Welcome to Write the World

That you are able to read my words in this format means I’ve come, albeit kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. This website is my professional showcase of my short fiction and a few of the feature stories I’ve been fortunate to be paid to write. The feature articles I’ve culled from several thousands published since I — and the rest of the world — have been able to warehouse them on computer or link to the archives of the Houston Chronicle, where I was a staff reporter 1999-2009, and freelance markets, including the Houston Chronicle’s Niche Publications and Houston Community Newspapers.

Stories from the 1970s-1990s written as a staff reporter and-or editor for the U.S. Navy, HCN and History News Magazine (for the American Association for State and Local History) are destined to remain only on yellowing pages in overstuffed dresser drawers and closet cubbyholes.   There they will remain until I die or experience an uncharacteristic urge to spring clean, whichever comes first.

My short stories represent the first of what I hope will lead to a new career as a writer of fiction.

I appreciate feedback from anyone who will take the time to read and comment on my work.  For anyone who wishes to read samples of my work, particularly editors at publications still hiring freelance writers, this should suffice. If it doesn’t, please ask. I have more.

Happy reading.

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Adrian Garcia for US Congress? Former Sheriff says YES!

Since his unsuccessful November run for mayor of Houston, Adrian Garcia hasn’t wasted any time bemoaning his loss or resting on his laurels as a former city councilman or Harris County sheriff during his current bid to run for the U.S. Congress.

On Jan. 2, with spent firecrackers and fresh confetti still on the ground, an enthusiastic Garcia officially opened his new campaign headquarters.  Before about 50 residents, businessmen, and community leaders of District 29, the largely poor, Hispanic residential and industrial area in Houston’s East End where Garcia grew up and his wife and family still live, he announced that he’s going up against the District’s long-time incumbent, U.S. Congressman Gene Green.

Since then, he’s been busy roaming the district, pointing out major differences between
himself and Green, and drumming up support among the people he hopes will become his voters and constituents.

AdrianAndCrowd

On Thursday, Garcia’s campaign released a petition asking people to stand with President Obama’s executive action in support of closing loopholes in gun sales.

“As a law enforcement officer with over 30 years of service, I have come face to face with senseless gun violence. As a parent, I am saddened students have to be taught what to do in the event that there is a shooter on campus,” Garcia stated in the release. “¡Ya basta!  Enough is enough.”

On the same day, he visited potential voters at the Taqueria El Alteno on Houston’s Harrisburg Boulevard, and later joined MOMS Against Gun Violence at the Lindale Civic Club. In a related press release, Garcia characterized Green as the NRA’s favorite Democrat.

Back at the opening of Garcia’s headquarters, supporters ranged in age and ethnic background but were unanimous in their enthusiasm for the campaign.

Tina Gutierrez, 37, a medical assistant studying to become an occupational therapist, lives in the Alief community on the western part of Houston, on the opposite side of the city from East End’s industrial/residential District 29. Nevertheless, she is supporting Garcia’s bid to be that district’s representative in the U.S. Congress, just as she voted for him as her choice to become the city’s mayor.

“I did some volunteer phone bank work (for Garcia) last year,” Gutierrez said. “I’m going to come back and I wanted to volunteer again this time around (because as sheriff) he’s saved $200 million dollars in taxpayers’ money.  He’s done a good job.”

TinaGutierrez&Adrian

Monica, Garcia’s wife of 23 years, introduced the candidate as a person with integrity, intelligence, energy, of which she said he has in abundance.

“The question is, what are you going to change… My New Year’s resolution is to go to Congress and work for you,” Adrian Garcia said. “You are here about touching lives and changing lives and saving lives in the District.  You care that 92 percent of the district does not have a college education, you care that 54 percent of the people in this district does not own their own homes, that 20 percent live at or below the poverty, and almost half of the kids going to school in the 29th District are are turning down their opportunities for a successful life by dropping out of school. You are here because you don’t want more of the same.”

To a cheering crowd, Garcia outlined his plan to win the campaign, asking his supporters throughout Houston to spread the word, donate money and/or time, and refuse to give up on the next generation of people from this district.

“(This campaign) is not about me; it’s not about any individual,” he concluded. “It’s about the lives and the families who need leadership and a loud voice in Congress.”

Mr. Sharfa, 83, a former engineer who owned his own company, signed up to volunteer as a campaign worker, saying that he’s known Garcia for a long time and wants to do whatever he can to help him win.

“He’s a good guy,” Sharfa said. “I don’t know what I can do, but I want to do whatever I can to support him.”

Garcia & Sharfa

Ten-year-old Rebecca Longoria spent the press conference making signs for Garcia’s candidacy.

“He’s really nice and he will make a really good congressman,” Rebecca said. “I met him last year and he understands everybody.”

