Archive for the ‘!What’s New!’ Category

Strong Traffic Heading into 2020 !Short Story Contest!

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Greetings from Defenestrationism reality.

With less than one week left to submit to our 2020 !Short Story Contest!, we have some substantial traffic numbers to brag about– including a new daily high in site-visits.

On Monday June 1st, we received 1,640 hits– 1,388 of which went to our !Short Story Contest! guidelines page.

In the past week, alone, we exceeded our average monthly rate for visits with 2,765 site-visits. Although we average between 500 and 2,500 site visits per month, months in which we hold our three annual contests generally garner far more. January of this year resulted in 8,622.

So keep surfing through, Lovers of Literature, as we publish the 2020 !Short Story Contest! across July and August.

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Dispatch from Washington, D.C.– we must make bigotry unprofitable

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

by Paul-Newell Reaves,
owner, co-editor, co-founder,

Greetings from the Capital of a flawed and troubled nation.

No one in the current administration gives one orange hair about people in the street– those marching peacefully, those staying still, those looting opportunistically, even those incapable of movement at all.

For this reason, and at this time, protesting is a useless endeavor towards sincere, meaningful change. Undoubtedly, it is a great emotional catharsis for all involved– but that is about all.

My sister called my today. She lives on 5th st., NW. That’s eleven blocks from the Whitehouse– on 16th. Last night, Monday June 1st– the same day the city was to open from the quarantine– military grade helicopters flew past her building at rooftop level. In her words, a phalanx of armed guards marched down her two-lane street. E st. is not very wide.

There is no resisting a Black Hawk helicopter. With the shows of force this administration is willing to display, no amount of people in the streets will demonstrate anything other than their need for greater force.

The issues we have faced this year, however, reach far beyond the current administration– far beyond Nation States, and far beyond recorded history. And, for the issues of Racism, Bigotry, Rape-Culture, Hate-Culture and Sexism, there will be no vaccine. So what will we do? What can we do?

We need to vote with our dollars.

Capitalism is also larger than Nation States. We must apply this system to address our deepest flaws. The stock-market need not rebound to do so, nor the economy surge– no one need die, no one need become infected to do so. Indeed, a bust-economy will only make my following strategy more effective.

We need to make bigotry immensely unprofitable.

If profit is all that the empowered care to consider, then we must let them know how bigotry will not be stood for in the only ways they understand.

We know how to do this. Research whom you buy from– choose which stores, which corporations. The information is there– pay attention to the watchdogs, the independent media groups, the American Civil Liberties Union. As importantly, be vocal about this effort– tell your friends, your co-workers, and tell those you will not patronize why they have lost your business. We know how to do this. We need only follow through, commit, and be thorough in our pursuit of this aim.

In Sincerity, Solidarity and Peace
— Paul-Newell Reaves,
owner, co-editor,

Should you choose to submit to our Summer fiction contest, please read our Editing Tips.

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Before you submit: some editing tips

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Importance in Editing

Have you edited enough?– probably not.

So, here are some tips, including

Substantive Content Editing

and advice from Contest Judge Glenn A. Bruce

Substantive Content Editing:
Major changes– often deletions– that make a piece of writing better.
-Is this scene necessary?– would the piece flow better without it?
-How realistic is this bit of dialogue, or that character’s decision?
-If this entire character were deleted, would that strengthen the piece?
-Is the ending as impactful as it can be?
Break-out the black Sharpie marker, because these types of edits make contest winners.

Toying with language to maximize your desired voice.
-Reorder words in a sentence. In a sentence, reorder the words.
-Exchange words– usually the verbs.
-Delete words.
-Prepositions: substituting a different preposition can be endlessly generative in prose– not recommended for dialogue, as it can sound unnatural (importance of editing becomes, importance in editing).
-Save old drafts and compare the effects.

