The Rosa Parks of the Modern Trans Movement

Sylvia Rivera (far right in illustration above) hated labels almost as much as she hated discrimination. Of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent, she lived alone on the streets from the tender age of eleven. Despite her hard life, she rallied, protested, caucused, and got beaten and arrested for the inclusion and recognition of transgender individuals. Some call her the Rosa Parks of the Modern Trans movement.

Early Life

Born to a father from Puerto Rico and a mother from Venezuela in New York City on July 2, 1951, assigned male at birth, her parents named her Ray. Her birth father disappeared early in her life. 

Rivera’s mother remarried. The marriage was rocky. Rivera’s stepfather threatened to kill Rivera, her mother, and her sister. At twenty-two years of age, her mother committed suicide. 

Rivera was three when she went to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother voiced disapproval of Rivera’s mixed background (Venezuelan and Puerto Rican) and darker skin color. When Rivera began experimenting with clothing and makeup, her grandmother berated and beat Rivera for behavior that was too effeminate for a boy. Her grandmother’s disapproval and beatings increased after Rivera’s step-father took her half-sister away

They shuffled Rivera between her grandmother’s home, Catholic boarding schools, and friends’ homes. She started wearing makeup to school in fourth grade. Bullied and mocked, she was the victim of many playground fights and even school suspensions.

Her uncle had her earn extra money with sex work. It’s no wonder that by the age of eleven, Rivera ran away from home, never to return.

Life On the Streets

In New York City, 42nd Street was “home to a community of drag queens, sex workers, and those who were hustling inside and outside of the gay community of New York in the early 1960s.” Rivera ran from home to this area. Here, a group of young drag queens adopted her. They taught her how to eke out a living with sex work and live on the streets, often changing sleeping location every night. Like many young homeless queer youth and older LGBT people in New York City, Rivera and her friends hung out in places they could feel safe and part of a community. Most of those places were Mafia-run bars.

In 1963, twelve-year-old Rivera met Marsha P. Johnson, an eighteen-year-old, “African American self-identified drag queen and activist battling for inclusion in a movement for gay rights that did not embrace her gender.” Rivera said Johnson was like a mother to her.

Fighting for Transgender People

The Riot

The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan. It was a place where young men hustled and people from all over the city hung out after work and on weekends. The Inn is famous for being the setting for what’s now known as the Stonewall Inn Riot on June 28, 1929. 

Rivera’s presence and involvement in the Stonewall Inn Riot, like Stormé DeLarverie, is debatable. Some sources quote her as saying she didn’t throw the first Molotov cocktail, but threw the second one. Many sources cite she refused to go home or go to sleep for seven days because she didn’t want to miss a minute of the revolution.

After the Riot, Rivera laid low for a few months. When she heard about newly formed activist groups, such as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), she enthusiastically tried to get involved. But her gender identity troubled the members of those groups. 

Exclusion and Discrimination

The first Pride Parade happened in 1970, but the organizers discouraged trans people, including Rivera, from joining the parade. Rivera was passionate about equal rights for trans individuals but faced relentless discrimination, even from the gay community.  

In 1971, Rivera and Johnson started the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group focused on giving shelter to queer, homeless youth. They hustled the street to rent a building they named Star House. It provided a safe space to discuss transgender issues. They fed, clothed and sheltered “our other kids.” Though short-lived (STAR died by 1973), 19-year-old Rivera was a like mother to those kids. 

Determined, Rivera fought against discrimination. She even attempted, in a dress and heels, to climb through a window into a “closed door council meeting” discussing trans and gay rights. It wasn’t the only time she was arrested, fighting for inclusion.

Discouraged

Finally allowed to take part in the 1973 Gay Pride Parade. Officially, she could not speak. Outraged, she grabbed the mike and said, 

If it wasn’t for the drag queen, there would be no gay liberation movement. We’re the front-liners.” She was booed off the stage. 

Womenshistory.org

She fought for trans inclusion in the GAA’s campaign to pass New York City’s first gay rights bill. (It passed in 1986, disappointingly without including trans individuals’ rights.)

Discouraged by rampant discrimination, Rivera attempted suicide. Johnson brought her to the hospital and helped her get well. After that, Rivera left the city, her activism limited to low-key events in her area.

Return to Activism

Rivera returned to the city in 1992, after Johnson’s body was found floating in the Hudson River. She and the gay rights movement (expanded to include trans and others) reconciled. In 1994, she honored in the 25th Anniversary Stonewall Inn march.

