Complaints Against DJT and His Administration

When the American colonies broke away from England, Thomas Jefferson wrote “when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

A friend of mine, Laurie MacDonald, listed reasons why DJT and his administration are failing this nation.

Immigrant children torn away from their parents

Parents and children separated for months.

Children kept in what amount to dog kennels.

A border wall.

Using children as bargaining chips to get a border wall built.

Immigrant teenage girls kept from having perfectly legal abortions.

A movement to make it legal to seize property from people accused of crimes but not yet convicted.

Praising brutal dictators, while alienating our allies.

Meeting with a brutal dictator for no other purposes than to have a photo op and use the meeting as a tool to win the upcoming election.

Cancelling military maneuvers with South Korea.

Starting a deliberate trade war with our allies.

Deliberately destroying our environment.

Relaxation of safety regulations in the workplace and in the manufacture of cars.

Refusing to admit that a hostile foreign power meddled in our election.

Refusing to take steps to make sure that a hostile power can’t meddle in our elections again.

Voter suppression laws.

Increasing the power of the Executive Branch.

Waging war on the Justice Department.

Talking about imprisoning political opponents.

Inviting brutal dictators to the White House.

Multiple and ongoing attempts to end a Justice Department investigation into corruption in one’s own campaign team and administration.

Treating Congress as a subordinate branch of government.

A Congress that refuses to exercise its oversight of the Executive Branch.

Packing the Judicial Branch with unqualified judges, appointed for life, who will continue to support the administration’s extreme policies.

Zero tolerance for dissent.

A complete lack of respect for democratic principles.

Does this sound like we still live in a democracy?

(Feel free to add your own items to this list.)

 

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Children in Concentration Camps

Does the USA have the right to control its borders and decide who may or may not immigrate?  Yes, of course.  Every nation does.

Is our immigration system, and especially ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in need of reform?  Yes, dire need.

Why do so many Mexicans and Central Americans migrate to the USA illegally?  Why don’t they follow the rules and come legally? It’s much tougher than most people realize.

Is it right, is it moral, is it legal, to separate children from their parents and place them in sub-par holding facilities?  No.  It’s not right.  It’s not moral.  And to the best of my knowledge, it isn’t legal (or at least it shouldn’t be) no matter what DJT says.

Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon is a retired USMC officer.  She swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and she takes that oath seriously.  Mrs. Moon is more than a little upset about the way immigrant children, both illegal immigrants and would-be refugees, are being treated by our government’s current administration.  She had this to say on Facebook today.

If the notion of children in prison camps on military bases in this country doesn’t make your stomach turn…go away. If you want to make excuses about “Oh, they came illegally” and you think that justifies children in prison camps on military bases in this country…go farther away. If you are so empty of empathy, so arrogant in your certainty that these children “deserve” to be in prison camps on military bases in this country, GET THE HELL OUT OF MY COUNTRY AND GO BACK WHERE YOUR ROTTEN ANCESTORS CAME FROM. I don’t care how long you think your people have been here…you do not deserve the good things this country did, if you think children in prison camps on military bases are a good idea.

Imagine what you’d think if you had ICE at your door and they grabbed *YOUR* child away from you, and put them in one car while they handcuffed you and put you in another. Like that picture? Oh, but you’re sure it would never happen to you? Face facts. If they will imprison someone else’s kids, what besides boot-licking and butt-kissing will keep yours safe? And how MUCH boot-licking and butt-kissing will be demanded? More and more, is the rule of this kind of leader. Do you want your kids to grow up to be boot-licking, butt-kissing, bend-over-young-sailors for this bunch of criminals? Do you really think that makes them safe? Ask the Germans. Ask the Russians. Ask the Chinese. For that matter ask African-Americans, who have sadly learned that no amount of good behavior as defined by white people will keep them safe. Ask Native Americans, here long before any whites. And they’ll tell you the truth. NOTHING will make your white kids safe once you let these bastards put other children in prison camps.

