Justice! Josh Duggar Convicted.

Josh Duggar Leaves Court with Pregnant Wife Anna (7th child) After Push to Dismiss His Child Porn Case Fails  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-YfxGgVeAQ Credit: 40/29 News

Some of my blog followers may remember my report on the State of Perversion a few years back. At the time, the tip of an iceberg had been uncovered, but there was no justice because the statute of limitations had run on Duggar’s child molestation (and incest) crimes before it came to light.

We all know a leopard can’t change his spots, and likewise–apparently–neither can a pedophile. In the interim, Duggar has fathered several more children on his hapless wife, but at least now his children as well as perhaps other children can rest easy while he serves his time.

Here’s the report:

Federal Jury Convicts Former Reality Television Personality for Downloading and Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material

A federal jury convicted an Arkansas man today for receiving and possessing material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Joshua James Duggar, 33, of Springdale, repeatedly downloaded and viewed images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, including images of prepubescent children and depictions of sadistic abuse. Duggar, a former reality television personality who appeared with his family on the TLC series “19 Kids and Counting,” installed a password-protected partition on the hard drive of his desktop computer at his used car lot in Springdale to avoid pornography-detecting software on the device. He then accessed the partition to download child sexual abuse material from the internet multiple times over the course of three days in May 2019. The password for the partition was the same one he used for other personal and family accounts. Duggar downloaded the material using the dark web and online file-sharing software, viewed it, and then removed it from his computer.

“Today’s verdict sends a message that we will track down and prosecute people who download and view child sexual abuse material, regardless of the lengths they go to conceal their conduct,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “I am grateful for the efforts of the prosecution team and our law enforcement partners who helped ensure the defendant would be held accountable for his crimes. I hope today’s conviction serves as a reminder of the department’s steadfast commitment to bringing to justice those who callously contribute to the online sexual exploitation of young children.”

“Over 7% of the cases sentenced in the year 2020 in the Western District of Arkansas were child pornography and sexual abuse cases,” said the U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes for Western Arkansas. “Our office is focused on expending all the resources necessary to the very important work of protecting children in Arkansas and elsewhere. This verdict sends the message that these cases are a top priority for our office. This verdict also demonstrates that no person is above the law. Regardless of wealth, social status, or fame, our office will continue to seek out all individuals who seek to abuse children and victimize them through the downloading, possession, and sharing of child pornography.”

“Because of the exceptional efforts by HSI special agents and our law enforcement partners, a child predator has been brought to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Jack Staton of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Every time child exploitation imagery is shared, it re-victimizes innocent and vulnerable children. The verdict demonstrates that regardless of an individual’s notoriety or influence, they are not above the law. HSI agents make it a priority to protect children by investigating these offenders and ensuring they pay for their incomprehensible actions.”

Law enforcement in Arkansas detected Duggar’s activity during an undercover investigation involving the online file-sharing program, subsequently searched his car lot in November 2019, and seized Duggar’s desktop computer as well as other evidence. Significant evidence was found that pointed to Duggar’s presence at the times of the offenses, including pictures that Duggar took on his phone that geolocated at or near the car lot. Duggar also sent multiple timestamped text messages to various individuals that indicated he was at the car lot at the relevant times; the messages were sent, and the iPhone pictures were created, at times within minutes of when the child sexual abuse material was downloaded or displayed on the desktop computer. Additionally, he was the only paid employee on the lot at those times.

Duggar was convicted of receipt and possession of child pornography. His sentencing date has not been scheduled yet. Receipt of child pornography is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 20 years. Possession of child pornography depicting prepubescent children has a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment as well. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

HSI in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Little Rock Police Department, and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) investigated the case.

Trial Attorney William G. Clayman of CEOS and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dustin Roberts and Carly Marshall of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

[This report from https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-jury-convicts-former-reality-television-personality-downloading-and-possessing-child%5D

See previous posts on this topic:

Evangelical Christian Perversion

The Devil Within

A State of Perversion

The Old Student Union

You come in the south door, clamoring down the curve of steps that lead to the basement. Brushing past the expanse of tidy mailboxes on your right, you quickly jog down a couple more steps where you might turn left into the bookshop, mayhap to toss down a dime in payment for a blue book required for an exam in your next class, or just to roam the few aisles appreciating the scent of ink, reams of white paper, or a raft of sketching pencils. But truly, the quest is not here, but across the small lobby where large doors open into the room full of crowded tables, wonderful aromas of coffee and hamburgers, and the roar of chatter from a hundred voices. For me, this place more than any other embodies the reality of life on campus.

