My First Story Sale (a guest blog by Melinda LaFevers)

This is by singer/storyteller/historical re-enactor/writer Melinda LaFevers. She is the letter S (for storyteller) in my children’s book, R is for Renaissance Faire. She is also going to be my co-anthologist in More Alternative Truths, and she assisted with the musical arrangement of the filk song I co-wrote with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, “Donald, Where’s Your Taxes?” Thank you for being a guest blogger, Melinda.

Melinda's obscure thoughts...

For those who are unaware, I am a writer.  Now, I don’t just mean the occasional blog that I post (and I really need to post more often)

No, I mean I actually write fiction and non-fiction, and when I’m fortunate and blessed, I actually am able to sell them.  I have been writing poetry, songs, and music for decades, mostly for myself.

But a few years ago, I was inspired to write a story and offer it for sale.  It happened like this…

I am a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is a historical recreation group that studies the renaissance and middle ages.  They hold a large event in Mississippi in March called Gulf Wars – and by large, I mean 4-5000 people or more.  Also held in March, in Memphis, is a science fiction convention called MidSouthCon.  Usually there would be a fairly large contingent…

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32 Tales of Heroic Fantasy

Yesterday I received my contributor’s copies of Heroic Fantasy Short Stories, from Flame Tree Publishing.  It’s a handsome book, with 32 stories of adventure, tales of knights and kings, of wizards and warriors, of golems and gladiators.

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The book sells for $30 in the USA, or £20 in the UK.  It’s part of Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series, and I’m very pleased to be in it.

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My story, “Erzabet and the Gladiators,” is the sixth story in the book, after Zach Chapman’s “Dragon and Wolf” and before John Buchan‘s “The Far Islands.”  Flame Tree Publishing describes it as an anthology of new and classic tales.

Of the sixteen new stories, all but four are debuting in this volume.  Authors from the United States, Canada, and South Africa have submitted their tales of adventure to be printed alongside classic authors such as Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Tweedsmuir, Snorri Sturluson, A. Merritt, Geoffrey Chaucer, Andrew Lang, Howard Pyle, William Morris, E. R. Eddison, Robert E. Howard, and some “Greek chappie” named Homer.  One story, “A Matter of Interpretation,” is M. Elizabeth Ticknor‘s first professional sale.

Dr. Philippa Semper, a professor at the University of Birmingham (the one in the UK that Tim Curry and Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin attended, not the one in Alabama) wrote the foreward.

“These ancient and medieval heroes, however, rarely live ‘happily ever after.’  A hero is a risk-seeker, living right on the edge of endurance, a sacrifice-in-waiting.”

As I said back in May, I am delighted to have a story in Heroic Fantasy Short Stories.  I used the author’s biography to advertise for Alternative Truths and Krypton Radio.  

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“Erzabet and the Gladiators” is technically the first chapter of my fantasy novel Escape from Jandarra (working title), so I’d better stop committing bloggery and get back to work and finish my novel.

Heroic Fantasy Short Stories may be ordered through Amazon or directly from Flame Tree Publishing.

Haggis Rampant

My favorite part of a Renaissance Faire is the music.  As Patricia Wrede said, “Music and magic are brother and sister.”

Brownlee pere et fille on the bagpipes, with Frieman the Minstrel playing the bodhran.
Haggis Rampant and Frieman the Minstrel leading the queen and her court to the main gate.

At the third annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire,  we are fortunate in having excellent musicians.

Haggis Rampant is not only one of my favorite RenFaire bands, but they include two of my three favorite pipers, Steve and Gillian Brownlee.  (The third is Eric Rigler of Bad Haggis.) Naturally, with a name like Susan Murrie Macdonald, a member of Clan Murray by birth and Clan Donald by marriage, it’s no surprise I like the bagpipes.

Steve B Haggis Rampant
Steve Brownlee

Who are Haggis Rampant?  They’re a bagpipe and bodhrán trio.  They’re a family playing together.  They’re music with an attitude.  And Heaven have mercy, are they loud!

Haggis Rampant trio
Haggis Rampant:  Pam, Steve, and Gillian Brownlee

Normally, Haggis Rampant is a trio consisting of father Steve Brownlee and daughter Gillian Brownlee on the bagpipes and mother Pam Brownlee on the drums, both bodhrán and big bass drum.  Daughter Morgan Brownlee sometimes accompanies them; Morgan is a dancer, a drummer, and a fiddler.

