Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Call for Submissions: A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman

For all you mystery writers out there, here's a paid submission opportunity from Linda Fisher, publisher of Mozark Press.  

Mozark Press is seeking short mystery fiction for the popular Shaker of Margaritas series. 

This issue is called A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman

For this anthology, the editors are looking for mysteries with female protagonists. 

Send them your cozies, soft-boiled mysteries, suspenseful tales, capers, or whodunits with a strong emphasis on character, plot -- but most of all good old-fashioned storytelling.

Submission deadline: July 25, 2014

Word Count: Between 2,000 and 3,500 

Approximately 20-25 stories will be selected for the anthology
Previously unpublished work only
One entry per person
No poetry
Keep it clean - PG stories only

Upon publication, authors will be paid $20 

Authors whose work appears in the book will be given a one-time opportunity to pre-purchase books at 60% of retail price + postage.

Author will receive one free copy of the book with his/her story in it -- if author pre-purchases a minimum of one additional copy at the author’s discount.

Electronic submissions only

E-mail to with subject line: "That Mysterious Woman"

Click here for the complete submission guidelines and publisher's tips for success.

From personal experience, I can attest that Linda is a thorough editor who does a top-notch job with any project she is involved.

Good luck if you submit! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Friends, Fun, and Frank Lloyd Wright

Last week, the Kindred Spirits group took another day trip. 

This time our destination was Ebsworth Park in Kirkwood, where we toured a home designed by American iconic architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Our group of seven, former co-workers and friends from metro St. Louis and Southern Illinois, was joined by a gentleman who traveled from Holland to view American architecture.

The entrance to Ebsworth Park is marked by a sign from St. Louis County Parks and Recreation, as well as one of the 250 birthday cakes celebrating the 250th birthday of the City of St. Louis.

The mid-twentieth century "middle-class" American home, completed in 1955 for Russell and Ruth Kraus, is tucked away amid ten-plus acres of sloping hills and persimmon, apricot, and evergreen trees. The Usonian home is known for its “architectural integrity and original Wright-designed furnishings.” Usonian is a term coined by Wright to reflect his vision of the landscape of America, free from previous architectural conventions.

After crowding together to watch a brief video in the gift shop, we headed into the house. Photos were not permitted inside, and the women were instructed to place their purses in a closet. I didn't take notes, thus my descriptions are based on my memory of what I heard and saw. 

The house is designed horizontally, rather than vertically. The basic form is the shapes of parallelograms, triangles, and hexagons, which are evident from floor to ceiling -- even the windows and furniture. The bed in the master bedroom consists of two parallelogram mattresses joined together, covered by the original faded yellow-orange bedspread. The guest room mattress is in the shape of a hexagon. The floors are a muted red; the ceilings tidewater red cypress. The vintage rotary phones in the bedrooms are also red. 

The cabinets in the kitchen are maple and birch. Jade-colored pottery dots dark-wood shelves in the living room and hallway. A low table in the shape of connecting hexagons and stools about three-feet tall sit near the lovely patio doors, which were designed by Mr. Kraus. Two low-to-the-floor origami chairs sit in the living room across from the hexagon-shaped fireplace.

The interior of the house is dark and stark, but my favorite room is Russell Kraus’ study. I found the study to be the room with the most personality. Being a writer, I especially enjoyed seeing the pop-art, bright red plastic Olivetti Valentine manual typewriter that sat in the study on a low desk.

Kraus was an artist and nature lover, who designed the home’s lovely doors, with Wright’s approval of course. He also was a “string saver” and kept all the original plans from Wright, some of which we were permitted to view. The gentleman from Holland was especially interested in seeing those drawings.

The tour took about an hour and fifteen minutes. The house is open to the public (Wed-Sat) by appointment only. Call 314-822-8359 for a reservation. Tour costs $10 for adults. Children under 12 and student groups are charged $5 per child. Visit the Ebsworth Park website for more information.

After leaving the Frank Lloyd Wright house, we drove through pouring rain and met up for lunch at Billy G’s, across town in Kirkwood. There, our group of seven broke bread and caught up on what was going on with family and friends before heading back to our own, less famous, homes. 

I can’t wait to see what Jan, our thoughtful and kind-hearted Kindred Spirits leader, has planned for our next outing!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Submission Opportunity from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels in our Midst

Do you believe in angels? I do.

I love hearing stories about angels and seeing them depicted in artwork, like the statues on the left.

Last month I visited the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis, the site of an official Vatican-sanctioned miracle. This photo is of the front altar--the altar of answered prayers.

I thought it would be fitting to use this photo to accompany this post about a submission call out from the editors of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels in our Midst.

The editors are looking for "101 miraculous stories of faith, divine intervention, and answered prayers."

Have you been visited by an angel?

Had prayers answered by an angel?

Received divine protection from an angel or guardian angel?

Witnessed a miraculous recovery?

Received news or a warning from an angel?

If so, you could have your true story or poem published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels in our Midst.

The editors want stories of "true wonder and awe from people who have directly encountered or received help from angels."

They do not want stories about "people who are angels because they do nice things or eulogies about loved ones who have died and are now angels."

Submission deadline is May 15, 2014

Expected publication date is October 2014.

Authors whose stories are selected will receive $200 and 10 free copies of the anthology.

For complete submission guidelines, including word counts and other details, visit the Chicken Soup for the Soul website.

