Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Adding Flavor to "Vanilla Verbs"

Today in St. Peters, MO: Sunny, high 70 degrees, but it's was nippy this morning.

Over the weekend about two dozen members of Saturday Writers , whose motto is" "Writers encouraging writers," got a mental workout when board members Tricia Sanders and Amy Harke-Moore put on their "Exercising Your Writing Muscles" workshop. As part of her presentation, Tricia Sanders discussed how writers should experiment to add some flavor to their "Vanilla Verbs." She not only talked, she gave examples--and shared several helpful resources for writer.

One wowser resource is 1000 Verbs to Write By from Deanna Carlyle. If you click on the link, you will find a list of over a thousand action verbs compiled by Carlyle. Want to spice up your manuscript to describe how a character walks or runs? How about: lumbered, plodded, scurried sidled. Want to get rid of some of those pesky passive verbs such as was or were? Try substituting with some of these lively verbs: stood, sat, took up, perched, lay, hung.

Tricia and Amy did a fantastic job with the workshop! To find the list of resources Tricia discussed during the "Exercising Your Writing Muscles" workshop, visit the website.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dogs and The Women Who Love Them Contest

Today in St. Peters, MO: Windy, high 69 degrees.

Several of my writing friends have sent me leads for the contest spreadsheet I'm compiling. Here is information about a contest sent to me by Becky Povich. The contest has a short deadline, but if you have something appropriate in your stockpile of manuscripts or if you act quickly, you have time!

The contest is from the Angel Animal's network . The title is: Dogs and the Women Who Love Them True Story Contest. There is no entry fee. The deadline is September 30.

Speaking of deadlines, I have one today for a book review, so I better get busy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Decatur Public Library Annual Writing Contest - Deadline Today

Today in St. Peters, MO: Chance of showers, high 75 degrees.

Yesterday I e-mailed several writing friends asking for names of writing competitions for a spreadsheet I am compiling. Next month I'm going to speak to the Writers Society of Jefferson County, and the president asked me to include a list of contests as part of my talk. So, I sent out an e-mail asking for contest suggestions. Doyle Suit, a writing friend and critique group member, sent me information about a few contests, including one with a short deadline --- today --- that I thought I'd share with you all.

So, if you have a manuscript or poem polished and ready to be sent off, or if you like working under quick deadlines, the Decatur Public Library's Annual Writing Contest is for you! The entry fee is only $3 per submission, and they have five categories--essay, fiction, juveline fiction, rhymed poetry, and unrhymed poetry. If you enter and win something, let me know and I will post about it on my blog. Good luck, and don't forget to include an SASE for results!

I love the motto for their library, "Where you go to know."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today in St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 75 degrees. Light rain this morning.

Here's some good news from Pat Wahler, a member of Saturday Writers, and a member of a critique group I belong to as well. Pat's true story "Canine Angel" is included in the just-released Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog.

Pat read her story one evening at our critique group. It is such a moving story, and Pat is a wonderful writer and supporter of dogs and other critters. Check out her Critter Alley blog if you get a chance. She posts about critters of all varieties, and occasionally posts call-outs for submissions about --- what else --- critters!

Way to go, Pat!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Springfield Writers' Guild Annual Contests

Today in St. Peters, MO: Chance of showers, high 80 degrees. A hint of fall is in the air. Time to put on a pot of chili.

The 2009 Springfield Writers' Guild has announced its 16th Annual Literary Awards, which includes the JIM STONE GRAND PRIZE MEMORIAL AWARD.

Isn't this photo of Mark Twain from the SWG's home page intriguing? Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, put the town of Hannibal, Missouri, on the map. On a personal note, Hannibal is also the birthplace of my mom.

Like Saturday Writers, my favorite writers' group, SWG is one of thirteen chapters of the Missouri Writers' Guild. What I like about the SWG's contests is they are inexpensive to enter (only $2 or $3, depending on the contest) and they have a contest for just about any type of writer--prose, poetry, or non-fiction. Most of all, you can find out the results quickly.

Their contest deadline is October 1st, and the winners' names will be announced at the October SWG meeting. For complete guidlines, visit their website.

Oh, and Good Luck!

Monday, September 21, 2009

And The Winner of Celia Rivenbark's ARC Is . . .

Today in St. Peters, MO: Foggy this morning, chance of thunderstorms, high 81 degrees. Farewell, Summer.

