This collection of short stories, poems, personal essays, and other pieces came together from a collection of authors and artists primarily in the San Gabriel Valley in California. The collection was first envisioned as we imagined expanding our bookstore from a pop-up bookstore at the Monrovia Street Fair & Market to a brick-and-mortar shop on Myrtle Avenue in Old Town Monrovia.We started Underdog Bookstore as a place for people to come together in community, to see themselves represented on the shelves, be exposed to underdog authors and stories, and to support local authors and vendors. Being able to work with local authors, as well as authors located across the country, our goal has always been supporting "underdogs"-those who didn't grow up seeing themselves in books, in movies, and on TV. Around the same time that we started looking to find a physical location for Underdog Bookstore in Monrovia, we discussed the possibility of starting our own small, independent publisher (or "small press"). We envisioned an opportunity to elevate local authors voices by supporting them in the development, editing, and marketing of their stories. As the world has increasingly felt bleak, that vision has changed. Now, we envision that same small, independent press as elevating underdog stories that also bring hope, light, and breath. Hence our new publisher: Full Lung Press.At Full Lung Press, we want to support underdog authors in spreading joy. We believe that underrepresented authors have stories to share that will bring that joy to marginalized communities. We believe that joy matters, especially as the world feels darker each day, especially in times where we see laws enacted to stifle our speech, our autonomy, our health, and our existence. We believe that queer joy matters, that trans joy matters, that Black joy matters, that Indigenous joy matters, that AAPI joy matters, that Arab American joy matters, that Jewish joy matters, that all BIPOC joy matters, that foster youth joy matters, that all underdog joy matters.No matter who you are, no matter how hard life has been or become, we hope that Full Lung Press will publish books that make you feel seen, give you hope, and make you see (not just feel) that you belong.We know that it is a large goal, and we also know that we can't accomplish all of that in one day. Here in this compilation of pieces, please see our first attempt. Underdog Bookstore held a community writing competition in the Summer of 2023 with the very broad theme of "Underdogs." The competition was open to all writers of all experiences and all ages, and we could not have been more delighted in the quality of pieces submitted. The pieces come in different formats, different lengths, and are written from different perspectives. But, within each piece is a shared truth, underdogs are here to thrive.
We hope that within these pages you see yourself. We hope that at least one piece makes you smile. And we hope that at least one makes you think differently.