Saturday, December 29, 2012

Anthology News from Welkin Press: Shadows After Midnight and Cupid's Quiver

 If you like to read scary stories on long winter nights, check out the Shadows After Midnight Anthology, which has recently been released by Welkin Press and is available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book.

The anthology of "12 spooky tales of terror by 12 award-winning authors will raise the hair on the back of your neck and make you want to check under the bed and sleep with the light on."

Edited by award-winning journalist Patricia B. Smith, the collection pays "homage to a variety of ghosts and nightmarish creatures." I'm please to announce that my short story "Stairway to Heaven" is among the stories in the collection.


If you have a flair for writing romance, here's a call for submissions. Be sure to note the short deadline. 

Welkin Press has also announced a call out for Valentine's Day short stories for Cupid's Quiver, a romance anthology.

Word count range is 2500-7000.  Payment is $10, plus royalties. Submit short stories to by January 15. Click on the cupid photo for more details.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Whimsey, Wurst and Wine in Hermann, Missouri

After the horrific events in Connecticut last Friday it's been hard to get into a light-hearted mood. I've been reluctant to post more of the photos I took in Hermann. Then I thought maybe some holiday cheer might lift my spirits and those who read this post.
I started this last Thursday, then the strong winds knocked out our electricity briefly and my Internet service was down for a couple days. Unfortunately, I lost much of what I had typed to post, but fortunately the photos survived. 
While the Christmas decorations in St. George's rectory included Nativity scenes and religious icons, there also were touches of whimsey sprinkled throughout the four-story home. 
A silver-plated knight in shining armor stood outside the Queen's room announcing the queen was not in.
The Wizard of Oz room was complete with a yellow brick road.
The tree in the Military room had a tree with photographs of veterans, including WACs and WAVEs, and a pillow with an image of Elvis.
Multi-colored masks were the centerpieces of the Mardi Gras room.
After touring the rectory we headed for Stone Hill Winery for lunch and a tour.

Pelznickel, the fur clad Santa with origins in Northwestern Germany, made an appearance during lunch.

Pelznickel is one of Santa's helpers who visits kinder (children) who have been naughty during the year. He carries a stick and lumps of coal. 

And after lunch at Stone Hill Winery we toured the caves where the wine barrels are stored.
At the Wurst Haus, our group was treated to sausage snacks and a demonstration of sausage making.
Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of Hermann.  


Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas at St. George's Rectory in Hermann, Missouri

Yesterday I was part of a bus tour that visited the lovely village of Hermann, Missouri, which overlooks the Missouri River. Hermann is a popular tourist destination known for its "vintage charm and timeless beauty."

Jan Lay, a charming friend from our old DISA workplace, made the arrangements with the "Are We There Yet" tour company for our group of "Kindred Spirits"-- a dozen of former co-workers and friends.  

The highlight of yesterday's tour was a visit to the rectory of St. George's Catholic Church, located at 128 West Fourth Street. The old Franciscan Rectory has become a must-see attraction for tourists to Hermann each December.

For the past several years, the non-Franciscan pastor -- Father William Debo, a priest from the Jefferson City Diocese who is known as Father Bill -- plans, designs, and orchestrates the decorating effort.

Parishioners volunteer their time and donate many of their treasures to transform the rectory into a Christmas delight, which they share with visitors from across the country. The St. George Rectory open house is an annual fund raiser for the Hermann Ministerial Alliance, with free-will offerings used to assist needy families in the community.

During Christmas time, the four-story rectory holds more than 50 Christmas trees and dozens of Nativity scenes. My descriptions won't do justice to the displays, so I'll post some photos I took of the many rooms in the rectory.


Next week I'll post more photos of the rectory, along with a few snapshots from our visit to the Wurst Haus and Stone Hill Winery.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On 12/12/12, Good News Comes in Threes

Among the many words of wisdom I remember my mom saying is, "Good news comes in threes." She also was quick to remind that "bad news comes in threes, too."

Mom's good-news-comes-in-three saying won out today. Maybe it's because of the 12/12/12, triple 12 date. Or maybe not.

At any rate, after my bad-news start of the week, which I won't go in to here, I was ready for some good news.

Everything about my three-part good news is Christmas related, which helped put me in the holiday mood. Please excuse this shameless self-congratulation.

Good news #1: A reprint of my Christmas short story "Canned Beets" will be included in the Saturday Writers 10th Anniversary Edition, Cuivre River Anthology VI. The original version of "Canned Beets," which received Honorable Mention in the Steinbeck National Short Story competition, was previously published in CRA II and the Mid Rivers Review. I share this good news with more than 40 other writers, whose award-winning stories, essays, and poems also appear in the anthology. Almost all contributors are members of Saturday Writers, and many of them belong to Coffee and Critique. The final version is hot off the press today, but you might have to wait a few days if you want to order a copy.

Good news #2: My short story "Time to Get Your Jingle On" appears in the Kindle version of Fifty Shades of Santa, which is available today from Amazon. The anthology from Welkin Press is a collection of "12 Nice (Not Naughty) Humorous Holiday Romances."  I share this good news with writing friends -- Marcia Gaye, Pat Wahler, Pat Smith (the editor), Lou Turner, Lynn Obermoeller, and Regina Williams -- and several other writers I hope to meet. The print version will be available in a week or so. Isn't the cover cute?

