Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update on Last Night's Author Open House at Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library

The author open house at the Middendorf-Kredell branch library in O'Fallon last night was fun and rewarding in unexpected ways.

Because of extended carpool duty, I arrived an hour after the official starting time, so all the tables were taken, except for the long table up front that had been used for registration. The other authors had already arrived--most of them more than an hour and a half before I got there. I felt like I was sneaking into church late on Christmas Eve. No empty spots and no chance to blend in with the crowd.

Sara N., who spearheaded the event, offered me the head table and even moved it back a bit so I wouldn't look like a Walmart greeter welcoming patrons as the entered the library. It was kind of cool because I was able to observe a lot.

It appeared there were around 30 or so eager authors sitting behind tables spread out all over the library, mostly talking to other authors, family members, or friends. I was happy to visit with some writing friends and reacquaint with a few writers I hadn't seen in some time.

There were healthy and yummy snacks and tasty lemonade, which came in handy when I got a coughing fit. At the snack table, I stepped aside to make room for some cute kids who cleaned out the chocolate chip cookies. After the cookies were gone, one blond haired, blue eyed toddler walked over to my table to see what I was eating. I offered him a carrot stick. With a  chocolate-smeared face he made an immediate grimace then ran to grab some cheese and crackers.

A little later, an older boy asked if he could have one of my books, just as his mom told him he couldn't buy anything. He asked if I'd be back some other time because he really, really wanted a book. I felt bad but didn't want to come between a mom and a child begging for her to buy him something. Before she could tell him she didn't have any money, I gave him a one-page, double-sided printed copy of a story of mine called "Santa Wore Cowboy Boots" that was published in A Cup of Comfort for Christmas several years ago.

At our parish's Advent Candelight Service on Monday night, copies of my story were given out to attendees, and I grabbed a few extras and brought them with me to the library as giveaways. The middle-grader (I'm guessing) seemed happy to have something--anything of his own--to take home.

After he left I remembered there is a sentence in the story about how my then 12-year-old daughter Julie no longer believed in Santa. Hope the young man is already past the believing in Santa stage. If not, I nominate myself for the Grinch award.

As usual, Sara did a wonderful job planning and organizing the annual event. The only complaints I heard were from a woman who wondered why she got a tiny table when she arrived at 4:30, and a gentleman who complained about traffic. No matter how great things are there always will be someone who will complain.

At the end of the evening Sara told me she was pleased that so many authors donated copies of their books for a silent auction sponsored by the St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers for Artists and Authors next week.  Since most of my stories appeal primarily to women, I wasn't sure what to donate, so I gave Sara a signed copy of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, with my story "Welcome Home," which would be appropriate for either a man or a woman.

My writing and critique group friend Marcia kept me company for the evening. I also was in shouting distance of Joy, a writing friend I've known for several years but hadn't seen in quite a while. Mary, one of my IVV (in vino veritas) group pals, was there briefly but had to leave for a school event. Before Mary left, Joy asked us for comments on a book cover she is contemplating, and we gave her some suggestions. It was just like old times.

Although these events aren't always profitable from a monetary standpoint, they are fufilling and rewarding in other important ways: supporting the library, sharing stories and snacks, catching up with old friends, meeting library patrons, but most of all being surrounded by books and book lovers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Free Author Open House - Tuesday, November 29 (I'll be there from 6-7:30 p.m.)

If you live in the metro-St. Louis/St. Charles area and want to meet a passel of local authors (including me) and eat some free snacks, check out the Author Open House sponsored by the St. Charles City-Country Library District.

The open house will be at the: Middendorf-Kreddel Branch Library 2750 Hwy. K, O'Fallon,MO 63368

Here's the shameless plug portion of this post: While I can't be at the entire event, I will be there from around 6-7:30 p.m., along with a few of my writing friends and several other writers.

This year I've been a busy girl and have been fortunate enough to have stories published in several anthologies. I will have copies of the following books with my stories in them available for purchase and will gladly sign copies.