After consulting with Celia by e-mail to see if she wanted to select a winner from everyone who commented or left a question or have me pick a name out of a hat, the hat won.

So, the lucky winner is . . .TRICIA GRISSOM.

Please e-mail me, Tricia, so I can make arrangements to get the ARC of Celia's laugh-out-loud collection of essays, You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start In The Mornin' to you. And you're going to love the recipe for the "You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw" Apple Enchiladas, along with the rest of the humor-filled book.

Thanks to WOW! for sponsoring Celia's interview and to everyone who took time out of their day to read my interview with Celia and post comments or questions.

If your name wasn't picked out of the hat, I know a place where you can have a second chance to win one or more of Celia's books

Carol Fitzgerald and the wonderful folks at are sponsoring a special contest to celebrate the release of Celia's latest book. One lucky Grand Prize winner will receive a finished copy of YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING, a copy of the YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING audiobook, a toothbrush, a martini glass and recipe cards, as well as a copy of each of Celia Rivenbark’s backlist titles, which include BELLE WEATHER, BLESS YOUR HEART, TRAMP, STOP DRESSING YOUR SIX-YEAR-OLD LIKE A SKANK and WE’RE JUST LIKE YOU, ONLY PRETTIER.

Fifteen additional readers
each will receive a finished copy of YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING.

The deadline to enter is Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:59PM (Eastern). Here's a link to find out more:

How's that for a great contest? Wish I could enter, but I freelance for the network, so I can't, but I would be tickled pink if one of my blog visitors would win.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Inch Magazine, Where Good Writing Come in Tiny Packages

Today in St. Peters, MO: Mostly sunny, high 80 degrees. A good day for a walk.

After yesterday's informative, entertaining, and lenghty interview with North Carolina humor writer Celia Rivenbark and all the comments and questions left by visitors, I wanted to have a brief post. So, how about an announcement for a market located in North Carolina that focuses on tiny submissions?

I read about Inch Magazine in Pam Casto's Flash Fiction Newsletter and visited the magazine's website. Inch Magazine/Bull City Press is " a quarterly magazine devoted to tiny poems and tiny fiction. We believe that good things come in small packages, so we focus our eight pages on poems of one to nine lines, or fiction of 750 words or less."

The editors prefer electronic submissions and pay in three contributor copies. Note: they will not be accepting poetry submissions between October 15, 2009 and January 15, 2010. Visit their website for more details.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Interview with Humor Writer Celia Rivenbark

Today in St. Peters, MO: Partly cloudy, high 80 degrees. Another beautiful day.

As part of the WOW! Women on Writing Author's Blog Tour, I'm tickled pink to have as my guest today Celia Rivenbark, a flat-out-funny writer from North Carolina. So far I've read three of her books published by St. Martin's Press: Belle Weather, Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like A Skank, and her latest book, which includes some yummy recipes, You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start In The Mornin'. Her books are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Here are my interview questions for Donna's Book Pub (DBP) and Celia Rivenbark's (CR) answers:

DBP: Humor is so hard to write, yet you make it seem effortless. How did you get started as a writer? And how would you describe Southern-style humor?
CR: I started as a newspaper reporter for my hometown paper, circ. 3,500. It was a terrific experience because I was the ONLY reporter most of the time and covered everything from weddings and ribbon-cuttings to murders and arson. Often these were in the same day. It’s a wonder I didn’t throw rice at a bank robbery. Southerners usually have a very self-deprecating style of humor, preferring to make themselves the butt of the joke. We’re great storytellers and often tell long, looping jokes and stories that would drive someone else completely mad. Much of our humor is inspired by the crazies in our families.

DBP: Speaking of families, you write about events and situations that have happened to your family, friends, neighbors—even celebrities. Any fallout from family, friends, or neighbors? Have any celebrities contacted you about what you’ve written about them? Britney Spears, maybe?

CR: Friends and family names are disguised well enough that they don’t take offense. As for celebrities, I’ve only had one, Kathy Ireland, who took me to task for a potshot. I don’t care; it was a good joke and she’s a big girl; she should be able to take it.

DPB: In one of your books you wrote about the response you got to a column you wrote about Clay Aiken. Which of your columns has gotten the most response or the most passionate letters from your readers?

