News from South Mississippi

Lee Cody and I have been working nonstop for 2 days on our book–our working title is The 14th Denial–a book that will tell the story of C. Lee Cody, Jr. who worked in Jacksonville, Florida, with the Duval County Sheriff’s Office for seven years, reaching the rank of Detective Sergeant. In 1964, in the midst of the volatile times surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, Sergeant Cody solved one of our nation’s worst hate crimes and paid for it with his career.  In the years since, Cody has collected a mountain of evidence that reveals blatant racism in high places, a horrifying tale of cover-ups and corruption involving sheriffs, judges, mayors, and even the FBI– leading to flagrant violations of the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights guaranteed citizens under our nation’s Constitution.

I should be able to submit the book to one publisher this week that has expressed interest as well as query letters to several agents who market nonfiction for we truly feel the book has potential beyond the printed book form.  If all goes well, I should be able to return to Monroe tomorrow, though every time I come here, it gets harder and harder to leave. I just wanted to leave you with the short summary of the book I’m working on and some photos. Below is the beautiful Katy, a friend and fan of my books. She is actively trying to help me find some places to perform down this way. With her in the second photo is my co-author, Lee Cody. He is a great man who has more than paid his dues in life. His story has been told on Oprah, Dateline, Court TV and the History Channel–with invitations to return when he has the book. Look up the story of Johnnie Mae Chappell and you will find his name, and there’s a reason for that.

Katy, Longbeach, MS

Katy, Longbeach, MS

C. Lee Cody, Author of The 14th Denial

C. Lee Cody, Author of The 14th Denial

The third photo is an crane, an origami piece one of my Delta students made for her PowerPoint project. I have named the crane, Stephen.

Stephen Crane: Origami

Stephen Crane: Origami

Following the crane is a photo of a GAT, a type of lighter one of my students showed the class how to make with just staples, tape and AA batteries. I should have more photos to post very soon. Likely the next batch will be of the Celtic Festival.

GAT: Emergency Lighter

GAT: Emergency Lighter

“West Texas Highway” Lyrics & Guitar Chords

West Texas Highway by Lyle Lovett , written by Boomer Castleman and Michael Martin Murphey

Lovett does the song in the key of F. I was not happy with the arrangements I found on the Internet, so I posted these. I lowered the key a half step, and changed one chord (the third one) to fit the music better than the posted chords I found. You can hear the obvious changes, so I listed them like this instead of trying to match them directly where they changed. If you’re trying to learn this song, I hope this post helps.  I also transcribed the lyrics directly from Lovett’s song on his Step Inside This House CD.

E7, A7 (bar chord), (Chord with these notes: A#-E-MUTED D- C#-F#-muted E) E-C#-F#-B7,E7

Now I was driving down

A West Texas highway

I seen a hitchhiker

And his thumb was pointing my way

He didn’t look suspicious

He didn’t look any too clean

So I, I put on my brakes

And I opened up the door

I could tell he was a bum

By the boots that he wore

He said I’m going down to Haskell

Got a woman back in Abilene.

He told me, Son,

East Texas is where I come from

I been riding that Jacksonville rodeo

And I got humdrum

I’m traveling around

A whole lot of Texas I’ve seen

Yes, and I’m mighty glad

You was pushing down my way

In your fancy clothes there

And this shiny Chevrolet

I’m going down to Haskell

Got a woman back in Abilene

Well he was grinning like a possum

A mighty happy rascal

He waved good-bye

When I let him out in Haskell

And that’s about the last

Of that old road tramp

That I’ve ever seen

But I’m still wishing

To this very day

That he had my clothes

And this shiny (big) Chevrolet

And it was me going to Haskell

With a woman back in Abilene


Some Days You Write the Song: Lyrics by Guy Clark

During my recent drive to the DFW area to do book signings at 4 Sam’s Club stores, I listened to my favorite radio station there, The Range, and as usual, I heard a song that I couldn’t live without learning. It was another one by Guy Clark, one of the finest songwriters that has ever lived. As I am working hard on writing my own songs, I thought this one had good application to my own life and mind. I personally transcribed these. I know they are more accurate than other versions on the Net.