Pam and Gillian
Pam and Gillian Brownlee

They’ve been at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival since 2000, and at the Mid-South Renaissance Faire since 2015.  They have CDs for sale if you want to hear their music, and appear in the ABC book R is for Renaissance Faire if you want a pictorial souvenir.   They also perform at Highland Games, Celtic festivals, music competitions, weddings, funerals, boat christenings, inaugurations, etc.  They did an impromptu performance at the Parthenon in Nashville, TN after the eclipse., which led the crowd of eclipse-watchers into spontaneous dancing.

Morgan, Mom, Gillian
Morgan, Pam, and Gillian Brownlee at the second annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire.

Steve Brownlee, an award winning piper,  has been playing bagpipes since 1996.  He has a wicked sense of humor, such as playing “Scotland the Brave” as he pipes the actress playing Queen Elizabeth of England to the front gate of the RenFaire, or playing “Rain, Rain, Go Away” during a shower.  (I’ve never heard that song on the bagpipes before, and I probably never will again.)  Pam Brownlee is an award winning bass drummer, who took up playing the bodhrán because accompanying Steve was the easiest way to spend time with her husband.  Gillian Brownlee has been a piper since 2003, when she was only a “wee beastie.” She plays the fiddle as well as the Great Highland Bagpipe, although her competition victories have been as a piper, not a fiddler.  Morgan Brownlee plays bodhrán, tenor drum, and violin, as well as dancing.  She’s won a competition or two herself for her solo drumming.  (What can I say?  They’re a family of overachievers, with talent to spare.)  Their shows include joking and teasing between the family members as well as great music.  Most of their music is traditional, but they do a bit of contemporary now and again.

Morgan and Dad
Morgan Brownlee on the tenor drum, accompanied by Steve Brownlee on the bagpipes

Their first album, Haggis Rampant (hard to find, may be out of print), is traditional, as is their third album, Trì.  Their second album, Wee Beastie, includes some of Steve’s own compositions as well as traditional Celtic music.  Their fourth album, The Silver Glens, is what they call their “quiet album” (or as quiet as a bagpipe CD can be).  “This album is a different mix for us. We’re usually playing music that makes our audiences want to jump up and shout “Freedom!” This time, to heck with creating energy; we wanted to record the music that stirs our souls.” Their fifth album, Burly!, includes Ken Petrie on the electric guitar and bass for a wild musical extravaganza.  Their sixth album is still in the planning stages, and they’ve not yet announced the theme of it.

Frieman and HR
Frieman the Minstrel, with Haggis Rampant, at the 2nd annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire

If you’re lucky enough be to able to catch one of their performances, by all means do so.  If you live too far away to be able to hear them in person, check out their CDs. Remember, they’re the letter R in my alphabet book R is for Renaissance Faire, autographed copies available for sale at the Mid-South Renaissance Faire, unautographed copies available through Amazon.

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Susan Murrie Macdonald with R IS FOR RENAISSANCE FAIRE.

 

Photos by Tom Sweeney, R. B. Macdonald, Reggie V. Miller, and Susan Murrie Macdonald

The Mid-South Renaissance Faire Is Coming To Millington!

If you live in Millington, TN, West Memphis, AR, Horn Lake, MS, Memphis, TN, or even Jonesboro, AR, you’ve probably seen the posters scattered around town. Maybe you picked up one of the discount postcards at the Millington Public Library. The third annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire is coming to Millington.

Millington TN - interactive road map       Map of usa stadium

The Mid-South Renaissance Faire has changed venue, and is moving from Shelby Farms Park in Memphis to USA Stadium in Millington. It will be here the last two weekends of August: 8/19, 8/20, 8/26, and 8/27. Hours are from 10:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening.

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What is a Renaissance Faire? Why should you go, and what do you do there?

         A A Renaissance Faire, or RenFaire, is a chance to go time traveling without a DeLorean or a blue police call box. It’s a public, family-friendly, outdoor gathering that recreates the Renaissance era to entertain its guests. Part county fair, part living history display, and part fairy tale come to life, it’s an improvisational theater where the audience is invited, indeed, encouraged to participate.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, on stage and outdoorWhy should you come to the Mid-South Renaissance Faire? It’s fun and educational for the whole family, and less expensive than a trip to Discovery Park of America in Union City. It’s far less expensive than a trip to Six Flags in St. Louis. It’s also a chance to make new friends, as visitors will be coming to the Mid-South Renaissance Faire from Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri. The entertainers and merchants are coming from all over the US: Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and more.