There, to the right, behind tall counters laden with coffee and iced tea urns, stand the women in white aprons and hairnets. They watch each student who approaches. At least two of them tend the grill, a massive flattop of well-worn steel burned black by the incessant demand for another hamburger, another fried egg. An endless task of scraping the surface clean with a large flat spatula occupies any spare moment. You watch as one of those women turns her attention to you, and you place your order, mouth already watering.

For a dollar and a quarter, manna from heaven in the form of a grilled cheese sandwich can be yours. You stand there and watch as she turns to her work, wielding a big floppy brush to spread melted butter onto two slices of bread before slapping it onto that grill. The bread quickly turns golden brown before being flipped over—more butter, more searing heat. Then cheese. Glorious marvelous wonderful cheese is added, and the two slices of bread marry it into a sanctified One.

Suffering a quick angled slice of razor-sharp knife to form two triangles, your bundle of deliciousness sails down the line under the supervision of successive women in white, passing the lighted refrigerated case where a person might choose a slice of cream pie, or a peeled egg, or perhaps a salad. But your eyes follow the rich ooze of cheese that rims the bread crust and threatens to inch onto the heavy white china plate. Along the way, a few slices of dill pickle are added along with a glass of iced tea. Finally the plate makes its way to the lady at the cash register and lands on a tray. You tender your cash and then you were standing there, peering through the roiling clouds of cigarette smoke in search of a place to sit.

Squinting toward the bright light pouring in through big windows and glass-paneled doors leading to the porch, you peruse the tables for someone you might know, or—futilely—for an unoccupied table. If fortune fails to smile, you wander through a door to the left of the cashier into the larger dining area where an empty table is more easily found. Or you might, weather permitting, ease out onto the big porch in search of that gang of friends who usually occupy one of the tables. Most desired is the first room with the grill where the bodies, the flattop and the mingled aromas of food generate more warmth than the building’s heat can supply.

Whatever the case, finally dragging out a chair and with the books, notebooks, and other encumbrances unloaded onto an adjacent chair, you lift the sandwich in trembling hand. With a last swallow of eager saliva, your teeth sink into the crisp-tender concoction that will nourish the rest of your afternoon. The bite of just-enough sharpness in the cheese contrasts with the buttery crunch of the toasted bread still hot from the stalwart grill, and the sandwich begins to disappear. The tang of dill clears the palate for the other half of the sandwich, and then, alas, it is gone.

There’s time yet to sip the iced tea. With a brief glance around, you might leave your table to visit the cigarette machine where a quarter dropped into the slot and a quick jerk of the knob yields a fresh pack of your preferred brand. You stroll back to the table, slam the pack a few times against your palm, then unwrap the shiny cellophane to retrieve one of the perfectly-shaped cylinders. Then, with the smoke filling your lungs briefly before you exhale, there is time to look around, assess the day, ponder the meaning of life. A great lassitude supplants your otherwise fraught existential despair, courtesy of butter, cheese, and the endorphins they bestow.

Yes, an exam in French is coming in a half hour, and you’re not ready. You probably didn’t perform as well as you wished on the algebra exam earlier this morning. But these too shall pass, what’s done is done, and so forth. As you tap ash into the tiny flat metal ashtray and consider the nature of life, the comfort of cheese lingers.

Maple Street side leading into porch area

As do many other memories. I left after my sophomore year to live near Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with my new husband. Two and a half years later when he was transferred to Clark Air Base in the Philippines, I returned to Fayetteville to finish my degree. There were mornings when I’d drive to campus in early morning fog to park in a graveled lot across Maple Street and venture up these steps into the Union for a cup of coffee before my early class. Those too were nostalgic moments thinking of the earlier years, of fellow students and dorm mates, of professors and classes, of ever changing current events.

The student union of those days is gone, sacrificed into other uses for a larger more elaborate facility than what Memorial Hall could ever provide. Built in the early 1970s, the new union seems to us older alumni as somewhat cold and vast compared to the old environs of Memorial Hall. Yes, it was crowded and unquestionably not best suited to more modern needs, but it was our place in our time. In service as a student union only thirty years from its construction in 1940, the facility nevertheless filled a critical role in campus life.

As described in the 1941 yearbook: “The basement floor is made up of the confectionery with a black and chromium soda fountain and cafeteria facilities, and the amusement rooms. Walking down the hall from the confectionery one can go into two rooms equipped with ping-pong tables, and one with large, lively snooker tables. Up the stairs to the main floor, and there one sees the front entrance, from which leads the ballroom and the lounge room. With a lofty ceiling support four huge glass and metal chandeliers and tall arched windows draped with yards and yards of flowing expensive cloth, the ballroom is truly a ‘dream.’ Over the especially designed band shell is a mural depicting all phases of student life at the University, and all around the floor are chairs for chaperones and those who care to sit the dance out. Overlooking the ballroom is a balcony for those who care to watch rather than dance. The chandeliers are all connected with one master switch which changes the lights in the room from red, blue, green, and orange back to natural lighting in a gradual fading process.

