The Women I Have Loved

A friend of mine recently asked me “So, just how many women have you loved?” It’s a simple enough question, but time, maturity, and wisdom have led me to realize that the answer is not so simple.

The question arose because I was relating that I have asked a total four women to marry me over the years, even though I’ve only been married once. The first woman I asked said “yes,” and then cheated on me. The second woman and I broke up the night I asked. The third woman said “yes,” and then cheated on me. The fourth woman said “yes,” and we’ve been happily married for nearly 19 years. My friend assumed that the answer would be at least “four women.” But in hindsight, that’s not the number at all. While it’s true that I have known many women, the real number of women that I’ve loved is less than you’d think.

Oh, there have been many women over the years who have turned my head and that I wanted to be with. I even thought that I was in love with several of them, including the first three women that I asked to marry me. But now I realize that, in most cases, it wasn’t love at all; it was a combination of lust, infatuation, intrigue, and desperation. In spite of the number of women who have come and gone from my life, I’ve only been truly in love with two, and both of them have had a profound effect on the direction of my life.

The second one is my wife, and she is the love of my life. She is my best friend, my confident, my rock, my partner in all things, and the most patient and understanding woman I’ve ever met. Without her, I would never have survived the trials and tribulations that I’ve had to face, and my love for her is without measure. We support each other, we take care of each other, and we face the challenges of life hand-in-hand. Every day convinces me more that this is the woman the universe wanted me to be with all along, and whatever I had to go through to reach her was a journey well worth taking (although not without its share of scars).

The first one, though, is not among the women that I’d asked to marry me. She’s the one that I affectionately refer to as “the one that got away,” and it’s time to acknowledge what she did for me… by saying “good bye.”

I met her my sophomore year in college. My roommate met her first and was immediately smitten. She was a freshman, petite with short dark hair, and she had a smile that could melt your heart. My roommate was athletic and was a player on an intramural basketball team. He had to get to each of his games early to warm up, and he had to stay behind after the games to clean up. He didn’t want her to walk across campus alone to watch him play, so he asked me to escort her from her dorm to the games and back again. Being his best friend, I was happy to do so.

I got to know her while walking with her and sitting next to her during the games. It didn’t take long for us to discover that we liked each other. It also didn’t take me long to realize that I was falling for her. That’s when I did the unforgivable, according to the “bro code.” I asked her out, even though my best friend thought that he had the superior claim to her.

We kept it quiet that we were spending time together. Neither of us wanted to hurt my roommate, but we couldn’t find a way to tell him what was going on. As it turned out, he found out anyway, and I’ve never seen anyone so angry in my life.

I don’t think that his anger came from the betrayal of my dating her as much as it came from the fact that she preferred me to him. After all, he was the all-American, handsome, smart, jock-engineer, and I was the pudgy computer nerd. I don’t think that his ego could handle losing a girl to someone like me, and the situation ended our friendship and put considerably strain on our living arrangements. But I was now able to see her openly, and that was more important to me that what the situation had caused with my roommate.

During this time, I was involved in state and national politics. I didn’t realize that the people I associated with, through the various campus political groups that I was a member of, were subtly changing me – turning me into someone that I was never meant to be. She tried to tell me that I was becoming someone different – that I was traveling down the wrong path – but I didn’t listen. I thought that I was doing great work; I didn’t realize that I was pushing her away. And then, just before the end of the spring semester, she was gone. For her own peace of mind, she turned her back on me. I hadn’t left her any choice.

I was devastated. By this time, I knew that I was in love with her. We had never slept together, and we had only kissed twice, but I was head-over-heels for her. I spent the entire summer trying to figure out why she had left me. And then, in August, I finally realized what I had become that pushed her away. In that instant, I went through one of the most profound transformations of my life. All of the things that I thought were so terribly important just faded away. I found my way back to the right path. The people around me immediately noticed the change, and I felt like a completely new person.

I should have just been grateful for the lesson and moved on. I had already started attending another college over the summer (I had to retake a class that I had bombed in the spring so I could take the next class in the fall), and I should have transferred to the new college permanently. But I wanted her to see that I had changed; I wanted to win her back. I should never have done that.

