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Community of Magic Pens

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Eclectic, imaginative, and unexpected, Community of Magic Pens features forty genre-spanning flash and short stories--including fantasy, humor, science fiction, romance, historical fiction, satire, and mystery--bringing together a rich group of diverse voices from a wide range of backgrounds and intersections.

Fountain pens, markers and ink, charcoals, spy pens, a braille writer, a printing press, virtual reality, and a supernatural pizza: whether revealing unspoken truths, fighting injustice, or finding friendship and love, our pens have power. Join us as a recent graduate of superhero school struggles to understand her gift, a disabled android interviews for a job, a queen’s conscripted artist must pull reality from illustrations on parchment, and a grandmother’s secret room is…better kept a secret. Tales of struggle and triumph, compassion and hope: Community of Magic Pens is a celebration of our shared story.

296 pages, Paperback

Published May 4, 2020

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About the author

E.D.E. Bell

29 books192 followers
E.D.E. Bell (she/e) loves fantasy fiction, and enjoys blending classic and modern elements. A passionate vegan and earnest progressive, she feels strongly about issues related to equality and compassion. Her works often explore conceptions of identity and community, including themes of friendship, family, and connection. She lives in Ferndale, Michigan, where she writes stories and revels in garlic. You can follow her adventures at edebell.com.

Bell was born in the year of the fire dragon during a Cleveland blizzard. After a youth in the Mitten, an MSE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, three wonderful children, and nearly two decades in Northern Virginia and Southwest Ohio developing technical intelligence strategy, she started the indie press Atthis Arts. Working through mental disorders and an ever-complicated world, she now tries to bring light and love as she can through fantasy fiction, as a proud part of the Detroit arts community.

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5 stars
18 (52%)
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8 (23%)
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5 (14%)
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Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books261 followers
November 21, 2020
Although recently I find myself gravitating towards short stories (and away from novels ... but then would "gravitate" be the right word?), flash fiction still doesn't have enough pull. Or mass. Or ... am I making a mess of this metaphor?

So I couldn't get deep enough during most of these stories. But I did appreciate their general positivity.

Here're the ones I appreciated on other levels too:

196 reviews22 followers
July 11, 2022
Memory Malfunction, written by Minerva Cerridwen, is a sci-fi short story in the Community of Magic Pens anthology. I dived into this story without any knowledge about it - genre, blurb, representation - nothing. Since it's a short story, I won't mention much about it, but it's a must read if you'd like to take a fifteen minutes break. There are intergalactic creatures, Androids and LGBTQIA+ and mental disability (can we call it mental disability?) representation. The story is crisp and to the point without any unnecessary dialogues and plot twists. Needless to say, once I was done reading it, I narrated it to my kids. It's perfect for children. They gave it ten out of ten marks. Definitely recommended.
Profile Image for Tessa.
137 reviews10 followers
March 31, 2020
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It has stories in many different genres, with very diverse interpetations of the theme 'magic pens' and also very diverse characters and settings.
There's a very clear list of content warnings for people who need those, located at the end of the book so as not to spoil people who don't, overall very considerate I think! :D Some heavy themes are mentioned or talked about, and this way everyone can decide what they are up for.
I was never really someone who reads shortstories or anthologies, but books like these are changing that!
Profile Image for Anthony Eichenlaub.
Author 27 books35 followers
April 15, 2020
I am extremely proud to have my story The Cemetery Merchant in this book.

If I had to pick a favorite out of all these wonderful stories, it would be Today I am a Fountain Pen by Lawrence Miller. It is such a fantastic and beautiful story that I know other pen makers will appreciate.
Profile Image for Shae.
44 reviews1 follower
April 17, 2020
This was the first anthology that I've ever read and I enjoyed myself so much that I'd do it a thousand times over.

This book completed changed the way that I consider myself a reader and the genres that I like. It will certainly influence the kinds of books that I choose to read in the future. I thought it was extremely considerate to put the list of content warnings at the back of the book. We live in a delicate time and every person walking this earth experiences something different and has their own story to tell. Sometimes, it just isn't the right time for certain content to appear in their lives, books or movies where their trauma can be relived. Thank you very much for considering those, myself included, who need a little extra guidance when facing the unknown.

