Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking


No fracking signs in Judy's front yard.

Food and Water Watch, a national non-profit organization has released a new report, which dovetails well with the New York State Concerned Health Professionals compendium of fracking research.  Much more is being learned in 2014 about the harms and risks of fracking.  If you would like to read the whole report from Food and Water Watch, try this link:

 
Here is Wenonah Hunter's introduction to the report.  It's a PDF.

***
The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking.  

By Wenonah Hunter, Food and Water Watch.

As this report lays out, there is mounting evidence that fracking is inherently unsafe. Evidence builds that fracking contaminates water, pollutes air, threatens public health, causes earthquakes, harms local economies and decreases property values. And most critically for the survival of the planet, fracking exacerbates and accelerates climate change.

We are facing a climate crisis that is already having devastating impacts and that is projected to escalate to catastrophic levels if we do not act now. President Barack Obama came into office touting fracked gas as a “bridge fuel,” yet mounting evidence suggests that rather than serving as a bridge to a renewable energy future, it’s a bridge to a climate crisis.

While the environmental, public health and food movements have looked at mounting evidence and rejected fracked gas and oil, President Obama and his administration have aggressively promoted natural gas and domestic oil as a critical part of the United States’ energy future. President Obama repeatedly touts domestic gas production and has said that “we should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer … [I]t not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.” His Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has close industry ties and has claimed that he has “not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater” and that “the issues in terms of the environmental footprint of hydraulic fracturing are manageable.”

Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has bragged about fracking wells in her prior career in the industry and has, despite radical changes in how fracking is done, called it a “technique [that] has
been around for decades,” and even implied that directional drilling and fracking can result in “a softer footprint on the land.” And the person charged with protecting communities’ water, Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, has claimed “There’s nothing inherently dangerous in fracking that sound engineering practices can’t accomplish,” all while the EPA has ignored or buried findings that fracking has contaminated water in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. Most recently,the administration and several legislators have been pushing exports of liquefied natural gas abroad to countries where it will fetch the highest price, stoking already massive oil and gas industry profits at the expense of our rural communities, our water and our climate.

This support for fracking at the highest levels has caused unnecessary confusion and created political space for otherwise-concerned environmentally leaning governors to pursue fracking. In California, Governor Jerry Brown has been supporting fracking despite his stated desire to fight climate change. In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley has pursued a more cautious approach, but still has spoken favorably about future production and recently referred to natural gas as a bridge fuel. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has not lifted a popular de facto statewide moratorium on fracking due to significant public pressure, but has also not moved to adopt a permanent ban. Citing President Obama’s support for fracking, the industry has criticized Cuomo.

Despite what President Obama and his administration claim, there have now been over 150 studies on fracking and its impacts that raise concerns about the risks and dangers of fracking and highlight how little we know about its long-term effects on health and our limited freshwater supplies. It’s time for President Obama and other decision makers to look at the facts and think about their legacy. How do they want to be remembered? What do they want the world to look like 20, 50 and 100 years from now?

We first made the case for a ban on fracking in 2011, but this new report shows that there is an urgent case for a ban. The evidence is in, and it is clear and overwhelming. Fracking is inherently unsafe, cannot be regulated and should be banned. Instead, we should transition aggressively to a renewable and efficient energy system.

***


No fracking billboard on U.S. #1 as you enter Lee County from the South.  Is this what we want North Carolina to look like?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

SINC-UP BLOG


Volunteer zinnias, July 2014, Judy's flower garden.

***
Note:  You can learn more about the September Sinc-Up Blog at www.sistersincrime.org

We, as members of Sisters in Crime, were asked to answer all or any of the following questions.  I answered them all.  Then we were to tag another mystery writer, and I chose Carolyn Mulford, also a SinC member.

***

SINC-UP BLOG for September 21, 2014 

1.  Which authors have inspired you?

I learned to write mysteries from reading the Golden Age authors like Josephine Tey, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Michael Innes, Marjorie Allingham, and others.  I especially loved Tey and Sayers, and I’ve read them at least twice.  Contemporary mystery authors I learned from and who especially inspired me by their books as well as by their treatment of me have been Julia Spencer-Fleming and Louise Penny.  I have also enjoyed and learned from Margaret Maron, Sara Paretsky, Susan Hill, and Sue Grafton.  