"Read Away Vacation" in Flashlight Memories (a true story)

"Look Back but Don't Stare" in A Shaker of Margaritas: Cougars on the Prowl (pictured above, bottom right hand corner) (Me? A Cougar? This one is definitely fiction!)

"The Night the Circus Came to Town" in Mysteries of the Ozarks (Vol II) (Ozarks mystery short story)

"Bridie O'Shea's Golden-Haired Visitor" in Cactus Country (Western short story)

"Golden Lilacs Under the Worm Moon" in Storm Country Anthology (funds go to the Joplin Libraries)

"Under Grandma's Bottle Tree" in Voices Anthology (nominated for a Pushcart Prize)

If my back isn't hurting from hauling copies of all those books to the library, I might also bring a couple copies of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, A Cup of Comfort for Women, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas and other anthologies my stories have appeared in over the past years.

The event is FREE and registration is not required, but I believe the library wants people to register to get an estimate of how many will be there so they can purchase enough refreshments. Check out the list of other writers appearing at the event.

Even if you're not in the mood for shopping, I hope you will stop by and visit tomorrow night, Tuesday, Nov 29. I'll be there from 6 till 7:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thoughts on Thanksgiving and a Quote from Ferris Bueller

This time tomorrow the turkey will be roasting in the oven and I'll be buzzing around the house doing who knows what.

Thanksgiving dinner is at my sister Kathleen's, but I'm making a turkey so we will have plenty of leftovers at our house. Plus, turkey is good for you, right? It's all those extras like dressing and gravy and marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes, and green-bean casserole, oh and the pies that pack on the pounds. The stuff I really like.

So, since no doubt, I won't be able to post tomorrow, I want to take time today to wish all of you a happy, safe, and joyful Thanksgiving Day. When I count the many blessings I've received this year, I count you among those gifts for which I am thankful.

If you're one of my blog followers, someone I've interviewed, someone whose book I have reviewed, a long-time reader, a first-time visitor, a blogging buddy, or a writing friend, I am grateful our paths have crossed and wish you many blessings.

Oh, and please if you have a slice of pie or cake or anything else scrumptious tomorrow, I hope you savor every bite.

If our family tradition at Kathleen's holds, we might even watch Ferris Bueller, one of the Duly Clan's all-time-favorite holiday flicks.

So, I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Ferris, "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Blessings,
Donna

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird of My Weekend in Overland Park Kansas

Here's a snapshot of this weekend's soccer tournament in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Good:

The room at the Hyatt Place was huge.

Free healthy breakfast. Yum. Home-made oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar.

Saturday afternoon shopping with Cari and some friends at an indoor mall, which had an American Girl shop, a Noodles and Company, and a Forever XXI store to mention a few.

Got a parking spot near the door.

The soccer banquet honoring all the girls, especially the seniors, was fun!

The girls passed the ball a lot and showed good teamwork.

Watching re-runs of "Say Yes to the Dress" in the hotel room with my granddaughter.

Watching Mizzou beat Texas Tech on a 46 inch TV in our hotel room.

Last soccer tournament of the season.

The Bad:

Last soccer tournament of the season.

Sitting in traffic near Columbia Friday evening for almost an hour on the drive to KC.

Stopping at a sketchy gas station outside of Columbia to go to the bathroom after being stuck in traffic.

Sitting in the wicked and cold wind in Kansas on Saturday and Sunday.

No wins.

My poor frozen toes and hands after sitting in the cold, wicked wind.

Listening to the Rams game on the way home--the Rams lost again.

The Weird

Filling up at a QT outside of KC, my granddaughter saw a girl she went to PSR at All Saints about ten years ago. The girl moved to the Kansas City area several years ago. 

More Good

Making it home in four hours by eating lunch in the van, one stop for gasoline and one potty break.

I love trips like this weekend's but I'm always happy to come home.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Winner of Melissa Ann Goodwin's The Christmas Village

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment or question for Melissa Ann Goodwin.

