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.

 

Forgive Me For Bragging

Kindly forgive my lack of modesty, but my writing has been going well lately.

I.  I won the Arkansas Scottish Festival’s annual poetry contest with my poem “Black Agnes.”  Lady Agnes Randolph, daughter of the Earl of Moray, wife of the Earl of Dunbar, maintained a siege against the English forces in 1338.  Black Agnes is well-known in Scotland, but practically unknown in the United States.  I learned more about her in the process of researching my poem than I could fit into verse, so I plan to put the rest of what I learned about her in a children’s book.

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II.  Alternative Truths is doing quite well.  It is currently at 58 reviews on Amazon, 3 four-star reviews and 55 five-star reviews.  My story, “As Prophesied of Old,” is one of 24 stories.  The other 23 are by Jim Wright, Adam-Troy Castro, Rebecca McFarland Kyle, Diana Hauer, Gregg Chamberlain, Paula Hammond, Louise Marley, Sara Codair, Irene Radford, K. G. Anderson, Bruno Lombardi, Daniel M. Kimmel, Voss Foster, Janka Hobbs, Victor D. Phillips, Bobby  Lee Featherston, Larry Hodges, Blaze Ward, Marleen S. Barr, Joel Ewy, Ken Staley, Liam Hogan, and Wondra Vanian.  I did a write-up about Alternative Truths for Krypton Radio, as well as a HubPages blog.

The most recent review said: “A wonderful collection of some very excellent shorts stories. Stand outs amongst them include Susan Macdonald’s excellent portrayal of British stoicism, Janka Hobb’s collection of letters with very sinister connotations for the future, Ken Staley’s expose of SWATing (sort of) and my favourite Voss Foster’s history lesson with a twist.”

III.  I’ve had over two dozen articles posted on Krypton Radio, and my editor has seemed pleased with all of them.  I’ve written about Hellboy, Transformers, Powers Boothe, Wonder Woman, Joe Harris, Jim Parsons, Nisi Shawl, and Sir Roger Moore.

Will David Harbour replace fan favorite Ron Perlman in the third Hellboy movie?

IV.  I have a new website.  Go check it out. One of my editors suggested an author webpage would be useful to me.

V.  And now the big news:  Drum roll, please!

My short story “Erzabet and the Gladiators” has been accepted by Flame Tree Publishing’s anthology Heroic Fantasy Short Stories.  My editor asked me not to say anything until the publisher made the official announcement; I’ve been bursting to tell the news since the story was accepted.  This is my second sale at professional rates, and the first appearance of one of my stories in a hardcover book.

Voss Foster, my book-mate (book bro?  What is the correct term for someone whose story is in the anthology as yours?) from Alternative Truths also has a story in Heroic Fantasy, as do Clark Ashton Smith, John Buchan, Snorri Sturluson, Homer, Robert E. Howard, A. Merritt, Geoffrey Chaucer, Andrew Lang, Howard Pyle, William Morris, and Eric Rücker Eddison.  In addition to new fantasy stories by Alexandra Renwick, M. Elizabeth Ticknor, Beth DawkinsLauren C. TeffeauTony PiJoanna Michal HoytDavid Busboom,  Kate O’ConnorMichael HaynesZach ChapmanTherese ArkenbergA. Creg PetersAlexandra RenwickErin Gitchell, Voss, and me, Heroic Fantasy  will include the text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as well as extracts from Beowulf, The Nibelungenlied, and The Song of Roland.

Heroic Fantasy will be published sometime in July 2017.

 

Alternative Truths: An unexpected-success story

Here are the thoughts of one of my co-contributors to Alternative Truths. I did a silly story, to make readers laugh. She did a serious story, to make readers think.  Ladies, gentlemen, I present my colleague Karen G. Anderson.

Writer Way

Alt truths cover The cover of the Alternative Truths anthology

Just over 100 days ago, on Jan. 23, science fiction author Bob Brown issued a writing challenge: Imagine the future during or after the Trump presidency. Write a story. Submit it to an anthology to be called Alternative Truths.

“This is an anthology about the future in an alternative fact world,” Bob wrote. “What does the future hold? Endless alternative facts? Brilliant leadership? Alien invasions? Zombies in the White House?”

