Author of Southern Stories



Latest Events and News Items.....


 New Magazine Article Coming Soon 

In 1875 a group of freed slaves plotted to overthrow the governments of some 19 or 20 east-central Georgia counties and establish a black self-rule district known as Freedmen's Land.  The plot was a horrific one, as the first step was the planned killing of all the whites, "from the cradle up."  Fortunately, it was discovered discovered just days before the slaughter was to have begun, resulting in hundreds of arrests.   It's one of those stories that's so complicated and thrilling that you couldn't make it up if you wanted to--and it's all true!  I have just finished writing the article.  It's scheduled to appear in Georgia Backroads magazine later this year.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff Sells

Through First Press Run

I am pleased to be able to announce that my current book has sold though the first press run and is being reprinted in hardback once again.  To an author, one indication of a book's success is that it sells more than the publisher initially thought it would sell, thus triggering a reprint.  That's good, and I am grateful to the many readers who've purchased copies and to those who've sent me such positive emails and letters.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff

A review of my current book was posted recently on Goodreads.  I don't know the reviewer, but I appreciate his kind words.  I have reproduced it here, as it explains things as good or better than I could:

Author William Rawlings’ A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff is a superb little book of Georgia history, recounting (as the book jacket succinctly states) the rise and fall of Georgia’s rural population through the story of Sandersville cotton farmer, financier, businessmen and later convicted killer, Charles Graves Rawlings. Much like the farm barons of the bygone 1900s and 1920s, Rawlings tills new ground in this book, closely examining how the South’s reliance (bordering on blind devotion) to King Cotton ultimately lead to an unsustainable economy that not only bankrupt both individuals and communities, but ultimately lead to the dissolution of many small Georgia towns and a diaspora of many southern residents northward.

One might expect any book addressing post-Civil War southern economics and population migration to be inherently dry and dusty, but Rawlings deftly avoids pedantry, focusing his attention instead on the life and times of those who lived during these troubled times – in particular the life of the author’s ancestor, Charles Graves Rawlings, a rags to riches millionaire who lived his twilight years impoverished and imprisoned for purportedly engineering the killing of his cousin, Gus Tarbutton. Replete with stories, folklore and anecdotes, Rawlings paints a vivid picture of the life, times, people and places. Every page of A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff is interesting and the broad canvas of Rawlings’ book is a bit like peering through the window of time machine into the faces, issues and politics of the past.

It is the seamless fusion between intensely interesting tales of individuals alongside the broader background of historical trends and changes that makes A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff so immensely satisfying. Rawlings is able to sift through (and explain) complex economic and historical data with ease – never have I been more interested in the growing, cultivation and economy of cotton – but more importantly he is also able to show how these broader issues are relevant -- specifically to the lives of the individuals he chronicles. For example, Rawlings bluntly portrays the terrible impacts of Southern racism, but wisely avoids the trap of blaming all the South’s ills on that single evil. Likewise, he addresses the rise and impact of the Ku Klux Klan – not just in the context of its abhorrent racism – but as a political movement whose terrorism targeted not just African-Americans, Jews and Catholics, but anyone (whites included) whose moral purity was questioned by Klansmen. Author Rawlings doesn’t shy away from bluntly painting the picture of the Klan’s brutality – so unflinchingly that it becomes very easy to understand, even modern times, the fear and intimidation the hooded men must have instilled even among some of the bravest and most independent local citizens.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff is indeed a book about history – but it’s clear that Rawlings’ is no stodgy historian; instead his writing is that of a fan of history whose enthusiasm, crisp narration, and penchant for wonderful stories captures both the reader’s interest and the essence of the age. In the preface, Rawlings calls this book “an interesting tale, nothing more or less” – and like the best classic tales, this is a story that resonates with ageless meaning.

Read the First Chapter of A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff

For the many folks from whom I've recieved inquiries as to when the book will be available, here is a copy of the first chapter to whet your appetite.  To read it, click HERE.

Event Schedule
Upcoming events for the next few months are
listed below.  If you or your book or social club
are looking for a speaker, please contact me.

5/5/14 7:00 PM
Book Club Discussion
Burge Plantation
Mansfield, Georgia

5/13/14 12:00-1:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
Rotary Club
Dahlonega, Georgia

8/11/14 9:30 AM
Speaking Engagement
Mercer University School of Medicine
Macon, Georgia

News and Notes

There is always something happening.  Here are the latest odds and ends that may be of interest to you:

Amelia Island Book Festival Workshop Slides:  The PowerPoint slides for my workshop presentation at the 2014 Amelia Island Book Festival are posted on the Interesting Things page of this website.  The talk was on "Practical Aspects of Writing History and Historical Fiction," and I share my thoughts and insight on the process.  Check it out by clicking on the navigation bar above. 

New Magazine Article:  The current  issue of Georgia Backroads  contains my essay on "The Myth of the Boll Weevil."  In this piece I propose that the crash of the cotton economy in Georgia in the 1920s was not due to the famed weevil, but instead due to other economic factors which would have caused the economy to fail anyway.