Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review and Giveaway of Until My Soul Gets it Right by Karen Wojcik Berner

Today, I'm pleased to participate in the WOW! Women on Writing author blog tour, featuring Karen Wojcik Berner. Sorry for this midday post, but I thought I was supposed to post my review on Friday.

Several weeks ago I received a signed copy of Until My Soul Gets it Right: Book Two in The Bibliophiles series by Karen Wojcik Berner.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the pages of Karen's novel, but I have to admit I was instantly engaged with the story of Catherine Elbert, a farm girl from Wisconsin who is trying to find her place in life.

Her story opens in Wisconsin in 1985. Catherine is an excellent high school student who is selected for a plum part in the class play. Much to her disappointment, her stern and unloving mother squelches her dream of becoming an actress. In fact, her mother does her best to destroy Catherine's self-image at every turn.

Two years after graduation, with a dim future ahead of her and after watching a travel show on public television, Catherine embarks on a journey that takes her from Wisconsin to an island off the coast of Maine, to San Diego, California, and back to the Midwest.

Along the way she makes several friends and makes a lot of mistakes, while she learns a lot about life and about love, but mostly about herself.

Berner's characters are lively, and the book has mild touches of humor, some soul-searching situations, and some swearing. Berner does an excellent job of setting the scene and giving the reader a good sense of place. The writing is strong and fluid, with one minor exception involving the eye color of one of the characters. On one page his eyes are green, on another brown--the "same brown eyes" as Tom Cruise's--except TC's eyes are blue. That hiccup took me out of the story for half a second, but for the rest of the book I found myself flipping the pages to find out what was going to happen to Catherine. I wondered: would she ever find love, would she make amends for her mistakes, and how was the Bibliophile Book Club going to fit in? All my questions were answered by the last page.

Until My Soul Gets it Right by Karen Wojcik Berner is a novel of self-discovery, sin, redemption, and forgiveness--and also wicked fun.

In the spirit of sharing, I am going to give away my signed review copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment between now and October 2nd. The name of the winner will be picked at random and announced on October 3rd.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Harper Voyager Accepting Submissions October 1-14

Here's a fantastic opportunity for fantasy, sci-fi, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia and supernatural writers from the Harper Voyager website:

"For the first time in over a decade, Harper Voyager are opening the doors to unsolicited submissions in order to seek new authors with fresh voices, strong storytelling abilities, original ideas and compelling storylines. So, if you believe your manuscript has these qualities, then we want to read it!

"We’re seeking all kinds of adult and young adult speculative fiction for digital publication, but particularly epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia and supernatural.

"For more idea of the type of books we love to read and publish, check out our authors and their titles at

'Submissions for digital originals will be open for a limited two-week period from 1st to the 14th of October, 2012."

They want full-length manuscripts only, at least 70,000 words. Ideally they want manuscripts between 80,000–120,000 words.

Check out their website for complete submission guidelines.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas

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Last Friday I found a thick brown envelope with a return address from Simon and Schuster waiting for me on my doorstep. I wasn't expecting a book to review from S&S and couldn't imagine what was inside the envelope, so I tore it open right away to find out.

The envelope held a soft cover copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas. I flipped open to the Table of Contents and, sure enough, I found my true story "Unexpected Joy" listed on page 195 in Chapter 6 (A Few Good Elves).

This new book is a reissue of a hardcover which was published in 2010 with limited distribution.

I love the nostalgic-looking, muted colors on the updated cover. The youngsters peek out from the stairs, dressed in their pajmas and slippers, gazing in awe at the presents beneath the Christmas tree.

The endorsement on the back cover is priceless: "Chicken Soup for the Soul has done it again, with an extra-large collection of joyful Christmas stories!" Santa Claus!

 According to the Chicken Soup for the Soul website, the publication date for The Gift of Christmas is October 9.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Well Versed 2013 Open for Submissions


The other day I received an e-mail from Linda Fisher, managing editor of Well Versed.
Well Versed is the anthology published by the Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild. The dandy logo on the left is from the chapter's website.

