Friday, November 27, 2009

Metro South Arts Council hosts Author Fair

Today in St. Peters, MO: Sunny, high 55 degrees.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thankgiving Day. My family certainly did!

Yesterday we went to my sister Bridget's house. Bridget and her husband Steve always do a spectacular job with Thanksgiving dinner. Bridget and Steve cooked the turkeys and trimmings, and everyone brought their special dishes. After we ate, we had our annual Christmas ornament exchange, which is always fun. Then we picked names for Christmas--which will be at my house. Just about all the family was there, including my niece Alexandra and her fiance James--and their adorable mini-pinscher puppy, Carmen, who looked fetching in her pink and black tutu and on "diamond" choker. Alexandra and James are in town from Columbia for a couple days. Alex looks as beautiful as ever, and James is so supportive and loving to her. Alex begins her radiation treatments next week, so please keep praying for her.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to get back to work.

Tomorrow, Saturday, November 28, I will participate in the Metro South Arts Council Author Fair and Book Signing sponsored by Metro South Arts Council at Crestwood Court, 109 Crestwood Plaza Drive, just off Watson Road in St. Louis.

During the event, more than a dozen local Illinois and Missouri authors will display, sell, and sign their books. The Author Fair will be open to the public from 10 am until 6 pm at ArtSpace #120 near the north end of Crestwood Court; there is no admission charge and there is free parking at Crestwood Court.

This event was planned and coordinated by Cheryl Eichar Jett, who writes about local history of Southern Illinois. She has written a book about Alton, IL, which, if I'm not mistaken, has been named one of the most haunted places in the United States.

I will be at the event signing copies of books with my stories in them, including: Mysteries of the Ozarks, A Cup of Comfort for Christmas, A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, and A Cup of Comfort for Women.

I will be there from around 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. So, if you're in the vicinity, please stop by and say "Hey!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Blind Side - Uplifting and Entertaining

Today in St. Peters, MO: Partly sunny, high 60 degrees.

Saturday evening I did something I hadn't done in a long time--went out to dinner and a movie.
Walt and Michael were out at our country place deer hunting, so Cari and I went with one of her friends and her friend's mother to see The Blind Side. Good thing we got the the show early because there wasn't an empty seat in the house, which was filled with people of all ages and races.

The Blind Side movie is based on a true story about Michael Oher, a homeless African-American teenager from a broken home, who eventually becomes a professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens. Because of his large size everyone calls him "Big Mike," which he does not like. He is bounced through foster care until the Touys, an affluent family who owns a string of Taco Bells, take him in, and his life turns around--but not without difficulty.
Quinton Aaron plays the role of Michael Oher. Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw play Leigh Ann and Sean Touhy. Kathy Bates plays "Miss Sue," who is a delight. Sandra Bullock is convincing and moving as Leigh Ann, who stands up for her new "son." Her other son, the actor who played SJ, is definitely a scene stealer and gave a lot of comic relief.

The actors who played parts of folks living on "the other side of the tracks" in Memphis, are very realistic in their roles. Adriane Lenox shows sorrow, shame, and love as Michael's birth mother. The actors who play the "thugs" show menace and hostility--even vulnerability. The actor who plays the football quarterback who dropped out of school and joined a gang gave an especially moving performance.

I found The Blind Side to have the right balance of being heartwarming, uplifting, and entertaining. The ending came off as a bit schmaltzy, but schmaltz is good in small doses. At our theater, when the movie was finished, just about everyone remained in their seats to watch the final clips and read about the true-life Michael Oher.
Oh, and neither Walt nor Michael got a deer this weekend. But while they were out in the woods hunting for deer, I saw a large doe romp across Mid Rivers Mall Drive onto the campus of St. Charles Community College as I drove home from Target on Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, traffic stopped in both directions to let the deer cross the road.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why I Love to Write - How About You?

Today in St. Peters, MO: Partly sunny, high 59 degrees--bring on the sunshine!

This past week at least 10 things happened that affirmed why I love to write and why writers are some of my favorite people.

Here they are:

1. Yesterday I finished logging in the entries for the Saturday Writers 8th Annual Short Story Contest. We received almost 90 entries from 19 states. I am contest chair, and before sending the manuscripts to the judge, I read a few of the entries. One story made me laugh out loud; another gave me chills; another moved me to tears. Writers inspire me!

2. Last night I attended a local author's event at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library in O'Fallon, MO. Sara Nielsen did an excellent job orchestrating the event. It was fun to talk with readers and visit with some writing friends I hadn't seen in awhile as well as making some new friends, too. Writers are welcoming!

3. At critique group on Tuesday, everyone who wanted to read got to, and their works and the critiques were great! Writers are fun to be around!

4. Also at critique group, Alice M. read an excellent essay that brought tears to the eyes of everyone there. She is submitting her essay to Chicken Soup for Mothers and Daughters. She encouraged me to write and submit an essay, and she e-mailed me information about the issue and the Dec 31 deadline. Writers are generous!

