Historical Misdirection is the Human Condition

clyde-linsleyClyde Linsley was born 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1960 (at the height of the desegregation controversy). Linsley attended Little Rock University (one year), then transferred to the University of Missouri. There, he received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1964. That was followed by two years of graduate study in theology and social ethics at Colgate Rochester Divinity School where he didn’t get a degree but gained interesting knowledge and significant expenses and considered it worth every penny.

When asked what inspires his writing, Clyde quotes a favorite writer:

“William Faulkner wrote that the past isn’t irrelevant, and that it is “not even past.” As a Southerner who has lived most of his adult life in the east, I keep finding the past encroaching on the present, wherever I go. If there is a single theme to my books, it’s probably that what happens tomorrow is directly related to what happened yesterday. Europeans are probably more aware of this, because they have so much more history, but it’s just as true on this side of the pond.”

Most of his stories have echoes from the past.

After school, he worked on state and national political campaigns, two presidential inaugurations, and wrote radio news for a small New Hampshire broadcaster. He was also a reporter for a (now defunct) daily newspaper, a freelance writer and a mystery novelist. Clyde is married with three offspring (now adults) and lives with his wife in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.


“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Those words were uttered by one of the wisest philosophers America has ever produced (in my opinion) and certainly America’s most erudite marsupial: Pogo Possum.

Pogo was, for many years, a staple of American newspapers; he had his own comic strip, which was widely read, daily and Sunday. I was an eager and avid student of Pogo, following his adventures in detail – his campaigns for the Presidency, his dealings with the wildcat named Simple J. Malarkey (who closely resembled a certain Congressman from Wisconsin – I forget his name), and the other denizens of the Pogofenokee Swamp, which was in Georgia, or Florida, or somewhere. Pogo could mangle language with the best of them, but he was also a wise philosopher and an astute observer of human folly.  Of his bombastic friend, Albert, the Alligator, for example, Pogo wisely noted that “Albert lives a life of noisy desperation.”

Alas, Pogo has left us. I suppose the demise of his friend and creator, cartoonist Walt Kelly, affected him as much as it did me. It’s a shame. I miss them both terribly.

That wasn’t what I intended to write about, precisely, but Pogo came to mind when I began thinking about my topic: “historical misdirection.” It’s a term my professor coined many years ago for a class on “Christian Social Ethics,” to describe the ways in which good intentions could go awry. The longer I live, and the more I think about the phrase, the more relevant the term seems to become.

I didn’t think so when I first encountered the term, back in my grad school days. In fact, I turned out a piece of doggerel verse intended to be sung to a tune from “The Sound of Music,” which was quite popular among the malcontents in my class:

“How do we cure historical misdirection?

“How do we find the way to set us free?

“How do we know when history needs correction?

“With socioethical epistemology . . .”

And so on.

I was much younger, then, and (if possible) even more naïve, but the concept of historical misdirection doesn’t seem so silly, any more. Rather, the term seems to describe a common characteristic of the human race, one with which we have all become too familiar.

Historical misdirection. We muddle through life, fixing things that go bad, never noticing that our “fixes” often create new problems, which we must then “fix,” as well. And those fixes lead to more problems, which require more fixes. Which then lead to more problems.

My latest novel, Old River, deals with this dilemma. The idea came to me when a friend told me one day that the Mississippi River had changed course not long ago, and its new course would take it many miles away from New Orleans. This was a problem. Further, he said, the course change had resulted because of human efforts to improve river navigation. Correcting the problem would require even more human intervention and might well create new problems.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for maintaining navigation on inland waters, took immediate steps to rectify the course change situation and keep the river in its place. But will it last? The Corps’ solution requires continual maintenance, and that’s something human beings have not been noted for. Sooner or later, people grow tired, or careless, and things begin to slip away.

old-riverThere’s a word for this; entropy: the tendency of nature to revert to its previous state.

In this case, “entropy” would mean the loss of a multi-million-dollar shipping industry, the destruction of a flourishing tourism industry, and the loss of drinking water for nearly a million people. Since people can’t survive without water, all South Louisiana might be doomed.

Historical misdirection, indeed. We have met the enemy, and he is us. Pogo was wiser than he knew.

I didn’t let this catastrophe happen in my book; I didn’t have the heart for it; I’m a New Orleans fan from way back. Not to mention a lover of jazz, beignets and barbecued shrimp, all of which we would lose if the Mississippi River moved away.

But my book is fiction. Will it happen in real life?

I don’t know if it will happen, but  it may. It’s possible. I’ve got my fingers crossed. If you share my concern, you might want to cross your fingers, too.

Book Blitz: Cat in the Flock by Lisa Brunette



Title: Cat in the Flock
Series: Dreamslippers #1
Author: Lisa Brunette
Publisher: Sky Harbor Press
Publication Date: December 27, 2014
Genre: Supernatural Mystery



For most people, dreams are a way to escape reality. But
for Cat McCormick, they’re a way to get closer to the
truth. Cat can ‘slip’ into other people’s dreams.