CR: Without a doubt, the biggest volume of mail I’ve ever received came from a column I wrote about the stitch-and-bitch knitting groups springing up. I’m still getting hate mail on that one. Apparently they thought I was quite serious. Like I said at the time, I fully expected to come home one day and find a tiny little knitted horse’s head on my bed. I understand it in a way. You see, not all newspapers that pick up my column run it every week or even every month so people unfamiliar with my byline think I’m a Serious Journalist. The Clay Aiken fans wanted to roast me on a spit for “implying” that he might be gay. This, I should add, isn’t a slam in my book; gay men love me! I never heard from any of them after he finally, mercifully came out.

DBP: That's so funny. What is the most surprising, stupid, annoying, fill-in-the-blank comment you’ve received from a reader?

CR: It’s not just one; it’s the mail from people who, again, don’t get the joke. I got some pretty hateful stuff from people who take medicine for Restless Leg Syndrome for a column I wrote lampooning the drug for the ailment. Side effects include “casino gambling.” Are you kidding? That’s hysterical! They insisted I was making fun of their disease. It was idiotic.

DBP: I love the recipes you’ve included in You Can’t Drink All Day if You Don’t Start in the Mornin'. In fact, I’m going to make some “You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw” Apple Enchiladas for my Bunco group. Where did you get the fabulous idea to include recipes in with your book? And, how do you make Firefly Sweet-Tea Vodka?

CR: I was talking to my mom about the book and saying that it was coming up a little short, content-wise, and she said, “Why don’t you do like that nice Doris Roberts and write a book with recipes?” So there you have it. The harpy mother from “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns decided the book’s fate. But I really did love doing the recipes and found that it was very easy to fit them in with the chapters. As to the vodka, it’s available at your likker store and it’s quite delicious.

DPB: Your mother is a wise woman. I'm glad you took her advice and included the recipes. Switching gears a bit, what were your favorite books, or who were your favorite authors growing up?

CR: Growing up I devoured all the Nancy Drew mysteries, of course, and still have a weird crush on Ned Nickerson. Later, I read a lot of political books and biographies. I read all of Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalism stuff and loved that. Now I read mostly novels written by Southerners or people with a Southern sensibility. I just finished “The Help” and on my nightstand right now you’ll find Pat Conroy’s new book, Elizabeth Edwards’ “Resilience” and Ruth Reichl’s “Comfort Me With Apples.” I love to read cookbooks and food-themed novels. Very satisfying.

DPB: Nancy Drew books were my favorites growing up, too. The other books you mentioned sound interesting. I'll have to check them out. Most of my visitors are writers, and as writers, we're curious types, so I have to ask: What’s most gratifying about being a writer? Most disappointing?

CR: Gratifying? You make your own hours and you define how the work is going to be done, what direction it will go. I like the solitude of just me and the computer. Most disappointing? That I’ve written five humor collections and still haven’t hit the “Times” list. But I’m not giving up!

DBP: That's the spirit! With your writing style and humor, I'm sure one day we'll see your name on the top of the "Times" and other best-seller lists. Here's another question about writing: what’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? The worst?

CR: Best advice: “Read great writing." It really is true. If I’m blocked, I’ll just sit and read something wonderful for an hour or so and it really helps. Worst advice: “Don’t quit your day job.” In fact, I did, and, although I sometimes miss the camaraderie of being in the newsroom, it was the right decision for me.

DBP: Thanks for sharing that advice. I for one am glad you quit your day job to write books full-time, because I enjoy reading them. So, Celia, what are you working on now? Are you still thinking about writing a vampire cat novel you mentioned at the end of your latest book?

CR: I have a contract with St. Martin’s Press to write two more humor collections and I’m working on the first of those now. I think I might do something with the redneck vampire but it’ll probably just be a chapter in the collection. I’ve also got a fantastic idea for a children’s book that I’d love to do after that.

DBP: Redneck Vampire, I love it! Your children's book also sounds great! I'm sure my blog visitors want to find out more about you and keep up with what's going with your books, so what’s the best way for readers to find out about upcoming book signings, appearances, or other events?

CR: Visit my brand new, just redesigned website, and click on “Y’all come!” I love meeting readers in person. It really is my favorite part of the job. I mean, besides cashing the checks.

DBP: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us today. I surely do appreciate it, and good luck with your current book and future projects. Your writing definitely makes me laugh.

Final Note: One lucky visitor who leaves a question or comment for Celia will receive an advance readers' edition of Celia's latest book, You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start In The Morning. So, don't be shy, ask away!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saturday Writers 8th Annual Short Story Contest

Today in St. Peters, MO: Partly cloudy, high 81 degrees.