WARNING: this part becomes obsessive.
It has been said that writing is never finished, merely abandoned. I am inclined to disagree. There is a point when writing becomes as good as it can be. At that point, any changes do not improve. Identifying that point is the trick.

Identifying and eliminating errors.
-The process should be as such: Read through your manuscript, entirely, marking any errors you find. After you have read through entirely, correct them, then read entirely through, again. Hopefully, every time you read through, you will find something new to change. Repeat this process until you do not find anything to change. Then read through once more. Then, print it, and read again. If you change anything in the printed version, re-print, re-read (don’t worry, printer paper is recyclable). Only once you have read the printed version twice without changing anything, should this process be complete.

And, straight from the pen of Glenn A. Bruce
— one of our esteemed !Short Story Contest! Judges

“Cut every damn thing you can cut before submitting. Make it as clean and sparse as possible without taking away from the story, characters, flow, or (minimal) descriptions. Some disagree with this ultra-clean kind of writing, but it is what I strive for and what – I believe – most of today’s readers seek. I.e., they don’t want to spend a lot of time reading extra “stuff.” Tell me the tale, do it efficiently, and give me a solid ending. It’s not easy! But it can be done.

“Also, I strongly recommend using the red/blue/green underlines in Word. They aren’t always correct – i.e., they adhere to grammar norms which might be broken in, say, dialogue – but they catch a LOT. I have never used Grammerly, but I know people like it for that reason as well. Basically, use anything available to make sure you have caught everything that can be caught. Typos are inevitable, but lazy editing is a sin.”

more of his thoughts on:
Working with an Editor

Even– or especially– if you have already submitted, you have until the end of each reading period to submit new drafts.

Finalists will have an additional week or two to revise before the contest begins.

Is it as ready as can be?– then Submit:
!Short Story Contest!

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Talk for the National Writers Union D.C. Chapter

Sunday, April 26th, 2020

Paul-Newell Reaves presenting on Lengthy Poems, Modernist Poems, Populist Poems, including a reading of his own poem “No Skateboarding”
to the National Writers Union District of Columbia Chapter
on April 26th, 2020:

links referred to in this talk:

In a Station of the Metro, by Ezra Pound

The Plumet Basilisk, by Marianne Moore:

A Lamppost Named Mark, by Paul-Newell Reaves:

No Skateboarding
is an unpublished poem by Paul-Newell Reaves,
only available in this reading.

So, You Want to Understand T.S. Eliot’s the Waste Land?
more from

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Judges Confirmed for 2020 !Short Story Contest!

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

The !Short Story Contest! is STILL ON, and
now open for submissions. So read the guidelines, here,
and submit by June 9th.

But first,

! We are ecstatic to announce
confirmation of our
returning and fully healthy
Contest Judges !

Meet the Judges:

Suvi Mahonen is a freelance writer based in Surfers Paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast. Her non-fiction appears on many platforms including The Weekend Australian MagazineHuffPost and The Establishment. Her fiction has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies including in The Best Australian Stories and Griffith Review. A portion of a longer work-in-progress was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Follow Suvi on:
and check out her page on the online art-selling platform Redbubble, here:

Glenn A. Bruce, MFA, was associate fiction editor for The Lindenwood Review. He has published nine novels and two collections of short stories. He wrote Kickboxer, episodes of Walker: Texas Ranger and Baywatch, and was a sketch-writer for Cinemax’s Assaulted Nuts. His stories, poems, and essays have been published internationally. He won About That’s “Down and Dirty” short story contest and was a two-time finalist in the Defenstrationism annual short story contest. He has judged film contests, art shows, and short story contests. He was the final judge for Brilliant Flash Fictionin 2015 (which has included one of his stories in their first print collection) and currently for Defenstrationism (2016-2019). Glenn left 12.5 wonderful years of teaching Screenwriting at Appalachian State University to concentrate on fiction.

