Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Valle Pintado Contest is a Tie!

Our First Visual Arts Junction
Writing Contest is a Tie.

Ed Leonard & Jacki Donnelly!!!

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

Our six judges returned a split decision, so without further ado Visual Arts Junction, and our many contest sponsors, take pride in introducing you to our 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.

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.


Your winning entry will also appearat 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 http://www.nanciarvizu.com/
Shelagh Watkins http://shelaghs.blogspot.com/http://shelaghwatkins.wordpress.com/
Kim McDougall Blazing Trailers Blazing Trailers http://www.blazingtrailers.com/
Melinda Elmore Melinda’s Blog Spot: Pen to Paper http://www.melinda.essentialwriters.com/
Fran Lewis Fran’s Website http://www.gabina.49.webs.com/Fran’s Blog mailto:www.gabina49@wordpress.comBertha 160 xanga.com bookmarketing.ning.com/profile/FranLewiswww.myspace.com/hotauntieberthahttp://www.franifashionista.blogspot.com/http://writing4all.ning.com/profile/FranLewishttp://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 http://www.dkchristi.com/
Jhonny Thermidor Unexplored Oceans of Wisdom http://www.jhonnyt.wordpress.com/Johnny Thermidor http://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 http://www.thepotthief.blogspot.com/
Yolanthaiti Harrison-Pace YOLANTHAITI yolanthaiti.blogspot.com

Monday, 21 December 2009

3-Part Review for Esther May Morrow's Mysteries

I think even Esther May herself would be proud of these new reviews at Bitten by Books. All three EMM ebooks are praised, especially for their unpredictability--which makes me a very happy mystery writer indeed. Paranormal mysteries, I might add.

Check out Carol's views on the eponymous gift shop and its many enticing trinkets:

Esther May Morrow's Buy or Borrow:

Lot 62: An Esther May Morrow Mystery:

Fruitless: An Esther May Morrow Fantasy:

All titles are available as ebooks at Eternal Press & Fictionwise, or in paperback on Amazon.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Kate of Kratos Nominated for Red Roses Award!

GREAT NEWS for Book 3 of my Eleven Hour Fall trilogy. Kate of Kratos was nominated for a Red Roses For Authors Christmas Award in the 2009 Short Novel category!

You can view the announcement and the nominees here.

To vote, send a quick email to indsole@yahoo.co.uk with your favourite in each of the two categories.



Charlie Runs Rings Around the Earth - OUT NOW!




Charlie Runs Rings Around the Earth right now at most online bookstores, priced $4.50. If you're a fan of outer space adventures a la John Carter of Mars, or my Eleven Hour Fall trilogy, this is one sci-fi odyssey you won't want to miss!

Celebrity athlete, Charlie Thorpe-Campbell is living out his family legacy of being among the fastest men in the world. Arrogant and self-absorbed, he prefers the limelight to facing up to emotional and social issues. And certainly, as the reigning champion RAM-runner, he literally runs rings around the earth.

All this changes when during the annual Tonne Run he is whisked away through a wormhole and finds himself on a barren, isolated planet with the fate of the galaxy resting on his athletic ability.

Will Charlie run rings around his enemies or will he continue running away?

Read an excerpt here.

And here are a few of the ebook stores where you can find Charlie available for purchase:

Lyrical Press



Books On Board

If you'd like to read a recent interview I did for Charlie Runs Rings Around the Earth, visit author Tabitha Shay's blog here.

Hope you enjoy!



Friday, 4 December 2009

TOO CLOSE TO THE FIRE with Author Jaydyn Chelcee

Dear Readers,

"I would have liked to have seen Montana." -- Who said that and in which film? (hint: the actor is from Down Under)

And that leads me nicely into today's guest interview. American author Jaydyn Chelcee writes the Montana Men series, a brilliant blend of romance, spectacular landscapes and pulse-quickening danger! The first two in the series were In the Arms of Danger and No Holds Barred, both bestsellers at Eternal Press. Book Three, Too Close to the Fire, is set for release on December 7th. Stay tuned for a contest below, where you can win an ebook copy before anyone else. But first, here's the blurb:

Feel the heat—taste the passion—expect to get burned when you’re too close to the fire….

Out of luck—When Dianna’s plane crashes in the Australian rainforest, her life is in the hands of her passenger, Taylor Spencer, a bitter, venom-filled man who so far has only made her life miserable.

Out of hope—The last person Taylor Spencer wants to be stranded with is the spoiled sweetheart of the wealthy Remington family of Rimrock, Montana. Hell, he didn’t even want to be in the plane with her in the first place.

Out of time—Dianna and Taylor, two people at odds, with nothing in common, except a strong will to survive and a desire for each other that neither is willing to acknowledge.

Sound fun? You betcha!! Jaydyn's legion of loyal fans will tell you she NEVER disappoints. As well as westerns, she writes a paranormal romance series, the Winslow Witches of Salem, under her pen name, Tabitha Shay.

It's with great pleasure that I welcome Ms. Chelcee for this exclusive interview. Let's see how close to that fire we can get...
Nice of you to visit, Jaydyn.