According to Linda's e-mail, the editors are now accepting submissions for Well Versed 2013.

Linda advises in her e-mail that the submission rules have changed this year, so please read the guidelines carefully. You can access them by clicking on this link.

The submission fees are modest, and prizes are awarded to winners in three categories: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. If your work is selected you will receive one contributor copy plus a nominal payment.

Last year the editors received a record number of submissions and published their largest volume to date.

The submission deadline for the 2013 anthology is October 31, 2012.

Personal Note: I had two nonfiction pieces in the 2012 anthology, which I found to be an extremely polished and professional publication.

Good luck if you submit!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Giveaway

The very generous Cathy C. Hall is giving away copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul on Married Life over on her chocked-full-of-fun blog.

The more comments she receives, the more copies she will give away.

So, hop on over to Cathy's blog and leave a comment for a chance to win.

She announced her contest last week, so you better act fast!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Calls for Submissions: Be Quick on the Draw for These Contests

Recently I've learned about two writing contests with short deadlines and no entry fees.

The first was sent to me by Coffee and Critique group writing pal, Marcia Gaye. The Poetry in Motion Contest is sponsored by the Metro Arts in Transit and Poetry Society of America. Entrants for the Poetry in Motion Contest must be residents within 50-mile radius of St. Louis. Multiple winners will receive a $50 award and be invited to read their poems at a ceremony in November. The contest deadline is 5 p.m. September 24, 2012.

Lou Turner, my dear friend and publisher of High Hill Press, e-mailed me about the "The Greatest Western Never Told" four-sentence contest sponsored by HHP and Brett Cogburn. Western stories of no more than four sentences are eligible. Winner (or winners) will receive their pick of one of Cogburn's books and inclusion in a future Cactus Country anthology. Deadline is September 23.

Good luck if you enter, but remember -- be quick on the draw!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

After the Drought Comes . . . Mushrooms

Weather has been weird this year in Missouri.

Winter was mild and we didn't get much snow. Early spring brought a lot of hail and storms and damage to my new car.

Then came summer's record-breaking hot temperatures and drought that made going outside a "hot mess." Inside wasn't much better. I felt like a slug. Keeping cool was my priority; my writing production slowed down.

But last week, as Hurricane Hugo swirled from the southeast to the northwest, it rained. When the sun came out again, the humidity returned. Still, it was a welcome break from the dry spell we've been having.

After the rain I took a walk and spotted mushrooms popping up on lawns all around our neighborhood. Later on I hopped in the car and brought along my camera. I clicked a photo of three mushrooms in a neighbor's yard. 

The mushrooms look like a sideways snowman to me.

Seeing snowmen-mushrooms pop up got me to thinking that after a dry spell of writing, change can produce unexpected surprises because, just under the surface, something new is waiting to be born.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Few Words About "The Words"

Last Friday morning my sister Kathleen and I went to watch the movie “The Words.”  Our husbands chose not to go with us; hers watched golf on TV while mine went to Aldi’s to grocery shop.  Of the twenty or so viewers at the late morning showing I saw only one man with a woman who appeared to be his wife.  So, from my finite and unscientific observation, this film appeals mostly to women.

I have been looking forward to this movie ever since I saw its trailer. The idea of a lost manuscript being discovered is fascinating, as is a movie about the passion writers have for words, and the power of words to create and destroy. Oh, and I think Jeremy Irons is a gifted actor.

In the movie, Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) reads from his bestselling novel “The Words,” to adoring fans, including one dedicated groupie who wants the inside scoop after hours.

In Clay’s novel “The Words,” Rory Jansen, (Bradley Cooper) is a fair writer who wants to be great. Rory struggles financially and creatively. He is supported financially by his father and emotionally by Dora, played by Zoe Salanda.  Dora loves Rory for many reasons, one of which is his blue eyes, which are filmed up close numerous times. 