Good news #3: My recipe for German Gluhwein (Donna's Hot Glow Wine) and the story behind the recipe are featured on the Panera Bread Company website this month. Actually, I received the news that the recipe was posted yesterday afternoon, but for some reason my home town was shown as somewhere in North Carolina. After a quick e-mail to the editor, a fix was made and my correct home town appeared there this morning.

So, that's my good news for 12/12/12.

Congratulations to all the other writers whose works are included in the anthologies mentioned above.

I think it's time to make a batch of German Gluhwein to celebrate.

Prosit! (That's German for Cheers!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Guest Post by Margo Dill on Writing Historical Fiction

I'm thrilled to have Margo Dill as my special guest today. Margo is a children's writer, an editor, and a blogger who also is a contributing writer to Women on Writing, WOW! Margo and I met more than a dozen years ago at a weekly critique group, and we are founding members of the Saturday Writers chapter of the Missouri Writers' guild. Although our lives have taken us in different directions over the years, we still have remained good friends.

White Mane Kids recently published Margo's middle-grade children's book Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg.

Welcome, Margo, I'm so happy you could join us on such a chilly morning, and congratulations on your new book. After reading the early chapters in critique group, it's exciting to see the book in print and read the final version.

Finding My Place is a wonderful book of historical fiction. The setting is Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the summer of 1863. Thirteen-year-old Anna Green and her family are thrust in the middle of the attack on Vicksburg. Here's what Margo has to say about writing historical fiction.


Stopping the History from Getting in the Way of Historical Fiction
By Margo L. Dill
I loved researching the Civil War, especially the Siege of Vicksburg for my historical fiction middle-grade novel, Finding My Place. I actually went to Vicksburg, Mississippi for a few days and toured homes that were standing during the Siege and spent hours on the battlefield where the Confederate soldiers tried to hold off the Yankees. I went to the library one afternoon and poured through the vertical files, finding an actual newspaper from 1863 printed on the back of wallpaper. I read diaries of women who survived the siege, living in caves slaves built out of the yellow Vicksburg hills, and other historical fiction books set in Vicksburg as well as history books about the battle itself.

So, with all that research, when did I start writing the fiction and how did I balance it?

That’s the hard thing about writing historical fiction, especially if you love history. You have found a period of time you’re interested in as a writer, and you love to research. You want to share every little fact with your reader, but your reader doesn’t want to read a history book. If she did, she would go to the nonfiction section and pick one out. She wants to read about your characters and plot, while learning some history on the side.

I struggled with this balance. I wanted to have thirteen-year-old Anna Green, my main character, experience everything that the citizens of Vicksburg did in 1863. I wanted to share every sacrifice that the people had to make, what happened on each day of the Siege, and how the people survived with so little supplies. But kids especially get bogged down with too many facts thrown into the story.

Mostly what I did to keep my balance, and what I’ve heard from other historical fiction writers, is that I focused on the story. Instead of thinking to myself, I am writing a historical fiction book for kids set during the U. S. Civil War, I had to think—I am writing a book about a 13-year-old girl who doesn’t know where she belongs—physically and emotionally. She has a brother and a sister that depend on her, but she’s not ready for this role.

Once I started focusing on the story and the characters in my setting of the Siege of Vicksburg, I found balance. When Anna is trying to decide whether or not to take James and Sara back to their cave and stay on their own, it was easy to work in some of the daily tasks that people had to do back then and even how the soldiers bombed the citizens most of the day, resting only for meals. Focusing on the story made the research details that much easier to fit into the story—naturally.

Historical fiction is fun! It’s a great way to learn about a time period. It’s not easy to write, until authors start thinking about the story and the characters and less about the actual history.
Thanks, again, Margo for your insight on not letting history get in the way of writing historical fiction.

Margo L. Dill is the author of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, a historical fiction middle-grade novel about 13-year-old Anna Green and her struggle to keep her family together during the Siege of Vicksburg. To read a summary or purchase an autographed copy (a perfect Christmas present for children ages 9 to 12!), please go to   or  on  Amazon at:


Monday, December 3, 2012

"Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body" Book Signing on Saturday

I'm pleased to announce that this coming Saturday, December 8th, I will be one of ten local Chicken Soup for the Soul writers participating in the fourth annual "Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body" book signing.

The signings will be at three independent book stores in the metro-St. Louis area. Customers who bring in a canned good, which will be donated to area food pantries, will receive 20% off their entire purchases that day.

The fun will begin at All on the Same Page, 11052 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur, MO, from 10 a.m. till noon. Authors signing books there include: Nina Miller, Theresa Sanders, and T'Mara Goodsell.

In the middle of the day from 1-3 p.m., Main Street Books, 307 S. Main Street in St. Charles--the book store that started it all four years ago--will host Cathi LaMarcheLinda O'Connell, Lynn Cahoon, and  Pat Wahler.

And . . .if you want to visit a haunted book store, The Book House, 9719 Manchester Road in St. Louis, will host the late shift between 4-6 p.mDonna Volkenannt (that's me) will be signing copies of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas" which includes her true story "Unexpected Joy." Other authors signing at the Book House are Beth M. Wood and Sioux Roslawski.

Hope to see you this coming Saturday.

If you can't make it to the Book House, please stop by one of the other book stores on Saturday. The event is for a great cause.

Independent book stores are fantastic supporters of local witers, our food pantries can use your help--and you get a discount on your purchases!

I wasn't kidding about the Book House being haunted. If you drop by, I'm sure you can learn more. And don't forget your canned goods.

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...