“Equipped with heavy leather chairs and divans, the pastel-colored lounge room can compare very well with the lobby of an expensive hotel. Scattered throughout the room are lamps with indirect lighting, and down at the end is a large fireplace topped by a huge square mirror. Here students come to read, talk, or just listen to the radio.” 1941

“The fountain room of the Student Union, where at some time or other, everyone sees everyone, is a happy confusion of coffee lines, bridge games, table-hoppers, and glaring renditions from the juke-box. From 9-11, 2 until 5, it’s the place to see and be seen, grab a late breakfast or a hurried lunch, or just sit and talk.” 1951

Bookstore 1950s:

Open hallway where advocates of one issue or another could interact with students. In my time, it was to sign the petition to save the Buffalo River and then to stop the war in Vietnam.

Note: If you’d like to wander through the Razorback yearbook from your time on campus, here’s the link

Second Glimpses of Fayetteville’s Past

Bawd, tart, hussy, jade, libertine, sport, soiled dove – familiar terms among many for women who sell the use of their bodies. Shockingly enough, Fayetteville had them. But no one talked about it, probably because the town fathers and university powers feared that parents across the state might not send their sons and daughters to school here if this particular element was known to exist. But it did exist, and finally in 1935 the news exploded onto the front pages of the newspaper.

“Fayetteville’s Immoral Houses” is just one of nine articles exploring local history collected in the new release, Second Glimpses of Fayetteville’s Past.

Chapter 1 – New! Daguerreotype was the first form of photography, and Washington County had several daguerreotype professionals in the years before the Civil War. The story follows Anderson Frieze and documents others in this image-making profession circa 1850-1880.

Chapter 2 – The Yoes family was one of the first to settle in Washington County. The story follows them from the time of their immigration from Germany through three generations. Some of this information was previously in various parts in The West Fork Valley: The West Fork of White River, Arkansas, Its Environs & Settlement before 1900.

Chapter 3 – This award-winning article about Jesse Gilstrap tracks his travel to the gold fields of 1850 California, his inventions and millwright operations in south Washington County, and his efforts on behalf of the Union during the Civil War. Published in 2018, Flashback.

Chapter 4 –  This article delves into the murder of a prominent businessman on a downtown Fayetteville sidewalk. Why did these two men — brothers in law — come to such a crisis? A greatly abbreviated version of this story appeared in Murder in the County: 50 True Stories of the Old West.

Chapter 5 – New! “The Final Abuse of Ann Jarvis” recounts the horrific murder of a wife and mother in a case of extreme domestic violence and mental illness.

Chapter 6 – New! “Fayetteville’s Immoral Houses” uncovers the previously hidden world of prostitution in Fayetteville.

Chapter 7 – This exposé of an auto theft ring operating in Fayetteville in the 1930s portrays a man’s attempt to entangle the city attorney and the police chief in his foil. Previously appeared in Flashback.

Chapter 8 – New! Circuses drew enormous crowds through the 19th and early 20th centuries, even to locations like Fayetteville whose population at the time of the first circus was less than 1,000 people.

Chapter 9 – The story of the Brumfields and their fated dream to build Fayetteville’s Downtown Motor Lodge tracks the rise and fall of that dream to the vacant lot that scars Fayetteville’s downtown today.  Appeared previously in Flashback.

Great reading for cold winter days ahead! Also makes a good gift for any of your history-lovin’ friends. Order now! Amazon

Easy Gift Shopping!

Books are gifts that last forever, endlessly entertaining for the recipient you have in mind. For the old codger in your family, give him (or her) a rush back to their prime with any of these four affordable treasures!

Gas, Grass & Ass

Seeking a self-sustaining life outside the city and a new start for her marriage, this twenty-five-year old woman boldly embarked on proprietorship of a full-service gas station along a busy highway in rural Arkansas. Her hope to live and work at her own place of business soon encountered not only the end of her marriage but also the entrenched conservatism of the rural South. Joyful in recounting her experiences in an endlessly astonishing parade of human nature, Campbell’s stories portray a unique slice of American life at a pivotal time with the fall of Richard Nixon’s presidency and the end of the Vietnam War. Buoyed by a wellspring of support and companionship, Campbell struggles to hang on to her dream of independence. Get your copy now!

5 star review: “I enjoyed this true story about a determined young woman in the early 70’s owning and operating a small gas station on her own. Interesting “characters” who frequent the station and the dynamics of small town life. Takes you back in time !”

