Sunday, August 21, 2016

Field Trip to Monticello Sculpture Gardens, Through the Looking Glass

Who loves to go on a field trip? I do!

A field trip with friends is not only fun and relaxing, it also stimulates the brain.

This month I've gone on two outings, the first was a trip my friend and former co-worker Barb planned, which included a walking tour through the Monticello Sculpture Gardens on the historic campus of Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois.

The college's 2016 "Gardens Through the Looking Glass," Summer Garden show, celebrates the 150-year anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” books.

The college offers free guided tours, or you can do as our group did, and visit the sculpture gardens on your own at your own pace.

According to their website, "The Monticello Sculpture Gardens have been designated by Missouri Botanical Garden as one of their Signature Gardens in Illinois. Here, the traditional edges between art and landscape blend to create a seamless partnership between sculptor and landscape architect."

Here are some photos from the trip.

I'm taking a photo through the looking glass
with my friend Patty waving and looking on

Here's a lovely centerpiece fountain with an egret
and some of the many limestone buildings in the background

My sister Kathleen and I take time for a photo op

A fountain surrounded by flowers - delightful!

Breathtaking sculpture of Sacajawea
carrying her child on her back

A bit of history about the original Monticello Female Seminary,
founded in 1838 by Captain Benjamin Godfrey, who championed
education for females

Horticulture Manager Ethan Braasch took time to
highlight some features of the gardens
My friends and fellow co-workers: Fran, Nancy, JoAnn,
Judy, Barb, Kathleen (my sister), Donna (me), and Patty
For information about the garden tours, call Ethan Braasch, Horticulture Manager, phone: (618) 468-3140 or e-mail him at

If you're interested in learning about the history of the Monticello Female Seminary, here's a link to the Monti Memories blog.

After our sculpture garden tour we took a quick drive across the street and met up with two more friends, where we enjoyed lunch at the magnificent Josephine's Tea Room and Gift Shop, I had the special quiche, salad, and lobster bisque soup, after which I was as full as a tick. For dessert, I bought a slice of lemon meringue pie to go. On the drive home, we stopped at one of the many roadside farmers markets along the way, where farmers displayed freshly picked tomatoes, watermelons, peaches, and other delights.

The field trip to Godfrey with my friends was a wonderful way to feed my mind, body, and soul.

How about you? Have you had any interesting field trips or vacations this summer that inspired you?

Friday, August 12, 2016

October Delight: 50th Annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The very first writers' conference I ever attended was the Ozark Creative Writers Conference in beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas. That was twenty years ago. And the conference is still going strong. In fact, this year is the 50th anniversary of the conference! The friendly atmosphere, top-notch speakers, networking opportunities, and dozens of writing contests keep writers coming back each year.

This year's conference will be held October 6-8 at the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks in scenic Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

This year's faculty includes agents, editors, publishers, and writers, some of whom you might have seen on the History Channel or other television programs.

One of the most attractive features of the conference is that registrants can enter more than 30 writing contests.

There is no additional fee for conference registrants to enter the contests, and there is a contest for everyone, with thousands of dollars in total prize money. The awards are presented on Saturday evening, with a lot of hoots and hollers and applause.

In the past I've served as a judge for a few contests, but this year I'm excited and honored to serve as the contest chair. The entries have begun to arrive, with some folks entering more than a dozen contests, so that gives you a hint at how treasured winning one of these contests is for writers.

But wait. There's more: The Ozark Mountain fall foliage is eye-popping in October, and the drive from St. Charles County goes quickly. So, if you're looking for a fun, informative, and rewarding conference, I hope you will join me at the OCW 50th Anniversary Contest in Eureka Springs.

Monday, August 1, 2016

My Top Ten Takeaways from Jill Marr's "Exposition versus Dialogue" Presentation

One area I try to improve on in my fiction is hitting the right balance between exposition and dialogue.

So I was thrilled to listen to literary agent Jill Marr's suggestions on how to do that during her "Exposition versus Dialogue" presentation at the All Write Now! Conference.

Here are the ten takeaways I plan to focus on from list she discussed: 

* Write it down then go back over the telling part and change to show.

* Start as late as you can in the plot.

* Lock up back story and let out only when needed.

Don’t have two characters talking about what they already know.

* Don’t use quotes on an entire page.

* Fold exposition in like eggs into a batter.

* Don’t give up great heaps of information.

* Dialogue has to ring true.
Use italics for interior dialogue.

* Don't use he said/she said if it's obvious who is speaking.

How about you: Do you find any of the above suggestions helpful when writing fiction? 

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...