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Guest Opinion: Voting is the theme in these stories

by M.D. Neu

"A More Perfect Union" is an anthology of voting-themed romances.
"A More Perfect Union" is an anthology of voting-themed romances.  

Voting is a right and privilege that is a cornerstone of our democracy. Throughout our history, it's also been taken for granted and remains unobtainable for many. But 2020 brought good change. More Americans voted — two-thirds of the eligible population — than in any other election in 120 years. Our voices matter. All of them. They make a difference and need to be heard.

Yet, there are those that still try to stifle our voices and to alter our election process. Why? Because of fear. And that has to stop. Our new president has stated many times that we need to forge a more perfect union, and he's right. Suspicion can kill our right to vote as well as our republic. In "A More Perfect Union" — a collection of voting-themed stories — people will hear their voices reflected. We all have the right to be heard, and the duty to use our voice.

With so many voices shouting, it is often the loudest and the ugliest that get the attention, but we live in a country where voting should be the great equalizer. No other year proved that more than 2020. We need to keep that passion and that sense of urgency, because like every voice, every vote needs to be counted. If we remove the pressure, or allow ourselves to become complacent, then we are doomed.

The stories in "A More Perfect Union" remind people of the implications involved in casting their vote. Forging our own united perfect union of writers, we brought together storytellers who are people of color, who identify as members of the queer community, who are part of the straight community, who are veterans, cancer survivors, parents of special needs children, et cetera. All the authors reflect a united American community and a unique voice. With this collection, we hope to reach people and empower communities to make their voices heard by participating in our electoral process. None of us can afford to sit back and watch. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Here's what the authors of "A More Perfect Union" had to say about why voting, and this book, are important to them:

Kilby Blades: "Political participation was taught to me from a young age. I remember going to the polls with my parents and being eager for my turn to vote. Now, I take my own kids and I let them wear the stickers. Democracy only functions as intended when everyone has a say."

Aliza Mann: It was a great pleasure to submit to this anthology because minorities have fought for the opportunity to participate in democratic practices. This anthology gave us all the chance to highlight the victories won and the work that remains in order for all people to enjoy those privileges.

Claire Marti: The U.S. cannot be a true reflection of its citizens unless individuals are allowed to participate and share their truth and authentic views. When we have equal access for every person, then we will have a country that truly reflects who we are.

R.L. Merrill: This anthology has gathered an incredible lineup of best-selling and award-winning authors who are passionate about using our voices for good, and in this case, encouraging others to use their voices for change. Together we've written meaningful tales featuring ordinary folks trying to make a difference.

Dawn Montgomery: There is no greater freedom than exercising your right to vote. Every story in this incredible collection speaks from the heart and I wanted to show you, through my tale, the struggles military members face when voting absentee from overseas locations. Every voice should be heard.

Sera Taíno: Democracy cannot function without the participation of the governed. Voting is the instrument for making our voices heard. Through my story, I hope we will think about whose voices are being left out and work to change that. As the latest elections have demonstrated, change is possible.

Kearney Wentworth: In reverence to all of my ancestors that fought and died for the right to vote, and in honor of the legendary civil rights icon, Mr. John Lewis, being a small part of this incredible anthology is my way of getting into "Good Trouble."

For myself, I think people need to see themselves, not only in voting, but in art and media. This anthology is about both. I wanted to explore the importance of being heard and seen as well as explaining, through story, why debating our beliefs is important, especially for marginalized communities.

The authors of this anthology decided to use our words to broaden our reach. We decided that 100% of the proceeds from the collection would go to support Fair Fight to ensure more marginalized voices will be heard and that our electoral process reflects our diverse communities and a more perfect union for all. We don't want anyone to feel their vote doesn't matter, that their voice can be silenced. That isn't what unites America, and that isn't how our elections are supposed to work, no matter what lies those loud ugly voices shout. All voices must count. 2020 was a difficult year, but we got out to vote in record numbers — over 159 million voters — and the world not only took note, but also is brighter for it.

M.D. Neu is an award-winning gay fiction writer. Love wins in this collection of nine all-new, voting-themed romances in "A More Perfect Union." Proceeds benefit Fair Fight, an organization dedicated to combatting voter suppression. For more information about "A More Perfect Union," or to purchase, visit https://bit.ly/2NQGg4U

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