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Books, Poetry and Short Stories
Written by James Landrith
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Interview with Author and Poet Joey Renee
by James Landrith
James: I'd like to open up by asking you a few questions for the readers. Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
Joey: I was born and raised in Washington DC. I grew up in South East and Northeast where I attended public schools. I grew up with four sisters in a house where my parents were together, they still are. We weren’t rich or anything in fact now that I’m much older I realize that we were more than likely poor but my parents did a fantastic job of keeping that out of our sights. They taught me love and survival. I’m most appreciative of that. I am second to the youngest and have always been very protective of the people I love. I began writing at 11. That was the age I began writing poetry but my relationship with the written word began much earlier in life. I always loved reading and being read to. I always was the kid with their hand up ready to read aloud to the class. Whenever the teacher or my mom would read to us I’d be the kid interacting and smiling from ear to ear with excitement.
James: From speaking with you on a few occasions, I know you are passionate about writing. Can you tell me what inspired you to become a writer?
Joey: A lot of things aided in the idea to become a writer but what made me decide to make it a career was an incident that happened one night I was upset. I always would write poetry to express myself so I was ritual. So I sat at my old fashioned box screen computer and I received an upsetting phone call. In reaction to the call I threw my binder across the room, the same fan that cooled my small room that at the time had no air. The binder opened and the fan blew pages from that binder across the room. At that very moment I realized I had so many poems; enough to write a book. It was the beginning of everything that has come to pass and everything soon to come.
James: Let's talk about poetry for a moment. Poetry has always been one of my favorite types of writing to experience. I write myself and read it often. I've recently read your first book, Love's Untold Story: Book 1 and really enjoyed it. You've previously told me that you've been writing poetry for years. Poet to poet, can you tell me what is it that attracts you to poetry?
Joey: Poetry is my first love. I like the freedom of it. It has a few platforms but it doesn’t have to be categorized and placed in a refined box. I love the expressiveness of it. To me poetry is real its emotions at its most raw and unscripted place. Poetry makes you feel alive in many ways its romantic, it’s raw, it’s cunning, it’s whatever you want it or need it to be. Poetry is the one form of writing that not only gives to the world it gives to the writer. It gives the writer a chance to put it all on the table and all on the line. It’s writer’s therapy
James: Tell us about your favorite authors and books. What about those books and authors make the special to you?
Joey: Oh I love a lot of authors and books. One of my favorite books is called Genesis Code. It is a great book. The plot starts out as simple as a homicide and builds to an explosive plot regarding a conspiracy to kill children that were conceived by fertility clinics that used Jesus relics. It is one of my favorites because it was a great book even at the beginning which gave the plots twists and turns worth every page turned. Another good read of mine is a science fiction book called the masque. It is an older book but to me it still holds up to technology standards of today which is quite epic considering it was written perhaps twenty years ago. I love all genres of fiction. From urban novels to fantasy, graphic novels I’m a huge comic book fan. I love thrillers, erotica. You name it’s a good chance that I have or will read it. Currently I’m reading a series called The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A Barron. I’m currently reading book three. I’ll have to say that is my favorite author at this time. I’m sure I’ll have another name to add when I move on to my next series of books. I’m a fan of Maximum Ride as well. It’s a good action packed fantasy series; each book adding to the prior book’s awesomeness. The two books in my life that are special to me are childhood classics. “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “The Hungry Caterpillar”. I made my mom read them over and over. I will always love those books
James: Let's talk about Blurr. I've been enjoying the book and the metropolitan DC setting for a good portion of the story. As I've lived in the area since 1992, I can truly feel the city within the pages. What motivated you to tell this story?
Joey: Well my idea started as me wanting to write a book about super heroes. Then I was like no I don’t want to go to war with Marvel. So I decided that they could have that. Plus I wish I could draw like the artists they have. Then I went with a fantasy novel concept. I drew up an entirely different first draft. It was okay, but it was mostly random concepts and ideas. It wasn’t until I went into research mode that I found a website full of mythical creatures that an idea started to form. My main goal was to steer away from clichéd monsters and creatures. I wanted something unique, something that had a story to be told. I came across these creatures called Blurrs. They were said to be demons but no one could get a picture of them to honestly give them clarity as to what they truly were. It was then that I decided it would be fun to take a creature with little information or research for an origins story. This aided in my decision for them to be neutral beings. And thank you! I threw a lot of that DC flavor in there for my fellow Washingtonians.