Lady Moet Beast, the Beast From Southeast. What can’t be said about this interesting lady? Godmother of D.C. Rap, multi-genre lyricist, producer, poet, musician, writer, singer, actress, and the list goes on. Performing live since the age of 5, determined to be heard, adored and admired, Lady Moet Beast has performed all over the U.S. for the past 25 years. Not your average HipHop Femcee she has grown along with her husband obtaining her own band The Cruddy Crankerz, Beast & Monster Ink,  Drama City Records/Draztick Measurez., Cruddy Rite Publishing, Cruddy Rite Radio, Monster Graphix, and Lioness Filmz. Lady Moet Beast has set a lot of trends from green dreadlocks to hardcore femcees in Washington, D.C. and abroad.

Christian McKay Heidickerthe 2013 !Short Story Contest! Winner, reads and writes and drinks tea. Between his demon-hunting cat and his fiddling, red-headed girlfriend, he feels completely protected from evil spirits. Christian is the author of Scary Stories for Young FoxesCure for the Common Universe and Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Judging Process:

Our contests are judged by our four Judge Panel, with two weeks of online Fan Voting counted as an additional Judge vote. 

In the event of Judge Votes and Fan Votes being equal, the fan-vote becomes a tie-breaker.

One Grand Prize vote counts as two Runner-Up votes.

Guidelines for the !Short Story Contest!
What’s New on

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Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssby feather !Short Story Contest! is STILL ON

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Dearest Lovers of Literature;

Whether or not you are well– perhaps especially is you are not–
the time has come to submit to
the !Short Story Contest!
only on

Be forewarned–
this is not a subtle contest.
Guidelines, here

Please be understanding, should there be any emergency changes in our readers or judges.

home/ Bonafides
submit to our Lengthy Poem Contests

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Not to Panic: an appeal

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

Dear Lovers of Literature;

A deep thank you for continuing to spend your free time on . I know some of us have now suddenly far more free time than we know how to deal with.

While I understand the full impact of this catastrophic flu, I cannot understand certain reactions some are having. Yes, wear your gloves; yes, keep Purell on your person at all times; do not– do not– let your fears overcome your needs to be human.

The proper preventative precautions are easily taken. But the stress levels of panic on this scale– a scale that we rise to so very swiftly– will kill us as suredly as any virus.

For this is an issue of faith in humanity.

At the up-ticking of the cold war, in 1949, William Faulkner gave a speech where he said, “Man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”  

We all– as the totallity of Sapiens and in our own personal lives– have survived far worse than this virus. And will continue to do so.

I consider myself a September 11th survivor.  I was 16, and I could see from my High-School this blackest smoke rising off the Pentagon.  The same evening as that disaster, I was privileged to watch a little league baseball game– uninterrupted.  It had to go on– for the sake of those young baseball lovers, but even more, it had to go on for the sanity of mankind.

I went to New Orleans after the hurricane, the day the city opened. I saw panes of glass fall from skyscrapers, and heard of crocodiles swimming through the brack, swallowing anything warm-blooded. And, I heard a man named Michael say that all he needed in his new life as a refugee were power tools to rebuild his own city. That’s when I saw him cry.

You Millennials sure are a tough luck generation. You graduated with vast debt right at or after the 2008 depression. Now, just as you start to buy your own homes, have families of your own, this shit happens. My word of advise– as a wisened X-ennial who didn’t finish school till 2016– prepare for worse; never panic; carry on.

The death toll looks to be high, by the end. So– all while taking the proper precations– buy groceries for your elderly neighbor, you know the one, who yells at you for the volume of your music, whose breath is always, like, butt.

The economic ramifications will also be an undoing. There will be no restaurants or bars to re-open. I only pray the majority of landlords are forward thinking enough to know no one new will move-in if they kick us out. But anyone with a morgage will not have to worry about one for very long. Banks will collect, as banks will. But now is the time not to hoard cash so easily burglarized, or buy gold bricks you haven’t a hope to carry with you in an evacuation. Now is the time to donate. Now is the time to invest (especially in Purell). Now is the time to loan what little you have to someone who has even less. I do not say these things hypocritically.

