Richard Small Author

Official Website — "Tweaking History"

  • Confederate Star Trilogy

    An alternative historical saga of the American Civil War, where the alteration of a single event changes history forever!
  • Now available!

    Confederate Star Rises - Click book cover to order

  • Upcoming Books in the Trilogy

    Confederate Star Strengthens - 2013

  • Confederate Star Shines - 2014

Source of No Responsibility

Posted by richardsmallauthor on November 18, 2012

Source of No Responsibility

Since it is now early on Sunday morning, I better hustle to get in the blog I promised last week.

So, compared to the softball blog last week, Musings on the 2012 Election, this one will be a little more controversial. So lets establish some ground rules before getting into the meat of the subject:

  1. Is this my own personal viewpoint? Yes, it is. But we should look at it as simply data or information for you, the reader, to assimilate and consider.
  2. In no way am I trying to force my personal viewpoint onto you. What is true for you is true. My reality may be different than yours, and that is OK with me.
  3. Truth is discoverable within a scale; not arbitrarily from fixed ideas or absolutes, like “Thou shalt (not) …”.

With these rules established, I should be at liberty to express freely my viewpoints on the subject of responsibility. You can look at responsibility as a scale. By scale I mean something that is measurable. So, for example, if we look at the scale, we can envision total responsibility for one’s condition in life at the top of the scale (ex. I am totally responsibility for my health), and no responsibility at the bottom of the scale (ex. someone or something else is responsible for my bad luck, poverty, bad health, etc.). Naturally, the top of the scale is “good”, and the bottom is “bad”.

Therefore, if we can all agree upon the concept of the responsibility scale, then we have a basis from which we can look at some data related to responsibility and make a judgement about where it fits on the scale. Take the concept of socialism, for example. Where would it fit on the responsibility scale? Is it higher in the band of taking personal responsibility or is it more in the band of no responsibility? Based upon your own experiences in life, you can make your own decision about that.

It seems that based upon the most recent election, the country is moving more towards socialism. Is that higher or lower on the responsibility scale?

With the setup in place, we can now move into the more controversial subject matter for this blog. What is the source of the country’s bent towards a more no responsibility viewpoint on life? If we go by our responsibility scale, this is not a good societal trend. Certainly, the previous generation, the World War II generation, America’s finest generation, did not, and would not accept socialism. They were much more of a “can do” generation than the next generation, of which I am a member. It was, after all, the generation that subdued the madman Hitler; that sent a man to the moon;

Why is that?

I will now tell a story about myself. I have experienced this first hand, so it is real and true for me. I am recovering from a life-threatening disease. During the course of this struggle, I have gone down and up the responsibility scale. The basic basic of all living things is SURVIVAL! When you are threatened with the end of your life, your SURVIVAL! instinct kicks in big time. There are two types of SURVIVAL! instincts. The first instinct is physical SURVIVAL!, which involves employing medical technology to take whatever action is necessary to keep the body alive. Then there is spiritual SURVIVAL!, which kicks in when the mind is threatened. Think about this concept. When the body is threatened, the mind is still active and can figure out how to SURVIVE. Personal responsible is still in place. However, when the mind is in a drug haze, it is threatened. So you reach out anywhere for help. This is a lessening of personal responsibility. Instead of looking to yourself to SURVIVE, you look to other people or things. So for example, national healthcare shifts responsibility from the individual to the State. It’s a no responsibility condition.

It should be fairly obvious by now that based upon my own personal experience, that I am a conservative guy. Based upon your own life experiences you may have drawn a different conclusion. But wherever you stand in the political sprectrum, I respect your own conclusion. You have a different set of life experiences than me. So naturally, your own conclusions will differ from mine.

What is true for you is true. And the highest form of ethics and integrity is to be true to yourself. This is why it’s important to adopt what I will call the “learning” attitude towards life. Always being open to new concepts and ideas (of which this article is likely an example), take it in and store it away and then either accept and reject it. If you operate in a rigid or absolute manner, then you are not open to new ideas and concepts. This is not the “learning” attitude, but you operate instead within the “fixed idea” realm of living. Gets you into a lot of trouble in life. My advice to you is to adopt the “learning” attitude towards life; what I am really saying is to adopt the attitude of:

Be willing to look at and consider another’s viewpoint

This doesn’t mean that you robotically accept another’s opinion. Instead, you take it in and store it away as data and consider it. Based upon your own life experiences, you could find a snippet (or more) that matches your own conclusions and then adopt it as true for you.