She started Transy House, modeled after STAR, in 1997. 

Her determination remained. “Before I die, I will see our community, given the respect we deserve. I’ll be damned if I’m going to my grave without having the respect this community deserves. I want to go to wherever I go with that in my soul and peacefully say I’ve finally overcome.” She continued working up to her death.

Death

With her partner, Julia Murray, at her side, Rivera died from complications of liver cancer at 50.

Legacy

Recognized after her death, Silvia Rivera has a street bearing her name near the Stonewall Inn in New York City. LGBT community organizations across the country and the world pay tribute to her.  In 2015, they hung Rivera’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., making her the first transgender activist to be included in the gallery. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) continues her work to secure the rights of gender non-conforming people. And the number of tributes continue to grow.

Rivera experienced abandonment, abuse, homelessness, drug addition, and incarceration. Poor, trans, a drag queen, a person of color, and former sex worker, she embodied “otherness” and fought discrimination her entire life. Metaphorically, she sat at the front of the bus and earned the honorific, the Rosa Parks of the Modern Trans movement.

What did you know about Silvia Rivera before reading this post?


Image Credits

First Image by Dramamonster at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Final image by Gotty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Build Your Self-Compassion Toolbox

Image of a cupped pair of hands holding a candle whose flame creates a heart--your self compassion toolbox can heal your heart

Humans are compassionate beings. We see someone or something suffer and we want to help them feel better. This is especially true when the sufferer is a family member or close friend. When what we do doesn’t measure up to our hopes and expectations, disappointment can morph into debilitating self-criticism. If we don’t treat ourselves with grace, with self-compassion, our negative thoughts may spiral into depression or other mental health issues. Build your self-compassion toolbox and use it. You’ll not only feel better and perform better—you’ll be more resilient the next time you don’t do as well as you’d hoped.

How Compassion and Self-Compassion Differ

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Dalai Lama

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, compassion is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it. 

Compassion is not an automatic response, though it may feel that way for some. It requires awareness, concern, and empathy. It requires you recognize a serious, unjust and relatable situation.

We give hugs, kiss a skinned knee to make it feel better, and offer advice. We sympathize with the other person’s pain, whether it is physical or emotional. 

In psychology, self-compassion is self-kindness without judgment. It is understanding common humanity versus isolation and practicing mindfulness rather than over identification. You forgive and nurture yourself as you would your child, parent, or significant other when they struggle. 

Benefits of Self-Compassion

Compassion is vitally important to life. Without self-compassion, you may see your faults and inadequacies in such a negative light that it erodes your confidence, self-esteem, and your happiness. 

Forgiving and nurturing yourself can result in lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as improve your health, relationships, and your general sense of well-being. For a list of twenty benefits of compassion, read “The Power of Self-Compassion.”

Practicing self-compassion is like putting on your own oxygen mask in an airplane so you will be able to put an oxygen mask on your child. The good news is that you can learn compassion, even self-compassion. 

Build Your Self-compassion Toolbox

Accept Reality.

You are juggling a lot. You may have a full-time job, a family, friends, pets, and living spaces to maintain. It’s hard to balance all your obligations of choice and responsibility. Accept that you will never be perfect. Acknowledge that you will drop the ball sometimes. 

Don’t be perfect, be human.

Understand that being human means mistakes are part of life. Include a note in your toolbox that to be human is to be imperfect. Stop judging and punishing yourself. Be kind to yourself. Reframe your mistakes and imperfections as opportunities or strengths. Thomas Edison… you learned a way that doesn’t work and can move on to another way that might work better.

Evaluate your expectations.

We creatives often have unrealistic expectations. Completing that novel or painting this year may not be possible if you have to pack up the house and move. Look at all your life’s roles and set realistic goals. Give yourself permission to not do everything. Give yourself permission to fail and learn.

Give yourself grace.

image of a ball with a sorrowful smiley face and the scrabble letters spelling out Sorry.

I believe that grace is very much a tool. And not only a tool that we try to offer others, but also one that we offer ourselves.

Maria Shriver

You’ve been beating yourself up for mistakes for how many years? Learning to forgive yourself for your past, move forward with extra kindness toward yourself will take time and lots of repetition. Give yourself the grace to change, to grow.

Make grace your personal mantra until you believe it. 