We must never panic.  Yes, we must prepare; yes, we must take precautions; yes, we must know when we are in danger.  But we must never– never– give in to this disease of fear. We will live on. We will adapt. We will endure.

For, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”–  Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Peace, Paul Newell Reaves,
owner, co-editor, co-founder,

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Thanks for Surfing Through this Winter of 2020

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

We have reached the end of our Winter publication schedule, here at .

Make sure you join us this June for the 2020 !Short Story Contest! And do not hesitate to submit, as the reading period for that contest opens in April.

But, to last you and your defenestratory necessities for the next three months, here are some highlights, only from :

previous publications of particular potency:
A lamppost named Mark
The Zoo-Illogical Gardens

from our Musings:
The Art of Sustaining a Still Popular Website in an Age of Social Media
So, You Want to Understand T.S. Eliot’s the Wasteland?

favorites from the !Short Story Contest!:
An Excess of Light
Billy Luck

and from the FLASH SUITE Contest:
Tiger in a Suit
Birds of Italy

finally, we are pleased to announce that 2020 FLASH SUITE Contest winner
Bad Road Ahead: the Story of Willie and Sister Fran
by Don Robishaw
is now an indelible part not only of your conscientiousness, but also of
Voices of the Disenfranchised
— only on .
Re-read Bad Road Ahead and the rest of our
Homelessness Narratives

Who’s responsible for this madcap affair?–
Masthead: meet the editors

And what, pray tell, exactly, is the art of throwing people out windows?
home/ Bonafides

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My Father the Leprechaun

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

by Allen Roy MacPherson

4. The Leprechaun Suit

“Having a habit definitely doesn’t make you a monk
Nor does having Clover Green in bed make you an Irishman
But if you come up short you might as well be a Leprechaun
Or maybe consider becoming a celibate ol’ monk.”

“The Leprechaun’s Suite” -A. R. McClurichaun

I drink just as much as my father did but I handle it better. I’m never drunk after drinking; he was, always. I definitely inherited the gambling gene from him, but the numbers are not in yet on which one of us that demon destroyed the most. I inherited a lot from him inherently but not physically except for ugly toenails. I am a black man, while he always insisted he was a brown man, famously telling a female American immigration officer who, in correcting his presented form, wrote his color as ‘black’, “Take a look at my shoe”. The officer looked down.

“What color is it?” he asked.

“Black,” she answered.

“Now take a look at me.” I think she may have had a tough day and couldn’t be bothered. She left it as ‘brown’. (I haven’t travelled to the United States for 31 years but I somehow think they have removed that section from the form). He was not a Pan-Africanist nor a Back-To-Africa supporter, smoked cigarettes, but not weed, and despised Rastafarianism, Rastas, including Bob (Marley) and especially Peter (Tosh) both of whom I loved and admired (actually knowing the latter). My father, however, was a  Black Nationalist deeply involved in the labor movement and the so-called ‘politics of change’ especially before Jamaica’s independence, but not as much after because he was very anti-communist and thought the socialism being preached promoted here was closer to the Russian model while pretending to be the British one. He didn’t see the need for Ebony magazine because “the White Man does not have an Ivory magazine, and doesn’t feel he needs to and if he did we would accuse hom of  racism.” He was a student of Latin and claimed erroneously that he could use that knowledge to dissect every English word and know the meaning even if the word was new to him. However a lot of the English language also has non-Latin Anglo-Saxon (which is basically German) roots. When I testingly asked the meaning of negro (now a badword), he answered “From Latin, it means black”. This was in the 70’s before the word was passé.        

“So are you a Negro?” I asked.        