Just think how different government would be if executive, congressional and senatorial members of government would adopt that attitude. Instead, what do we see? Democrats and Republicans alike digging in their heels, refusing to look at the other’s viewpoint, and thereby work out a compromise so that the country can begin to move forward once again.

OK, so I have been beating around the bush instead of keeping on topic. So I promise now to address the subject of this article. That is, what is the source of no responsibility? When I was wheeled into the operating room, I was naturally pumped full of some anesthesia, which was followed by morphine, anti-seizure, anti-inflammatory and God knows what other drugs were pumped into my body. My attitude changed while trying to sift through the drug haze I found myself in. You see? My mind was now threatened, and I therefore became quite liberal in my thinking, reaching out for any help others could provide me in order to SURVIVE. Now, as the drugs have worn off, I am back to where I was before this started. I’m my old conservative self again.

Based upon this data, I drew the following conclusion. Is it not the wide-spread use of drugs by my generation that is the culprit that has transformed us away from the ideals of my parents and America’s finest generation, the World War II generation? That’s the conclusion I drew, and adopted as true for me.

Based upon your own life experience, what would be your conclusion?

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Musings on Election 2012

Posted by richardsmallauthor on November 7, 2012

The day after the election. It is a long, drawn out process, and I am glad that it is finally over. The country has decided its future direction. But has it? The results have placed our society into two opposing camps. One foot is standing in the more socialistic route evidenced by Obama’s victory. The other foot is planted in a more conservative direction. The result is that little change occurred in the makeup of the federal legislature. Which means continued infighting and blockage of any progress for the nation. So what did the election change?

Essentially nothing.

Look for four more years of the same results as the previous four years. I have to admit. I am a conservative guy. So I am obviously disappointed with the results of the presidential election. It seems that the citizenry voted on concepts instead of actual results, because in my viewpoint Obama’s stats over the last four years are abysmal. Higher unemployment, outsourcing, runaway debt and continued dependence on foreign energy when America has all it needs if only we had the will to develop it. And that’s just a short list. Is it great that one hundred fifty years after the Civil War that an African-American is president? Yes! It proves that diversity works. But personally, I disagree with Mr. Obama’s agenda.

The next hurdle is a woman president. Not a token woman, mind you. But a highly qualified and able woman. And I believe there are plenty out there that fit the bill.

Just to get something out of the way. I am currently battling a serious, life threatening disease. It’s funny when you go through such an experience. It certainly does change your viewpoints of life. I now understand completely when the Civil War veterans talk about “seeing the elephant”, and the phrase “hardened veterans”. These are the ones who fought, looked death in the eye and survived the battle.

For me, there is much more passion for life and working more diligently towards accomplishing your goals and purposes. It actually causes you to create bigger goals than you had before, which is a good thing. What’s interesting is that your friends and loved ones want things to be just the way they were before. But for me, that is the last thing I want. I want to grow as an individual and achieve some big goals and purposes. So there is a little dance going on between the expectations of everyone else and the expectations I am setting for  myself.

OK, back on topic. Here is a concept for you to consider. Truth is not to be found in absolutes, in other words, the “Thou shall (not) …”. Rather truth can be discovered in scales. What do I mean by scale? A scale is measurable. It contains a top and a bottom. For example, a person’s feelings can be blissful (top) or apathetic (bottom). You can take any subject matter and develop a scale for it.

So let’s take a subject called personal responsibility. At the top of the scale you find an individual taking personal responsibility for his/her condition in life. At the bottom would be one taking no responsibility. So, again, just my personal viewpoint. Where would socialism fit on this scale, where the state assumes responsibility for the citizenry?

Obamacare is a good example of the state mandating healthcare for the citizenry.

I think that accepting responsibility for your own condition is high on the scale. In fact, I am taking personal responsibility for my health. As a result, I will beat this disease. However, in a socialistic society where the state assumes responsibility for the well-being of the populace, we are collectively as a society in a no responsibility condition. So what do we see? The poor blame the rich for their condition, or the current administration blames the previous one for the condition of the country. You see what I mean? Blame, shame, regret. These are not high conditions on any scale.