Aquarian Revolution

They were the hippies, the drop-outs, the radicals. They came from New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and bought cheap Arkansas land where they could build lives with meaning. Often the topic of heated rhetoric and armchair analysis, those who went ‘back to the land’ rarely speak in their own voice. Now documented in these personal interviews, their stories reveal the guts, glory, and grief of the 1960s social revolution. Buy it today!

“Denele Campbell’s informative ‘Aquarian Revolution: Back to the Land’ fills a much-needed niche in the history of the Counter-Culture movement. Unlike in more crowded Europe, America’s rural expanse offered an escape, a new beginning in the 1960s, from a social cancer spreading through the dominant culture. The dream of finding land to till and an alternative life style had been an American dream since its founding. America’s cities, mired in racism, sexism, poverty, and riots, seemed doomed. The ‘baby boomers’ sought escape by going to the land, many for the first time. Denele Campbell has carefully chronicled the personal stories of thirty-two pioneers who opted to create their utopian vision in the Ozarks. As such, their quest is at times fascinating, amusing, and often painful. Yet, it is a good read for those who lived through this era as well as today’s young.” —-T. Zane Reeves, Regents’ Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico and author of Shoes along the Danube.

Ray: One Man’s Life

“I’ve had my jaw broke three times, my nose broke five times to the point that the VA had to do the operation they do to boxers. My hand’s been broke and on fire once, enough that the skin was gone clear back to my wrist. I’ve fell off buildings, ladders, and mountains. Somehow I survived all that craziness.”

How Ray Mooney survived the incredible journey of his life is indeed a question for the ages. Polio, combat assault jumps from helicopters in Vietnam, and three children by three different wives didn’t kill him. Neither did the flagrant murder of his father by his father’s latest wife. But the traumas changed him, as they would change any man.

Told in his own words, Ray’s life story rushes from one shocking experience to the next and brings him to the last days as he faces end stage lung disease. Turkey killer, outlaw, entrepreneur, and disabled vet, this boy from the horse farms and tobacco fields of Kentucky relates his adventures with wry wit and breathtaking honesty. Buy Ray’s story

South County: Bunyard Road and the Personal Adventures of Denny Luke

1972. A Yankee learns the Ozarks way and lives to tell his tales. Now almost a native, Denny fondly reminisces about the people and places of his adopted home.

Denny Luke is an adventurer. During his years as a Navy man, he built hot rods with money he made with shipboard loansharking. He returned to his native Ohio where he soon tired of the mechanic’s life. Computers had just started to break the surface in 1966, the perfect attraction to a young man with a sharp mind and plenty of ambition.

Hot cars and Enduro racing occupied Denny’s next few years as he helped usher in the computer age in Minneapolis. But another adventure awaited when in 1970 he fell in with a bunch of hippies. By 1972, he had found his way to the Ozarks.

An avid photographer and storyteller, Denny shares the adventures of his life as he recalls the outrageous backwoods tales and colorful characters who populate the southern fringe of Washington County in Northwest Arkansas.

Buy South County!

Shop Denele Campbell’s author page for all her books. You don’t have to be a geezer to find something you can’t live without! Amazon.com

The West Fork Valley: Its environs and settlement before 1900

Conrad Yoes, pictured here, was among the earliest settlers along the West Fork valley, arriving around 1822. The extended Yoes family, recent immigrants from Germany, sent down strong roots and became an influential part of county history. Conrad became nicknamed as “Coon Rod” because of his willingness to cross high water creeks on a log in order to carry out his preaching mission. According to a descendant,

“He started on his circuit one day, came to the creek, the ford could not be crossed, so he found where someone had felled a tree across the stream so he “cooned” it and so got that nickname.

In another of Bert Yoes recollections about his grandfather, he said that Conrad was a “small man” who could “conjure warts and stop blood flow.”

Conrad Yoes’ son, Jacob “Black Jake” Yoes served in Union forces during the Civil War then as sheriff of Washington County. With the timber boom that came with the opening of the railroad in 1882, Jacob turned his energy to building a business empire with mercantiles at multiple stops between Fayetteville and Van Buren. The two-story brick store he built at West Fork remains standing today. In 1889, Jacob became a legendary U. S. Marshal working for Hanging’ Judge Parker at Fort Smith, allegedly the inspiration for John Wayne’s famous role in the movie “Big Jake.”

The story of the Yoes family is just one of many documented in these pages, all of them building lives and rich histories along the river valley, all of it fascinating to anyone interested in the 19th century settlement of Washington County.

The West Fork of White River created the West Fork valley and continues to shape it today. Streams, creeks, and springs drain down the steep hillsides to form the river and carve this particular place on Earth. This book is about that valley, how it formed over millions of years, how Nature filled it with plants and animals, how Native people found sustenance and shelter here. And then the immigrants came, arriving from the eastern seaboard of the early colonies, from Europe and beyond. Within these pages are the stories of the first settlers here, the roads and towns they made, the war they fought, and their paths to survival through the end of the 19th century.