I read mysteries regularly as a way to relax and let other problems go to the less conscious parts of my brain.  Some authors say they can’t read other mystery authors while writing a book, but I do and I can.  The plot and character work goes on at a deep level, while I go off into another world and enjoy other characters.  Published so far are Killer Frost (www.MainlyMurderPress.com, 2012) and Farm Fresh and Fatal (2013).  I have already written another 12 mysteries.

2. Which male authors write great women characters?  Which female authors write great male characters?

I probably read more women authors than men, but I think Peter Robinson writes great female characters and also Michael Connelly, Stephen Booth, Alexander McCall Smith, and Reginald Hill. 
Women who write great male characters?  Definitely Louise Penny and Julia Spencer-Fleming.  Tey, Sayers, Marsh do, too, and Susan Hill, Cora Harrison, and Barbara Hambly.  Charles Todd, of course, but there you have a man and woman team.

3.  If someone said, “Nothing against women writers but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

I’d say, “You don’t know what you’re missing.  My very favorites over the years have been woman crime writers.”

4.  What’s the best part of the writing process for you?  What’s the most challenging?

The best part is the actual writing, though it’s work, too.  I like it when unexpected things come up, or the characters reveal things that I didn’t consciously know about them.  I always learn things I knew but didn’t know I knew about other people and myself when I write a novel.  The most challenging part is plotting it, which I do by following Elizabeth George’s plan in her book Write Away

Once I get an idea, I work on the characters and make sure I have lots of conflict between them, then figure out who gets murdered and who the murderer is, and then I sketch out all the scenes. That’s the hardest part for me, getting it planned.  The plan is adaptable, but it guides me.  That way, I don’t get stuck.

5. Do you listen to music while writing?  What’s on your play list?

I listen to my local classical music station all the time, at home and in the car: WCPE-FM or www.theclassicalstation.org (it also streams online).  My favorite composer is Bach.  That’s a plus, when there’s Bach, and if WCPE is fund-raising, I get out my Bach CDs and have a J.S. Bach feast.

6.  What books are on your night stand right now?

I’ve begun reading Frankie Y. Bailey’s The Red Queen Dies.  I loved the character Lizzie in Bailey’s first five novels.  I have three books I’ll be reading soon and then reviewing on my blog and on DorothyL mystery fan listserve: Two by K.M. Rockwood: Sendoff for a Snitch and Brothers in Crime.  I’ve reviewed three by her on my blogs for June 8 (Steeled for Murder), July 13 (Fostering Death), and August 17, 2014 (Buried Biker).  She’s a treasure, and I love her Jesse Damon novels.  I also have Maya Corrigan’s By Cook or by Crook, which I’ll review in early November when it appears.  Last Sunday, September 14, I reviewed Sara Hoklotubbe’s third novel in her Cherokee series, Sinking Suspicions. I’m also looking forward to getting copies to review of her third novel from Carolyn Mulford (Show Me the Gold) and from Gloria Alden, her fourth garden novel that includes a re-enactment. I would note that I have met all of these authors through Sisters in Crime org and at Malice Domestic convention, most through the Guppy subgroup of SINC.

7.  If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

I would say that you shouldn’t expect to make much money, but the joy of writing and the excitement of getting published is very worth the trouble.  Also I would urge you to write what you wish to write, stick close to what is important to you.  Be prepared to use and share your own emotional experiences.  I myself love books best which explore the emotions of their characters and also let me into their inner lives.  Our characters reflect back on us, and we are the creators out of our own mysterious inner life.  I like to get to know the inner lives of other people.  Fiction is a great way to do that.


I would like to link my blog to Carolyn Mulford, whose mysteries set in Missouri I enjoy: Show Me the Murder; Show Me the Deadly Deer, and soon to come: Show Me the Gold.  Check out her blog at carolynmulford.com/mysteries.  Carolyn is also a Guppy and SINC member.  Judy Hogan, SinC member since 2007.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Sinking Suspicions by Sara Hoklotubbe


Sinking Suspicions.  Sara Sue Hoklotubbe. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, September 4, 2014.  ISBN: 978-0-8165-3107-3.  Paper, $16.95.  Also available in e-book format.  224 pages.

