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When compared to hate and bigotry, a little pollen ain't so bad.

This week has been a week of waiting. Waiting for the proof of the first book to arrive. Waiting for images and edits to upload. Waiting on responses from inquiries. Waiting for the pollen that we've been plagued with to ease up so we can breathe. The blanket of gritty yellow on absolutely everything gets old fast.

Maybe it's just that time of year. This is the season for waiting before new possiblities emerge. Easter weekend is upon us, and it seems like in this part of the world, things are in a holding pattern until the renewal of life completes its cycle. Spring is officially here, and there are signs of new growth all around. But it has't quite burst forth in full glory yet. Oh, there are buds on the trees and shrubs, and a few early harbingers (fruit trees, azaleas, jonquils) have announced that good things are on their way. Still, some nights are still dropping down close to freezing and the weather is unpredictable. On some days the inside temperature of the house mirrors the outside. On others, it seems like there is a huge variance in temperatures and it's cooler inside than out. Nothing has settled in yet, and I think both mind and body know there's still a little waiting ahead before things switch into full gear and we barrel toward the hot, sultry days of summer.

This week has been a week of waiting, but a lot of progress has been made on the wirting and publishing front. The much awaited proof of my first book, "Done Rubbed Out" has arrived, and it looks pretty good. There are a couple of things needing to be fixed, but it could be much worse. Book two, "Hard Job," is edited and is only missing the dedication page before I can start the publishing process to get it ready to go. The cover is underway and I'm excited to see what brillance the designer has in store. I've seen a couple of preview images and, as I've come to expect, Kathy Lalima is working her magic to give the reader an intriguing visual glimpse of the story inside. Book three, "Skin Puppet," is underway – primarily because I needed an excerpt to include in the back of book two. I've completed the research I needed to do to bring the story to life and give the reader insight into the investigative minds, as well as the motivation behind the criminal's actions. Some of the research has been disturbing to me, but that's good. We should all be disturbed by some of the things around us.

This week, the State of North Carolina enacted legislation that will seriously impact the ability of LGBT persons to live and exist comfortably in the place they've made their home. Known as House Bill 2, this sweeping act not only takes away basic protections and rights for this group, but has negative impact to other groups. - city protections against discrimination on the basis of race and gender were also wiped out. It is all nicely wrapped up under the guise of protecting "religious freedom." No one was allowed to see the legislation until it came out of commitee, and lawmakers were given just five minutes to read and review it. In order to keep one minority down, the legislators apparently were willing to sacrifice the rights of others. Under HB-2, not only is dicrimination allowed, it is mandatory. In my view, this is nothing less than an act of social terrorism, and makes me contemplate who we should really fear in our nation.

Thankfully, there's already a backlash from major companies and concerned individuals, and the action has been condemned by many within the US and abroad. There is a grass roots movement already underway and championed by many state residents who were horrified by the passing of this law. "We Are Not This," will hopefully become a rallying cry.

The incedibly clever minds behind this Bill also slipped in provisions that would prevent any city in the state to mandate a minimum wage higher than that supported by the state. Since they were already intending to drive home their anti-LGBT legislation in the name of religioius freedom, I guess they wanted to make sure to keep the working man/woman down as well. Major news publications have labelled the state a "pioneer in bigotry," and time will tell what economic impact this will have. Equally egregious legislation is being debated in Georgia, and one only has to watch interviews with some of the current Presidential candidates to get doses of hate, bigotry and fear mongering that haven't been seen since the Civil Rights Movement. Yes, indeed, we should be disturbed by some of the things around us.

When I started the Reightman & Bailey Series, I wasn't intending to actively write about these disturbing things, although since I live in the South, you can't escape certain views and they naturally color the words I put on paper. However, as this week of waiting unfolds and moves to completion, I realize it's important to continue to include issues, situations and characterizations that deal with the matters of social equality for everyone. I gladly agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I have to respect their right to hold an opinion at odds with my own beliefs. However, I don't have any obligation to respect the opinion itself. None of us do. Instead, we should all fear the moments when bigotry becomes law, and the line between religous freedom and hate blurs until you don't even know it's there.

In this season of waiting, I can only hope that when our unpredicatble social spring gives way to summer, acceptance of those around us and of their lifestyles and personal choices blossoms and blooms. I can only hope that we tend our social fields, forests and gardens well, and that we make the right choices about the seeds we plant and nourish. Otherwise, our harvest may not be one that can sustain us and we may wake up to find ourselves starving. When you think about that possibility, a little pollen ain't so bad.

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Jeffery Craig Books

Jeffery Craig

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