Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando Cries: One Local's Perspective

Have you ever had a large tragedy strike your front door?

I woke Sunday morning to a text from a family member asking if we were alright. We regularly get texts like that after a hurricane or tropical storm, but there was no storm that night. Facebook revealed a different story:

20 dead, as many as 50 headed to the hospital in a nightclub shootout.

We watched the police report and absorbed the tragedy, truly saddened. As the day progressed, the report updated. 49 dead, 53 injured. ISIS claimed the attack. The nightclub was a gay nightclub. The gunman was an actual Muslim terrorist. It was a hate crime and an act of terrorism. By a registered security guard. Who was also on a "watch" list for terrorism.

There was a call for local blood donations. Oh, you should have seen the lines. They ended up having to turn people away because there was such a huge response. Prayers and donations and a general sense of sadness have perpetuated our entire area.

And now there's the political debate:

Gun laws? Um, no. The guy was a SECURITY GUARD. He had a licence to legally handle a gun, and no tightening of gun laws is going to change that. Heck, if someone else in the nightclub had a weapon, they may have taken the jerk down rather than being mowed down. Stronger gun laws will not stop terrorists. It will just make their job easier. Maybe we shouldn't make it illegal to carry guns, but illegal to kill people, eh? If it wasn't a gun, it would have been a bomb, or a fire, or something else.

Hate crimes? Why can't everyone just love everyone! Why is everyone so bigoted? Um, no. This was a Muslim terrorist, and frankly, they would kill anyone who isn't one of them. Just for being different. To these extremists, if you're not Muslim, you're an infidel. Gays just rank at the top of their "hate" list. That doesn't mean the rest of the world feels that way, so please people, stop with the ranting.

On the Terrorist Watch List? This is the one that gets me. Why in the world would they approve someone on the watch list to become a SECURITY GUARD? What? Did someone's palms get greased? Is the government that inefficient? (Yes, the answer is yes.)

Regardless of the reasons, motivations, or  political spewing motivated by this event, the reality is this:

People were killed. Senselessly. Because a group of fanatics (who must have the most messed up childhoods in the world) believe it's okay to senselessly massacre others.

There is no correction, no policing, no words that can make it better. I take solace in the fact that in the next life these violent men will one day stand face to face with those they slaughtered, and what will they have to say? In the meantime, there is an outpouring of love toward the victims and the suffering. To all my Orlando brothers and sisters, the world mourns with us.

If you would like to help the victims of this senseless crime, you can donate to a GoFundMe campaign HERE.

This month I'm highlighting fellow authors from:

(Unless you already have, in which case, you rock!)

Two weeks ago I shared THE THING THAT TURNED ME, an anthology of close to 30 authors (including me!) about turning points. Everyone who mentioned "cheese" in a comment was entered to win an eBook of the anthology (after its release on the 28th).

And the winner is:


Congrats, Beverly!

And now meet a story from the author of SCRYING THE PLANE in the Parallels anthology: 

Four tales I present to tingle your spine
Four seasons of suspense to let you unwind.
Lives at a crossroad, a breakdown of order
Between life and death, it’s a tenuous border.

(Did I just use poetry to promote a book? Yes, I did.)

Heart Stopper: The disappearance of random household items baffles Dallas Radner and his eleven-year-old daughter Tessa. Ten plastic bags, nine ballpoint pens, and so on as the countdown begins. On the Day of the Dead, Tessa’s birthday, one thing will vanish forever. Will it be her?

Detour: Fed up with her abusive beau, coed Chloe Langley ditches class for a trip home. She’ll never make it.

One Step Away: Darryl James’s acrophobia ruined his marriage and stole his son. On the cusp of completing desensitization therapy, a relapse occurs with shocking consequences. 

Monitor:  Perched on a mountain with a view to die for, Laura and Paul Alderson have it all: new home, new baby, and new challenges. Yet urgent whispers from the baby monitor threaten to turn their American dream into a nightmare.

Get your copy HERE.

Ready to meet the author?

From doling out popcorn to moviegoers to flinging smelt to penguins, Tamara Narayan's taken the “road less traveled”. Her career path veered off into a land of integrals and other strange things while she taught college level math, but these days she’s cruising the fiction highway.

You might stumble across Tamara eating cheddar cheese fondu at The Melting Pot.