I hope you will read and consider the information here. But it is up to you to decide what is true for you, and then live your life being true to yourself. This is the highest form of personal ethics and integrity.

Thanks for reading. It is very therapeutic for me to communicate my heart to you.


Richard Small

NEXT WEEK: Source of no responsibility

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Joe Paterno – A Single Bad Decision Taints a Lifetime of Success

Posted by richardsmallauthor on July 14, 2012

Joe Paterno – A Single Bad Decision Taints a Lifetime of Success

With the release of The Freeh Report about the ongoing child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, the final nail was hammered in the coffin of the reputation of college football’s winningest and highly respected coach, Joe Paterno. I don’t know how you feel about this, but as a lifelong follower of college football, it was truly a sad day for me. Perhaps disheartening would be a better word to describe the way I feel.

I remember when news of the scandal first broke out. I have a daughter who lives in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. Upon hearing the news, I immediately called her on the phone. We were both outraged at the unfair, negative treatment being heaped upon the shoulders of the great Joe Paterno. But that was then … a purely emotional reaction to an unthinkable possibility. What a difference a year makes! Now, with Paterno’s complicity in the Penn State coverup beyond doubt, his reputation will be forever tarnished. Make no mistake about this. Time cannot heal this one. Paterno’s silence while victim after victim after victim continued to be sexually assaulted within the facilities of the university will always live on in infamy, generation after generation, for as long as the memory of one Joe Paterno persists down through history.

Upon reflection, I recalled a saying from an individual that I highly respect and admire. What did he say? Only this:

“Your integrity is more important than your life.”

Quite a powerful concept when you think about it! The dictionary defines integrity thusly:

Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty

When I read that definition, I hone in on a single word — honesty. It seems, then, that acting on your own personal integrity is nothing more than simply being true to yourself.

I believe that in every life situations arise that test or challenge our own personal integrity. The enticement to compromise may be enormous. Be it wealth, power, or prestige, the lure to succumb to the temptation may be strong, too strong to resist. Have you been there before? You are standing at a crossroads in your life. To the right is the road less travelled — the narrow and difficult path called Integrity. On the left is another road — the wide, easy, and well-travelled boulevard called Corruption.

An interesting mental mechanism occurs when one is faced with this state of affairs. It certainly is true within my mind, and I suspect it is common amongst us humans. Why it is common is a deeper discussion, getting to the root of humanity itself, and outside the scope of this article.

But let’s take a look at this process. Doesn’t it work this way?

  1. Your first, immediate thought is to turn to the right. And why not? It’s the right thing to do, so why not just do what’s right.
  2. Next your mind analyzes the cost of doing the right thing. And make no mistake, there is almost always a cost associated with staying true to your own integrity.
  3. Now we have reached the make-break point. Those whose integrity is in a high state will stop right there, take a right turn, and continue down the road of life. However, if integrity is in a lower state, the mental progression continues.
  4. Having some reservations about the cost of integrity, we now take a look at the road to the left.
  5. The mind begins to waver. Justification sets in. The road is wide, the majority of society is on it (i.e. “everybody is doing it”); the financial rewards are too great to pass up; I’m just trying to support my family. The list of explanations goes on and on. I don’t know about your mind. But it seems like there exists an endless supply of justifications from which to draw.
  6. At this point, if a good portion of integrity exists, you still have a chance at redemption. You will recognize justification for what it is — an excuse, however plausible, to sacrifice your own personal integrity to the gods of corruption and dishonesty — and happily make that turn to the right.
  7. However, if integrity is lacking, then you will go ahead and take a stroll to the left, calculating that whatever justification you have chosen legitimizes your decision.

The more one betrays his own integrity, the weaker his integrity becomes. A lifetime of compromise can weaken one’s integrity to the point that his mind only deals in justifications. Integrity is dead; corruption reigns supreme.

Does this condition sound very much like the state of today’s federal government in Washington?

Contrast Joe Paterno’s rather sad state with another gentleman, who confronted with a HUGE decision, stood at the crossroads of Integrity and Corruption and chose the lesser-travelled road of Integrity. What was the result of his decision? He turned his back on his life-long service to his country when it asked him to compromise. A price was put on his head. He lost virtually everything materially. His estate was taken from him. He ultimately suffered the ignominy of defeat at the hands of his enemies. His life was cut short due to the harsh life he was forced to endure. Yet after 150 years and several generations, the reverence and respect for this man remains strong and continues to grow stronger still.