My thoughts on the short author bio included at the end of every short story? I love it! Although I would put a lot of that down to me being and extremely personable and curious. It helped me set the tone for the stories and gave me dozens of authors to follow in the future (and back read!). Now if that's not like Christmas in April then I don't know what is.

The stories in this book are so diverse and unique, and it is truly special how every author, with the same prompt, delivered such a vast array of tales. They had me smiling, laughing, crying and feeling like my heart was extra full and warm from start to finish. Although, there were a handful that weren't my particular taste but I'd say out of the 40-ish stories there was only 3 I didn't like. However, that is just a personal opinion and certainly should not diminish the clear talent that every author in this book has. Additionally, I do expect Charlie Brooker will be contacting a few of these authors any day now to get his new inspriation. Some of these stories had some major Black Mirror vibes and I am NOT complaining.

The stories are compelling, descriptive and concise, with varying time settings, ethnicity's and genders, but always, ALWAYS, heart-warming and magical.

My sincerest thanks to Atthis Arts and Netgalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

5/5 Stars

The following are my notes and thoughts for a selection of stories from the book

Penultimate: A fantastic choice for the first book in the anthology. Compelling and Magical. How the pen and what she does with the pen allows her to escape, somewhat willingly, from the challenges in life that she faces is beautiful. We all need to escape sometimes. But perhaps she needs a break from the pen?

Of Signatures and Contacts: Concise, descriptive and had me laughing loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear. Such an unrealistic tale but the underlying message of pens bringing people together was beautiful.

Mightier: The bio of this writer had so much in common with myself that I was extremely eager to read this particular story. Turns out my hunch was right. LOVED it! "Maybe what the world needs right now is a kind heart and a pen" how heart-warming! I want to read no less than seven pieces of writing by Elizabeth Shaffer in the future.

Qalam: This left me speechless. This was my first taste of writing by somebody of a Muslim background. I'm not sure why I wrote that, it's clearly not important, but what I think is important is that after reading this I now want to go and learn more about Arabic culture. Although the tale was fiction I felt entranced, like I could truly feel the "magic" of the pen. The writing was fantastic and has left me more curious than ever.

Inheritance: An incredible marvelous tale of a magical pen that connects grandmother and grandchild. Had me crying actual tears and enjoying every minute of the reading experience. Longing to read more of J S Baileys work.

Today I am a fountain pen: WOW! Firstly, thank you for the authors note. I was extremely grateful for that. As an Australian female in her mid 20's and no ethnic background or nationality (other than being an Aussie) my knowledge of Jewish traditions is extremely limited (we are talking like TV sitcoms and stand-up comedians- limited). So I was already engrossed by what I had learnt in the authors note before beginning the story. AND THE STORY! What a life! How special it was. What I liked most about this story was that there was no magic in it. There was love, and that's what brought the pens to life. She made those pens with love and the recipients of the pens felt things that other pens could provide. It reminded me of when people cook a meal and say it was made with love, only in this story it was true, and THAT was the magic.

The last of your kind: YES YES YES. LOVE LOVE LOVE. The poem I didn't know I needed in my life. Beautiful, poetic goodness that warms my heart. Short, concise and beautiful.

Mystical Woo: Nothing but talent. I was glued to the pages from start to finish with this story. Absolutely loved it.

One Story, Two People: This story was simply beautiful. I'm not sure what I expected, but this wasn't it in the best way possible.

Written with Love: This story was the light-hearted tale in needed, being situated among some of the more emotionally heavier stories in the book. I loved the twist at the beginning that I wasn't expecting and I felt like I could actually hear the Grandfather laughing. How talented an author must be to create sounds from a page. A sweet and whimsical tale that left me wanting to know if Emma did find her soulmate.

Ink: This leaves so much to be interpreted by the reader, and I think what is beautiful and unique about this is that every reader will feel something different after reading it. I certainly could empathize with the character, the description about getting the tattoo was absolutely spot-on accurate and made me envision tattoos in a way I never expected to.

Profile Image for Minerva.
Author 10 books84 followers
July 26, 2020
Disclaimer: I wrote the story "Memory Malfunction" which is part of this book.

