I Will Not Apologize

I am an American, a citizen of the U.S.A. In spite of the bad and because of the good, I will not apologize for my nation, nor will I apologize for being proud of it or respecting its symbols.

I am intolerant.

I am intolerant of those who come to America, but don’t want to be Americans.

I am intolerant of those who consider flag burning a right, but flag flying an affront.

I am intolerant of those who call our enemies freedom fighters while vilifying our heroes.

I am intolerant of those who twist our history to fit their agendas.

I am intolerant of those who sacrifice our ways and our traditions in a foolish fear of causing offense.

And I am intolerant of national leaders who are ashamed of the very nation they were elected to serve.

I don’t understand what’s going on today. When did American pride become a national sin? When did the things we’ve done wrong so outweigh those we did right that we are now required to hang our heads and beg forgiveness?

Too many of our men and women shed their blood on foreign shores defending the defenseless, promoting independence, scrambling to allow fledgling democracies a chance to thrive, for me to deny our exceptionalism.

I will not apologize for my pride in my country.

I will not apologize for my support of all branches of our military.

And I will not apologize for my intolerance of those seeking to destroy America.

This is my country. Land that I love.

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Especially for Writers

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Taking Up the Challenge

ray ghosts

What do these three pictures have in common?

Let me give you a hint: the first one is a shot of Ray Bradbury, who issued the challenge, “Write a short story a week.”

Does that help?

When we were on vacation in Jefferson, Texas, we took a day to roam around the town. I found Mitchel Whitington’s book in the Jefferson General Store, and while I flipped through it, I found tons of story potential. I bought it and dove in as soon as I could.

The first event Mitchel recorded occurred in the historic Excelsior House hotel.

Excelsior-House courtyard 2 lady-bird-johnson-roomcourtyard fountain

This wasn’t a story of a ghost sighting as much as it was of a ghost scent. In the hallway outside his room, Mitchel walked through a scent cloud–some flowery perfume or something–and found it overwhelming. Someone had really poured it on.

But when he returned, the scent that should’ve dissipated remained.

He checked again later, and it had moved.

He and his wife tracked the scent throughout the hallways of the virtually empty hotel, finding it here, then there–and no one had an explanation. He asked the hotel docent about it, but the haunting scent was news to her. He never did find out the story behind it.

So I wrote one.

Using his story and the visual prompt of the woman in a masquerade mask, I wrote a literary historical of envy, love, and loss, and I did so in less than a week.

Coming up with short stories is filling my desire to write literary pieces. Rumor has it that literary doesn’t sell well, and those of us who love to explore the depths of that particular genre aren’t likely to get rich on it.

So, what am I going to do with all these little gems I’m coming up with? I have several options–some of which I need to explore better.

  • Create an anthology. This one is the trickiest. Yes, I can create and sell my own, but the best bet is to have several authors involved to widen the audience. Now, all I have to do is find other authors willing to participate in anthology, willing to split the meager income, and willing to sacrifice time to help market it. Oh, and I’ll need someone who has a clue how to price and distribute it and get hard copies of it, because I simply do not know how.
  • Participate in a publisher’s call for short stories. Of course, the hard part about this is finding out about these calls. I’ve had three different publishers, and every now and then I have the sense to look at their sites to see what’s cooking. Usually after the anthology I would’ve loved to participate in has gone to print.
  • Submit to a literary magazine. I like this idea and intend to follow up on it. The “Top 50 Literary Magazine” and “NewPages Guide to Literary Magazines” lists are invaluable to help find a publication match for my work. Among the things to look for when going this route are submission dates, genre/theme requirements, pay/publication compensation, length of term before you get your rights back. If you’re really interested in doing this, spend the funds necessary to familiarize yourself with the magazine and see what types of articles they publish.
  • Participate in short story contests. I’ve discovered recently that this can be quite lucrative. Christopher Fieldon has a list of  links to 2015 short story competitions, and C. Hope Clark has an excellent list in her Funds for Authors blog and newsletter. People get put off by the fact that many of these contests have entry fees, but if it’s a contest with a monetary award–or even if the only award is publication–the fee makes sense. Personally, I believe the entry fee is worth it because to win one of these awards not only provides bragging rights, it provides pub creds. Yes, the trick is to actually win the contest, and that can be quite a risk of funds. But I can promise you this: 100% of all who refuse to pay a fee will never win.

