Spotlight: “Drag” by Domenic D. Augustus and S.M. Dudley

Drag by Domenic D. Augustus and S.M., one of the many works edited by CambridgeEditors is August and Dudley’s first novel. The book follows the life of Vincent, a sociopathic man caught in the whirlwind of his own mental health and the vicissitudes of everyday life. We are transported to Everett, MA and glimpse the punch of Boston’s vernacular, imagery, and energy. Using third-person omniscient view, Augustus and Dudley capture the complexity of Vincent’s mind and give perspective to the multifaceted decisions surrounding thoughts of suicide, addiction, and the descent into madness.

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Reading the book for the first time, I became completely invested in the characters’ lives and the life of Vincent. Because the book gives the reader an inside perspective into the thoughts, choices, and reasons behind forthcoming decisions, I sympathized deeply for Vincent, who was hastily characterized as a sociopath by those around him. I saw Vincent as someone who had been mischaracterized and dragged–– so to speak–– in the mud of the taboo surrounding mental health.

A line that Vincent repeats to himself throughout the book is “I am–– Numb.” I thought a lot about this remark and realized that maybe it wasn’t Vincent who was numb, but the people around him; if we do not reach out to those who are struggling with mental health issues, we prove ourselves numb to those we love. The book drives this point home by including the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in its epigraph at the beginning, coupled with a quote by Augustus himself: “I have made wrong decisions in my life, but when my world got me down what I finally did was write.”

I encourage all of you to read Drag, reach out to the people you love, and write if you are feeling down. Feel free to reach out to CambridgeEditors with your writing!

-Anne Jonas

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A Village Under The Streetlight

As many of you know CambridgeEditors is an independent firm that was established in 2003, it is dedicated to providing superior editorial services for a wide range of clients. The manuscripts brought forward are a wide selection, such as: scholarly monographs, chapters, and journal articles; dissertations and master’s theses; novels and other forms of fiction.

One of the works of fiction that we have edited is  “A Village Under The Streetlight” By Thomas Palayoor. Not only a novelist, Thomas Palayoor is also a cancer researcher and molecular geneticist. When feeling creative he not only has a passion for stories in the Indian language but paints as well. “A Village Under The Streetlight” is Thomas Palayoor’s first novel, which follows the lives of people in the village of Manoor, India. We see the cast of characters love, fight, gossip, marry, divorce, have children, or die. As you read, you become increasingly invested in each of the people of Manoor and how the lines of fate slowly bring the characters apart and together again and again. We also see, slowly, how modernization can even effect the smallest of villages across the globe. As if we too were streetlights passively viewing the village’s move away from colonial rule, the changes of political parties, religions, and views of ethnicity.

Reading the novel for the first time I found that my favorite thread of this woven tapestry, was the movement of modernization into the village. The first villager we follow is a man named Kunjayi, a rickshaw driver, forced out of his job by the local government. We see his desperation, grief, and hopelessness from being without a job. But, as the weeks go by he suddenly picks himself up and works to get a job as an oarsman for the local ferry. This small story exemplifies modernization and movement away from the past means of transportation, to a more current one, in a humanistic and masterful way.

While enjoying the seasonal shift from winter to spring, this novel will allow you to enjoy the shift from historic to modern, or generation to generation. I highly recommend this novel and its transformations that explore the human experience.

Disagree or agree? Comment below!

Or if you are in need of our services check out this link: https://cambridgeeditors.com/rates/.

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Feature: Doug Holder on Charles Coe’s “Memento Mori”

Charles Coe, who is one of our editors at CambridgeEditors, recently released his newest collection of poetry, Memento Mori. This collection captures the essence and pride of Boston and Cambridge, explains Doug Holder, a Somerville-native himself. Holder’s brief review of Memento Mori explores the nostalgia of life through the keen eyes of a Bostonian.

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Image Source: http://dougholderresume.blogspot.com

Holder first reviews Coe’s “Poem for an Absent Friend,” which takes place in the Boston Commons. Holder remarks that for him, and many other Bostonians, the Commons “has often been a stage for any number of dramas.” This could not ring truer for me as well. Although I am a newcomer to this city, I vividly remember the Commons being stormed by fans after the Red Sox won the World Series. People climbed lamp posts and lit firecrackers. It was dramatic, to say the least, and has become a cherished Boston memory for me.

