Category Archives: Arts: Blogging

For Quakers, Friends & Others – A Welcome & Colorful Break From The Weekend Madness

Amid the upheavals, wars & rumors of war of the first weekend in October, 2023, there was a burst of light and fun and even joy, in one seemingly unlikely place — Alamance County, North Carolina. Let’s go visit it:

The occasion was as unlikely as the locale, by the historic railroad station  in the city  of Burlington, which was the scene of the ninth annual Alamance Pride Festival. It had the whole nine yards: tons of rainbow flags, stunning drag queens, and —yes, they went there— Drag Queen  Story Hour— in fact more than one. (But, in truth, they didn’t really last an hour; too many other things to do — “Psst, hey: the Quakers have candy!”)
Continue reading For Quakers, Friends & Others – A Welcome & Colorful Break From The Weekend Madness

Two views: Recalling the Yom Kippur/Ramadan War- Half a Century Later

GWYNNE DYER: A short war 50 years ago in Israel

Gwynne Dyer — October 5, 2023

In 1973, 50 years ago today, Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, coincided with Ramadan, the Islamic lunar month of fasting. But nobody raised an alarm in Israel when it was reported, two days before the Arab attack, that the Egyptian army had ordered its soldiers to stop fasting.

After their overwhelming victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel smashed three Arab armies in a “pre-emptive” attack and expanded its territory fourfold, the Israelis were almost unanimous in their contempt for Arab military capabilities – indeed, for Arabs in general. Continue reading Two views: Recalling the Yom Kippur/Ramadan War- Half a Century Later

FUM, John Muhanji, Uganda & “KILL The GAYS Laws: A Few Questions

October is Visitation &  Board meeting month for Friends  United Meeting (FUM). Besides board members from  FUM’s shrinking but scattered territories, notable Friends will be gathering in and around its home turf of Richmond Indiana.

Among the most notable of these visitors is Kenyan Friend  John Muhanji, who heads FUM’s African ministries. Besides official sessions, he’ll be visiting several Friends meetings & churches in the Midwest during the next few weeks.

No doubt the official agendas in these sessions will be full, and discussions lively. But if FUM’s record is any guide, some issues may have a hard time getting heard.

One in particular (unless I miss my guess), despite the fact it’s been in the news, on my mind, and even the pope has talked about it. But neither the pope nor I will be in Indiana this month.

So maybe some reader will pass along the following questions, not only in Indiana but to any other FUM-connected meeting or concerned Quakers:


Also . . .

Also, about the gospel being preached . . .

One for all those with financial responsibilities:

Others are asking too:

In Closing: For John Muhanji & FUM:

Rogues’ Gallery? Nine More Atlanta Mugshots — Now Out on (Blog) Bond

Mark Meadows

Mark Meadows was on the infamous call — detailed in the indictment — in which Trump urged state election officials to find the votes he’d need to win. Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman, also traveled to Georgia at one point to try and gain access to a state audit of absentee ballot envelopes. Meadows faces two felony counts in the indictment. Meadows is charged with racketeering and soliciting a violation of an oath by a public officer.

Continue reading Rogues’ Gallery? Nine More Atlanta Mugshots — Now Out on (Blog) Bond

How I Became a Successful Writer & An Independent Publisher (The short version) – Part 3 of 3

Part 3

Part 1 is here

Part 2 is here

Actually, the publishing revolution started nearby, in South Carolina. A company there originally called BookSurge, and later CreateSpace, began using a machine, not much larger than a good-sized office copier, that could print and bind paperback books one at a time, quickly, automatically, at a low cost.

About 2009, another fast-growing company, built on selling used books, wanted to expand its reach in publishing, and bought CreateSpace. That fast-growing company was Amazon. And thus was born the Print-On-Demand (POD) book publishing industry.

This change was seismic, and still boggles my mind. I won’t dwell on it now, but for interested readers, here are links to two short (3 minutes or so) videos that provide a quick visual tour of how POD works.