In Sara Sue Hoklotubbe’s third novel in her Cherokee mystery series, Sinking Suspicions, Sadie Walela goes to Hawaii.  She has a new job as a travel agent arranging trips to Hawaii.  Her boyfriend, Lance Smith, chooses not to go with her.  Then Sadie’s neighbor Benjamin (Buck) Skinner goes missing.  He is upset because the IRS is claiming he owes back taxes, and Buck knows he has paid everything.  Someone has stolen his identity, which the IRS can’t seem to grasp, and they are threatening to take his 200-acre farm, which he owns free and clear and loves.  He can’t understand why the government won’t leave him in peace.  Buck is an aging World War II veteran.  He won a Purple Heart as a Marine with the 4th Division in the Pacific.  He was wounded and shipped home, and he doesn’t like to think about the war or the Hawaiian woman he loved and lost.

Meantime Lance Smith goes to a chicken plant in a nearby town because the phone number was on a pad in Buck’s house.  A man was murdered at the chicken plant just before Lance arrives, and then the identity thief, using Benjamin Skinner’s name, is found dead at the trailer where his girlfriend lives.  Charlie McCord, with the police in Sycamore Springs, is investigating and welcomes Lance’s help.  Lance had trained under him and now, as Chief of the Liberty Police Department, he wants to find Buck, but he doesn’t think he’s the murderer.  Charlie keeps pointing out that Buck had the motive.

Sadie is enjoying Hawaii, its tropical lushness and kind people.  She becomes friends with Pua, who works for the travel agency at the Hawaiian end, but Sadie is worried about Buck and decides she’d better go home.  Then the island she’s on has an earthquake, which cancels flights and makes life difficult for the islanders until power and normalcy is restored.

I enjoy Hoklotubbe’s books.  I always learn more about contemporary Cherokee culture from the inside.  I didn’t know that so many Indians had served in World War. II, a higher percentage of their American ethnic group than in any other.  The connection between the Oklahoma Cherokees and the native Hawaiian family, with Japanese ancestors, was interesting.  Both groups had similar experiences with the dominant white Americans, who mistreated the Cherokees from the Trail of Tears up to the present day, and Hawaiians were not treated well by the U.S. military during World War II.

I like the quiet, almost reverent tone that Hoklotubbe uses to tell her story.  It’s a good story, simply told, with plenty of puzzles along the way.  I recommend it.

Margaret Coel, author of the Wind River mysteries, wrote: “Another intriguing mystery from a gifted storyteller.  With a sure hand, Sara Sue Hoklotubbe ratchets up the suspense while exploring the myths, passions, and fears of modern-day Cherokees.”

***



Bio:

Sara Sue Hoklotubbe , a Cherokee tribal citizen, is the author of the award-winning Sadie Walela mystery series.  The American CafĂ© received the New Mexico-Arizona Mystery Book of the Year Award, the WILLA Literary Award, and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Mystery of the Year Award.  Sara won the Writer of the Year Award from Wordcraft Circle for Deception on All Accounts.  She and her husband live in Colorado.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Interview with Ruth Moose



Ruth Moose's debut mystery, winner of the 2013 Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Mystery from St. Martin's Press, 2014.

***

1. When did you begin writing? Why? 

My grandfather was a Baptist preacher and one of my earliest memories was watching him write sermons with a leaky fountain. When he left his desk, I picked up his pen and "wrote" all over his sermon. I was severely scolded, maybe even spanked, but I knew even then I loved to write.
 
2. When and why did you begin writing mysteries? 

As a short story writer I had trouble plotting (I still do). Doris Betts, my first creative writing teacher at UNC, told me to write a mystery to teach myself to plot.
 
3. Are you writing a series or a stand alone? Explain your basic idea for your series. 

I simply wrote a book.
 
4.Tell us about your journey to publication with this book. 

Doing it at the Dixie Dew was written in l987 on a Kaypro word processor, converted to a Dell, then later to an Apple. In 2013 I entered it in the Malice Domestic competition at St. Martin's Press and it won, was published 2014. 