We were eventually able to rekindle a friendship of sorts half-way through the fall semester, but it was clear that her purpose in my life had already run its course. She was a catalyst for a needed change that I had to go through, but the universe never intended for us to end up together. I transferred permanently to the other college at the end of the semester, and she transferred to a college closer to her home town at the same time. I never saw her again.

Even though she was no longer in my life, the effect of what she did for me is evident even now. Had she not given me the reason to discover that I was on the wrong path, and take the steps to put myself back on the right path, I would not be the person that I am today, and I would not be the person that I had to become in order to be the husband that my wife needed me to be. For that, I am truly grateful.

Two women: one who pointed me toward the right path, and the other who was the destination at the end of that path, which then led to a completely new path as a husband, provider, protector, father, and now grandfather. I owe both of them a debt of gratitude for all that they’ve done for me. My wife gets to see my gratitude daily, and I try not to miss any opportunities to show it to her. As for the first women, the one who started me on the right path thirty-five years ago, there’s no way I can adequately thank her for her brief-yet-profound role in my life. Perhaps it’s enough that the universe knows how grateful I am and that I acknowledge who I became because of her. I hope so.

But just in case, thank you.

 

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King Arthur in Film and Books

By now, you’ve probably seen the previews for the new film: “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” From what I’ve seen, it has all the makings of another big-budget Arthurian fantasy film, including demons, magic swords, and of course, shadowy women.  The sets and castles look like nothing found on earth in this century or any other, and the armor appears to be from the high Middle Ages – hundreds of years later than when Arthur would have actually lived.

Don’t you wish you could watch or read something that portrays Arthur as he really would have been? Don’t you wish that there was a book or film that was true-to-life to the man behind the legends? That stripped away all of the fantasy elements and presented the story of a real man in a real time doing real things?

Well, there is. “Arthur, King” is a novel rooted in historical fact and portrays Arthur as a man who had to face incredible odds to protect his kingdom and his people from both Saxon invaders and treacherous nobles who wanted his crown for themselves. “Arthur, King” is my 4th historical novel and covers Arthur’s life from the day of his birth until the day he fell in his final battle. It is an epic story of determination, friendship, love, unity, treachery, and war.  It is a must-read for all fans of King Arthur who are tired of the fantasy versions of the story that have become too commonplace over the past century.

“Arthur, King” is available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Walmart, and other fine retailers.

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New Production Manager Position

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

As of January 1, 2017, I have accepted the position of Production Manager for my publisher, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press. Please see the announcement excerpt below.

—————————————-
Subject: Update and announcement

Good morning,

As most of you know, many startup companies fail within the first five years. There’s a reason for this, but often people are unaware of the number one reason that these enterprises fail. The number one reason: 1) The business was started first and foremost to make money!

However, on the other hand, the companies that survive were started based on passion, love of what the owners or person(s) starting them do, vision, and desire to succeed beyond dollars. With that, comes the success of producing the dollars/revenue, things necessary to sustain the organization later on after the hard work, sacrifices have been made. That is about where we are getting, almost there.

As we expand as a company, professionally, it is imperative that we continue to move forward and bring in experts and professionals that will streamline our processes. Adding industry experts to our inner circle increases value to our organization and the products that we produce that represent PRPP. It is, for this reason, I am very proud to announce that we have a Production Manager who will take over production duties including working with the authors and contractors once the files and information are in our hands. This is another example of how PRPP is surrounding ourselves with experienced industry professionals and that we are ensuring the best possible product will hit the market which reflects on our label and you. Progressive Rising Phoenix Press’s Production Manager is William Speir.

Bill

William Speir, Bill, has been one of my inner circle people for the past couple of years. His industry expertise is extensive, and obviously, you have all seen examples of his incredible design work. He graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1984, has over 25 years in corporate America serving as a management consultant, consulting practice leader, IT executive, and HR/Payroll executive for top-tier consulting firms and Fortune 100 companies. His specialty was helping people and organizations change (new systems, new processes, new regulatory compliance, new products and services, new markets). He has worked for companies and with clients across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the United Kingdom.

Bill has also helped start and manage a number of non-profit corporations, holding officer and director positions in several cultural and historic organizations. He is a Civil War Artillery expert and is involved with battlefield and historic site preservation. During his corporate career, he published several articles on leadership and the human impact to change.