Here's a contest near and dear to my heart, and not just because I'm the contest chair this year. The Saturday Writers 8th Annual Short Story Contest (Short stories only, no essays, poems, or articles).
Deadline: November 1, 2009 (postmarked)
Word Limit: 2009.
Contest is open to EVERYONE. Open subject, open genre. (No pornography or gore.)
Entry fee $7. (Discount for members of Saturday Writers, MWG, or other MWG Chapters: $5 entry fee per story.) Maximum of three entries per person. Checks payable to: Saturday Writers.
Prizes: 1st place - $100, 2nd place - $50, 3rd place - $25. 4-10th Place receive a certificate. For complete details visit the CONTESTS page Certificates and prizes will be mailed by the end of December.

This year's contest judge is Lynn Carney from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Carney has been nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize for literary excellence for a short story and has received many awards for her fiction, including two Dan Saults Awards from OWL; three Crème De la Crèmes from OWFI and Johnson County Texas Writers; a Mainstream Literary award from the 73rd Annual Writer's Digest Competition for a short story, and others. To learn more about Lynn, visit the CONTEST page.
Good luck! Hope to see your name among the winners.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Who Inspires You to Live Beautifully Contest

Another sunny day in St. Peters, with an expected high of 84 degrees.

It's hard to believe it's already been eight years since the September 11 attacks on the United States. Although today is a day of reflection and rememberance, I think it also should be a time to think about the future.

Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one knows that one way to overcome sorrow is through prayer and hope. I read a quote about overcoming grief and sorrow that stuck with me, "Look back, but don't stare." In my own way, I'm going to remain hopeful by doing my best to raise my grandchildren to become the best they can be, while taking time to remain faithful to my own writing dream.

One way I try to polish my writing skills is by entering contests. I came across this contest with a quick deadline and some uplifting (in more ways than one) prizes. It's the Live Beautifully Two Contest. The deadline is Monday, September 14, 2009. Write an essay, no more than 500 words in total length describing "a person that has inspired them to live beautifully." Read the complete details and submit an online the entry form. Limit one entry per person or e-mail address.

Seven winners will each receive a prize package with an approximate market value of $357 per Winner. Prizes include: Bali bra and panty set, Danya Decker candle, container of Lily Pulitzer perfume, a selection of Jo Malone bath oils, a selection of Aveda cremes, and Carpenter + Company handmade tote bag.

So, as I take time to remember those who perished on 9-11 and my own loved ones whose have passed away, I'm going to keep the candle of hope and creativity burning by using my talents to help create a brighter tomorrow.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hayden's Ferry Review Submission Deadline 30 September

It's foggy this morning in St. Peters, but expected to reach 85 degrees.

Hayden's Ferry Review is the Arizona State University literary magazine. According to their website, the HFR editors read year-round. Their response time is 12-16 weeks. The Spring/Summer issue deadline is September 30. Payment is $25.00 per page/maximum of $100.00 (cover art payment—$100.00), two copies of the magazine, and a one-year gift subscription to HFR. Simultaneous submissions are welcome. If your work is accepted elsewhere, please notify the editors immediately. There is no reading fee. Read complete submission guidelines on their website.

The HFR blog also has a post from Eugene Cross, who shares some of his notes from a Charlie Baxter workshop he attended at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Celia Rivenbark is My Special Guest Next Week

About the weather: The redish-orange moon last night was gorgeous if anyone got to check it out.

Special Announcement: Next Thursday, September 17, Celia Rivenbark, a hilarious writer, serves up some Southern-style humor on Donna's Book Pub. Celia will answer my interview questions about how she got started in writing, which celebrity wrote to complain about a column she wrote, and which group got most upset when Celia made a comic remark about them.

So, mark your calendars for September 17 and stop by to read Celia's interview and leave questions or comments. One lucky visitor will win an Advance Readers' Edition of Celia's latest book published by St. Martin's Press: You Can't Drink All Day If you Don't Start in the Morning.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday's Market: Vestal Review

Today in St. Peters, MO: Foggy and misty this morning, expected high of 85 degrees.

If you like to flash--that is if you like writing flash fiction--Vestal Review is a print and on-line publication that accepts submissions up to 500 words. The have two submission periods: February-May and August-November and accept only two submissions per person during each period.
They do not accept porn, racial slurs, excessive gore, or obscenity. On the other end of the spectrum, no children's or preachy stories either. They love humor, and the title is an important part of the story. Make it pertinent but don't tell too much. They generally don't favor one-word titles.