    

Why is the RenFaire coming to Millington a good thing?  Guests to the faire are coming from the entire Mid-South area. Entertainers are coming from the East Coast, Texas, and Louisiana. These people will sleep in Millington hotels and motels. They will eat in Millington restaurants. They will buy things at Millington stores. This will be good for the local economy.

         

If you’ve never been to a RenFaire (and the next nearest RenFaire is a four-hour drive away), you may not know what to expect. What do you do at a Renaissance Faire? Meet the queen and her court, and shout huzzah as Good Queen Bess parades through the village. Watch the knights jousting on horseback. Enjoy demonstrations of swordsmanship and archery, and maybe try it for yourself. Eat a turkey leg.

     

Play games like Giant Chess, Dunk the Dunce, Veggie Revenge, and Mini Tug of War. Climb Jacob’s Ladder. Listen to the minstrels: Haggis Rampant, John Ross, Melandra of the Woods, Frieman the Minstrel, Donal Hinely, and Memphis’ own Wood, Wind, and Wire. Watch the daring feats of aerialist Shelli Buttons and laugh at the comedy swordplay of the Lords of Adventure. The Mid-South Renaissance Faire also has a touch of magic: the Faerie Queen and her court, trolls, a leprechaun, and a dragon. There’s plenty of dancing, both dance troupes to amuse you and Elizabethan dance lessons where you can join in. Try your hand at brass rubbing. There are costume contests for dogs on Saturdays and humans and elves on Sundays. The pirates, alas, will only be there the second weekend.

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If you enjoy shopping, the RenFaire has plenty to tempt you: toys, clothing, goblets, fans, parasols, weaponry, leatherwork, autographed copies of R is for Renaissance Faire by local author Susan Macdonald, hats, baking mixes, jewelry, jam, candles, artwork, and more. If you come in 21st century clothing and decide you’d like to join into the fun, you can buy or rent RenFaire garb at the faire.

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There’s plenty to amuse the youngsters. In addition to the games and shows, there are two children’s quests. Boys and girls who complete either quest can be knighted by the queen. Listen to the storytellers. Meet the trolls. Buy ice cream from the Ice Cream Dragon.

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What is the setting of the Mid-South Renaissance Faire? The year is 1576.  Queen Elizabeth is on the throne.  Tired of the crowds of London, she and her court have come to the humble Shire of Shelby. The local villagers have organized a festival in the queen’s honor, inviting minstrels and merchants to come as they celebrate the royal visit.

    

Tickets are $10 for adults and teenagers, $5 for children ages 6-12, and $8 for senior citizens, students, and military personnel with proper ID. Children under five are admitted free. Parking is free.

          

If the Mid-South Renaissance Faire does well this year, it may choose Millington as its new home.  That would be a financial and cultural benefit to Millington.

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Wilt thou come to the Faire?

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Pictures by R. B. Macdonald and R. V. Miller.

 

 

Copy Editor for Hire

ANNOUNCEMENT

I earned the Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing yesterday from Poynter News University and American Copy Editors Society (ACES).   I am a member of ACES and a guest member of Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).  Would you like to hire me to polish your prose?

I consider myself competent to offer both proofreading and basic copy editing services.  What’s the difference?  Proofreading is looking for SPAG errors (spelling, punctuation, and grammar).  It’s typically done when a story or article is nearly ready for publication.  Copy editing includes finding and correcting SPAG errors, but also checking for jargon, wordiness, awkward transitions, a character who changes the spelling of her name from chapter three to chapter seven, and making sure that the article fits the preferred style of the intended publication.   For an excellent explanation of copy editing vs. proofreading, I recommend this article. 

ACES Certificate

RATES

For basic copy editing, I charge $25 an hour, at an estimated pace of 5-10 manuscript pages per hour.

For proofreading, I charge $20, at an estimated pace of 10-15 manuscript pages per hour.

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, the industry standard for a manuscript page is a firm 250 words.

[I do not do heavy copy editing, line editing, or website copy editing at this time.]

For ghostwriting blogs, I charge $10 for the first 250 words, $20 for a 251-500 word article, $30 for 501-750 words, etc.

For assisting an author to format their story into standard manuscript format, my rates are negotiable depending on the length of the story and whether or not I am also copy editing that story.  E-mail me to discuss it in private.

