Friday, November 28, 2008

Contests, Contests, Contests

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Mostly cloudy, high 50 degrees. Not a bad forecast for shoppers this Black Friday. While shoppers are out at the mall or department stores hunting for bargains, writers can find a few contest 'bargains' right here.
Contest #1: As promised, today I'm announcing the name of the winner of the "Julie's Gift" contest, with a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Women as the prize. I received entries from several states including Missouri, Oklahoma, and New York. I guess you could say the winner in the contest did OK, because the name selected was Patricia Haynes from Tulsa, OK. Congratulations, Patricia. I will mail your book next week.

Contest #2: If you didn't win this go around, be sure to watch Monday's post, where I will announce another contest to win a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Christmas, which includes "Santa Wore Cowboy Boots," a true story about my son Erik.

Contest #3: Here's a contest for all you poets. The Saturday Writers chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild has just announced its 7th Annual One-Page Poem Contest. Visit the website for complete details, which include the following submission guidelines:

1) Any style, any subject, any form. Wow us in one page. (One poem per single-spaced page.)
2) No identification should appear on the entry. Attach a separate coversheet with title, name, address, e-mail, and phone number.
3) Two copies of each entry! (Each judge needs a copy.)
4) Entry fee: $5 per poem, maximum of three entries.
5) Poems must be unpublished at the time of submission, original work of the contestant.
6) Deadline: March 16, 2009 postmark.
7) Prizes: 1st place - $100, 2nd place - $50, 3rd place - $25. Top 10 entries receive a certificate.
8) Winners will be announced on the website by April 30, 2009. Certificates and cash prizes will be mailed in early May.
9) Mail entries flat, not folded, to:
Louella Turner
Saturday Writers One-page Poem Contest Coordinator
2731 Cumberland Landing
St. Charles, MO 63303
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT send by certified mail!
10) Checks payable to: Saturday Writers.
Contest is open to everyone--members of Saturday Writers and non-members. Prize winners and honorable mention recipients (top ten only) may be given the opportunity to have their stories included (one time rights) in the Saturday Writers literary collection, published the following year.
For a list of winners, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Or check the website after April 30:
Decision of judges is final. Not responsible for lost or misdirected entries. Poems will not be returned. Any submission paid for by a check which is returned by the bank will be immediately disqualified.
So, there you have it. You don't need to fight traffic or stand in line to find bargains--you can find some great writing bargains right here.

Good luck, have a great weekend, and take time to write.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Blessings

Pilgrims' Progress by Currier and Ives

After an arduous voyage, the religious Separatists later known as Pilgrims arrived from England in 1620.

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Fair, high 55 degrees; a lovely day for giving thanks.

To my gracious and generous Lord, I give you thanks for the many blessings you have bestowed upon me: life, love, liberty, family, friends, faith, hope, freedom, education, . . .

Wishing you all many blessings and great happiness on this Thanksgiving Day.

**Tomorrow morning I will draw one name at random from everyone who entered the "Julie's Gift" contest. The winner will receive a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Women, which includes "Julie's Gift," a true story about my daughter, Julie.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Suds and Stories - aka Beer and Fiction

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Sunny, high 51 degrees--but the temperature is half that as I write this post. Brrr.

If you're confused about the title for today's post, so am I. Maybe my brain is overloaded after taking the kids and their friends to Incredible Pizza yesterday and an almost full house at critique group last night. Lots of interesting stimulation on both accounts.

Anyway, the two titles I'm debating between are: "Suds and Stories" or "Beer and Fiction."

So, after you read today's post, vote on which title you prefer. If no one voices an opinion, each time I check back I'll hum "Is There Anybody Out There?" from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album (Album? Boy, am I dating myself here).

Here's the contest announcement:

RIVER STYX (a St. Louis-based literary magazine) has announced its 2008 Schlafly Micro-Fiction, Micro-Brew Contest.

$1500 First Prize and ONE CASE OF SCHLAFLY BEER.

Send up to three stories, each a maximum of 500 words.
All entrants will be notified by SASE.
$20 reading fee includes a one-year subscription.
Include name and address on cover letter ONLY.
Judged by editors of River Styx.
All stories considered for publication.

Winner and two finalists will be published in spring issue (River Styx #79)

Postmark stories by December 31st to:

ST. LOUIS, MO 63103

For complete details, visit their contest website; the link is above.

So, what do you think? Suds and Stories or Beer and Fiction.