James: Is there an underlying theme or message you are conveying in your writing?
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Joey: The message is that no matter how damaged or lost you think you are you can find your way back. Keep believing and you will be granted favor to find that which is lost. No one is ever too gone or too lost. Ever….
An excerpt of Joey’s fantasy novel “Blurr” is reprinted below with the author’s kind permission. I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I have since picking it up!
My ride home from work was awkward. I always fall asleep on the train but I never have dreams. Even when I go to sleep for as far back as I can remember. I’ll drift off to sleep and wake up with no recollection of a dream. When I sat down in the corner seat and got comfortable that is when the weirdness began.
The daydream took place in a dank and dark, shadow casted forest. It was hard for me to pinpoint a time and location of where I stood. Everything I’d laid eyes upon was unfamiliar. The fragrances in the air were alluring. Large rolling hills held tiny shack like buildings. Everything seemed of older times but had an almost modern twist to it. The air smelled like fresh baked bread. Natives of the land were roasting chicken and other livestock on an old school turnstile made of tree branches. Their clothes were scraggly, torn, and made of natural materials. It almost appeared as though they made their garments themselves. I walked to the top of one out of several dirt hills. The dirt hills trailed through an exotic forest. The trees and bushes were unlike anything I’d ever seen or read about. I was no expert but they were rare and beautiful. Natives had many small stands where they sold crafted items. There seemed to be a whole lot of handcrafting going on in this town. I was almost certain that I was in some kind of Amish town. Their skin tones were a variation of colors but every person looked as if their skin was kissed by the sun. I walked through a path that led to a large wooden house within the woods. The trees were tall and peculiar. They were fruitiferous and umbriferous offering much exotic fruit and shade. It was paradise like. Some of them looked like a mix between palm, pine and oak trees. While others I couldn’t discern. The bark looked like sturdy bamboo. The trees were so tall and the leaves were only at the top of the trees. I could not help but to wonder what kind of furniture they could make from such exotic looking trees. The plants were interesting as well. They were vivid and multicolored. Each flower and plant glistened and glowed like they were watered with pure liquid gold.
As I walked down the brick red stone and dirt path staring at the most unique collection of botanical gardening I’ve ever seen, I walked into a mysterious woman of slender build. She appeared to be in her late twenties, with long, wavy, brown, tresses. Her eyes were so hazel they seemed almost transparent. And her skin was a flawless caramel complexion. She was beautiful. She looked as though she was in a hurry or running from someone. Before I got the time to ask if she was okay she told me to follow her. I was reluctant at first but she appeared to be harmless so I went with it. Plus, she could have snuck up on me if she really meant me harm.
The woman led me to the old rustic house I saw from the top of the dirt path. The beauty of the gardens perished as we grew closer to the area surrounding it. Trees and plants were limp and lifeless in appearance and color. Even the house had a creepy and shadowy cast over it.
I looked to the woman and said “What is this!? Where am I!?”
Before she could respond I was awakened by an announcement of the next stop over the train’s speaker system. “Eastern Market, Doors Opening” I sprang to my feet and ran off the train before the automated voice said “Doors Closing”.
Later on that night I couldn’t shake the feeling of that daydream. Everything about it felt so real. One minute I’m completely aware of my surroundings. Then the next minute I was completely engulfed in another world. So many things stood out and felt so real. The smell of the fresh bread and roast was unlike anything I’ve ever smelled, and I’ve smelled a lot of fresh bread. Every sandwich shop and bakery makes fresh bread, especially downtown where I work. However, the fragrance was different. It was so sweet and light. It didn’t smell strong and heavy like it does in the city. It was so tantalizing I wanted to taste the air. I could not only smell the bread cooking I could smell the grains and oats they were made from.
Thinking about the bread got me nowhere. I needed to get it together. It was difficult finding some kind of meaning to the dream. Being as though I never had one before, I didn’t really know what to make of it. My curiosity led me to thoughts of that house. What was up with it? It seemed so dark and shadow casted. Why would that woman try to take me there? She didn’t seem like she wanted to hurt me, but that house was so creepy I wasn’t too sure. The hairs on my arm stood up at the mere thought of it. I needed to shake the chills off and relax. I was sitting in the house freaking out about nothing. I washed my worries away in a steaming hot shower and nestled in my bed for some much needed rest.
