Muhammad Ali by Sherrie Marshall Spitz

Today, I want to share a guest post by Sherrie Marshall Spitz, who recounts her personal connections to the life and legend Muhammad Ali, who passed almost a month ago.


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Muhammad Ali, nee Cassius Clay, fought his last fight on June 3, 2016. He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. But until you watched him fight, you could only know that if you listened to his self-promoted hype. This was a man I admired and adored when I was a small child.

The timing for Ali’s word-slinging attributes could not have been more succinct than for my generation. He held deep personal convictions and was strong-willed beyond imagination. No other heavy-weight boxer before him had ever publicly claimed he was the greatest before there was documented proof. But his record upon retirement stood for itself, 56-5. He was the juice my country needed. We lived in the throes of deep turmoil and terrifying conflict.

American’s tuned in nightly to listen to Walter Cronkite on CBS, one of 6 channels offered in the 60’s and 70’s, to get the latest news on the death toll and atrocities of the Vietnam War. Boys from every city were being sent home in body bags and wheelchairs. Many parents only received dog tags and a Will that their beloved son was required to write before landing in a country that did not ask for America’s help. We clung to each other and prayed the war would come to a peaceful and agreeable resolution.

Yet, here was a man who became a conscientious objector to the war and stood for something that our country didn’t know they needed – a winner. Ali was a tank, but he was still no match for the oversized, muscle-bound, machinations of George Foreman in 1974. They were not only arch rivals in the ring and in front of the television crews covering the match of the century, but George considered Ali his mortal enemy. He publicly stated that he wanted to kill Ali. Death lived on the breath of all Americans. These were strong sentiments for the time, and every person in every house tuned in to bear witness to what was sure to be a slaughter.

After his 1971 loss to Joe Frazier in “The Fight of the Century,” Ali rallied back for “Rumble in the Jungle” against Big George. That night in 1974 will forever live in infamy as the date the loud-mouthed “Pretty” boy from Louisville, Kentucky indeed became the greatest. I was only a child, but the most promoted boxing match in the world was somehow tied in my mind to the war effort. As it was for many, American’s began to believe that we, too, could overcome astounding odds and put an end to the horrors of Vietnam, the 2-decade war, in which Americans fought for 16 years. Was it possible that the hope gleaned from a boxing ring in the jungles of Zaire could somehow rally our troops and help piece our nation back together?

These were adult feelings that I could neither understand nor interpret without pure childlike oversimplification. All I knew was that when Ali fought on my family’s 20” stereo console TV, we were together, we were rooting for the underdog, and we believed whole-heartedly that Muhammad Ali would rise victorious. He carried the hopes and dreams of a country that nursed crushed spirits and bruised egos. The devastation that played out on the nightly news was real drama and nightmarish. Vietnam was the Boogey Man, and we were scared.

Ali knocked Foreman out in the 8th round, and went on to win fight after unbelievable fight. The Vietnam war ended the following year, and when Ali retired in 1981, his loving spirit and skillful forging of broken international relations proved that he was just getting started. Even though he had not fought in the war, it had scarred Ali’s sense of humanity. The Boogey Man had changed him, and he knew his fighting days in another arena were in their infancy.

He began to foster deeper harmonious peace between the world’s nations. He met with foreign dignitaries that included audiences with Pope John Paul II, Russian President Gorbachev, and Fidel Castro. Even when he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease at age 48, he continued his “Fight for Peace” campaign with grace, dignity, and the characteristic pride he exuded his entire life. He and George Foreman eventually developed a brotherly love for each other and became lifelong friends.

I learned many lessons about the true qualities of a life well-lived from a man that came to me through a snowy television set in the 60’s and 70’s. His teachings of perseverance, tolerance of others, and how to rise above the fray have stuck with me for over 50 years. At my house and in my eyes, Ali was the greatest, and he will be missed deeply by many generations.


Sherrie’s blog, Sherrie’s Always Write, went live today, and I am glad to feature her work here on The Town’s End Tribune to mark her landmark day.

Her bio reads:

yUHbAZfLNothing is more amusing than a description of a life well-worn by someone you’ve not yet come to love as much as I. I am a writer with too much time on my hands. I dabble in thrillers and novellas starring ordinary characters in extraordinary circumstances. Think Dean Koontz, but not.

My dog, Sierra, and I share unreasonable amounts of time together in Denver, Colorado. Yes, it’s really a mile high. I’m an avid reader of everything, including, but not limited to: novels, self-help manuals, product labels, street signs, minimum wage posters, and closed caption if I’ve accidentally pressed the hot key on my remote control.

My wicked sense of self-importance and dogged logic for inappropriate commentary color everything I do and say, but should not detract from the self-deprecating humor I plan to heap on you at every corner.

Be sure to check out her blog daily, because she posts new content Monday-Friday!

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Writing Tips With Josh Davis

Today, I would like to welcome Josh Davis to The Town’s End Tribune! He is a very experienced writer with loads of knowledge, and I’m hoping to share his thoughts on a regular basis. So, without further ado… Here’s Josh!


000 josh writing picI’ve been writing professionally off and on for over ten years now. It all started with a gig as a sportswriter for a local weekly newspaper in my hometown of Appomattox, Virginia. Then, I served as a contributor (and later as the general editor) of a Mixed Martial Arts news website. While I was editor, web traffic was increased by over 1600%, unique page views per month increased by nearly 600%, and we won numerous awards for our content. During that time, I was also winning awards for my poetry, and working on my own blog, the (now defunct) Laymen’s Theology blog, and working on novels. Since January of 2015, I have been writing full time, achieving the dream of writing for a living as a freelance ghostwriter and editor while I keep working on my own things, earning nearly $30,000 as a writer last year.

