Short Story Revival: True or False?

“… There’s something unsaid, a dread in the air. … And so there it was said, floating up and around in the atmosphere with all the delicious aromas, the superficial chatter and the sounds of cars making their way back into the city for the long work week.” Lori M. Myers Cooking in a Room with Strangers

Fact or fantasy, true or false, is the revival of the short story due in part to the easy access to e-books for reading on a tablet or smartphone? Or is this just a myth? According to Laura Miller, the short story boom is bogus. In response to the New York Times article, Good Fit for Today’s Little Screens: Short Stories, Laura says, “Still, the idea that such programs have led to renewed general interest in reading short stories is, like much of the Times article, speculative and fueled by wishful thinking.” She expands on this here: Sorry the Short Story Boom Is Bogus

The “wishful thinking” comment led me to do some research – it’s what I do, and I didn’t even need to Google; I went straight to Amazon’s bestsellers’ list. I compared Short Stories with the Romance, Fantasy and Science Fiction genres. I also looked at the list of Fiction Classics. You can draw your own conclusions from the results.

Compared to the most popular genre, Romance, short stories are way behind (the #100 bestseller in the Romance genre is ranked higher overall than the #1 bestseller in short stories), but compared with Fantasy and Sci-Fi and, especially, Fiction Classics, short stories do much better as shown in the table below:

Genre

Bestseller List

Overall ranking (Paid in Kindle Store)

Short Stories

#1

#261

Romance

#100

#231

Fantasy

#14

#260

Science Fiction

#12

#259

Fiction Classics

#4, #5

#196,  #531

The #1 bestseller in the Romance genre was overall #1 bestseller on Kindle, and even the #100 bestseller in Romance (#231 overall ranking) ranked higher than the #1 bestseller in the Short Stories category (#261 overall ranking). Romance lived up to its reputation and came out well on top.

However, in the Fantasy bestsellers list, only fourteen books (fourteenth book ranked #260 overall) ranked higher than the top ranked book in Short Stories. Similarly, only twelve books (twelfth book ranked #259 overall) performed better in the Science Fiction genre.

Compared with Fiction Classics, short stories performed well – only four books (fourth book ranked #196 overall, fifth book ranked #531 overall) in the Fiction Classics list ranked higher than the top ranked book in Short Stories.

The evidence suggests that, apart from Romance, short stories in e-book format are now on a par with other popular genres. Readers seem to enjoy the variety that short stories offer interspersed among their favorite authors and books. One reason for this might be that a short story can be read in the space of a bus ride or train journey, especially with all the new forms of electronic reading devices and the increasing number of online e-book retailers.

This revival of the short story in electronic format has created an opportunity for writers that might not have presented itself otherwise. Many new and exciting writers are keen to reach out to readers by providing them with stories that entertain and enthrall. The demand from readers is there and authors are matching it.

FrontThe opening quote above is from the talented writer, Lori Myers. Lori is one of three Pushcart nominees (Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, Murray Dunlap and Lori M. Myers) who contributed short stories to Forever Families, the third in the Forever series of anthologies – Forever Friends (2008), Forever Travels (2010) and Forever Families (2012).

Lori’s touching story about a sister and brother, who have grown apart, is just one of twenty-seven stories that vary in length from concise to extensive. Every story, whether short or long, offers a unique look at family life. While some are poignant, others raise a smile.

The seven sections that make up the book take the reader through the joys of a happy childhood to the sadness of a death in the family, with fond family memories, faithful family pets, risky family business ventures, eventful family weddings and the ups and downs of family life in between. So, find a comfortable chair, download the book to your e-reader, then sit back and enjoy the diversity of reading experiences in Forever Families.

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Philip Spires

In 2009, Philip Spires collaborated with the sporting legend, Martin Offiah, to produce a book, Martin Offiah’s 50 Of The Best, celebrating the skills and thrills of rugby league.

Hi Philip, Welcome to Literature & Fiction!  Please tell everyone a little about yourself.   

