Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Frisco Soldier Gets Home Back

It's being reported today in the Dallas Morning News that Captain Michael Clauer is getting his home back. As is the usual nature of litigation and negotiation, no terms are disclosed. Courtesy the DMN:
An agreement that enables them to keep the house was reached this week
during a court-ordered settlement conference.

A gag order prevents those involved from sharing details. But the
bottom line is that the Clauers once again own their home in the Heritage Lakes

“The family is very pleased that this matter has been resolved,” said
their attorney."

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Blog, or not to Blog?

Should unpublished writers blog?

That is the question. This week, a couple of influential bloggers, agent Mary Kole and writer Jodi Meadows, both weighed in on relatively opposite sides of the discussion. (I say relatively because since posting, their opinions are shown to be much closer than originally implied). After reading friend PJ Schnyder's post, I decided my own opinion was necessary. The

I say go for it. Whatever you want. Especially if you are a new and unpublished writer. Go wild.

Why? Because you ARE an unpublished writer. Use your blog and other social media networks to enjoy yourself and test your creative limits. Blogging daily or weekly encourages the development of good writing habits such as, say, the ability to meet a deadline (ignore the fact I failed to post last week) or

If you write something down, you're more likely to remember it later. If you see another writer or publishing professional put out some interesting factoid or advice, analyze it and blog about it. Do that and you're more likely to internalize it than if you simply saved a link somewhere in your bottomless collection of bookmarks.

Your blog doesn't have to be great. Shoot, it doesn't have to be good (although it would help). Hell, it doesn't even have to be amazingly average (think, blog devoted to cats, blech). It just needs to make you happy from week to week as you get out there and share your ideas. Look at it this way: It can only have a positive effect on your other writing efforts.

Now, on the flip side. If you're not enjoying it, if every day or week or month you look at the keyboard and say, "Damn, I have to do the freaking blog," then you should reconsider why your doing it in the first place. If it's not fun or enjoyable, then it's probably not worth doing. Although I usually say, 'if you can't do it right...', but that's a different discussion.

I also don't recommend 'bitch' blogs where you aim the rhetorical flamethrower at current or future employers, agents or corporate entities. If you're going to burn down the bridge, at least wait until your standing on it with a contract in hand.

Chances are, your blog and Facebook account are not going to help you get an agent and get published. Yes, there are exceptions, rare ones, but in the end you have to actually write material that is extremely interesting to achieve your breakthrough moment. It is at that point that you will be forced to reevaluate your position as you attempt to walk the fine line between image, publicity, and marketing. After all, when you're a successful writer, the big boys will have much $$$ invested. Don't be surprised if they not-so-subtly request you to make a change, or ten.

Make it big, delete your old blog, pretend it never happened, then hire a marketing firm and publicist to come up with the interesting material for you.

Again, not there yet? Go wild.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Homeowners Association Seizes Deployed Soldier's Home

Illegally I might add. There is no grey area in the federal law, the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Okay first, what happened, courtesy the Dallas Morning News:

"A soldier serving in Iraq lost his Frisco home to foreclosure over late homeowners association dues, renewing a debate over the power of HOAs in Texas.

The case, which has boiled over to involve a federal judge, a publicist and death threats, began when Michael and May Clauer lost their $315,000 home to foreclosure in May 2008 after falling behind on their association dues.

The Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association was initially owed $977.55 and sent multiple notices by certified mail demanding payment. All went unanswered, said David Margulies, spokesman for the association and its management company, Select Management.

The problem, according to a lawyer for the Clauers, was that Michael Clauer – U.S. Army National Guard Capt. Michael Clauer – was deployed to Iraq.

His wife, suffering from depression over her husband's absence, had let mail pile up and didn't open any of the certified letters. May Clauer and her parents owned the house mortgage-free."

This is recent news, as in this week-recent. My brother lives in Frisco. It's a great community with wonderful neighborhoods and people. When my mother told me about this story, my blood immediately boiled. Civilians do not have an appreciation for the amount of stress placed on military spouses during their loved-one's deployment.

The good news, and I guarantee this, is that the Homeowners Association (HOA) is going to get hammered by the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act. The SCRA is the federal law protecting deployed Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines from in-absentia legal proceedings, including foreclosure. There is no shelter or exemption from the SCRA. It's punitive, meant to discourage folks from taking advantage of servicemembers not present to defend themselves.

That the HOA contacted the 'military' to inquire about Captain Clauer's status is preposterous. Who'd they call? The 1-800 military-status hotline? The Department of the Army? The local National Guard Armory? I can only imagine the HOA squealing with glee when some Private Snuffee sitting behind a CQ desk told them he'd never heard of the guy. Somehow, they allegedly got hold of a memorandum stating the guy was no longer on Active Duty. Don't get me started on how easy it is to check a Soldier's status by simply checking Army Knowledge Online.

But guess what, it doesn't matter. No matter what excuse the HOA's spokesperson spins, there are NO provisions for administrative errors or mistakes in the SCRA. The HOA will get slammed, the buyer will lose his money, and the military family will keep their home.

The Federal judge has ordered all parties sit down and come to an agreement on ownership. I'll update everyone on this story when I find out more. Frankly, I hope CPT Clauer sues the HOA right out of business.

The HOA is in full damage control-mode. They hired a spokesperson. They've put their story out there, but no degree of spin-doctoring will protect the HOA from public backlash. No matter how legally-right they thought they were, this is a monstrous public relations FAIL. Their only acceptable course of action is to hand the family back the keys, reimburse the buyer, and say, 'Our bad.' But even if the want to do that, chances are the military will get involved and assist the family in their suit. There has to be substantial punitive damages. We must discourage this type of activity. It should be public, it should be expensive, and it should send a message.

Don't mess with deployed Soldiers, ever.