  • I am worthy of forgiveness. 
  • I am worth the commitment it takes to give myself grace.
  • I am worth the time to step away from everything to recharge.
  • My feelings and needs have value.
  • I will not explain or apologize over and over why I take this time or make this effort. I deserve it. 
  • Being my best self will trickle down so I can be my best for the people that matter most to me.

Practice Gratitude.

Gratitude is restorative kindness. You’re human. Practice being grateful for the body that keeps you alive. Be grateful for the strengths that you have and the weaknesses that give you room to grow.

You’re a creative. There’s at least one skill, probably many more, that you do well. Recognize that. Be grateful for that. Take a few minutes every day to be grateful for one of those skills. If you can’t do that, be grateful for the hands or eyes, legs or senses that allow you to practice your craft. 

Give Yourself Permission to Start Over

Recognize that you are human. Don’t fear failure, embrace it. It’s inevitable. When you feel you’ve failed, forgive yourself and keep moving forward. Realize that you’ll never be perfect, but because you’re constantly in the mindset of forgiving yourself, you don’t get stuck in the resilience-killing rut of self-contempt.”

Resilienceguide.org

Life is a series of moments. Those moments march forward, whether you are beating yourself up about how you messed up or you are staying in the moment. Give yourself permission to live moment to moment. Give yourself permission to start over, and over, and over.

When you make a mistake, when something goes wrong, recognize that it happened. Give yourself permission to start over. Take a deep breath and if your action or reaction hurt someone else, ask for forgiveness. If your action or reaction hurt you, forgive yourself. 

Acknowledge Your Successes.

When you’re in a pattern of never giving yourself grace, you ignore your successes. Make it a habit to look at and see your successes. Make a success scrapbook. Display your most successful moments or products on your walls or shelves. Pat yourself on the back. You did that. You deserve praise. 

Keep Your Tool(s) Handy

image of wooden tool carrier with hammer, saw, pliers, level and other tools in it, like it a self-compassion toolbox carries many tools.

Starting out, giving yourself compassion or grace may feel awkward. But revel in being unstuck for the moment you give yourself that forgiveness and permission to move forward. In time, this process will get easier and easier. In time, you’ll feel better, stronger. You may only need to pull out your self-compassion toolbox in times of high stress. If you’re not there now, work toward it. 

Like this post? You may also like “Create Your Joy Toolbox.”

What is in your self-compassion toolbox?

A Train Station with a Story

Kansas City’s Union Station

Kansas City is the home to a majestic building that is called Union Station. In 1945, more than 678,000 people passed through those doors and onto passenger trains that took mostly members of America’s Armed Forces all over the country. In its 100 plus years of existence, it has seen tears of joy, tears of sadness, and even blood and tears. Its history inspired me to use a fictitious version of it in book two of the Fellowship Dystopia, If I Should Die. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

The First Kansas City Train Station

The West Bottoms district is one of the oldest areas of Kansas City. It sits near the junction of the Missouri River and the Kansas River. Originally called the French Bottoms, it was an area of trade for Native Americans and French trappers. After Kansas City’s stockyards opened in 1871, the railroads came.  

Union Depot opened on April 7, 1878 in Kansas City, Missouri’s West Bottoms district. The grand building stood on Union Street (hence the name) filled with the passengers boarding trains for distant cities. 

In 1903, Kansas City’s great flood destroyed many of the businesses in the area. Rail executives decided to build a new station on higher, more centrally located ground.

The New Union Station

By 1906, twelve railroad companies combined to form The Kansas City Terminal Railroad. They chose Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt to design the new station.

Construction of the massive beaux arts architectural style building began in 1910.

November 1, 1914, Union Passenger Station of Kansas City opens its doors to a massive crowd. The construction cost close to six million dollars. 

Rail traffic peaked during WWI-with 79,368 trains passing through the Station, including 271 trains in one day.

UnionStation.org

Union Station Massacre

On June 17, 1933, a team of FBI agents and police officers escorted convicted mobster Frank Nash to the station. Nash and four law enforcement officers died in a shootout outside the building. Many myths about that crime persist today. Many claim that marks on the building are from the bullets that flew that day even though modern Kansas City Police disproved that. Mystery surrounds which other mobster committed the crime. They convicted Adam Richetti of the crime and died in the gas chamber on October 7, 1938.

A Long History

Almost the noon hour at the Union Station in Kansas City, MO.