Eventually, Rory and Dora get married. While in Paris on their honeymoon he discovers an aged briefcase on a tall shelf in an antique shop. Dora buys the briefcase for him as a wedding gift.   

After they return home he still can’t get published and toils at his entry-level job at a publishing company. While rejection slips mount, he discovers a faded and smudged manuscript tucked into a sleeve of the briefcase. After reading the manuscript he is blown away by the genius of it and retypes the manuscript, just to get a feel for the power of the unknown author’s words. Eventually the manuscript finds its way into print and is met with critical and financial success.

Then one day on his way to a reading Rory meets a shabbily dressed old man, played by Jeremy Irons. The old man claims the work as his own, which he wrote in post World War II while he was living in Paris.

Now Rory is faced with an ethical dilemma.  Does he confess that the manuscript is not his? What will be the fallout if he does?

As Rory comes to grips with his inner turmoil, the scenes switch from Rory’s life to the old man’s life as a young man (Ben Barnes) and to Clay’s life as a successful and rich novelist.

I found the flashbacks to Paris in post World War II the most enjoyable and moving. Jeremy Irons’ portrayal of the old man, although a small role, shows that in acting, as in writing, less is more. Oh, and I love the fact that the old man is a real writer who always carries a pen close to his heart, even when he is working in a garden shop.

The moral of the story is that in the end, the choice a writer has to make is between fiction and life. Also, if there is any justice in the world, the plagiarist will suffer greatly because "there's more than one way to take a life."

Although parts of the movie were less than stellar, overall I enjoyed it and would watch it again, if only for the lovely scenes in Paris and the wonderful acting of Jeremy Irons.   

I rate it three pens out of five.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Time to Get Your Jingle On - Call for Submissions: Fifty Shades of Santa

Time to get your jingle on!

A couple weeks ago Pat Smith, editor of Welkin Press and one of my writing buddies, called to invite me to submit a story to a new anthology. The excitement in her voice flowed through the phone lines. Pat is putting together humorous holiday stories for a romance anthology titled "Fifty Shades of Santa." 

The anthology will be published in October (yes, you read it right) by Welkin Press.
Pat writes that "the title is already attracting media attention."

She is looking for your best writing, featuring unusual situations, interesting characters, great romantic chemistry and lots of laughs.

She is NOT looking for stories about tying anyone up or beating them with whips or anything like that. She writes, "It's Christmas, people!"

Story Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words

Deadline: September 30, 2012 (Better get moving!)

Payment: $10.00 per story, plus royalties on sales of the anthology.  

Authors retains copyrights for their stories after publication. Submit stories to Pat at 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Call for Submissions: Panera Bread and Chicken Soup

How appropriate that on Labor Day I'd planned to get some work done on my blog, visit some of my favorite blogs--and do some writing.

I decided that sharing some markets I've been wanting to submit to would be a good way to start the week.

Here are two calls for submission that go together--bread and soup:

St. Louis Bread Company, aka Panera Bread, is one of my favorite places to stop for a breakfast bagel (cinnamon crunch, bread sliced) or a nutritious lunch (1/2 Sierra Turkey or 1/2 Tuna Salad and 1/2 Greek Salad or Broccoli Cheddar Soup)--depending on the weather. So, I was happy to receive an e-mail from Panera Bread announcing a contest to win one of ten $25 gift cards just for telling them what I'm thankful for. Winning stories might also appear on TV. To read about the Panera Bread What I'm Thankful for Contest, click on this link

Many of my visitors have been published in one or more Chicken Soup for the Soul books. If you're wanting to join them, or you have been in a Chicken Soup book and want to be in another issue, check out the possible book topics the editors have in mind. I especially like the call out for Holiday Stories. And did you notice that Chicken Soup for the Soul is going to start selling chicken soup soon?

Because both call for submissions today have to do with food, I thought I'd sign off, not only with Good Luck!, but also with: 

Good Appetite! Guten Appetit! Bon Appetit! Buon Appetito!

P.S. If you have any markets to share, please do so in the Comments. Thanks!

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...