“The White Man says so” he answered, “but he is more Pink than White and I, I am a brown man.” He was not alone in the country. Many of my fairer-complexioned compatriots are nicknamed ‘Brownman’ and ‘Browning (the women)’. Some with a tip of straightish nose and a hint of straigtish hair mixed with more than a dash of ignorance sadly call themselves ‘White’. Locally and colloquially they are called ‘Jamaican  Whites’ for once they land on American shores their inherent blackness is harder to hide. My father, in 1950’s fashion, brushed and greased his hair til it appeared shiningly straight, but those waves would curl on the shores of the nape of his neck, revealing its true texture. He however did not want to be White. He was very patriotic. The colors of our national flag are Black Gold and Green, which brings me back to his favorite green leprechaun suit which my mother hated so much, often wearing it with a green tie and yellow shirt (for the Gold? His brownness and inert blackness ‘repping’ for the Black? Maybe. Who knows?)

This, though, is what I know I about that green suit. In mid-March 1974 my father traveled to New York on business. On a slightly blustery Sunday morning, he dressed up in his favorite green suit and stepped out of Hotel Wentworth onto the pavements of West 49 Street in search of a bar to have a few drinks, but only a few, as funds were limited and mostly dedicated to the business he was there for. He noticed the proliferation of people wearing green, like himself but didn’t pay it much attention. He was intent on his drink. A few blocks away he turned into an Irish pub. Everyone there was white but suprisingly they all greeted him loudly and with smiles as if they knew him before. Before he could an order a drink, the bartender enquired what he wanted. Vodka, of course. The group who had ordered it for him, lifted their green caps – those who were wearing – and gave him the thumbs-up, which he returned with a mouthed ‘thank-you’. After that drink, another one came, from another group, with the same silent pleasantries. They were kind, but a rowdily loud but he was not worried. They didn’t look like thugs or hooligans, seeming more mature than that, in both age, manners and dress. Soon, some of the patrons drew closer to him. One asked, “What’s your name, my friend?”

“MacPherson” my father answered. His new acquaintance seemed overjoyed about that and repeated to the others, “McPherson. That’s his name.” It began to echo through the pub as one group shouted his name to another. More drinks began to come his way. When some patrons couldn’t hear because of the din, the others spelled it out for them, “M-C-P-H-E-R-S-O-N”. My father never told them his name was Scottish not Irish. He never told them it was spelled Mac and not Mc. Although that may not have changed anything based on the celebratory mood they were all in. He asked the bartender “Why this enormous generousity?”

“You’re wearing the green” the bartender answered, “and you’re a Mc. You’re half-irish -“

“Yep” my father answered, before the bartender finished.

“And half-black?”

“Yep, yep” my brown-complexioned father answered.

“It’s St. Paddy’s Day”, the bartender explained. After that night’s extended drinking spree, my drunken father had to be escorted back to his 46th Street hotel  by two young Irish-American girls, whose names he remembered only as ‘Mousey’ Brown and Ginger, which i suspect was really only their color. That became one of his stories that had no conclusive ending, but from that time until his death, he planned all his business trips for mid-March and always made sure my mother packed that favorite leprechaun green suit.     

“Wearing green
Doesn’t mean
You’re Irish,
Or have kissed
The Blarney
Got the Gift
of Gab
Or from Tír na nÓg,
Or the Tuatha Dé Danann
Or a green-suited Leprechaun.
It Just means today
Is St. Paddy’s Day”

’17 Green’ – MacSewell M. McKie

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My Father the Leprechaun

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

by Allen Roy MacPherson

3. Ad/Vice 

“The worst vice is advice.” – John Milton

Though my father discouraged many of the paths I wanted to pursue, dismissed others and ignored some, he did give me three pieces of encouraging fatherly advice, though they were really more suggestions and parental requests than advice or encouragement. They weren’t delivered all at once but through out my pre-adult life.

Firstly, he said, “You should always go to church like your mother does.” He never went to church but offered assistance wherever he could, including paying for the renovation of the pastor’s rectory. As a youngster, I always thought he had a falling-out with God.

