Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Get Ready to Write - Good Housekeeping Short Story Contest

Over the past few weeks two writers (both men) have forwarded this Good Housekeeping Short Story contest announcement to me, so I think they might be hinting for me to enter.

I also thought it would be a good idea to share the contest information with Donna's Book Pub visitors and writing friends.

Here are the basics:

Short story - as in FICTION

Story must reflect lives of women today

Must be 21 years old to enter

Legal resident of US or DC

Max word count: 3,500

Only 1 entry per person

Submission period Jul 1, 2011 until Sep 1, 2011

Grand prize: $3,000

Runners up: $750

Possible publication

Winners notified by Feb 15, 2012

To read last year's winning entries and contest official rules, visit the Good Housekeeping Short Story Contest website.

Good luck!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Coming Soon - Cougars on the Prowl

It's official!

Several weeks ago I signed and returned my contract to Mozark Press, and the cover art has recently been posted on their website.

I'm tickled to announce that my short story, "Look Back, But Don't Stare," will be included in A Shaker of Margaritas: Cougars on the Prowl anthology.

For the record: My short story is definitely a work of fiction. No one has ever accused me of being a cougar!

Cougars on the Prowl is the second book in the Shaker of Magaritas series, both edited by L. S. Fisher and published by Mozark Press.

Linda does a fantastic job editing, and I love the covers for both anthologies.

Last year, my short story, "Criminal Minds," which appeared in A Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas--won FIRST PLACE in the 2011 Missouri Writers' Guild President's Award for best short story . Woo hoo!

As more details become available on Cougars on the Prowl, including the release date and purchasing information, I'll post them here.

If any of my blog visitors has a story that will be included in the anthology, please let me know. I'll be happy to share the news!

For more information about Mozark Press, including titles of possible future Shaker of Margaritas anthologies click on the link.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Top Ten Writing Tips I Learned from Kelly O'Connor McNees

Yesterday’s guest speaker at Saturday Writers monthly meeting was Kelly O’Oonnor McNees, author of the acclaimed breakout novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa Mae Alcott (Berkley). I bought a copy of Kelly's book and had her autograph it. I can't wait to read it!
Kelly’s presentation was low-key, but focused and informative.

The following are the top 10 things I learned about writing, researching, publishing, and marketing during her talk and the Q&A afterwards:

10. Unplug the Internet. Kelly uses a software program called “Concentrate,” which shuts off access to the Internet for a designated period of time. That way she can focus on her writing and not get sidetracked by research or surfing the Internet.

9. Set a daily word count and have a reasonable goal. Hers is 500 words a day. She writes every morning and believes setting a reasonable goal encourages success. Her final manuscript for The Lost Summer of Louisa Mae Alcott was around 85,000 words.

8. Write first then revise. This process works for her because, “You can’t fix what doesn’t exist.” She also sketches out a broad outline and makes changes as she goes.

7. Know the market for your book. Before querying, she researched literary agencies to find agents who represented historical fiction authors.

6. Stay true to your vision for the project. Be open to ideas or suggestions, but stay true to your own vision for your work.

5. Love your story--and love to read and create. When asked what internal attitude motivates her, she jokingly answered, “fear of getting a job.” Then she talked about her passion for creating characters and stories and reading good books.

4. You have to help make yourself successful. Publishers, even mainstream ones, don’t have huge budgets to promote their writers, especially debut authors. Be willing to speak to groups, travel on your own dime, and invest in your career.

3. Keep moving forward. Since publication of The Lost Summer of Louisa Mae Alcott, Kelly has been busy promoting her book. She has also written two novels. The first one she has put aside, but she’s sticking with the second one and moving forward.

2. Be your own best advocate and trust the process. Kelly stated a book’s cover is the most important marketing tool. When the cover art for her paperback version featured a woman with blond hair, Kelly chimed in that the woman’s hair should be dark brown-- the same color as Louisa Mae Alcott’s. The final cover has lovely and evocative art work, featuring a woman with dark brown hair.