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Image Source: http://dougholderresume.blogspot.com

Not only does Coe conjure up nostalgia in his poem, but the relatability of human loneliness, too. He writes:

“A young couple near the fountain holds a baby. / An older woman with a camera clicks the shutter / as we pass and we are captured in a frame. / Perhaps 100 years from now / someone flipping through a dusty scrapbook / will pause a moment to contemplate our faded images, / tow ancient and mysterious ghosts…”

The feeling of wanting to be remembered is something most people feel, and Coe captures the bittersweet nature of remembrance and memory perfectly. Through this imagery does Coe capture in a frame the love he, and Holden, have for Boston. Perhaps, then, Holden’s review of Coe acts to preserve this feeling–– these memories–– for future Bostonians.

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To all of our Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville-based poets, readers, and writers: enjoy this beautiful, sunny day in Boston, and check out CambridgeEditors, here.

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Time To Plant!

If you are like me, and enjoy planting,  the first day of spring is an exciting time. The flowers are beginning to bloom, the trees are not simple sticks, and plants are ready to be potted! For those that are new to planting I have a few plants that are near impossible to kill.

  1. Succulents- First, these plants do not always do well within glass. Their roots need space to breath and for drainage. A common mistake for first time succulent owners is to over-water, under-water, or have an incorrect pot for the plant. All plants require special love, care, and knowledge to make sure they flourish. That said, here are two succulents that require less care than others.

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Aloe Vera-Requires low light, low water, and when the leaf is broken it can be used for sunburns. For potting, watering, and fertilizer instructions please visit: https://www.almanac.com/plant/aloe-vera

 

aloevera

 

Gollum- Does well in high humidity and high light areas. Requires very little care. For more detailed information please visit: https://www.succulentsandsunshine.com/types-of-succulents/crassula-ovata-gollum/

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2. Ivy- Common mistakes with ivy plants occur when watering. When watering PLEASE make sure that when the water drains from the bottom of the pot and onto the water  dish, MOVE THE PLANT INTO THE SINK AND LET WATER DRAIN. Ivy is notorious for drowning in excess water. Otherwise, this plant will survive any light or weather conditions. It’s a hardy plant.

Devil’s Ivy- Great for any light conditions but must allow excess water to drain out of the plant. These hate to sit in their extra water. If you are notorious about under-watering these plants can survive you! For more details please go to: https://makingmrsm.com/beginner-houseplants-devils-ivy/

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English Ivy- Note: this plant is toxic to dogs and cats. Featured in many design magazines English Ivy climbs quickly and requires little to no maintenance. Simply water once a week, fertilize once a month, and keep in bright light. For more details and potting instructions: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/lush-amp-lively-english-ivy-best-tips-for-growing-care-243241

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3. Closet Plants- Also known as office plants. These require little to no care except for watering. Make sure to have correct drainage pots for these plants and you are good to go!

Peace Lilies- Note: Peace Lilies can be grown in water. These plants require little water or care and little to no fertilizer. It will eventually need to be re-potted as it can grow quickly. So if the plant starts to sag after watering it may be time to re-pot. More information for this plant can be found here: https://www.almanac.com/plant/peace-lilies

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Cast Iron Plant- These plants require some watering but low light. If you are someone that under-waters a plant, this specimen can handle you! Over-watering… not so much, it can be susceptible to root rot.

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If even after reviewing all the information you feel unsure. Here are some final tips to make sure you know how to check if a plant has enough water.

How to check if you are watering your plant too much:

Soil feels and appears mud-like hours after watering.

Brown tips on the leaves.

Leaf fall.

Rotten odor.

How to check if you are not watering your plant enough:

Yellow leaves.

Dusty soil.

Leaning stem.

No one has a “black thumb” with research, love, and proper care anyone can have a healthy garden!

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Featured Writer: Patrick Dunn

Greetings!

My name is Patrick Dunn, and I’m an author that Dr. Weiner has brought on to write fantasy fiction blogs posts. I am currently a senior earning my Bachelor’s degree in English literature and creative writing from the online division of Southern New Hampshire University. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

For this first post, I wanted to talk a bit about myself and my path to becoming a reader and writer. In the future, I’d love to write about book suggestions and the different ways that I’ve seen fantasy authors build the worlds in their stories. I hope that you enjoy my posts!

