I’ve been pushing my own envelope these past few months, offering small challenges to what I thought I could do. First, there were the little chapbooks of poetry, just to get a feel for putting a book through the e-publishing process. Then, recently, I published something a little more serious. No One Has Such a Dog is something of a pet project–the pun was completely intentional. Although it’s very new, those who’ve read it seem to love it as much as I do. But I’ve never really tried my hand at fiction, not seriously. It frightens me a little, in a way only other writers will understand. No, I’m not hiding under my bed. But I have stayed away from it, from even trying to write stories that I put my name on and seriously presented to the world.
What Ordinary People Can Do
Well, I grew tired of steering clear of the sea of figments. Characters plagued my thoughts, disturbed my sleep, demanded to be given shape and meaning on the page. I’ve been walking around for a year and more with the Pie Hole–a black metal, gluten-free bakery, coffee shop, and book store–riding around inside my skull. As if that weren’t enough, this fictitious place first created through conversation with a friend, took on another role. Atlanta is, in many ways, still a backward place. Sure, the overt signs of racism, misogyny, classism, and religious prejudice have mostly gone from the streets and the faces of its residents. But all that is alive and well just beneath the surface.
It seems that I can’t turn around without another story in the news–sometimes framing Georgia as the laughing stock of the nation–reminding me of why I left in the first place. Our senators and congresspeople serve a minority, espouse a particular mindset not in consonance with the majority of their constituents. We cling to a conservatism that hamstrings our economy and makes cruel bigots out of even the most well-intentioned individuals who follow that trend. Our hungry and homeless are underserved and policies continue to swell the numbers to which those categorizations apply. Quite a few city hospitals that served the mentally ill, the underprivileged, and the neighborhoods of marginalized people closed last year. What can be done?
It’s easy to feel helpless and retreat from society when this is all one sees. I think my mission with my little Petit Fours is to encourage people to act. The characters are not wealthy. They do not possess secret super powers of social action. They simply care enough to try. Each story will treat with a different issue that impacts the communities of Atlanta in the real world. No, it won’t be a template for action. I’ve tried to steer clear of using organizations and public figures by name without their express permission. What these narratives will do is address a problem and provide encouragement for those who would like to see similar situations change in their own cities.
Have Your Coffee With Snark
While I’ve only just started the series, I hope one thing is clear–sarcasm is completely acceptable. You don’t have to be Pollyanna to affect positive change in your neighborhood. In fact, I’d prefer it if you weren’t. My characters give voice to my unmitigated appreciation of sarcastic humor, atypical behaviors, and traditionally undesirable social habits. That’s because I believe there should be a fundamental and fully disclosed differentiation between a Good person and a Nice person. Nice people may be more socially acceptable with their smiles and sweet words, but they may still stab you in the back. Good people may be jackasses, but they’ll help you up when you fall.
Because I’d like to use the Pie Hole stories as encouragement for people to take their own action, help others, use their Voices, and be active within their communities, I’m pricing the stories at under a dollar. They should be infinitely affordable, while still being worth reading. If you’d like to take the debut story for a spin, you can find it here. And remember, reviews are appreciated, especially if you tell me what you’d like to read more about, what could be better, or what you loved best.