I really loved Community of Magic Pens. It's not only a fun cover, though that's also definitely true, but most of the stories have a lot of depth, a very specific atmosphere, and so many different kinds of magic that you can't ever look at a pen and think it's "just an object" anymore. (Though in all honesty, pens had been magical objects to me for a very long time, so on that point I'm probably biased.)

When I review anthologies, I often point out some of my favourite stories, but it's almost impossible to do that here. These stories were ALL good. And I loved the way the anthology was built up as well. In some places, it seemed like the stories had been put together in sets of two, where they both put the spotlight on a different aspect of similar themes. I noticed this with "The Last of Your Kind" and my own story, for example, but also with the fairy tale-themed stories near the end of the book. It highlighted even more how diverse the takes on the theme are, and what a wide range of genres is being covered. There are clever stories, funny stories, comforting stories, emotional stories. And I can't say if it's "just" because I'm one of the writers, but to me the sense of community was definitely tangible behind them all.

Even though I mean what I say about not being able to pick favourites because far too many titles come to mind when I try, I do want to give a special shoutout to "Today, I am a Fountain Pen" as the story I will probably return to reread several times.
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,456 reviews445 followers
April 10, 2020
Writing about magic pens. Too easy or just right? Well, neither, going by this anthology, which I must say was a real disappointment. Surprisingly so, since I read and really enjoyed two other anthologies edited by the same person, one of which was an object anthology, one of my favorite kinds. I was kind of hoping this would be similar in charm and quality, but instead this book turned out to be an epitome for how it works when political correctness overwhelms/outweighs good storytelling. There might be a way to maintain the balance, but this book was just too heavily guided one way. Which is to say everyone was so obsessed with correct representation (every race, every gender, every sexual orientation) they seem to have used these stories not as complete entries, but as mere delivery methods for personal sociopolitical agendas. This collection is just so, so exhaustingly conscientious. Every writer bio lists their nationality, pronouns, tons of information that should be irrelevant to the art of storytelling unless art is to be used as a message board. Moreover, despite the fact that these stories are as lukewarm and mild and inoffensive as stories come, there’s still an exhaustive list of potentially upsetting factors for each story in the back of the book. Seriously? What sort of a delicate snowflake audience this collection is trying to attract. Is this the future of literature? Cause that’s depressing. Who goes through life like that? And how does one even go through life like that? Are news going to come with warnings…warning, high death count, stupidity, political ineptitude…proceed with caution. Does every author have to speak from their personal experience exclusively? Or does this dearth of imagination stems directly out of fear of being accused of cultural appropriation? Which is another infuriating subject for another time. Is it good to only write what you know or does it limit an author or in fact represents the author’s limitations. At any rate, these are all debate worthy questions and this isn’t a debate, it’s a review, merely one person’s (a person who actually enjoys sociocultural perspectives and experiences, when it's done in a way that doesn't overwhelm the entire thing with the heavyhandedness of its morals) opinion. Which I’m sure will be accused (inaccurately, but hey this is internet, who cares, right) of all sorts of prejudices by people who writes stories like these and for whom stories like these are written. But back to the book, it wasn’t terrible, just terribly well intentioned. Who knows how good it might have been, had the authors used their imaginations to spin the tales instead of coming up with a variety of different pronouns for the gender nonspecific. But at any rate, the stories were perfectly readable with all their cute morals, but only a few were actually good engaging and fun. All of the authors stuck closely to the theme, magic pens and magic writing were featured in some form in every story and the few poems. None of the authors are well known, the only two I was familiar with on name recognizing basis were from reading other Bell edited anthologies. Didn’t really work for me, not very exciting stories mostly and too PC. The latter shouldn’t even be a thing, weird that it is these days. Makes me think of the new fashion in name tags, the kind work provides, the kind that specifies the pronoun choice, but doesn’t mention the person’s name. Seriously? Because someone’s going to come up to a counter and say hey, she, can I get a…or that she at the counter was very nice. When the efforts to accommodate every personal preference go too far, it actually depersonalizes people. It takes away what’s important and substitutes it for what is frankly no one’s business. Who wants to go through life as a pronoun when they can have a name. But anyway, maybe people who wrote this book and people who will enjoy it do. To each their own. Thanks Netgalley.
Profile Image for Maria.
544 reviews
April 20, 2020
A charming anthology of short stories and poems, each with the central theme of the pen and specifically the role of the pen in our lives. The anthology crosses gender, ethnicity and religious lines, with authors from a variety of background telling stories and this adds to the richness of the collection. The stories tell about two loves writing their marriage vows on the eve of their wedding, a young girl preparing for her Bat Mitzvah, getting a tattoo – the way that a pen (or ink and writing in its many, many forms) can impact on our daily lives.
Just beautiful and well worth a read. I especially liked the mini bio of each author included at the end of the story/poem. And the content warning provided at the end of the story as this was a particularly thoughtful gesture considering some of the stories referenced death, 9-11 etc.
Thank you to Netgalley and Atthis Arts for the ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Nuha.
559 reviews20 followers
April 14, 2020
Thank you to Atthis Arts Anthology & NetGalley for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