Oh, the enticements to sacrifice his personal integrity were great, very great indeed! As supreme commander of the United States army, wealth, high-standing, and perhaps the Presidency awaited him. He struggled long and hard at the supreme crossroads of his life. But true to the high character that was an integral part of his being, he made the hard decision to remain true to himself, taking that rough road to the right.

Have you guessed who I am talking about? I suspect you have, because though defeated in his cause, his standing in history, certainly American history, is as high as any citizen — whether North, South, East, West, Conservative, or Liberal — that has called the United States his/her home.

Of course, the man I am talking about is General Robert E. Lee.

So what a contrast we see here. On the left side stands Joe Paterno, who by sacrificing his integrity will live on in history dishonored. On the right, astride his horse Traveller, sits General Robert E. Lee, looking out over the charred battlefield after yet another improbable victory over a much larger and better equipped foe. He is forever imbedded in our minds as a man of personal integrity, who stayed true to himself despite the risks involved and sacrifices endured, understanding better than any of us do, that:

“Your integrity is more important than your life.”

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Indie Book Quality – A Call to Action

Posted by richardsmallauthor on July 4, 2012

Indie Book Quality – A Call to Action

I just finished reading a couple of alternate history books by the same author, Adam Yoshida, called “The Blast of War” and “A Land War in Asia”. The second is a continuation of the first, the theme of the story being a war in the near future between the United States and China.

I don’t know how you react to a poorly edited and badly written book. I almost always refuse to continue reading it. I must say that in the case of these two books, the story was so entertaining to me that I slogged my way through them anyway.

Alas, after finishing the second book I was disappointed to find out that the complete story remains untold. There is yet a third book being written.

I hate it when that happens!

This book was filled with errors. You could not read a single page (and I am talking about a Kindle page) without finding misspellings, typos, grammatical errors, and just plain bad writing. For example, the word eachother is repeatedly written over and over. This could not be accidental, and any spellchecker would immediately flag it as misspelled — unless one would turn off the spellcheck software. I will give the author credit for being consistent. Not once does he write “each other.” Just as a personal sanity check I looked it up in the dictionary, and sure enough there is no such word as eachother. Funny thing is that when I brought up the author’s website, I saw the same thing there — eachother. Mr. Yoshida is consistent, but consistently wrong.

But my favorite error in the book is the phrase, “As November rolled into October”. Huh? Last time I checked the calendar, September precedes October.

Now the purpose of this article is not to promote or review this book. Being an alternate history aficionado and writer, I was interested enough in the concept of the two books to work my through them. But I would not recommend them to anyone. And I don’t mean this to be a personal attack on this particular writer. I have seen this far too frequently for my liking in other independent authors’ works.

So why am I writing this posting? Simply this; where has all the quality gone? As a self-published independent writer, I do take some offense to the slip-shod way in which Mr. Yoshida put his books together, because I believe it creates a black eye to the independent publishing business I am engaged in.

Amazon is doing a good job, I believe, in promoting the Indie author. But I can imagine a reader, finally tempted to try an Indie book, reading a page or two of a book containing errors, misspellings, and the like, and then deciding that the book, and by implication, Indie authorship is bogus. There goes yet another potential reader back to traditionally-published books, where he/she will feel assured that the book will have been produced with a high standard of quality.

For me as an independent writer, my goal is to produce valuable final written products that are of the highest quality, meeting and/or exceeding the quality of the mainstream publishing industry. This means little or no errors in the manuscript. I must have re-read my book, Confederate Star Rises, at least five times, maybe more. Frankly, I lost count. Each time I read the story, I would detect too many issues for my liking. Because of that I would read the novel yet again. I continued this process until the reading enticed but a few errors to the surface. Then I felt comfortable from a quality viewpoint to publish the book.

But wait. I still was not done. Once published, I bought a copy for myself. And in reading the book yet again, I found more defects in the text. So I corrected those errors and republished the book.