There are no excuses for this. There are no legitimate reasons for this. This does not make America safer. It makes us viler, more criminal, weaker in the world. And if you don’t agree, go back where you came from. Or face the wrath of mothers and grandmothers and fathers and grandfathers who have hearts and souls as well as minds.

Quoted from Elizabeth Moon’s Facebook page, June 13, 2018, with her permission.

I commented on Mrs. Moon’s Facebook page that this was unAmerican, but the sad truth is that this has precedents in American history.

  • African and African-American slave children sold away from their parents
  • Native American children sent to boarding schools to be “civilized”
  • immigrant children being removed from their families in the 19th century
  • Nisei concentration camps in WWII

The United Nations has complained about DJT’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, calling it a serious human rights violation.

The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child.  The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman, UN Human Rights Office

#ThisIsNotNormal.  #ThisIsNotRight.  #ThisIsNotAcceptable.

Please, call or write your representatives in Congress.  Call or write the White House.  Speak up.


Feature image by Dr. Seuss, copyright 1941.

Photo of Elizabeth Moon taken from her Facebook page.

A Weekend at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival

My family went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival for Memorial Day weekend.  TRF is a large, established RenFaire, spread out over acres and acres of hilly woodland.  2018 is their 33rd year.  There are six stages for entertainers, plus the tournament field for the jousting and the falconry show.  There are over seventy artisans and vendors.  It’s not physically possible to see it all in one day, so we didn’t try.

While the TRF sells a special three-day pass available for Memorial Day weekend, we decided that three days of RenFaire would be too much, even for us (not to mention too expensive).  So Friday after work (half-day subbing job, high school special ed) we headed east to Rutherford County.  TRF is actually in Williamson County, but so close to the county line that it’s easier to come at it from Murfreesboro than Franklin.

Saturday morning we drove to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival.  Now that my husband uses a cane, we were able to park in the handicapped parking row.  We greeted the queen.  (Kimberly Stock, who plays Queen Elizabeth at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, is the cast director for the Mid-South Renaissance Faire.)  We glanced at the vendors we passed on the way to the tournament field.  There are three jousts daily, but with rain predicted for that afternoon, we decided to watch the first joust, before the rain started or it got too hot.  We went to the falconry show, did a little window shopping,  then attended the joust.  Then we went to the knife-throwing show, starring juggler Paolo Garbanzo and minstrel Giacomo the Jester (who’s a pretty decent juggler himself.)  Then we went to lunch:  pizza for the kids, chicken-and-rice soup in bread bowls for the adults.

After lunch we did some shopping (both window and actual) and went to some more shows.  There were plenty of shows, some I loved, some not to my taste, and a few I didn’t get to see.

Musicians

Empty Hats

The Secret Commonwealth

secret commonwealth

Rafferty the Piper

The Roses

The Roses at TNRenFest

And a talented harper who was busking near the clothing vendors — I never got her name, and she had no CDs for sale, but she was good.

Shows and Performances

Ik the Troll and the Fairies

Royal Joust

Daniel, Duke of Danger

Paolo Garbanzo

Axel the Sot

DaVinci Brothers Comedy Operas

Buckle and Swash

Robin Hood

Isaac Fawlkes, Magician

Isaac Fawlkes and the Doctor

Tea with Lady Ettie

Covington Glen Variety Show

Royal Improv

Birds of the Gauntlet

Falconer with Harris hawks

I sold two copies of my book, R is for Renaissance Faire, to Pigasus Books.  I hope he likes them enough to order more copies.  He had some wonderful books I wanted, but we went overbudget on other things, so I couldn’t afford them.

It rained that afternoon, so we took refuge at the Beer Garden, where the Secret Commonwealth was playing.  Unfortunately, so did a lot of other people, who were more interested in talking to each other than hearing a Celtic folk band.