And the #1 tip I learned from Kelly O'Connor McNee's talk to Saturday Writers is:

1. You can’t please everyone. She learned early on that there always will be someone who’ll criticize your work. Just do the best you can and believe in yourself.

That's good advice, no matter what goal you're pursuing in life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Centus - True Love?

In honor of week 60 of Saturday Centus, Jenny Matlock has a special challenge.

Write a story of no more than 60 words, not including the two-word title.

This week's title is DEAR JOHN. To see how you can join the fun and link to other stories, visit Jenny's blog.
Here's my 60-word story:

Dear John,

In the past you’ve been unfaithful. I’ve overlooked your dalliances and forgiven you.

Last night I met someone else.

He is tall, dark, and handsome and swore his undying devotion--to me!

No more jealous quarrels or lonely nights.

I’ve found my soul mate, the man who'll love me the rest of my days.

His name--Don Juan.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend Author Events - Muddy River Crime Writers and Kelly O'Connor McNees

If you live in or around St. Charles County, Missouri, this Saturday has some special writing events to keep you busy.

Paul Schmit and Bill Mueller, two members of my Coffee and Critique writers' group that meets on Tuesdays at the Rendezvous Cafe and Wine Bar in O'Fallon, MO, will be talking about writing at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library at 2750 Highway K in O'Fallon on Saturday.

Paul and Bill are two-thirds of the Muddy Rivers Crime Writers, which also includes Jo Hiestand, another local writer. The trio will talk on Saturday, June 25, at Middendorf-Kredell from 1:00 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. They will discuss writing, what got them started, how they work, and how to get published.

Here are more details about their library presentation. Wish I could be there, but my schedule is full on Saturday, but I'll be rooting that the guys have a gangbuster time!

Earlier in the day, the Saturday Writers Chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild hosts Chicago-area writer Kelly O'Connor McNees at its monthly meeting on June 25 from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. at the St. Peters Cultural Arts in St. Peters City Hall.

Kelly's debut novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, (see the lovely cover at left) is steeped in period details and biographical fact. Kelly will talk about writing historical fiction, research, and revision. Her enchanting book will be available for sale, courtesy of Vicky Erwin at Main Street Books in St. Charles.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blog Me Baby and Call for Entries from Voices Anthology

On this lovely June morning I would like to give a "blog me baby" welcome to the two latest followers of Donna's Book Pub:

Beth, from Beth's Banter She also contributes to Sleuth's Ink, a mystery writers' group out of Springfield, Missouri.

Karen Fisher-Alaniz has a blog called Write Now. Karen lives in Washington State.

I hope Beth and Karen visit often and join the conversations. They have pretty cool blogs of their own, so check them out when you get a chance.

Next, I want to share an e-mail reminder I received from one of the editors of the Voices Anthology of Short Stories Contest (Volume IV). The deadline is fast approaching--July 1--so I need to get busy and submit.

Here are the Contest Guidelines:

Unpublished short stories only to 3,000 words.

No essays or poetry.

Standard manuscript format, with cover sheet attached.

Times New Roman, 12-point font

Mail two copies of each entry, along with entry fee of $10 (check or money order). Make check out to Delois McGrew.

Mail to: Voices, P.O. Box 9076, Fayetteville, AR 72703.

Submissions not following the guidelines may be rejected.

You may enter as many times as you like, but each entry must be accompanied by a $10 entry fee. No SASE required, manuscripts will be destroyed after the contest.

First North American Rights. Rights revert to author 30 days after publication.

No simultaneous entries.

Include a cover letter with all contact information, including e-mail address, and a 50-word bio, attached to each of the two copies of your entry.

Accept all genres, except erotica. No gratuitous sex or violence in your entries.

Winner receives $200 and publication for Best Short Story. Possible nomination for the Pushcart Prize.

Other winners will be published in the anthology and receive one contributor’s copy.

All winners may make a one-time purchase of the anthology at a discount price.

