RELEASE THE VIRGINS Open for Submissions

I could see something like Heinlein’s “If This Goes On” where the temple virgins go after the prophet, or a story about a radical Mideastern terrorist arriving at the gates of Paradise only to find the Almighty is displeased with how the Koran is being twisted. The 72 virgins the suicide bomber is expecting are closer to Greek Furies or Viking Valkryies.

Michael A. Ventrella

The anthology Release the Virgins! is now open for submissions.

Through a kickstarter campaign, we were able to raise enough to go ahead with this project, and we have confirmations from authors David Gerrold, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Steele, Steve Miller, Sharon Lee, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gail Z. Martin, Cecilia Tan, Patrick Thomas, Shariann Lewitt, Alex Shvartsman, Hildy Silverman, and Daniel M. Kimmel.

We should have room for a few extra stories as well. But only a few.

Submissions are open for short stories that include, somewhere in the story, the phrase “Release the Virgins.”

The story should be no more than 5,000 words. This should be sufficient for what should most likely be a somewhat humorous tale. The payment is 5 cents a word. Do not take this as an invitation to pad your story in order to earn a few more bucks. If your story is complete…

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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.)


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.


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