Actually, now that I look at it, I think I’ve put these in reverse order. Maybe I should put my stories in contests first, then–if they don’t get published as a result of winning the contest–I should try to get them in a magazine. Even if they do get published in the magazine, I can collect them for when the rights are released and put them in an anthology.

Lots of income potential with short stories, but the #1 reason I write them is because I doubt I’ll ever publish a novel length literary work, regardless of how much I love the style. I don’t know that I can actually write a story a week, but it’s on my to-do list now and I’m excited about the goal.

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Announcing the 2015 Storming the Short Story Contest

2015 contest promo

2015 STORMING THE SHORT STORY CONTEST

new ACFW logo (2)

Writers on the Storm (ACFW – The Woodlands) & Houston Christian Authors (ACFW – Houston)

in partnership with Chalfont House Publishing’s fiction imprint HopeSprings Books

Chalfont logo

Eligibility: 

The Short Story contest is open to all authors, published or unpublished, 18 years of age or older.

Entries & Fee: 

An original 4,000-6,000 word short story. Entries must not have been previously published in any form.

Entry fee $25.00 via PayPal.

Entry fees are non-refundable. Entry fees are used by the local ACFW Chapters to finance the contest, as well as fundraising for local chapter events.

Theme: Dancing

Your short story can be about anything as long as it fits into the one of the genres listed below, contains the theme mentioned above, and has a clear faith element (Christian). The theme should be obvious to the reader. For instance, if the theme was “Storms” there would need to be a storm in your story somewhere. Metaphorical storms would not count.

Categories and definitions:

  • Contemporary
    • Stories set in year 1960 or after that do not fit in one of the other categories
  • Historical
    • Any story with a setting prior to 1960
  • Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
    • Contemporary
    • Romantic suspense would fit here
  • Romance
    • Contemporary
  • Speculative
    • Any type of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or combination.
    • If it’s weird, it goes here.
  • Young Adult/Middle-Grade
    • contemporary, Earth-based, regular fiction
    • Protagonists younger than 20 years

The Contest Committee reserves the right to combine categories if a minimum of 5 entries are not received.

This is a Christian fiction contest. No objectionable content allowed.

Judging:

Category Coordinators will determine whether the entries meet the required theme, content, and formatting requirements. Entries that do not meet the requirements will not pass to judging.

First Round judging: Panelists will score entries based on 5 categories. Scoring results will be returned to the contestant as feedback. Panelists can only vote in categories they have not entered as a contestant.

Final Round judging: HopeSprings Books will select stories for publication from the highest rated entries and will award at least a first prize in categories with 5 or more entries.

Prizes: 

Winning entries will be edited with the cooperation of the author prior to publication. Winners retain copyright to their work, but the publication contract will be a 7-year license of the paperback, ebook, and audiobook rights.

Proceeds from the sale of the anthology will be donated directly to the ACFW Scholarship Fund, but authors can receive a report each quarter upon request.

Winners from the 2014 contest are published in the Out of the Storm anthology.

out of the storm

Timeline:

June 1st – Contest is open for entries.

June 30th – Submissions closed (Midnight Central Time).

August 1st – Scoring begins.

August 15th – Scoring ends.

August 31st – Winners announced.

Formatting Requirements:

  1. Name should not appear anywhere on the entry
  2. Bible verses must be referenced in a footnote or endnote
  3. Manuscript pages must be in standard format:
    • Double spaced
    • 1-inch margins
    • Size 12 Times New Roman or Courier font (Including the header)
    • Unjustified and aligned left text with no extra space between paragraphs
    • Begin one third the distance from the top margin
    • Scene breaks should be indicated with a single (#) or triple pound sign (###) as their own line with a single blank line above and below
    • Header should contain the category and title aligned left and the page number aligned right.
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Especially for Writers

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An Unexpected Day in January: Shooting on the Acreage