Subsequent chapters describe the mills, churches, and early roads as well as the neighbor-to-neighbor conflict of the Civil War. Stagecoaches hurtled down the valley roads, later supplanted by the iron horse with the completion of the railroad tunnel at Winslow. A chapter on crime reveals shootouts, knife fights, and barn burning. Histories of Winslow, Brentwood, Woolsey, West Fork, and Greenland outline their origins and heydays.

One of several 5 star reviews: “The research involved to create such a great history is very obvious. I wanted to know more about my home which was built in 1840 and the family behind many of the objects found on the property. Ms. Campbell’s book answered many of those questions and helped me develop a treasured sense of place. We seem to have lost our appreciation for where we came from and how we created communities. So great to see Campbell’s thorough research and ability to bring the past alive.”

Get your copy today at Amazon.com or at the Headquarters House offices of the Washington County Historical Society.

Rex Perkins, Fayetteville’s celebrated old school attorney

Of all the stories still told about Rex Perkins, none has enjoyed such ongoing and avid public interest as the murder trial of Virginia “Queenie” Rand. Mrs. Rand, an attractive brunette and wife of J. O. Rand, a prominent Rogers businessman, was charged with the crime of second degree murder for the killing of Harry V. “Buddy” Clark on August 9, 1959. Clark, married and father of two, was shot in Virginia Rand’s bedroom.

The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision in the Rand v. State appeal was delivered December 12, 1960. Their summary of the offense follows:

“It appears from the record that on the evening of August 8, 1959, the deceased, Clark, and his wife entertained Mr. and Mrs. Sam Davis in their home. At about 1:15 a.m. on August 9, Mr. and Mrs. Davis left the Clark home and at the same time Clark left in his car to check the receipts at the Horseshoe Grill, a café which he owned located some 8 blocks from the Clark home in Rogers. Although the evidence is somewhat uncertain, it is clear that Clark finished his work at the café and at 1:30 a.m. the night police radio operator received a call from a woman identifying herself as appellant, who said: “Send someone out here, I have had some trouble.” After the radio operator sent a patrolman to the Rand home, the appellant called again and said: “I have shot a man. I shot Buddy Clark.” Upon arrival at the Rand home, the patrolman was told by appellant that she shot Clark in her bedroom. The patrolman immediately went to the hospital where he found Clark on the floor in the hall. Nurses at the hospital testified that Clark came in the front door and fell to the floor. The records show he was admitted at 1:45 a.m. He expired at 4:17 a.m. that same morning.

“The patrolman testified he found tracks in the heavy dew going in and out of the Rand house and found a gun about 4 to 6 feet from these tracks. There were two bullet holes in the bedroom walls and 5 empty cartridges were found in the bedroom. The deceased was shot 4 times—3 times in the chest and one time in the right arm. No trace of blood was found in or around the Rand house but there was blood on the steering wheel and door of Clark’s automobile.”

The case transcript runs 796 pages leading some to observe that everybody in town must have testified. The question before the jury in the second trial, ordered after the appeal was: Is she guilty of murder? Can Rex get her off?

Rex Perkins was the man of the hour in this case, just as he had been in just about every other case he ever faced from the start of his legal career in 1932. But the law wasn’t his only passion. He loved his hunting dogs almost as much as he loved his wife and daughters, but none of that stood in the way of his pursuit of a strong drink and other women. Most of all he loved to play his fiddle. Truly a man with powerful passions and incisive intellect, even sixty years after his death, his memory remains strong within Washington County’s legal community.

Read his fascinating life story from a time when courtroom hijinks ranked high in the arsenal of criminal defense attorneys like Perkins. Available at Amazon.com

Murder in the County: 50 True Stories of the Old West

The execution site perched on a low hill lying just east of the National Cemetery in south Fayetteville, about one mile from the county jail at the town square. Its position served well in accommodating large crowds of observers anxious to watch the hanging. The place later became known as Gallows Hill and remained in use for executions until the Civil War. After the war, in 1867, the site was taken over by the federal government and became part of the National Cemetery.

On a cold clear November day, the couple was brought by wagon to the wooden platform, a hood placed over their heads and then the noose, and last prayers uttered. It seemed the entire county’s population had turned out to witness the macabre event as the drop doors opened and Crawford and Lavinia fell into the arms of death.