Available May 4th 2020

A quirky and healing collection, Community of Magic Pens begins with a simple question - what is the power of a pen? Each of these brief short stories is completely different in tone, setting, plot, dialect and character. It's a little discombobulating traveling from a superhero academy to an ancient Masjid and back to post-Partition India, but it also means the collection never gets boring. Though the book is listed for general adult, I think it would be equally enjoyed by young adults! I found myself rapt with awe in each and every tale.
Profile Image for Uudenkuun Emilia.
436 reviews3 followers
December 16, 2022
A mixed bag, as most anthologies are. Some of these stories were really cute and well written, others felt more amateurish and didn't convince me. It was fun to see what people came up with based on a similar basic idea, though.
16 reviews
February 27, 2021
Uplifting, imaginative and funny collection of short stories.
Profile Image for Charles.
Author 63 books119 followers
February 16, 2021
A fantastic story that's really just sweet and fun and funny and good. So many hopeful stories that are pretty low on grimness and shine with kindness and care. Really really good, people!
Profile Image for Brenna.
Author 3 books10 followers
April 30, 2020
I'd never really thought about pens other than as tools to write with. This collection of short stories gave me a whole new perspective.

Community of Magic Pens is a collection of forty short stories written by a cast of diverse authors. There are stories from all genres: science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, romance, satire, mystery, etc. and every story prominently features a pen in some way.

I find it difficult to review short story collections when each story is written by a different author. This collection had both highs and lows for me.

Some of the stories in this collection didn't grasp my attention, and I think the writing in a few of the stories could be improved. As a whole, though, this collection impressed me with the range of stories and imagination. I was particularly drawn to the speculative fiction stories because the worlds and characters in those stories were more refreshing to me in some ways.

I also appreciated the diversity of voices in the collection. The authors represent different sexualities, genders, abilities, races, and religions, and it was particularly satisfying to read pronouns other than "he" and "she."

The bite-sized stories in Community of Magic Pens makes it easy to pick up and put down, which is fantastic for on-the-go reading or for something small to break up the day. It's different from any short story collection I've read before, and I would definitely read it again.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Release Date: May 4, 2020

Thank you NetGalley and Atthis Arts, LLC for the e-ARC!
Profile Image for Anjana.
1,784 reviews40 followers
September 16, 2020
On the heels of my previous read (which was a collection of four novellas), I am reviewing an anthology which(also) has a common theme. The idea is to write a story featuring a magical pen, and a LOT of authors have contributed to this work. I have encountered one or two in earlier anthologies.

It is quite fascinating that multiple people used the same elaborate theme to indicate the powers of the pen. The location and handling of it by the protagonists varied, but the concept stayed the same. This was both a positive as well as a negative thing, but it can provide some unique stories.

There are too many small narratives to provide a separate review for each, but on the whole, it was an entertaining collection. It has been written by people with varying backgrounds, and it shows in the narrative styles, which were all excellent in their own way. It primarily focuses on the power of the written word and what if the capacity came with even more magic. Due to some of the repetitive theme, I could not read it in one go but kept coming back to it at decent intervals.

