A writer’s high without the hangover

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I never thought  I would have written four prison-related books.  That was not my intention some 15 years ago while traveling a beaten-down, two-lane highway to the Dwight Correctional Center.   I was about to have my first interview with a female inmate, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.  What I thought would be a one-time interview, turned into a two-year journey and my first book — “The Rita Nitz Story:  Life Without Parole.”

While working on Rita’s book I met another inmate who was incarcerated for killing her five-year old stepdaughter.  The inmate, Becca, suffered from a bipolar disorder, unable to recall the murder.  After obtaining copies of her mental health record, I began another two-year journey that turned into a second book — “Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains:  A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell.”

A memoir based on my experiences as a victim of childhood sexual abuse — Mnemosyne:  A love affair with memory,” was my third book.  “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” and “Dark Days in Chicago:  The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist,” brought my total to five.  My role in “Dark Days” was that of an editor, writing coach, and supporter.  Point being, I never know where my writing opportunities might lead.  A curious mind allows me to explore experiences I never imagined.

Now I’m stepping into the world of Urban Novels.  This is a genre quite foreign to me, but popular among readers interested in raw, violent stories associated with urban culture, crime syndicates, etc…  The stories can be page-turners, emulating some of the darker movies and television shows we sometimes see.

I met an inmate, a friend of Adolfo Davis who helped me with the research for the Supermax Prison book.  The new inmate shared a manuscript of an urban novel he is working on.  I have to say, his imagination is without boundaries.  His writing is good, but his story telling is outstanding; a real page turner.  I have agreed to offer my assistance in his project.  It should be interesting to watch the collaboration of an urban novel writer with myself, an author of creative nonfiction.  Creative experiences are what keeps me going; a reason to get up in the morning; a writers high without the hangover.

 

 

A final goodbye

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“I’m Am Woman” by Helen Reddy — 1972

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong

I am invincible

I am woman

***
Patty Smith was one of my best friends for the past 47 years; a long time, but not long enough. Paula and I moved to Carbondale in 1971 and bought a house next door to Buddy and Bev Rogers. It was through the Rogers that Paula and I began a friendship with Dick and Patty. In many ways, the six of us – Buddy, Bev, Dick, Patty, Paula and myself – were like an extended family. We shared stories, meals, jokes, laughter, sadness, opinions, and the occasional game of pinochle. It was not unusual for the six of us to hang out two to three times a week. Based on 47 years and my rough calculations, we spent some 10,000 hours just hanging out.

Without hesitation, Patty Smith is one of the strongest women I have known. Each of us has obstacles that block our chosen path. How we deal with each challenge defines our character.

Patty was married to James Staff in1964 and lost him in 1966. During that love-filled marriage, Patty gave birth to Jimmy. In a flash, Patty had become a widow and a single mother. A few years later, she married Dick Smith and became the mother of two families rolled into one. In time, Patty and Dick lost Scott, their oldest son, to cancer. As time passed, Patty was dealt an additional challenge – Dick suffered a major stroke. In addition to the normal duties of wife and mother, she was now a caregiver, head of the household, and major provider. She stepped out of her husband’s shadow and took charge.

Any one of these challenges could break a weaker person. While family and friends offered their support, Patty turned to God, her spiritual source for guidance and strength. Her loving qualities grew and her toughness only strengthened, allowing her to face any adversary. Patty’s spirit now resides in the glory of the Lord. But her compassion, strength, and knowledge continue to live within each family member and friend who knew her well. She gave us a template, a master plan for how to face life’s challenges. But we have to act upon the lessons she has passed on. The answers, the magic is there. When faced with our next test, I suggest that each of us say, “What would Patty do?” “What would Patty do?”

***
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(strong)
I am invincible
(invincible)
I am woman

 

“Knock my socks off book”

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Perhaps one’s taste in books changes as much as their favorite ice cream or the potato chip of the day.  I tend to pigeon hole my favorite authors into one of three categories:  lyricist, storyteller, and knock my socks off.

The “lyricist” chooses words that mimic the streaming of musical notes; creating the sadness of a love affair gone bad; the intensity of a raw, dark murder; or the joyful sound of children playing in the sand box sharing gentle hugs as they close out another day.  It’s the flow, the beauty of the written word.

