Randy Willis | Key West

I love Key West.

“Dave Gonzales, executive director of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, confirmed to CNN that he and nine other employees were staying through the fierce winds and rain expected with Hurricane Irma, saying the legendary author’s 1851 house, with its 18-inch-thick limestone walls is “the strongest fortress in all the Florida Keys.”

The home stands at an elevation of 16 feet above sea level—still the second-highest site on the island of Key West.

“Actress Mariel Hemingway thinks it’s noble that the 72-year-old general manager of her grandfather’s historic Key West home wants to stay and try to safeguard the property and its famous six-toed feline residents as Hurricane Irma comes barreling in.”

It was in his house in Key West that Hemingway did some of his best work, including the short story classics The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, his novel To Have And Have Not, and the non-fiction work Green Hills of Africa.

It was in Key West that Hemingway was introduced to the world of big game sport fishing. Hemingway was one of the authors that inspired me to write and his photos to take up deep-sea fishing.

The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in the United States on record. The Labor Day storm was a category 5 hurricane that killed 408 people in the Florida Keys. Those who perished in the storm included 259 World War I veterans living in three Civilian Conservation Corps camps.

Hemingway, who lived in Key West at the time, made his way through the aftermath of the most devastating hurricane to ever impact the Florida Keys.

Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms was set in World War I. He wrote a scathing magazine article critical of those rescue in the Florida Key, efforts titled, “Who Killed the Vets?”

Pray for the good folks of Key West and all of those affected by Hurricane Irma!

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photos include: 1) Me and a bronze statue of Ernest Hemingway outside the Key West Museum of Art & History. 2) Hemingway’s Key West home and a six-toed cat. 3) Hemingway and his three children deep-sea fishing in Key West. 4) My three son and I deep-sea fishing.

Vaya con Dios,

Randy Willis
Website: http://threewindsblowing.com
Amazon author’s page:

Josh Willis, Adam Willis, Aaron Willis

Randy Willis



Randy Willis | About Golf and Music, and Writing Novels

Concerning retirement: “All I do is play music and golf – which one do you want me to give up?” – Willie Nelson

That’s how I feel about writing novels….





Vaya con Dios, Randy Willis


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Three Winds Blowing trailer
Twice a Slave trailer:
Twice a Slave, the play trailer:



Randy Willis |God swings a mighty big loop….

He bridled her and proceeded to rub the mare all over with a saddle blanket while he whispered to her. One ole cowboy yelled, ‘Bite her ear.’ Another, ‘Snub her to a post.’ Another, ‘She’s got crazy eyes.’

Jimbo ignored them all, except to say, ‘She’s not crazy, just afraid.’

Didn’t take long for him to get a saddle on her. He climbed on her real slow like and rode with a new found confidence. She seemed to trust him.

Suddenly someone cracked a bullwhip and yelled, ‘Ride ‘em, cowboy.’

She must have jumped ten feet. And, as everyone hooped and hollered she reared up falling over backward on top of Jimbo. The horse got up but not the boy. He just lay there in the dry dusty dirt. I was the first one that got to him and he sure didn’t look good. He tried to talk, so I bent down close to his mouth to hear his words.

“’Please get my Book, the one that boss Jake gave me.’

First I thought I hadn’t heard him right, but he said it real clear again.

“’Please get me my Bible.’

I sent one of the others to fetch it from his saddlebags. I tried to make him comfortable, but there wasn’t much I could do. Wondered how we’d explain all this to boss man Jake. When the Book arrived I show it to him. ‘Here, Jimbo, here’s your Bible.’”

“’Lay it on my chest and open it to John 3:16, please. Put my finger on those words.

He spoke all raspy like.

“’Please, do it, please!’

I found that verse and lifted his hand. He cried in pain cause his arm was broken. I placed his finger on the verse.”

“’Tell boss Jake I made that decision just like he told me I should.’

With that he closed his eyes and was gone.” The barber had tears in his eyes as he ended the story.

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I paused a minute, then said, “Boys, I made three decisions after I heard the barber’s story. The first was to name the creek we now live on Barber Creek. The second was to have you boys bury me one day with my Bible opened on my chest with my finger placed on John 3:16. And the third was to give every cowboy that works with us a copy of the good Lord’s Word. Your copies are in the chuck wagon. Rooster will show you where.”

Jeremiah and Jacob seemed to be moved the most.

Jeremiah spoke first, “Mr. Willis, our sister Mary told us about that Carpenter. Is He for real?”

Boys, He’s as real as the skin on my bones.”

What does that verse say Mr. Willis?”

It says that whosoever puts his trust in Jesus will have everlasting life.”

What does whosoever mean? Who’s that?”

I reckon, Jeremiah, that’s you and me and every cowboy and cowgirl. Even the mavericks, the culls, and the undesirables. God swings a mighty big loop. But, there’s many a cowboy that doesn’t want His brand.”

There was a peace in the camp as an unseasonable cool breeze blew in.

Then Jeremiah said, “I want His brand.”

Jacob added, “Me, too.”

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An excerpt from Louisiana Wind by Randy Willis


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Randy Willis | About Joseph Willis

He was born into slavery. His mother was Cherokee and his father a wealthy English plantation owner.

✯ His family took him to court to deprive him of his inheritance (which would have made him the wealthiest plantation owner in all of Bladen County, North Carolina in 1776).

✯ He fought as a Patriot in the Revolutionary War under the most colorful of all the American generals, Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox.

✯ His first wife died in childbirth, and his second wife died only six years later, leaving him with five small children.

✯ He crossed the mighty Mississippi River at Natchez at the peril of his own life, riding a mule!

✯ He entered hostile Spanish-controlled Louisiana Territory, when the dreaded Code Noir (Black Code) was in effect. It forbade any Protestant ministers who came into the territory from preaching.

✯ His life was threatened because of the message he brought to Spanish-controlled Louisiana!

✯ His own denomination refused to ordain him because of his race.

✯ Joseph Willis preached (1798) the first Gospel sermon by an Evangelical west of the Mississippi River.

✯ On November 13, 1812, Joseph Willis constituted Calvary Baptist Church at Bayou Chicot, Louisiana. He went on to plant over twenty churches in Louisiana.

✯ October 31, 1818, Joseph Willis (and others that had followed him from the Carolinas) founded the Louisiana Baptist Association, at Beulah Baptist in Cheneyville. Joseph had founded all five charter member churches.

✯ After overcoming insurmountable obstacles, he blazed a trail for others for another half-century that changed American history.

✯ His accomplishments are still felt today.

Randy Willis is a fourth great-grandson of Joseph Willis, and his foremost historian.

You can read about Joseph Willis in six books written by Randy Willis:  Twice a Slave, Three Winds Blowing, Louisiana Wind, Beckoning Candle, The Apostle to the Opelousas, and The Story of Joseph Willis.

Vaya con Dios,
Randy Willis
Novels | Family | Friends | Ancestors | Newsletter: www.threewindsblowing.com 

Amazon author’s page: http://amazon.com/author/randywillis
Blog: https://randywillisbooks.wordpress.com

Three Winds Blowing trailer
Twice a Slave trailer:
Twice a Slave, the play trailer:


Randy Willis | Beckoning Candle

I arose before sunrise, sitting by the fireplace, drinking coffee, as alone as the morning star.” ~ Randy “Ran” Willis
Beckoning Candle, a novel by Randy Willis

Christmas Day, December 25, 1941, Forest Hill, Louisiana

I arose before sunrise, sitting by the fireplace, drinking coffee, as alone as the morning star.

Today is the first time ever I’ve seen a white Christmas, and my entire family is here. I’d seen it snow in Forest Hill, but not on Christmas Day. As everyone awoke we watched the storm bringing heavier snow, which seems to be driven by a blue norther. Icicles hang from the trees behind our home that line the banks of Barber Creek. The creek has the coldest water in the summer there is—anywhere—at least anywhere I’ve been. I wasn’t about to find out just how cold it was today.

My eldest son Howard cut the top out of a cedar for our Christmas tree. His wife Zora baked her famous buttermilk pie and brought canned vegetables from her garden she had preserved in mason jars. I swear she is best cook I’ve ever known, well that is, next to my wife.

Each family member has brought a decoration for our tree—it’s our family tradition. There are strings of popcorn, wooden figures, sugared fruit, gingerbread, and my grandson, Donnie, even brought a bird’s nest. Today’s Donnie’s fourth birthday, too boot. I bought him a new game, Shoot the Moon and a wooden jigsaw carton puzzle. I also bought his little brother Ray a stick horse—I told him to keep him at a trot.

At the top of the tree is the star of Bethlehem that our son Herman carved from a piece of hickory that came from an old tree. The Christmas stocking’s are stuffed with nuts, candy, and fruit hung on every available nail. There are books, tablets, pencils, wooden soldiers, and even a rockin’ horse. My grandchildren’s faces seem to glow in the light of the fireplace.

Christmas Day started with a few flurries. Everyone ran outside as the sunrise colors glisten in the snow. Who can paint like the Lord of creation? Donnie grabbed a shovel from the barn to use as a sled. My youngest son Julian made sure the horses and mules were all doing fine in the barn. I swear he loves horses more than people. He’s gentle with horses but as tough as rawhide with some people. My beautiful bride, of twenty seven years, Lillie, made ice cream in a pewter pot with the snow, milk, cream, butter, and eggs. She also made my favorite, dewberry pie, and Community dark roast coffee, and enough food to feed our entire clan. Lillie is a woman of virtue—always giving a cup of kindness. She requested I play her favorite Christmas carol, O Holy Night, on my fiddle. My Daddy bought the fiddle for me, on a cattle drive from East Texas when I was just twelve.

Our home is filled with a sweet joy. But this joy and our family traditions are now threatened. Don’t get wrong, Christmas could not get any better than this, but would it be the last for our sons? No two snowflakes are said to be alike, nor are our three sons. The cares of life have drifted into my mind. Will today be the last time we all gather at our home—our beloved Ole Willis Home Place?

The snow has now drifted against the windows, begging entrance into our lives much like the events of the last three weeks. There’s nothing quite as peaceful as seeing Louisiana longleaf pines covered in a fresh sheet of snow. If only our world was that way, but it is not to be since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

We got word yesterday that my brother’s son and namesake, Robert Kenneth, we call him Bobby, was a confirmed causality of this dastardly deed. We had held out hope, but our hopes have now vanished, like a shadow when the light disappears. Rapides Parish Sheriff, U. T. Downs, along with Bobby’s pastor from First Baptist Church in Pineville, delivered the dreaded Western Union telegram from the Navy Department, to my brother. They told him that it had finally been confirmed that Bobby was entombed in the USS Arizona at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Sheriff Downs also confirmed that he was the first causality from Rapides Parish.

I had no words for my brother—at least none that could ease his pain. We are all heart-broken, disillusioned, and angry. It feels like a dark cloud has loomed over our family and our nation.

But in the midst of all of this a light has begun to dispel the darkness today like the Star of Bethlehem did so long ago. It has drawn our family closer like the beckoning candle on my wife’s supper table.

Julian enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and Herman in the Regular Army after hearing President Roosevelt’s words on the radio. I wrote part of his speech down, “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” Howard tried to enlist, but a head injury caused by a split rim truck wheel when it exploded while he was airing up a tire in Glenmora, prevented that. The cap he wore could hide the scar in his forehead from the recruitment officer.

As we gathered around the fireplace I decided to share my hopes—my dreams—my journey. What has shocked me most about life is the brevity of it. Pearl Harbor and the loss of three siblings much too young has etched that into my mind. Will my boys fate be like Bobby’s?

It is now more important than ever that our family’s history be written down for future generations. I’ve handed a stack of Big Chief writing tablets to my sons with strict instructions that they don’t miss a single detail.

My name is Randall Lee Willis. My friends call me Ran. This is the story our family.

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“Now sons, it is my hope—your mother’s and my prayer, that this gives you strength and wisdom in the days to come.

A good place to begin is when I first dreamed of being a cowboy…!”

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“Cowards never lasted long enough to become real cowboys” ~ Charlie Goodnight

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An unedited excerpt from Beckoning Candle, a novel by Randy Willis. To learn more about my books and the characters in them go to my website at www.ThreeWindsBlowing.com

A note from the author: Beckoning Candle is my new book that will be released in 2017. It hasn’t been sent to my editors yet. It is based upon my father Julian “Jake” Willis’s life and my namesake, my grandfather, Randall “Ran” Willis’s life. It is a nonfiction novel (i.e.: the story of actual people and actual events told with the dramatic techniques of a novel). Truman Capote claimed to have invented this genre with his book “In Cold Blood” (which I read many years ago). I will keep you updated with the release date.

Vaya con Dios,
Randy Willis| Novels | Family | Friends | Ancestors | Newsletter

Amazon author’s page:

Blog: https://randywillisbooks.wordpress.com


Randy Willis | Bill Gates, Jack Daniels, Billy Graham

The story about choices from Louisiana Wind, a novel of Louisiana

March 27, 1898, The Texas Road. Calcasieu River, Rapides Parish, Louisiana

Just as I began trailing cattle, politics raised its ugly head. I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I was once told a story of a woman who wanted to know what her son would become. She put what little money she had on her kitchen table along with a bottle of liquor and a Bible. As her son approached their home she hid in a closet. She figured if he took the money he’d chase the almighty dollar; if he drank the whiskey he’d be a drunkard, and if he picked up the Bible he’d might just be a preacher.

When the boy saw all this he picked up the money quickly and stuffed it into his pockets; he then drank the entire bottle of the Devil’s poison, and finally he put the Word of God under his right arm and staggered out the door. The mother exclaimed, “Oh, no, he’s going to be a politician.”


Vaya con Dios, Randy Willis

Novels | Family | Friends | Ancestors | Newsletter at www.threewindsblowing.com







Randy Willis | Robert E. Lee


This horse reminds me of Robert E. Lee’s horse Traveler.

When Robert E. Lee was two years old, his dad went to debtor’s prison.

After resigning from the U.S. Army, in 1861, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s 200-acre Arlington estate, where he had married his wife Mary, raised seven children, and lived for over 30 years, was occupied by Union troops.

The government seized the property in 1864. Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs recommended it as the location of a new military cemetery to be named Arlington National Cemetery. To ensure the house would forever be uninhabitable for the Lees, Meigs directed graves to be placed as close to the mansion as possible, and in 1866 he ordered the remains of 2,111 unknown Civil War soldiers killed on battlefields near Washington, D.C., to be placed inside a vault in the Lees’ rose garden.

General Lee would never return. Most men would have been bitter, but not General Lee.

Attempts to embroil Robert E. Lee in politics failed, though The New York Herald endorsed him for President in 1868 on the grounds that he was a much better man in every way than U.S. Grant. Lee refused.

After the Civil War, General Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to General Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss.

After a brief silence, General Lee said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.”

Perhaps we all need to cut down a few trees today and forget them…?

~ Randy Willis