Philip: I was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in 1952 and was brought up in Sharlston, then a mining village. I did grammar school in Normanton, took a chemical engineering degree from Imperial College, London, and then decided to teach, after a PGCE at King’s. I then went to Kenya for two years as a  volunteer. On returning to Britain, I did sixteen years in London education. But the travel bug was with me, and in 1992, my wife and I decided to move to Brunei, where we lived for almost seven years. Three years in Zayed University, Abu Dhabi,  followed and then semi-retirement beckoned and we moved to Spain. Since 2003, I have done some part-time teaching, we run a small tourist rental business and I have completed a PhD, as well as five books.  

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?  

Philip: The only time I have ever suffered travel sickness was when I was very young indeed. I insisted on writing out the story of The Three Little Pigs in an old desk diary while on the back seat of a Standard Eight – and I was very, very sick. I write better than that these days, I hope. So I must have enjoyed creative writing as a child. I even tried to write a couple of novels when I was a student. Thankfully, they are both lost. I even wrote poetry. Unfortunately, I still have it. I have kept a commonplace book since 1973. It’s a work-book, not a diary, full of random jottings, book reviews, concert reviews, travel writing, research notes and trivia.  In 1978, when I set about the first of my Kenyan novels, I used material I had written in the commonplace book while I lived in Kenya. The second Kenyan novel, Mission, arose out of issues that A Fool’s Knot could only skirt. The common-place book remains an idea bank that bears interest. There’s a wealth of material in it. Nowadays, it’s almost exclusively just book reviews, however.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?  

Philip: I have always been fascinated by politics, not only in the ideological sense, but also at the level of relationships between individuals and groups. It was Karl Marx’s  wonderful writing on the links between individual identity and roles within economic systems – means of production, if you like – that prompted me to revisit my own background. My home area, once proudly socialist and comprising miners and families who worked hard, played hard, but always fairly, and then died young, is now transformed into a shadow of its former dignity, populated by apparently compliant servants of consumerism, most of whom can’t afford to consume. In Kenya, I was fascinated by people’s  relationship with the poverty that dominated their lives. In Brunei and the Emirates, it was wealth and its pursuit that endowed respect, fed aspiration and moulded attitudes towards the poorer rest of the planet. How characters are formed by their nurture, how lives are sculpted by their social context, and how their presumptions generate interests that determine action continues to fascinate me. My writing explores these ideas and relationships – at least I hope it does! I write about ordinary people, because every life is extra-ordinary. Kings, queens, princesses, spies, celebrities, those famous by virtue of mere fame are, for me, smaller than life, their identities often a product of someone  else’s  marking concept rather than their own even canalised experience. I thus find such folk less than interesting. But the characters that populate the novels of writers such as Graham Greene, William Boyd, Julian Barnes or Pat Barker – to name but a few – are fascinating in every detail.  So, it is this process of nurture within nature that underpins what I write. Individual journeys through life are unique and intrinsically  interesting. There’ll  always be the odd issue to confront along the way!  

Briefly tell us about your latest book.  Is it part of a series or stand-alone?   

Philip: My latest book, Voyagers, examines several strands related to individual and group identity. It’s a set of short stories loosely based on the experience of travel. It is thus not travel writing, as such, but it may be writing about travellers. It opens with a novella, Discoverers. This is set inBrunei and tells how a college teacher sets out on a routine assignment that would be anything but routine for someone who did not live in primary rain forest. But the teacher’s time is up. His supervisors want him out, though he only becomes aware of the threat after its effects have already begun to bite. He is bright enough to counter and to outwit, but has he forgotten something? Maybe it has something to do with a political campaign he is running? Eventually, if we want our own way, who cares about the facts? In other stories, a little-travelled retiree is rudely intro-duced to the potential threat of the matriarchal. A young art student, apparently liberal, even revolutionary in taste and style, reverts to a new-found middle-class safety when confronted with a choice. In a distant future, a tele-transported man fails to be reunited with his own identity. Australian travellers feel threatened by the claims and connections of a casual acquaintance, but would you believe him? A young couple visit an idyllic village where local lives are anything but idyllic. Things are what they seem and simultaneously they are not. Things agree and contradict; it’s the interpreter that adds meaning and consequence. Reality is often merely neutral.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

