"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year!

This year I hope to be braver, stronger, kinder, and happier. I pray we all have love, hope, and a fierce determination for accomplishing good.

I'll be back on January 3rd for the next IWSG post. Until then...


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas!

We actually had snow a few weeks ago (this pic is in my yard). However, it looks like we'll have a warmer Christmas with highs in the 50's. Wherever you are, whatever your situation, I pray you all enjoy a beautiful holiday season.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Few Submission Opportunities


Danahy Fiction PrizeEligibility: All writers
Prize: $1,000 + publication
Entry fee:$20
Deadline: December 31, 2017

Glimmer Train Family Matters Prize
Eligibility: All writers
Prize: $2,500
Entry Fee: $18
Deadline: January 2, 2018

Eligibility: All writers
Prize: $1,000
Entry Fee: $10 for 1 story; $15 for 2 stories
Deadline: January 15, 2018

The Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers
Eligibility: Emerging writers only
Prize: $3,000 + publication + agency review
Entry Fee: $20
Deadline: January 15, 2018

Prize: $1,000 + possible publication
Entry Fee: $25

Deadline: January 15, 2018


J. Anthony Lukas Work-in Progress Award
Eligibility: Writers with a contract with a U.S.-based publisher to write a nonfiction book
Prize: $25,000
Deadline: December 11, 2017
J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize
Eligibility: Writers with a nonfiction book published in 2017 on a topic of American political or social concern
Prize: $10,000
Entry fee: $75
Deadline: December 11, 2017
Mark Lynton History Prize
Eligibility: Writers with a book-length work of history published in 2017
Prize: $10,000
Entry fee: $75
Deadline: December 11, 2017

Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers
Eligibility: Emerging, mid-career or established writers are all welcome to apply
Prize: $5,000

Deadline: January 15, 2018


Robert H. Winner Memorial Award
Eligibility: Mid-career poets
Prize: $2,500
Entry fee: $15
Deadline: December 22, 2017
Dorset PrizeEligibility: All poets
Prize: $3,000 + residency
Entry fee: $30
Deadline: December 31, 2017

92Y Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest
Eligibility: Poets who have not published a full-length poetry collection
Prize: $500 + publication + reading
Entry Fee: $12
Deadline: January 12, 2018

Colorado Prize for Poetry
Eligibility: All poets (except affiliates)
Prize: $2,000 + publication
Entry Fee: $28

Deadline: January 14, 2018

French-American Foundation Translation Prize
Eligibility: Translations published for the first time in the U.S. between January 1 and December 31, 2017
Prize: $10,000
Deadline: January 15, 2018

Prize: $12,500 or $25,00
Deadline: January 11, 2018


Chautauqua Prize
Eligibility: Writers (fiction & creative nonfiction) with a book published in 2017
Prize: $7,500
Entry fee: $75
Deadline: December 15, 2017

Mississippi Review Prize
Eligibility: All fiction writers and poets
Prize: $1,000 + publication
Entry Fee: $15 hard copy; $16 online
Deadline: January 1, 2018

Society of Midland Authors Literary Awards
Eligibility: Authors born in, residing in, or with strong ties to one of the 12 Midland states
Prize: $500
Entry Fee: $10
Deadline: January 6, 2018

Eligibility: All writers and poets
Prize: $1,500
Entry Fee: $20

Deadline: January 31, 2018

Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing
Eligibility: New writers of any age and background
Prize: $10,000. Residency in the San José area is expected during the academic year.
Deadline: January 2, 2018

Eligibility: Any artist, except those enrolled in full time undergrad or graduate programs
Prize: 2-week to 2-month residencies
Deadline: January 1, 2018

Dartmouth Poet in Residence
Eligibility: Poets with at least one full-length collection of poetry
Prize: $2,000 + 6-8 week residency at the Frost Place
Entry Fee: $28
Deadline: January 5, 2018

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG: Look Back

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

DECEMBER QUESTION: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

MY ANSWER: I would take a few more chances. I let fear and naysayers keep me from trying something new, and from a few submission opportunities I had. My confidence took a hit this year, and I'm trying to get back on the writing horse with some new goals. I hope you won't give up either.

What would you do differently?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Reads Worth Checking Out

Colors of Christmas offers two contemporary stories celebrating the hope of Christmas:

Christmas in Blue
Angela just wants Christmas to be over. Instead, she finds herself in charge of the town’s celebration, and everything goes from bad to worse. Can she rescue Christmas for the town—and herself?
Christmas in Gold
When eighty-year-old Astrid moves into an assisted living community and meets a young woman on the brink of despair, she resolves to stir up Christmas hope one more time.