The “storyteller” writes words as if they are carefully chosen hues, creating an succession of colors rapidly moving together, jumping from one shade to another to another.  The image grabs hold of you, unable to stop until the tale has been told.  It’s the page turner, reading one leaf while turning onto the next.

The “knock my socks off” combines the talents of a “lyricist” and the “storyteller;” a byproduct of our brain’s emotional center; the limbic system — hypothalamus, thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, pituitary gland — working in concert to create the next great book.  Only then can the lyricist and storyteller “knock my socks off.”

Foreword for “Dark Days in Chicago”

Larry L Franklin

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Foreword

There are a special group of forgotten men who live in the Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison located in Crest Hill, Illinois. Each of them spent their early years as gang members on the streets of Chicago. All three were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Each has served over 25 years in an Illinois prison.

The temptation to continue their gang activity while incarcerated was strong. Protection, contraband, money, and the allure of a prison family fulfilled their immediate needs. But amidst the violence and quiet roar of 2,550 troubled inmates, a miracle happened. Three like-minded inmates – Adolfo Davis, Patrick Pursley, and Stanley Davis – sought redemption as well as a need to give back to those they have harmed.

Words give testimony to their lives, thoughts, and concerns as they reflect upon their youth and the freedom they once had. Their…

View original post 119 more words

Midwest Book Review of “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

Larry L Franklin

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I’m pleased to share a recent review from “Midwest Book Review” on my latest work, Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.  

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The Social Issues Shelf

Supermax Prison
Larry L. Franklin & Rakesh Chandra MD. JD.
History Publishing Company, LLC
PO Box 700, 15 Heyhoe Woods Road, Palisades, New York 10964-0700
http://www.historypublishingco.com
9781933909837, $19.95, PB, 240pp, http://www.amazon.com

The collaborative work of Larry L. Franklin and Rakesh Chandra, “Supermax Prison: Controlling The Most Dangerous Prisoners” is a penetrating look at the violence that swept the American prison system in the 1980’s and 1990’s and the organizational structure mirroring the Mafia that erupted in them. The inmates had to make a choice between joining a gang that offered protection, friendships, financial rewards, access to drugs and other contraband or serving as a lone inmate in a dangerous, even lethal world. The worst in this violent world were sent to the supermax prison…

View original post 95 more words

Dark Days in Chicago: The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist

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DARK DAYS IN CHICAGO:
The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist
By Adolfo Davis, Stanley Davis, & Patrick Pursley
with Larry L. Franklin

 “Rarely does a book come along that shows the journey of three young men as they moved from street gangs to isolation in a 6 x 9 foot cell, and to the beginnings of a righteous life. ‘Dark Days in Chicago: The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist’ serves as a template for at-risk youth, anyone searching for a better path, and those looking for a fascinating read.”
— Father Leo J. Hayes, M. Div., MA – Retired Chaplain in the Menard Maximum-Security Prison, Author of Evil in Mirror Lake
***
Dark Days in Chicago provides a view of three former gang members convicted of murder and sentenced to life-without-parole, and their struggles to find meaning to their lives. The inmates provide a fascinating insight into their spiritual transformation while incarcerated in a maximum-security prison.”
— Janet Coffman, Ph.D. Psychologist
***
“Words give testimony to the authors’ lives, thoughts, and concerns as they reflect upon their youth and the freedom they once had. They share the history that steered them towards prison, and the hope that this book supports healing, thoughtful reflection, and awareness of the 2.3 million adults and juveniles incarcerated in America’s state and federal prisons.
— Father David Kelly C.P.P.S. – Precious Blood of Ministry of Reconciliation. Doctoral Thesis – “Responding to Violence among Urban Youth: A Restorative Approach”

________________________________________
NAME (Please Print)

________________________________________
ADDRESS

________________________________________
CITY/STATE/ZIP

Advanced copies available now.
$20.00 per book includes shipping and handling
Mail payment, name, and address to:
Larry L. Franklin
416 Virginia Dr.
Makanda, Il 62958
618-521-5041
Books will be available through Amazon and other retail stories
on September 1, 2018.

 

Foreword for “Dark Days in Chicago”

Dark_Days (3) corrected

Foreword

There are a special group of forgotten men who live in the Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison located in Crest Hill, Illinois. Each of them spent their early years as gang members on the streets of Chicago. All three were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Each has served over 25 years in an Illinois prison.