Philip: The settings for the Voyagers stories are all real, culled from my own observations and descriptions of trips that I faithfully recorded over the years in my commonplace book. The stories visit some well-known tourist sites – Ephesus and Bodrum, Florence and Venice, the Vietnam coast, a Devon village. The Brunei rain forest is more out of the way, and I doubt many tourists visit the green room in Westminster Central Hall. Sometimes the events and the people are based on those encountered in my travels. The Australians were in Dubrovnik and they were talking to a spiv in a bar. There really was a field trip up the Belalong River into Temburong’s forest. The pub in Devon did exist. Some of the people in the stories were also there, but the characters are amalgams, constructs and juxtapositions to highlight relationships, habits, opportunities, threats. The child abuser I place inVietnam was quite real, but I encountered him inIndonesia. The writer and the politician who meet in Protesters are both real people, though the story does not name them. I know they met in that place because I was in the audience to hear both of them speak. I imagined what might have transpired between them behind the scenes, however. The characters in my Kenyan books also draw on real people, but real people conjoined, merged to create a narrative. There really was a man killed by his father as a result of a family disagreement based on cultural conflict. I never met either of them, but I knew the issue over which they disagreed, and that substance became the plot.

Who is the most unusual/most likeable character?

Philip: In Voyagers I like the central character in Assessors, the science fiction story, despite the fact that we never actually meet him. He is an engineer, a specialist in the maintenance of the urban domes in which people now live. He has been to a conference and has been – as usual – tele-transported back home. His problem arises out of his apparent re-classification at his destination. His body arrives intact, but his intellect has been down-graded, his knowledge and skill-base stripped out and replaced with only basic functions. He writes, apparently, an email asking for his case to be reassessed. If the downgrade was intended, then what motivated it? If it was not intended, then could he have his old intellect back, please? The fawning, grovelling style he adopts, however, might not necessarily be him. The story was inspired by a report of BBC Radio 4´s Today programme in which an American-Japanese physics professor predicted the imminent realisation of an ability to tele-transport large molecules by virtue of our intricate knowledge of genetic sequences. The very next report featured the opening of  Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Five, where travellers and their luggage could not be reunited.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had. 

Philip: Here are a few excerpts from Amazon reviews of Mission.

 A tragic accident is seen through the eyes of five different characters, including the victim. Unforgettable – I became totally absorbed. I will remember my time spent in Phil Spires’ African community for a long, long time.  Highly recommended.  (Maureen Moss)

 … Despite the events being trodden over by several people, there’s always something fresh to discover, a new insight into a character, a shocking revelation, and even though you think you know everything already, you read on, wanting to understand the individuals and their inner worlds, and still learn more. The narrative is coloured by the sights and smells of a small town in Africa, the petty tribal disagree-ments and the long-lasting resentment of past ignominies under colonial rule. It is not a light read, but it is rewarding. It’s obvious that these characters lived with Spires for several years, he knows them so well, and by the end of the book, we do too.  A memorable and quite remarkable book.  (Nik Morton)  

 The plot is centred round the lives of five characters who are more or less implicated in the death of Munyasya a derelict ex Kenyan army officer. Although the `accident’ occurred more than thirty years ago this tragedy is still playing out its dramatic consequences in their lives.  In reading the novel I was constantly reminded of Lawrence Darrell’s great work `The Alexandria Quartet’. In “Mission” the sense of place is not so poetically depicted but there is no doubt that we are in Africa its vibrancy and heat pervades each chapter and as in the Quartet we see one event or set of circumstances from the varying points of view of the main characters.  How differently each views those same events! (Michael Elsmere)  

 A fine story set in beautiful Kenya, colorful and filled with mystery, intrigue, and twists. The characters are real as is their perceptions when seen through their eyes. A  magnificent  story set in magnificent locale. (Bill Copeland)

 What are your current projects?

Philip: My next project is already finished in that the text is written. What I am doing at the moment is precisely nothing, however, except reflect on the ideas it contains. A couple of people have read the book and I am waiting a while before re-reading it myself. I might change some aspects of it. Who knows? It’s called A Search for Donald Cottee. Don, also known as Donkey because of a thicker than usual lower lip, has retired early after years on sickness benefit, having once been an electrician in a coal mine. He and his wife, Suzie, have driven to Spain in a Swift Sundance and have parked permanently on a Benidorm caravan site. Suzie, who prefers to hide a motor-accident scar on her left arm under a suitable garment, long ago adopted the nickname Poncho. So Donkey Cottee and Poncho Suzie seek a new and restful life in Spain. Don continues to campaign on environmental issues, being passionately against wind-farms. Via an old flame who threatens to reignite, Suzie takes on the management of a cabaret bar. Don meets women of his dreams, is disowned by the daughter he has, is captivated by the one he perhaps never had, falls into caves and gets mixed up with politics. Suzie makes a ripping success of a bar that the owners wanted to fail so they could demolish it. My parody of Don Quixote is a comedy that turns suddenly and devastatingly tragic. I hope to publish later this year.  