Last Updated ( Friday, 24 October 2014 )
Crime, Law Enforcement and the Judiciary
Written by James Landrith
Sunday, 17 August 2014
I cannot imagine how painful it must be for the family of Michael Brown and the city of Ferguson to witness all of the political posturing by opportunists on the left and the right. Some on the right are hell-bent on characterizing an entire community as rioting thugs, while some on the left are exploiting the tragedy to take childish and ignorant potshots at people who don't share their own political compass. Neither has the moral high ground here.
As someone who lost a family member in a violent act, I can only imagine the fear that comes with turning on the television, reading social media or seeing a newspaper. It must extremely disheartening to see their family and their community used in such a callous, calculated and compassionless manner.
Honestly, it disgusts me. For those taking advantage, using the death of a human being, and the pain of a community for political gain and partisan posturing - fuck all ya'll.
You lack the most important of human traits - empathy and compassion. Someone is dead and a community is in mourning while you posture and peacock over bullshit political preferences. I have no use for such people and see you as 100% part of the problem.
Written by James Landrith
Sunday, 17 August 2014
It is fascinating to me how often SOME progressives, like some of their counterparts on the right, will outright lie and then act like petulant children when busted in said lies. Case in point is "The Mahablog", most recently taking part in the childish game of labeling Republicans with minor libertarian leanings as being representive of the entire libertarian movment. In short, The Mahablog created a gigantic libertaian strawman and then whined when called out on the lie. Further, The Mahablog is co-opting a horrible tragedy for partisan political purposes.
I posted this in response to her ridiculous lies:
There are no libertarians in Congress. Calling a few Republicans with minor libertarian leanings on a FEW issues libertarians is extremely dishonest. Doing so for the purpose of scoring political points on the backs of a community suffering a tragedy is beyond disgusting.
The blogger Barbara O'Brien, defending her lies and misuse of a tragedy, responds like a spoiled child with no integrity:
“There are no libertarians in Congress.” Yes, we know. Nobody in politics is ever pure enough to be a “real” libertarian. Sightings of real libertarians are rare and always prove to be false as soon as the sighted creature actually goes on record about anything.
In short, son, bite me.
It takes an absolute lack of intregrity, compassion failure and a miserable excuse for a human being to co-opt another's tragedy to play p9litical games for anyone else's benefit. It shows a lack of maturity to say "bite me" when called out such.
I have spent the better part of two decades involved in advocacy that worked alongside progressives, moderates, conservatives and non-partisan activists alike such as the ACLU, Center for National Secuity Studies, People for the American Way, Liberty Coalition, Electronic Privacy Information Center, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Amenesty International, and dozens of other organizations on a wide variety of issues such as domestic surveillance, police misconduct, prison rape, male rape survivor issues, torture, the mistreatment and illegal detention of Muslim and Arab Americans by the Bush Administration and the buildup/lies used to justify the Iraq War. One thing I've learned over the years is that there a lot of people who truly care about poeple and want to make the lives of others better, regardless of ideological compass or label.
The asshole behind the Mahablog is about none of these things. She appears to simply be an opportunistic liar, taking advantage of a tragedy for political purposes. That is disgusting and abhorrent to those of us who actually give a shit about the people involved and the lives that have been forever impacted. I grew up in a household affected by murder. I've seen family members afraid to watch the news for fear that the trial and our family member would be talked about yet again. I've seen how it affects the surviving family members and forever alters our view of the world. I abhor the fact that anyone would co-opt such an experience for political purposes. O'Brien and her blog have done that and show an utter lack of maturity and compassion in the doing, even when called out on such earnestly.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 August 2014 )
Advocacy and Comment Letters
Written by Coalition
Friday, 25 July 2014
July 25, 2014
The Honorable Mary Jo White
US Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington DC 20549
Dear Ms. White:
We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our concern for the widespread and growing problem of retaliatory conduct against corporate whistleblowers. Not merely a threat to public policy, retaliation of this nature has a deleterious effect on corporate culture and growth. And, ultimately, such conduct undermines the force and efficacy of the SEC Whistleblower Program.