The winner of Melissa's charming Christmas book, The Christmas Village is:

BOOKIE

Congratulations, Bookie! I have forwarded your e-mail address to Robyn at WOW! Women on Writing, who will be contacting you soon.

If my other blog visitors would like another chance to win Melissa's book, Margo Dill at Read These Books and Use Them, is hosting Melissa until Nov 20.

Check out Melissa's post: " Every Town Has A Story: Ways to Encourage Kids (and Grown-ups) To Write" for some great tips to come up with ideas for stories or essays.

The contest on Margo's blog ends at 8 p.m. on Nov 20, so hop on over and leave a comment or share your favorite Christmas tradition for a chance to win a copy of The Christmas Village.

Thanks to Melissa for her generosity and wisdom and to Robyn at WOW! for inviting me to have Melissa as a guest blogger on Donna's Book Pub.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Now We're Talking Turkey: Deadline Extended for Goldminds Publishing Embrace Romance Anthology Until Thanksgiving Weekend

Now we're talking turkey:

Pat Smith, Romance editor at Goldminds Publishing, has announced the deadline for the call for submissions for romantic short stories for a new anthology to be published by Goldminds Publishing's Embrace Romance imprint has been extended through Sunday, November 27th.

According to a recent blog post: "No more excuses. Use the time when your family has passed out from their turkey dinner to polish up your favorite romantic short story and email it to: pbsmith (at) goldmindspub.com. Authors of stories selected for the anthology will be paid $50.00 per story."

I had wanted to submit to this one but didn't have anything written, but now that the deadline has been extended I might be able to pull something together.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Post from Melissa Ann Goodwin - "The Two Techniques that Improved My Writing the Most" and Special Giveaway

I am pleased today to welcome Melissa Ann Goodwin to Donna's Book Pub as part of the WOW! Women on Writing author's blog tour.

Melissa and I have been blogging friends for quite some time and have gotten to know one another through her friendly and helpful posts. She also has been a frequent visitor to my blog, always leaving uplifting comments.

So I was so happy to hear about publication of her book, The Christmas Village, and even more excited when Robyn from WOW! asked if I would like to host Melissa on my blog.

"Of Course!" was my immediate answer.

Melissa is author of the charming children's book, The Christmas Village. Here's a synopsis of the book: "Jamie Reynolds wished that he could live in Grandma's miniature Christmas village, and now that wish has magically come true. But is the village really what it seems? What stunning secrets does it hold? And how will Jamie ever get back home? Join the fun, come along on the adventure, and find out!"


Here's what Melissa has to say about the two techniques that helped improve her writing the most.

***
As writers, we’re always looking for tips and techniques to make our writing better. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Some people are naturally adept at creating realistic dialogue; others paint us vivid pictures with their words. I’ve realized that I’m naturally pretty good at dialogue and plotting, but I have to work hard on description, and I have to be careful to avoid redundancy. There are two key activities that have helped me strengthen my writing and I’d like to share them with you.


Reading Your Work Aloud

The first activity I use to tighten my work is reading it aloud. The brain is a funny thing – when you think of a word that fits perfectly, your brain likes it so much that it wants to use it again – two sentences later! Reading aloud helps you to catch redundancies when silent reading does not. It also clearly shows up words or sentences that don’t flow smoothly and it helps you catch missing words and errors. Poor dialogue is especially highlighted when you read aloud – if it doesn’t sound realistic when you say it out loud, it won’t sound real to the reader either.

Including Description of All Five Senses

The second activity I recommend is making sure to use descriptors in all five of the senses. It’s pretty easy to describe sight and sound, but we usually have to dig deeper to effectively convey touch, smell and taste. The effort is well worth it though, because including a broad range of vivid descriptors is one way that we achieve “showing” versus “telling” - which is what makes our story come alive for our readers, and helps them get lost in the worlds we’ve created for them.