How does your environment/upbringing colour your writing?

Philip: From the material of A Search For Donald Cottee it will be clear that the experience of Yorkshire mining areas over the last four decades is an important element in the book. As youngsters, fired with the late 1950s and early 1960s myths of mobility, betterment and opportunity, Don and Suzie strove to realise their personal and shared dreams. Their daughter got everything she wanted only to reject it. They got their bigger house and a mortgage to match. When the strike of the 1980s began, Don continued to work because, as an electrician, he was “maintenance”. But he was duly ostracised, labelled a traitor by his colleagues, labelled at home perhaps in the same way that the rest of ThatcheriteBritain labelled the strikers as traitors. Don was thus doubly an outcast, damned for being and damned for not being… And then, after years on the “club”, Don retires to find he is still a little man in others’ bigger schemes, despite the film-set location of the Med, sunshine and cheap beer. But in the end we are still not sure what happened to Don or Suzie. He might just have had the last laugh, if there was one…

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Philip: I have a website at www.philipspires.co.uk where you can find some extracts from the books. A new page devoted to Donald Cottee will appear soon. Voyagers, my travel stories, have their own page at http://www.philipspires.co.uk/voyagers.htm.  Please do have a look at the material, but please do remember that all I want to do is write the kind of book that I would want to read. If you would like to share that experience, I would be at least flattered. The books are available now in Kindle and other ebook editions, though Voyagers can also be bought as paperback. Here’s the Amazon links for my work:

Amazon.co.uk  

Amazon.com

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Jess C. Scott

Jess C. Scott is a writer/novelist/poet, artist, and general non-conformist. She recently published Porcelain, a portfolio of new and previously published short stories, poems, and essays. She is currently tweaking the final version of her next book (book #1 in a contemporary/multicultural YA series).

Shelagh: Describe yourself in five words.

Jess: jess c scott dot com

Shelagh: Please tell us about Porcelain.

Jess: Porcelain showcases the variety of styles and genres I’ve written over the past decade or so. It offers a personal draft of my navigation through a world that is fantastical, offbeat, ironic, unexpected, and true. It’s also available as a free ebook/PDF download via my website. 😉

Shelagh: What are some of the genres you write? Do you have a favourite?

Jess: I’ve written (and am not limited to) the following—contemporary fiction, new media (my first book was/is a blog/IM novel), paranormal romance, erotic fiction, YA fiction, poetry, urban fantasy, offbeat fiction, GLBT…I don’t think I have a favourite. I go with the style/medium which suits whatever there is to tell.

Shelagh: Share an excerpt of your favourite author’s work.

Jess: “What is more, she felt she had always really disliked him. Not hate: there was no passion in it. But a profound physical dislike.” Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D. H. Lawrence

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve had.

Jess: Review Excerpt of The Devilin Fey:

[The Devilin Fey] was erotic without being pornographic, emotional without being sappy, spiritual without being preachy…just enjoyable reading. Kudos to Jess Scott.” — Paul G. / Amazon review, July 2010

Review Excerpt of Porcelain: “Jess C Scott is a prolific writer…her potential is immense.” — LibraryThing.com review

Shealgh: What is your definition of “good writing”?

Jess: Something that rings true, that people can identify with.

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Jess: I’ve a contemporary “seven deadly sins” series, an urban fantasy series, and a dark urban fantasy series which I’ve been contemplating on. Need to do lots of planning (along with my summer/fall 2010 university courses!).

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Jess: www.jesscscott.com
www.facebook.com/jesscscott
www.twitter.com/jesscscott

Shelagh: Where can folks download a copy of Porcelain?

Jess: www.jesscscott.wordpress.com/porcelain

Shelagh: For free?