I planned on shopping for four things: a hair pin or barrette, a new chemise, jewelry, and music.  I was hoping for the sort of leather barrette that Douglas Leather used to sell, but Mr. Douglas wasn’t there this year.  However, I found some very pretty hairpins at Lilla  Rose.  I found a two-dollar ring that fit well and looked pretty; I forget the vendor’s name.  At Fiona’s Fineries, I found a butternut chemise that complements my blue overdress with the plaid skirt and looks good with my brown bodice.  As for music, there were far more CDs than I could afford.

Susan, Castle Gwyn

Sunday we went on the castle tour.  Mike Freeman, who owns the fairsite, has been building his own castle for years.  It’s still not finished, but he and his family live in Castle Gwyn.

Castle Gwyn, front

Sunday we saw more shows (still didn’t manage to get all of them) and my husband and I tried our hand at archery.  We did a little more window shopping.  There were far too many vendors to list: artists and artisans, candle makers and candy sellers,  bootmakers and booksellers, clothiers, potters, woodworkers, toymakers.

Sunday I had the chicken wrap (the bone surprised me) and my husband had a cheeseburger.  The kids had pizza again.  My husband and I also split an apple strudel.  We heard from other people that the fish and chips were very good, but to avoid the shepherd’s pie.

We had a good time, and if I ever won the lottery I would go for the entire Memorial Day weekend and be a spending fool.  New gowns, new hats, real jewelry instead of costume jewelry, elf ears, a sword or maybe a bodice knife, artwork, and a ton of books and CDs.

The 33rd annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival is done.  The 4th annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire will be the middle two weekends of October.

If you want to buy a copy of R is for Renaissance Faire, click here for an unautographed copy, or come to the Mid-South Renaissance Faire in Millington, TN (just north of Memphis) this fall for an autographed copy.

Susan Murrie with her children's  book

Share it like Cicero: How Roman authors used social networking

How did the Romans “publish” books? I hadn’t known this and I found it fascinating. I might be able to use this for a fantasy book in a low-tech setting.

tomstandage.com

RomansOne of the stories I tell in “Writing on the Wall” is about the way the Roman book-trade worked. There were no printing presses, so copying of books, which took the form of multiple papyrus rolls, was done entirely by hand, by scribes, most of whom were slaves. There were no formal publishers either, so Roman authors had to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and social distribution of their works via their networks of friends and acquaintances.

It was crucial to choose the right person to dedicate the book to. The ideal candidate would be famous, influential and somewhat vain, so that he would be sure to mention the book to his friends, thus ensuring that people heard about it. He would also have an impressive library with plenty of traffic from visiting scholars and philosophers. The new book, prominently displayed in the library as a set of rolls in an…

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Writing, Waiting, and Wondering

Waiting

Writers spend a lot of time waiting.  Waiting for a submission period to open, since stories sent before the editor is ready will be tossed out unread.  Waiting for rejection slips (or acceptance letters)  Waiting to get your contributor’s copy.  Waiting to be paid.  Waiting to hear if you’ve been nominated for an award, or (fingers crossed) if you’ve won.

I’ve recently had three stories held for a second reading.  One got a rejection slip, and I need to try to find a market it fits.  One, “Vixen’s Song,” has been accepted for Fantasy for the Throne.  And the third I am still waiting on and wondering if they will buy it or not.  The reading period has ended, and the editor has said final decisions will be made soon and contracts will be sent out next month.

There is nothing I can do to influence the editor’s decision, so the best thing to do whilst waiting and wondering is to go write something else.

Publishing Update

My children’s story “Tell Me My Story” has been published in Caterpillar, an Irish children’s magazine.  My children’s story “The Narwhal” and my poem “Sir Tristan the Brave” have been accepted by the children’s magazine Wee Tales.  I submitted them September 29, 2016 and they were accepted May 6, 2018, which is a definite example of writers needing to wait patiently.  My WWII fantasy “Gremlins” has been published in Cat Tails: War Zone, a charity anthology.  And as I said above, “Vixen’s Song” has been accepted for Fantasy for the Throne.