Soon after the execution of his parents, John Burnett was arrested in southeast Missouri and brought back to Fayetteville. The testimony of Sharp quoted previously in this story was given by Sharp at John Burnett’s trial. On December 4, 1845, John Burnett was indicted and quickly sentenced to his fate. The same gallows awaited him. Despite his attorneys’ protestations of his innocence, of which they were fully convinced, thirty-four-year-old John Burnett was hung on the day after Christmas, December 26, 1845.

What unspeakable crime could have sent the Burnett family to their deaths?

Murder, it was alleged, planned by the aging parents and facilitated by their son John. Murder of an old man named Jonathan Selby, a recluse rumored to hoard wealth in his remote cabin, not an uncommon thread of gossip about someone who didn’t make himself known within social circles. His cash payment for his eighty acres contributed to this idea. He may have exhibited a degree of wealth by purchasing livestock or building materials for his home, outbuildings, or fences. Later court testimony revealed that he had made the mistake of allowing someone to see him place a quantity of money into his wallet.

Did the murderers find a money hoard? Did the Burnett’s daughter Minerva regret her role in her family’s execution? These are a few of the questions that linger after a crime like this, a crime that led to the first execution of a woman in the State of Arkansas.

~~~

Contrary to popular notion, Arkansas was part of the Old West along with Texas and the rest of those more familiar dusty southwestern places. Its western border joined up with the Indian Nations where many a weary marshal rode out with his bedroll and pistol carrying writs from the U. S. District Court at Fort Smith in a search for a steady stream of men rustling livestock, stealing horses, selling whiskey, or running from the law.

From its earliest days, Washington County, Arkansas, experienced some of the worst the Old West had to offer. At unexpected moments, county settlers faced their fellow man in acts of fatal violence. These murderous events not only ended hopeful lives but also forever changed those who survived them. Not to say that the murders in the county all stemmed from conflict along its western border—plenty of blood spilled within its communities and homesteads.

The fifty chapters of Murder in the County each focus on one violent incident. Through family histories, legal records, and newspaper accounts, the long-dead actors tell their shocking stories of rage, grief, retaliation, and despair. Now, for the first time, readers can discover the horrors and mysteries of those long lost days.

Available at Amazon.com

More Adventures of Denny Luke: City-Boy Plowing and other blasphemies

Following the success of his first book, South County: Bunyard Road and the Personal Adventures of Denny Luke, Denny Luke found himself remembering even more moments in his life that seemed worthy of recording.  Brief moments, some of them. Others spurred by a photograph here and there.

Always accommodating to his friends and family, Denny divulges various secrets and outrages that occurred at various points in his eighty years – so far.

Take what you will from his stories, he gives it all in good humor and humility. 

Here’s a taste:

Runaway

Age 12 or 13, I knew everything! Parents disagreed of course, so I plotted to run away. Living in Beloit, Wisconsin, where should I go? Having the entire world to choose from, decided on California, endless beaches, hot rods and beautiful weather and I could get there on my thumb.

Headed west, must change my name, I thought, to disguise myself, picked ‘Conrad Davis.’ Sounded right in case I hit Hollywood.

Somewhere in Iowa a fella picked me up in Chevy station wagon. Stated he’d just installed an anti-sway bar and watch this! He flew around curves, in the days before seat belts, had me white knuckling for my life.

Next, picked up by a guy attending an all-night meeting. He liked me, said I could sleep in the back of his car. Lit out at first light, back on the road.

Next evening was pondering what to do for the night…

Read all of it and much more in this slim but rich treasure trove of ‘Dennyspeak’! Available at Amazon

I Met a Goat on the Road and other stories of life on this hill

Rain

Let the rains come. Let it seal me inside my house, all gray and dark. I will turn on lamps, pools of yellow light that warm me, bring me to my favored place at the end of the couch. Books and magazines and yesterday’s newspaper beckon me with tidbits from the obituaries and the editorial columns. I will clean my nails and stare at the wall that needs painting.

The rain overcomes my senses, filling my nostrils with its unmistakable scent.

Let the rain pour. Sheets of rain, pounding on the roof, obscuring the profile of houses down the hill. Taking away my worries of the bills that are due, the tires that need replacing. Thankful I am home. The noise of the rain on the roof takes away the noise of the world.

Soup for dinner. Quiet, hot food, soft in my mouth, accompaniment to the cacophony of thoughts that clamor for my time, my attention. When the repairs to the bathroom tile? When the vet for the cat’s injured ear? When the time to wander in the yard, staring at moths and yellow-flowering weeds and the lighted distance through low tree limbs? To contemplate the sky, radiant blue, outlined in the mid-summer green of oak leaves?

Pour, rain. Let me sit in my robe on the side of my bed, cooled, moistened, lulled by the steady drone on the roof. Let me ignore the phone that rings shrilly in the far room, its third ring aborted by my pre-recorded voice, apologizing, placating. Go away, all of you. Can’t you see it’s raining?

I need to be alone. Time to consider the meaning of it all. Why the frantic awakenings and driving and worrying, this and that, meetings, advising, bank deposits, expectant friends. I need to step aside, look at the curve of the neck of my child, where the hair meets the skin of her neck and small new hair curls in the heat of the July afternoon, in the heat of her temper.

I need to contemplate the reasons I exist.

Thank you, rain. Thanks for the time you drowned out the world. Poured water across the ground in streams, in newfound passages of water across red clay dirt, across rocky, pebbly ground. Across pavement, steaming in the sun.

Let it rain.