In Your Dream. God's Plan., Tiffany Smiling invites readers to join her as she shares the unlikely purpose she discovered when God invited her to exchange her dream for His. Her story will challenge readers to experience true contentment now by trading in comparison, discontent, and fears of inadequacy for a satisfaction that lasts.

In 365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories your children or grandchildren will delight in this fully-illustrated storybook that brings 365 read-aloud classic Bible stories to life for impressionable young hearts.

Beginning with the creation story, "God Creates the Earth," and ending with "In Eternity with God,” your children will develop faith in an almighty God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, while journeying alongside Bible characters like Samuel, Jonah, Esther, David, John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, and many more.

Through current cultural references and true stories, Daniel Rice, founder of #Gospel LLC, will help readers come to see the gospel for what it really is and how it can radically alter their everyday life. Rice invites them into the conversation as he breaks down Paul’s explanation of the gospel in Romans in a way that is accessible and engaging. #Gospel. . .good news for a time and culture that desperately need it. 

Prayers for a Heart-Shaped Life is a beautiful prayer book from Barbour Publishing which features more than 200 prayers that will inspire readers to draw closer to their heavenly Father as they spend time in quiet conversation with Love Himself. Each refreshing prayer and related scripture selection will help readers discover the best path to the good life. . .which is LOVE.

What books do you recommend reading this holiday season?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Romancing the Holidays to Benefit Breast Cancer Research

Donate to BREAST CANCER AWARENESS when you buy 12 Christmas Stories for 99 cents!

Kim Hornsby and Top 10 Press published this 12 book box set of romances (from sweet to spicy). AND there is a cookbook at the end of it...and ALL for only 99 cents! Part of the proceeds from this collection are going to benefit Cancer Research Programs. 

Many of the authors in this group have been touched in some way by this terrible disease, but are choosing a proactive approach by contributing to this fundraiser.

The season of Mistletoe and Christmas Cookies is almost upon us and they are proud to bring you 12 Holiday Romances! Snuggle up by the fire and enjoy this season like never before. From Sweet to Sizzling, From Maui to Washington DC, all of these Romances have page turning love stories.  CHRISTMAS RECIPE BOOK INCLUDES COOKIES, TURKEY, APPETIZERS, AND MORE...

Crista McHugh - Let Your Heart Be Light
Falling for her late husband’s boss will either lead to delight or heartache for Maureen Kelly.

Jami Davenport - Love at First Snow
Dr. Sarah Whitney opens her animal hospital to a tough athlete with a needy kitten and a soft side.

Kathi Daley - The Cat of Christmas Past
Softening a heart and saving a group of tenants, leads to an unsolved mystery with the help of Ebenezer, the cat.

Misty Evans/Adrienne Giordano - Holiday Justice
Uncovering a theft ring of Christmas toys, Grey wants justice without ruining Christmas for Sydney’s women’s shelter.

Allie Boniface - Miracle of Love
A blizzard and dire circumstances throw friends Mick and Annie together to either fall in love or separate for good. 

Rebecca J. Clark - Christmas in Stilettos
A marriage of convenience, a temporary situation. Christmas is a time for love. And miracles.

Kim Hornsby - Maui Kalikimaka
Lena needs a Christmas distraction and Kalani needs accommodation. Christmas on Maui brings both, and then some. 

Tess Thompson - The Santa Trial
Duty throws Rena into the jury box to judge the case of a Santa impersonator, and discover someone she never expected.

Savanna Grey - Picture Perfect Holiday
As an independent photographer, Lindsay doesn’t want commitment but sexy as sin, Luke Davis soon proves her wrong.

Lori Leger - Tinseled Up In Texas
Will Niki Reeves find enough Christmas spirit to grant Tex Broussard the gift of a second chance?

Jacki Delecki - A Marine's Christmas Wedding
Mission over, two Marines who posed as a married couple can't seem to shake the idea of love.

Carmine Anderson - One Step Over The Mistletoe Line
Claire needs secluded time to think over a marriage proposal when a handsome neighbor appears at her cabin door.

