Friday, October 29, 2010

Mysteries of the Ozarks (Vol III) Open for Submissions

Here's a paid submission opportunity for writers living in or with strong ties to the Ozarks -- specifically Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas.

The directors of Ozark Writers, Inc. (Jane Hale, Carolyn Gray Thornton, Ellen Gray Massey, and Debbie Blades) are looking for fiction or non-fiction for their third anthology, Mysteries of the Ozarks Vol. III.

The photo above is of the cover of Volume I, in which a short story of mine appeared.

For Volume III: Each story should contain something that needs to be solved. It can be anything that is unknown, unexplained or kept secret. It need not be a crime or dead body. It could even be something supernatural or from outer space. Generally the mystery is solved, or if not, the reader is satisfied with the results.

More Guidelines:

* Fiction or non-fiction accounts of real mysteries that occurred in the Ozarks.
* Non-fiction stories can be researched actual mysterious events or handed-down folklore.
* Can be any length, but no more than 7,000 words. (I believe my story in Vol I was around 3,000 words.)
* Must be unpublished.
* Typed double-spaced with Courier New font, no smaller than 12 point.
* Can take place in any time period even back to prehistoric peoples or in the future.
* Must be set in the Ozark area and reveal characteristics of the land and/or the people. The area and/or its people should be important in the plot or theme.
* No hillbilly stereotyping of the people in the story.
* Suitable for family reading.
* Authors submitting stories need to be living in the greater Ozark area (mainly southern Missouri and northern Arkansas), or have strong ties to the area.
* Unless accompanied by an SASE, manuscripts will not be returned.
* Deadline for submitting stories is January 15, 2011.
* Submit a hard copy and a disk. Mail to:

Ellen Gray Massey
Ozark Writers, Inc.’s Mystery Anthology
126 Maple Drive, Lebanon, MO 65536

* Everyone who enters will be notified by March 31, 2011 of those who will be included.
* Payment for the stories will be 2 complimentary copies and $100.00 paid when the book is published.
* Authors whose work appears can purchase books at about a 50% reduction.
* Upon acceptance of story, it will become the property of Ozark Writers, Inc. They buy all rights as long as the book is in print. Special arrangements may be made.

* If you have any questions call 417-532-5155 or email Ellen Gray Massey,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Contest Giveaway - Win a Copy of The Reckoning

I'm baaaaack. Sorry for the lack of posts recently and for not visiting my usual blogs. October is such a hectic month, with birthdays, deadlines, an anthology to co-edit, a school bake sale to plan, a writing workshop to co-chair, and Bunco at my house. Yikes! Because I haven't been able to post as much as I like, to make up for it--and in the spirit of Halloween--I've decided to give away a copy of a supernatural thriller I've recently read and reviewed.

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong is the third and final novel in the #1 New York Times Bestselling Darkest Powers trilogy. The main characters are a group of four supernaturals --- Chloe, a necromancer; Derek, a werewolf; Simon, a sorcerer; and Tori, a witch. The four teens are not normal, by even a supernatural standard, and they struggle to live with their special, and at times frightening, gifts.

The story is told from the perspective of fifteen-year-old Chloe, who is just realizing the nature of her differences and the extent of her powers. The Reckoning is an entertaining page-turner about friendship, loyalty, and embracing one’s uniqueness. The book should appeal to readers who enjoy supernatural thrillers with a PG dose of romantic suspense.

So, how can you win? Easy.

1.) Leave a comment between now and Halloween (Oct 31) about your favorite scary book. (1 opportunity to win)

2.) Post about this contest on your blog by Oct 30. (E-mail to dvolkenannt (at) with a link to your blog). (2 additional opportunities to win)

3.) Write a Halloween-themed flash fiction story of up to 250 words by Oct 31. E-mail your story to me at the above address. (2 additional opportunities to win)

So, if you comment about your favorite scary book, your name goes in the hat once. If you comment and write a story, you get three opportunities to win. If you do a, b, and c you get -- let's get out the calculator -- that's 5 chances to win.