“Some Days You Write the Song” by Guy Clark

It’s just one of those days you can’t explain

When nothing’s right or wrong

Too much wine or not enough

So you just play along.

There’s no rhyme or reason

Ain’t a damn thing you can do

Some days you write the song

Some days the song writes you.

Searching for a melody

To sing my soul to sleep

Reaching for some harmony

Down inside of me

Some days you know just how it goes

Some days you have no clue.

Some days you write the song

Some days the song writes you.

You can fall

You can fly

Get low down or get high

You can try or just leave it alone.

You can search for the way

You can curse, you can pray

But the words have a way of their own.

It don’t matter how much it hurts

You’ve got to tell the truth.

Some days you write the song

Some days the song writes you.

Now you may think I just made this up

But I would not lie, that’s true

Some days you write the song

Some days the song writes you.

St. Brendan: The Irishman Who Discovered America

The Brendan Voyage: A Review by Rickey E. Pittman

I’ve had few books pique my interests and hold my attention as much as The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin. First published in May of 1978, it’s one of those books that after reading you ask, “Why didn’t I find out about this book years ago?” This book is the story of “how a crew of five, later reduced to four, sailed a medieval boat, [curragh] made of leather, across the [North] Atlantic . . . .”  The author and crew were determined to prove that the legendary voyage of St. Brendan as related in the medieval text of the Navigatio was “not a legend at all, but a fairly factual record of a voyage to North American hundreds of years before the Vikings and nearly a thousand before Columbus.

If you are as intrigued by Celtic history as I am, you will find this an exciting read, and you will delightfully learn more than you intended or expected.  Severin’s prose is rich in historical and modern allusions and details, providing insight after insight into the minds of the medieval monks and what it means and meant to sail on the ocean in an ancient boat.

The author so details the making and sailing of the Brendan, that I felt I was there with him on the cold northern seas every step of the way. I learned facts about the North Atlantic, its fantastic beauties and its savage dangers that I never would have imagined. The accounts and details related of the whales, the ice, the strange lands, the birds of his historical reenactment of Brendan’s voyage that I learned are too numerous to mention.  About the title of this review–it’s not quite accurate. Actually, it seems that other Irishmen had found the Americas even before Brendan.  But that’s another story

I was so impressed by this book that I’ve decided to incorporate St. Brendan and his voyage into my Scots-Irish program that I do for schools.  Here are a few quotations I found interesting in The Brendan Voyage (Hutchinson Publishers):

“The seventh wave is said to be the worst, the one that does the damage in the turmoil of an ocean gale” (1).

The Navigatio is said by many to be an Immram, an Irish voyage story. “It is the main surviving record of a Christian seagoing culture which sent boat after boat into the North Atlantic or regular voyages of communication and exploration . . . What sort of men, then, were these monks who deliberately launched out into the Atlantic in small open boats? Many must never have returned, but perished at sea” (259).

Here is a photo of the Brendan, the curragh that Severin sailed to America.

The Brendan: A Curragh that sailed from Ireland to America

The Brendan: A Curragh that sailed from Ireland to America

Return from College Station

This past Friday, I presented my Scots-Irish program to the first and second graders at Forest Ridge Elementary. The kids and staff were wonderful. I’ll try to post some more photos of the day soon. This was my first visit to College Station, but I’m sure it won’t be my last. As I’ve said before, I love going to Texas. Here in the photo with me is Christy Rhodes, the librarian who scheduled the program.  I now have another “favorite librarian”  to add to that growing list.

Christy Rhodes, Forest Ridge Elementary, College Station, TX

Christy Rhodes, Forest Ridge Elementary, College Station, TX

On the way back to Louisiana, I had Sam’s Club signings scheduled in Longview, Tyler, and in Shreveport.  Longview came through, but the other two will have to be rescheduled due to my books not arriving.