Friday, January 13, 2017

May Your Soul Rest in Peace, William Peter Blatty

I was sad to hear the news that author and filmmaker William Peter Blatty died yesterday at the age of 89. His novel, The Exorcist, was one of the most frightening books I've ever read, and the movie of the same name gave me chills. 

Note: While the setting for the novel The Exorcist was Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., according to many, the story was based on an actual exorcism performed in 1949 in St. Louis, Missouri

Several years ago, when I wrote book reviews for, I was assigned to review Blatty's novel Dimiter.

 In my Bookreporter review I described Dimiter as "enigmatic, compelling, and beguiling. Part mystery and part spiritual thriller  . . . rich in detail and written with wisdom and grace."

At the end of my review I mentioned a minor detail in the novel that puzzled me. I wasn't sure if I should even comment on it. After all Mr. Blatty was an award-winning writer who won an Academy Award. Who was I to point out a mistake? Yet, I felt an obligation to readers to be completely honest in my review.

A few months later, I received an e-mail from someone whose address I didn't recognize. I scanned the e-mail quickly then started to delete it. But I paused and read it a few more times before realizing it was for real.

The e-mail was from Mr. Blatty himself, who thanked me not only for my review, but also for pointing out his mistake, which, he wrote, had been missed by him and several editors but would be corrected on the next print run.

Receiving his e-mail made me realize what a gracious and talented writer Mr. Blatty was.

May your soul rest in peace, William Peter Blatty. You were not only a gifted writer, but also a humble and generous man whose work inspired many.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Special Feast Day: Epiphany and The Three Kings

Today, January 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany, also known in many countries as Three Kings Day.

Growing up, my family celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany as the official last day of the Christmas season. January sixth was the day we took down our scrawny Christmas tree, removed the silver tinsel, swept up the pine needles, rolled up the daisy-chain garland, wrapped the dime-store ornaments and
bubble lights in toilet paper, and stored everything in a few shoe boxes.

Oh, my, how times have changed!

This year I began removing ornaments a few days ago. It's been a slow process. We have so many ornaments and decorations. The most cherished are those hand painted by my children and grandchildren. Other special ornaments were given to me by my family and friends over the years -- several from the White House collection, some with an Irish theme, others with sayings about sisters and friends, many from our family's annual Thanksgiving Day ornament exchange and from my Bunco friends at our Christmas party ornament exchange. 

Each ornament tells a story and brings back a memory.

There's one ornament that tells a story I wrote about in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas. The story was called "Unexpected Joy."

The ornament featured in the story was given to my family on the Feast of the Epiphany a few years ago.

But the story didn't start there.

It started on the first Sunday of Advent when our doorbell rang one night and I found a wrapped package on the front porch. Inside was a gingerbread house, which my grandkids and I decorated.

The next Sunday another gift arrived, then another for each Sunday in Advent. I called family and neighbors to find out who left the gifts. No one knew and no one confessed. I expected someone to reveal themselves on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but it wasn't until the Feast of the Epiphany that a family from our parish knocked on our door and handed us another gift.

It was a burgundy colored velvet box.

Inside was a hand-painted "Li Bien" ornament. A small circle inside the box explained the meaning of "Li Bien" which comes from the Chinese meaning "inside."

The Li Bien ornament showcases the age old skill of inside painting, which originated in the Qing Dynasty. The ornament was hand-painted through a tiny opening in the mouth-blown glass. Each image is painted in reverse.

The ornament inside was of the Nativity scene, complete with the Holy Family and the Three Kings.

So, on this Feast of the Epiphany, or the Feast of the Three Kings, I fondly remember the year a family treated us to these special gifts, and the act of kindness and generosity they shared with us.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Commit to Submit: Paid Submission Opportunity from Whispering Prairie Press

Photo courtesy of Whispering Prairie Press website
One of my writing goals for 2017 is to submit to a variety of publications.  

I'm not sure if someone in the writing universe picked up on that vibe, but in the past few days I've received e-mails announcing some submission opportunities.

The latest one is from Whispering Prairie Press, which is seeking submissions for their magazine, "Kansas City Voices."

If you're like me, you have questions: 

Do I have to live in Kansas, Kansas City, or Missouri to submit? No, you don't.

What are the editors looking for? Prose, poetry, and art of all media.

Does it cost to submit? Nope. Submissions are free, but there is a limit on how many works you can submit.

Does this publication pay? Yes. According to their submission guidelines: "If your work is accepted for publication you will receive a small payment and one copy of the magazine.  All payments are made in U.S. Dollars."

When is the deadline? Submissions are accepted until March 15.

What's the word limit? Details, including word count and formatting, can be found on this submissions link.

Those are the bare bones of the call out. Be sure to check out the website to find out the specific requirements, and good luck if you send something.

Now, I have some questions: 

Have any of my visitors ever been published in "Kansas City Voices?"

If so, how was your experience?

Also, do you know of any markets open to submissions?

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...