~~~

This series of lyrical essays express the author’s love of nature and the wonders of life on an Ozark hilltop. Throw in a few neighbors who shoot copperheads or remodel the dirt road. Ask what is the role of human privilege over the fate of raccoon, opossum, reckless chickens, and random cats? Ponder the passage of time through a philosophical lens of wonder and delight. The seasons bring summer heat, winter snow, pouring rain, the power of fire. Lessons learned, questions posed–who has lived and died on this land? What is our responsibility to this place, its creatures, each other?

Come meet the goat on the road. Available at Amazon.com

The Jeff Bezos Problem

By Daniel Spils – originally posted to Flickr as Jeff visits the Robots, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11253016

This morning I received a query from a friend of mine asking where he could buy one of my books. He didn’t want to buy from Amazon and further line the pockets of Jeff Bezos.

This widespread reaction to Bezos’ fortune and his choices of how to spend his money has reached the point where I feel obligated to fully explain why my books are marketed at Amazon and why we might need to take deep breath and cut Bezos a tiny bit of slack.

In 1994 at the age of 32, Bezos decided to establish an online bookselling enterprise. Within the next twenty years, his company Amazon had expanded to offer an enormous range of products. But his original idea was about books. By the early 2000s, Bezos had expanded his concept to allow authors to publish their own books.

Before this, authors faced two options. Traditionally, a printed submission letter with an outline of the proposed book would be submitted to a publishing house for consideration. If interested, the publisher would request the manuscript for review. With a slim chance of acceptance, the book could easily languish in these dead end processes for years before a) a publisher somewhere accepted the book or b) the author gave up in despair.

By the end of the 20th century, publishing houses increasingly refused this first layer of submission from authors. Instead, authors were directed to find an agent who, after screening the manuscript, might deign to take the book under his wing and offer various revisions and plot recommendations before then trying to market the book to a publishing house. The publishing house still could refuse the book, but if they saw any promise in the project, their editors would pick through the manuscript for yet more revisions. Again, months turned into years while authors held onto hope, usually to ultimately meet with rejection.

Literary Criticism, caricature of literary critics removing passages from books that displease them, c.1830 Charles Joseph Travis de Villiers

Or worse. Two books of mine submitted in the late 1990s through this Sisyphean process ended up published by other people. I’ve described these infuriating experiences of intellectual property theft in previous blog posts here, here, and here.

The other option for authors was to self-publish. This path was taken by my mother who paid nearly $2,000 for her family history to appear in print. A friend of mine also took this route when she paid a vanity press to print a few thousand copies of her book, which she had to store in her garage and distribute herself. But along with the internet and the engineering genius of Bezos, Amazon formed a branch known as Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) where an author had total control over the publication of her/his book.

Print on demand simply means that when someone purchases a certain book, it is then printed and shipped. An author using KDP must prepare the manuscript by certain layout guidelines, but is then free to choose page size, white or cream paper, and certain other formatting options. The manuscript is uploaded at the KDP website and after proofing, the book is ready to purchase. The author can either use KDP’s cover templates to create the book’s cover or upload a cover file created entirely by the author. (I use Photoshop and thoroughly enjoy the use of color, imagery, and font choices.)

The freedom this provides an author is absolutely stunning.

A few print-on-demand enterprises co-exist with KDP, but KDP’s software is supremely user friendly and allows for maximum author flexibility. KDP also offers swift interaction with staff via email, chat, or phone if/when questions arise. KDP pricing, at least for paperbacks, means that authors gain a higher share of the sale price than is available through any other publishing outlet. Ebook pricing is not quite as competitive as a few other entities such as Smashwords, but promotional options are much wider.

My first book, Notes of a Piano Tuner, published in 1996 by a traditional small regional press, sold for $16.95. My royalty was one dollar. Through KDP, a recent book that retails for $26.95 pays me $8.70. KDP retains $7.47 for printing costs, and the rest is KDP profit. While that is a sizeable profit for KDP and its parent Amazon, I am still ahead of the 5.8% profit I received through traditional publishing. At $8.70, that’s over 32% profit.