Longoriawithsign

Carlos Calbillo, a district organizer and local businessman, said that over the years, Green has gotten out of touch and a replacement is needed.  Garcia, Calbillo said, is the one to get the job done.

“In running for Congress, Adrian is doing a pre-emptive strike against many of the Mexican-American political class — so-called leaders — who have lined up behind Gene Green and have hidden agendas in supporting him.  I’m just so happy that Adrian has taken this major step, which I think will be of great benefit to our community.”

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The Red Satin Box

Things got spiritually rocky after I defied a parochial girls’ school dress code to force attention to church hypocrisies after receiving less-than-satisfactory answers to questions about God and Biblical penalties.

The Red Satin Box

by BETTY L. MARTIN

Glancing neither right nor left and trying in vain to ignore the gasps and whispers around me, I walked straight to my polished yellow desk, my eyes fixed on my teacher at the front of the classroom.

It was the high heels “borrowed” from my mother and foreigners to my feet — along with gut-jerking terror — that made my ankles wobble, my legs feel like melting blocks of ice. Continue reading

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The Dumpster King

Daniel Winters was the most vulgar man I was unfortunate enough to meet.  That he was a homeless veteran made it that much harder for me to simply ignore his barbs.

The Dumpster King

by BETTY L. MARTIN

Daniel Winters was the rudest, most vulgar man I was unfortunate enough to meet in my thirty-two years of life on the planet.

Whenever I visited my neighborhood bar, he was there, a permanent fixture on the third green vinyl stool from the front door.  He was as immovable as Finnegan Bar’s stone fireplace, pool table or construction-paper shamrocks and four-year-old “Happy New Year 1979” sign that permanently hung from the mirrored bar.

That I so disliked a Vietnam war veteran — some said hero — who lived in a non-running car in the bar’s parking lot was a source of considerable guilt. My spirit of patriotism, however, was greatly diluted by Daniel’s quarrelsome, bitter nature and his flagrant use of his veteran status to cage drinks off fellow veterans and unsuspecting patrons.

Besides, he more than returned the antipathy. Continue reading

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Praying for High Stakes: A Funeral in East Texas

The traditions of the East Texas funeral are in full force at Harvey Lee’s
final farewell.

Praying for High Stakes: A Funeral in East Texas

by BETTY L. MARTIN

Individually, in pairs, filling cars, trucks and caravans, the mourners
descended on a farmhouse in Neches, Texas, a tiny town with a dwindling
population except for that of its cemetery.

We came because there was to be another East Texas funeral with all
the trimmings. That meant a visitation of the body at the funeral home,
where we  could mingle, munch on finger food and speculate on the quality of the sorrow demonstrated by other mourners. Continue reading

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Swimming with the Tide

Fledgling steps of integration in the 1960s weren’t easy — not for minorities, not for bigots and not for those on the fence who could never retract their do-nothing stance.

Swimming with the Tide

by BETTY L. MARTIN

“Do you have any of ’em in your classes, Becky?” Bobby Moore whispered to me as two of the first three black students to integrate Houston’s Moorley High School senior class of nineteen sixty seven passed in the hallway, closely together, heads lowered above folders held in front of them like shields.

I hoped the two girls hadn’t heard Bobby’s question, but now that they were further down the hall, I felt safe to answer.

“Yeah, I have the boy in English and the two girls in science. He sits in the back of the class and no one sits in the desks around him. In science, it’s alphabetical, so the girls are mixed in with the rest.”

“It’s weird, isn’t it? Seeing nigras in our school,” Bobby said. “I don’t cotton to mixing the races. My dad said it’s all because of that man on TV — Martin Luther King. He said it’s a sign of the end of times, like the Tower of Babel in the Bible.” Continue reading

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Rhinestones and the Pursuit of Happiness

My life alters completely after deciding on the hottest day of July 1969 to stop at the first place that serves anything with ice.

Rhinestones and the Pursuit of Happiness

by BETTY L. MARTIN

On one of Houston’s hottest days of July 1969, my life literally took a left turn. That’s when I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to turn away from the stop-crawl traffic and into the first place serving anything with ice.

“Damn!” I exclaimed as a car swerved inches from my Firebird’s fender.  But it wasn’t the traffic, the heat or the bad day at work that prompted irritation with my life at that moment.

Just that morning, I’d had a few harsh words with my parents about being a twenty-one-year-old college drop out with a boyfriend who my parents found objectionable in the extreme.

“Not that anyone would be acceptable, except a rich doctor, lawyer or oil baron.” I mumbled aloud as I fiddled with no results with my car’s air-conditioning knob.

It wasn’t Jeremy’s fault that he was poor.  Though he did seem to take an inordinate amount of pride in his anarchist views and even his lack of potential customers who understood those views as he portrayed them on canvas. Continue reading

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