My favourite story has to be of a machine who wanted a job selling historical artefacts on other planets. I did not expect the twist, which made it all the more fun to read. I would recommend this to people who like reading short stories with a slightly whimsical edge.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 7 books4 followers
December 27, 2022
*Review by contributing author*

These are stories that will make you feel good. These are stories that might make you cry by reminding you of the beauty of life and love. I feel so happy and thankful to have my story "Love in the Library" included in this wonderful anthology! I remember thinking about the submission call as I was boarding a plane to visit family for the holidays. The idea for the story came to me and I jotted down a bunch of notes on airplane napkins. The story burned in my mind during my entire vacation and I was excited to return home and write. The book came out in 2020 at the start of the pandemic and all that followed, and I always hoped that readers would find this bright shining book and that it would help keep some of the darkness of the world at bay. I very much enjoyed all of these imaginative stories and poems! My favorites of the collection are "Inheritance" by J.S. Bailey, "Invisible Ink" by Gerri Leen, "Today, I am a Fountain Pen" by Lawrence Miller, "Charcoals from an Unidentified Chicago Artist" by Dawn Vogel, "Illumination" by Joy Givens, "A Blank Canvas" by Ethan Hedman, "The Oneiric Archive" by Lorraine Schein, and "Write Me A Soul" by Jennifer Lee Rossman.
Profile Image for Lawrence Miller.
Author 1 book6 followers
May 12, 2020
Not a single story I didn't enjoy. Some were unapologetically happy, others bittersweet, but all were written with hope and love. Favorites include "Qalam", "The Cemetery Merchant", "One Story, Two People", and "The Healer".

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this anthology because my story "Today I Am a Fountain Pen" is included in it. I did not read any of the other stories in draft or ARC form.
7 reviews
July 22, 2020
This wide-ranging anthology encompasses an engagingly eclectic mix of genres, from historical fiction to humor to science fiction. Delve into tales about were-pens, history-changing nuns, and cognizant pens, and behold as the pens written in these stories come to life.
22 reviews59 followers
December 16, 2021
I am usually a can't put it down until I'm done reader. For some reason, this anthology had me changing my pace (not that it was a bad thing) and wanting to read one at a time, I think to relish the uniqueness of each story and have a little more magic for a little longer in these weird times. The stories were very imaginative, spanned a great range of genres, styles, and themes, and invoked many emotions. I honestly haven't had this much fun reading a book since the last time I read fairy tales (and it's been way to long since I've done that...). I picked this up at a comic con from the editor and got multiple copies to give as gifts for some important readers and writers in my life, and I think the recipients will enjoy it as much as I did. Why only four stars then? While I appreciated the wide ranging inclusiveness, I found some of the pronoun use forced and distracting me rather than keeping me engaged with the storyline, and am hoping that those writers will learn from the writers who were comfortable in their use (a potential nice bonus to being a part of this anthology if you will). I also thought having a topic trigger list was a little too PC for my taste and it turned me off after such a nice experience with the stories themselves; I think each of the stories deserved to be read, not avoided.
Profile Image for Olivia Sose.
20 reviews1 follower
July 20, 2020

The book cover is beautiful and tells it's own story; the editor provided further explanation about the cover, just in case you missed it. The title of the book is also compelling, It catches your attention even if you aren't a book lover.

The stories in this anthology are fantasy-themed and laced with rich diverse narratives; some of the stories are sweet, straightforward and delightful, others I just couldn't wait to skip.

The good stories do outweigh the ones I consider bad which is a great thing.

I do recommend it because most of the stories are worth it.

P.S I want my own magic pen.
Profile Image for Robbie.
430 reviews4 followers
December 12, 2022
I'm rounding down to four stars. I'd say that the stories in this anthology range from pretty ok to really good. Some of them are really moving and a number of them made me laugh out loud. It's definitely an enjoyable read full of a delightful variety of takes on what a magic pen might be and do.
Author 2 books
April 29, 2020
Full disclosure my story Qalam is featured in this anthology. I am really honored to be included with so many other talented authors. Overall I really enjoyed the short stories. Not everything was my cup of tea but the ones that were made the entire series worth reading. In order of appearance in the book here are my favorites: Mighter; Inheritance; Pen ID; Do Not Write to Wrong; Today, I am a Fountain Pen; The Last of Your Kind; Memory Malfunction; One Story, Two People; Writ Large; Written with Love; The Healer; and Write Me a Soul.
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews

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