Wednesday, October 31, 2012

News and Views from Nick Nixon Tribute

Sunday's tribute and fundraiser for Nick Nixon, Country-Western music legend and Coffee and Critique group member extraordinare, was a huge hit!

When I stopped by shortly after the 1 p.m. opening time on my way to Michael's soccer game, there were only a few seats left in the large banquet room. 

A few minutes later, security personnel had to turn away fans because they had already exceeded the room's capacity for fire safety. I estimate there were several hundred fans. Hundreds of fans sat at crowded tables or stood along the aisles. Dozens of musicians performed or prepared to perform on the stages. Scores of volunteers sold food, CDs, books, and raffle tickets. Sturdy security folks stood in the lobby and at the exits to help the event run smoothly. Scores of folks unable to get inside waited in the lobby or milled about outside on the sunny, but chilly afternoon.

While I was there I ran into several of my writing friends and snapped lots of photos, but unfortunately my flash was finicky and some of the photos were blurry (sorry, Doyle and Irene).  Here are some photos that did turn out:

Ligaya and David Kirkland get cozy.

Bill and Linda O'Connell pose for this pesky photographer.

 C and C members Nick Nixon and Claudia Shelton strike a pose.
C and C Members Nick Nixon and Donna Volkenannt mug for the camera.
C and C members Donna Volkenannt, Nick Nixon, and Lou Turner share a chuckle.
High Hill Publishers Lou and Bryan Turner surprized Nick by publishing a collection of some of his essays and short stories. 
 Good-hearted and generous C and C member Becky Povich donated one of Nick's autographed 45 records and a song sheet for the auction!

Roland and Alice (C and C Member) Muschany took time from their busy day to support Nick. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weekend Events: All Star Tribute to Nick Nixon and the Saturday Writers Workshop

Two events this weekend involve some favorite writing pals--Nick Nixon and Linda O'Connell.

On Sunday October 28 at 1 p.m., local country western entertainers, as well as a couple guest stars from the Grand Old Opry, will show their support during an all star tribute and fundraiser for Nick Nixon at the Stegton Regency Banquet Center, 1450 Wall Street in St. Charles.

Nick is a legendary local country and western star and a treasured member of our weekly Coffee and Critique group.
In the 1970s Nick had more than a dozen top 100 hits on the Mercury label, including "Rocking in Rosalee's Boat," which climbed to No. 28 on the U.S. Country Charts. The Nick Nixon Tribute and Fundraiser is being held to help support Nick with medical expenses in his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Headliners include: Johnny Rodriguez, Barb Allen, Leona Williams, Curtis Lyn Cook, Doc Holiday, the Well Hungarians, and an all star house band.

General admission tickets are only $10 per person and can be purchased at the door. Other highlights include a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction, a live auction, and some special surprizes.

For more information, or to make a donation, e-mail Elmo Linton, who planned and organized the event, at elmojllinton (at)

I'll be attending the first hour of the fundraiser. Hope to see you there!


The second event is the annual workshop put on by Saturday Writers.

Jennifer Hasheider and her board have done a top-notch job planning the workshop, silent auction, and lunch, which will be held Saturday October 27 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Cultural Arts Center in St. Peters City Hall.

Speakers include:

Kristina Blank Makansi, co-founder, editor and publisher of Blank Slate Press, who will discuss the dos and don’ts of pitching to agents and editors.

Former newspaper reporter and Professor, Steve Wiegenstein will lead a two-hour exercise in mainstream fiction.

Linda O'Connell will talk about the ABCs of writing authentic, brave, creative nonfiction from the basics to the ethics of sharing your life story.

A few months ago I heard Linda speak about writing at a St. Louis Writers Guild meeting, where she provided helpful information and welcome inspiration.

Due to family commitments I can't make this year's workshop, but if you live in the local metro-St. Louis area I hope you can! Click here for details.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Michael! What a Weekend!