My fantasy “As Prophesied of Old” in Alternative Truths was nominated for the Darrell Awards, but did not win.  It wasn’t even a finalist.  But it was nominated.

I currently have five stories out.  I normally have more out, but as busy as subbing has been, I’ve been falling behind on resubmitting stories elsewhere as soon as they’re rejected.  That’s the important thing: once rejected, resubmit.  Then go back to writing on your next project.

A rejection slip is not a rejection of you as a writer or as a person.  It’s a rejection of some paper you typed on (paraphrasing Martin Gardner here, or maybe George Scithers).  A rejection slip just means that this particular story is not a good match for this particular market at this time.  As explained in this essay by the late MZB, there are many reasons a story might receive a rejection slip.  The editor may have just bought a similar story.  It may be too long, or too short.  You didn’t follow the submission guidelines, so the editor thinks if you can’t follow basic directions, you’ll be difficult to work with. (Read the submission guidelines and follow them!)  The editor may have a toothache and reject everything because he’s in a bad mood.  Your story may be garbage.  Your story may have a kernel of quality to it, buried in ill-done words, and the editor doesn’t have time to help you polish it when somebody else’s story is ready to print as is.  You may have sent it to the wrong market: don’t send a children’s fantasy to a hard SF magazine, nor a Regency romance to a hard-boiled detective anthology.  Tape the rejection slip in your diary, or file it in your folder, resubmit it elsewhere until it sells (or you realize, yes, this story would benefit from a little editing and rewriting), and go write  some more.

Baby Day at Memphis Zoo

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Today was Baby Day at the Memphis Zoo.  To celebrate Mother’s Day weekend, they scheduled several Keeper Chats where visitors could see and learn about baby animals.

Orangutan family

Orangutan family, baby Rowan, mother Jahe, father Tombak.

Winnie and Binti

Winnie, baby hippo, left, and Binti, mother hippo, right.

francois langur

Francois’ langur family, infant Reagan in the middle.

romp of otters

A romp of young otters.  Did you know a group of otters is called a romp?


We had lunch at Cathouse Café.  We were slightly disappointed that they changed the pizza recipe.  Edible, but not as good as it used to be.  The zoo restaurant is in what used to be the building for the big cats years ago, and has three food counters:  Sabino’s Memphis Grille, and Pranzo’s.  You used to buy pizza by the slice at Sabino’s.  We did the arithmetic; it was cheaper to buy a whole pizza to feed a family of four.  Now, Pranzo’s does individual pizzas and they aren’t as good as Sabino’s pizza used to be.


The Memphis Zoo is also hosting a Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibit.  We saw part of it recently, and wanted to go back and see the rest, as well as the accompanying show.  Most of it is odd statuary, like a cheetah made of chicken wire, but there are also optical illusions, shrunken heads, and a Frisbee made of human cremains.

king kong

King Kong statue, made of recycled tires, 10 feet tall, weighing nearly a ton.  Made in Thailand.

Bushman, car bumpers

A statue of Bushman the gorilla, from Lincoln Park Zoo, made of recycled car bumpers.

megolodon jaw

Megalodon jaw.

Metal dragon

Dragon made of recycled metal, including household items.

St. George and dragon

St. George and the dragon.

There was a show where they passed out cardboard fans that said “believe it” on one side and “not” on the other side.  The host of the show showed artifacts and told about them – panda poop, vampire hunting kit, giant spiders, Clever Hans – and asked us to show by our fans whether or not we believed her tale.  Given the heat of the day, the fans were very welcome.  Unfortunately, we had to give them back so they could use them for the next show.


Photo Credits:  Ian Macdonald took the hippo picture.  I took all other pictures.

 

Kickstarters

One, two, three, kick!

Boosting the signal:  Three people I know are doing kickstarters and GoFundMe.

