Monday, April 28, 2014

When Actions Speak Louder than Words

As soon as my grandson got off school Friday afternoon, my husband picked him up and they drove to our 89-plus acre "farm" to get ready to turkey hunt -- and search for morel mushrooms.

Saturday was opening day of turkey season, always an exciting time for the guys, but there was an incident on Friday that deeply troubled my husband.

Friday evening, while walking our property searching for morel mushrooms (on left), hubby found a turkey blind with decoys hidden behind a log in the woods on our property. About fifty yards away from the hidden blind, my grandson spotted a dead coyote that appeared to have been shot earlier that day.

Apparently, trespassers had come onto our property Friday and set up their turkey blind so they could be ready for Saturday morning, but while they were there they shot a coyote -- out of season.

To say my husband was angry is an understatement. He hadn't given anyone permission to hunt our property that weekend. He confiscated the turkey blind and decoys and took them to our farmhouse.

Later that night he was so upset he couldn't sleep. So, he hopped in his pickup, drove to the spot in the woods, and used his flashlight to find the coyote carrion. He then dragged the carcass and placed in front of the spot where the poachers had set up their turkey blind.

I can only imagine the looks on the poachers'  faces when they arrived at their hidden blind early Saturday morning. While hubby didn't send a Godfather's dead-horse-in-the-bed warning to the poachers, he got his message across.

My guys didn't shoot any Toms (they only saw a few hens) over the weekend, but they came home with a story that I'm sure my grandson will one day tell his own grandchildren.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Not Your Mother's Book: On Being a Mom Is Out -- and I'm In It!

Yesterday on the front porch I did a happy dance (actually it was more of a stumble) as I carried into the house the box of my contributor copies of NYMB: On Being a Mom.

The Publishing Syndicate book, edited by Dahlynn McKowen, Ken McKowen, and Dianna Graveman, has 64 stories by moms about raising their families.

While I haven't read all the stories, many of those I did read were laugh-out-loud funny. Others were warm and humorous in a sweet kind of way. The cover depicts the sassy, yet humorous, tone of the stories in book--and the candid snapshots inside are great!

Julie, Erik, and me
On page 57 you'll find my true story, "A Hairy Situation," about a shopping adventure my sister Kathleen and I took with our sons while our daughters were in school.

Let's just say my towheaded, blue-eyed, four-year-old son, Walt (Erik), made the trip memorable.

You can find this photo of my daughter Julie, son Erik, and me on page 60 of the anthology.

Next month, just in time for Mother's Day, several local contributors, including editor Dianna Graveman and yours truly, will be signing copies of the anthology at a sponsored event.

If you can't make it to the signing and would like to purchase a copy signed by me, send an e-mail to dvolkenannt (at) and I'll provide details.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Call for Submissions: A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman

For all you mystery writers out there, here's a paid submission opportunity from Linda Fisher, publisher of Mozark Press.  

Mozark Press is seeking short mystery fiction for the popular Shaker of Margaritas series. 

This issue is called A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman

For this anthology, the editors are looking for mysteries with female protagonists. 

Send them your cozies, soft-boiled mysteries, suspenseful tales, capers, or whodunits with a strong emphasis on character, plot -- but most of all good old-fashioned storytelling.

Submission deadline: July 25, 2014

Word Count: Between 2,000 and 3,500 

Approximately 20-25 stories will be selected for the anthology
Previously unpublished work only
One entry per person
No poetry
Keep it clean - PG stories only

Upon publication, authors will be paid $20 

Authors whose work appears in the book will be given a one-time opportunity to pre-purchase books at 60% of retail price + postage.

Author will receive one free copy of the book with his/her story in it -- if author pre-purchases a minimum of one additional copy at the author’s discount.

Electronic submissions only

E-mail to with subject line: "That Mysterious Woman"

Click here for the complete submission guidelines and publisher's tips for success.

From personal experience, I can attest that Linda is a thorough editor who does a top-notch job with any project she is involved.

Good luck if you submit! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Friends, Fun, and Frank Lloyd Wright

Last week, the Kindred Spirits group took another day trip. 