I have so many memories from my childhood of poring over books. These experiences hold emotions that are so strong, they stand out like flashes of lightning. I remember experiences when a book was so fantastic, I couldn’t stop reading it, even though it was one o’clock in the morning, and I needed to head to school later that morning. I remember experiences of sitting with a cat by my feet, gripped by suspense—I turned the pages, losing my sense of time in enjoyment of the book. I can also recall times of shaking bouts of laughter as a character did or said something foolish or bizarre. Books continue to amaze me with how they can cause readers to act the same way that people can. Perhaps books are people made of paper.

When I was eight years-old, my second grade class was given a creative writing assignment—write an original short story. It was then that I discovered my passion for writing. Inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit, I wrote my first short tale about a talking rabbit who meets a dragon. The two set off on a most marvelous and weird journey, and, from what I remember, I wasn’t very happy with it. I thought that it was just “ok.” People read the story and encouraged me to keep writing. So, I did.

I fell into a habit that I wouldn’t recommend to even those that I dislike the most. First, I would write a short story. Then, I would read that story over. At that point, I would sometimes edit a few paragraphs here and there, but editing wasn’t important to me. Finally, I would become disappointed over how terrible I felt the story was, and throw the writing out or delete it from my computer. This lasted for two very long years, until I met the author Shawn Cormier.

A fantasy author best known for the book Nomadin, Shawn Cormier has been my mentor for several years now. We met when I was eleven years-old, during a writing event at a library. After talking with him and telling him how much I enjoyed writing, he encouraged me to email him my work. At the time, I had nothing to send anyone. I went home and started typing what came to my mind. Having no idea that I would actually finish the project, I began typing what would become my first novel, The Magus: Book One in the Magus Trilogy.

Over the course of about two years, I slowly wrote the book. Finding weekends and afternoons after school most convenient, I would write a chapter, and then email it to Shawn, who’d look it over and email back his comments and guidance. I absolutely loved this whole process, and I’ve grown as a writer more from Shawn’s influence than any other writer. Along the way, I took inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien, Margery Williams, and Christopher Paolini, who I consider masters of the art.

Once the book was completed, I knew that I needed a good editor. A very, very good editor is actually what I was seeking. I came across Dr. Weiner’s editing website and was nothing but impressed with her credentials and that of her staff. After a brief phone call with her, I knew that she was the person for the job. I’m happy to say that she is indeed a very, very good editor.

In August, 2013, I self-published The Magus through CreateSpace.com, which is owned by Amazon.com. I was very pleased that something that I’d worked on had actually been published.

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Soon after The Magus was published, my town newspaper actually interviewed me about my book and my inspirations.

Thank you very much for reading!

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5 Flash Fiction Pieces to Celebrate Women’s History Month

By Anne Jonas

In honor of Women’s History Month, I have chosen 5 flash fiction pieces written by, or about, women. These pieces take no more than 5 minutes to read, and are perfect for any spare moments you have throughout your day.

1. Break, by Rabih Alameddine

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Image Source: Chloe Scheffe, The New Yorker

This piece chronicles the relationship between a sister and a brother who correspond over the course of seven years with just photographs. What is the reason for such a peculiar form of communication, you may ask? The narrator is a trans-woman whose family disowned her upon her transitioning, and threatened her brother not to speak or write to her without consequences. This story is a haunting portrait of the breaking and reparation of family, love, and loneliness.

“He broke first. I received a four-by-six portrait of his son with a slightly bleeding nose, taken hastily, badly lit, likely by a bathroom bulb. On the ten-year-old face, a thread of blood trickled from nose to upper lip, curving an ogee around the corner of the mouth and down the chin. The boy was in no pain; he looked inquisitively at the camera, probably wondering why his father had had the urge to bring it out.

I held my breath for a beat or two or three when I saw the image. On the back of the photograph Mazen had written, ‘I keep seeing you.’”

2. Girl, by Jamaica Kincaid

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Image Source: Jefferson Wheeler

In this laundry list of dos and don’ts, demands, and warnings, Jamaica Kincaid exposes the unembellished realities of growing up as a girl in a patriarchal world. Written in 1978, in the height of the Second Wave feminist movement, Kincaid’s story feels just as personal as it does political. It is not flashy about its brilliance, and yet in its modesty it proves to be a nuanced masterpiece.