Retaliation against whistleblowers is a quiet and growing epidemic. In a 2012 supplement to its National Business Ethics Survey, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) found that a near recordsetting 22% of employees who reported misconduct faced retaliation, up from 12% in 2007.1 More than a third of those who declined to report misconduct pointed to fear of retaliation as the reason for their silence. A culture in which employees are retaliated against or fear to speak up is a cancer that slowly grows but consistently kills and has been responsible for countless highprofile corporate scandals. Most alarming, increases in the incidence of retaliation are outpacing the overall rate of increases in Whistleblowing disclosures. Various other studies confirm the prevalence of retaliation and fear of retaliation in the corporate workplace.2
The commercial marketplace wants and needs guidance. We believe the majority of corporations want to do the right thing and many invest in robust ethics and compliance programs to do so. Unfortunately, corporate compliance is not a panacea. While there is a low incidence of whistleblower retaliation in companies with strong ethical program, the ERC survey found that these organizations also represent the greatest uptick in reports of retaliation. In other words, even strong ethics programs alone are an inadequate deterrent. The proposed guidance would benefit employers and whistleblowers alike by reducing the litigation expenses associated with legal uncertainties, helping companies more effectively reduce their risk of retaliationrelated liability, and ensuring that individuals who report possible misconduct, both internally and to the Commission, do so with a full understanding of their reporting options and the applicable risks and rewards. It also would benefit corporations, because most whistleblowers disclose fraud against their employer, and every study has shown that in this role they are more effective than audits, compliance programs and law enforcement combined.3
The success of the SEC Whistleblower Program, the health of our markets and the broader public interest are protected and served when employees can safely report wrongdoing. Indeed, an open and transparent workplace is a key barometer of a working democracy. For these reasons, we urge the SEC to take the following actions:
(1) Engage in appropriate rule-making to clarify and strengthen protections available to those who report misconduct internally or externally. Specifically, clarify that whistleblowers are in fact eligible for protection when they make disclosures within their respective corporations. Further, clarify that any actions made by the wrongdoer in effort to block the flow of whistleblowing evidence are illegal. Finally, clarify that it is legally protected to disclose evidence of crime or other violations of SEC rules, despite any assertions by wrongdoers that employees have stolen their “property.” These suggested solutions warrant a public hearing and careful consideration by the Commission.
(2) Launch a series of field hearings around the country to discuss the problem of workplace retaliation and explore new ways to increase reporting—both internally and externally; and
(3) Create an Advisory Committee on Whistleblower Reporting and Protection. Leveraging the staff reports from the field hearings described above and the expertise of a diverse group of participants that meet regularly, this committee will serve as a vehicle for the Commission to collate advice, best practices and recommendations related to whistleblower reporting and protection.
We thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important investor protection problem. As the SEC places more emphasis on the role of whistleblowers in the national enforcement program, it must also use its authority to mandate integrity, transparency and accountability in the marketplace. This is good for whistleblowers, good for business and good for our country.
American Association of Small Property Owners
Americans for Financial Reform (coalition of 200+ organizations)
Atlantic States Legal Foundation
Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC
Circumpolar Conservation Union
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Corporate Action Network
Defending Dissent Foundation
Employment Justice Center
Evangelicals for Social Action
Evans Law Firm, Inc.
Faculty Against Rape
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
Government Accountability Project
Heart of America Northwest
Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
International Association of Whistleblowers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Investor Environmental Health Network
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Labaton Sucharow LLP
Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum
National Coalition of Organized Women
National Consumers League
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Organization for Women
National Whistleblower Center
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Work Environment Council
New Orleans Women's Shelter
The Other 98%
Peace Fund and Peace Action Education Fund
Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice
Project On Government Oversight
Public Concern at Work
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Coalition For Change, Inc.
The Multiracial Activist
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
Wild Earth Guardians
1 Ethics Research Center, Retaliation: When Whistleblowers Become Victims (2012),
2 See 2012 Corporate Governance and Compliance Hotline Benchmarking Report commissioned by The Network; Wall Street in Crisis: Labaton Sucharow Survey of Financial Services Industry 2013.
3 PricewaterhouseCoopers and Martin Luther University Economy and Crime Research Center, Economic Crime, People,
Culture and Controls: The 4th Biennial Global Economic Crime Survey (2007), http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/economic-crimesurvey/pdf/pwc_2007gecs.pdf.; Society of Certified Fraud Examiners, 2008 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse (2008), at 4. 30.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 July 2014 )
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