Visit her at

Tamara gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out the lie will go into my magic hat for the chance to win HEART STOPPER in eBook.

You have until Tuesday, June 21 at 2 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answers on June 22, 8 a.m. EDT.

1. When I was a penguin keeper at the Riverbanks Zoo in SC, a local news crew came by to shoot a few clips of our Black-foot penguins. This was in 1992 and Batman Returns was big at the box office. This sequel featured Danny Devito as the villain The Penguin along with several real Black-foot penguins as his minions. I wasn’t in any of the shots, but one penguin did poop on the reporter’s foot. I don’t think that made the cut either.

2. On July 1, 2000 I walked in a protest march in Columbia, SC against putting the Confederate Flag on the SC State House grounds next to the Confederate Monument. The flag was being moved there from the dome of the Statehouse where it had flown since 1962 as a protest against desegregation. (The Confederate Flag was finally removed from the State House grounds on July 10, 2015, less than a month after the murder of nine people in a Charleston, SC church, including state senator Clementa C. Pinckney.)

3. I was in my garden weeding the other day. My cat, Mr. Mistoffelees, came by for snuggles and ended up sitting in my lap. Then two fellows came jogging by, one of which I recognized as Jason McElwain, better known as J-Mac, winner of the 2006 ESPY Award for Best Moment in Sports. J-Mac, a high-functioning autistic, scored 20 points in a high school basketball game in four minutes, nineteen seconds.

So sleuths, which is the lie? Have you met Tamara? What are your feelings about the attack in my back yard? Do you like short stories or prefer longer ones?


  1. Crystal, you covered the points better than anyone else. He was on the watch list? The FBI really blew that one.
    I'm going to say the third one is the lie.

  2. It's absolutely heartbreaking what happened in Orlando. Such a tragedy, for sure...

  3. Such a sad, sad thing to happen. It certainly doesn't make a person feel safe when they're simply out having a good time and some lunatic opens fire on them. My prayers are with the families.

    Now to more pleasant things. I am so excited. I've seen posts about The Thing that Turned Me and now I get to read the book. Thank you, Crystal. I already have a copy of Paralles, just haven't had time to read it.

  4. The massacre in Orlando was horrific. The investigation continues to find new information. I think the lie is #3.

  5. Such a sad, totally senseless tragedy. It raises so many questions like you raised, and I'm not certain of the answers. But we need to figure it out and how to stop random killings in general that are cutting short innocent people's lives so needlessly.

    Awesome you are featuring Tamara this week. Congrats on being in the anthology.

  6. I really hate all of the arguing that's happening in the wake of this tragedy. This was heartbreaking and heartless.

  7. Definitely not he kind of news anyone wants to wake up to. My only thought at this point is why is that gun (which has been used in multiple attacks now) still legal to buy? No one outside of the military needs that kind of weapon. :(

    But on the brighter side, the book sounds awesome! I'm going with #1 for lie. Perhaps the details are a bit fudged. :)

  8. The thing that worries me is how the media labels this the worst mass shooting in US history. Will this inspire other disturbed individuals to break the record?

    Thanks again for featuring me this week.

  9. Well said, Crystal. My heart goes out to Orlando and everyone who lost someone.

    Three is the lie!

  10. So sad. People need to focus more on kindness.

  11. I very much don't agree with you about your stance on gun laws, but my heart goes out to the people in Orlando dealing with the loss of loved ones. This was a senseless act and so very preventable. This world definitely needs more love and less hate, no matter their childhoods.

  12. Well this is a twisty post. The first part makes me cry. My heart to everyone--just everyone.

    The second part becomes difficult to focus on, but congrats to Tamara.

  13. I like novellas better than short stories. And novels better than that (usually).

    Not talking about Orlando. I have no words.

    Lie... #3...

  14. You and I think alike where these terrorist are concerned. It makes no sense at all that he was allowed to carry a gun. Or to own a gun. Good grief.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  15. Congrats to Tamara! And Beverly! The tragedy is so disheartening. Our America we pride ourselves on seems to becoming more and more vulnerable. It's so hard to watch!

  16. Man, Crystal, Orlando is a tough place to be these days. Stay strong. You've got such a great perspective on things. I stay away from social & "news" media at times like this. I think people reach for something or someone to blame as a comfort mechanism. They want to think that if they can change that one thing, maybe the world would be better or safer. Sometimes all we can do is fall to our knees. That's awesome the lines were so long for blood donations.