5. Why did you choose to write about the topic, community, issues you chose? 

I love small towns, the South. This is what I know. 

6.How have you found it to be published? Share that experience. 

I've published 3 collections of short stories, 6 books of poetry and nobody much noticed. A novel gets attention. And reviews. I have been so pleased and proud to have "readers" and glowing e-mails. 

7. Comments from readers/reviewers. 

Wonderful comments from people who liked my characters, wanted to live in my mythical town. People who want more of these imaginary people. 

8. What other books have you published? 

My collections of short stories have been published by university and small presses. St. Andrews University published The Wreath Ribbon Quilt and Other Stories. August House published Dreaming in Color and Main Street Press published Neighbors and Other Strangers. 

9. Do you have a work in progress now? Is it part of a series? 

Wedding Bell Blues is the sequel to Dixie Dew and it's to be out from St. Martin's in 2015. 

10.Do you belong to Sisters in Crime? 

Yes, I am a member, and I find the local chapter supportive. It's an organization that really promotes work by women writers. 

11. Is it a benefit to go to mystery conference like Malice Domestic? 

Yes, you meet great people/readers and writers.
 
12. What else can you say about your books?  

Reviewers have said Dixie Dew was "laugh out loud" and more humorous than frightening. I see such odd and unusual things in everyday life that beg to be included in fiction. The new book has some even funnier events, yet there is always an underlying theme of social concerns and life in a small Southern town, with unusual characters. I never plot out a book, but work for character as in my short stories, then let the characters become the story.

***


Doing It at the Dixie Dew is Ruth Moose’s first novel.  It was published by St. Martin’s Press in May 2014, after she won the $10,000 Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Mystery award in 2013.  In the past forty years she has published 1200 poems, short stories, book reviews, and columns.  She has three collections of short stories: The Wreath Ribbon Quilt, Dreaming in Color, and Neighbors and Other Strangers.  She has had her work published in Holland, South Africa, England, and Denmark as well as all over the U.S.  Of her six collections of poetry, the most recent is The Librarian and other Poems.  She received a MacDowell fellowship, and in 2009, a prestigious Chapman fellowship for teaching.  Originally from Albemarle, she now lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina, where she continues to write and teach since her retirement from the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Creative Writing Department in 2010.  With an authentic Southern voice, her characters resonate the humor and tragedy of everyday lives.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

This River Will Be Published in December 2014


Painting of Storm on the Volga River near Kostroma by Vera Belikh.

***
This River: A Long Poem is going to be published December 1, 2014.  Written in 1990-91, when I had been to Russia to the ancient city of Kostroma in early August of 1990 to begin exchanges through Sister Cities of Durham for writers in Durham and in Kostroma, it has waited over twenty years to go into print.  Last year Finishing Line Press published my chapbook Beaver Soul, which was written in 1992 and is a sequel to This River.  I think you’ll like this new one.  

I wrote all thirty poems while I sat on my poetry rock by the Haw River above the dam in Saxapahaw.  The publisher is Wild Embers Press in Ashland, Oregon, and this will come out from their new imprint Watersongs.  This River is definitely a water song, about the love that comes into being when real people meet from either side of the ocean as the Cold War barriers are breaking down. River imagery helped me articulate these powerful feelings which, in many ways, felt taboo.  Sometimes it’s hard to go out there to the public with real feelings, but for me, at age seventy-seven, it’s time.  
I’m working with Antoinette Nora Claypoole, who loves the book and is a warm, sympathetic, but sometimes fierce editor.  She has formerly published mainly Native American stories and poems which have a warrior spirit.  I’m grateful to her for wanting and loving This River.