Bob set about co-editing the anthology with Phyllis Irene Radford, vowing to publish the book within the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

As submissions came in, Bob formed the private Facebook group Alternative Truth (now public) so the participants could discuss the project. In a field where submissions generally vanish behind a curtain from which editors issue cryptic rejections, the decision to open-source the anthology project seemed both odd and courageous. Did these people know what they were getting into?

I submitted a dystopian story, “Patti…

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Cover art by Alexander James Adams.

Alternative Truths

A few months ago, I wrote about the CREATE Initiative, that we could fight against corrupt politicians through artistic creation.  Well, Bob Brown and Phyllis Irene Radford had the self-same idea.  Knowing that humor is the best way to fight pomposity, and that parody is a traditional response to politics and politicians, they organized a science fiction anthology called Alternative Truths. That book debuts tomorrow, April 28, 2017, via Amazon.

Alternative Truths Anthology was formed, when on February 23, 2017, I, and many of my friends, asked what we could do. We could write, we could join that noble tradition of using the pen, to poke the powerful.  So was born, Alternative Truths. And our pens became word processors and our ideas became stories.

Alternative Truths is a look at the post election America that is, or will be, or could be. We attach no manacles to the word truth to bind it to our visions, but instead we free it to find its own way through the minds of the two dozen writers who have shared their vision of the future…. Whomever or what ever you like you will find here with an absolute appreciation for the fact that we live in a great country where you can still publish a book like this, in part to the continued efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the ink of patriots.


Phyllis Irene Radford and Bob Brown,
Editors, Alternative Truths

Alternative Truths has twenty-four stories, mostly science fiction, but a few fantasy.  There are ghosts, there are demons, there are aliens, there are time travelers, and there are the most dangerous creatures of all, human politicians.  The stories range from the humorous to the horrific, from the silly to the scary, from (First Amendment legally protected) parody to frighteningly plausible predictions.  Several of the stories would make excellent Twilight Zone episodes.  American, Canadian, and British authors have joined together to imagine what might become of the United States if an unethical businessman with no political experience were to be elected to the highest office in the land.

“In true American tradition, we lampoon our politicians – particularly those with overblown egos. And our current President has an ego big as – well, a wall. His own staff member provided the inspiration for this anthology when she used the term “alternative facts.” Since the President won’t come to the correspondent’s dinners, we’re bringing it to you. Alternative Truths is a collection of twenty-four stories by authors specializing in genres from political commentary to science fiction and fantasy. Once started, it’s impossible to put down. The topic of prevarication is addressed in manners from humorous to deadly serious. Contexts range from the past to dystopic futures. The collection is powerful, provocative, and in some cases – hopefully not precognizant.” R. Kyle

Alternate Truths has stories by Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station, award-winning author Adam-Troy Castro, Diana Hauer, Louise Marley, Irene Radford, Canadian author and journalist Gregg Chamberlain, Sara Codair, K. G. Anderson, Daniel M. Kimmel, Janka Hobbs, Bruno Lombardi, Victor D. Phillips, Larry Hodges, Bobby Lee Featherston, Blaze Ward, Joel Ewy, Marleen S. Barr, Ken Staley, Wondra Vanian, Liam Hogan, Voss Foster, Rebecca McFarland Kyle, Paula Hammond, and Susan Murrie Macdonald.

The CREATE Initiative is a way for ordinary people to fight back against the powerful and heartless.  Write, paint, perform, blog.  If you can’t do that, then read or listen or watch the works of those who can.  Alternative Truths is $4.99 on Kindle or $11 in paperback.  Buy a copy (or two.  Books make great gifts, and Mother’s Day is coming.) Remember, to an author, reviews are love, so feel free to mention on Amazon and/or Goodreads that you liked it.

“That’s what we storytellers do.  We restore order with imagination.   We instill hope again and again and again.” Walt Disney

Remember three things:  1, the pen is mightier than the sword.  2, enough snowflakes gathered together can form a blizzard or an avalanche.  3, comedy is a traditional weapon against politicians.

