Author of Southern Stories



Latest Events and News Items.....


The Next Book:  The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire
I am most happy to say that not only is the manuscript for the next book done, it has passed the preliminary read-through stage with the publisher, Mercer University Press.  From here on until the final version emerges in print, most of what happens is "busy-work," that is , proof reading and minor editing, choosing illustrations, getting the cover design, etc.  I do not have an exact publication date, but it will probably be in early 2016.

I have to say that I am proud of the finished manuscript, probably what you'd expect most writers to say.  But a lot of my joy is based on the very positive feedback I've recieved from my "readers," those folks who have been kind enough to read the work-in-progress and offer suggestions.  The comments have been extremely positive, with a lot of "I didn't know thats," and "This is SO interesting!".

The tentative title of the book is "The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire:  The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s."  I've tried to write it to be an enjoyable read, but the subject matter is fascinating no matter what.  It has turned out to be a general history of the second Ku Klux Klan, the one founded in 1915 that became a major force in American life and politics by 1924 or 1925, then faded into obscurity by the end of the decade.  The previous general histories of the Klan were written in the 1960s through 1980s, and things have changed since then with the availablility of on-line historical newspapers.  There is a lot in this book that is new.  I think both historians and the general public will find it most interesting. 

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff 

Price Reduction for Electronic Format!

Mercer University Press announced this week that the price for all of their e-books (electronic format such as Kindle, Nook, etc.) is being reduced to the flat fee of $12.00.  This includes my most recent book, A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff.  It has done well, going through two hard back printings with the trade paperback format version scheduled to be released this Fall.  I have not received official notice of the price for that edition, but I am told it will be around $15.  I think both of these events are good for readers, as well as me, as an author.  The lower price point will make the book more affordable for those who don't want to invest in the more durable hard cover edition. 

 "The Drum Returns Home"--A New Magazine Article Posted

The Spring 2015 issue of Georgia Backroads magazine features a most interesting article of mine on a locally made drum from Washington County that was carried in the Civil War of the 1860s, lost for years, and eventually returned back to its place of origin.  It is now on display at the Old Jail Museum and Genealogical Research Center here in Sandersville.   I have posted a copy for your reading enjoyment.  If you are interested in reading other articles and blog pieces I've written on various subjects, go to the Books & Writing page and scroll toward the bottom for a current list.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff

I think if you ask any author about his or her book, they'll tell you it's great.  But, hey, they wrote it!  So here is one of many reviews from Goodreads.  If you would like to see more, check out the reviews on amazon.com.

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.
8/3/15 12 Noon
Speaking Engagement
Social Circle Rotary Club
Social Circle, Georgia

8/10/15 10:00 AM
Speaking Engagement
Mercer University School of Medicine
Macon, Georgia

9/3/15 7:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
Lincoln County Historical Society
Lincolnton, Georgia

9/29/15 7:30 PM
Speak to Book Club
Sandersville, Georgia

2/16/2016 2:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
"The Second Coming of the
  Invisible Empire"
Reinhardt University
Waleska, Georgia

News and Notes

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

New Magazine Article on the way:  The interesting thing about writing non-fiction, especially historical non-fiction, is that it is interesting!  By that, I mean that as you write on one topic, you frequently come across others that are just as fascinating.  The problem is  that one simply doesn't have time to drop what you are doing and flit off to write on the other topic.  But, such discoveries make for great magazine articles.  Right now I'm working on a great little bit of Georgia history, the "reign of terror" of the Ku Klux Klan in Macon in the early 1920s.   While most folks associate the name of the Klan with acts of racist violence  (not to mention their anti-Semiticism, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigrant rants), in Macon during the heady early days of the revived order, most of their self-rightous violence was visited upon white, native-born, Anglo-Saxon Protestants.  There were kidnappings and floggings, the most high-profile of which involved doctors, businessmen and others accused of violations of some unwritten moral codes.  The "outrages," which occured over a period of two years, led to arrests and a dramatic series of trials in late 1923.  Again, in sharp contrast to the popular perception of the Klan, these events involved men of prominence.   The story became a national one, with heavy national coverage in such newspapers as the New York Times.   I hope to have the article finished and in print by later this year.