This book is a collection of photos I took near Camp Lejeune NC, of homemade banners welcoming home Marines who survived combat in Iraq. It was a powerful yet ephemeral form of warrior folk art. They were “exhibited” by being hung on a fence by a public highway where buses filled with the returnees passed.

What Amazon brought to the deal was its unrivaled bookselling apparatus: an author now could upload a finished manuscript, and Amazon listed it; when a reader ordered a copy, the new machines printed it, then Amazon collected the money and shipped it.

And here’s the kicker: for all this service, Amazon charged the author exactly (wait for it) NOTHING. $Zero!

This wasn’t charity, though: the company took a commission on each order.

With POD, Amazon brought together printer, mail order bookstore, shipping, and bookkeeping. For me, this combination meant no more nights stuffing packages, no debts to printers, no cartons stacked in the hallway. What I did was write, edit, upload and collect royalties.

POD took a huge load off my mind as a writer/publisher. Yes, my niche still produced niche earnings, typically in the high three figures for a year. But so what? It paid for itself, I had more time to write, and still kept my day job.

There are two other key aspects of this POD revolution to acknowledge: one, with this service, Amazon put tiny niche independents like me “on the map,” by including us on the virtual “shelves” of the world’s largest ”bookstore.” I was right up there with Stephen King and the other big names. That made us real and accessible.

And second, in the process, Amazon thereby brushed aside the legacy publishing industry’s gate-keeping function. Authors didn’t have to put up with sheafs of rejection slips; Amazon invited us into the marketplace willy-nilly, to take our chances.

Further, unless you send them terrorist plans or kiddie porn  — or they caught you plagiarizing somebody else’s stuff — Amazon doesn’t censor. That also frees us from the old industry’s fads,  phobias, and insufferable snobbery.

Are you from (or writing about) an underrepresented or unfashionable group? Come on in.

There’s no sensitivity screening (unless you want it); authors  can try our experiments, make our own mistakes — and correct them.)

Sure, lots of what comes off their presses is junk; but [PSSSST!] that’s also true of the mainstream, except with (sometimes) classier covers. (And, face it: some people buy the junk.)

By 2007 I shifted the printing and mailing of my Quaker journal and niche books to CreateSpace. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I’ve done numerous books there, almost 50 different titles. All are still “in print,” too; goodbye to the dreaded “remainder” notice!

Amazon has printed the books (and makes E-books too), shipped them, handled the credit cards, and has paid me by direct deposit every month. (Talk to other authors about horror stories of publishers who didn’t pay.)

A few years ago, Amazon turned CreateSpace into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). New name; same radical publishing game.

At the end of November 2012, I retired from day jobs– eleven days later I turned 70, and began collecting Social Security. Since then my finances and writing have finally come together. It’s my “trust fund,” and will likely stay that way til I wear out. It’s also my version of tenure.

2012–TODAY– I have since pretty much lived “low on the hog” mostly on Social Security; and am still writing, editing and publishing my passion. More of a writer’s success story. Having recently turned 80, I’m feeling my age, and slowing down some.

Yet I still do books, and turn up the occasional Quaker scoop and scandal, and put the royalties into new projects. Since the Orange invasion and the pandemic, I blog more, and write most every day. And there are readers: the blog reached half a million hits a few months back, and I haven’t yet run out of appealing/challenging Quaker material.

Some friends of mine like to hate on Amazon, and the company definitely needs some help (mainly a UNION). But as a writer I am very thankful to Amazon/KDP, for busting up the old exclusionary publishing world. It has let tens of thousands of writers, particularly newbies & those with niche passions, knowledge and stories, into the marketplace, including ME, by vaulting over the old gatekeepers.

As of 2018, KDP reportedly had issued 1.5 million titles, and by March 2021 its authors monthly royalty payments were over $40 million, including a bit over $100 that month to ME.

(But if you want to publish POD and really can’t abide Amazon, FEAR NOT: there are other smaller companies that will do similar work – for a fee.  Find them on Google & YouTube.)