This box set offer is available until 2-1-17:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thankful Every Day

It's Thanksgiving season here in the United States. This holiday often gets overlooked in America because everyone is in such a hurry to get to the Christmas festivities. However, it's still one of my favorite holidays. This is a special time to celebrate your loved ones, friends, fortunes, and good food.

As a thank-you to my readers and fellow bloggers, I wanted to share a short Thanksgiving romantic fiction piece I wrote (about 800 words). I hope you enjoy!

Thankful Every Day

Grace stepped back after placing the last dish upon the table. The smell of roasted turkey filled the air. Her customary dressing, green beans, rolls, and chocolate chip cookies sat nearby. Why had she thought cooking a full Thanksgiving meal would make her feel better?
Tears stung, “It’s just the onions,” she whispered to the empty room. For the first time in more than twenty years her home was quiet on this holiday.
I’ll just watch an old movie, maybe read a good book, and enjoy all this food. At least leftovers will mean I won’t have to leave the house on Black Friday.
Knocking at the door startled her.
She walked quickly to the side window to peek out. Who on earth…
“Grace, it’s me.”
“Bill?” she swung the door wide. “I thought you would be in Louisiana with your daughter and her family?”
“Me too. Her husband called early this morning. She and the girls have the flu.”
“That’s terrible.”
He grunted his agreement and then took in the scene at the table. “I’m sorry if I’ve interrupted. I just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Nonsense, you’re not interrupting. You’re staying for a proper Thanksgiving. I hope you’re hungry.” She pulled Bill further into the room so she could close the door behind him.
A look of relief crossed his face before he smiled at her. His smile soon turned to a light chuckle.
He reached out a large callused hand and cupped her cheek briefly before wiping her nose and chin with his thumb. Sensations jolted through her and it was all she could do to prevent herself from leaning into him.
“Flour,” his voice seemed somehow thicker when he removed a white powdered hand from her face.
Grace laughed nervously. Why did she feel anxious and giddy? She had known Bill for years. He was the best neighbor a single mother could hope for. His daughter was a few years older than her two girls. Bill had already been a widow when she moved here. He helped her keep her house in working order, and she had helped his daughter with more feminine tasks such as picking out prom dresses, shoe shopping, and boy gossip. Since those earliest days, they had all been good friends.
Now, the girls were all grown. His daughter with a family of her own, and both of her girls were off to college, the youngest having just left in September. Grace shook her head to dispel the sadness.
“Let’s wash up. Then we can eat.”
As they ate, they visited about changes to each family over the years.
“Do you ever think about getting remarried?” he asked her later over cookies and coffee.
“I don’t know if I could. You?”
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.”
She stared into his grey eyes with the familiar laugh lines around the edges. He was so very attractive. She felt a tinge of something she couldn’t quite identify and she frowned.
“Is something wrong?”
“No,” she drew out the word before continuing. “Honestly, I’ve been a little surprised that someone hasn’t lassoed you yet. I just assumed you were a committed bachelor.”
“I have been, but now I’m hoping to be committed to someone.”
“Oh,” unease spread through her limbs. I bet it’s Ms. Hanks from church. She’s always doting on him, bringing casseroles and pies by his house. She should probably be happy for the two of them, but somehow she felt something closer to jealousy and anger. He had been a part of her life for so long now. She had come to rely on Bill, and expect him to be around. She was being selfish and he was staring at her intently. “I’ll clean up while you turn on the television. The Cowboys game should be starting soon.”
“Grace,” he grabbed her hand when she started to rise. She fell back into her chair, unable to meet his gaze. “The truth is, I’ve been committed to this woman for a long time now, but I was afraid she wasn’t ready.”
She looked up when he didn’t say anything more. He still held her hand and seemed to be waiting for her to speak. She swallowed hard before offering a smile. “Don’t worry, Bill. I’m sure she’ll accept.”
“Will you?”
Her shock must have been obvious. He squeezed her hand.
“Grace, I’ve been thankful every day since you moved in that you were a part of my life. We practically raised our girls together. I love you and I want you by my side for the rest of our days.”

It took a moment to find her voice, but the anxiety evident in his eyes helped. “I love you too, and I’ll be thankful every day I get to be your wife.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Writing for Veterans

Thank-you to all veterans and active military. We may not show it enough, but you are so very appreciated!
A few years ago my interview of Vietnam War Veteran and author Tim O’Brien appeared in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 2. Since then, the publishers have continued the tradition of supporting our troops.