Jaydyn--Hi Rob. Thanks for having me here today and I'm looking forward to what I know will be some fun questions...

1. I love the set-up of TCTTF--a bitter man and a spoiled woman crash-landing together in an Australian rainforest. Is it a scenario you've had in mind for a while?

Jaydyn--Actually it is. I wrote all five books to the Montana Men series years ago and tossed them on my closet shelf. Once I was published, I dragged them down, blew off the dust and done some rewriting, but I always saw Dianna and Taylor in a plane crash in Australia, just not a rainforest. That was new. (Laughs)

Rob--Wow, you just dusted off FIVE books! You're my new hero. Makes me wonder what *else* is waiting on that closet shelf!

2. As a couple, who would you liken Dianna and Taylor to?

Jaydyn--Oh goddness, I have no clue...How about Rock Hudson and Doris Day. (Giggles) Dianna and Taylor definitely have their fights and the same personality types.

3. What kind of dangers do they have to contend with?

Jaydyn--Well, I tried to keep it as real as possible, but the possibilities were endless, from starvation, to lack of water, to snake bites, broken bones, severe injuries, you name it. And some of these things do happen, but I also wanted the reader to get the feel of the vastness of the country, of how difficult locating them would be. A friend of mine who now lives in Oz once said to me that everything in Australia is bigger and louder. I worked those words into one of my scenes to create the feeling of just how overwhelming it would be for someone who was unfamiliar with the noises of the birds and animals around them. I hope I managed to get that across. And to answer your question a little better, they do battle with a couple of nasty critters among other dangers.

Rob--Sounds great. And I'd pay good money to see Doris Day and Rock Hudson go through all that. ::evil laugh::

4. Your characters are always a lot of fun to read. How big a part does humour play in TCTTF?

Jaydyn--I try to balance the dark with the light so the reader isn't bogged down with just gray scenes. TCTTF is really two stories in one. On one hand, you have Dianna and Taylor, they're in trouble, but the things they get into, do and say are funny. On the other hand, you still have Lacey and Danger's story moving along beside Dianna and Taylor's and believe me, there's nothing funny going on in that part of the book. It's all deadly serious and the characters from that part of the book are tottering on the edge of disaster.

5. Who are your biggest influences in the western romance genre?

Jaydyn--Oh wow, I'd have to go all the way back to my days as a Harlequin reader and pick Janet Daily and Margaret Way. Margaret Way almost always wrote romances set in Australia with a western flavor, loved her books. Janet Daily set a lot of books in the western states and I followed her to each one....(Laughs)

6. Your books are consistently among the biggest-selling at Eternal Press. What's your secret?

Jaydyn--Loyal fans...I'm very lucky to have the wonderful following I do, and I talk to them every chance I get. I hold a lot of contests and probably give more books away than I earn pay, but I don't care. Every time a fan emails me and tells me how much they love my books, I feel very humbled and honored.

Rob--Absolutely. And everybody wins.

7. What have you got planned for the next installments in the Montana Men series?

Jaydyn--Playing For Keeps, book four will be out sometime in 2010, I hope at least by late spring. It's Duel Remington's story and it's quite a tale. Nothing like the other books. The readers won't see much of the serial killer in this book, but look out in book five, The Wilder Side, because Smitt Davis returns with a vengeance. I also have plans for a spin-off series which will be set in Australia and tell the stories of the Remington cousins from that side of the world.

Rob--Well I think several of your fans just booked the first plane out to Oz after hearing that. Or it might be because I told them summer has already begun there. TCTTF, just as things are literally hotting up.

A huge thank you to Jaydyn for stopping by. Her new book can be bought here (electronic format) on December 7th: http://www.eternalpress.ca/tooclosetothefire.html

And a couple of weeks later, it will be available in paperback from Amazon.


If you'd like to win an ebook copy of Too Close to the Fire, simply comment on this blog and Jaydyn will enter your name into her prize draw. I'll announce the winner here on December 8th. Easy!

In the meantime, you should definitely visit Jaydyn's website: http://www.tabithashay.com/
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/tabithashay
And her publisher, Eternal Press: http://www.eternalpress.ca/
Until next time...
Happy reading!

GODIVA Contest Winners!!

Congratulations go out to Mina Gerhart and Judy Cox! Ebook copies of Godiva in the Firing Line should be in your mailboxes now. Hope you enjoy the read!

Thanks to all those who entered. Stay tuned for a new contest, to be announced shortly.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

CONTEST - Win a free copy of Godiva in the Firing Line!

Hi everyone,

To celebrate the release of my science fiction novella Godiva in the Firing Line, I thought I'd hold a quick contest. For your chance to win a free ebook copy, simply send an email to


and write GODIVA FOREVER in the subject line. Simple! Don't forget to include your name. I'll pick TWO winners at random on Thursday night.

Good luck!

By the way, several of the new releases at Damnation Books are still for sale at less than $1. That's under ONE dollar! Head on over for some serious dark bargains, before they get snapped up.