    "Yes, the answer is yes" - THIS is my very favorite bit of this post.

    Looove that Heart Stopper cover. Can't wait to dig into the Parallels anthology!

  17. there are so many attacks and wars and hate around us that one feels like hiding in the house forever is the smartest choice to live. I started by kicking out the TV out of the house, it is rather blissful, what one does not see, one does not feel

  18. It is indeed sad. Only love can conquer hate. I'm betting on love:)

  19. I'm glad you are ok. :( Living in Georgia, I have a few friends in the Orlando area that I had to check in on. Not that I necessarily thought they would be at a gay night club, but just that anyone could do anything. I mean – a security guard killed almost 50 people! If that isn't abnormal, I don't know what is! I have to say that I was little surprised to discover this was backed by ISIS. I'd expect that if had occurred in WDW, but a gay club? Could they not get into WDW with their guns? Did the guy actually care about killing kids? … And now they say the guy's wife knew about what he was planning to do… How could she let him buy the gun and plan such an elaborate killing spree? How can she live with herself in the aftermath?

    Of course, Mr. Rogers says to look for the helpers. And I am so impressed at all the giving back that has occurred in Orlando. Everything from the GoFundMe account to the blood donations. The people there have been wonderful and supportive of one another.

  20. I'm all the way in Michigan, so the tragedy in Orlando was just saddening for me. I never comment online about these things because I find it pointless. Tweeting isn't going to change those people's minds nor bring back the dead.

  21. Whenever I get a glimpse of how dark this world is I also get a glimpse of light. The massacre was horrible and while I cry and rage against all the hate in this world I'm also blown away by the good people, the people who line up to give blood, who give their time and money, who teach love and compassion to their kids, who hand out food and drink and help to those victims.

  22. When I read the news and saw on TV, I just couldn't believe. You know we always sort of think that this is the last attack. And there would be no more. And then we get shocked by yet another. When would it stop?

  23. For some reason I thought you lived in Colorado... Anyhow, until I read your post, I didn't really think about how awful it must be to live in the area. It must be very scary. So I'm sending loving and healing thoughts not only to victims and families/friends of victims, but to all the people who live in the area.

  24. I agree with so much of what you said and so many of the comments. The whole thing is heartbreaking. :(

  25. Congrats, Beverly and Tamara.
    These are tough, Tamara. I'll say #3.
    I am in favor of gun control. Rifles, hand guns. Fine. But my feelings are we don't need assault weapons on the street.
    What's going on in FL? If the mass murders weren't bad enough, now the death of that poor little boy. Horrific.

  26. I think the story of all that senseless killing and suffering has us all gasping for breath. It's so hard to wrap our minds around that kind of hatred, but the loving way everyone has pulled together in the aftermath is heartening.

    As for the killer being on the terrorist watch list, my understanding is he WAS on the list for a while, but was removed some time ago. Therefore, there was nothing to prevent him from getting a job as a security guard or buying guns.

    I have to agree with Tamara about the media repeatedly saying this is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. It makes me shudder every time I hear it, because it seems probable that some sick-o will take that as a challenge.

    Okay, I'll guess the lie is #3.

  27. THe things that people do. Why in the world would they approve someone on the watch list to become a SECURITY GUARD? That's a good question. A very good question.

  28. We are all infidels to them. And some take it to the next level and kill. There is a twist to this story though. The shooter had frequented the club for years. Now there is speculation that he was gay, but since his religion forbids it, he was jealous he couldn't act on it.

  29. I feel so sad for the victims of the Orlando killings, I am sending prayers to all the people affected by this horrific tragedy...

    I don't know what the answer is Crystal, I do wish there was a ban on assault rifles, I know if they really wanted them they could probably get them but it should not be easy for them to get...

    I feel for the people who have to look into all the allegations of the possible terrorist threat of people,it is overwhelming and I don't think there are enough people to stop what is going on...

    Sadly I think it will only get worse...

  30. It's sad. So many of the tragedies have made me cry. Yet, as a nation, we continue to do nothing. The internet memes will solve nothing. They only seem to make our divides wider.

  31. The shooting was just awful. I seriously don't see why people can't let others live their lives.

  32. I don't understand how people can become so twisted. We need to work harder to make the world better and stronger and kinder.