This yearly anthology presents essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and photography by military-service personnel, veterans, and their families. It is an annual series published by Southeast Missouri State University Press in cooperation with the Missouri Humanities Council's Veterans Projects and the Warriors Arts Alliance. 

"The stories and poems of service and sacrifice are essential in understanding what has so broadly been termed 'the American experience.' For me, Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors is required reading and worthy of a thousand tears."     ―St. Leger Monty Joynes, veteran, Vietnam
Books can now be ordered from the Southeast Missouri State University Press and Amazon. 

Interested in submitting to Volume 7? They are already accepting submissions which are due by June 1, 2018. Contests and prizes will be awarded in each of the five categories. To learn more, please visit:  http://www.semopress.com/events/proud-to-be-writing-by-american-warriors/

Interested in more "support America" reads? Chicken Soup for the Soul publishers have several books honoring veterans and their families as well. Try some of their titles such as: Military Families and The Spirit of America.

Interested in reading more veteran related material? Try Noir and Returning War Vet Sub-Genre, or Being a Veteran.

Have you written with our military in mind? What military reads would you recommend?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

3 Goals for Creating Better Villains

About a month ago I wrote a post called Crafting the VillainIn it, I mentioned the three types of villains I found most interesting and briefly discussed my own goals in creating better villains. 

Today, I thought I would share three goals I’ve been attempting to follow when fleshing out my manuscripts this month.

     1.      Give the villain purpose – their goal should be noble in their own minds and both believable and understandable if not outright condoned by the reader. They can’t just exist to be against the hero. Why are these two on opposing sides? What led them to make the villainous choices? Are they a more noble villain such as Robin Hood who steals from the rich to save the poor? Or are they motivated by betrayal such as in the Disney reimagining of Maleficient? Remember, your villain believes they are in the right. Making their intentions logical and relatable even when corrupt or unjust creates a complicated and interesting situation. The lines between good and evil will blur. The reader may well find themselves rooting for the villains success even as they root for the hero to prevail.
2.      Make them human – even if they possess out of this world powers or abilities, they should be relatable. They have emotions, quirks, and struggles, just like your other characters. No one was always 100% evil. Think about Anakin Skywalker: “there is still good in him”. Or Frankenstein’s monster. Even after the most hideous crimes, they were still capable of a selfless act and audiences wanted them to succeed. Why? Because they were relatable. Their loneliness, depression, and mistakes endeared them to us. If your villain is a group instead of an individual, choose an individual to represent the larger corporation or government body. That representative becomes your humanizing influence.
     3.      Make them create conflict – of course intentionally, but I like the idea of unintentional as well. Whether your antagonist is simply a liar and a cheat, or an outright mass murderer, decide early on how they contradict the hero’s goal(s). Then decide how badly your villain craves their own goal? Is it enough to hurt a few others, unlimited numbers, or even their own loved ones? Every villain has something or someone they care about and would save. What is your villain’s? What happens when their goal costs them what they treasure most? Think of Loki after his mother dies.

Most writers focus on how the stakes affect the hero, but what about the stakes for the villain? How do these circumstances affect their loved ones, or the fate of the world? Great villains are just as complicated, relatable, and even likable as the heroes. That’s what makes them memorable.

Who are some of your favorite villains? Why?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

November is here, and we are preparing for Thanksgiving in the United States. You can read my article  Hassle Free Thanksgiving Planning in the November issue of Thrive.

However, this also means Christmas is right around the corner. Many people, and especially stores, seem to gloss right over Thanksgiving and head straight into the Christmas season. Hallmark channels are already playing Christmas movies 24/7 - and yes I'm one of the sappy females already watching and recording them.

My house may be decorated for Thanksgiving now, but I am also enjoying several Christmas books as well. I would like to recommend a new release: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger...and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancĂ©, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series--a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale--by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie book, this tale is a quick and moderately enjoyable read. Fans of the movies Murder by Death and Clue may enjoy it as well. 

This book started out strong, but about half way through it some of the circumstances and character reasoning no longer worked for me. I didn't feel as strong a connection to the atmosphere or people in the second half of the book. Characters and situations became too predictable, and the ending was only moderately satisfying and believable. An interesting twist happens, but I never felt like that was fully fleshed out.

This was still a light and somewhat enjoyable read that I think others may enjoy. The cover design and packaging were beautifully appropriate to the genre of the book. Overall, I would give this story 3.5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review

Are you preparing for Thanksgiving, and/or enjoying the beginnings of the Christmas season?