By submitting your manuscript to this contest, you are allowing it to be edited and considered for publication. If your work is chosen, you understand and agree with the conditions for publication. By submitting to this contest, you are giving permission to publish your work in Voices, An Anthology of Short Stories, Volume Four. No other contract will be required.

Deadline for entries: July 1, 2011.

Winners will be notified 60 days after submissions close.

For more information, contact or


Good luck if you enter!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day Tripping (Part II) - Sassafras Valley Farm and Quail Hollow Ranch

The second leg of the tour my sister Kathleen and I through the Osage County Agritourism Council was educational, entertaining--and downright stunning.

After our delicious barbeque lunch at the Old School on the Hill Bed and Breakfast, which was provided courtesy of Heritage Community Bank in Chamois, we hopped back on the bus and drove down the road to meet the "Chamois Boys," two enterprising young men who have been raising and selling fruit and vegetables since they were lads.

Now college students, the Chamois Boys help their uncles farm 2,000 acres of rich bottomland rear the Missouri River. And, you guessed it, they are worried about flooding. Still, they have their crops planted and are praying for dry weather. Next month they will be selling sweet corn and watermelons at Farmer's Markets and to selected grocery stores, as well as their at their dawn to dusk roadside stand, complete with a money box, where buyers pay for their produce on the honor system.

Our next stop was the Sassafras Valley Farm, located in the valley of the Gasconade River. Sassafras Valley Farm has a rich history, and is is home of the Embden and Toulouse geese, which are raised from goslings to maturing on free range and natural pasture.

Connie, photo on left, runs the farm with the help of an assistant and three loyal and vigilant Great Pyreneese dogs, which she found through the Missouri Great Pyreneese dog rescue program. To help out during the summer she also has volunteer laborers through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program. The two college students helping out for a few weeks this summer are from upstate New York. After the "Woofies" leave Missouri, they will work on a ranch in Wyoming then travel to a farm in California to meet up with friends before returning to New York.

The geese and dogs were amazing to watch. When our group walked to a penned in area to get a look at some of the goslings, Belle, the oldest dog, would have none of it--and neither would the mama geese! We also saw guinea hens--and bamboo shoots growing tall near the house. What an amazing place!

At the conclusion of our tour we were served smoked goose, then we reboarded the tram (provided by Lincoln University and the Missouri Extension Bureau) and headed back to the bus.

Our final stop on the tour to Quail Hollow Ranch, the home of Todd and Sharyn McCane, was a wowser. The McCanes sold their respective businesses in St. Louis and bought a farm in Osage County. Todd lived on the farmhouse during the three years he oversaw building of the lake, stable, and mansion.

The word Wow! says it all. Just about everyone on the tour kept saying Wow! as we toured the ranch. The 300-acre ranch and stables are tucked away off a winding Osage County road. The photo on the left is a portion of the rear of the McCane's lovely home, which was just completed last fall. The outside is spectacular, but the inside is stunning.

I have never seen such an eclectic collection of antiques and collectibles, except in museums or auction houses. Tiffany lamps, Frederic Remington statues, original collections of Longfellow books, chandeliers imported from Spain, chandeliers made out of deer, moose, and elk antlers, hand-carved wooden fireplaces--the list goes on and on.

After touring the house, we visited the stables, which rival even those at Grant's Farm in St. Louis. Sharyn, an accomplished horsewoman, showed us her four horses before we boarded our motorcoach and waved goodbye.

After we returned to Linn, Kathleen and I headed back to St. Peters, with a stop for supper at the Riverside Diner in historic Hermann, the Gasconade County Seat. At the Riverside Diner we enjoyed a delicious meal of a fresh salad and homemade pasta--Chicken fettucini alfredo--which was rich and delicious. The pasta portion was so large that neither of us could finish even half of it, so guess what I had the next day for lunch?

After such a wonderful day trip through Osage County, I've circled my calendar for October for the fall trip. When can I sign up?