Last weekend is a blur.
Friday night Michael had some friends over for his birthday, which was on Saturday. The plan was mini-golf, pizza, cookie cake, a movie and a video game marathon. Well, the weather didn't cooperate for the mini-golf, but everything else was great.
For his birthday, Walt got him some hunting gear and an air-soft rifle. Cari and I got him clothes, most of which he wanted to wear right away. In these photos, he's wearing one of the shirts Cari got him and the jeans I bought for him.
Saturday afternoon he had a soccer game--we won't talk about the times he got called for fouls when smaller kids ran into him and fell down.
After the game Cari and Brendan (her boyfriend) took him and a friend to Six Flags. Another late night.
Then on Sunday afternoon he, Cari, and Brendan went to a pumpkin patch with the O'Donnell family.

These photos are of them getting ready to leave. Afterwards there was pizza and ice cream cake at his Aunt Jena Dee's and even more presents, including fireworks, money, candy, and more clothes. And my sister and brother-in-law dropped off another present with money, a sports shirt, and two of his favorite treats--Shockers and Cheeze-Its.  Last night he counted his birthday money and rounded up all his snacks. What a haul!
This morning the principal from his school called to say that when Michael did the morning announcements he was so excited, he told her all about his weekend. (Michael is not one usually to chat with teachers.)
Because of his birthday, he got a dress down pass, which means he didn't have to wear his school uniform today. He wore a pair of his new jeans and a new Cardinal shirt, plus he took in treats to share with his classmates.
His principal told me she just had to call and let me know how excited and happy he was about his birthday weekend. How sweet was that?
So happy birthday, Michael. Hope you have another great year!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Well Versed Deadline Extended

If you are like me you're always scrambling to meet deadlines, so here's some good news about a deadline that's been extended:

Late last night I received an e-mail informing me that the deadline for the 2013 Well Versed anthology contest has been extended until November 15.

The Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild does a top-notch job soliciting and selecting submissions of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for their Well Versed anthology.

The deadline has been extended to give writers extra time to submit, especially if they are inspired to work on their manuscripts after they attend The Write Direction Conference in Columbia on November 10. (I'll be speaking at the conference so I sincerely appreciate the extra time!)

Next week I will post information about The Write Direction Conference, whose speakers include William Trowbridge, the Poet Lauerate of Missouri, and Medical Examinator Dr. Eddie Adelstein.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Big Winners at the Ozarks Creative Writers Conference

The Ozarks Creative Writers' Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the first conference I ever attended -- more than 15 years ago. My dear friend Lou Turner and I made the trip to Eureka that first time and for several years afterwards. OCW is a fun and lively and welcoming event with inspiring speakers, helpful information, excellent networking opportunities, and great contests.

Lou Turner is now a member of the OCW board, along with Dusty Richards, Velda Brotherton, David Kirkland, and several others who do an excellent job putting on the annual event.

While I haven't been able to make the trip to Eureka for years, I was honored to have been asked this year to judge three contests. Believe me; it wasn't easy picking the winners. In one contest, two entries were so equally excellent it was hard to pick one for the top award.

The judging was blind so I didn't know whose entries I was reading, but I was delighted to learn afterwards that some of my Coffee and Critique group writing friends received awards -- although not necessarily in the categories I judged.

Drum roll please . . .

Marcia Gaye took home these awards:

1st: Las Manos Bella de Elizabeth for short story
2nd: Giving Love a Chance for memoir essay
2nd: My Volkswagen for Creative Nonfiction essay
2nd: Lost Hope Missouri for Literary Novel
3rd: Geese for Japanese Tanka Poetry
HM: Mother of the Painted Desert for free verse poetry

Nick Nixon was recognized for:

1st: Little Red Rider for Storyteller Magazine award
3rd:  Bless u Dexter for humorous short story
3rd: Old Dempsey for Ozark Nostalgia
3rd: The Teacher's Paleo Pecker for Jim Richardson Memorial Award

