I recently received a phone call, followed by an email message that begins with:
Dear Roxana Arama,
Congratulations! You are a finalist in the 2017 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. You should be very proud as PNWA received close to Eight Hundred contest entries from all around the world. An agent or editor will be selecting the first, second and third place winners in each category.
I entered the Historical category of the PNWA Literary Contest in February 2017 with The Wedding Bell, my speculative novel. I’ll be pitching to agents and editors at their literary conference in July, and being a finalist could only help in that nerve-racking process.
The most pressing question since November 8, 2016 (federal election day in the United States). Ever since, I’ve been studying my rights as a US citizen, and donating to various progressive organizations, but still had no idea how to become a part of something larger than myself and my mouse click. Continue reading →
At Mişcarea de Rezistență, Marina Constantinoiu and Istvan Deak continue their long investigative series Frontieriştii (The Border People) launched on March 15, 2016 and documenting the atrocities committed against those who tried to cross Romania’s closed borders between 1949 and 1989.
Yes, a homegrown, real-life elf with a tiny hat and a beard, an elf who talked and ate and, I assumed, pooped too.
This story happened a long time ago in my native Romania, when I was no older than fourth grade. It happened soon after a dusty patch in our schoolyard got covered in gravel. Rocks of all shapes, all colors, all textures, all sizes. One morning, a girl in my class had exciting news for the rest of us. (I don’t remember which girl, so I’ll use the name Dana so no one feels singled out.) That morning, Dana revealed to us that our school’s gravel patch was not full of rocks but of elf-eggs. Continue reading →
“What’s war like?” I asked my grandfather once, when I was in middle school.
A long time ago, my grandfather, Dumitru Morgovan…
He was sitting on the sofa in his living room, rich Persian rug on the floor, dark wood furniture about him—a safe storytelling setting. He had a mellow Transylvanian accent and not a tooth left in his mouth. I don’t remember how he started to tell me about his four years on the battlefields of World War II, but I remember how animated he became when he described how his friend’s head was cut off by shrapnel and how it rolled on the ground with its tongue flicking in an out, collecting dirt. My grandfather mimicked the scene, his tongue flicking in and out of his toothless mouth, and then he stopped and didn’t speak for a long time. He just stared at the red-hued Persian rug at his feet. Continue reading →
Nobody had died there, an elderly woman from Orşova recently told the journalist. Nobody had died there, it was all legends.
“It’s been more than 26 years since the Revolution, and Romania doesn’t remember them anymore. Or doesn’t want to remember,” writes Marina Constantinoiu, the journalist at Mişcarea de Rezistență who, together with her colleague Istvan Deak, is attempting to salvage a piece of history that everyone seems intent on burying.
First things first: being a fiction writer is, in my opinion, a type of fortunate madness, sanctioned by society, tolerated by family, where a lonely person locked in a room, hallucinating about figments of her imagination, playing god in a world of her own creation can claim to be a functional member of said society, and could even be gainfully employed, to the relief of said family. Continue reading →
Years ago, while studying for my US citizenship exam, I paused over the words “the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Because I grew up in Europe during the time of popular uprisings against communist regimes, I was used to words such as freedom and justice and equality in revolutionary speech, so the pursuit of happiness sounded like it didn’t belong in a declaration of independence from tyranny and oppression.
The Declaration of Independence (1776) – Wikipedia
It wasn’t the first time I wondered how had those Founding Fathers been so enlightened to consider the mental health of their people at a time of war and disease and superstition. Today we have counselors and self-help and wellness support groups, but they didn’t, back in 1776, yet Jefferson thought it was important to put those fine words in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Continue reading →