Winner's name will be announced in on Nov 1.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Michael

Today is my grandson Michael's 12th birthday. It's hard to believe that the shy little boy who moved in with us almost six years ago has turned into a strong and handsome "almost" teenager.

I'm sure our daughter Julie and son-in-law Mike would be proud of the young man their little boy has become.

This summer Walt bought Michael a four-wheeler as an early birthday present because Michael has gotten so tall he has outgrown his little toy one. Michael loves going out to the "farm" with Walt. Michael also loves cutting grass, hunting, and fishing.

Yesterday he got an early birthday present when he found out he made the honor roll in his sixth grade class at All Saints. Way to go!

This morning while eating some of his birthday cookie, he told us he can't wait until next year when he is 13 so he can get a cell phone. Yikes!

Here's an acrostic poem in honor of Michael's birthday.

My grandson Michael

I nspiring
C hicken is what he loves to eat
H eart is what he has a lot of
A wesome
E nergy--he has tons of it
L oving and lovable

Happy birthday, Michael. I hope your day is special--just like you!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ask the Authors at Kisker Branch Library in St. Charles

This Saturday, October 23, from 11:00 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. I'll be one of the authors featured in an "Ask the Authors" event at the Kisker Road Branch Library, 1000 Kisker Road in St. Charles.

I'm not sure what to expect. It's been described as being similar to speed dating (I've seen that on TV), except participants will talk about books and writing. On the promotional materials I'm listed as an article writer and my last name is misspelled, but that's okay--I can talk about writing articles, essays, and short stories, as well as editing, book reviewing.

Here is a list of participating writers: Dakota Banks, Bobbi Smith, Wilfred Bereswill, Bill Mueller, Lou Turner, Alice Muscany, Sarah Whitney, Nick Nixon, Fedora Amis, Judy Moresi, and Donna Volkenannt (me),

Authors have been asked to bring books to sell. I have a few copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas, which has my essay "Unexpected Joy." I'll also bring along copies of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families with "Welcome Home," and maybe a few other anthologies which contain my essays and stories.

Even if no one buys any books with my essays in them, it will be an opportunity to meet readers and writers, so I'm looking forward to participating. To read more about this event and others at the St. Charles City-County Library, visit their website

Monday, October 18, 2010

O. Henry Short Stories, Bio, Quotes, and a Helpful Link

This morning I came across this link to an index of literary magazines that the editors look at for the Pen/O. Henry award.

William Sidney Porter (writing under the pen name O. Henry) wrote more than 300 short stories in his rather interesting life, which included time in prison for a crime he claimed he did not commit. He died 100 years ago this past June. If you get a chance, read his bio.

Here's a list of quotes attributed to him. There's a lot of wisdom in this one: "Write what you like; there is no other rule."

I still remember the short stories written by O. Henry that I read in high school English class. My favorite is "The Gift of the Magi." I also like "The Last Leaf" and "The Ransom of Red Chief."

How about you? Do you have a favorite O. Henry short story?

Friday, October 15, 2010

O'Reilly, and Whoopi, and Joy--Oh, My!

Even though there wasn't a full moon yesterday, it was a weird day.

On the national scene, Bill O'Reilly and two of the ladies on The View got into a heated discussion over who was responsible for what happened on 9/11. After Bill made some remarks that seemed insensitive, Joy and Whoopi got spitting mad and stormed off the set. They eventually returned, but the passions and emotions ran high on both sides of that couch.

In my little world, my usually sweet-natured grandson Michael was in a foul mood when I picked him up from school. He turns 12 next week, so maybe it's his hormones kicking in, but I think the next few years are going to be interesting.

Then, my 16-year-old granddaughter had a volleyball game. She forgot half her gear at home, so I drove it to her school after picking up Michael. Then she called to tell me she forgot one more item, so I drove to her game, which was at another school. Her team won the first set, lost the second, then lost 30-28 in the final. No smiles on the way home. After dropping her off at a friend's house to do homework (or so she said), I headed for the grocery store.