In the weeks to come, I will be offering pre-sales.  If you want to be on my book news list for details about buying the book, readings, etc., let me know.  This will make a fine holiday gift.  Few people read poetry today, but I’m told my poems are very readable and even hard to put down.  The painting above by Vera Belikh is one of the paintings we’re considering for the cover.  The book will also include drawings which were in the Russian edition of Beaver Soul, by Mikhail Bazankov, who edited, designed, and published that book back in 1997.  So, stay tuned.  More soon. Below you will find the first poem from This River. Judy Hogan
***

1.  
He:  Let it be better for both of us that we got to know each other.
She:  You kept talking about this river...

Every leaf of every resurrection fern is alive
and well-watered on the rocks along the
banks of the Haw.  This river carries its
burden of mud and sloshes it over the
rocks; it cakes and cracks along the shore.
Today, as I watch the Haw rush recent
rains toward that ocean which you say
is the only barrier between us, I know 
you are also saying there is no barrier.
Down here among the roots in my soul,
it is easy to agree.  We are working
together beside our two rivers which,
though six thousand miles apart,
rush toward the same ocean.  You
could swim across the Volga, and
I would be there.  Yet I am here, 
watching this river cover and water
her banks.  They flourish; I flourish,
too.  This new mud is fertile.  At first
the leaves along the shore are painted
brown.  Then sun dries them.  Mud
peels off.  New rains return their shine
to the bright leaves of summer, green
and gold, reluctant to fall.  We have
August in October.  Even the season
tries to stay where we were then.
Your absence is easier because the 
leaves still shine.  Sun celebrates
midday as if no chill had entered our
houses during the night; as if we had
not baked ourselves in the woodstove
toasted air.
I have no names for this 
place where I live now.  Did you change 
my heart into your beloved river, and 
that’s why, when I look at this mud brown
Haw, so intensely full of itself, I feel
your presence?  You walk uphill from
that shore.  Even your eyes are smiling.
You live with me on this hill, with its
trees and its blowing leaves.  Some of
them are orange now.  They flutter like
caught birds, eluding the wind.  Fronds
of the cedar, the pecan’s lower branches,
and the smooth, shining magnolia leaves
reach me the way your words do, stirring
the air between us with a barely moving,
gentle passion that turns suddenly bold
and gusty.  You are here where I am, 
as near me as the sun and the wind, as
eager to move this air around me as you 
were then to take the stairs two at a time
to show me you would keep pace, not 
be left behind.  Where I went, you
would follow.  Because your heart had
been stirred, your feet would go quickly.
We have need of the little stray winds,
which we harness to help us.  But the
river’s current is already ours.  It runs
through our souls as one, my Haw and
your Volga.  Both muddy, both healing;
both intent on their way to the sea;
running with a newfound power that 
transforms every circumstance here
or there.  We are hinged together by 
ocean.  That’s why we are whole;
passionately healed, and well.

To learn more about Wild Embers Press www.wildembers.com
For Watersongs:  http://watersongsbooks.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mining and Energy Commission Hearing--Sanford--August 22, 2014


FrackFreeNC billboard as you enter Lee from Moore County

***

I rather dreaded going to the public hearing of the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) on the rules they had drafted for fracking in North Carolina.  It would be a long day for me.  The hearing itself was set for 5-9 P.M.  There would be a rally and press conference.  I was urged to get there by 4 to sign up to speak.  The Sanford Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center is half an hour away.  The possible fracking sites are half a mile away from me, across the Deep River in Lee County, where most of the mineral rights have been purchased for gas drilling.  Since my own life, livelihood, and home for my old age are at risk, of course I summoned my courage and left home at 3, to be sure I was parked and there in plenty of time to sign up.  I took water and a peanut butter sandwich to eat during the hearing.

I’d practiced and timed my speech.  We got 3 minutes and were urged by FrackFreeNC, the umbrella org working against fracking here, to focus our comments on the rules themselves.  If the rules were sufficiently stringent, the gas companies would stay away.

There was plenty of parking space at 3:30, and I walked in with another no-fracking activist, who told me that we had a room where we could get water and rest.  It hasn’t been our usual very hot summer, but it was low 90s that afternoon and steamy.  I met activists I’d emailed but never met, like Ed Harris, Terica Luxton, and Theresa Vick.  

At 3:45 I went to stand in line to sign up.  I saw Jim Lomack for the first time.  He was greeting us all warmly.  We wore blue shirts and some had “no fracking” logos on them.  Ahead of us in line were 20 or so people also wearing blue shirts, who wanted shale gas drilling, which their shirts proclaimed.  I had heard that Womack had organized them.  He is a Lee County commissioner and a key pro-fracking proponent who is also on the MEC.  He was to chair the hearings.  He had apparently threatened to call this one off for “security reasons.”  I never saw even one policeman or guard of any kind.  People were passionate, but they certainly weren’t violent, on either “side.”  He had also said that the comments at the hearings would have no effect on the MEC rules.  Let’s hope he’s wrong.