Friday, June 17, 2011

We Interrupt this Blog Post

Due to circumstances beyond my control--not really beyond my control, but a change in plans--I won't be writing the promissed follow-up to my Day Tripping (Part II) post this morning.

What's that saying: Life happens while you're making plans.

I'm off on another, shorter day trip today. I love surprises--really. They make life interesting--and fun!

If time permits, I'll post tonight--if not I'll be back tomorrow--or Sunday or Monday for sure.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Winner and Day Tripping (Part I)

Before I share the fun things I saw and did yesterday on my tour through Osage County, Missouri, I'm going to announce the lucky winner of Mary Horner's Book, Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing.

The winner, who name was selected at random, is:

Val the Victorian

So, Val if you can drop me an e-mail with your mailing address, I will get Mary's book to you. I'm sorry that everyone who posted a comment couldn't win, but if you want to learn how you can order a copy of Mary's book, visit her WriteRteacheR blog.

Now, on to yesterday's day trip.For a few years now my sister Kathleen (in the photo at left) and I have been enjoying biannual day-long tours put on by the Osage County Agritourism Council and local banks. Yesterday's tour was co-sponsored by the Heritage Community Bank in Chamois, MO.

My connection to Osage County began 19 years ago when husband and I bought a "farm" in Osage County. Actually, it's our sometimes weekend getaway--89 acres on the fringe of the Ozarks, with rolling hills, open fields, and deep woods along the Gasconade River, just outside the village of Hope.

Yesterday's tour was probably the best Osage County visit my sister and I have ever been on, and well worth the two-hour drive (one way) from St. Peters to the Osage Community Center in Linn.

The day started off at 4:55 a.m., when Kathleen called to see if my power went out after the storms that rumbled through early, early morning. My power was OK, but hers wasn't. She had to take a shower with only a flashlight to see until the sun came up.Fortunately, by the time I picked her up at 5:45, her power was on, and the sun was up, with the promise of a beautiful day. The drive across the Missouri into the historic City of Hermann was lovely.

After arriving at the community center and getting our name tags, the first person we spoke with was Delores, a 70ish woman who just drove to town after planting beans and corn, which she guessed the river would take by the end of the summer. Delores, whose husband recently passed, got the crops planted late because of all the storms. During much of our trip we heard about the expected flooding of the Missouri, which flows along the northern border of Osage County.

Our first stop was Our Lady of Help Catholic Church, founded in Frankenstein in 1863 by German and Irish settlers. The parish of about 130 families is known for their picnic, with kettle beef and quilt auction, which this year brought in $23,000. The top-selling feed-sack quilt brought in $3,000. The second went for $2,700. The sunbonnet girls tea towels also sold for a good price.

Next, we drove to the Chamois Power Plant, which overlooks the Missouri River. We were told if it rains up North or West along the Missouri, they will get flooded, hopefully not as bad as in 1993. The coal for the power plant comes from Illinois and Wyoming. As research projects in the past they have also used walnut shells mixed with coal and corn cobs. The walnut shells worked, but the corn cobs--not so much. They now have an algae project going on in conjunction with Lincoln University out of Jeff City and Missouri State Science and Technology University out of Rolla.

Our next stop in Chamois was at the Old School House on the Hill Bed and Breakfast, where I chatted with Lila Mae and her son Ronald, who live up the road from our place. Our group toured the Old School, which has been converted into a B&B. After the tour, we had a wine tasting, courtesy of Stone Hill Winery in Hermann. Next we were served lunch of barbque pork steaks with all the trimings, topped off by home-made strawberry shortcake. From the hilltop we could see the Calloway County Nuclear Power Plant across the river.

Tomorrow I will post about the remainder of the tour, where we visited Sassafras Valley Farm, featuring Emden Geese, and the tour of Todd and Sharilyn McCane's magnificient Quail Hollow Ranch.

Monday, June 13, 2011

David Morrell to be Keynote Speaker at Ozark Creative Writers Conference in October

If you're looking for an affordable conference with inspiring speakers in a unique setting, the Ozark Creative Writers Conference should be at the top of your list.