Secondly, he advised me, “You must never dye your hair”. I had started greying from in my teens.

“It’s a sign of distinction” he liked to say, and touching his receding hairline and his pated baldspot, he sometimes added this story, “when I was a young trade unionist, I earnestly prayed to God to give me some grey hairs to make me look older so the older opposing employers [all either English expatriates or Middle-eastern Emigrants in thoses days] would take me seriously and not treat me like an upstart. It seemed to me that God was a bit hard-of-hearing because he gave me this cursed balding head instead. But then he later blessed you, my son, with what I requested. Never dye those grey hairs”. When I was 48, which now, 11 years later, doesn’t seem so old, I was unemployed and desperately in need of a job and by then almost completely grey. A prospective employer suggested I dye my hair. Affronted, without thinking, I blurted out, “Only clowns color their hair”. I could have maybe told him calmly, “My late father’s one request before he died was that I never dye my hair and I have to honor that” but unfortunately I have always been impulsive. Shoot first, ask questions later. The prospective employer explained that he dyed his hair. I never got the job.

Thirdly, my father demanded, “Never write your name as McPherson and never let anyone write it that way either. If they do, insist that they correct it, because you’re Scottish not Irish.” I am in fact, Jamaican.

A friend once told me this “Most men usually have one of these four vices: cigarette-smoking, womanizing, drinking and gambling” then he added “your father is the only man I know who have all four”. I only smoked for two-years of my life and only menthols like my father smoked because I couldn’t handle the harsher, non-menthol ones (like the local Craven A, the most popular in my country). My father smoked all his adult life, cigars more than cigarettes and pipes most of all. He died from a car accident at 70 and not from lung, lip or throat cancer. In truth, his cause of death remains inconclusive, though, in my opinion, only due to a confused coroner. I was in the courtroom, during the Coroner’s Inquest, and heard him use the word ‘Maybe’ and/or the phrase ‘May have been’ at least six times in his statement on the determination of the cause of my father’s death.

The maybes and may-have-beens included according to that so-called specialist expert, “blunt force cranial trauma”, “ST-elevation myocardial infarction”, ‘circulatory cardiogenic shock, or physical shock due to acute stress disorder or cold shock”, but he especially doubted the latter and mostly doubted the others thinking that “it more likely may have been lethal trauma caused by deceleration”, but most likely “may be respiratory impairment as a result of immersion or submersion in or under a liquid, complicated by extreme low body temperature with aspiration of vomitus, and/or ARDS, which is acute respiratory distress syndrome.” Then he clarified that for the confused judge and jury, half of whom were dozing, the other half sleeping, “that is, Yo’Rhonor, drowning. Drowning with death.” Death by drowning, I interpreted that to mean.

My father could not swim. Therefore he could not teach me to swim.

“Non-swimmers rarely drown”, he informed me, “it’s swimmers who drown, because they are confident and get overconfident and go to depths and distances where even angels fear to tread… water.”

I never learned to swim. He died from an automobile accident but not by it. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. This was, because he had stopped the vehicle. He did this, even though he was on a bridge. He had been drinking and driving and was still drinking. The other driver had drunk more and was still drinking more and driving. The impact sent my father through the front sidewindow, out over the railing of the bridge, falling over 300 feet into the water below.

He was not alone. She was unconscious but alive. I had seen her before; half-naked, she was sitting on a collapsible couch in my father’s office, in a long-discovered, now-destroyed color photograph taken by my father. She was no assistance to anyone, not my mother or myself, nor the coroner’s court. Her only ever comment on the accident was, “I never knew he was married!”. The other driver had blacked out before the crash. To my consternation, the droopy jury let him off the manslaughter charge and the bored judge fined him JMD20,000 for  exceeding the speeding limit and JMD50,000 for driving under the influence of alcohol. JMD70,000 (USD510) for my father’s life. 

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