Jess: Yes. Tell a friend to check it out, too. 🙂

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Valle Pintado Writing Contest Winners

Valle Pintado Writing Contest is a Tie

The First Visual Arts Junction Writing Contest is a Tie.

Contgratulations
Ed Leonard & Jacki Donnelly

Valle Pintado by Aggie Villanueva

Valle Pintado by Aggie Villanueva
See Aggie’s Limited Edition Photo Art

A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and that was the assignment. Well, more accurately, 500 – 600 words, and writing about the photo art, Valle Pintado by Aggie Villanueva, was the subject.

The  six judges returned a split decision, so without further ado, Visual Arts Junction, and the many contest sponsors, take pride in introducing you to the two winners, and their winning entries. Click on the links below to see the entries on sponsors’ sites.

.Life in the Valle Pintado

by Ed Leonard (Papa Ed)

Ankles tucked and breathing slowed, I feel the tree dance, my wood platform sways and rocks in the hot southern trade winds. My sad, burnt, drought-stunted valley stretches before me. My humble ranch home swelters in a dry, coarse bunchweed field surrounded by stunted agreste woods that threaten to become caatinga.

Death menaces life like a Samhain specter. Gnarled stick trees grasp each other for desperate support. Their life juices drawn deep to survive the uncommon warm, dry winter. Earth spirits have driven the Numida fowl and the high plains antelope down the Tocantins to richer lands. The loss of precious water and the increased heat are taking a horrendous toll on animal and plant habitats in the Valle Pintado.

I have barely survived another winter. Spring has arrived with little promise, and my energy and will are suffering. I call out to the spirits of the jaguar and of the ocelot who once roamed here. But, they do not hear me.

I close my eyes, intent on escape. I release my saddened spirit. Hawk spirit enfolds me and I soar to a better time. I stroke the heavens and relish a gentle wind with a smooth glide. I alight to proudly perch atop a tall post and search the autumn grass for my choice of scampering breakfast.

The Valle Pintado proudly displays a dappled Autumn abstract quilt with primary colors blended and fused like fresh oils on nature’s canvas. My well-tended red adobe brick home blends quietly and comfortably before a large sugary wave of Palo Verde, Box Elder, and Hop Trees in full glory. My harvested corn patch glows golden yellow and my second growth wheat field rusty red.

A warm wind whispers, flicks leaves loose to float and flip their way to rich soil, and bathes my feathers in ripples. A hazy gray cooking fire screen rises among the trees with the rich smell of mesquite fired meat.

Two distant sandstone buttes, glimmer and flash with life, shrouded in milky early morning light. My world is balanced, healthy, and harmonious. I know now that the natural cycle of seasons will return my ranch to glorious life.

I spot a striped field mouse and launch, flapping lightly, then diving fast to my target. I dive and dive, but my prey remains distant. I linger, but the inevitable change reaches me. My spirit snaps back to my earth-bound body. Hawk has brought me hope and reminded me of the potential of my life in the Valle Pintado.

I resolve to exercise patience, to go back and seal my roof against the rain that must come again, to mend my fence against the predators that will return, to plant my corn and wheat knowing they will be nourished and watered. I resolve to hike to the top of the distant butte blessing all earth along the way. I resolve to come often to my tree platform and to meditate with the spirit of my totem animal, the hawk.

My sadness is gone.

Ed Leonard: My online name is papaed. I’ve been a compulsive reader and writer for nearly 50 years. I prefer poetry and have over 100 poems posted online. I’ve never tried to publish a book or articles in a magazine although I’ve done journalistic reporting freelance for several newspapers. I chose to place the Valle Pintado in the Tocantins watershed of Brazil and researched the habitat, geography, watershed, language, and native animals so that my 500 word piece reflects a possible mystical scenario there. I advocate meditation and peace issues in many of my writings and found your picture inspirational along those lines.

http://www.writerscafe.org/writers/edleonard/
http://papaed.multiply.com/
http://www.ipeace.me/profile/papaed
http://coldcoffee.ning.com/profile/papaed
http://nolan-ruizbooks.ning.com/profile/papaed

Judges Comments for Ed’s Entry

What I liked: You made the what and why of your transformations clear without actually saying it. I liked that you didn’t insult our intelligence as readers. That’s good storytelling. I empathized with your transformations; physical, spiritual and emotional, that produced a trust in, and ultimately a submission to, the Great Spirit through nature – a trust that transforms despair into hope restored, and then finally seeing things as they really are.