His first experience with book publishing was a series of ten textbooks he authored about the types, nomenclature, capabilities and deployment of field artillery in the 19th century. These books became the source material for his “Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors” (PRPP 2015).

In 2009, after William retired from the corporate world, he began writing fiction. His first works, “The Order of the Saltire Trilogy,” were published in 2010 and 2011. A second trilogy soon followed (“The Sentinels of the Saltire Trilogy”).

Bill was approached by his first publishing company to use his business experience to improve the company’s internal processes and help develop new business opportunities that could benefit authors and organizations that needed publishing services. During his tenure, he took over the sharing of author success stories on Social Media. He created a pilot program to help professional organizations archive large amounts of information and created an online marketplace for selling and distributing the contents of their files, and publishing new data (newsletters, journals, bound volumes of past articles). In addition, he developed a new service to help authors market their books and develop their personal brand by writing and publishing articles.

He is an asset on every level! He understands book production, cover design, text layout, marketing, branding, and the financial side of the business.

As of January 1st, 2017 William will be our Production Manager. In this role, William will manage the process of preparing new books for publication and updating existing books for new pricing, new bindings, and new editions.

I am excited not only to have Bill in this role but what it represents. We have a solid team behind our company. This label is designed to work as a team.

Take a minute to congratulate Bill on his new position.

Amanda M. Thrasher
Chief Executive Officer
Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

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The Dead Vote

As Tuesday approaches, many of us in Florida are contemplating a very serious question: how many dead people are going to vote this week? Yes, I said “dead people.” Over the past several decades, Florida has been forced to embrace a new tradition of allowing dead people to vote in the general election. There are counties that boast 186% voter turnout (I’m not kidding at all)! Sadly, the dead in Florida tend to vote straight ticket – all for the same party (usual not the same party they voted for when alive, by the way).

Lawyers have argued that it’s a civil rights issue to attempt to remove the dead from the eligible voter roles in the state (think about that one for a minute). But no one ever talks about exactly HOW the dead cast their vote (especially those who have been dead for decades). Visions of horror movies fill my mind as I contemplate their election day participation. Wouldn’t you love to be a poll watcher at a cemetery? How would the press conduct its exit interviews?
The Dead Vote has been known to have a profound impact on Florida elections lately. I don’t know how up-to-date the dead are with the candidates and issues surrounding this coming election, but I sincerely hope that they vote responsibly like any other good, informed voter.

Good luck, candidates! May the dead be with you!
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New Addition to “The Knights of the Saltire Series”

As many of you know, the last book in my 7-book Action Adventure series, The Knights of the Saltire, is about to be released. Legacy of the Grand Master is about the daughter of the series’ main characters taking her place in the “family business.”  I wrote this novel nearly five years ago, and when it was finished, I put the series aside to work on other projects.  Since then, I’ve written six novels: one Science Fiction, one Fantasy, and four Historical Fiction.  I am immensely proud of these novels, but like a first love, I have a special place in my heart for the series.

I’ve taken a break from writing new novels and have been working on converting the series into screenplays (either television or film I haven’t decided). As a result, I’ve felt an irresistible pull to explore new material for these characters that I’ve come to think of as family.  In the first seven books, I’ve dealt with thieves, murderers, stalkers, rapists, drug dealers, smugglers, corrupt politicians trying to take over the government, arms dealers, mercenaries, foreign and domestic terrorists, crooked cops, and counterfeiters.  But there is one crime that I’ve never written about, and it’s such a scourge on humanity that I believe it is the perfect material to include in the series: human trafficking.

So, I’m now working on what will be the eighth (and possibly ninth if I can’t do the story justice in a single volume) book in the series: The Legacy Enslaved.  I don’t know when the manuscript(s) will be finished, but the initial research and outlining has begun.  Stay tuned for more news as it becomes available.

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Synopsis of My New Historical Fiction Novel

NICAEA – THE RISE OF THE IMPERIAL CHURCH
A 69,956 Word Historical Fiction Novel by William Speir

            Early in the 4th century, a new religious doctrine threatens to split the Christian churches apart. The Roman Emperor grows tired of the debate. He needs a unified church to control his empire in ways that his legions can’t. In 325 AD, he summons all Christian bishops throughout the empire to meet at Nicaea and end the debate once and for all. The Council of Nicaea creates the blueprint for the Christian churches going forward, but is it the blueprint for an institution dedicated to the salvation of mankind, or for a tool of statecraft to benefit the Emperor?