Is there anybody out there?

Addition to original post: The votes are in. SUDS AND STORIES inched out my personal favorite, Beer and Fiction (which also got Tricia G's vote). Thanks to everyone who e-mailed or posted their choice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Short Story Contest - St. Louis Writers Guild

Today's weather forecast for St. Peters: Mostly sunny, high 45 degrees. A good day to finish my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving.

Claire Applewhite, Publicity Chair for the St. Louis Writers Guild, e-mailed the other day that the deadline for their annual short story contest has been extended until December 13. Word limit is 3,000 and entry fee is $15. You DO NOT have to belong to SLWG to enter their contest.

Here's some background about the contest from Claire:
"For decades, the St. Louis Writers Guild, has sponsored an annual short story contest, which must be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, writing contests in the country. It is certainly one of the most prestigious. Tennessee Williams won first place in this contest in 1935 for his story, "Stella for Star." (University of Delaware library; Special Collections Department; Tennessee Williams Collection, 1939-1994;
The St. Louis Writers Guild Annual Short Story Contest opens for submissions every October and prizes are awarded in December. Historically, entries have come from all across the nation and Canada. Stories are blind-judged by one or more expert(s) in the fields of writing and literature. Writers do not need to be a member of the Guild in order to participate in this contest.
The first prize is $300! With Christmas around the corner, or any day of the week, a cash prize is a nice surprise. Let us hear from you. "

If you have questions, contact Claire at or check out their website for complete details. Here's a link to the contest page:

On a personal note, many years ago one of my short stories received second place in their annual contest. I was so excited when I got the phone call inviting me to the banquet to receive the award. What I didn't know was I would have to read my story--which had a few off-color words in the dialogue--in front of the banquet audience. During the reading I rushed through and mumbled the offending words. My face was red by the time I was finished, but it was still thrilling to receive the award--and the check.
Send your best material--who knows, you might have the winning story.
Good luck!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday's Market - Christmas Miracles

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Overcast, high 50 degrees.

With Christmas just around the corner, you might want to check out this publishing opportunity about Christmas miracles--with a short deadline of Christmas Eve.

Here's an excerpt from the website what editors Cecil Murphy and Marley Gibson are looking for:

"Christmas Miracles is a book project we have contracted with St. Martin's Press for late 2009 release. We seek true stories of miracles that took place at Christmas. They must revolve around that special time of year.We prefer first-person narratives.
This is an excellent opportunity to see your writing in a book with other outstanding authors.
You must follow these guidelines:
Deadline for stories is December 24, 2008.• All entries must be double-spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman, Word document.• Stories may run from 900 to 1,300 words. We will not consider longer pieces.• We will edit all stories we accept so that they have a unified voice. • Your name will be listed with your story and you'll have a four-line information/resume paragraph at the end of the book.• Every story must have a positive solution that results from a miracle through events or timing at the Christmas season.• Every story must have a positive application. That is, you must tell us what you learned from that miracle or how it changed your life.• You may send an original or a reprint. (If a reprint, please tell us where it was published and assure us that you own the reprint rights.)If we accept your story, you will retain rights. You'll also receive a $50 honorarium and a free copy of the book when it is released in October 2009.
We will offer special discounts for contributors who wish to buy additional books. (We will send that information to you.)"

There, you have it. For complete details and submission information, visit their website.
Good luck,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Freebie Friday -

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Sunny, high 35. This morning it was downright cold, but it's supposed to warm up later today.

A few years ago I signed up for the newsletter, and, boy, was that a fortunate decision. When I signed up I mostly wanted to find out about new books and authors, but then I discovered the site has contests and give away free books. After winning several books, I volunteered to be a reviewer, but a post about my positive experiences being a book reviewer will wait for another day.

On this Freebie Friday I want to introduce my blog readers to the site to tell you about some of the great free stuff you can win through their newsletter. And, no I don't get anything for referring people to their site, except the joy of sharing information with other writers and folks who love to read.

My Bookreporter newsletter arrives each Friday. Around some major holidays Carol Fitzgerald, the co-founder and President of The Book Report Network, puts together some amazing gift baskets to give away. Although I've never won one of those baskets, I keep on trying. In each weekly issue I love reading Carol's column because it's always so informative and upbeat.