I like to think that I can produce a “zero-defect” book. Is that realistic? Probably not, but it is an objective worth striving towards. Certainly, with that kind of attitude, the finished product should contain a high level of quality.

The concept of high quality is not just limited to the writing itself. Does it look professional on Kindle/paper? Are the paragraphs indented? Is it well-organized? Can you navigate between chapters correctly? And what about the book cover? Is it attractive and professional-looking?

In short, does the finished valuable final product have the look and feel of a high-quality traditionally-published book?

Frankly, Mr. Yoshida’s books make me think of a child masquerading as an artist, scribbling a “Mona Lisa” on canvass. Too bad, because for readers interested in alternate history, it is a pleasant read.

Can something be done about this? It would be nice to think that Indie writers could become convinced and motivated to produce high-quality works of written art. And I believe that most do. But it’s the minority that feels it’s OK to just sling “any ol’ thing” out there. I think it hurts our burgeoning industry, threatening to impede its growth and hurt our book sales.

Quality standards for Indie-produced books can be objectively measured. Should there be an organization within the Independent Author community that can, by metrics, measure the quality of a work? Put their seal of approval on a book? Or give it a quality rating?

What are your thoughts?

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OBAMACARE – Freedom Loses Once Again

Posted by richardsmallauthor on June 30, 2012

OBAMACARE – Freedom Loses Once Again

Making the headlines this week was the Supreme Court’s affirmation that the so-called OBAMACARE legislation is constitutional, and is now the law of the land, at least for now. But I suspect we haven’t heard the last of it.

I don’t know how you feel about this controversial subject, but I just felt another chink in my armor of freedom fall off. From the long viewpoint of this writer’s life, I have watched our individual rights as guaranteed under the Constitution slowly and steadily eroding away. But doesn’t it seem that ever since 911 the elimination of our constitutionally-guaranteed liberties is accelerating at an ever-increasing pace?

Witness the USDA and genetically engineered foods. It’s something I want to know about, because I don’t want it. I only want to eat naturally grown foods. It’s a basic right, to be able to eat good, healthy foods, don’t you think? But if the USDA has its way (really the genetic food lobbyists and big corporations who are applying heavy pressure – translated: money in campaign funds) this important piece of data will not have to be placed on the food packaging label.

Next in line on my personal hit list is the FDA, where natural, alternative health practices are being actively suppressed. And why not? After all, the government agency is controlled by the drug companies whose profits are predicated on creating a world on drugs; one of the more corrupt organizations on this planet. But just think about it. If people were healthy, pharmaceutical, so-called health insurance, hospital and the entire medical industry would be out of business. What’s really bankrupting the United States? Is it not the MASSIVE transfer of money from our pockets into the medical industry’s pockets the source of it all? Imagine how much better off society would be if the citizenry was actually healthy? How much more productive would we be? How much more capital would be available for reinvestment in the economy? OBAMACARE legitimizes the entire corrupt medical system. I for one eschew the established medical industry, employing alternative health practices instead. Of course, I must pay for this out of my own pocket, because it falls outside the established health (sick?) system. And then I get to pay for the established system anyway.

But I shouldn’t complain too much, because I am healthy and almost never get sick.

Don’t click this link if you cannot face some serious suppression.

Now, when I see the lines at airport security, where personnel from another one of those unelected federal agencies peer (leer?) at our naked bodies, whose approval is required in order for us to travel by airplane, it reminds me of a scene from a World War II movie, where a long column of suppressed and downtrodden Jews shuffled off into the oblivion of the Nazi gas chambers.

One thing is certain; the federal government now knows that Americans are as good at shuffling as anyone.

Finally, though old news it’s worth recanting that the government now routinely monitors social networks. You better watch what you say and do on the internet. Big brother is watching. And it’s not really about criminal activity. It’s about finding those who disagree with the establishment.

All the tools are now in place to lock us down under total suppression from the federal government, a government born to protect the liberty and freedom of its citizens, but has transformed itself into an institution where every aspect of our lives is dictated and controlled by an all-powerful, repressive State.

Sure, we are still a democracy and continue to have periodic elections that send our duly-elected representatives to the imperial seat of power at Washington so that our voice will be heard and acted upon. But does it really matter? Republican, Democrat. It’s all the same. Once they get to Washington, the lobbyists and special interest groups take over and occupy most of the attention of our elected officials.