Payment is in cash and contributors' copies.
Stories up to 100 words (excluding the title)--10 cents a word.
Stories between 101 and 200 words--5 cents a word.
Stories between 201 and 500 words--3 cents a word.
Stories of great merit receive up to $25 flat fee; 3 cents a word is a minimum pay in any case.
In addition, every contributor will get one free copy.
For complete guidelines, visit their website.

I've submitted a few flash pieces and have gotten some kind rejection e-mails from Editor/Publisher/Webmaster Mark Budman. Maybe I'll try again this submission period. How about you? I know some of my regular visitors are great at writing humor.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Win a Book on Margo Dill's Blog

Today in St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 80 degrees.

Be sure to visit Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them blog BEFORE 5 p.m. TODAY for a chance to win one of two books that will be given away from the comments on her blog. The first name chosen gets to select which book he or she wants--either Travels with Tarra or Just for Elephants, both by Carol Buckley. The second name will get the second book. Margo will draw names on Friday, September 4 at 5:00 p.m. CST. Good luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Greensboro Review Robert Watson Literary Prizes

Another gorgeous day in St. Peters, MO: Partly sunny, high 80 degrees

I'm late posting today. Michael's class was responsible for helping with this morning's Mass. Michael carried the cross. A few other classmembers acted out the Scripture of the master giving his servants their talents. It was a thoughtful and an inspiring hour. Walt and I stopped for breakfast afterwards, and then we had company drop by for a bit. Enough about me. How about a contest announcement for you!
Here's a no-entry fee contest from The Greensboro Review. Entries must be postmarked by 15 September 2009. Winners of the Fiction and Poetry Prizes will each receive a $500 cash award and publication in The Greensboro Review. For complete contest guidelines, visit their website.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Success Stories

Here's an update to today's earlier post: Two more writing friends, both members of Saturday Writers, e-mailed me with some good news.

Barbara Hodges had her article, "I Can See Clearly Now," accepted for publication in the e-zine, You and Me Magazine. The article is about her reaction after being diagnosed with glaucoma. She wrote the piece ten years ago to help her adjust to the news. The article was hanging out on her disk. She tweeked the article here and there, sent in a query, and voila!, it was accepted. How's that for persistence?

Becky Povich's story submitted to Thin Threads has been chosen as one of the top 101 finalists. She should know if it's selected sometime next month! We'll keep our fingers crossed!

Congratulations, Barbara and Becky!

Sharing Success Stories

Today in St. Peters, MO: Party cloudy, high 76. Another lovely day!

My friends are the best! They've encouraged me when I felt like giving up, picked me up when I was down, and shared in my success. I am so pleased when I hear their good news. Here are some success stories to share about a few of my writing friends:

Margo Dill is teaching and on-line course: Writing for Children: Everything You Wanted to Know About Writing Short Stories, Articles, and Fillers through WOW! To sign up for the class, go to this link:

Dianna Graveman recently signed a contract with Whispering Prairie Press (Kansas City Voices) to publish one of her short stories.

Tricia Grissom's essay "Straight to the Bottle," will be included in Dirt is Good For You, which will be released this month.

Advance Reader's Copies of David Lee "Kirk" Kirkland's urban fantasy The Last Dark Elf are out for comments. Expected publication date is this fall.

Doyle Suit memoir, "Sparse Cotton," was published in the September/October 2009 issue of Good Old Days Magazine.

Pat Wahler's true story "Canine Angel" is included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog, published later this month.

Joy Wooderson's memoir, Finding Joy: One Woman's Journey Back to Faith, is scheduled for publication this month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Writer Mama Back to School Giveaway

Today in St. Peters, MO: Overcast, high 80 degrees.

Beginning today, and for the rest of the month of September, Christina Katz is GIVING AWAY a Writer's Digest book each day on her Writer Mama Blog. Some of the giveaways are: Day one: The Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman; Day Five: Writer Mama by Christina Katz; Day Eleven: On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels; Day Thirteen: Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz; Day Nineteen: The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass; Day Thirty: The Deluxe 2010 Writer’s Market by Robert Lee Brewer.

If you want to read more about Christina's Writer Mama book (Day 5 giveaway) pop on over to my other blog, A Book a Week, to read my review.

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...