I am beyond honored to have my written work included among some outstanding talent in Stories on Stage Sacramento’s first anthology: “Twenty Twenty: 43 Stories From a Year Like No Other.” (ISBN 978-0-578-90606-5; $20) The publication includes pieces from 40+ accomplished writers—many of them local to the Sacramento region. It’s a first for the award-winning nonprofit literary performance series, which for the past 11 years has featured authors’ stories read at the mic by professional actors. “Always on stage, now on the page,” says the publishing announcement.
The anthology was the brainchild of local authors and Stories on Stage co-directors Shelley Blanton-Stroud and Dorothy Rice, who had just taken the reins of the series in early 2020 when they then quickly saw their plans for writing workshops and on-stage literary events squashed. Yet they knew writers were, well , writing—alone as they sheltered in place, together in Zoom gatherings, wherever they could wrangle words as a way to make sense of a year that had gone so terribly awry. “We thought about all the stories that needed to be captured and shared,” says Rice. “That was the genesis of our submission call, ‘2020—you lived it. Did you write it?’”
The answer was, of course, a resounding yes. The anthology, edited by Rice and designed by local artist Angela Caldwell, carries essays and short stories about many pertinent 2020 topics: COVID-19 and shelter-in-place life, George Floyd’s murder and racial justice, wildfires, graduations, sourdough, pandemic pets, Zoom dating, Kobe Bryant’s death and, of course, masks, hand san and toilet paper.
“Consider the image on the book’s cover––a dandelion,” says Blanton-Stroud. “It’s a humble flower, so resilient that my elderly neighbor sits on his lawn for hours every week with a sharp tool, digging them up. But the dandelions keep rising, keep blooming, keep spreading their seeds in the wind, outlasting his attempt to destroy them. I found a lot of that spirit in this anthology’s stories and in the authors themselves.”
The book is sold locally at Capital Books (1011 K St.) and available online via Bookshop. Proceeds from the book sales will support ongoing Stories on Stage programming and help pay the featured authors and actors. Two upcoming events celebrate the book’s release, including a live virtual launch with actor readings on July 23 at 5 p.m. and an in-person gathering at Capital Books on Aug. 11, 1–4 p.m.
“Twenty Twenty” contributors: Hilary Abramson, Elison Alcovendaz, Karen E. Bender, Devara Berger, Shelley Blanton-Stroud, Emilie DeFazio, Maia Paras Evrigenis, Anita Felicelli, Margo Fowkes, Joan Frank, Rebecca Goodwin, Anara Guard, Debra Gwartney, Jan Haag, Sands Hall, Emma Hoppough, Pam Houston, Vanessa Hua, Diane Kallas, Hilary King, Marilyn Lanier, p joshua laskey, Tim McHargue, Deborah Meltvedt, Krista Minard, Joshua Mohr, Maureen O’Leary Wanket, Sondra Olson, Peter Orner, Dawn Orosco, Deborah Pittman, Kellie Raines, Marilyn Reynolds, Dorothy Rice, Patti Santucci, Marci Selva, Kevin Sharp, Pia Sieroty, Sue Staats, Renée Thompson and Margaret Young