How did this all change? What happened between the bright hope for mankind born in 1776 and the current state of affairs in 2012, where it seems like the once-brilliant fire of freedom that lit the entire world has degenerated into a dim flicker that threatens to be blown out completely?

When I look back in time, I can almost hear something click in the universe around the time of the 1860’s. Something indeed changed as a result of the outcome of the American Civil War. What had begun as the United States of America was transformed into the United States of America. It’s an important distinction. The former was a collection of sovereign States agreeing to create a federal government whose mission it was to represent its common economic, security, and diplomatic interests to the outside world. The latter arrangement is quite different, consisting not of sovereign states but geographic districts within the all-powerful central government.  In effect this tectonic shift in the political landscape eliminated the one true threat of State secession that would prevent the federal government from overstepping its bounds, as documented in the words of the original Constitution, or compact between States.

So let’s take a look at the dramatic history-altering War Between the States. It’s another repeating act in the mostly sad drama of human history, where the more powerful wash over and consume the weaker. And the list of acts down through history where the strong suppress the weak is a very long one. In the case of this conflict, you could simplify it down to its basic element:

The technologically and numerically superior North buries its weaker Southern opponent.

History, written of course by the victors, has recorded the source of the war as slavery. And it is true that slavery gave the North the high moral ground in the conflict. But that’s where the confusion sets in. The concrete issue was slavery. But the underlying concept was the South fighting for its constitutional right of State sovereignty, in other words, the federal government did not have the right to interfere with the internal affairs of the States comprising the confederation. On the Northern side, it was fighting for the concept that the Union was supreme and needed preservation, in other words, the federal government was to be the ultimate political power of the land.

Concepts are senior items to actual things. Concepts are what drive us all. Concepts are what caused over 600,000 citizens to die in the bloody conflict. Witness the New York riots in the summer of 1863. The North was not fighting for the African-American. They fought for the concept they believed in.

Which brings me to my alternate history novel I have recently published, called Confederate Star Rises. I have often been asked where the idea for the book originated. It’s an interesting question, and has elicited much consideration on my part. And I think I know the answer to that question.

When I am alone and things are quiet and still, I feel a rumbling inside. From some distant past – long before this lifetime – the ground is shaking from the simultaneous blast of a hundred cannon. I can hear the dissonant cadence of thousands of soldier’s boots double-quickening it to the front line just up ahead, their bayonets glistening in the hot summer sun. I can smell the sweat and fear as they form up in line of battle. I can sense a reaffirmation welling up from deep within their hearts about why they are fighting. It’s a struggle for liberty and freedom – protecting their family and home from a tyranny that at the point of a bayonet would take that away from them. The order is given. I hear the shrill battle cry from thousands of voices as they take the fight to their oppressor. I can feel my teeth ripping open the cartridge bag, leaving the acrid, bitter taste of gunpowder in my parched and dry mouth while I expertly load my rifle while on the run. I feel the blood in my veins pumping frantically and my heart pounding violently with a combination of terror and battle lust. I am out of breath but press on. My watering eyes are stinging painfully from the exhaust of tens of thousands of spent rifles. The thick, blue-grey smoky fog occludes my view up ahead. But I know that somewhere in the haze stands the enemy, shooting at me as I return the volley in kind. I hear the shouts, cursing, screams of agony from both friend and foe, all mingled together in a chaotic killing frenzy, where the cause so noble going into the fight is temporarily replaced with the basic instinct to survive.

When it is my turn to pay the ultimate price, those last, haunting thoughts before floating away into the afterlife continue to ring loudly in my ear. “Did I not do my duty? Was it worth the cost? Will freedom’s bell continue to ring loudly as a result of my sacrifice?”

And when I am really still, it’s not just my voice that I hear. It’s a shout heard from hundreds of thousands of souls, pleading in a mystical but real way to not be discouraged and give up, but continue the fight for liberty, justice and freedom for a sadly defective planet that has gone mad.

Sure, it’s only a story; an alternative historical fiction tale. But it gives me hope and makes me want to keep fighting for freedom. I hope we are all done with prejudice, having replaced that with respect and tolerance of others, regardless of race, creed or gender, with equal opportunity for all according to his or her abilities.