Disclaimer:  I am not unbiased in this matter.  I am the author of the fifth story in the book and one of the assistant proofreaders.  I confess to having a financial stake in Alternative Truths doing well.  I have a son going to college in a few months, and I’d like to be able to pay his tuition.

 

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

The Fashions Of Regency England

I found this while researching  my  work-in-progress, which is set in Regency England.  The original blog is from Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, the birthplace of our fourth president, James Madison.

The author of the blog I’m reposting refers to 1795 – 1837 as the time period “generally accepted” as the Regency era.  Any student of history knows the Regency, strictly speaking, was 1811 – 1820.

“The Regency era in the United Kingdom is generally accepted as the period between 1795 and 1837. Effectively it combines the decline of George III’s rule, the period between 1811 and 1820 when the King was deemed unfit to rule and his son, the Prince of Wales was granted the title of Prince Regent to rule in his father’s name, and the period from 1820 when the Prince Regent became George IV on the death of his father until 1837 when Queen Victoria succeeded to the throne and a new era.”

 

  • George III:  born 1738, reigned 1760 – 1820, died 1820
  • George IV: born 1762, Prince Regent 1811 – 1820, reigned 1820 – 1830, died 1830
  • William IV: born 1765, reigned 1830 – 1837, died 1837
  • Victoria:  born 1819, reigned 1837 – 1901, died 1901

 

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Today we have a guest blogger from England. Kevin has written for us before and we love his posts. Last time was about a true English tea. Today we are talking about Fashion of Regency England. This would have been around the time Belle Grove’s main section was built. Seeing this you can image the people walking around Belle Grove after it was built. Just lovely!

Thank you Kevin!

During the last decade 18th Century George III was becoming noticeably more and more deranged. Elsewhere America declared it’s independence and the introduction of the guillotine in France sent shockwaves through the wealthy and privileged classes of Europe.

Marie Antoinette of France -  1778 Marie Antoinette of France – 1778

Miss Constable, 1787 Miss Constable, 1787

Regency Fashion -  1820 to 1850 Regency Fashion – 1820 to 1850

The Regency era in the United Kingdom is generally accepted as the period between 1795 and 1837. Effectively it combines the decline of George III’s rule, the period…

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Honor Harrington

After being on my read-eventually list for years, I finally got around to reading David Weber‘s Honor Harrington books.  I have now read five of the first six books (haven’t read #5 yet) and am about 100 pages into the seventh book.  They are exceedingly well written and I am hooked.  Weber has a complex social and technological background for his books, and three-dimensional characters.

Honor Harrington, the heroine of the “Honorverse,” is a naval officer for the Star Kingdom of Manticore.  She is human, but a “genie,” i.e., descended from genetically engineered ancestors to better survive living on a planet with slighter higher gravity than Manticore or Old Earth.  Honor is a feature of her character as well as her name: she is intelligent, brave, loyal, patriotic, with a strong sense of duty and justice.

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As a child, Honor was adopted by a treecat, a six-legged creature from her home planet, Sphinx.  She shares an empathic bond with her ‘cat, Nimitz.  Honor believes (correctly) that treecats are far more intelligent than most people give them credit for.  Treecat adoptions are respected in the Star Kingdom of Manticore.  Seven of the last nine monarchs, including the current Queen Elizabeth III, have been adopted by ‘cats.  Therefore, Nimitz accompanies her on her vessels and even attended the academy with her.

David Weber limits the profanity in these books.  Although there is some swearing, including occasional use of a certain four-letter word that rhymes with duck, it is limited to situations and characters where such vocabulary is actually in character.  Unlike the late Tom Clancy, he doesn’t feel the need to drop F-bombs like confetti.

My only complaint with the books thus far is that the Honorverse has certain similarities with the Albion Empire of my own “Captain’s Claim.”  This is not unusual, not even unpredictable.  Weber and I both read the Horatio Hornblower books when we were younger — he even dedicates the first book of the series to C. S. Forester and has Honor reading one of the Hornblower books as pleasure reading in one of the later books.  Both of us watched the Star Wars series of movies, as well as old movies like The Sea Hawk and goodness knows how many other books, TV shows, and movies with space empires.  Elizabeth Moon and Lois McMaster Bujold have also written SF books where  the hero serves in the starfleet of a space empire with a very formal society.  I’m just not looking forward to being accused of copycatting from Mr. Weber, when I’ve been working on Captain’s Claim, off and on, since 1996.