Anyway, here's a blurb about the latest holiday gift basket promotion from the Bookreporter website : "From November 7th through January 5th we spotlight a different title or collection of titles, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as two copies of the featured book(s). Why two? One is to keep, of course, and one is for someone on your holiday gift list. We will also include festive wrapping paper to make the gift-giving hassle-free."

The first prize cut-off has already passed, but if you sign up soon you can make the next one. You might have to answer a question about one of the featured books, which you can do by clicking on the excerpt link, and there's no guarantee of winning, but it's worth a shot.
While you're there you can read an interview with St. Louis-based author John Lutz and read a review of NIGHT KILLS, his latest book.

Oh, almost forgot. Another new feature on is a review of graphic novels, if you are a fan of those. One feature I frequently visit, and which which other parents (or grandparents in my case) might also want to check out, are the Kidsreads and Teenread sections, where you can read reviews of age-appropriate books for the young readers in your life.

Hope you a great weekend; I'll be back on Monday. In case you missed the link above, here it is again:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seven Reasons NOT to Join a Critique Group

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Partly cloudy, high 39, low 17. Brrr. . . guess I better cover my potted pansies on the front porch tonight.

If you read last week's posts, you might remember my seven reasons to join a critique group.

Gee, I never thought that would be controversial, but apparently it is. On his blog, Midlist Writer, fellow-Missourian Sean McLachlan, a freelance writer specializing in history and travel, has gone snarky on me and posted his seven reasons NOT to join a critique group.

Sean's reasons are quite funny--and many of them ring true--in fact, even though I've never met Sean before, I think we may have belonged to the same critique group at one time or another. If you get a chance, check out his blog to read his seven reasons NOT to join a critique group. While you're there, check out the impressive list of books he has written.

In Sean's own words: "Just to be snarky, I blogged about seven reasons NOT to join a critique group. You can see them at:"

Quick reminder: There's still time to enter to win a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Women, which includes my story, "Julie's Gift." Costs nothing but an e-mail to enter. Shoot an e-mail by Thanskgiving Day, Nov 27, to me at with Julie's Gift in the title. Be sure to include your name and mailing address (so I'll know where to send the book in case you win).

Jodi Webb of Pottsville, PA, the winner of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, has already received her copy of the book and finished reading it. Jodi wrote that she is going to donate her copy, along with several other books, in a care package she's sending to local soldiers serving overseas. What a generous and thoughtful way for Jodi to share her good fortune!

Speaking of contests, be sure and check out yesterday's blog, including the comments from Connie Anderson, co-founder of the Armchair Interviews, which is sponsoring the Thanksgiving Short Story Contest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Theme Short Story Contest

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Partly cloudy, high 59 degrees, but it was chilly when I drove my grandkids to school this morning.

Here's a short story contest from Armchair Interviews with a quick deadline. Thanks to Julie E. for sending it to me. Good luck. Hope you gobble up a prize!


Thanksgiving is at your house this year and you can invite anyone (famous/not famous, alive/dead) to dinner.
-- Write in any genre you prefer. -- Create a person we can see with dialogue so we know what he/she is all about.-- Who would it be? -- Why invite them? -- What will you talk about? -- How do you prepare your family for the guest? -- Are there any taboo subjects? -- Are they your idol - your adversary, etc.? -- Do others know this person?
Here are some words we'd like to see you use (as many as possible) in the story--and please underline them.
-- Writer -- Singer -- Ed Sullivan -- Memory -- Secret -- Famous -- Millionaire -- Prison -- Liberty -- Horses -- Flowers
First place: $50.00 Second place: $25.00 for second Third place: Two books in your favorite genre.
-- Deadline is midnight, Wednesday, November 26. -- Limit to 1,000 words. -- Submit your name, address, email and favorite genre on a separate cover page, and then your story follows on new page.
Submit Word document (or if not available, include entry inside email body) and send to

Here's a link to their site for details.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Congratulations, Pat

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Fair, sunny. High 40 degrees. Baby, it's cold outside this morning.

Here's a success story from Pat Wahler, a member of Coffee and Critique:

"Several months ago, Tricia G posted a site on her blog,, home of the six word memoir. I found it to be a very highly addictive format and was amazed at the number of six word messages a person can compose. Long story short, I got notice yesterday that one of my submissions has been selected to appear in their new book, On Love and Heartbreak by Writers Famous and Obscure (I, of course, fall into the obscure category!). No money, just a copy of the book when it comes out-Feb '09. Pretty funny, huh?