To illustrate, let’s take these sentences excerpted from page one of my book, The Christmas Village:


“ … They had been driving all day through gloomy weather, stopping only for bathroom breaks and a greasy hamburger at a place called Red’s Diner … The overly warm car smelled like stale air and leftover fries. Jamie’s eyes had grown weary from reading the book that now lay face-down in his lap. The monotonous thunk thunk thunk of the windshield wipers made him drowsy. To amuse himself, Jamie squinted so that the lights whizzed past in a kaleidoscope of streaks and swirls.”

I wanted to show that the characters have been driving for a long time on a dreary night. But more importantly, I wanted to show that Jamie’s mood is gloomy too. Using descriptors that crossed all the senses helped me achieve both those goals.

I found that using these two techniques tightened my story and brought it to life in a way that I’d never achieved before. I hope that you’ll find them helpful to your writing process too.

***

Thanks for sharing those tips, Mellissa. Using examples from your book is especially helpful. And thanks for generously donating a copy of your wonderful book to one lucky visitor who leaves a comment on my blog about your post. The Christmas Village makes a great gift for a child or grandchild--or anyone who loves the magic of Christmas. 

If you would like to win a copy of Melissa's charming Christmas story The Christmas Village, leave a comment here by November 17. The name of the lucky winner will be announced November 18.

Monday, November 14, 2011

St. Louis Catholic Writers Guild Meeting

Last Saturday I attended my first meeting with the St. Louis Catholic Writers Guild. It was the second time the group has met. My friend Dianna Graveman forwarded an e-mail to me about the group, and we both decided to check it out. The logo below is from the national organization's website.


Denise Montgomery led the meeting at the Saint Charles Coffee House (in the back room) on McClay Road in St. Peters. About ten people attended ranging from teenagers to senior citizens. Both writers and illustrators were in attendance. Among the goals of the local group is to encourage writers through prayer, as well as networking and discussion and possibly critiques.

Right now the group is an unofficial chapter of the CWG. Denise, who is writing a women's contemporary fiction novel,  began the meeting with this prayer from the Catholic Writers Guild:

Holy Family, Guide our minds, our hearts, our hands,
as we write, speak illustrate --
help our words to live in union with the Word.
Teach us discipline and skill to use the talents God gives us.
Give us also insight and courage to convey God’s love through
our craft, and humility to be open to His divine will, shaping
our lives, in loving loyalty to His Church. In Christ’s name,
Amen.

After going around the table and introducing ourselves, we had an open discussion. Denise shared with us details about the conference she attended in August and next year's conference which will be held in Dallas, TX. We also heard a bit about Michelle Buckman and Sophia Instutute Press.

Denise also told us about the publication The Messenger from the Missionary of the Holy Family and gave out beautiful photographs of the Blessed Mother holding the Infant Jesus.

Dianna Graveman shared her experiences with the group about the magazine St. Anthony's Messenger, where she has published fiction (and won awards), as well as Liguori Press, where she served as an editor. Dianna also asked for suggestions for the Spring courses she will be giving through the St. Charles School District Adult Education Program.

What I liked about the group was the enthusiasm, yet sense of peace, of the members. Maybe it's because, as Denise put it, "our hearts are coming from the same place."

The next meeting of the St. Louis Catholic Writers Guild group will be Saturday, January 14 at 10:00 a.m. at the Saint Charles Coffee House on McClay Road in St. Peters.

If you decide to attend you might want to get there a few minutes early because the line to order beverages was long last Saturday. Also the tables we sat at were high and had tall chairs I didn't have a problem sitting on a tall chair, but people with short legs or mobility issues might.

Denise asked us to pass the word that any area Catholic writers are welcome to attend. If you are interested in finding out more about the group, e-mail Denise at dymontgomery (at) gmail.com.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Memory Tricks and Saying Thanks to Our Veterans

When I was younger I prided myself on my good memory, which helped me do well in school. My memory is still pretty good, although sometimes I'll walk into a room to get something and by the time I get there I'll forget what it was I was going to get. I attribute that to getting older and having too much on my mind.