So far I’ve read the first four books in the series, the sixth book, and I’ve started on the seventh.  I’ve been ignoring both housework and ghostwriting in favor of reading these books; they’re hard to put down.  If you like military SF, give David Weber’s Honor Harrington books a try.

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If you like strong women in a western setting, try Juliette Douglas’ Freckled Venom series.

And if you want to buy my western e-book, Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid, I won’t complain.

[Feature Image Galaxy M101: Image Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI]

The Joys of the Slush Pile

Slush pile:  the unsolicited manuscripts received by a publisher, often of dubious quality.

I’m familiar with slush piles from both sides.  As a (very) minor author, I submit stories and poems to them.  As one of the “first readers” for a science fiction magazine, I read through them, attempting to filter the wheat from the chaff.

Four years ago, Patricia Wrede wrote a blog about slush piles in the style of Judith Viorst’s childhood classic, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  I wasn’t able to reblog it, so I’m giving a link so you can read it yourself.  Please do.  It’s hilarious.

Alexandria and the Terrible, Horrible Parody Piece

The stack of manuscripts is two feet tall and even from here I can see that there’s a pile of pink pages in the middle and a smear down the side where somebody spilled coffee down it and I just know it is going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad slush pile.

Wendy Glaas wrote “The Truth about the Slush Pile,” telling of her time as an intern for a literary agency.

I did take my sentinel duties seriously. At first, I imagined unearthing the next National Book Award winner or, at the very least, the next Twilight series. I’d find an unpolished gem for Kate Epstein, head of our agency. I’d make a name for my brilliant editorial and marketing instincts, for finding a fresh new narrative. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to discover that slush pile diving is far from glamorous.

Rachelle Gardner explains why writers whose stories never make it out of the slush pile so seldom find out “Why, Oh Why Did I Get Rejected?”  The late Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote an article years ago well worth reading, “Why Did My Story Get Rejected?

The truth about slush piles?  Almost every author spends time there.  There’s no shame to it, so dive right in with the rest of us.  If your story is neatly composed (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) and set in the proper format (most publishers prefer Shunn’s manuscript format), you stand a fighting chance.  If it’s misspelled, formatted oddly, or written in purple crayon, you’re reducing your odds of being taken seriously, even if you’re the reincarnation of Ernest Hemingway. Be patient.  The magazine I’m a first reader for currently has over 600 stories in the slush pile, and almost all first readers have “real” jobs, as well as being writers themselves.  Your story may be your top priority, but sorry, it isn’t the slush pile reader’s.  Very few magazines can afford to hire full time slush pile divers; most rely on volunteers, friends, or people doing it for networking opportunities and petty cash. Remember, a perfectly good story may be rejected because it’s not right for that particular publisher.  It may be exactly what another publisher is looking for.  There are other markets.  Re-submit it elsewhere.  Submit it to as many slush piles as necessary.  Persistence is as necessary a quality in a writer as proper proofreading.

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Read Patricia Wrede’s books.  They’re good.  Really good.

Read my books.  They’re not as good as hers, but I need the money.

Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid (e-book only) western short stories

R is for Renaissance Faire children’s book, a pictoral guide to RenFaires

Sword and Sorceress #30 containing my fantasy story “The Piper’s Wife”

Supernatural Colorado containing my horror story “Thank You, Thad”

Barbarian Crowns containing my fantasy stories “Vixen’s Song” and “Two Princes”

Feature Image: Patricia Wrede (image via Wikipedia by way of Google Images)

Hero of the First Amendment: John Peter Zenger

First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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The First Amendment is quite possibly the most important part of the United States Constitution.  It guarantees the right of all American citizens to  believe and worship as they see fit, or to choose not to worship, to speak their minds, to have access to a free press, to gather in groups in public, and to complain to the government.

John Peter Zenger (1697 – 1746) died before the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Concord, but he is accounted one of our Founding Fathers because he helped established freedom of the press on the soil of this nation.

Born in Germany, Zenger immigrated to New York at the age of 13.  He was apprenticed to printer William Bradford.  In 1726 Zenger began his own printing business, and in 1733, he began publishing the New York Weekly Journal.  He wrote some, not all, of the articles, but as printer, he was legally responsible for the content of the newspaper by the laws of the time.  The New York Weekly Journal printed many complaints against the colonial governor, the very unpopular General William Cosby.

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Despite the governor’s orders, a grand jury refused twice to indict Zenger.  November 17, 1734, Zenger was arrested for libel. He was confined in prison for nearly 10 months, before he was brought to trial in August of 1735.  Attorney Andrew Hamilton (no relation to Alexander Hamilton) argued that the jury, not the judge, should determine Zenger’s guilt or innocence.  He argued that as what Zenger had printed was true, it could not be libelous.

The question before the Court and you, Gentlemen of the jury, is not of small or private concern. It is not the cause of one poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying. No! It may in its consequence affect every free man that lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty.

The jury acquitted Zenger. He was released from prison the following day, returned to his print shop, and published a widely read account of the trial.

It is important to note that the Zenger case did not establish legal precedent in seditious libel or freedom of the press. Rather, it influenced how people thought about these subjects and led, many decades later, to the protections embodied in the Unites States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Sedition Act of 1798. The Zenger case demonstrated the growing independence of the professional Bar and reinforced the role of the jury as a curb on executive power. As Gouverneur Morris said, the Zenger case was, “the germ of American freedom, the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolutionized America!”

John Peter Zenger continued writing and printing until his death in 1746.

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the Marquis de la Fayette, wrote: “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” Jefferson considered public education and freedom of the press necessary for the health and survival of the United States, or any free nation.

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Read the Constitution.  Read American history.  Know your rights as an American citizen.

The CREATE Initiative

“Now is the time for all good men” — and women — “to come to the aid of their country.”

For good or ill, Donald J. Trump is the president-elect.  I personally feel he is unqualified, both morally and professionally, as I have said in other articles and blogs.  However, come January he will be president of these United States, and Mike Pence, a man who is no friend to women or LGBT citizens, will be vice-president.

What can we do besides wear safety pins?  We can create.

Do you remember a book called Splinter of the Mind’s Eye?  It was a Star Wars novel, set not long after the original movie.  Luke and Leia were still getting acquainted at that point, and he asked her why someone like her, a princess and senator, became a rebel.

Princess Leia explained  she became a rebel because she “was bored. Why was she bored? Censorship of art, literature, and music led to boring art, literature, and music. Why was it censored? A story can be a parable. A painting can be a declaration. A symphony can be a manifesto. Upon finding out why she was bored, she dug deeper and became a Rebel.

We can write parables. We can perform manifestos. Sing. Compose. Write. Perform. Draw. Sculpt. Blog. Remind Americans of our better selves. Remember our rights and responsibilities as citizens, lest those rights be washed away.”

Singer/songwriter Kathy Mar has organized a KINDNESS campaign on social media and in real life, urging people to be kinder to one another. I suggest another campaign: CREATE.

Censorship is a necessary part of fascism.  However, the Internet makes censorship more difficult: it’s far easier for an ordinary person to get their message out — be it a picture, a political cartoon, an essay, a poem, or a song — today than it was in the 1930s.  We can take a pre-emptive strike against fascism by creating.

 

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” Toni Morrison

Peace pin concept by Abigail Greig, artwork by April Porter.

Cat Faber wrote a song, just as Woody Guthrie did before her.  Blind Lemming Chiffon and April Porter have designed logos.  Blind Lemming Chiffon wrote a song, too.  Songs are a traditional means of getting a message out.

Write about war and peace, why the first is bad but the other is good, and write about when war is and isn’t necessary.  Write about freedom.  Write about the heroes of our nation.  Dr. Lin-Manuel Miranda did it with Hamilton.  Jay Kuo, Marc Acito, and Lorenzo Thione did it with Allegiance, which starred George Takei.  Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, and Sheldon Harnick did it with Fiorello!  Ann Rinaldi has done it with more than 40 YA novels.  Write a poem about poet/civil rights activist Pauli Murray.  Write an essay about Eleanor Roosevelt.  Write a song about Abraham Lincoln.  Lucretia Mott, Mercy Warren, Jane Addams, Abigail Adams, Bessie Coleman, Grace Hopper, Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Ann Seton: U. S. history is full of people waiting to have their stories told.

Write fiction and tell your message in allegory.   Sing.  Sculpt.  Draw.  Film.  Blog.  Compose.  Crochet.  Make quilts.  Garden.  Don’t let Trump and Pence and their followers destroy America.  Fight back (non-violently).  Remind yourself and your children what America has been, what it can be, what it should be.  Remember.  Teach.  Hope.  Create.

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“That’s what we storytellers do.We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” Walt Disney

Read Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again” to your children.  Memorize and recite it; declaim it.  Read the Constitution.  (I’m not sure our president-elect has done so.)  Sing the Preamble song from Schoolhouse Rock.  Know what this country has been, believe what it could be, teach what it should be.

“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.” H. G. Wells

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“Creative people do not see things merely for what they are; they see them for what they can be.”  Julie Israel

It is time to create. It is time to educate. It is time to preserve civilization.

 

Space Pirates and Trophies

Well, I didn’t win a trophy, but I did win the the eSpec Books Flash Fiction Contest for September.  TS Rhodes and I tied for first place, Author Rhodes with a more traditional pirate story and me with a truncated version of my space pirate story, “Captain’s
Claim.”

Very truncated. The version I’m currently editing for professional submission is roughly 2,300 words.  The maximum word count for the flash fiction contest was 919 words.  Talk about killing your darlings!  First I cut the adjectives and adverbs.  Then I cut the physical description.  Did the reader really need to know that Captain Carswell looks too young to be in command of a starship?  Does it matter that the first officer is African-American, and how do you describe someone of African-American heritage whose ancestors were from Earth, but is neither Terran nor American himself?  I cut the characterization out.  I cut the foreshadowing for what comes in the sequel I’m planning.  I cut out all the Mr. This and Miss That — it’s a rather formal society; Captain Carswell addresses her pilot as Mr. Fernandez rather than just Fernandez, and it changed the flavor to cut out the honorifics.  Finally, I deleted as much as I could, wept bitter tears, submitted it, and they liked it.

One of my beta-readers disliked this particular story (the original version, not the truncated version).  In part, because I am misusing the word privateer in her opinion.  Captain Janet Carswell is a privateer, commander of the HIMS Bandersnatch. She has an imperial letter of marque, which permits her to attack enemies of the Albionese Empire, including pirate ships.  When not actively hunting pirates, the Bandersnatch and her sister ship often hire out as escorts to unarmed merchant vessels.  My beta-reader says that since privateers were only licensed to hunt their nation’s enemies in the 17th and 18th centuries, I can’t redefine the word to make it an interstellar bounty hunter now.  I say that words change meanings all the time, and would certainly change over the centuries.  Janet is a naval reservist in the Albionese Navy, but the rest of her crew is civilian. In part, she disliked it because it was too talky.  There, I agree with her.  The story needs more polishing before it’s ready to be submitted elsewhere, either as an independent short story or the prologue to a novel.

“Captain’s Claim” is something I’ve been playing with off and on for quite a while now.  Its influences include Andre Norton’s Scarface, Jane Yolen’s Pirates in Petticoats, Michael Jackson’s Captain EO, and Melinda Snodgrass’ Tears of the Singer.

Feel free to check out the truncated version of the story here.  If and when I sell the longer version, I’ll be sure to post it on my blog.  (And Facebook, and Twitter, and yelling in the streets … etc., etc.)

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Unrelated to pirates, Haggis Rampant, the Louisiana-based bagpipe and bodhrán trio, was kind enough to recommend my children’s book R is for Renaissance Faire on their Facebook page. Copies are available through Amazon as either an e-book or a paperback, or if you prefer an autographed copy, through the Mid-South Renaissance Faire.

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Photo credits:  the picture of R is for Renaissance Faire, open to the R page, is taken from the Haggis Rampant Facebook page and was briefly their cover picture.  The featured image at the top of this blog is a picture of Captain Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, and is in the public domain due to its age.