After graduating college with a degree in criminal justice
but little in the way of real-life experience, Cat moves from
the Midwest to Seattle to apprentice with her Granny Grace,
who shares the ability. Granny uses dreamslipping as a
private investigator, and Cat plans to follow in her footsteps.

But forced to take work as a security guard, Cat discovers
a mother and daughter on the run. Following the clues, she
goes undercover in a Midwestern megachurch, where she finds
redemption and goodwill amidst repression, hypocrisy, and murder.



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An Excerpt from Cat in the Flock


Sherrie marched into her daughter’s bedroom and dragged a child-sized roller bag suitcase out of the closet. The girl stood in the middle of the room, still in her pajamas. Milk from breakfast had dried around the edges of her lips.

“Ruthie,” the mother said. “I need you to get dressed. We’re going to take a…trip.” Sherrie tried to make her voice sound cheery, but the desperation she felt came through in her tone.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?”

cat-in-the-flockSherrie set the suitcase on the bed. The bubble- gum pink had once seemed innocent but now looked fleshy and indecent. She glanced at the clock over the bed. He’d been golfing for a good fifteen minutes by now, long enough for her to make sure he didn’t come back for a favorite club or the right gloves. She wanted to be on that morning flight by the time he got home and discovered them gone.

She flung open the chest of drawers and grabbed all of the girl’s socks and underwear, a pair of corduroy pants, black cotton tights, a sweater the color of a Midwestern sky. Nothing pink. Only warm things. Seattle in her memory was cold and wet. It was a grey city; grey clouds over grey buildings. Even the water was grey.

One doll would fit. Made of cloth, it could be folded in on itself and slid down the backside of the suitcase.

“Can I bring the ballerina skirt?”

Any other day, she would have corrected her daughter, who needed to learn the precise names of things. Tutu. There it was in the closet, hanging because it took up too much room in the drawer. She yanked it free, sending the hanger to the floor. Ordinarily, she would pick that up; her house was so clean it hurt her eyes with its spareness—as if theirs were a showroom house, not lived in. She left the hanger there, aware of the thrill this fraction of disobedience gave her. She shoved everything into the little pink case, but with the fluffy tulle taking up so much space, the zipper would not close. The choice was clear. The doll would be a comfort to Ruthie in Seattle, but the tutu would not.

“We’ll come back for this later,” she said, tossing the tutu onto the bed. The zipper closed, the sound of it satisfying.

“No, Mommy!” Ruthie stomped her foot. “I want it now!”

“Then you’re going to have to wear it. Now get dressed while I pack my clothes.” But she felt a pang of guilt for her reprimanding tone, and for having to leave the tutu. Bending down, she used her thumb to wipe some of the milk crust from her daughter’s face. “I’ll let you wear anything you want on this trip, okay, sweetheart? And clean your face with the cloth in the bathroom, like Mommy showed you.”

The girl nodded, as if sensing this was not the time for a tantrum.

Sherrie’s own packing, she did with even less consideration. Under things, shirts. A fleece hoodie. Warm socks. She remembered she needed layers in Seattle. Sometimes it could seem warm even though it rained and the sun had not come out for weeks. Her keepsakes in their tiny, locked chest would not fit. They were the only things she had to remind herself of her life before this, but she would have to leave them behind.

Sherrie kept watch on the clock and glanced out the window twice to make sure his car wasn’t out front even though she knew he wouldn’t be home for another hour. The sun had risen blood-red over the cornfields in the distance, lighting them as if on fire. She’d miss that. And she thought of thunderstorms, which seemed never to occur in Seattle. She’d miss those, too.

Ruthie appeared in the doorway. Her face was clean, but none of her clothes matched. She was wearing pink high-tops that seemed wrong for the city they were going to, the situation, and everything else, but she had apparently decided not to wear the tutu.

“Time to leave.” She took the girl’s hand, promising to herself she’d never let go.


About the Author

lisa-brunetteLisa was born in Santa Rosa, California, but that was only home for a year. A so-called “military brat,” she lived in nine different houses and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. She read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother’s books by Daphne DuMaurier and Taylor Caldwell.

A widely published author, game writer, and journalist, Lisa has interviewed homeless women, the designer of the Batmobile, and a sex expert, to name just a few colorful characters. This experience, not to mention her own large, quirky family, led her to create some truly memorable characters in her Dreamslippers Series and other works, whether books or games.

Always a vivid dreamer, not to mention a wannabe psychic, Lisa feels perfectly at home slipping into suspects’ dreams, at least in her imagination. Her husband isn’t so sure she can’t pick up his dreams in real life, though.

With a hefty list of awards and publications to her name, Lisa now lives in a small town in Washington State, but who knows how long that will last…

Lisa publishes a bimonthly newsletter. Sign up and receive a free book!

You can also visit Lisa on her Website , on Twitter , & at Facebook


“A fascinating tale of mystery, romance, and what
one woman’s dreams are made of. Brunette will keep
you awake far into the night.” — Mary Daheim,
bestselling author of the Bed-and-Breakfast
and Emma Lord/Alpine mysteries

“The launch of an intriguing female detective series…
A mystery with an unusual twist and quirky settings; an
enjoyable surprise for fans of the genre.” — Kirkus Reviews


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