These prices are lower than the EFA suggested industry rates because the ink is barely dry on my certificate.  My prices will be rising to editorial standards once I am no longer a novice, so take advantage of these low rates now.  They won’t last more than a year.

TESTIMONIALS

“I have just gone through and implemented your recommendations, following your advice in all but the very fewest instances — the ones where you said I could get away with it as a matter of personal style. You have a magnificent eye for the errant typo, and your suggestions regarding grammar were spot-on in every instance.  You definitely spotted many places where I *thought* I knew the correct spelling…but didn’t! Dalmatian and monocle and others! As Mark Twain said — I’m sure you know the quote — “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”  Thank you again and again and again! You are my hero, and I cannot thank you properly!”  Jefferson P. Swycaffer, author of Warsprite, Web of Futures, and the Concordat of Archive series.

Silver Crusade Cover

“Thank you so much! And you are a great proofreader! :-)”  Vera Nazarian, author of the Atlantis Grail series, Mansfield Park and Mummies, and Dreams of the Compass Rose.

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Susan Murrie Macdonald:  author, freelance journalist, blogger, ghostwriter, and freelance copy editor and proofreader

Susan Murrie with her children's  book

§  “Erzabet and the Gladiators,” Heroic Fantasy,  published by Flame Tree Publishing, July 2017

§ “Freckles and Long Neck,” Bumples issue #43,  published by Bumples.com, June 2017

§  “As Prophesied of Old,” Alternative Truths, published by B Cubed Press, April 2017

§  “Captain’s Claim,” published by eSpec Books, October, 2016

§  R is for Renaissance Faire, published by Highland Heather Press, May, 201

§  Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid, published by Highland Heather Press, Jan. 2016

§  “The Piper’s Wife,” Sword & Sorceress #30, published by MZB Literary Trust, Nov. 2015

§  “Two Princes” and “Vixen’s Song,” Barbarian Crowns, published by Horrified Press, July 2015

§  “Thank You, Thad,” Supernatural Colorado, published by WolfSinger Publications, Jan. 2015

Borrowed from https://virginiaplantation.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-fashions-of-regency-england-1795-1837/

Regency Romances, Regency Marriages

I’ve been researching the customs regarding romance, courtship, and marriage in Regency England.  Many authors in assorted genres, like SF/F author Rosemary Edghill and mystery novelist Carola Dunn, began their career by writing Regency romances.  I am attempting to do likewise.  After all, I’ve been reading Regencies since before the Bicentennial (yes, I’m dating myself) and I’ve started more than a dozen, although I’ve yet to get beyond chapter two in any of them.

Regency Fashion - 1820 to 1850 Now that I’ve made a few sales in short fiction, I am attempting to write a novel.  Since I’ve read more Regency romances than I can count, that genre seemed a good arena to hone my skills before turning my attention to science fiction and fantasy.  Yes, it’s bubblegum literature, but sometimes you’re in the mood for bubblegum.

When one thinks of Regency romances, one thinks of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Clare Darcy, Allison Lane, Barbara Cartland, etc.  One thinks of beautiful gowns and the noble-born ladies wearing them at grand balls.  One thinks of gentlemen who follow Beau Brummell’s lead in fashion, although probably more athletic — a good Regency hero should be a Corinthian.  And sometimes, one thinks of badly written novels with little or no research done.  Rosemary Edghill tells how she was inspired to write her first Regency romance, after reading a book where a Regency heroine took a train to Malta.  Stop and think about that a moment.

I was reading a book ‑- which happened, as these things do, to be a Regency novel ‑- and not thinking at all about becoming a writer. At the time I was doing production and design at a New York graphic arts studio, a location which later found its way as background into some of my books, so I figured all my artistic impulses were pretty well taken care of, as well as a steady paycheck. But as I was reading along I encountered a passage in which the heroine took a train from London to Malta ‑- the island of Malta, you understand, an island surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea without a single bridge leading to it ‑- in 1805, several decades before the invention of the passenger train, ignoring all the rules of both history and geography ‑- and the Writing Fairy landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear: you can do better than that.

Just as Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired to write Treasure Island because he was disappointed in the books his stepson read, so Rosemary Edghill was inspired to write Turkish Delight.  There’s probably an essay’s worth of material from writers who read something subpar, said I can do better than this, and began literary careers.