Also, wanted to let you all know that after Donna started her blog, I took a look at how the whole blog thing worked, and found it so easy to start one (with handy templates, of course) that now I have one, too."

If you get a chance, check both blogs, Pat's Critter Alley and Tricia's Coffee and Critique blog. Tricia posts lots of helpful information about submission opportunities, like the one from, and Pat's has cool pictures of and stories about pets.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday's Market - Woman's World

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Mostly cloudy; high 41 degrees.

Woman's World is a market I've tried to break into without success, but I keep on trying. I've gotten a couple hand-written rejections from the fiction editor, which gives me hope. Who else but a writer would rejoice in getting a rejection letter?

Not only is it a good place to submit, the magazine is one I enjoy reading. My husband (who loves to cook) likes to read the articles about food and nutrition.

Humorous, but embarrassing story: The first time I submitted to them I misspelled the name of the magazine as Women's World. In my rejection letter, the editor put the correct name in bold letters. Since then I have a mental block and usually call it Women's World, so be sure and double-check before you submit to WOMAN'S WORLD.

To share your story, send to They pay $250 for full-length feature stories and ancedotes and $25 for tips. They pay even better for romantic fiction and solve-it-yourself mysteries.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Julie

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Rain, rain, rain. High 59 degrees.

On this rainy Friday, I celebrate the life, the love, and the gift of my beautiful daugher, Julie. She would have been 39 today. She was born Nov 14, 1969, at Scott Air Force Base in IL, and died with her husband Mike in a motorcycle accident in St. Louis, MO, on Feb 5, 2005.

From my deep sorrow and pain has come much joy and many blessings. Since the night of the accident, my husband Walt and I have been blessed with raising Cari and Michael, Julie and Mike's children. So, rather than mourning Julie's passing, I celebrate her life and the many gifts she has given me--especially the gift of raising her children.

One of my most treasured publications is a true story about her, called "Julie's Gift," which was originally published in A Cup of Comfort for Women in 2002 and republished in 2007. The story is about a gift Julie sent my mother when she was just a teenager and we were living overseas in Germany. In 2003, "Julie's Gift" was awarded the Best Religious or Inspirational Story by the Missouri Writers' Guild.

As a way to keep Julie's memory alive through story, I am giving away a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Women with a signed copy of the story, "Julie's Gift."

To enter, please e-mail me at Put "Julie's Gift" in the subject line, and include your name, mailing address, and e-mail in the text. Contest opens today, Nov 14, and closes at midnight, Thanksgiving Day, Nov 27. Winner will be announced on Nov 28. And, if you're so inclined, please remember Julie in your thoughts and prayers today.

One last announcement: The winner in the "Welcome Home" contest of a signed copy of my story in A Cup of Comfort for Military Families is Jodi Webb of Pottsville, PA. Congratulations, Jodi. I will mail your book next week.

Until Monday, have a safe weekend, and take time to write.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top 7 Reasons to Join a Critique Group?

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Mostly cloudy, high 65 degrees, chance of rain this evening.

Hope my review yesterday of THE KILLING CIRCLE by Andrew Pyper about a deadly critique circle hasn't scared you off.

If you're still game, here are my:

Top 7 Reasons for Joining a Critique Group:*

*Why 7? Why not!

7. You like to read your works-in-progress in front of others and enjoy listening to others read their works-in-progress to you.
6. You enjoy having your words ripped to shreds in public and returning the favor to your critique group friends. (just kidding)
5. You like hanging out with weird people (just kidding--oops, well, maybe not)
4. Commas and semicolons make you sweat, so you hope someone in the critique group will explain them to you.
3. There's nothing to watch on TV except reruns
2. You have a break between bowling league and softball season

And the number one reason for joining a critique group

1. Unlike your family, friends, or co-workers, members of your critique group won't cover their ears and run away when you start to talk about your manuscript.

Kidding aside, if you want to learn more about the critique group I belong to (Coffee and Critique) visit the blogsite. Tricia Grissom has done an excellent job creating and maintaining the site, which includes markets, writing tips, and her ideas on running a critique group.

Tomorrow I will announce the winner in the Cup of Comfort for Military Families book contest. If you haven't entered yet, you still have time. Just send an e-mail by midnight tonight to me at with "Welcome Home" in the subject line. Include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Notes - THE KILLING CIRCLE by Andrew Pyper

Today's forecast in St. Peters: Overcast, chance of rain, high 59 degrees.