[Guest author, LoRee Peery, is filling in for me today.]

~~~~

An Unexpected Day in January: Shooting on the Acreage

I’m not talking about guns here. I’m talking about a photo shoot.

For at least a year I’d wanted my son-in-law to do an author photo shoot for me. He took pictures of my hubby Bill and me a few years ago, and we’ve had many compliments on the outcome. Ben no longer has access to equipment (he’s a freelance video-camera guy who often sets up lighting on his jobs).

Loree Photog Equip
We are used to snow and frigid temps in January, but the weather was crazy warm for Nebraska, with 50- to 60-degree days most of the first month of 2015.

Earlier in the month, I’d asked one of the pastors’ wives if she’d be available to take author pictures come warm spring weather. She prefers outdoor shots with natural colors. We settled on April to do a shoot at home on our acreage.

The fourth Thursday of January, Ben called and asked if he and his brother could come out and look around for old wood and iron because his bro had developed Grizzly Man Shaving Co (for beard products). “Since Josh and I will be there with a camera borrowed from our cousin, I’ll do your shoot too.”

I had just had my hair cut the Wednesday before he called, and told my gal I’d want her to style it for a shoot. A short story getting longer…I went in for a 9:00 appointment…the only time she could fit me in. Ben and his bro Josh came at 1:00. Ben said, “Your hair looks nice.”

The men, with a little help from dear hubby, set up wood, iron, lighting, and products. I love to watch Ben set up. He is an artist when it comes to lighting and getting ready to click the camera. They arranged, and rearranged, and filmed for over two hours.

LoRee Grizzly Man products
At first I wore an emerald shirt that Ben said was too bright. I changed to sea-foam green. He did some shots. The wind kept interfering, lifting, and playing with my hair.

Loree Hair Play
Inside, I sprayed and gelled and changed into a denim jacket. I then stood in a fallow field, which I didn’t care for. Ben was dissatisfied with the lighting. Besides, the shots looked too political. We both decided those shots were for practice.

He couldn’t capture what he was looking for light-wise and the sun was sinking. I decided to give him some alone time and changed again. I donned a red scarf and set my purple fedora atop, covering the hair I’d paid to be fixed.

Loree
Ben grinned as I went down the porch steps. “You look cute.”

Bill and Josh held boards covered in white, to reflect or deflect the sunlight (not my area of expertise). The hat relaxed me and affected us all for some reason. Ben had fun with lighting. We will remember January 27, 2015 as a super fun spring-like day with something to show for our time together.

~~~~~

Bio

A Nebraska country girl, LoRee Peery attempts to see God’s presence every day. Often that gift comes from nature, and she is most relaxed in the outdoors. The call of a cardinal draws her to look for the distinctive flash of crimson. A meadowlark’s melody always transports her to the farm where she grew up. A rainbow holds special significance, since one appeared the day of her father’s funeral and means the promise of the Lord’s presence in her life. She clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. You can find her at www.loreepeery.com or the Pelican Book Group site

Paisley and Rob love each other, but neither is willing to correct what needs to be fixed in their relationship, so Paisley relocates out of state. When she discovers a secret that may repair Rob’s view of his past, she reaches out. Rob is still bitter over Paisley’s inability to commit and her habit of running, but he believes she sincerely cares for him, so he investigates her claim to have found his unknown heritage. After the emotional turmoil of meeting a family he knew nothing about, Rob’s love for Paisley convinces him to reconcile their differences. His world is incomplete without Paisley. However, she is reluctant to move forward, and has an opportunity to flee again. Will Rob help convince Paisley the answer is not to move again, but lies with the Lord, or will Rob lose Paisley forever?

Find Paisley’s Pattern on sale on the Pelican Book Group site!

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Vacay!

v1I feel certain most people have more exciting vacations than we do. Go to more exotic places, engage in more thrilling activities, create more intense memories. We’re quieter people. From our home in the woods by the pond in East Texas, we drove an hour or so north to a cabin in the woods by a pond in East Texas. “How can that possibly be a vacation?” you ask. Well, let’s start with the idea that I don’t have to clean it. The company can’t reach MSB, because there are no phones. Cell service stinks. WiFi doesn’t exist. In other words, we got to drop off the planet for a few days. And it was heaven.

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Our goal was to spend as much time fishing as possible. Nothing big, mind you, though the pond boasted some super-sized bass. We wanted to engage in some lazy fishing. Bobber on a line, wiggling worm on the hook. Bream, sunfish, blue-gill. Pan fish. That’s about the speed we wanted. Trading in our hotrods for a bicycle built for two. The first day, we struck it big with the little guys, but before long, the turtles figured out what we were up to.