4. Earlier this week on my A Book A Week blog, I posted my review of FINDING JOY, written by Joy Wooderson. Last night at the library Joy once again thanked me for my review and told me how pleased she was with it. Writers are grateful!

5. Last night several writers complimented me on my blog and told me how much they enjoy reading it. Writers are complimentary!

6. This week I finished reading and reviewing THIS BOOK IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU by Pseudonymous Bosch and e-mailed my review a few hours after the deadline to Tom Donadio, my editor at Good editors are a joy!

7. Wednesday a second copy of THIS BOOK IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU arrived from the publisher, so I'm going to donate it to Michael's class at All Saints School. Publishers are generous, even if by mistake!

8. On Wednesday I received an envelope from Green River Writers. My short story "Criminal Minds" won a certificate for 1st Honorable Mention in the President's Prize Contest for Short Fiction. Entering writing contests is fun!

9. Also in the envelope from Green River Writers was a certificate for the Jim O'Dell Memorial Poetry Contest. My Limerick "Pillow Talk?" won 1st Place--and I also received a check! Winning writing contests is even more fun!

10. This week I started scribbling down my thoughts for an essay about a beautiful patchwork quilt I won last Saturday, on my late daughter Julie's birthday. Writing keeps me sane and helps me remember the good times!

How about you? Care to share any thoughts about why you love to write or why writers are special people in your life?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harvard Square Editions Accepting Submissions

Today in St. Peters, MO: Chance of showers (not again!), high 50 degrees. It's another gray kind of day.

Here's a call-out for submissions I recieved from Julie Earhart, a writing friend who is a wealth of information about call-outs, submission opportunities, and all things literary, especially in the metro-St. Louis area:

Harvard Square Editions (HSE) is now accepting novel excerpt and short story submissions for publication in the sequel to Above Ground, an anthology entitled Voice from the Past. HSE authors retain ownership rights. HSE seeks work of the highest literary quality.

Please send self-contained novel excerpts in the body of an email for possible publication in the anthology, Voice from the Past.
Submissions, sent in the body of an e-mail, should include the author's name and contact info and a one-paragraph bio in third person to: submissions (at) harvardsquareeditions (dot) org in e-mail address format. (The address is spelled out here to reduce spam.) Attachments will not be opened. Authors must inform Harvard Square Editions immediately if the piece has been accepted by another publication.

Visit the Harvard Square Editions website for complete details. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Author Event at Middendorf Kreddel Library on November 19

Today in St. Peters, MO: Light rain, high 45 degrees--but I got a glimpse of the sun this morning! Yay!

Here's a reminder about an event sponsored by St. Charles City-County Library District that I will participate in, along with several other local authors.
Sara Nielsen, Manager for Community Branches and Adult Programming, and the staff from the St. Charles City-County Library District have done an excellent job planning and orchestrating this event, which is described as follows:

Local Author Open House
Start your holiday shopping early!
Books will be sold & autographed.
Refreshments will be served.
• How does an author decide the type of book to write?
• Would you like to chat with authors on their writing techniques?
• How do you get a book published? Where do you even start!
• Do you have a book inside of you? What does it take to write a book?
Thursday, November 19 -- 4:30 - 8:00 pm
Middendorf Kredell Library
2750 Hwy. K, O’Fallon
PLEASE NOTE: I will be there from 4:30 till 6, then return from 7:30-8:00.

I will sign copies of A Cup of Comfort for Christmas, A Cup of Comfort for Women, A Cup of Comfort for Families, Mysteries of the Ozarks, and other anthologies in which my stories appear. A representative from Main Street Books in St. Charles will on site to handle book sales. Hope to see you there.
NOTE: Several other local authors who belong to Saturday Writers will also be there, including Bobbi Smith, David "Kirk" Kirkland, Joy Wooderson, Dianna Graveman, Lou Turner, Pat Wahler, and Becky Povich.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: As mentioned above, Joy Wooderson will be one of the featured writers. Joy is a writing friend who has written, FINDING JOY: ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY BACK TO FAITH, an inspiring memoir which I recently reviewed.
If you would like to read my review and learn more about Joy's book, please visit my A Book A Week Blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Voices Anthology Short Story Contest - Call for Entries

Today in St. Peters, MO: Light rain, high 49 degrees.

Voices Anthology has announced a call for entries for Volume III. The anthology is a compilation of short stories published by High Hill Press and edited by Lou Turner and Delois McGrew.

Here is an abbreviated version of the submission guidelines:
* Unpublished short stories only up to 3,000 words (no essays or poetry)
* Standard manuscript format. Times New Roman, 12 point font
* Entry fee $10 for each submission
* Mail two copies, along with entry fee to:
P.O. Box 9076
Fayetteville, AR 72703
* Include a cover letter with contact information, including e-mail address and a 50-word bio. SASE NOT required.
* All genres, except erotica
* First prize $200 and publication
* Other winners will be published in the anthology and receive one contributor's copy
* First North American rights - rights revert to author 30 days after publication
* Submission deadline: December 31, 2009
* For complete guidelines, visit the OWL website or contact or Be sure to put Voices Anthology in Subject line of your e-mail.