To help me remember throughout my life I've used what I call "memory tricks," which I found out actually have a name. They are called  mneumonics. 

In grade school my classmates and I learned to use HOMES to remember the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) and A Rat In The House Might Eat The Ice Cream to spell (ARITHMETIC). In music class, it was FACE and Every Good Boy Does Fine. For spelling, there was: "i before e, except after c or when sounding like A, as in neighbor or weigh." And what child doesn't remember jumping rope to "Thirty days have September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31 except February with 28, but leap year makes it 29." And the list goes on.

My own birthdate helped me remember my multiplication tables. That's because the day of my birth, multiplied by the month of my birth, equals the year I was born in. Guess I'm lucky that way.

I still use dates to remember numbers. If someone tells me an address or a phone number and I don't have pen and paper I'll convert the numbers into dates. For example, if someone says their phone number is 699-0408, I'll make a mental note it's June 99, April 8. Might sound confusing, but it works for me.

Today is 11/11/11, a day that will be easy to remember for birthdates and wedding anniversaries. It also is a special day because it's the day to say thanks to our veterans, and those who wear the uniform. Yesterday my husband Walt (a Vietnam Veteran) was surprised when he received a text from the dad of one of our grandson's friends. The text thanked Walt for his service.The man knew Walt would be out getting ready to deer hunt today, so he texted him a day ahead of time to say thanks. What a thoughtful gesture!

I was pleased to see the list of local businesses who are saying thanks to veterans and active duty servicemembers with special discounts, and even free giveaways. Restaurants include: Applebee's, Chili's, Hooters, Krispy Kreme, Golden Corral, Subway, Arby's, Texas Roadhouse, TGI Fridays, Outback Steakhouse, and several others. Here's a listing I found in the Steals and Deals Blog of the St. Louis Post Dispatch online.

So, whatever way helps you remember, please take a few minutes to remember to say thanks to our vets and active duty servicemembers. Here are the family member veterans I am thankful for: James P. Duly, Sr. (deceased),  Walter Erik Volkenannt (deceased), Walter Volkenannt, and James P. Duly, Jr.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Remembering Basketball Legend Ed Macauley

I was sad to hear the news that Ed Macauley passed away last night.

"Easy Ed" Macauley was a star basketball player at St. Louis University, later for the Boston Celtics then the St. Louis Hawks. In 1960 he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Outside the basketball court, he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather and a man of faith. Late in his life he became a decon in the Catholic Church and co-wrote a book on homilies titled Homilies Alive.

Several years ago, while writing an article for Sauce Magazine, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Macauley. He was very humble, gracious, easy to interview, and generous with his time.

So, rest in peace, Mr. Macauley. You left your mark on the world; you truly were a star.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fairy Tales are Hot, So Why Not Write One?

Once upon a time, life was very grim.

In case haven't noticed, fairy tales are hot. In the fall television line up alone I've found two network programs that are about fairy tales.

NBC has Grimm on Friday nights. I've watched a few episodes, and I find myself strangely attracted to the show. One of the main characters is a St. Louis native, so that got my attention. David Guintoli plays Nick Burckhardt, a detective and "Grimm-creature profiler." So far in the series, we've seen Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and a Jagerbar. Okay. That's one I hadn't heard of before. The program is scary and so far interesting, but with some violent scenes. When those come on, I cover my eyes and peek through my fingers.

Over on ABC, there's Once Upon a Time. It's a modern-day adaptation of Snow White, Prince Charming, and the Evil Queen. The action takes place in Stonybrooke, where the mayor is a controlling, evil, well - witch. Then there's Mary Margaret, the sweet teacher, and Emma Swan, the stranger who comes to town, and don't forget Jiminy Cricket and Rumpelstiltskin. The series is more sugar-coated than Grimm, but so far it's been entertaining.

