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#SpotlightThursday – 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy

Editors: Casey Lawrence and William D. Dickerson
Benefits: RAINN and the ACLU

About the Book

Presenting the diverse voices of those most affected by the results of the 2016 American presidential election, 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy is a charitable project meant to prioritize and highlight marginalized writers for a good cause. One hundred percent of profits from the sale of this book will be donated to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and the ACLU, the nonprofit organization defending the constitutional rights of Americans.

11/9: The Fall of American Democracy contains the work of a number of award-winning poets and authors including Roger Aplon, Laura Foley, Alan w. Jankowski, Mike Jurkovic, Sergio A. Ortiz, Mindela Ruby, Claire Scott, and Jan Steckel, in addition to a number of unpublished poets and fresh young voices. From a precocious four-year-old writer to octogenarians, amateur poets to Pushcart nominees, American expats to teens who have never left their hometown, this volume collects poetry and short prose reflecting on 11/9/16, a dark day in American history.

About the Project

Words are resistance. 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy puts that belief into action by gathering the work of award-winning poets and first-time writers alike into a poignant reminder that our #ownvoices matter. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be receiving a 50/50 split of the book’s profits to help support survivors of sexual violence and defend the constitutional rights of Americans.

This project emerged as a response to the results of the US Presidential Election on 11/9/16, in which a man who was caught bragging about sexually assaulting women and was accused of doing so by multiple people, somehow became the President Elect. Our initial plan was to donate 100% of the profits of this anthology to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, in support of victims of sexual violence. The dedication to the book reads:

For everyone who has been harassed, groped, or otherwise victimized by someone in a position of power— this book is in your honor.

We stand by our commitment to demonstrate that the words “grab them by the pussy” should never come from the mouth of an elected official, let alone the supposed Leader of the Free World. Political and social power should never come with a blank cheque to do what one pleases without consequences; the message that the election sent to survivors was that our voices don’t matter, and with this book, we have decided to say otherwise.

Since his inauguration on January 20, 2017, the 45th President of the United States has routinely attempted to undermine the Constitution and violate the rights it gives all Americans. This book has become an even more important symbol of resistance in the months since 45 took office. The decision to add the ALCU as a beneficiary of the sales of this book was a thus no-brainer; we value the work the ACLU is doing as a force of resistance and would like to show our support of those being further marginalized by the President’s racist, sexist, and unconstitutional policies.

The brave souls who contributed poems, short prose, and other writings to this book are heroes. Many chose to share their real names and locations, standing up for what they believe in with their faces unobscured. Others chose to write under a pseudonym for their safety and security; rather than belittle that decision, let us reflect on why it was necessary.

“I want to help in any way I can, but I’m afraid of the backlash,” said one of our contributors who chose to remain anonymous, despite sharing her heart-wrenching poem, “Dicks Out for the Donald.” She worries that she and her loved ones could come under fire if she were to reveal her real name or location. In this tumultuous political and social climate, our words are all the more necessary to protect people like Anonymous, and every dollar we send to RAINN and the ALCU is indicative of us putting our money where our mouths are.

About the Editors

Casey Lawrence is a Canadian writer and student at Brock University. She has published two Young Adult novels with a bisexual, biracial female protagonist, Out of Order and Order in the Court (Harmony Ink Press). She has been previously published in Bi Women Quarterly, LGBTQ Reads, Inkspots (Small Button Press 2016), and a number of local publications. The vice-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and editor of the yearbook in high school, she now volunteers with the Brock English Students’ Association, Brock Faith & Life, Brock Pride, and the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society. She lives at home with her mother, grandmother, and her adorable seven-pound Yorkie, Bindi.

William D. Dickerson is an American writer and teacher. He studied English and Elementary Education at Alfred University. He has self-published two novels, Cherry Wood and Young Mutants in Love. He is currently leading the Genesee Valley Gender Variants group in Rochester, NY. He also identifies as genderfluid. (All pronouns are welcome.)

