Author of Southern Stories



Latest Events and News Items.....


The Next Book:  The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire
The book is finished!  Or perhaps I should say that I've finished a draft of the manuscript.  For those of you who are writers, the process now begins:  Editing, tweaking, etc., but for practical purposes, the heavy lifting of writing is done.  Much of what happens from here until the book is in print is technical stuff.

As I noted in a earlier post, 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. 

I will post the publication timeline when I know it.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff 

To be Released in Trade Paperback Format

My most recent book, A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff, has done well, going through two hardback printings.  I was recently advised that Mercer University Press plans to release the book in trade paperback format in Fall 2015.  From a writer's perspective, that is good in that it indicates a continued interest in the book as well as continuing sales.  The price point will be lower, of course, and that will hopefully stimulate more readers to buy.  I've had a number of school teachers tell me that the book covers an important part of Georgia history that has been long neglected.  When it is out in the less expensive format, several have said they want to use it as supplemental reading in their history classes.

 New Magazine Article Posted

The Autumn 2014 issue of Georgia Backroads featured a fascinating article of mine on an abortive insurrection that took place during Reconstruction.  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 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 posted copy on the website for the interested reader. Click HERE or go to the Books & Writing page and scroll toward the bottom to read this, and other articles on various subjects.

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.
Speaking Engagement
St. Marys Middle School
St. Marys, Georgia

3/14/15 Time and Details TBA
Speaking Engagement
Mary Vinson Library
Milledgeville, Georgia

Speaking Engagement
Leadership Lincoln
Lincolnton, Georgia 

3/21/15 Time and Details TBA
Speaking Engagement
"How to Write Interesting
    and Succesful Nonfiction"
Atlanta Writers Club
Atlanta, Georgia

3/24/15 Time and Details TBA
Cherry Blossom Festival Authors Luncheon
Idle Hour Country Club
Macon, Georgia

6/17/15 2:00-4:00 PM
Speaking Engagement
Center for Life Enrichment
The Peggy Crosby Center
South Fifth Street
Highlands, North Carolina

News and Notes

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

Bolivia!  I returned from my Bolivian adventure the last few days of August.  It was both wild and wonderful.  My friend Mike and I spent the better part of two weeks exploring the high altiplano, never getting below 11,500 feet altitude, and at times up above 16,000 feet.  It was rough!  I do fairly well at 12-13,000 feet, but above that, your mind fogs and you huff and puff with every step.  One of the pilots who flew us from Miami to LaPaz on American Airlines mentioned that they have to flip a switch to keep the oxygen masks from popping out when the plane lands at LaPaz's El Alto airport.  Its that high--13,300 ft. he said.  We saw some pretty amazing stuff--lots of dinosaur tracks--fossilized, of course--pink flamingos in green lakes at 15,000 feet altitude, volcanos, desert, caves, archeological sites and so on.  I will hope to post some of the several thousand photos I took sometime before too long.