If you're into writing fairy tales, here's a call for submission for adult writers from Vestal Review that caught my eye (it didn't really catch my eye; my eyes are still intact, but you know what I mean). 

* Theme - A twist on classic fairy tales. "About the yet unheard adventures of Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White or any other well-known fairy tale character. Interpret the theme broadly and imaginatively, but incline toward a literary story."
* Flash fiction (limit 500 words)
* Deadline November 30, 2011
* State the source tale’s name before the title.
* No more than two submissions per author.
* Pay rates vary, depending on story length.
* "Stories of great merit receive up to $25 flat fee; 3 cents a word is a minimum pay in any case.”

** For complete details and to submit your story, click on their submission guidelines.

Good luck.

The End.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writing Coach Christina Katz Interviewed on MWG Conference Blog

If you get a chance pop on over to the MWG Conference blog and check out the interview of Christina Katz, who will be a keynote speaker at the MWG conference next April.

Sarah Whitney's interview with Christina includes a preview of  her keynote speech on “Never a Better Time to Be a Writer." She also discusses when the right time is to launch your writer's platform.

While you're there, leave a comment for a chance to win one of Christina's books from Writer's Digest Books--"Writer Mama" (which I have a copy of and can recommend) or "Get Known Before the Book Deal."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2, All Souls Day: A Day to Remember the Dead

In the Catholic Church, the day after All Saints Day is called All Souls Day--a day set aside to remember loved ones who have died.

When I was a kid, I liked All Saints Day because we got a day off of school, which was really neat because after going out trick or treating on Halloween night, having a day off of school was an added treat.

But on November 2, All Souls Day, I thought it was kind of creepy to pray for dead people.

As an adult I've learned how important it is to remember loved ones who have passed away in prayer. For me it creates a connection between my loved ones who have died and a way to remember their lives. 

Some Latin American countries and communities in the United States commemorate All Souls Day (Día de los Muertos) with parades and festivals, candy skulls, and special prayers.

Here's a prayer I use to remember loved ones who have died:

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Amen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Got Romance? Goldminds Publishing Call for Submissions - Short Deadline

Now that the World Series and Halloween are over, it's back to writing.

It's hard to believe it is already November. I've been reading posts about National Novel Writing Month lately. I tried it a few years ago and only made it through a few days. While I don't have the stamina for National Novel Writing Month, I'm trying to focus on shorter works. I'm not a romance writer, but here's a submission call out that got my attention. I read this call for submissions a few days ago and thought it might be of interest to my readers.

Editor Pat Smith, from Goldminds Publishing, is seeking romantic short stories for its first Valentine's Day anthology, which will be published in January 2012.

Pat is a smart, witty, and warm writer I met several years ago at a conference in Texas. I've heard Pat speak at writing events a few times since then, and she was a featured speaker at the Missouri Writers' Guild conference last April. Pat is now an editor at Goldmines Publishing putting together their first Valentine's Day anthology. She is looking for "vibrant, smart, heart-warming contemporary romances featuring modern men and women meeting and falling in love."

Word Count: 3,000-10,000

Setting/Characters: According to Smith, "We don't want every story set in Paris, New York City or London, featuring a billionaire or royal heir falling for his gorgeous but shy secretary. Try something different and a little more believable."

Heat index: "Moderate...warm, romantic and sexy...We definitely want to feel the chemistry between your lead characters, but don't make your descriptions OB/GYN explicit, so, not chaste, but not erotica either."

DEADLINE: Close of business on Friday, November 11, 2011.

Submit to: pbsmith@goldmindspub.com

Be sure to put "Embrace Valentine's Day Anthology" in the subject line of your e-mail.

Payment:  Writers whose stories are selected for the anthology will receive a one-time payment of $50.00.
For more information about Goldminds Publishing, visit their website.

Good luck!

Interview with Sarah Angleton, the Practical Historian

For the past few years, Sarah Angleton has been a valued member of Coffee and Critique, where she has shared her stories, wit, and wisdo...