Doyle Suit received awards for:

1st: Tales of a Misspent Youth for The High Hill Press Book Award
1st: A Loose Sole for Search for Excellence Award
1HM: Hale's Law for the Oxbow Award
3HM: A Pig for Sarah for OWL Award
Doyle also received lunch with agent Cherry Weiner for winning the synopsis award

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wish I could've been there to see you receive your awards. God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll make it there soon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Read Saint Louis Presents Missouri Author Daniel Woodrell

If you live in or around the metro St. Louis area, you might want to mark your calendars for a special event sponsored by Read Saint Louis on Thursday evening.

Read Saint Louis is a community-wide initiative developed by developed by the St. Louis area library systems to encourage St. Louisans to read and discuss great books.

On Thursday, October 11, Read Saint Louis will recognize Missouri native Daniel Woodrell for his distinguished literary achievement. Woodrell is the author of Winter's Bone, The Outlaw Album, Woe to Live On, and several other memorable books.

Woodrell's country noir novels feature unforgetable characters and are set largely in the Missouri Ozarks. The acclaimed author has been "compared to William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy . . . (and) is widely considered one of the best and most distinctive fiction writers in America."
Woodrell is scheduled to appear Thursday, October 11, 7:00 p.m. at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters Auditorium, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.St. Louis, MO 63131.

Thanks to critique group pal Berta Rosenberg for sending me an e-mailing about Woodrell's appearance. Baring any last-minute homework assignments or projects for the grandkiddos, I'm going to try and attend this special event.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Giveaway in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of October being breast cancer awareness month, I have a special month-long giveaway to announce, due to the generosity of one of my critique group friends.

Writer and editor extraordinare Alice Muschany, herself a breast cancer survivor, has given me a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey by Dr. Julie Silver of Harvard Medical School.

Alice is passionate about this topic. Several of her family members have been struck with this disease, and she has written with grace and candor about breast cancer in several media, including the Chicken Soup for the Soul, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Guideposts, and other publications.

Alice has two stories in the Chicken Soup Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey anthology -- "Hats off to Betty with Love" and "Forever and Ever."

The front cover of the book states the book's purpose: Surviving and thriving during and after your diagnosis and treatment. Inside the book readers will find inspirational stories and medical advice.

If you would like to win a copy of this inspiring book, just leave a comment on this post this month. I will announce the winner in November.

Good luck to everyone who enters. And hats off to you, Alice, for sharing stories of your journey to healing with courage and compassion.

P. S. Alice also has an essay in the "Pass it On" section of the October 2012 Guideposts magazine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

And The Winners Are . . .

Today has a special significance for me, which I won't go into detail here. Because of the special meaning this date holds for me, I'm doubling down and giving away two books, both written by Karen Wojcik Berner, who generously sent them to me.

The first book is Until My Soul Gets It Right.

Thanks to everyone who left comments for the giveaway announced last week and asked to be entered in the contest.

The name I picked at random to receive a copy of Until My Soul Gets It Right is . . .

Karen Lange 
But wait, there's more!

I am also giving away my signed review copy of Karen Wojcik Berner's first book in the Bibliophiles Series-- A Whisper to a Scream.

The first book in the series is the story of two women on "opposite ends of the child-bearing spectrum who come to realize the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence." I loved the memorable characters and the touches of humor in this book.
The second name I picked at random, and winner of A Whisper to a Scream is . . .
Denise Montgomery
So, if you ladies would e-mail me at dvolkenannt (at) and give me your mailing addresses I will get those books to you.
But wait, there's even more!
Later this week I will announce details for another giveaway. Alice Muschany, a critique group member, has donated a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey, which has two of her true stories in it.
So, drop by at the end of the week week to find out how you can win a copy of the anthology and read Alice's two remarkable stories, along with other stories of survival and hope.



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...