The strangest thing happened there. I was bent down look at something on a bottom shelf when I overheard a father say something that I found creepy to his young son who was sitting in the shopping cart. Their cart was heading in the opposite direction, and by the time I stood up the man was skip-walking down the aisle. At first I couldn't believe what I heard, then I wondered what to do. I didn't see the man on any other aisled and won't go into details, but what the guy said to his son was disturbing, even if he was just joking around.

When I got home I asked my husband Walt if he thought it was weird and he agreed it was. Then he told me about Michael's football practice. Apparently, the coach had a tirade and lectured the parents. Maybe it's the changing seasons affecting people's moods?

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I should've at least tracked that man in the grocery store down and told him that what he said to his son, even in jest, wasn't right. But I had a bad experience after speaking up to a bully.

I'll tell that story next week.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's Luck Got to Do With It?

One of my favorite quotes comes from Louis Pasteur: "Chance favors the prepared mind." His quote appeals to me because it leads me to believe that while it's good to be lucky, luck is unpredictable, but hard work combined with luck can eventually lead to success.

I was reminded of Pasteur's quote this morning after reading Margo Dill's thought-provoking post on the WOW! Women on Writing blog. I've known Margo for over a dozen years. She is a go-getter who works hard, isn't afraid to take chances, and follows through on any assignment she takes on, so I value her advice.

Margo offers some solid tips on the WOW! blog today. In "Be Ready for your Writing Career," she discusses how important it is to be prepared for any opportunity that comes your way.

What's also special about her post today is that author and literary agent Evan Marshall left a comment with a suggestion about having two synopses ready--one short and one long one. So, if you want to learn more, pop over the the WOW! blog and read Margo's post.

Quick poll. Curious minds want to know: What do you think is most important for success--luck, hard work, a little bit of both, timing, divine intervention, or something else?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cave Hollow Press Open for Submissions from Midwestern Writers

Hey all you Midwestern writers, here's an opportunity to get your manuscript published by Cave Hollow Press.

Cave Hollow Press was established in June 2001 to publish great writing by authors from Missouri and the surrounding region. Several years ago I had a short mystery story included in an anthology published by Cave Hollow and was pleased with the results.

According to their website, Cave Hollow Press is actively seeking full length adult mainstream or experimental novels. Character driven novels are a plus.

Cave Hollow Press accepts ONLY queries and manuscripts from authors who live or have lived in the Midwest states of the United States of America.

Send queries to: G. B. Crump at

In the subject line of the email: Query/Title/Author Name.

For complete submission guidelines visit their submission page: Cave Hollow Press.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Thrill Isn't Gone, but Romance is Waning

According to a report in Publishers Weekly, a recently conducted Harris Poll about readers' preferences for fiction revealed that mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels were preferred twice as much as romance novels.

Graphic novels, chick-lit, and westerns were the least popular fiction books among readers polled.

Another interesting statistic is that more women than men read mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels.

Hmm. So what does this mean?

For me, it kinda makes sense. I read mysteries and thrillers but few crime novels or romance. From a fairness standpoint, lumping three categories together seems to bias the poll in favor of the those categories.

I'm wondering if respondents would've been asked about their preferences separately about mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels what the results would have been. How would those individual categories stack up against romance and other categories?

On the non-fiction side, histories, biographies, and religious or spiritual books topped the poll. Business books bottomed out on the list. No surprise there. Ho-hum with the business books.

While poll results like these make interesting reading, who is being polled and the way the questions are asked can impact on the results. What really counts is the type of books readers buy.

Read the Publishers Weekly article to read a summary of the results and the names of some of the respondents' favorite authors.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big Read in Clayton, MO, this Weekend

UPDATE: Saturday Writers treasurer David Lee "Kirk" Kirkland will appear at the Big Read on Saturday. He will be signing copies of his award-winning books at Jennifer's Pharmacy from 11 am till 1 p.m. Not sure if he'll be wearing his kilt, but there's always a good time when Kirk is in the room!