What could be improved: I know you had a word limit, but I’d like to see it more developed.

What I liked: What an intriguing story of hope. Beautifully painted images; excellent use of the first person POV. Thank you for your contribution to the contest and good luck with your writing career.

What could be improved: My only criticism pertains to the structure of one sentence: Two distant sandstone buttes, glimmer and flash with life, shrouded in milky early morning light. I don’t understand the comma after buttes or the switch from present to past tense (glimmer, flash, shrouded). I wish my own writing problems were so small.

What I liked: The imagery of the story is good and the writer’s effort to paint a story with apt descriptions works well.
What could be improved: The story reads like a synopsis for a much longer story. The grammar needs a little attention — split infinitives and occasional change of verb tense.

A Painted Mountain Life

by Jacki Donnelly

It was almost a month since I resigned as Editor in Chief of New York’s most popular fashion magazine “Moda”, but my mental alarm clock was still sounding off promptly at 6 a.m. For the past 29 days this annoyed me, but today was different. Today I started my new life- I left my upscale life and the chaos in NYC. I traded it all in for what I hoped would be a more peaceful and meaningful life.

***

My dearest friend lost a life long battle with cancer. During her last few months I didn’t spend as much time with her as I should have. I didn’t have the time, you know, with being successful and all. Luckily I made it to her before she died. She reminded me to enjoy the life’s little things, and not always focus on money and work. “You are only what you let yourself become.” she gently whispered. And with that I gently embraced her frail hand for the last time.

I finally understood the meaning behind her unsolicited suggestions. She always wanted me to take time off work, to go on a date or read a book, which I refused. I always justified my disregard by her not having or wanting the lavish lifestyle I was accustomed to. I was wrong. Now I sat humbled and dissatisfied.

At that moment I decided to change. I resigned from my job, sold my apartment and packed only the necessities, which included a book I had been working on for over twenty years. I searched the internet for a cabin to retreat to in the mountains. Finally I found a quaint cabin rental nestled in the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest. After a short telephone call with the owner I packed up my car and headed west.

***

I slowly got out of bed letting my feet touch the cold wooden floor. The sunrise was creeping over the mountains and into the cabins’ windows. The fall air had a slight chill with a sweet smell to it. I managed a fire in the ancient woodstove, the only heat source for the small cabin. I walked to the kitchen and poured me a cup of coffee in my only mug. I grabbed a sweater from the pile of clothes on the floor and wrote a few items on a box lid I needed from the market. My chores today were to unpack, set up a space to begin writing again, and groceries.

That would have to wait I wanted to enjoy my first cup of coffee of my new life. I walked out onto the porch and sat down in a rickety, wooden rocking chair. The warmth of my coffee felt good as it trickled down my throat to the pit of my stomach. The scenery took my breath away.

I was overwhelmed with a feeling of awe and tranquility, foreign feelings to me. Such beauty greeted me with open arms on that porch. I listened to the sweet melody of the Mountain Chickadees’ and the Western Meadowlarks’ coming from the forest that surrounded me. The wind was swooshing gently through the Locoweed and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers that outlined the small wooden cabins land. The trees adorning the mountains were reflecting shades of crimson, wheat and amber down to me.

I sat captivated. At that moment, with that warm cup of coffee in my hands, I knew I had made the right choice. Today would mark the day I started to “live” life. A Painted Mountain Life – one I could only dream.

Jacki Donnelly: I currently live in the tropical state of Florida. I am new to writing and am currently discovering my talents. Any commentary on the attached piece would be greatly appreciated. This will be my first piece entered for review! I am very excited and look forward to continuing my path of writing. I am 30 years old, married to a wonderful husband and have a wonderful Boxer puppy named Baxter.

This picture reminded me of a trip we took recently to the Appalachian mountains – Life is so much different in a quiet country setting. I have recently returned to college in pursuit of a degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis, and so far I am loving every minute of it. I hope to one day become an editor for a small press!