I had a story selected for Volume II and was pleased with the result. In the past the editors have nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I'm not sure if they are this time, but that would be a good question to ask if you e-mail them. Good luck!

NOTE: Tuesday night I confirmed with Lou Turner that short story submissions will be accepted from all writers. You DO NOT have to belong to OWL to submit to Voices Anthology, but you do have to include a $10 fee for each submission.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Memorable Holiday Moments Contest from Sister Schubert--and Coincidences, Not Really

Today in St. Peters, MO: Scattered showers, high 50 degrees.

Here's a contest I came across yesterday in the newspaper while clipping coupons. Just in time for Christmas, the Meridith Corporation is sponsoring a Memorable Holiday Moments Contest through Sister Schubert's (maker of yeast rolls).

Here's a link to a video which tell you how to submit your family's most memorable holiday moment. Share your most memorable family holiday moment in 200 words or fewer. Contest deadline is 11:59 p.m. E.T. on 12/24/09. You could win a $5,000 vacation from Apple Vacations and Riu Palace, Mexico. Also $5,000 will be donated to the winner's local food bank. Five runners-up will each receive a $100 gift card. Sounds like a win-win situation to me, especially with the donation to a local food bank!

On a personal note, sorry I haven't posted lately. I'm finally over my pneumonia. It is so good to be able to breathe easily now and back to a routine! I should be posting more regularly from now on.

On a bittersweet note, last Saturday I won the "big prize" in our parish craft fair raffle--an absolutely exquisite, hand-made, queen-size quilt. My late daughter Julie loved quilts. Over the years I won a few for her at parish picnics, and she won one of her own--a special "Irish" green quilt at a quilt bingo at St. Patrick's parish several years ago. Somehow, the "Irish" quilt got lost during the sale of Julie and Mike's house after their deaths.

My granddaughter Cari also loves quilts. I offered to give her one of mine to replace her mom's quilt that got lost, but Cari has always wanted a new one of her own. I promised Cari if I ever won another quilt I would give it to her. I made good on my promise over the weekend.

Since I don't believe in coincidences, I think winning the quilt was part of God's plan. What makes me believe that is Saturday would've Julie's 40th birthday. On Saturday after Michael's soccer game, a group of us went out to lunch and choked back tears when we toasted a marguirita in memory of Julie's 40th birthday.

I was shocked and thrilled a few hours later when I received a call from the parish that I had won the quilt. When I gave Cari the quilt I told her that her mom is still looking out for her, even while she's in heaven.

Saturday was a good day for remembering and sharing and making new memories. I found out this morning when I took some medicine to Michael up at All Saints School that one of the women who made the quilt used to be Julie's Brownie leader when Julie went to All Saints. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And The Winner Is . . .

Tonight in St. Peters, MO: Fair and clear, how 35 degrees.

As promised last week, I've picked a name at random for a copy of THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY from everyone who posted a comment or a comment for Therese Walsh, my guest blogger as part of the WOW! Author Blog Tour on October 30.
And the winner is . . . Margo. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment or asked a question and to Therese for her thorough and helpful answers.

Margo, please e-mail me so I can make arrangements to get the copy of Therese's novel to you.

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Hunter and Dylan, my twin grand-nephews who are 4 today!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Meet the Authors at Middendorf-Kredell Library in O'Fallon

Today in St. Peters, MO: Partly cloudy, high 65 degrees. It was lovely yesterday; I'm hoping for a repeat. Michael is now officially a "deer hunter." Walt took him over the weekend to our farm in Osage County to participate in his first Missouri Youth Hunt. Michael did not shoot a deer, but he got one shot off from his rifle.

On Thursday, November 19, from 4:30 to 8 p.m the St. Charles City-County Library District is sponsoring a special event for local authors, the "Meet the Authors Event" at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library, 2750 Highway K, in O'Fallon.

Some members of Saturday Writers will be there, including: Joy Wooderson, Becky Povich, Dianna Graveman, David Lee "Kirk" Kirkland, Louella Turner, and Donna Volkenannt (Hey, that's me!). Vicky from Main Street Books in St. Charles will be there, too.

I will be signing copies of books in which stories of mine appear: A Cup of Comfort for Christmas, A Cup of Comfort for Women, A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, and Mysteries of the Ozarks. Refreshments will be served. Hope you can make it!

Sara Nielsen, Manager of Community Branches and Adult Programming for the St. Charles City-County Library District, e-mailed that local authors can sign up to participate until November 5 or when the spaces are filled, "whichever comes first." So, if you're in the metro St. Charles area and want to participate, e-mail Sara at or call (636) 441-2300, extension 1519, but do it quickly because space is filling up.

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...