Mighty Aphrodite

mighty aphrodite

One of my favorite editors, Gene Turnbow of Krypton Radio, is creating a webcomic called Mighty Aphrodite!  Check out this link.  Help the goddess Aphrodite save the world, one heart at a time!

Endless Realms RPG

endless realms

Endless Realms is a new roleplaying experience with two corebooks and myriad realities with one constant: balance is fragile.

Welcome to the Endless Realms – a crossroads of infinite civilizations, animals, peoples, and abominations that gather in the world of Lumis. Those that live there readily manipulate the cosmic energies that the gods themselves used to forge the world, creating tools and resources that mighty spirits seek to claim for themselves. Riddled with tears in the fabric of time and space, Lumis has become a vibrant and turbulent melting pot.

Lumis is the crossroads where an endless number of realms overlap. The species that have made it their home – by fate, chance, or nefarious purpose – each have their own lore, history, and culture, providing rich soil from which to weave intricate and interesting narratives. Their complex views of morality present a scheme far greater than the simple axis of good and evil.

Click here for more information.  It looks like it should be fun.

Time Boys

Susan, Johnny McPhail, Edward

Time Boys is an indie-film, written and directed by Randall Terry, and starring four of his sons as the time-travelling sons of a mad scientist (played by Randall Terry).  The budget being low, writer/director/actor/executive producer Randall Terry is requesting patrons of the arts patronize his film, which is currently in post-production.

For more information, click here.  (Disclaimer:  I was an extra in this film and have a vested interested in seeing it completed and distributed.)

Submission Guidelines: Apotheosis 2: More Stories of Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods

This might be an interesting anthology. The question is, can I come up with a good story for it? What would day to day life be like after the Apocalypse? Would our eldritch lords and masters micromanage our lives or would things be surprisingly close to how things are now?

The Universes of Jason Andrew

Here are the guidelines for Simian Publishing’s next anthology Apotheosis 2: More Stories of Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods.  (This anthology doesn’t open to submissions until April 2018, but I like to give my writers plenty of time to ponder the sort of story they might write for me.)

Apothesis2cover

Apotheosis 2 – More Stories of human survival and defiance in a world subjugated by the return of the Elder Gods. Humanity struggled to grow and evolve as a species for thousands of years forever caught in the shadow of a dread threat known only to a devoted few. When the stars are right, the Old Ones will return to claim utter dominion of the world. Lovecraft Mythos stories often climax at the moment of the fateful return of the Elder Gods and the audience is left to ponder what might happen next. This anthology features stories about humanity…

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The Past Few Weeks Have Been BUSY

The past two or three weeks have been busy.  I went to MidSouthCon as a guest.  I visited Knoxville.  I skipped the St. Patrick’s Day parade (just too tired).  I starting subbing again, after not being in a classroom for years.  Two of my stories were published, and a third one was accepted.  I received a royalty check for a story published in 2015.  I need to update my website.  This will just be a quick overview.  I’ll do separate blog posts on the more important parts, with more pictures.

MidSouthCon

I was on two panels at MidSouthCon, and spent an hour on Pro Row, attempting to sell books.  I enjoyed the art show and was severely tempted by the dealers room.  I attended as many panels as I could, especially the writing ones.

Melinda LaFevers Susan Macdonald

My book-mate Melinda LaFevers and I, at MidSouthCon.  We’re both in More Alternative Truths, and I’ve reblogged her blogs once or twice.

Knoxville

My son’s college and my daughter’s high school had spring break the same week.  This isn’t the normal course of action, so we took advantage of it by driving to Chattanooga to pick up my son from UTC, having a late lunch at Dairy Queen, then going north to Knoxville.  We visited two or three museums, splashed in the hotel pool, visited some friends. and went bowling.