This year's conference will be from Oct 6-8 in the Inn of the Ozarks in scenic and historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Conference kicks off Thursday evening with a reception. The main events begin on Friday, Oct 7 and continue through Satuday, Oct 8.

The theme for this year's conference is "The Secrets of Writing."

Keynote speaker is best-selling thriller writer David Morrell, who will discuss the secret to finding your own voice and subject matter. Morrell is three-time recipient of the Bram Stoker Award and the ThrillerMaster Award given by the International Thriller Writers.

Literary agent Gordon Warnock, a senior agent from the Andrea Hurst Literary Agency, will talk about your secret weapons--taking advantage of tools that most writers ignore. Warnock will also take pitches from attendees.

Dr. Susan Swartwout, editor of The Big Muddy and creative writing teacher from Southeast Missouri State University, joins High Hill Publishing editor Louella Turner to host a panel discussion on the secrets of small and university presses. Dr. Swartwout will also take pitches from attendees.

Other speakers include: Max McCoy, Dusty Richards, Johnny Boggs, Beth Bartlett, W. C. Jameson, and former Arkansas poet laureate Peggy Vinning, with Friday night's entertainment by legendary Country music artist, Nick Nixon.

If that's not enough, all registrants are eligible to enter the 19 contests with substantial cash awards in categories including fiction, nonfiction, poetry--and a surprise on-the-spot contest. Contest deadline is Aug 27.

Registration is $99 if paid by Aug 27, $119 after Aug 27.

Lodging is available at Inn of the Ozarks and other nearby hotels.

For details about the conference, registration, contests, and speaker bios, please visit the Ozark Creative Writers website.

Personal note: OCW is the first conference I ever attended, and it is a wowser. The conference coordinators are warm and friendly, and the attendees range from cowboys and rodeo riders to university professors and literary agents. The entertainment on Friday is always fun, and the awards banquet on Saturday is exciting and always entertaining.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Springfield Writers' Guild 2011 Writing Contests

Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, the Springfield Writers' Guild has a contest for you. There are 11 contest categories; two of the 11 are for members only, but the other nine are open to everyone.

Entry fees range from $2-$3
Prizes in the top three categories are up to $100 and certificates.
Other prizes are more modest ($5-$20).
Deadline October 1 - so you have lots of time to enter.
Winners announced October 22.

Here are the complete guidelines.

And here's a list of winners from 2010.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Giveaway - Strengthen Your Nonfiction Wrting by Mary Horner

At a writer's get together in April, my writing friend and blogger buddy Mary Horner gave me a copy of her new book, Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, published by High Hill Press.

Mary is an award-winning journalist who teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges. I was so impressed after reading Mary's book, I bought a second copy at our May get together to give away on Donna's Book Pub.

Even more than the eye-catching cover (isn't it cool?), I like what's inside. On page six, Mary states her goal for writing the book is "to help writers convert brilliant thoughts into books, articles, essays and reports."

Mary has divided Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing into 11 chapters, each one filled with helpful information. Writing in a conversational style using easy-to-understand language, Mary covers everything from: thesis statements, outlines, interviewing strategies, references, quotes from experts, research, deadlines, editing--and dealing with editors.

Some of the highlights of Mary's book are:

* The difference between information and meaning
* The point at which information is considered a fact (this was surprising)
* The importance of titles
* The difference between primary and secondary research
* The best interview question ever (great advice I plan to use)

Whether you write essays, articles, books, reports or any other form of nonfiction, I believe your writing can benefit after reading Mary's book.

So, how can you win a copy of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing by Mary Horner?

* Leave a comment on this post by June 15.

* For an additional chance, pop on over and become a follower on Mary's WritRteachR blog

* Be sure to mention in your comments here that you are one of Mary's followers so I put your name in twice.