Despite this big opening, the hard truths of competition remain: for most Amazon/KDP writers, as for writers generally, bestsellers are rare, average book sales are modest; most published writers still need day jobs.

But now they – YOU–can be in the game, and getting it done. And there are KDP authors who do make lots of money. They write for money — I write for passion; we both get what we want.  More at:

PS. For the record, I did not and will not receive  one penny of payment, finders fees, commissions, discounts, or any other compensation from KDP for writing about it here. (Well—that is, unless you buy any of my books there, then I’ll get a royalty.) I don’t work for KDP; they work for me.

PPS. One last thing: What about “immortality”?  isn’t that a kind of success many writers aspire to? Sure, and I plead guilty. But continuing readership is as much a lottery as penning a bestseller. Consider: in my early decades as a Friend, Rufus Jones was mentioned frequently. He published 40 books. But quick quiz: what quotes do you remember from him?

John Woolman, on the other hand, only wrote one book, a journal, and didn’t even publish it. But it’s been in print since a committee brought it out in 1772 — 250 years and counting, And how many recognize this quote?

There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation soever, they become brethren in the best sense of the expression. (From his Journal.)

Is there anything remotely as memorable in my body of work? Only time will tell. Otherwise, one of my much-favored books is a set of lectures from 1992 I call Wisdom and Your Spiritual Journey.

It’s packed with timeless and memorable quotes. I know that because I put them there, plucked mostly from the Bible. But to leaven its pages, I included some of my favorite Quaker chuckles, original or revised. Maybe the opening one is a fitting closer for this account:

In the early 1830s, a young man went to sea, hoping to make his fortune.  A Baptist by birth, he read the Bible each night in his shipboard hammock, and was especially struck by a verse in the fourth chapter of Proverbs:

            “Wisdom is the principal thing: Therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy  getting, get understanding.”  Wealth, the youth piously decided, was nothing without this seasoning of wisdom.  But where was such a combination to be found?

               Presently his ship sailed into the harbor of Nantucket Island.

            Nantucket was then a prosperous and vibrant community, built and largely populated by members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers.

               As he walked the bustling, cobbled streets of Nantucket town, observing the fine grey shingled houses and the plain but well-heeled inhabitants, another verse from Proverbs came to him.  It was something about “I am Wisdom, and  in my right hand is riches and honor.” 

               The more he saw of Nantucketers, the more he felt sure that here was a group that genuinely understood and knew how to apply this kind of Wisdom.

               When he turned down one street, known then as “Petticoat Row,” he saw a succession of neat, well-stocked shops and stores. Almost  all were operated by Quaker businesswomen. 

               The sailor was so impressed with this commercial tableau that he impulsively entered one of the shops, a kind of grocery store.  He walked up to the counter and said to the plain-dressed woman behind it, “Madam, I want to know why you Nantucket Quakers seem so wise in the ways of the world.”

               The Quaker woman said to him, naturally very humbly, “Well, of course, it’s mainly because we follow the Inward Light.  But,” she added, “it’s also because we eat a special kind of fish, the Wisdom Fish.”

               “Wisdom Fish?” the sailor exclaimed.  “What’s that?  Where could I get some?”

               “Friend,” the Quaker shopkeeper said, “thee is in luck.  I just happen to have one here, which I can sell thee for only twenty dollars.”

               Twenty dollars was a lot of money in those days, but the sailor didn’t hesitate.  He pulled out his purse, handed over the money, and she gave him a carefully wrapped parcel, which he carried out of the shop with an excited smile on his face.

               He returned a few minutes later, however, looking puzzled and a bit disturbed.  “Excuse me, madam,” he said, laying the half-opened package on the counter.  “This is nothing but a piece of ordinary dried codfish.”

               Under her modest white bonnet, the Quaker shopkeeper raised one eyebrow. 

               “Friend,” she said quietly, “thee is getting wiser already.”