Y'all, I have fought this moment for so long. Despite all factual evidence, I convinced myself that I would NEVER start a blog. I thought it was time wasted from writing my current project, or putting effort into my publishing company www.karynraepublishing.com. But, here we are at blog post #1. Sigh. . . let's go.
First, I'd like to welcome you. The purpose of this blog is to inform you of current projects, previously published projects, and those that still live in my head. From time to time, I'll add tips and tricks about the publishing industry that I've learned along the way.
Second, I'm very excited to share an exclusive excerpt from my co-authored novel, The 51st State. This never before told story is one of broad shoulders and deep secrets, and it's the epitome of going underground. Look for the release of this organized crime, political thriller this spring. Enjoy!
My Dearest Tommy,
In our earthly life, it’s not what kills you, but rather who: an enemy, a friend, or ourselves? We live in a society that requires members to function within certain rules and guidelines, faulting or imprisoning those who choose to ignore them. Our nation expects individual excellence from ordinary people, yet it crucifies the select few who break free from the masses with ideas or implementations that lie outside the proverbial box.
The ideology to which Americans have conformed isn’t exactly our fault. We have been trained to see, think, and believe our lives to be a certain way with the information we have been given—that information we are allowed to have—and we ingest this data as fact. Mostly because, as a group, we are simple, lazy, and trusting; this is far less exhausting than war. We don’t want to see, we won’t handle knowing, and we can’t bear the consequences of truth.
Our focus has been intentionally shifted to think locally, not globally, in order to sustain our naïvety. We focus on our 401(k), our midlife--crisis birthday, even the grocery list. We cannot feel the depth of dying, or empathize with the demented, so we trust those who have established their dominance in power positions to handle all things emotionally uncomfortable. As long as we stick with the herd and don’t go against the grain, we can live our lives trusting our neighbors, our leaders, and the universe that war exists only elsewhere. People who choose the path beyond the idyllic picket fences put themselves in the direct line of fire.
People like us, Tommy.
I can make these proclamations not only with confidence but experience. I started out as part of the herd and got lost trying to force an unfulfilling purpose. Once I submitted to my darker side—the part of me I’d held back—I finally found the electric comfort of defiance. Now, I am to be rewarded with a seat at the pinnacle of power. I earned this position by learning to erase what I knew to be true, surrendering to the hands of my birthright authority, and, finally, embracing the war. Those who don’t won’t be around to make a choice.
War has been waging since the beginning of time—above us, below us, and, most furiously, inside of us. A battle cry rings out with every election, terrorist attack, food stamp, and petty crime, but only a slight few intellects recognize the significance in our everyday lives. The ringing of church bells, the cherry sirens of a police cruiser, the deafening blast of an air raid horn—they all sing the same song. No matter your ethnicity, religion, or neighborhood, our main objective as humans is to survive. Some days are certainly easier than others, but each morning we suit up, readying ourselves to fight the next battle and justifying ourselves with the next kill. The soldiers who can live with the savage requirements of war are the ones who will survive; especially the ones required to exchange a friend for an enemy. I don’t need to tell you, but you would be surprised by what we can live with, and by what penance we are willing to pay when it comes down to life and death—my life and your death.
When you get right down to the core of our innermost human workings, we all have one thing in common: trust. At least we do for a time, until we reach the second thing we all have in common: betrayal. And where I come from, the betrayal lasts a whole lot longer than the trust. I experienced the realities of this betrayal at a young age, and looking to the leaders of my community I also discovered an antidote. And one morning, I woke up much less pious than wicked.
I woke up a soldier.
Adaptation is a necessity of survival. Those who refuse to adapt their ridiculous need to trust will certainly fall victim to betrayal. The rest of us, though, have a fighting chance.
I fully believe the meek will inherit the earth. Any child who went to Sunday school on a regular basis was spoon-fed that ideology. Each week’s sermon led back to the same lesson. A priest would stand above the congregation with outstretched arms as an emulation of God, preaching the importance of religious compliance in an attempt to shame his sheep into submission. Men bowed their heads, women blotted at their eyes, and children wrestled with their own bodies to sit still. It was a magical feeling of trust to watch the priest—who gave me a wave as he passed my aisle—make his way to the front doors at the end of a service. Magical, until I found out that those same fingers on that holy hand had been shoved up Bobby Covington’s ass only two hours earlier.
The broker who skims off the top, the teacher who passes a failing kid, the cop who takes a payout in exchange for protection. We aren’t so different, you and I, and that reality makes me blush, because you knew this. You’ve known it all along. This isn’t the outcome I expected, but I was willing to adapt. I only wish you would take on our new roles with the same fury that I’ve come to love most about you. I’m asking you to reconsider.
Yes, I still believe the meek will inherit the earth, because they’ll be buried in it. I won’t be one of them.