I will gather the names of everyone who leaves a comment and record them on slips of paper (with a second slip for those who mention they are Mary's followers). From those slips of paper I will select one winner.

NOTE: Giveaway limited to writers living in the USA. (Sorry, my budget for buying books to give away and paying for postage to mail them is limited.)

If don't want to enter the contest because you already have a copy of Mary's book, feel free to share your comments about how wonderful it is!

Winner's name will be announced on June 16. Good luck!


June 16 Update: Thanks to everyone who entered and left comments, especially those who took the time to become followers on Mary's blog. The winner's name selected at random was Val the Victorian.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Earthquake, A Heat Wave, Cicadas- What's Next?

Last month Missouri experienced deadly twisters.

This week we're having historic heat. Yesterday was a scorcher, and today is going to bring near record-breaking temperatures again.

Then early this morning a 4.2 earthquake shook. Not huge by many standards, but rare for this area. The epicenter was in Sullivan, MO.

Oh, and the cicadas are making their 13-year appearance. It gets noisy at night.

And parts of the Missouri River are expected to flood this month--the worst in over 50 years.

Have I missed anything?

While this wacky weather isn't pleasant, I already have ideas for a couple short stories where the weather plays a part.

How about you? Does the weather help create story ideas?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Christmas in June? Call for Submissions

Just thinking that Christmas is coming reminds me of a childhood carol we sang in school:

"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,

won't you please put a penny in the old man's hat.

If you haven't got a penny, a six pence will do.

If you haven't got a penny, God Bless you!"

Christmas in June, really?

You're probably wondering: what is she, nuts, with all the hot weather we're having, thinking about Christmas? How about a hot deadline for a true Christmas story?

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for NEW Christmas stories for their newest Christmas book. They want anything, from inspirational and joyous, to heartwarming and humorous. They also want to hear about special Christmas memories and traditions. Please make sure that the stories you are submitting to this book are NEW stories that the editors have not read before. The deadline date for story submissions is June 30, 2011.

Last year I submitted an essay on the night of the deadline that appeared in two of their Christmas books (The Gift of Christmas (cover on left) and Christmas Tales), which were limited edition titles available only at WalMart and Barnes and Noble.

So, don't think it can't happen, but you can't get your true Christmas story published if you don't submit. Here are the general guidelines, and if you get in the book, please share the good news with us!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Welcome and Summer Giveaways of Books and Cool Stuff

It's been a month since I've welcomed my visitors who have signed up as followers on Donna's Book Pub. Please join me in welcoming the followers who joined last month. I hope they come back often and stay long. Please visit their blogs or websites when you get a chance.

Sheree Nielsen

Nothing says summer like sun, the beach--and books!

My friends from the Book Report Network, including, Teenreads and Kidsreads have lots of contests and giveaways going on this summer. I wish I could enter, but I can't because I am a reviewer for their sites. But you can--and maybe you'll be a lucky winner!

For a chance to win some great summer books, has a Summer Reading Contest and Feature where they spotlight a different title or two on select days through July 27.

Bookreporter's Father's Day's Contest is going on until June 13. Readers have a chance to win one of five Father's Day Backpacks. Each hunter green backpack is filled with a copy of seven featured titles, along with a red-striped beach towel and a pack of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. has their annual Beach Bag of Books giveaway goin on until July 18. Five winners each will receive a beach bag with 16 books. Along with the books, winners will find their striped canvas beach bag stocked with an assortment of summer goodies: a blue polka-dot beach towel, a Mega Fling Toss Game, a deck of invisible cards, an inflatable beach ball, Coppertone Sport Sunblock, H2O+ Mineral Spa Shower Gel, Crystal Light Drink Mix, a metallic sports bottle to keep your drink cool, and a terrific cap that turns any can into a bottle to prevent sand and bees from finding their way into your drink.

And check out for their first Bunch of Books Giveaway to win four special books before June 15.

Wow! That's a lot of great books and fun prizes you can win. Good luck to everyone who enters. Hope you all have a great weekend!

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...