The second day, we were catching a little of both–fish and turtles. The third day, the little guys gave up and let the turtles have the hooks. Wouldn’t be so bad if I knew what to do with one once I caught it. Loggerheads. Snappers. I think the Cajuns a little farther east know how to turn them into a soup (a great soup, too, I might add), but all I could do is get frustrated with them. Finally I hooked a plastic purple worm on my line and tried for the bass. After watching my success, MSB did the same. We caught some small ones, eight to twelve inches. We’d have to throw big ones back. By the time we were done, we had enough for  dinner.

This is what the pond looked like in the evenings:

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That’s when we spent time inside–with the tiny 10″ TV attached to an antenna.

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We rested. We bonded. We escaped for a while. Next time, we plan to escape to Branson, but for now, this was just what we needed. Anyone interested can book a cabin or a hunting trip with Jason and Teresa Bonner at the Busy B Ranch in Jefferson, Texas. Go to their website: www.busybranch.com or call 903-665-7448.

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Especially for Authors

 I’m on vacation . . . kinda.

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Time Out

time

What is it with me and deadlines? Usually I do my best work under pressure, and the pressure of a deadline is the best there is. But one that is self-imposed apparently doesn’t strike me as serious.

I told my publisher I’d finish Riding Herd by the end of June, but (surprise, surprise) it doesn’t look like I’ll make it. The Man is on vacation this week, and next week is Mom week, and neither of them like it when I spend time working when I’m supposed to be with them. That’s two weeks out of May, leaving me with six to get it finished, critiqued, edited, and proofed. Somethin’s gotta give.

Of course, since I have an editor through my publisher, I could skip the critique/proofread part and send it on. But I hate to do that. I don’t like sending out something that I’m not 100% confident in, and I gain my confidence, not from my writing, but from getting the A-Okay from my critique partner and beta readers.

On the other hand, the end-of-June deadline is my own. I could give myself an extension. Wow. That would be professional, wouldn’t it?

Still, the time off may be the best thing for my over-taxed brain. Maybe in two weeks, when I get back to work, I’ll be able to look at the piece with fresh eyes and not only finish it, but go back and correct the things my critter has already pointed out to me.

And maybe, when I get back to work, God will bless me with a solid week of solid writing, and I can finish the manuscript and get it to my critter while I work on what she’s already critiqued for me, then edit that last part, and get it all in to the publisher by the end of June and actually make my deadline! With God all things are possible, right?

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Texas Heritage Festival

The Canopy Bookstore

This past Saturday, MSB and I worked the first-ever Texas Heritage Festival in San Augustine. “First-ever” means lotsa bugs in the festival prep, few vendors, small crowds, and low sales. What vendors were there started buggin’ out four hours before the festival was supposed to end.

But the small city is a cute one, with a living town square, friendly people, and lots of opportunities. I discovered, for instance, that their library and some of their stores host authors for book signings, and some sell books on consignment (nice to know if I ever decide to go that route again). From some of the vendors, I learned about other small, but good, festivals in the area, and the always-valuable tip of how to find these festivals.

I also learned that it may be worth my while to do large print and audio books. For the most part, these options are up to my publishers, but as time goes, and I have more books out on my own, I think this will be something I’ll do. I met a one-time trucker who loved to read and used to listen to books as he traveled cross country. Now, he has diabetic retinopathy, and audio books are his only option. Another lady with vision problems requested large print. The market for these may not be quite as big, but I think providing entertainment for those with impaired vision is a good service.

On a different note, we met a wonderful young lady who works as a fund-raiser for the Alzheimer’s Foundation. She was adorable–and we had so much in common. She graduated from Texas A&M, my alma mater; had friends at South Texas University, where I attended grad school; loved the same outdoor sports we do–and on and on. I got her business card, and if I get up the nerve (inviting new people over is one of the few times my shyness shows), I’ll have her and her boyfriend to the house for a cookout.

The vendors I talked to didn’t have much better sales tallies than I did, but it was such a beautiful day, they all seemed to enjoy the outing as much as we did. San Augustine has a larger, more established festival in October. We may try to go to that one. And we may give this one another go next year. Who knows? Maybe it’ll catch on. Meanwhile, I need to contact their library and make myself known.

 

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