In researching how to avoid being compromised (a major plot point in both Lady Tom and Damaris in Distress), I have found some fascinating websites.

Courtship and Marriage {Isabelle Goddard}

Regency Reader {multiple authors}

Marriage in the Regency Era {Sharon Lathan}

Courting and Marriage in the Regency {Cheryl Bolen}

A Survivor’s Guide to Georgian Marriage {Ellie Cawthorne}

Ten Tropes That Make Historical Romance Awesome {G. Callen, C. Linden, L. Guhrke}


My current WIP is a fantasy story set in 1923, which I hope to submit to the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Contest if I can finish it by their deadline.  After that, I’d like to get back to Regencies.  If/when I manage to get either Lady Tom or Damaris in Distress finished, I’ll let you know in a future blog post.  Or Cherished Companion, or The Thistle and the Orchid, or Shilling Suitors, or Maid Marian’s Return, or Marguerite, or Cousin Lavinia or ….  (Did I mention I’d started more than a dozen Regency romance novels?)

10 Things I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Blogging

Richard Flores is a Facebook Friend and a fellow author. Here are some of his thoughts on blogging. (Warning: Richard cusses a bit.)

Flores Factor Blog

Today, according to WordPress, is my 7th anniversary of blog writing (nearly 6 with this blog).  I started this blog because I got my first story sale with my short story Death Watch, which was published by the good folks over at Liquid Imagination.  Originally my blog was my website, and though I have since separated the two, a lot of people still find me through this blog.

When I started out, I really didn’t know what to expect.  And seven years later, I still really don’t know what could happen.  But here are at a few things I have learned since starting out.

1 – Getting traffic to your blog is hard.

It took me a long time, a really long time, to gather up any type of blog traffic.  I tried funny posts, writing posts, life posts, and mixtures of all three.  What I learned is the…

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$451

When editor Bob Brown first came up with the idea for Alternative Truths, he decided that one share of the royalties would be paid to the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) for three years.  At the end of three years, all royalties would go to the ACLU.  Everyone involved with the project agreed to this.

Bob recently sent out the first royalty checks from Alternative Truths.  Because some of the authors agreed to donate their share to the ACLU, over and above what they were getting already, the ACLU got more than any author, illustrator, or editor.  Bob wrote the following press release.

On July 6, 2017 three representatives of B Cubed Press, Karen Anderson, Blaze Ward, and Janka Hobbs presented the first of many checks to the American Civil Liberty Union of Washington.

The money is part of a commitment to set aside a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Alternative Truths, an anthology that looks at the America that might be if the current political path continues unabated.

On hand to receive the check was Caitlin Lombardi, Community Relations Director at the ACLU of Washington.

Should you have any questions or desire a review copy of the book, please contact Bob Brown, owner of B Cubed Press, at Kionadad@aol.com.

Alternate Truths check for ACLU

Left to right, Karen Anderson, Caitlin Lombardi, Blaze Ward, Janka Hobbs

The following text accompanied the donation.

In 1953, a nation was reeling from the unapologetic assault on free speech from the likes of Joseph McCarthy.  In answer came the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  It is in this dystopian future where books are outlawed and firemen burn what books are reported, that we saw reflections of evil.

It was this world that we, who grew up in an America where freedom of the Press was sacred and the idea of burning books brought visions of storm troopers, could fear, but never imagine.

But oh, what changes a lifetime brings.  Ray Bradbury has left us and we live now in a world never envisioned as possible, where the President and his supporters regularly assault free speech and seek to limit the constitutionally mandated freedom of the press.  Where he stands at the podium and denounces the freedoms many of us served at home and abroad to protect.

We said NO!

We did what we could do in opposition to tyranny.

We wrote in the spirit of Thomas Paine.  In the spirit of free speech, we wrote.  And so was born Alternative Truths.

When we collectively decided to set aside a generous portion of the proceeds to the ACLU, we had no idea of the symbolic nature of the amount.  But today we presented the representatives of this staunch defender of our freedoms with the first installment of $451.  A symbolic number if ever there was one.

We made this decision jointly and freely because without the ACLU, it could be books like ours piled in the public square awaiting the match.

Without the ACLU, we could find that the freedom to express our views suppressed and denied.

So in the memory of Ray Bradbury, we stand against the stigma of the modern versions of McCarthy and those that would silence.  And we will continue to stand.