But that’s not what the book is about. March in General “Stonewall” Jackson’s famous foot cavalry. Ride with Colonel Chambliss across the farmlands of Pennsylvania. Experience the fight for freedom first hand.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

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A First Time for Everything

Posted by richardsmallauthor on May 24, 2012

This being the first post on my website, I struggled long and hard about what I should actually write about. My purpose is simple and straightforward. That is, it is to announce to the world … well, the internet realm at least … that I have published my first novel!

So finally it dawned on me that my first post announcing my first novel would be about:


I imagine that if one were to make inquiries, he would discover many different viewpoints and interpretations about the meaning of this saying. But for me the five simple words contained in this age-old adage act as a soothing salve for my soul, providing me with a strong dose of positive encouragement in a cynical world that bombards us on a daily basis with more than its fair share of negativity. Like a good friend that sticks with you through thick and thin, this motto accompanies me wherever I go as I walk down the road of life. And it has once again proven itself as a  faithful companion throughout the process — no adventure — of creating what I believe is a great story for anyone who reads it.

I don’t know about you, but I suspect that we humans all share, in smaller or greater measure, the same thought mechanisms and feelings that I experience. Here’s how the mind works. A new creative idea enters your universe. Incredibly positive thoughts instantly inundate your mind as it calculates the application of your inspirition. How cool would that be, you think! How much better and happier my life would be! How I could help others! How much better the world would be! You get the idea.

All is now well, right? You simply get out of your chair and with sword in hand, go out there and slay the dragon. Would that it could be that simple. But that’s not really the way it works. Isn’t it rather this way? Immediately … and I mean in a heartbeat, a nano-second … right behind all that positive energy comes a flood of negativity that wants to drown out that spark of creativity before it has a chance to gain some root and grow.

Does this sound familiar?

How many times has your own inspiration been snuffed out by destructive negative energy? I know this has happened to me many times. I surmise that this mental phenomenon has happened to you as well.

But hold on. The story doesn’t have to end there, because there is:


But what does that really mean? How does this faithful friend fight off the fiend of negativity?

I am a voracious reader. I always have a book or three beside my bed. Well, I should more accurately say that in today’s world I have my Kindle close to hand. If I’m not reading some interesting lawyer mystery, international thriller, or (my favorite) historical fiction, then I feel like something is missing from my life. Believe me, my life is a busy one. Between my full-time job during the week, writing on the week-ends, and making sure I spend quality time with my lovely wife, there is no time left for anything else. But wait. I steal minutes here and there, fall asleep at night with book (Kindle) in hand, and read in the middle of the night when insomnia interrupts my slumber. I never fail to find time to read.

What’s my point? Simply this.

With all the established authors whose books I read, it would be easy to get discouraged about my own ability to become successful in the field of writing. With the likes of John Grisham, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, and a host of others, what chance does a software engineer with no journalistic schooling, training, and experience have to compete for the attention of the reading public? Thankfully, my old companion comes to the rescue every time. He reminds me to consider this:

  • Nora Roberts: A prolific and popular writer, Roberts has penned more than 200 books over her writing career. But once upon a time she wrote her first book.
  • Tom Clancy: While running an insurance brokerage, Clancy wrote his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, which took off when then President Ronald Reagan remarked publicly how much he enjoyed the book. Nearly three decades later, Clancy continues to be a successful and popular writer, with a number of his books having been rendered on the silver screen.
  • J. K. Rowling: Wrote her first Harry Potter novel while unemployed, on welfare, and caring for her young child as a divorced mom. Since that time, over 400 million copies of Rowling’s Harry Potter books have sold world-wide.

What do these and all other successful writers have in common? They all, at one time in the past, wrote their first book. In other words, they understood and acted on the simple truth that there is:


Acting upon that same postulate, I have published my first book, Confederate Star Rises, an alternative history novel about the American Civil War where a change to a single, defining event during the Battle of Chancellorsville alters the outcome of the war. It is book one of the Confederate Star trilogy.

I hope you will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I do trust that this post inspires you to believe that you can have what you really want, that it will stimulate you to get up and take action to accomplish your goals and purposes, and finally become the person you have always wanted to be.

Just remember that my friend and life-long companion can be your friend as well:


So … what does “a first time for everything” mean to you? How have you employed it in your life?


Richard Small

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