In March of this year, my wife (Patricia) and I started a publishing company together, and our first release achieved #1 on no less than six best-seller lists on Amazon.com.

I say all this, not to brag, but to illustrate the simple fact that I know what I’m talking about. If I give out tips or information, it’s because I know that it works and will increase the overall quality of your writing. So, drawing on my over ten years of experience as a pro, I started my #WritingTipsWithJosh series of videos on my YouTube channel. I try to post a writing tip video every Thursday, to help the aspiring writer to improve as a writer. After all, my personal motto is, “never stop learning.”

And it is with that intention in mind that I illustrate the key points of my video from this week, regarding introductions and prologues in fictional stories.

Introductions, while pivotal in non-fiction books and articles because they introduce the reader to the material, are one of the worst things that you can put in a fictional story. They serve only to ruin the story itself, because readers do not want you to tell them what they are going to read, they want to read it. More importantly, the information in an introduction is often simply a repeat of the information they’ve already digested in the book description. After all, any discerning reader will read reviews and book descriptions to determine if the story is one that will interest them. So, never include an introduction in fictional stories.

As to prologues, they are a slightly trickier animal. It would be very easy to say “don’t include prologues either,” but the fact is, prologues can actually serve a purpose if handled with care. The trick is to make the prologue matter.

For example, let’s look at one of the best-selling fictional stories ever written: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone serves as the prologue to the story. Rowling masterfully sets the stage with information that matters to the story. Hagrid mentions that he borrowed the motorcycle that he delivered Harry with from “young Sirius Black.” Black, of course, is not mentioned again until the third book in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We see Professor Dumbledore leave a letter with the infant Harry’s sleeping form. We never know the contents of that letter until the fifth book in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

More immediately, we read that Harry’s cousin, Dudley, pokes and prods at Harry for the next few weeks, foreshadowing the abuse that the Dursley’s put young Harry through until his eleventh birthday.

While not a true prologue, the first chapter of the series demonstrates all the qualities that we look for in a prologue. It is filled with plot points and conflicts that never fully come to fruition until later (and sometimes, much later) in the series. The motorcycle, for example, is used in the third book to illustrate Sirius’s hand in the death of Harry’s parents. The fact that Professor McGonagall is able to shape shift into a cat sparks Hermione’s search for incriminating forms of bugging in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In the fifth book, we learn that Professor Dumbledore told the Dursley’s that Harry’s life would be in extreme danger if they ever turned him out, resulting in his being allowed to stay in the house in Order of the Phoenix.

These are the qualities that we look for in great prologues…setting up plot points that matter. The key is to avoid dumping information onto the readers, immediately turning them off from the characters that we have spent so much time getting to know and falling in love with ourselves. After all, if we don’t love our characters, the reader won’t either.

Writing compelling stories is less like The Notebook and more like Saving Private Ryan. We have to fight to earn the privilege of having readers read even one more word. Speaking from experience, there is no greater feeling that seeing our words have the desired impact on the reader. We want readers to cry with our characters, laugh with them, rejoice with them, and leave the worlds that spring forth from our minds feeling as if there is something missing. We want them to become so immersed in the story that they are compelled to turn the page, simply to find out what happens next.

Do you really want to turn them off just because you couldn’t restrain yourself from dumping all the information you can into a few pages at the front of your brilliantly composed novel? If your answer is “no”, then avoid prologues as much as possible, and never use an introduction to your fictional story. If your answer is anything other than “no”, you need to find a new line of work.

Seriously.


Josh Davis is a writer, editor, and publisher in his hometown of Appomattox, Virginia. He has been married to his high-school sweetheart, Patricia, for almost eight years and the couple has three children, Ivy (7), Nathaniel (6), and Christine (2). He is an avid fisherman and golfer, and loves to watch his favorite football team, the Tennessee Titans in the fall.

He currently has one novel and one biopic in the works, Stockholm Syndrome and Power of One, respectively. You can learn more about his work as a writer at Josh Davis, Writer. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about his company, you can visit the Davis Publishing Company Facebook page and website.

For more writing tips and tricks, subscribe to his YouTube channel. To have your questions answered, use the #WritingTipsWithJosh hashtag on Facebook and Twitter.

Guest Writers Wanted

I haven’t been using my blog as much as I’ve wanted to lately. As a writer, I’ve gone through cycles of productivity, and this has been a lengthy down period. During this time I’ve considered the idea of having guest writers on my blog, and I think it’s time to broach the subject on here.

Seeing as I call this a tribune, I would love for my blog to become a place with several contributors. I think that it would add an interesting dynamic to the site and perhaps spark more creativity and bring more readers around.

Anyways, here are my requirements if anyone is interested in being a guest writer:

  1. I will not accept anything that goes against my moral code. I have no problem with things that I may generally disagree with, but anything that is hateful or abusive will not be published.
  2. No agendas. I don’t need anyone pushing any propaganda or hocking products on here. If you want to do reviews or things like that, that’s fine, but this site isn’t here to sell stuff. If there are any special causes or things that you want to bring attention to, speak to me about it first and we will discuss it, but that is a very limited basis.
  3. You must present something that has substance and will not require heavy editing. I want pieces that are more than a Facebook post.
  4. I do not require specific topics or ideas, but I do want the subject to be something you are passionate about. This blog has never held to a theme. I love sharing my passions and I want you to do the same.
  5. No plagiarizing. If you quote or reference something, please include where you got it from.

I’m sure I will come up with more requirements as time goes along, but that is it for now. I want this to be a platform for people to share with the world. Some people don’t want to start a blog, but they do want to write from time to time. I would love to be able to give them a space to do so. I hope to have people come in and add some great new facets to Town’s End Tribune.

If you are interested, contact me via Facebook or email me at townsend3284@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some interested writers!