Judges Comments for Jacki’s Entry

What I liked: I thought the story was well written and had a great story line. If the Author wished she could make this into a novel.

What could be improved: The one thing I would change would be to describe the picture more in depth.

What I liked: BROUGHT TEARS to my eyes. She obviously was drawn into the picture and let the emotions of it be real in her story.

What could be improved:

What I liked: I chose Jacki’s story because of the creativeness of her story and how well it went with the picture. It showed a lot of imagination. That’s a good thing! Keep up the good work!

What could be improved: The one thing I would’ve changed in the story, was that it was told in the first person, a pet peeve of mine. First person should be left for non-fiction stories, in my opinion, such as the author’s biography in his/her own words or a memoir. Otherwise, it was great!

The Fine Print: Entries are judged on storytelling quality only. We do not judge on editing, manuscript prep, etc. Congratulations winners.

Sponsors

The winning entries will also appear at each of the sites below

Aggie Villanueva Visual Arts Junction: http://www.visualartsjunction.com
Rightfully Mine http://www.aggiev.org/rightfullymine/

Carol Langstroth The Frontpage http://www.carollangstroth.com
Author Meeting Place http://www.authormeetingplace.com/mindfogreviews.html

Linda Yezak 777 Peppermint Place http://lindayezak.wordpress.com/
AuthorCulture http://authorculture.blogspot.com/

Cindy Bauer Cindy Bauer Bookshttp://www.cindybauerbooks.com/
Reviews by Cindy http://reviewsbycindy.blogspot.com/

Nanci Arvizu Page Readers http://pagereaders.com/
Nanci’s Thoughts www.nanciarvizu.com

Shelagh Watkins http://shelaghs.blogspot.com

Kim McDougall Blazing Trailers Blazing Trailers http://www.blazingtrailers.com/

Melinda Elmore Melinda’s Blog Spot: Pen to Paper www.melinda.essentialwriters.com

Fran Lewis Fran’s Website www.gabina.49.webs.com
Fran’s Blog www.gabina49@wordpress.com
bookmarketing.ning.com/profile/FranLewis
www.myspace.com/hotauntiebertha
http://www.franifashionista.blogspot.com
http://writing4all.ning.com/profile/FranLewis
http://thewritespot.ning.com/profile/FranLewis

Amber Rigby Grosjean Amber Rigby Grosjean blog http://amberrigbygrosjean.blogspot.com/

D.K. Christi D.K. Christi , Consultant and Author www.dkchristi.com

Jhonny Thermidor Unexplored Oceans of Wisdom www.JhonnyT.wordpress.com
Johnny Thermidor www.JhonnyThermidor.webs.com

Robert Appleton Mercurial Times http://robertbappleton.blogspot.com/

Chelle Cordero Chelle Cordero’s Promo Page http://cce613.xanga.com/

Abe F. March Abe F. March http://www.abemarch.com/apps/blog/

Paidra Delayno Paidra’s Pen http://paidraspen.blogspot.com/

Sandra Kay Sandra Kay’s Musings http://www.sandrakayauthor.blogspot.com/

Jo Fulkerson Writer’s Life http://www.freewebs.com/thedesertwriter/

Elena Dorothy Bowman Elena Dorothy Bowman’s Book Blog http://elenadorothybowmansbooks.blogspot.com/

Hank Quense Blog, the writing blog of Hank Quense http://hankquense.com/blog/

Mark Stephen Levy Overland http://authormarklevy.blogspot.com/

Jay Heinlein Publishing Professional http://heinleinpubservices.blogspot.com

J. Michael Orenduff author of the Pot Thief series www.ThePotThief.blogspot.com

Yolanthaiti Harrison-Pace YOLANTHAITI yolanthaiti.blogspot.com

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Day Three of Blog Tour

Thank you for reading this blog entry! This is the third post on the blog tour. If you have just joined the tour, welcome! If you read the first two postings on Chelle Cordero’s and Zada Connaway’s blogs, thank you for following the tour! In the first two posts, I mentioned what a wonderful book Forever Friends is and promised readers that they would not be disappointed if they bought the book for themselves or as gifts for friends and family. I talked about the short stories in the anthology and the breadth and depth covered: from science fiction to mystery and romance. I also mentioned some of the poems in the book, which are just as diverse and equally entertaining. All, whether tear-jerking or raising a smile, will give the reader new insights into human relationships and the different kinds of friendship. Within these poems, there is something for everyone!