First, thanks to everyone who visited yesterday and e-mailed names of veterans they want to honor. I amended yesterday's post and added the veterans' names, along with a few personal stories.

Several people have already entered my "Welcome Home" contest to win a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families. If you missed yesterday's post and want to enter, there's still time. E-mail with your name and address. Put "Welcome Home" in the subject line. I will select the winner on Thursday and post the name on Friday.

Now back to this week's discussion about critique groups.

Last month I reviewed a thriller for called THE KILLING CIRCLE by Canadian author Andrew Pyper. The novel is about a critique group with a twist--a deadly twist.

The main character is Patrick Rush, a burned-out journalist and single father who recently lost his wife. The book opens in 2007 with a chilling description of the abduction of Patrick's son, Sam. But that's not where the real story begins.

Rewind to 2003. Shortly after his wife's death. Patrick has hit bottom. He turns to the bottle, self-pity, and bad behavior. Along with his grief, he is overwhelmed with a desire to write a novel. To spark his creativity, he joins a creative writing group where participants are invited to "tell the stories of their lives."

Conrad White, an exiled writer and the group's facilitator, insists on calling the group a circle. The circle meets in a dark room in the Kensington Circle section of Toronto. For weeks, Patrick listens to the odd mix of writers, with their unusual lives and strange stories, read their works-in-progress. While they tell the stories of their lives, Patrick realizes he has no story to tell. Yet, he is particularly enthralled by the story of "The Sandman" told by Angela, and he secretly records her words while she reads. Meanwhile in Toronto, a murderer is on the loose, and the killer's grizly handiwork hits close to Patrick's home and is strikingly similar to the events in "The Sandman."

If you've ever belonged to a critique group or writing circle, you will find this book haunting. If you still belong to a critique group after reading THE KILLING CIRCLE, you might look at your group members in a very different light. Ambition, jealousy, greed, romance, theft, murder--a wicked combination for any group of writers.

Hope I haven't scared you from joining a critique group. Tomorrow's post will discuss reasons you should join one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering Our Veterans

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Light rain, chance of storms, high 49 degrees.

As I look outside, I watch rain slice across the window pane and the wind scatter fallen leaves. On this overcast day, it seems fitting to take time to remember our veterans--those who have served, those who have changed, and those who have gone from here.

Here's my list of veterans special to me.
Members of my family:
* Walter Volkenannt - My husband, U.S. Air Force (67-71) and Vietnam Veteran (70-71).
* Walter Erik Volkenannt - My son, an Army soldier (93-96).
* James P. Duly, Sr. - My dad, an Army soldier (41-46), 96th Infantry Division, World War II disabled veteran.
* James P. Duly, Jr. - My brother, an Army soldier (70-73) and Vietnam Veteran (72).
Childhood friends:
* James Donnelly - Army soldier. A classmate from Holy Name grade school, took me to our eighth grade dance, gave me my first corsage, died in Vietnam in 1969.
* Mike Blassie - Air Force pilot. Took me to my senior prom, MIA/KIA in Vietnam in 1972, buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, his remains were returned to St. Louis in 1998.

I invite you to post your memories about veterans who've touched your life, say thanks to those who have served, or remember them in your thoughts and prayers.


This is an addition to my original post

Thanks to Margo, Magdalin, Sheree, and Jodi for sending me the names of and stories about these veterans:

Margo Dill honors:
* Her husband, Rick Balinski, who was in the Air Force for six years.
* Her friend, Dan Regan, who was called to active duty during the Iraq War as a part of the National Guard.

In Margo's words, "I am thankful that we have so many people who have served our country."

Magdalin Szabo honors:
* Her younger son, Nicholas, a veteran of “Dessert Storm.”

Sheree Nielsen honors:
* Her dad, who was in WW II in the Navy as a Chief PettyOfficer on the USS Vestal that was a repair sub that was stationed in theSouth Pacific. In Sherre's words, "He served our country well."
* Her hubby was in Andrews Air Force in Washington DC area, satellitecommunications for four years, and supported people in the Pentagon.

Jodi Webb honors:
* Her father, who was a SeaBee in the Navy in the mid 50's (after Korea before Vietnam). He spent his time driving construction equipment and stringing electrical wires. And his favorite story--when he was in Morocco he drove the base band to the palace to play for the princess's 16th birthday.