Good luck!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Got Nature? "Missouri Conservationist" and Missouri Department of Conservation "Xplor" Magazines Do – For Free

One of the benefits of belonging to a Show-Me State household is receiving free magazines from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

For almost two decades, my family and I have looked forward each month to receiving the monthly Missouri Conservationist (ISSN 0026-6515) in the mail. "The Missouri Conservationist" is a glossy 34-page magazine dedicated to “serving nature and you.”  

The cover (like the one from March 2014) and inside photos are bright and lovely, and the contents are even better. My husband keeps up with the state’s current hunting and fishing regulations and calendar. I enjoy reading articles about Missouri’s flora and fauna. Here’s a link.

For the past several years we also have subscribed to the every-other-month "Xplor," “adventures in nature,” free (34-page) magazine for our grandson. He (and we) have learned a lot about nature from "Xplor" magazine. 

An article appeared in the October/November issue on “Missouri’s Vampire Hunters,” (leeches, ticks, mosquitoes, bats, and the red-footed cannibalflies). The same issue featured the ever-fascinating article, “Survive a Zombie Apocalypse,” which gave instructions on hot to: light a fire, build a lean-to, gather food, and find water. Informative and fun!

Missouri households can subscribe online at

Don’t live in Missouri? Non-Missouri households can download the magazine for free.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's Official: I'm a Top Ten Finalist in the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition

Although I learned about my Erma Bombeck contest finish days ago from a friend on Facebook, I've been waiting for confirmation before posting this announcement on my blog.

Late yesterday afternoon I received official e-mail notification from Debe Dockins, with the Community Relations Department of the Washington-Centerville Public Library.

I'm thrilled to announce that my essay, "Remembering Miss Tobin," was a top-ten finalist in the 2014 Erma Bombeck Global - Human Interest Category.

The Erma Bombeck Writing Competition is hosted every two years by the University of Dayton and the Washington-Centerville Public Library in Centerville, Ohio, "where Erma wrote the books and columns that launched her national fame."

According to the Humor Writers Organization website, The 2014 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition attracted 853 entries from 48 states and 13 countries. (Note: That is total entries; I don't know how many were in the category I entered.)

Included in my e-mail notification were judges' comments and suggestions. Because most of my blog visitors are writers who want to improve their craft, I thought I'd share excerpts of the judges' comments here:

One judge remarked that "This is a wonderful human interest story, written with a strong clear voice. It needs a bit of the subtle humor that Erma would have brought to this story . . ."

Another commented my piece was ". . . a celebration of youth and decency and strength. I like the detail, the warmth and the soul here, so, so tender. . . ."

I'm grateful to the Washington-Centerville Public Library and the University of Dayton for keeping the memory and accomplishments of Erma alive through the competition and workshop. 

I'm also grateful to the judges, not only because they found merit in my essay, but also for taking time to give such thoughtful and encouraging feedback.

Most of all, I'm grateful to the late Erma Bombeck for sharing her wit, wisdom, and heart-warming stories with millions of readers -- and for continuing to inspire writers like me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Coffee and Critique Writers' Group Take Ten Interviews

It's hard to believe the Coffee and Critique writers' group has been going for seven years.

When I founded the group in 2007, along with Lou Turner, we wanted it to be open to writers of all levels, with the motto that critiques would be "candid, but kind."

Each week we have about 10-12 enthusiastic and supportive writer show up, and last year we published our first anthology. We also have encouraged writers to submit to publications -- and all have achieved success!

On our Coffee and Critique blog you can find updates about our group. One popular series is the "Take Ten" interview feature with the our members.

Interviews began last May. Doyle Suit was first, followed by the late Nick Nixon, then Bill Mueller, Alice Muschany, and Lou Turner.

Last week it was my turn to answer interview questions.

This year we will continue the tradition, with one member who has contributed to our anthology being featured each month.

Check back often to the Coffee and Critique blog to find out about some of our members.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Contest Announcement/Call for Submissions: Uncertain Promise, a Literary Anthology

The editors of Compass Flower Press, an imprint of AKA-Publishing in Columbia, MO, are sponsoring a contest and seeking submissions for a literary anthology to be published this fall.

Full disclosure: I am a board member of AKA Publishing

Here is some basic information about the call out. For complete guidelines, visit the AKA-Publishing website:

* Fiction and creative nonfiction submissions only (no poetry)

* Word limit: 3,000 per entry (sections from larger works will be accepted)

* First place $1,000

* Second place $500

* Third place $250

* No previously published work

* Submissions are read and evaluated anonymously by two editorial boards

* Deadline: May 10, 2014 NOTE: Deadline extended until May 25, 2014
* Planned publication date: October 2014

* Working title/themeUncertain Promise. Examples of uncertain promise: an unexpected outcome (joy, satisfaction, renewal, despair, emotional growth, etc.) from an otherwise routine or mundane circumstance; an unspoken commitment from a friend or lover falls through due to misunderstanding or unforeseen happening; a career or future crashes—or ascends—depending on the outcome of a single event. These are the editor's ideas, with encouragement for those submitting to "use your imagination and please interpret broadly."
* Submission does not guarantee acceptance

* Each published contributor receives a free copy of the anthology

*Non-refundable entry fees:

*Electronic submissions $18 (US$) per entry (paid on website)
*Mailed submissions $15 (US$) per entry (paid by check or on website) 

Entry form for the 2014 Anthology/Contest may be downloaded at and must be completed and accompany each entry.  

Or by snail mail: 
AKA-Publishing / Compass Flower Press
315 Bernadette Dr, Ste 3
Columbia, Missouri 65203

JUDGE: Von Pittman

For complete guidelines, including detailed official submission requirements, or for questions, visit the AKA website or e-mail: 

Good luck if you enter!