After 100 years, Union Station has a long history, a colorful history. With that colorful history and the beauty of the building inside and out, how could I not use it as a location in If I Should Die? Of course, to fit the alternate timeline of the Fellowship Dystopia, I had to change enough part of the Station’s story to make it part of Miranda’s story. But the clock in the Grand Hall of the station becomes an important location. A location of hope and disaster that will change Miranda’s life. 

Inspired by history,If I Should Die, The Fellowship Dystopia, Book Two goes on sale tomorrow. It’s available on all your favorite online bookseller sites. 

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kobo Universal Link

Which historic location do you think the third book of the Fellowship Dystopia should include? Why?

Image Credits

Celebrate Your Creativity

Host J. Alexander Greenwood of the Mysterious Goings On Podcast interviewed me a couple of weeks ago and one of his questions and my response, inspired this post. If you haven’t listened to the podcast, go ahead. I’ll wait… Thanks for listening. Can you guess what inspired this post? It was my last comments about my belief that nearly everyone is creative. And that we, society in the USA, don’t value creativity very much. Even a lot of creative people don’t value their creativity as much as they might, myself included. If that’s true, then what are ways you can value creativity more? Celebrate your creativity.

Image shows a colorful fireworks exploding above a cityscape, we celebrate many things but rarely do we celebrate creativity.

We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, graduations (particularly this time of year), and the purchase of a new house or car. But we rarely celebrate smaller accomplishments. When was the last time you celebrated writing a page of words? Did you celebrate trying a new twist on an old recipe? Or how about the color you painted on the wall? You wrote a piece of coding that did more than the customer asked is a creative solution. Celebrate.

Why Celebrate the Small Creative Wins?

It’s easy to berate ourselves for mistakes or errors and not just call them failures, but label ourselves as failures. Our caveman DNA means we are on the lookout for problems 24/7. But in modern times, when the problem isn’t a saber-toothed tiger wanting to eat you, we sometimes see ourselves as the problem. And when we don’t celebrate the small wins “we end up diminishing our motivation, and motivation is what keeps us on the right path and gives us the strength to soldier on to the top of the mountain.” (lifehack.org)

You can’t acknowledge what you’ve done if you don’t track your progress. Track it in a journal or on the calendar or by scratching off items on a to-do list. Acknowledging what you’ve done helps you see progress, especially in long projects. Celebrating your accomplishments gives you a dopamine hit, which increases your desire to work on the next step to get another hit. Not only that, when you increase your dopamine, you increase your pleasure and your happiness throughout the day. Celebrating the small successes gets us “addicted to progress” because we want to repeat that dopamine hit. We want to feel that pleasure and happiness.

The progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.”

Havard Business Review

We are wired to respond to rewards… it’s another way how our brain works. So those small-step celebrations boost our self-esteem and our self-confidence. When we feel better about ourselves and our projects, our productivity increases.  

The positive psychology research has shown that celebrating the small wins, the small accomplishments, and more frequently has a bigger impact than waiting for that one big thing to celebrate. It keeps you engaged. It helps you to remember that you’re on a path that’s working and you feel good when you get a chance to celebrate the small thing.”

Denise Stromme, University of Minnesota Extension.

How to Reward Yourself

Collage image including an image of one daisy, two star flowers, and a bouquet of pink and purple tulips demonstrating graduated rewards for your creativity.

The trick in rewarding yourself is to make it meaningful, but also to keep it tied to the progress you’re making. 

How do you do that? You create small-step goals. For example, use things you consider rewards, but it would work something like this: a coffee at the end of the week of successes, an hour of television at the end of the month, and a fancy dinner out at the end of the quarter. 

If you have a goal aversion, tie your rewards to your efforts. Three hours of focused work on the project earns a reward. Six hours win a bigger reward, etc. Up the “ante” of your rewards proportional to the amount of effort or work you’ve accomplished. 

Got it? So what do you use for rewards?

Reward Your Creativity

Photograph of a woman silhouetted jumping for joy against a sunrise demonstrating another way to celebrate your creativity.

Your rewards don’t have to cost money. They do have to be specific to you, feel like a reward to you. Still need examples? There are literally thousands of ways you can reward yourself.