If you're looking for a lively event to engage your reading and writing pleasure, this weekend's Big Read has something for book lovers of all ages. Writers, poets, publishers, book sellers, performers, and speakers from metro St. Louis and beyond will appear at the Big Read, which will be located between Forsyth Boulevard and Maryland Avenue in downtown Clayton.

Activities kick off Friday night with two Happy Hours between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., where you can listen to Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, the Obama's Dog Trainer, talk about her book. Cecily von Zigesar, author of the Gossip Girl series will also be at the happy hour.

On Saturday, Oct 9, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. the main events will be in full swing. Bright and early, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Peter Rabbit, Madeline, and other characters will be in costume to welcome children at the Big Performance Stage. Radio Disney will be on hand, and later in the day the Modern American Dance Company will give a performance of Brandon Moll's Fablehaven. Bestselling children's author Moll will be on hand during the performance and afterwards to sign books. Check the Big Read website for complete schedule.

Also on Saturday, several workshops will be hosted by The Crossings Restaurant on Forsyth Boulevard. Presentaters include representatives from St. Louis Writers' Guild, Missouri Center for the Book, Barnes and Noble, and the St. Louis Publishers Association.

Saturday also includes author tents sponsored by Ralston Purina (Oops, my St. Louis roots are showing. Make that Nestle Purina) and Maryville University.

St. Louis Mystery writers John Lutz and Claire Applewhite will be under the--Okay; I got it right this time-- Nestle Purina tent, where you can also find poetry readings and a chance to pitch book ideas during Pitchapolooza.

Missouri' Poet Laureate David Clewell, St. Louis University professor Richard Bargin, and UMSL's director of the MFA program Mary Troy and others will appear under the Maryville tent.

KETC Channel 9 is the sponsor of the Kids' Author Tent, where several children's and young adult writers will talk about--what else--books. Also in the Kids' Author tent, a panel of librarians will discuss "Books All Children Should Read."

Take a coffee break from 11 a.m. till 11:30 a.m. at Starbucks, where you can listen to St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan, author of Gently Down the Stream.

Wow! So many events, so little time. What's a book lover to do? Visit the Big Read website to view the complete schedule.

Monday, October 4, 2010

MTV's "Jersey Shore" Snooki Has a Book Deal

You might have noticed I haven't posted since last week. This time of the year is a gloomy time for me, and I find it hard to get motivated to write, especially something uplifting or cheerful.

Another reason I'm in a funk is because of yet another seemingly undeserved publishing deal.

Generally I'm happy when writers get published. It's a cause for celebration, especially if it's someone I know or a celebrity I want to know more about.

But not all publishing deals are reason to pump your fist in the air.

Last week I read that in 2011 Simon & Schuster's Galley Press imprint will publish a book "written" by MTV's “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. There's a brief article about it in the Wall Street Journal, which you can read here.

Seriously? Who knew Snooki could write?

Well, at least she can read. Wait. What?

According to news reports, Snooki has only read two books--"Twilight" and "Dear John."

Maybe she's a fast learner. After all, she is famous for her gig on MTV, with her poofy hairdo, fake tan, long nails, and fist pumping skills. Snooki has been spoofed by "Saturday Night Live" and has appeared on late night talk shows. She even taught David Letterman how to do the fist pump. She seems like a personable young "lady," but I wonder about her writing skills. No doubt she will have a ghost writer and lots of editing help.

About now I'm probably sounding like sour grapes. Speaking of grapes, I could've used a glass of wine after reading the news about her book deal.

What I find discouraging is that I have many friends who are great writers with manuscripts that deserve to be published, but for whatever reason cannot. They are the ones who should be getting book contracts. They get passed over, yet someone who reportedly has only read two books is getting a deal from a major publisher.

(Note: I write articles, essays, reviews, and short stories. I have never completed an entire manuscript, so it's not jealousy on my part over Snooki's book deal. Really. Well, maybe just a little.)

Time will tell about the success of Snooki's book deal.

I guess there can be a couple outcomes. Writers like me will have to deal with it--or maybe after Simon & Schuster publishes her book and not many people buy it, they'll be the ones who'll get snookered.

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...