Thanks goes out to each and every writer, editor, and artist involved in B Cubed and Alternative Truths as we stand united in the name of Freedom.  True freedom that comes from making your ideas known, of speaking truth to power, and the ability to do so openly.

And as the ACLU has been in the forefront of the fight for, among other things, freedom of expression for nearly a century, we who are listed below support them as we freely express ourselves in fiction to the current crisis in American life.

Adam-Troy Castro

Alexander James Adams

Blaze Ward

Vonda McIntyre

Bob Brown

Bruno Lombardi

Cheyenne Summer Brown

Daniel M. Kimmel

David Steele

Diana Hauer

Vonda McIntyre

Gregg Chamberlain

Irene Radford

Janka Hobbs

Jim Wright

Joel Ewy

Karen G. Anderson

Ken Staley

Larry Hodges

Liam Hogan

Louse Marley

Marleen S. Barr

Paula Hammond

Rebecca McFarland Kyle

Rick Dunham

Sara Codair 

Susan Murrie Macdonald

Victor D Phillips

Wondra Vanian                                                                                             

Bobby Lee Featherston

Susan Omberg-Carro

 

(Caitlin Lombardi of the ACLU is no relation to Canadian author Bruno Lombardi.)

I’ve sold seven short stories now, and self-published a children’s book and an e-book.  However, Alternative Truths  is the first time I’ve earned royalties.  I have one teenager starting college in just over a month and another one planning to go to college in a few years, so I’d like to earn more royalties.  Buy Alternative Truths, $4.99 as an e-book, $11 as a paperback.

 

A Review of “Alternative Truths,” a Guest Blog by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is a Nebula winning science fiction/fantasy writer and editor  She recently read and reviewed Alternative Truths, the political satire anthology from B Cubed Press, and was kind enough to give me permission to reprint her review as a guest blog.

E. A. Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

In The Wind Between the Worlds, Robert Ford, an RAF radio operator unfortunate enough to be helping the Tibetan government set up radio links between the settlements when the Chinese invaded described his treatment as a prisoner. His captors softened him up with sleep deprivation and starvation, and with sessions of yelling at him that what he believed was lies and what he thought was wrong was true. They kept repeating the lies they wanted him to believe, substituting them for any real news until he was confused about what was true and what was not. By the end of his stay, following his “confession,” he was convinced that his enemies were his friends and vice versa. He said that it took him years after his release to sort out his own concept of reality. Everything he was told was counter to his own opinions and experience, but isolated and bombarded by his captor’s “alternative truths,” he was forced to accept their version of reality.

More recently, June Weinstock, woman from Fairbanks, Alaska, in Guatemala on an archaeological expedition, was waiting for a bus when a mob of villagers attacked her, beating and stabbing her until rescuers told them she was dead. The government had been spreading the story that American tourists were kidnapping Guatemalan kids and cutting them up for their organs. When one of the villagers couldn’t find her child, people set upon Ms. Weinstock, who later died from her injuries. The child was later found rehearsing for an Easter pageant. The disinformation that led to the death of the woman was a Guatemalan “alternative truth.”

“Alternative truths” can have truly deadly consequences, and although the stories in the anthology of the same name are fiction and don’t pretend to be otherwise, they illustrate 24 reasons why it’s not a good way to run a country. The current administration should leave the story-telling to the professionals.
POTUS’s rambling oratory style is so well portrayed by Adam-Troy Castro in “Q&A” and Jim Wright’s “President Trump, Gettysburg, Nov. 19, 1863” mimic POTUS’S rambling oratory style that I almost couldn’t laugh for cringing.

My favorites were the more allegorical tales. Diana Hauer’s “The Trumperor and the Nightingale” gives a Trump/Midas twist to the Chinese fairytale about a real versus a fake songbird. The story is kind to “the royal family” but not as forgiving of the advisors and is one of very few in the book with a happy ending.

Louise Marley’s “Relics, a Fable” is a poignant tale of what life might be like for the old and poor in the shadow of the humongous wall that is supposed to keep Mexicans from immigrating to the US.

“Patti 309” by K.G. Anderson is also about older people, but the once-affluent and even celebrities in their–er–golden years, when age and ill-health have deprived them of not only their money, but also much of their identities.

“Melanoma Americana” is a thrilling uniquely Capitalist tale of where the money goes when big business meets medicine.

I particularly enjoyed the British humor in Parliament’s take on an a familiar-sounding American head of state in Susan Murrie Macdonald’s “As Prophesied of Old.”