To recognize the contributions of our veterans and their families, I will be giving away one copy of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, which was released today and includes my true story, "Welcome Home. " Several of the veterans near and dear to me are mentioned in my story. To enter, send an e-mail by Thursday, Nov 13, to with Welcome Home in the subject line. Include your name, e-mail and mailing address. I will announce the name of the winner on Friday, Nov 14.

To all veterans and their family members, thank you for your service and sacrifices.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday's Market - A Cup of Comfort

Today's weather forecast for St. Peters: Foggy and cold. Expected high 49 degrees.

A Cup of Comfort is a market I've been fortunate enough to be published in three times. In fact, just last Friday I received my contributor copies of "Welcome Home," which appears in A Cup of Comfort for Military Families.

My experience with editor Colleen Sell is that she's flexible, open to new writers, and responsive to answering questions. Payment is $100, plus a contributor's copy. Right now, they're looking for submissions for Dog Lovers II (deadline Dec 15) and A Grieving Heart (Feb 1), plus a few other anthologies. Check out the website for complete guidelines and announcements. Here's a link to their site.

Okay, but I promised to talk about critique groups this week, so what does A Cup of Comfort have to do with critique groups?

Here's what: Three members of Coffee and Critique, the critique group I now belong to, have been published in Cup of Comfort books just this year. In addition to my own acceptance, Pat Wahler has a story in A Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers, and Alice Muschany has one in A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors.

Here's why I think our critique group helped us all get published: Critique groups can be great places to get your work ready to submit for publication or a contest. They are also helpful places to discuss writing and work on improving your craft. After Alice, Pat, and I wrote our stories, we made copies and brought our drafts (or e-mailed them) to our Coffee and Critique group. There, the stories were read out loud. Members offered comments, asked questions, made editing suggestions, or made notes on their copies. Then we took our written-on copies home and polished them, e-mailed if we needed clarification, and revised until the stories were ready to submit. Of course, it's always up to the writer which comments she choses to use, but if several people point out the same fault or have similar questions about something that was read, it may need a second look.

In a nutshell, that's how our group operates, and it seems to be working. If you don't belong to a critique group, you might find one at your local library, college, coffee shop, or book store (ours meets at a Barnes and Noble). If there isn't one around, why not start one of your own or search for an on-line group? And good luck!

Tomorrow, in honor of Veterans' Day, I'll talk about memories of veterans who have a special place in my heart and announce a contest to win a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, which has my true story "Welcome Home" in it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday's Happy Hour Discussion - Changes

Today's weather in St. Peters: Blustery, overcast, high 50 degrees. A definite change from earlier in the week.

While this site isn't intended for political discussion, I can't close out the week without mentioning the monumental and historic change we witnessed in the United States on Tuesday, November 4, when a majority of U.S. citizens elected Barack Obama our first African-American president. No matter how we voted or our party affiliation, I think we all can embrace our nation's democratic process.

This week also marked the passing of two famous and critically acclaimed authors--Studs Turkel and Michael Crichton. While their passing isn't anywhere near on the scale of this week's historic election, as a writer and reader who has enjoyed some of their works, I thought I would mention them too.

So, let's raise our glasses, cans, coffee mugs, or tea cups in salute of our great nation and great writers.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Next week, I plan to share some ideas and experiences about critique groups.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Three-for-one Thursday

Today's weather in St. Peters: Unstable. Chance of thunderstorms; high 69 degrees.

We didn't get the predicted storms last night, so most likely we will today, which I'm calling three-for-one Thursday because I have three bits of information to share.

I'm still struggling to figure out how to link to websites. If you want to check out a site I mention in a post, copy and paste the link in your web browser and try it that way.

First, here are two submission opportunities to check out:

Mid-American Review
MAR is seeking submissions before their next big rush in early January. Submit Poetry to Brad Modlin, fiction to Ashley Kaine, translations to George Looney, creative nonfiction to Karen Kay Craigo, who along with Mike Czyzniejewski, is fellow editor-in-chief.
Mid-American Review
Department of English
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green OH 43403

Here's their website address


Richard Bausch Short Story Contest
Our Stories Literary Journal's first annual Richard Bausch Short Story Contest is accepting submissions. In addition to the chance of winning prize money and publication, every submission receives a page-by-page review by a member of their staff. Deadline December 31st
For complete details, visit their website

Now, a special announcement for local writers:
Tomorrow night, November 7, St. Charles Community College will host an Open Mic Night on campus from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the SCC Social Sciences Auditorium. The event features coffee, cookies, and literary refreshment. Practice ahead of time and limit your mic time to seven minutes. SCC 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive; Cottleville, MO 636-933-8000. (I've participated in a couple of SCC's open mic nights, and they were fun. Teddy Norris does an excellent job running the event, and the free refreshments are yummy!)


