karma deals him a losing hand. All of my characters possess real traits that make them real, not incredible. I enjoy reading what I can believe. I write the same way. I hope you enjoy my writings and will continue to buy more.

Please send any comments to waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com. Thank you.

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* UNKNOWN INNOCENCE consumed UNDER PRESSURE to create an exciting, more lengthy novel, full of intrigue and suspense. Read “The Making of a Masterpiece: UNKNOWN INNOCENCE” for more details (http://waynedowdy.weebly.com/) and (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/). I chose not to use my pseudonym for UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.

** The original UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D. is available from Amazon.com or your favorite bookstore for $6.50 (USD). Both personal magazines (UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION, and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN) are now available for $8.95 each (USD). EBooks available as Reader Sets Price from Smashwords.com, $4.95 elsewhere (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy). All books may be purchased through the website at StraightFromthePen.com (http://www.straightfromthepen.com). Expect UNKNOWN INNOCENCE before March of 2016.