“this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know”

3. The Huntress, by Sofia Samatar

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Image Source: Del Samatar

In this sci-fi fast fiction piece, an impossibly large female monster called The Huntress terrorizes the inhabitants of a city below. The narrator is a foreigner to this place and is fatally unprepared for the wrath of The Huntress. This piece weaves together intense sensory imagery with disorienting ambiguity; we, as readers, feel just as on-edge as the narrator.

“The Huntress left dark patches wherever she passed. She left a streak. In the morning, the hotel staff would find me unconscious, gummed to the floor. The proprietor weeping, for nothing like this had ever happened in his establishment, nothing. Had I not read the instructions on the desk?”

4. Housewife, by Amy Hempel

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Image Source: VICE

In this one-sentence story, Amy Hempel humorously captures the pure delight of a cunning, two-timing housewife rejoicing in her latest affair. Hempel relays the sexual freedom and polyamorous nature of a modern-day woman who seeks her own pleasure first, and protocols second.

“She would always sleep with her husband and with another man in the course of the same day, and then the rest of the day, for whatever was left to her of that day, she would exploit by incanting, ‘French film, French film.’”

5.  John Redding Goes to Sea, by Zora Neale Hurston

 

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Image Source: Fotosearch / Getty Images

Zora Neale Hurston is one of my all-time favorite female novelists as well as an iconic figure in feminist history. Although she is primarily known and celebrated for her novels, her fast-fiction and short stories are equally deserving of praise. In this piece, Hurston masterfully uses dialect to illustrate the story of John Redding, a ten-year-old daydreamer who imagines his backyard stream is a great sea.

“The little brown boy loved to wander down to the water’s edge, and, casting in dry twigs, watch them sail away downstream to Jacksonville, the sea, the wide world and John Redding wanted to follow them.

Sometimes in his dreams he was a prince, riding away in a gorgeous carriage. Often he was a knight bestride a fiery charger prancing down the white shell road that led to distant lands. At other times he was a steamboat captain piloting his craft down the St. John River to where the sky seemed to touch the water. No matter what he dreamed or who he fancied himself to be, he always ended by riding away to the horizon; for in his childish ignorance he thought this to be farthest land.”

For those who feel like they don’t have the time to read a full-fledged novel, or who desire a fast-paced narrative, fast fiction is the way to go. However, do not assume that just because these pieces are short, they are any less than a novel or a lengthier piece. Fast fiction is an important subgenre of literature because it stretches the expectations of what we perceive fiction to be. It teaches us to be creative and really think about the words we are writing. Fast fiction is a lean and efficient form; nothing is arbitrary. It is important that we read works like these so that we, too, may become better readers and writers.

For more fast fiction pieces, check out:

https://flashfictionmagazine.com/

http://www.100wordstory.org/

http://thecollagist.com/

https://everydayfiction.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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Libertad

 

¡LIBERTAD!

¡LIBERTAD!

We chant together as we walk arm and arm in the streets. The sun shines against the brightly colored buildings– the glittering paints at odds with the hunger stricken faces. Thousands push against the PNB shields of the police and hundreds of the police push back against the crowd. Behind the police, smoke drifts between the city buildings. The aid for us—medicine, food, toiletries, all burning on Maduro’s order—all burning in front of us. The smell of food wafts over the crowd and our stomachs rumble—its been days since our last meal.

¡NO QUEREMOS MADURO!

¡NO QUEREMOS MADURO!

We chant again and again. The desperation for change apparent as we wave our embroidered star flags of blue, red, and yellow.

¡LIBERTAD POR VENEZUELA!

¡DESAYUNA!

¡DESAYUNA!

¡DESAYUNA!

You chant again and again pushing past others to reach the supplies. But to no avail. The orange flames lick the boxes, shrinking them down to ash within minutes. The demonstration of power now over, the police give up on simple shields and bean bag bullets. As one, they throw down their shields and switch to live ammunition and machetes. The officer in front of you swings his machete at a young couple. You turn away from their inevitable end– just as the first wave of screams erupt over the square as bullets find their marks. Engines rumble as armored trucks run over the protesters on the other side of the square. The person clinging to your arm on your left disappears under a tire, the person to your right falls from a bullet. Blood soaks your shoes–smoke and metal enters your nose. Yet still, you protest forward. Hands from others reach for you and together you push forward.

¡LIBERTAD!

¡LIBERTAD!

No news cameras are seen. No more aid is sent.

¿Quién más peleará?

 ¿Quién más pasará hambre?  

Photo credit to NBC

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