That's all for today. Hope you'll check back on Friday for Happy Hour.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Websites and Blogs

Today's weather in St. Peters: Expected high 79, with a chance for thunderstorms this evening.

Most writers have heard the ABC’s of being productive—Apply Butt to Chair. But (no pun intended) spending so much time in isolation makes writing a lonely profession. One way I keep in touch with other writers is through a weekly critique group and a writers’ organization that meets each month. I also find information on websites and exchange ideas on blogs.

Here are two sites I visit regularly:

WOW! Women on Writing isn’t just for women. The site features articles with writing advice, contest announcements, and other helpful stuff. Entering their contests can be fun--and rewarding. In Spring 08 my flash fiction story, “Ida’s Rocking Chair,” was among the honorable mentions. As a winner my story was published on the WOW site, I was interviewed for their blog, received a year subscription to their Premium Green newsletter, and will be receiving a prize package sometime soon. So, if you’re looking for a caring, helpful, and active writing community, check out WOW.

One blog I visit regularly is Literary Agent Nathan Bransford’s. If you need advice on how to write a query letter or synopsis, how to format your manuscript, or how to find a literary agent, this site is golden. Seriously. I always learn something after reading postings on his site. Just the other day there was one about the word count “sweet spot” for query letters being between 250-350 words. Who knew?

Copy and paste this link in your browser to visit his site:

That’s all for now about websites and blogs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Notes - THE FIRE by Katherine Neville

Today's forecast: Another lovely day in St. Peters. Mostly sunny, high 75 degrees.

Penning book reviews and interviewing authors is one way I earn a small bit of money from my writing.

What I really love about book reviewing is being introduced to different writers and their books. When the books arrive in the mail, I can't wait to open the envelope, feel the book, study the cover, open the first page then flip to the back and read the author's bio.

Last month, THE FIRE by Katherine Neville, was a book I reviewed for And through Bookreporter I was also able to pose intervewiew questions to the author as well.

First, about the book.

THE FIRE is an exciting adventure-quest story that began 20 years ago in Neville's critically acclaimed, best-selling book, THE EIGHT, which involved pursuit of a magical chess set with dangerous powers. The set once belonged to Charlemagne, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Don't let the fact that the story involves the game of chess intimidate you because what it's really about is pursuit of the fabled set. My knowledge of chess could fit on the head of a dust mote, yet I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

In THE FIRE, the quest for the legendary Montglane Chess Service crisscrosses the globe and spans two centuries. The story weaves historic and contemporary events and features some famous figures: Charlemagne, Isaac Newton, Lord George Gordon Byron, Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon. The modern-day characters are intriguing as well. The story combines elements of science, history, architecture, magic, religion and superstition, and is peppered with puzzles, riddles, symbols, exotic locations, mouthwatering meals, a dash of romance --- and a hint of more to come.

Visit to read my complete review.

Now, for the interview.

In my interview, Neville explains why this sequel took two decades to write and describes why she uses the game of chess in these two books. She also discusses her research methods, her writing process, and how writing affects her. As a writer, I found her answers to the questions about research and writing especially fascinating. Neville also talks about the possibility of her books appearing on the big screen. Want to guess which which real-life historical figure Neville would most like to converse with over a meal? To find out, you can read my complete interview on

Happy Election Day! Don't forget to vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday's Market - Liguorian Magazine

Today’s weather: It’s a glorious day in St. Peters. The forecast is for mostly sunny skies, high 79 degrees.

For some reason, Mondays motivate me. It’s a fresh start to a new week, and I find it’s a great time to research writing markets.

A writing friend from Liguorian Magazine recently e-mailed that they are looking for quality fiction submissions. Fiction should be approximately 2,000 words and appropriate for a Catholic audience. Copy and paste this link in your web browser to link to their website for payment rates and complete guidelines.

I’m working on a short story to submit to them by the end of the year, so it’s back to work for me.

If you stop by tomorrow, I’ll share my thoughts on a book I’ve recently read -- THE FIRE by Katherine Neville.

Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...