  • Raise your arms in triumph and literally jump for joy.
  • Give yourself a gold star. X number of stars and you get a “bigger” reward.
  • Write yourself a note of praise.
  • A cup of your favorite beverage (like coffee or chai latte).
  • A window shopping trip.
  • TA trip to a museum or zoo or a movie.
  • An accessory—jewelry or scarf or fancy belt buckle or shoes.
  • An extra half hour of sleep.
  • A long bubble bath.
  • An extra hour of reading.
  • An hour of watching stupid pet tricks on YouTube. 
  • Watching an episode of your favorite reality show.
  • An extra play date with your kids or pets.
  • An occasional dinner out can be a reward
  • Tickets to the next game played by your favorite local sports team
  • Play a video game or a game of hopscotch.

One caution: don’t reward yourself when you haven’t done the work. That doesn’t mean you can never have a dinner out or play a video game except as a reward. It means be aware of what your “fix” is. If you get addicted to the reward (a glass of wine, or a favorite food—chocolate anyone?), then your focus isn’t on the goal (finishing the painting or the sweater you’re knitting.) 

What happens when you celebrate your creativity? 

You may feel awkward or dismissive of the celebration the first time you celebrate your creative small step. Remind yourself that your creativity is of value to you and to others. You earned the reward because you did something creative. 

Besides feeling better about your creativity, you are giving your creativity positive feedback. And that positive feedback perks your creativity up and leads to another idea and another. So celebrate your creativity. Heck, spread the joy and help another creative celebrate their creativity. Let’s change our corner of the world and teach ourselves and others how to value creativity.

What’s one way you’ll celebrate your creativity today?

Shifting Reality into Fiction

From the behavior of certain politicians to the war in Ukraine to the leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe vs. Wade, the real world and the fictional world of The Fellowship Dystopia series are moving closer and closer together. When I started writing this series, it was fun shifting reality into fiction. Today, it appears we are shifting reality again. History became fiction and now fiction appears to be shifting into reality. You may see it too when you know the actual history that I shifted and sifted into a fictional world for my books, My Soul to Keep and If I Should Die.

Neutrality First

World War I, often called the Great War, began when a Bosnian Serb nationalist assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria, and his wife, Sophie, on June 28, 1914. Back then, most Americans believed the nation shouldn’t get involved in foreign affairs. They watched the conflict uneasily but weren’t concerned because the war was an ocean away. Then On May 7, 1915, an Imperial German Navy U-boat sent a torpedo into the passenger ship, the RMS Lusitânia, sinking it and killing 1,198 passengers, including 128 Americans.

Image is a black and white illustration of the passenger ship Lusitania being struck and destroyed by the U-boat torpedo an act shifting reality for many Americans

This unprovoked attack on civilians raised the concern of some Americans. In addition, news reports of atrocities perpetrated by Germans against Belgian civilians reached American papers. Some reports were accurate, some were exaggerated. They stirred anti-German sentiment in the United States. A sentiment that concerned President Woodrow Wilson, who believed the nation shouldn’t get involved.

On August 4, President Wilson gave a speech about how he felt the nation should react to the growing conflict in Europe.

The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name during these days that are to try men’s souls. We must be impartial in thought as well as in action…”

President Woodrow Wilson

The nation’s policy may have been neutrality, but that didn’t stop commerce. Over the next three years, American businesses and banks made huge loans to the Allies fighting the Germans.

As the war dragged on, it was clear that America would lose a lot of money if Europe lost the war with Germany.

The End of Neutrality

In January 1917, the British intercepted and decoded a telegram from the German Foreign Secretary sent to the German diplomatic representative in Mexico. It proposed a secret alliance between Mexico and Germany should the US enter the war. “The British passed the document to Washington, and it appeared on the front page of American newspapers” on March first.

During February and March 1917, the Germans resumed their aggressions at sea. German submarines sunk several US cargo vessels without warning.

On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war. On the fourth, 82 of 88 U.S. Senators and 373 of 423 members of the House of Representatives voted to declare war.

The first US infantry troops landed in France on June 26, 1917. And so the U.S. entered the Great War.

The End of the Great War

Black and white photograph of Woodrow Wilson in tailed coat onboard a Navy ship on the way back from peace talks after the Great War ended shifting reality once again

World War I, the Great War, ended on November 11, 1918 (now called Armistice Day or Veteran’s Day in the U.S.)

Some experts estimate that military and civilian deaths on both sides combined reached 24 million people. Of those, about 117,000 were Americans. The numbers are arguable, but the fact is a massive number of people died and the property loss was tremendous.