ARIAS, the priest of the church at Baucalis near Alexandria, Egypt, is a devout follower of The Way, which has been the doctrine of the Christian churches for almost three hundred years. He serves his congregation with a deep sense of commitment, and he lives his faith every minute of the day. But a new doctrine is gaining popularity in the churches of the eastern empire – a doctrine that has little in common with The Way. ARIAS leads the opposition to the new doctrine, which is championed by ALEXANDER, the Bishop of Alexandria and ARIAS’ immediate superior. The two men cannot find common ground, and their disagreements threaten to tear the churches apart.

EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I is weary of the debate. At the urging of his lifelong friend, HOSIUS, the Bishop of Hispania, CONSTANTINE ends the persecution of Christians throughout the empire. But there is a price: CONSTANTINE needs a church to help him control the citizens of his empire. HOSIUS is tasked with delivering a unified church to CONSTANTINE, but the disagreements between ARIAS and ALEXANDER threaten to make that task impossible.

HOSIUS convinces CONSTANTINE to call a council of bishops to resolve the issues. ARIAS welcomes the chance to present his arguments before the council, not realizing that the council is just for show. HOSIUS and CONSTANTINE have already defined the new doctrine for the Christian churches, and the bishops are only attending the council meeting to publically give their agreement.

ARIAS attempts to convince the bishops to turn away from the new doctrine, but will he be able to stand against the Emperor and his supporters? When faced with choice of either accepting the new doctrine or being exiled from the empire, will ARIAS and his supporters choose exile, rather than sacrifice their principles and betray their faith?

NICAEA – THE RISE OF THE IMERPIAL CHURCH is a stand-alone novel.

 

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Synopsis of My New Science Fiction Novel

THE OLYMPIUM OF BACCHUS 12
A 79,635 Word Science Fiction Novel by William Speir

            The year is 2614 – 206 years after Earth was destroyed in a natural cataclysm and the United Earth Planets Confederation (UEPC) became humanity’s new home. Spread across cluster of 8 star systems, the 22 inhabited planets of the UEPC thrived and were at peace for more than 200 years… until they came. In an unprovoked attack, alien invaders wipe out the UEPC’s battle fleet and all major cities on 21 planets. Hidden between two great nebulas on the edge of UEPC space, only Bacchus 12 is spared from destruction. The population of Bacchus 12, along with the survivors rescued from the other UEPC planets, must work together to defend humanity and deny the aliens the prize that they desire most – the mineral Olympium, which exists on Bacchus 12.

RICK DOUGLAS, the Planetary Administrator for Bacchus 12 and a devoted family man, is going about his business of directing planetary services on behalf of the Confederation. His job provides him with little real authority, but he enjoys his work because it gives him the chance to serve the people. When he is unable to contact the Confederation government on Trinity 5, he tries to raise the planetary governments of the other Confederation planets, only to discover that civilian communications no longer function. The military is still able to communicate, and Rick leans that the UEPC has been attacked by an unknown alien force. The fleet has been largely destroyed, and most of the cities on the other Confederation planets have been levelled. Only Bacchus 12 remains untouched.

Rick is faced with several crises. Bacchus 12 relies on the other Confederation planets for food, ships, parts, and most other items needed to survive. There is also no longer a Confederation civilian government. The Planetary Council elects Rick as the new Confederation President, and now the survival of the human race falls on his shoulders. He is unsure of himself, but the situation gives him no time to get lost in his own self-doubt. He begins work with the military to create defenses for the planet and to mount rescue operations to the other planets. The survivors must be found and brought back to Bacchus 12 before the alien attackers begin their ground assaults, but the survivors must also be housed and fed – something that Bacchus 12 has no way to do at the moment.

Under Rick’s leadership, many of the survivors are successfully relocated to Bacchus 12 and a mechanism for food production is set up to feed the remnants of the human race. When the alien attackers discover Bacchus 12’s existence, will Rick be able to implement his plans for the defense of the planet? Will he overcome a new and equally deadly threat from within his own cabinet? Will the aliens be destroyed before they seize Bacchus 12? Will humanity survive?

THE OLYMPIUM OF BACCHUS 12 is a stand-alone novel.

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