  33. Some people really are deranged nutballs and the media just plays it up. Terrible in every way.

    #3 is the lie?

  34. Thank you for your Light - for giving us your perspective - for helping - and for the link, so we could do some . . too. love & love, -g-

  35. Thank you for your thoughtful post on the shooting in Orlando! The media is driving me crazy and I try not to look at political stuff on facebook. Agh. I agree with your thoughts on this one - especially the part about the watchlist! The only way I think we can change things is to keep on loving our neighbors as ourselves and trying to shine God's light no matter the situation.

  36. The world continues to baffle me.

  37. Tragedy used to unite us. Now it seems to divide us more. My heart aches for all those impacted.

    Congrats to Beverly! And the cover of Heart Stopper is...well...duh, heart stopping. #2 is the lie.

  38. As far as I'm concerned, all murders are hate crimes. I just don't understand how people can do such hateful things to other people. My prayers go out to those left standing in the aftermath.

    I remember when Beverly was asking opinions on the cover of her book! She did well with it. I'll go with #3 as the lie.

  39. Wow, I can't believe that happened right by you. Still such a shock. And a tragedy. And yep, banning these guns isn't going to stop these kinds of attacks. If someone is that devoted to attempting a level of violence that is guaranteed to result in their own death, they're going to get a gun to carry it out whether it's legal or not.

  40. Heartbreaking. I can't even imagine what those families are going through. The fact that he was a security guard on the terror watch list is just mind boggling to me. How did someone not catch that?

  41. While I agree wholeheartedly that this is an awful tragedy there are a few points you made Crystal that I do disagree with.

    1. The shooter was a born American. Yes he had Muslim faith but he was born in America and that makes him an American terrorist as well as a Muslim one.

    2. Hate crimes are a specific type of crime that is recognized to help decrease but heavily punish prejudice based murders. Killing someone because they're gay is held at a higher standard than if it was robbery because you can try to avoid being robbed by following tips on where to go, what to look out for and how to react in the commission of a robbery. It is pretty much impossible to stop being gay.

    3. Gun control goes much further than just taking guns. A big issue here is the fact that everyday citizens do not need automatic weapons. There is no question that without high powered weapons this shooter would have a much harder time killing this many people. Yes there's the option of bombs but those are hard to make safely and plant secretly. There is a reason that you don't exactly hear of bombings everyday in the United States. Also there needs to be a general streamlining of how guns are purchased and who has access to them. A person on a terrorist watch list should not have access to high powered weapons and illegal gun selling needs to carry high penalties including the seller being held responsible for any deaths caused by their illegal sales.

    4. Yes he is on a Watch list. But it's still a watch list. Which means you are suspected but it has not been proven. I watched on CNN and it had been attempted multiple times to catch this man committing an act of terrorism before this tragedy. But he was not caught and that was scary. All they had were suspicions and potential connections that could not be proven. Maybe if he were not an American citizen they could have used that as grounds to have him deported but since he was an American there was not all that much they could do with the law as it is right now. If there can be contingencies in the terrorist Watch List to disallow those on the list jobs that allow firearms or hunting license. That would be an excellent idea. But you have to be careful because if it turns out that the person on the list is not a terrorist. That individual can scream human rights violation and prejudice.

    Those are just my thoughts as a Jamaican looking from the outside. I am very sorry about what happened in Orlando and send my prayers. Respect your feelings Crystal and sorry for all the pain this tragedy has brought you.

  42. So glad you and your family are doing okay. Your thoughts on the tragedy mirror mine. Nothing but God can fix such a mess. Praying for your community.

  43. It's so heartbreaking what happened in Orlando. I live about 15 miles from Virginia Tech, so we know a thing or two how hard it is to lose people to a mass shooting. :(

    Congrats to Tamara on her collection! I'll guess #3 as the lie.

  44. Beautiful words Crystal. Why can't we all just love each other? I agree to that. Congratulations Tamara. :0)

  45. It was a terrible tragedy in Orlando. My prayers go with everyone involved, even those distantly touched by it. Everyone.

  46. It was a terrible, senseless thing -- followed by a tragic death at Disney. Orlando has too many things to grieve right now. And the country grieves with you: 50 dead in a night club, 1 dead in the happiest place on earth.

