GUEST BLOG – Jennifer Macaire on the U.S. Confederate Flag

Jennifer Macaire

I hear that the confederate flag is for rebels, and for people who want to protest against the power of the government.

Without a doubt, this is the biggest lie the racists rely on to justify their attachment to the confederate Flag. It is easy to twist history—it’s in the past. As time goes by there are fewer people who were around ‘back then’ to set the record straight, and with the glut of information on the internet, it is easy to cherry pick one’s ideas from the whole picture to create one’s comfortable reality. But the reality is not comfortable, and the confederate flag is not just a hokey symbol for rebels at heart. The Civil war was, and always will be about slavery. The only reason many in the North even fought was for their ideals. The Northern army was the first army to fight for an idea—the…

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GUEST BLOG – Reggie Lutz on Rites of Passage for Writers

Reggie Lutz

So, there are a lot of things that writers go through that are shared with anyone working at other professions that kind of suck, and then there are the things that for writers feel like the end of the known universe.

Last week, I was catching up with Devon Miller, who just moved to the other coast, and she experienced the dreaded LOST BOX OF MANUSCRIPTS.

I’ve done that. Lost whole manuscripts. Once to a computer meltdown, once to wind. Yep. That scene from Wonderboys where the main character watches thousands of pages ride the wind into Pittsburgh’s three rivers? That happened to me. Except it was a much shorter piece, it was not in a major PA city, and there were no rivers. I was later able to reconstruct the story. The second version was probably better. (That particular piece was the novella, Fork You, which appears in Panverse One as well…

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The Evening Muse 1 | 24-Hour Local Public Libraries

Library_of_CongressThis is a concept that should exist in the 21st century.  Like many self-respecting writers, I have  a home office/study (and naturally mine doubles as a mancave/manscape when necessary since I live with multiple double-X chromosome carriers).  However, that Chamber of Peace and Solitude – y’know, the kind a writer requires – is on the first level of this fine two-level domicile in which I reside and hold the mortgage.  However, it’s not far from the common living quarters of the place.  So if anyone else is home, their sounds of living seep unfettered into said chamber.  This is why escapist places like public libraries are a valued construct (considering one does not have an offsite studio in which to retreat).  The two we have here in our local quadrant of the county are fine establishments.  Great, actually.  However, there’s just one problem:  the operating hours – particularly those on the weekends – are unacceptable.  A 5:30 closing time?  No, no, this simply cannot stand to reason.  If 24/7 is not on the negotiating table, can we at least come to an agreement of not closing before sundown?  I fully concede without shame that this is a First World Problem and I’m okay with that.  I’m just a fella looking for a reliable writers’ retreat while maximizing his tax dollars.

Make Them Pay

~ written 11/22/2010 ~

Just before dusk the man took a break from his work in the basement. He was not hungry, or more specifically, he had no appetite. Instead he opted for a cold beverage from the refrigerator in the kitchen to quench his thirst. Only when he popped the cap off the bottle did he realize that today had been his thirty-first birthday. A lot had happened in his life the past few years; several notable, calamitous events had irrevocably changed his life. He wasn’t sure if he had even acknowledged the arrival and subsequent passing of his twenty-ninth or thirtieth birthdays. His work was that demanding of his attention; his focus was keener these past two years than it had ever been in his life.

He was anxious to return to his work downstairs, but something stirred inside him—emotion—a sensation that had been alien to him for quite some time. As the wave of nostalgia crashed over him, he found himself drawn up into the attic where he kept the many keepsakes of his special memories. The old wooden stairs creaked beneath his feet. The floorboards groaned as he walked toward the cedar chest near the small widow.  Seized by the eager dark of night the attic remained in gloom because he did not turn on the ceiling light. He knew every item contained in this attic intimately, but he did not want to be overcome with emotion if he could see every picture, or every handwritten letter, or every piece of lovely jewelry clearly under the luminescence.  Simply being in their presence or feeling them by hand would be enough to move him to tears.

A few years back he had been a great husband and an anxious soon-to-be new father of twins.  A boy and girl, the ultrasound had confirmed.  He always wondered if the twins would have been identical or fraternal. However, he was never meant to know them, at least not for as long and as intimately as a father should.

The doctors and nurses had other plans for him. He believed they had sinister plans for his wife, and downright nefarious plans for their unborn children. That was the only explanation that made sense. The only explanation he would accept. Of course the powers- that-were—the entire medical staff and all the lawyers involved with the case—did not support his claim, but why would they?

He simply would not budge from his understanding of how it all happened. Why else would the love of his life be allowed go into premature labor with two fetuses in frank breech? Why else would she be allowed to hemorrhage profusely until she lost enough blood to rob her body of a fighting chance? Something had gone wrong during the emergency Cesarean section operation. The twins were pulled from the womb, delivered by the hands of the ob-gyn surgeon, but his wife did not make it through. Soon after that the premature twins lost their fight, if they even had a fighter’s chance.

The reasons were inexplicable. The explanations given by the medical staff were a series of unproven theories and scientific gobbledygook. He didn’t buy any of it.

What he did do was solemnly swear that he would bring vengeance upon those responsible. The police, the lawyers, no one else would deliver justice. He had to use his own hands and means to bring justice, one impeachable person at a time.

But first he had more pressing work that demanded his attention. He descended back down to the basement where, in their own specific ways, three women who bore a striking resemblance to his dead wife awaited his intense focus and determination.

Taken from my story “A Patchwork Companion” © 2010 Brandon L. Rucker