When I began setting up the blog tour, I invited the blog hosts to send questions for me to answer. Mary sent a list of interesting questions and these are my answers:

1. What inspired you to publish Forever Friends?

The idea came from a discussion on the publishedauthor.org when one of the members, Pam Robertson, suggested that a group of members on the forum should get together to produce a volume of stories. I had set up Mandinam Press in January this year to publish The Power of Persuasion, so I offered to publish an anthology of short stories and poems written by members of the Published Authors Network and forum.

2. Will there be another Anthology in the near future?

There are no plans at the moment for a second anthology. The book has been entered into a competition for Best Anthology of 2008. If the book placed in the top three, it would certainly inspire me and everyone else to consider at least one more book.

3. Where will the tour start and end for Forever Friends?

The tour began on December 1st on Chelle Cordero’s blog and will end on December 17th on Tiziana Rinaldi Castro’s MySpace blog. If, for any reason, a blog venue could not host a blog posting, that blog will appear on my wordpress blog. I will be posting a duplicate blog to all the ones I send out on Shelagh’s Weblog.

4.What did you enjoy the most from creating Forever Friends?

I enjoyed the challenge of it. The submissions arrived randomly. Sometimes two or three short stories arrived together followed by a poem or two or three poems before another short story arrived. At the beginning it seemed an easy task as I sorted the stories into sections. I left all the poems to be inserted once the sections had been set up and the stories had been inserted into the sections. I concentrated on the editing, which was quite a task in itself. Submissions arrived in the body of emails and as attachments. The word attachments had all kinds of weird and wonderful formatting. Some submissions that must have looked fine on the contributors’ computers had been stitched together from various files and looked like patchwork quilts on my computer. I even had to download some software from the Internet to open one of the attachments.

As the number of stories and poems increased, the task became more and more difficult, until there were thirty three selected short stories (eventually reduced to thirty-one) and twenty-three poems. I had to remember the contents of every story and poem so that I could slot the poems to not only fit into the relevant sections but to lead into the next story or follow on from the previous story. This was quite a challenge and, although I was very pleased with the way everything came together eventually, I made numerous changes throughout the period of compiling the book. I even changed my mind at the very last minute, making an enormous reshuffle of the sections and their contents just days before the anthology went to press.

I also felt pressured to get the book out and available to buy online for the upcoming holiday period and the book has only recently been added to amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and all the other leading online stores. Maybe if there is to be another anthology, I will take more time to put the book together before it finally goes to press.

5.How long did it take to finish and was it a task getting authors to join in?

The first submission arrived on May 21st and the last submission arrived on September 5th. The book was uploaded onto lulu.com on September 21st, exactly four months after I received the first submission.

It was more difficult to attract contributors than I had initially thought it would be. I do not have an explanation for this. The network had over five hundred members at the time but less than one tenth of those members were willing to take part. I will leave readers to make up their own minds as to why the response was so low.

6.Where can you be reached for book signings?

Book signings will be set up by the individual contributors and you should check their blogs and websites for information about these events.

I would like to thank Mary for inviting me to say more about Forever Friends. I was delighted to include Mary’s poem, Our Friendship, which has a gentle rhythm, soft imagery and words that lilt and flow, conjuring up a world of peaceful reminiscence. Mary is an accomplished writer as well as a poet. One of her books Love Laws has been nominated for a Cyblis award in the Young Adult Fiction category. The Cybils are an international series of book awards selected by a talented panel of children’s and young adult book bloggers. The award seeks to find books that strike the balance between literary quality and kid appeal. A panel of experienced children’s literature bloggers for each category will be reading the nominated books and selecting a shortlist of 5 to 7 finalists for each category, to be announced on January 1st 2009. After that, a separate judging panel will read the finalists and choose a winner, to be announced on February 14th 2009.

Congratulations Mary!

If you missed the first blog posting on Chelle Cordero’s blog. Check it out here:

Chelle Cordero

Forever Friends is available now from amazon.com:

Forever Friends

Thanks again for reading this and best wishes for the holiday season!

Shelagh Watkins

December 3 Mary Muhammad