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The Passion of Jazz – Nicholas Bridgman

The Passion of Jazz and Other Short Stories contains five short stories of mainstream fiction. Beginning with a tale of a love affair at a highly selective summer music program, these stories study the whims and follies of human nature. The stories are easy to read and took little time to consume.Passion of Jazz

I found the stories pedestrian and predictable, akin to reading assignments from a high school creative writing class. The language was flat and the dialogue came out sounding forced and overly planned. Each theme and its progression were telegraphed in the first few lines of the story in a formulaic manner. I was lost in one story, much like its characters, and wondered about the purpose when I suddenly reached the end with no sense of having gotten anywhere on the meandering path. The least predictable and the one with the most potential is “Grandfather’s Gift” – while the main character’s  change in outlook was predictable, the path on which he arrived at this change was not.

Bridgman possesses potential for writing interesting pieces of literature. These felt like early works in need of revising and revisiting or like non-fiction essays rather than fictional narratives. They lacked any color and spark that would hold my interest.

Amazon, Smashwords

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The Cat Factory and Other Stories – Tim Newton Anderson

Using his imagination and perspective, Tim Newton Anderson offers up this collection of 20 short stories with attributes of fantasy and the paranormal.

The collection opens with the amusing fantasy that cats (and dogs and other living creatures) are fashioned by guilds of artisans at a commissioned price. “The Cat Factory” is also a cautionary tale about appreciating things that aren’t perfect and, perhaps, to be mindful of what our cats might be conspiring to do.cf-tna

“Angel House” bands together a group of people who are along in life for one reason or another – the death of a loved one, self-deprecation, substance abuse – and faces them with the prospect of seeing angels after taking tainted diet pills.

Each story examines human nature through the experimentation of free imagination, letting go of the laws of physics, nature, and even society to test the morality of human nature.

Available on Amazon

 

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Retail Therapy – Nick Owen

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The short story “Retail Therapy” watches the decline of a human relationship over a matter of hours from the point of view of household goods in a warehouse store. Each segment anthropomorphizes daily objects – a pepper grinder, a sofa, a toilet brush, a meatball, among others –  giving them unique personalities to match each one’s perspective of the world. Covering an array of emotions from start to finish, the story is interlaced with humor, embarrassment, trauma and a sense of awakening, mirrored by the objects and their new owners.

Find the story on Nick’s Blog.

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The Temple of Beauty – Fernando Salazar

51lyuwQIOiLThe Temple of Beauty contains five short stories – four of science fiction worthy of Asimov’s magazine and one of the fantasy genre. These stories are outstandingly rendered, concise and meaningful, containing themes of religious extremism, social outcry, and unlikely heroism, along the simple beauty of existence. The author’s expertise with vocabulary renders him an exceptional wordsmith. It isn’t often that I am so excited to read a book that I want to ignore everything else in my busy, creative life. I absolutely loved these stories. “Intraflection to Kill” and “The Commercial Agent,” in particular, gave me supreme gratification for the act of reading. There are no wasted words. The imagery let me stand on alien worlds and watch the scenes unfold in my imagination, true releases from reality.

5 Stars – Page-turning intrigue, humor, and action in perfectly sized doses.

 

 

 

Other Science Fiction and Fantasy short story collections

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BSSSAK

TAW KN

 

The Story of Lucius Cane – Vanya Ferreira

SLC-VFBuilt upon the traditional vampire legends as begun by Bram Stoker, The Story of Lucius Cane introduces us to a small cast of supernatural characters. Jack the Hound was marked by a werewolf as a young man and now fits easily into the human world as a killer for hire, despite his canine-worthy physical attributes. Lucius Cane is a vampire with a soft spot for human beings and a hunger from the blood of his own kind.

The author makes a valiant effort to use the deviations from the normal archetype for each creature to propel the story into something unexpected. The reader questions why a vampire rescues humans from their deaths, choosing to prey upon other vampires. What is Cane’s motivation for sympathizing with the weaker creatures?

This first installment leaves us with these and other questions.

3 Stars – Traditional vampire horror with a few twists.

Amazon.com

Leaves of the World Tree-Adam Misner

LWT-AMAppropriately titled, this collection of short stories takes the reader to several corners and centuries of the world, from Vikings to Pirates to contemporary characters in modern settings. Tailored with obvious affection for the written word and with conscientious word choice, the stories capture the reader’s imagination with graphic details of physical battles and the delicate touch of describing inner moral conflicts.

To select a favorite in this collection, I found the last installment, “There are No White Knights” the most appealing.  The ritual battle between two knights of the court becomes a morale battle between two men, one who enjoys slaughter for slaughter’s sake and the other who slaughters for righteous purpose.

4 Stars – An author with affection for the written word.

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