Many veterans and survivors of the war suffered disabilities or were “shell shocked.

It should be no surprise that by the 1920s, many Americans swore their nation should never enter another foreign war.

In 1928, the United States signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war as a part of national policy.

The Isolationist Movement

Image of an orange flyer from an America First Rally scheduled for April 4, 1941

During the 1930s, the losses of the Great Depression (1929-1933) and the physical, mental, and emotional scars of the Great War visited most Americans. Many of them vehemently advocated non-involvement in European and Asian conflicts and international politics. Called Isolationists, they felt the US needed to focus on issues at home like rebuilding the nation’s economy. By 1941, they held America First Rally’s across the nation.

The Isolationists had historic precedence to bolster their position. America’s founding fathers saw the ocean separating them from Europe as an ideal situation to create a new nation. Even President George Washington had advocated for non-involvement in European wars and politics.

The Isolationists also had the support of many powerful Americans. Pilot Charles Lindbergh strongly and vocally supported isolationism. Former Presidents Herbert Hoover and James Monroe each voiced support for isolationism. As the Isolationist movement grew, another movement was sweeping through America.

The Third Great Awakening

The Third Great Awakening (1850-1920s) was a period of religious activism in America. Dwight Moody (1837-1899), Billy Sunday (1862-1935), and Father Charles Coughlin (1891-1979) were some of the major players.

During his 1932 bid for the presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomed Father Coughlin’s support and influence over urban Catholics. But Father Coughlin soured on FDR after the president did not give Coughlin a position on the president’s cabinet.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and Dachau, the first concentration camp, opened.

FDR worried about the rise of fascism and totalitarianism and wanted the US to be more involved in Europe and Japan. Most Americans were overwhelmingly against such action.

In 1935, Congress passed the first of a series of neutrality acts to protect the United States from world problems.

Father Coughlin began expressing anti-capitalist, anti-banker, anti-Wall Street, and anti-Semitic views. He blamed those ‘forces’ for America’s entry into World War I and worried those same forces would involve America in the turmoil in Europe.

Shifting Reality to Create a Fictional World

In the Fellowship Dystopia’s history, Giuseppe Zangara assassinates FDR before he can take office. This empowers the Isolationists and the Third Awakening. They join and become a religious-political machine, the Fellowship.

In tents and on the streets, a preacher’s sermons are full of the message that the Great Depression is punishment for America’s sins. People desperate for relief flock to his revival tents. The Fellowship seizes the idea and opportunity. They declare the preacher a prophet and “the way” to peace and prosperity. The Fellowship becomes a source of solace, a source of rules guaranteed to bring relief. With each passing year, more and more laws remove the people’s power and freedom.

America never enters World War II. Europe struggles valiantly, but the Federation of Germany assumes power. Japan rules Asia and the Pacific. And in America, the Fellowship and its Councilors grow more and more powerful.

Miranda, daughter of America’s premier preacher-politician, lives a charmed life as one of the Fellowship’s elite. Until she faces a life that will rob her of all rights.

The story of the Fellowship Dystopia is a story of a fight against tyranny in all its forms. The fight isn’t easy. It ranges from tiny and very personal to national to global. Miranda’s fight starts small and grows in My Soul to Keep. But it frightens her, so she chooses another path and in If I Should Die, events force her to choose different paths. And every path is a test that costs her dearly.

Pre-order If I Should Die now.

And The World Goes Round

At first, the changes in American sentiment over the past handful of years surprised me. I was shocked by how we seem to be on the way to creating a theocracy in reality. Reviewing my notes, reviewing our actual history… I am no longer surprised. I am saddened that we can’t seem to learn lessons bought with blood and tears.

The Pendulum Swings

To anyone who studies history, it is apparent that human behavior and belief systems, especially political ones, swing from one extreme to the other. It’s a pattern we follow to the detriment of us all.

Perhaps that’s where we are in today’s shifting reality. Perhaps we’re being tested. Will we pass these tests?

What choice will our nation make? What choice will you make?

Image Credits
  1. Illustration of a torpedo hitting the Lusitania: Winsor McCay, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Front page of newspaper, Houston Post, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  3. President Woodrow Wilson on Navy ship: Naval History & Heritage Command, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  4. Flyer for 1941 America First Rally: America First Committee, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
  5. Father Coughlin on Time Magazine Image: Keystone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons