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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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.

✯          ✯          ✯

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.”

✯          ✯          ✯

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.

✯ ✯ ✯

“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…!”

✯ ✯ ✯

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

✯ ✯ ✯

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

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Blog: https://randywillisbooks.wordpress.com


Randy Willis | Love

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Corinthians 13-4-13 (NIV)

Vaya con Dios,

Randy Willis

Website: http://threewindsblowing.com

Novels | Family | Friends | Ancestors | Newsletter

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Randy Willis | A Chance Encounter

A “chance encounter” with an unknown preacher and a question from Hollywood’s most famous movie star would change his life.  ~ Randy Willis

He was a huge star. And, the composer of many hit songs. The original manuscript of one of those songs is buried in the cornerstone of the Copyright Building of the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C.    He acted in motion pictures with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and his good friend John Wayne.  And he could sing.  In 1934, he became the first recording artist signed by the American subsidiary of Decca Records.  When television was in its infancy, in the early ’50’s, he was the West Coast’s biggest radio star with a show syndicated nationwide.

But he was not happy and didn’t cope well with the pressures of his high-profile career and sought relief in alcohol. His drinking and gambling problems began to severely affect his life and his family’s life. Many times his drinking landed him in jail.  Born in Kellyville, Texas, The Texas State Historical Association records that he identified himself as the “original juvenile delinquent.”

His name was Stuart Hamblen. His life would change forever with a “chance encounter” with a young and unknown preacher and a question from America’s most famous movie star.

In 1949, Stuart’s wife Suzy, encouraged him to attend a prayer meeting with her.  A young preacher by the name of Billy Graham was to speak to the group.  Not a single newspaper had carried the story of young Billy being in town for a tent revival.   But, among  Billy’s supporters was the influential Presbyterian Bible teacher Henrietta Mears, who had invited him to her home in Beverly Hills to speak to a group of Hollywood notables. The group was called the Hollywood Christian Group.  It’s goal was to reach the entertainment industry with the Gospel. Many were impacted by these meetings such as Ronald Reagan, Dale Evans, and Roy Rogers.

Suzy made sure they were there early, and she and Henrietta disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Stuart and Billy alone. The two men hit it off right away, and Stuart asked Billy if he would like to come on his radio show to promote his tent crusade. Billy show up at the radio station, and after the radio interview, Stuart urged his listeners to go down to the tent to hear more of Billy, and ended by stating, “Make sure you all come, cause I’ll be there too!”

He had no intention of going, but Suzy wasn’t about to let him forget his promise. That evening, as Stuart started to settle in for the night, Suzy appeared, all ready to go out the door. She looked at him and said, “You ready to go? You told everyone that you were going to be there. You don’t want to disappoint your fans!” Reluctantly, Stuart went.  She lead him down to the front row—dead center—right in front of the pulpit. Night after night, she would drag Stuart down there, front row   center, until finally he couldn’t take it no more. He had had enough and decided to escape. He  packed up his hound dogs, and headed out for a hunting trip. It didn’t seem to matter though, as the three-week campaign neared its end, since there was no sign that Stuart was under any conviction—of any kind—except to get out of there.

Sensing that momentum for the meetings was building, the local crusade organisers wanted to extend them, but Billy was hesitant. He put out a “fleece,” and asked God for a sign. The next morning at 4:30, he was awakened in his room, at the Langham Hotel, by a phone call. It was Stuart Hamblen, and he was in tears.  Billy shared the Gospel with him.   The result was that he surrendered his life to Christ.  That night, Stuart was at the crusade again and publicly gave his heart to Christ.

Stuart told the story of his conversion on his radio show. William Randolph Hearst heard it and sent a telegram to all his newspaper editors: “Puff  Graham.”  Soon all of Los Angeles was buzzing about Billy Graham’s meetings.

The Los Angeles Crusade of 1949 was the first great evangelistic campaign of Billy Graham. The campaign was extended to eight weeks. During the campaign Billy spoke to 350,000 people . By the end, 3,000 of them accepted Christ as their Savior. After this crusade Billy became a national figure in the United States.

Fourteen years later, during his 1963 crusade, in Los Angeles, Billy called Stuart‘s conversion “the turning point” in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s ministry Billy added, before Stuart accepted Christ the crowds were rather small.

Before his conversion, Stuart’s radio sponsors regularly bailed him out of jail and smoothed things over because of his popularity on the radio.  After his conversion, he started a new radio program titled The Cowboy Church of the Air which became nationally syndicated.  A confrontation developed with his sponsors, however, when he refused to advertise alcohol.  His much publicized departure from the program resulted in his being asked to run for President of the United States in 1952.

Now, about that song that Stuart wrote. The one that is buried in the cornerstone of one of the Copyright Buildings of the Library of Congress.  It has been translated into over 50 languages around the world and was the first song to ‘cross-over’ becoming #1 in Gospel, Country, and Pop categories and starting the trend for ballad style gospel songs.  It’s been recorded by many artist, arguably most famously by Elvis Presley.

Shortly after his conversion, Stuart ran into his friend John Wayne on a street in Los Angeles. “What’s this I hear about you, Stuart?” asked Wayne.  “Well, Duke, it’s no secret what God has done for me and he could do it for you too,”  Stuart replied .  “Sounds like a song,” said Wayne.   Stuart went home, sat down at his piano and wrote It Is No Secret What God Can Do, in ten minutes.

It’s No Secret (What God Can Do) by Stuart Hamblen

“The chimes of time ring out the news
Another day is through
Someone slipped and fell
Was that someone you?
You may have longed for added strength
Your courage to renew
Do not be disheartened
For I have news for you

[Refrain]  It is no secret what God can do
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you
With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you
It is no secret what God can do

There is no night for in His light
You never walk alone
Always feel at home
Wherever you may go

There is no power can conquer you
While God is on your side
Take Him at His promise
Don’t run away and hide”

Stuart went on to write 225 other songs including, This Ole House, Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In) and Remember Me, I’m The One Who Loves You.

Vaya con Dios,

Randy Willis
Novels | Family | Friends | Ancestors | Newsletter