The temptation to continue their gang activity while incarcerated was strong. Protection, contraband, money, and the allure of a prison family fulfilled their immediate needs. But amidst the violence and quiet roar of 2,550 troubled inmates, a miracle happened. Three like-minded inmates – Adolfo Davis, Patrick Pursley, and Stanley Davis – sought redemption as well as a need to give back to those they have harmed.

Words give testimony to their lives, thoughts, and concerns as they reflect upon their youth and the freedom they once had. Their intent is to help transform young people on the streets and promote life, not death. These men share the history that steered them towards prison. It is their hope and prayer that this book supports healing, thoughtful reflection, and awareness of the 2.3 million adults and juveniles incarcerated in America’s state and federal prisons. And for the at-risk youth who are making choices that will determine their chosen path; and to those who yearn to understand the violence on our city streets, they offer a path to salvation as a model for a better way.

Father David Kelly C.PP.S. – Precious Blood of Ministry of Reconciliation. Doctoral Thesis — “Responding to Violence among Urban Youth: A Restorative Approach.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Days in Chicago: The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist

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I just received my advanced copy of Dark days in Chicago:  The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist.  The ebook and paperback will be released in June 2018.  In the meantime, I will be peddling the book at various libraries, book clubs, universities, tv & radio stations, coffee shops, and perhaps a bar or two.  If interested, contact me through my email llfranklin12@gmail.com and I will send you a book for $20.
***
It has been my honor to assist Adolfo Davis, Patrick Pursley, and Stanley Davis in the completion of their book. While the story is presented in third-person, it was my challenge to give it a cumulative-voice of three, like-minded inmates determined to tell their story. Unless indicated, the words represent the thoughts of Adolfo, Patrick and Stanley.

The authors have spent their incarceration in an Illinois maximum-security prison, while Adolfo spent four of those years in a supermax prison. There were times when the three of them attended prison classes and shared a common goal of writing a book; communicated their ideas while walking in the prison yard and the occasional trips to the gym. Unlike most of us who have our favorite writing spots — private study, isolated cabin, library, or perhaps a table tucked away in the corner of a coffee shop – the authors wrote their story in a 6 x 9 foot prison cell. Adolfo combined the writings into what would become a manuscript.

It was behind the concrete walls and iron bars of the prison where Adolfo, Patrick, and Stanley sought salvation, as well as giving back to those they have harmed. Dark Days in Chicago: the Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist gives testimony to their lives as they remember the freedom they once had. The driving force behind this work was a shared commitment to explain their violent ways, and explore the newfound secrets to a better life. Their desire to help the at-risk youth of Chicago — the place where street gangs rule – gave Adolfo, Patrick, and Stanley a reason to wake up each morning, a reason to live.

Midwest Book Review of “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals

supermax_prison (4)

I’m pleased to share a recent review from “Midwest Book Review” on my latest work, Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals.  

supermax_prison (4) 2-1 2.jpg

The Social Issues Shelf

Supermax Prison
Larry L. Franklin & Rakesh Chandra MD. JD.
History Publishing Company, LLC
PO Box 700, 15 Heyhoe Woods Road, Palisades, New York 10964-0700
http://www.historypublishingco.com
9781933909837, $19.95, PB, 240pp, http://www.amazon.com

The collaborative work of Larry L. Franklin and Rakesh Chandra, “Supermax Prison: Controlling The Most Dangerous Prisoners” is a penetrating look at the violence that swept the American prison system in the 1980’s and 1990’s and the organizational structure mirroring the Mafia that erupted in them. The inmates had to make a choice between joining a gang that offered protection, friendships, financial rewards, access to drugs and other contraband or serving as a lone inmate in a dangerous, even lethal world. The worst in this violent world were sent to the supermax prison, Tamms, located in Illinois. “Supermax Prison” is the story of Tamms and the men incarcerated there. Impressively informed and informative, “Supermax Prison: Controlling The Most Dangerous Prisoners” is a deftly crafted and extraordinary study that is highly and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library, Contemporary American Judicial System collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of criminology students, governmental prison policy makers, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that “Supermax Prison” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).