Once I signed in, I went outside for the press conference.  Hope Taylor of Clean Water for North Carolina had organized a very good one, and many impressive speakers spoke about the harms of fracking.  Deb Hall from the Cumnock community where coal-mining once took place explained how none of their community owned their mineral rights (they had “split estates” that went back to coal-mining days).  They didn’t want to be industrialized.  

A woman who works with firefighters said that by law all emergency personnel must know what the chemicals in the fracking fluid are. There can’t be any “trade secrets” about them in case of spills, accidents, fires, or explosions.  We also heard from the North Carolina House representative for part of Lee and all of Chatham, Robert Reives, who emphasized that we had not had the due process promised in the legislature before the moratorium on fracking was lifted.

The Civic Center auditorium holds perhaps 500 people.  I found a seat near the front.  It turned out to be where a lot of pro-fracking people sat.  Keely had given me a frack-free sticker to wear.  The auditorium began filling up. Off to my right was a table where three Sanford Herald reporters were sitting.  In their report the next day they noted that 350 people were present.  The News and Observer said “no more than 200,” but the Sanford staff would know better how to estimate the crowd numbers in their civic center.

The three hearing officers sat on the stage.  There were two mikes up front for our speeches.  To my surprise I was called fairly early–maybe the 10th person.  This was my speech.

I’m Judy Hogan from Moncure.  I speak for a hundred people I’ve talked with who aren’t here today.  My topic is water.  The rules are terribly inadequate when, everywhere that fracking has occurred, groundwater and wells have been contaminated.  North Carolina is subject to droughts in recent years.  The banks of our creeks and rivers are not protected so anyone can put a pipe in and take out all the water they want.  There is no serious monitoring of this water extraction in the rules.  The permit applicant is the only one who does any reporting of sources, dates, expected average, and maximum withdrawal.  Will the fracking companies provide honest reports?  I have learned nothing in my study of fracking that suggests that these companies are to be trusted to care about the people living in the area where they will be fracking.

Groundwater withdrawals only require a pump test and determination of “area of influence” or drawdown of the well.  Furthermore, the location of our water and the gas under the shale are very close here in Lee, Chatham, and Moore counties.  Inevitably the drilling will impact our water supplies.  Leaks in fracking pipes are also inevitable.  A plan needs to be developed to ensure that we in this area will not have our drinking water sources contaminated. The emerging science shows that drilling and fracking inherently threaten groundwater. There is strong evidence that groundwater contamination occurs and is more likely to occur close to drilling sites. Likewise, the number of well blowouts, spills and cases of surface water contamination has steadily grown. Meanwhile, the gas industry’s use of “gag orders,” non-disclosure agreements and settlements impede scientific study and stifle public awareness of the extent of these problems. 

There is no requirement in the rules for an overall record of total water being withdrawn from groundwater (including quarry sources, often fed by groundwater) and from surface water. The withdrawals across the whole local area in which fracking is taking place need to be reviewed together and a plan developed to coordinate water withdrawals.  Instead of focusing on gas, we should be focusing on water.  Water = Life.

For about an hour we alternated between hearing fracking praised, but without real evidence or understanding of the harms and risks to human beings and animal life, both wild and domestic, and hearing fracking condemned, while people urged that the rules be stricter.

After that the speakers were almost all against fracking.  A few didn’t specifically comment on the rules, but most did, urging no trade secrets for fracking chemicals, no open pits for storing waste fluid, better set-backs than a mere 100 feet from rivers and bodies of water, and only 625 feet from homes and schools.  The MEC was urged to make the gas companies responsible for damage to landowners’ property, not the landowners themselves, which is how it stands now.  And no compulsory pooling, where landowners can be forced to be part of a group of mineral rights leases owned by gas companies.

The two “sides” clapped for their own speakers, but there was no rowdiness.  Everything proceeded as planned, and Womack kept it moving.  They allowed for 80 or so speakers in 4 hours, but The Sanford Herald reported that 100 spoke.