    I'll have to disagree with you on gun laws for assault rifles. The fact that he obtained that weapon legally is the issue for me. I doubt any club member carrying a handgun would have been able to put up much defense against someone spraying the room with an assault rifle. My brother-in-law, a former federal agent with decades of experience in Customs, the CIA, and the Secret Service, has said he would have been hard-pressed to take down a bad guy under circumstances like that. Not that he wouldn't have tried. He is always armed with a handgun. But he doesn't carry an assault rifle with him, nor would he use one with civilians in the way.

  47. You live in Orlando? That hits close to home. Nowhere is safe, and we never know when it's our time. It's tragic and sad, and maybe something good will come of this, perhaps if nothing else, more awareness. Courtney - Maui Jungalow

  48. I think 3 is the lie. I didn't know you lived in Orlando. The news that rolled out from that region was chilling and so sad. I used to think public places were safe, but not anymore.

  49. I didn't realize you lived in Orlando either and I agree with so much of what you wrote. The sadness just doesn't stop and the madness doesn't either. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was on lockdown at UCLA due to the murder/suicide. We had no idea what was going on and even though, one man was murdered, in my eyes one person murdered is too many. These are strange times but I do hope through compassion, understanding, discussion, and hope, we can prevail through. My prayers are with you, your family and all those lives lost in the Orlando tragedy - including the murder of that beautiful singer and the 2-year baby:( On a light note, I think #3 is the lie. xoxo

  50. My heart goes out to all of the families and friends whose loved ones were involved in this terrible crime. So sad! So much sadness in the news and in Orlando.

    I am not sure which one is the lie- but I think it might be #3. Always interesting to play!

  51. I admit that I've never researched this... but how easy or difficult is it for the average employer or American to access to Terrorist Watchlist? I mean, if it's one Google click away, then yeah, someone is a freaking idiot for that hiring. But if you pretty much need to know someone at the alphabet-soup-agencies (FBI CIA, etc), then I can see how it'd slip through the cracks.
    The whole thing is just terrible. Absolutely awful.

    I'll guess 2 as the lie.

  52. Thank you for sharing Crystal, it has been tough facing this locally. Glad you and yours are safe. Praying for the families. Also feeling so much love for Orlando. Sending hugs.

  53. It's been a rough week for America. The Horrific Orlando shootings which breaks my heart, and the poor 2 y/o baby at Disney, and more... I need to step up my prayers!!!

  54. I spent most of this week in a really bad place mentally because of the Orlando shooting, and that's just me as an outsider on the other side of the country. I can only imagine how hard it's been for everyone who lost loved ones, or the people living there. And I hope that some good comes of this in the end, that the changes to laws and oversight and other related issues come due to this.

    And I have to agree with the points Sheena-kay Graham and Dianne K. Salerni brought up, especially about gun control. No other weapon would have allowed the killer to kill and injure as many people as he did. Bombs go off once and that's it, and as mentioned, they're more difficult to make and set up. A fire might have caused a panic, but people would have seen what was going on more easily and there would have been fewer casualties. But someone with a gun in a dark, loud place? As the attack demonstrated, they can just keep shooting, and as Dianne said, they would be difficult for even skilled shooters to take down, especially in a room filled with civilians.

    There's no simple or easy answer to gun control, but doing *nothing* is not the solution. The sheer number of shootings in this country is proof that it doesn't work. (And I'm sure you know it's already illegal to kill people, so I'm not sure why you brought that up.)

  55. I think the killer was just a loser who knew he was a loser and wanted to take his anger out on someone else. Not sure what anyone can do about that.

  56. Congrats to Tamara. Sounds an interesting concept.

  57. I heard about that awful tragedy while on the cruise ship. I did think of you and how close you were to all the awfulness that occurred that night. What a horrible, senseless act. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. I think you nailed it with your questions and answers.

  58. This senseless killing has affected people around the world. It's hard for me to imagine how someone can even think of something like this let alone do it.

    Congrats to Tamara.

  59. I totally senseless. And gun control is NOT the answer for all the reasons you mentioned. Congrats to Tamara, and best wishes!!

  60. "Why can't we all just love each other." <--This. Yes. I'm so sad about what happened but also encouraged by the outpouring of love I've seen since the events in Orlando.

    Also, I love The Melting Pot. Their cheese fondue is amazing, but they have to put something in their chocolate fondue because I am not a chocolate fan, but that stuff was amazeballs.


Hit me with your cheese!