I also found “Letters from the Heartland” by Janka Hobbs to have a more home-grown gallows humor.

Joel Ewy’s “about_the_change.wav” is a love story. It reminded me of a couple I know who almost split up over the election, though it has a bit of a Stepford Wives meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers twist to it. “Frozen” is also a love story, kind of, but this one doesn’t have any cute reindeer or princesses in it.

Particularly chilling were three stories about ordinary citizens caught up in the changes that come to pass when alternative truths become real. “Raid at 817 Maple Street” by Ken Staley, “Good Citizens” by Paula Hammond, “We’re Still Here,” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle and “The History Book” by Voss Foster show the horrific consequences of innocent behavior when monitored by a well-armed witch hunt in a time when paranoia substitutes for imagination and alternative truths trump (pardon the pun) reality.

“Altered to Truth” by the anthology’s co-editor (with Bob Brown) Irene Radford, “Alt Right for the President’s End” by Gregg Chamberlain, “Rage Against the Donald” by Bruno Lombardi, “It’s All Your Fault” by Daniel M. Kimmel, “Monkey Cage Rules” by Larry Hodges, “Duck, Donald: A Trump Exorcism” by Marleen S. Barr, and “Pinwheel Party” by Victor D. Phillips all feature different takes on what happens when the Wicked Witch of the West is also in charge of the West Wing.

“Walks Home Alone at Night” by Wondra Vanian is unfortunately non-futuristic, since it seems to be occurring right now.  The kind of mentality that threatens the protagonist in this story happens too often, particularly to minorities upon whom certain people currently in the Cabinet and Congress have declared “open season.”

In this versatile anthology, there’s even a story the NRA could love–a good old-fashioned-though-modern shoot-’em-up Western called “The Last Ranger (ANPS-1, CE 2053)” by Blaze Ward. An iron-jawed legendary hero, a young man earning his spurs, overwhelming odds, headin’ ’em off at the pass, and lots of things exploding!

This book doesn’t cure any of the evils that people do, but it does provide a feast of food for thought.

If this sounds like something you’d like to read and review, please do. It’s available at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Altern…/dp/B0718YNJ97/ref=sr_1_1… Please share!

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Mahalo to Elizabeth Ann Scarborough for her kind words on my story, our book, and her permission to reprint this book review on my blog. And merci beaucoup to the 70 readers who have reviewed Alternative Truths on Amazon thus far.

 

Summer Solstice Music Festival

June 17, 2017, the Celtic Society of West Tennessee and the Jackson Area Music Society are presenting the Summer Solstice Music Festival in Parkers Crossroads, TN.  The music festival will go from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm in the city park in Parkers Crossroads (roughly a mile north of the McDonald’s).

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There will be a wide variety of music:  blues, bluegrass, gospel, rock, Celtic, and folk.  The park has a very nice playground where the youngsters can burn off some energy. There will be vendors:  Michelle Autry selling Limelight by Alcone makeup and skin care, Linda Piper with Perfectly Posh, Natalie’s Kitchen, Highland Heather Travel (my husband) answering your vacation planning questions, and me, selling R is for Renaissance Faire and Alternative Truths.  One of the food vendors will be selling Irn Bru, a Scottish soda pop which is frankly something of an acquired taste, but one of my husband’s favorite beverages.  There will also be arts and crafts, t-shirts, and CDs for sale.

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Schedule of Events (not carved in stone — something always gets changed or delayed)

Start Time 11 AM

11:00 AM Bobby Rainey 1

11:25 AM Bobby Rainey 2

11:55 AM Leather & Lace

12:30 PM Scott Myatt/Steve Short

1:20 PM Chase Antwine

1:55 PM Blair and Madison

2:45 PM Mike Needham

3:20 PM Bobby & Sue Bates

3:55 PM Hatchie Bottom Boys

4:45 PM Derrick Brantley

5:20 PM The Go-Tos

6:25 PM Dagger

7:25 PM Kat Deliriouz

7:45 PM Jupiter Stone

8:45 PM Kat Deliriouz

9:05 PM Damaged Soul Revival

10:00 PM Show End

So head down Hwy. 40, turn north at Exit 108, and come to the Summer Solstice Music Festival in historic Parkers Crossroads, TN.

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Susan Murrie Macdonald with R IS FOR RENAISSANCE FAIRE.