Personally, I felt supported in my own battle, largely by internet and in my Moncure neighborhood, and by the fact that the Lee County people had awakened to the terrible threat fracking represents to their small county.  A year ago, when I was in that civic center auditorium for a professional development workshop for Continuing Education at CCCC, the people I talked to seemed largely unaware of how fracking could ruin their health, their property, and their lives.

Over the years I’ve seen how public opinion, though it may be slow to gather momentum, does, in time, affect those who govern us and bring about change and justice.

***


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review: Buried Biker by K. M. Rockwood



Buried Biker: A Jesse Damon Crime Novel.  K.M. Rockwood. Musa Publishing, Lancaster, OH 43130, 2013. E-book ISBN: 978-1-61937-815-5. $4.99.  Paperback available from author.  Write to: kmrockwood@comcast.net $10.00.  195 pages.

In K.M. Rockwood’s third mystery, Buried Biker, Jesse Damon falls foul of a bike gang called The Predators.  Kelly, the woman Jesse has been seeing, though he’s not confident enough to call her his girlfriend, has been beaten and raped, and is hospitalized.  Jesse learns this as he is arrested for the crime by the police detective duo Belkins and Montgomery, whose mission in life seems to be to arrest Jesse every chance they get.
It’s hard for Jesse to admit he loves Kelly, the only woman he has ever slept with, but his love keeps getting him deeper into trouble as he risks his paroled status to find out who hurt Kelly and why.  As a parolee Jesse must avoid felons, and Kelly’s dad, Old Buckles, a member of the Predators, is a recently released felon, now using his daughter’s address as his “home plan.”

Montgomery releases Jesse when Kelly tells them he was not the rapist, but when Jesse goes to see her, she’s furious at him but won’t say why.  Old Buckles is suspicious of Jesse, too.  Belatedly Jesse learns that Black Rose, the “property” of the biker Razorback, is telling everyone that Jesse and Razorback made a deal to swap women.  Furthermore, Black Rose says Jesse was very good in bed.  Bewildered and wondering if Kelly will ever come to trust him, Jesse nevertheless persists in trying to learn exactly what happened.

Besides his familiar tormentor Aaron, the police snitch, who hangs around Jesse trying to buy drugs, Jesse encounters a seductive young woman named Carissa, a new reporter for the local Rothsburg Register, who photographs him being arrested and then with the Predators, whom he’s supposed to be avoiding.  These photos make the front page of the paper.  She says she wants him to help her meet these bikers for a story.  He has no luck convincing her to avoid them.

In this third book Jesse has worked for the Quality Steel Fabrications plant long enough to belong to the union.  He has a job driving the fork lift, and since he reads well, he helps employees who can barely read work with the invoices and instructions.  There are a few people at the plant who see Jesse accurately, see the careful, competent job he does, know that he’s honest and not violent unless provoked.  Another person who gives Jesse the benefit of the doubt is his parole officer, Mr. Ramirez.  Most of the time Kelly sees and trusts him, but her two children are more reliable in their perception of Jesse, and are always relieved to see him and be with him.  Both their separated parents have drinking problems.

Most of us don’t go through life with key people in our lives expecting the worst of us.  It’s an excruciating human situation. Few of us, I suspect, would hold up as well as Jesse does.  He suffers, yet he keeps doing his best by the people he encounters, even Aaron and Carissa, and the old woman sharing Kelly’s hospital room who thinks Jesse is her son and wants to hold his hand as she’s dying.  

This series is amazing for its insight into the inner life of a parolee and for its emotional power.  I recommend all the novels in this Jesse Damon series.  The first two are Steeled for Murder (see my blog review on June 8), and Fostering Death (July 13).  The fourth is: Send Off for a Snitch and the fifth, just out, is Brothers in Crime.

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KM Rockwood draws on a varied background for stories, among them working as a laborer in a steel fabrication plant, operating glass melters and related equipment in a fiberglass manufacturing facility, and supervising an inmate work crew in a large medium security state prison. These jobs, as well as work as a special education teacher in an alternative high school and a GED teacher in county detention facilities, provide most of the background for her novels and short stories.