Book market in India

Perhaps even more important for most authors is that self-pub books at KDP remain on their virtual bookshelves forever and essentially worldwide. These services are available to authors in India, China, Japan, and many other far flung locations and in their own language. KDP provides the services needed to register my ISBN number with the Library of Congress. They provide marketing tools I can use to promote my books. I don’t have to do anything for my books to be found in online searches for my subject matter.

While all this is wonderful and amazing and possibly would have occurred sooner or later without Jeff Bezos, the fact is that he was the one who made it happen.

Not to say there hasn’t been a downside to the avalanche of author-published books his brain child has created. Key to the bookselling industry have been the various filters through which a manuscript would pass—agents, editors, and ultimately reviewers who offer insight into the nature and quality of any particular book, thereby providing a prospective reader a guideline of sorts to measure whether plopping down the requisite dollars is a wise decision. But as this Indie avalanche hit mainstream reviewers like Book Review DigestBooklistBook World, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal or other traditional book review sources including Saturday Review, Observer, New York Times Book Review, and The New Yorker, the welcome mat quickly rolled up.

Self-publishing authors, known as Indies (independent), suffer no such critiques either before or after publishing. Some are able to pay a few of these review entities to gain a review, but the price is steep. Kirkus, for example, wants $500 per review for the onerous task. Most turn up their noses entirely.

The reason for this bottleneck in the literary pipeline is painfully clear to anyone who reads Indie books at random. The writing can be abysmally awful, everything from misspelled words to dangling modifiers and other grammatical abominations to outright absurdity in balanced presentation or research authenticity or, in fiction, plot line or character development. Furthermore, the Indie risk of showing one’s bare behind, i.e. complete lack of literary talent, is compounded at the review stand by the sheer quantity of self-published books flooding the marketplace.  

For a few genres, most notably romance fiction, a review option of sorts has sprung up to fill the gap. Facebook pages, groups, and multiple websites have proliferated where authors can submit a romance book for review. For a modest fee, usually $50 to $100, a promoter will set up review ‘tours’ that take a book through several such entities and can, in theory, rack up a nice quantity of reviews for that particular book which are then posted to the Amazon book listing page as well as to other book promotion sites like Goodreads. A rating of 5 stars is a sure path to reader interest, and most of these reviewers won’t post a review of less than 3 stars.

The Caxton Celebration – William Caxton showing specimens of his printing to King Edward IV and his Queen By The Graphic, June 30, 1877, p617. Retrieved from old-print.com. Printing up through the end of the 18th century was largely a product of wealthy patrons who paid for the books they wanted in print.

No such wondrous option exists for most other types of books. A few exist for science fiction, a few for historical fiction, but virtually none for nonfiction. Authors must find creative ways to let the public know about their books, which up to a few years ago could include setting up an author page on Facebook alongside a personal page. One author I know had gained nearly one thousand ‘followers’ on her Facebook author page, and each time she published a new book or wanted to promote an existing book, she simply posted an enticing bit on her author page and the majority of her followers would receive the notice on their newsfeed.

Sadly, those days ended with Facebook’s corporate rush for money. Now my friend’s author page posts are seen only by a half dozen or less of her followers. The only way she can make a bigger splash is to pay Facebook to promote her posts. Depending on her choice of audience, the number of days the post should run, and her spending limit, Facebook will promote the product. It has reached the point, however, where Facebook newsfeeds are so spammed with similar “sponsored” ads that people usually just scroll past.

Ironically, even traditional publishing has stopped most expenditures on book promotion. Publishing is less about literary accomplishment and more about profits, and the trimming has proceeded at pace. Authors whether Indie or not are expected to pay their way through book signing tours and public appearances.  

Despite these stumbling blocks in Indie publishing, the old publishing world has crumbled. Few corporate-owned publishers are willing to risk possible low returns on an investment of manpower, ink, warehousing, and distribution unless the odds are good that an adequate return is more or less guaranteed. That’s why books by celebrities and known authors crowd the shelves and why libraries, which depend on mainstream reviews to determine acquisitions, will rarely if ever shelve Indie books.

In my case, where the majority of my books are focused on local history, I can promote my books through networks of friends and in local outlets. In the case of the book my friend wants to purchase, Good Times: A History of Night Spots and Live Music in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the demand has been great enough that I have partnered with the Washington County Historical Society to serve as an outlet through which they gain a decent percentage of the sale price and which offers the interested public a local source for the book.

However, the book is still published by KDP. As the author, I pay only the printing cost and receive no royalty from the sale. Whatever margin I wish to receive is gained in the wholesale price I charge the historical society. But, simply put, that and the rest of my books likely would not exist without Bezos.