Sunsphere

The famous Sunsphere, at World’s Fair Park, gives a magnificent view of Knoxville, TN.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

We returned to Chattanooga Friday of spring break week.  We took the kids to lunch at Mr. T’s Pizza (can’t go to Chattanooga without stopping at Mr. T’s), then took my son grocery shopping so he could restock his cupboard.  We kissed him goodbye and drove home.  The next day, I was supposed to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as part of the Mid-South Renaissance Faire group, but I was too stiff and sore from spending most of the previous day in the car.  I didn’t think I could manage the parade route without collapsing on the curb and had to bow out.

Subbing

After several years out of the classroom, I’ve gone back to substitute teaching.  So far my classes have ranged from Pre-K to 3rd grade to middle school special education to 12th grade drama.  I regret to say substitutitis has not changed since the last time I subbed, years ago.  I’ve lowered my standards.  When I first started my pedagogical career, I wanted to share my love of reading and teach the marvels of Western Civilization.  Then I wanted them to indent paragraphs.  Now, if the school doesn’t burn down on my watch, I’m satisfied, and if I manage to slip a snippet of information into their skulls, that’s icing on the cake.

I was beginning to get a bit worried.  It was supposed to take two weeks to get my fingerprints processed, but it was closer to three.  I was beginning to wonder if my FBI file was responsible for slowing things down.  Writers do have odd search histories, after all, and I have been less than polite to our current president on Twitter, Facebook, blogsInquistr articlesAlternative Truths, and More Alternative Truths.  Frankly, I’d be surprised if I didn’t have an FBI file by now.

classroom

Writing

I received my contributor’s copy of The Caterpillar, and have read some of the poems and stories in it to my students.  Cat Tails: War Zone is now available.   I had a story accepted by Fantasy for the Throne.  I am waiting to hear on about eight more stories, one of which has been short-listed (bumped up from the slush pile to someone with the authority to say yes or no).  I also received a small royalty check for a story I sold back in 2015, a pleasant if miniature surprise.

Caterpillar

Writing Goals

I’ve joined (yet another) writing group on Facebook.  This one, the Iron Writer Challenge, encourages members to set eight specific, measurable goals, not only writing goals, but personal, physical, and emotional goals.  Here are my goals for the next quarter:

Goals for Q2:
1. (Writing) Work on novel. [Is one chapter a month too small a goal? I’ve just restarted subbing, which is adding to my budget but subtracting from my schedule.]
2. (Writing) Submit one story per month.
3. (Fitness) Get to Planet Fitness twice a week.
4. (Relationships) Date night with husband occasionally.
5. (Platform) Update website. Try to blog weekly.  {And here I am.}
6. (Personal) Attempt to sub 4-5 days a week. [This is an April/May goal. I’ll need a new goal for June; school ends Memorial Day weekend.]
7. (Wildcard) Clean house. Kitchen April, dining room May, living room June.
8. (Wildcard) Proofreading for B Cubed Press and other clients.

Toni Morrison quote

Until next week, au revoir.

2018 Darrell Awards Winners Announced

This year my King Arthur story was nominated, but was not a finalist. Next year, or maybe the year after, one of my stories will make it to the finals. And someday, I will win.

In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s winners!

Darrell Awards

The 2018 Darrell Awards Jury is very pleased to announce the following results of our deliberations.

Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award
Robin Burks for her extraordinary contributions to Midsouth literacy, more specifically her trilogy (Zeus, Inc; The Curse of Hekate; and The Return of the Titans)

Robin Burks plaque for Hall of Fame 2018 Coger Hall of Fame plaque

Best Midsouth Novel
Winner – Land of Wolves by T. J. Turner
First Runner-Up – Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan
Finalist – Seek and Destroy by William C. Dietz

Best Midsouth Novella
Winner – A Night at the Quay by William A. Webb (as seen in Sharp Steel and High Adventure: Volume 3)
First Runner-Up – Luminaria by John Horner Jacob (as seen in Apex Magazine # 94)

Best Midsouth Young Adult Work
Winner – Coney Island Book of the Dead by Sheila Martin

Best Midsouth Short Story
Winner – From Hair to Eternity by…

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