This time our destination was Ebsworth Park in Kirkwood, where we toured a home designed by American iconic architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Our group of seven, former co-workers and friends from metro St. Louis and Southern Illinois, was joined by a gentleman who traveled from Holland to view American architecture.

The entrance to Ebsworth Park is marked by a sign from St. Louis County Parks and Recreation, as well as one of the 250 birthday cakes celebrating the 250th birthday of the City of St. Louis.

The mid-twentieth century "middle-class" American home, completed in 1955 for Russell and Ruth Kraus, is tucked away amid ten-plus acres of sloping hills and persimmon, apricot, and evergreen trees. The Usonian home is known for its “architectural integrity and original Wright-designed furnishings.” Usonian is a term coined by Wright to reflect his vision of the landscape of America, free from previous architectural conventions.

After crowding together to watch a brief video in the gift shop, we headed into the house. Photos were not permitted inside, and the women were instructed to place their purses in a closet. I didn't take notes, thus my descriptions are based on my memory of what I heard and saw. 

The house is designed horizontally, rather than vertically. The basic form is the shapes of parallelograms, triangles, and hexagons, which are evident from floor to ceiling -- even the windows and furniture. The bed in the master bedroom consists of two parallelogram mattresses joined together, covered by the original faded yellow-orange bedspread. The guest room mattress is in the shape of a hexagon. The floors are a muted red; the ceilings tidewater red cypress. The vintage rotary phones in the bedrooms are also red. 

The cabinets in the kitchen are maple and birch. Jade-colored pottery dots dark-wood shelves in the living room and hallway. A low table in the shape of connecting hexagons and stools about three-feet tall sit near the lovely patio doors, which were designed by Mr. Kraus. Two low-to-the-floor origami chairs sit in the living room across from the hexagon-shaped fireplace.

The interior of the house is dark and stark, but my favorite room is Russell Kraus’ study. I found the study to be the room with the most personality. Being a writer, I especially enjoyed seeing the pop-art, bright red plastic Olivetti Valentine manual typewriter that sat in the study on a low desk.

Kraus was an artist and nature lover, who designed the home’s lovely doors, with Wright’s approval of course. He also was a “string saver” and kept all the original plans from Wright, some of which we were permitted to view. The gentleman from Holland was especially interested in seeing those drawings.

The tour took about an hour and fifteen minutes. The house is open to the public (Wed-Sat) by appointment only. Call 314-822-8359 for a reservation. Tour costs $10 for adults. Children under 12 and student groups are charged $5 per child. Visit the Ebsworth Park website for more information.

After leaving the Frank Lloyd Wright house, we drove through pouring rain and met up for lunch at Billy G’s, across town in Kirkwood. There, our group of seven broke bread and caught up on what was going on with family and friends before heading back to our own, less famous, homes. 

I can’t wait to see what Jan, our thoughtful and kind-hearted Kindred Spirits leader, has planned for our next outing!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Submission Opportunity from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels in our Midst

Do you believe in angels? I do.

I love hearing stories about angels and seeing them depicted in artwork, like the statues on the left.

Last month I visited the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis, the site of an official Vatican-sanctioned miracle. This photo is of the front altar--the altar of answered prayers.

I thought it would be fitting to use this photo to accompany this post about a submission call out from the editors of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels in our Midst.

The editors are looking for "101 miraculous stories of faith, divine intervention, and answered prayers."

Have you been visited by an angel?

Had prayers answered by an angel?

Received divine protection from an angel or guardian angel?

Witnessed a miraculous recovery?

Received news or a warning from an angel?

If so, you could have your true story or poem published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels in our Midst.

The editors want stories of "true wonder and awe from people who have directly encountered or received help from angels."

They do not want stories about "people who are angels because they do nice things or eulogies about loved ones who have died and are now angels."

Submission deadline is May 15, 2014

Expected publication date is October 2014.

Authors whose stories are selected will receive $200 and 10 free copies of the anthology.

For complete submission guidelines, including word counts and other details, visit the Chicken Soup for the Soul website.

Good luck!

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...