3 Writing Contests

Nelson Algren Literary Awards is a short story contest sponsored by the Chicago Tribune. This contest is open to residents of the United States. All entries must be: fiction, less than 8,000 words, double spaced, written in English. Prize: One grand prize winner will receive $3,500. Four finalists will each receive $1,000. Five runners-up will each receive $500. Total value of all prizes: $10,000. Deadline: Closing date January 31, 2017.

El Chapo Review Essay Contest 2017. Genre: Creative non-fiction. Prize: $500 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest. “The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America.” Genre: previously unpublished work of short fiction. Prize: $100.00. Deadline: January 31, 2017.

 

My husband and I are combining our websites into one.  It is a work in progress.  Visit:

www.sparkinganvil.com

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Featuring Children, Tweens & YA Authors

Are you a Children’s Author?

Do you write for tweens?

What about Young Adults?

I am paying it forward in 2017 by featuring authors on my blog.

Sign up for me to feature you on the Feature Calendar page!feature-md

Occasionally, there will be bonus material, giveaways, reviews and more!

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One Way Ticket to the Past

escapefromancientegypt-3_zpssbf7mwqeTitle: Escape from Ancient Egypt, Neiko Adventure Saga, Book Two
By: A. K. Taylor
Publisher: Soaring Eagle Books 
Publication Date: December 19, 2012
Genre: Teen/YA, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Action Adventure (ages 12-17)
Paperback ISBN:
     13: 978-1-943326-05-1
 IBSN 10: 1-943326-05-3
LCCN: 2016902746
ASIN: B00AR3G4MS
Number of pages: 314 in paperback/hardcover

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 2

The other five tribes came to the battle site and bailed out of the cars. The Crackedskulls were running amok, destroying homes, cars, buildings, property, and chasing the Mohicans and Sparras and terrorizing them. Great Spirit knows what could happen next, and the chieftains weren’t going to sit around and find out before sounding the alarm. The remaining five tribes let out a shrill war call to let them know of their presence and charged under Neiko’s direction. The small force of plundering Crackedskulls tried to retreat, but the Indians smashed into them. The Crackedskulls fought savagely, but the angry Indians’ hunger for retribution was greater. The Indians wounded quite a few and killed a couple with clubs, slings, bows, spears, and tomahawks—they used native weapons to keep things quiet and not draw attention from Outsider authorities. The Crackedskulls answered back and Indians were injured.

“Neiko, go and find Eagle Claw while we hold off these goons!” said Pike as he hit a Crackedskull across his eyes with the handle of his tomahawk.

“Righto, Pikey boy,” Neiko said with a salute and knocking out a two Crackedskulls as she broke through and headed to Eagle Claw’s house which was in the center of the territory.

The house was on fire, and Eagle Claw and his family were screaming as the flames got dangerously close to them; they were tied up and lying in the floor.

“Neiko, call for help. You can’t do this alone!” Eagle Claw screamed from within as he wriggled.

Neiko looked and saw that they were fairly close to the entrance, and she saw a way to get to them. There wasn’t much time. If she left to get help, they would be dead in a few minutes.

A few burns and some soot on my skin is a small price to pay for helping out a comrade. I’ll just take another shower, she thought as she balled her fists and swung her arms like she was preparing for a long jump as she psyched herself up for what she was about to do.

She put her dagger in its sheath, took a deep breath to prepare for the risky operation, and ran into the burning house. She jumped over and ran around the flames. She crouched low to stay below the smoke and hot, toxic gases overhead. She made it to them and freed them from their bonds, leading them to safety as they dodged falling pieces of the smoldering roof. All of them heard the roof beginning to crackle and sag. They jumped out of the door, and the roof caved in just behind them, sending embers and sparks flying. They scrambled off the covered front porch before it decided to crash down upon them too.

“Well, at least you’re safe–but, I’m not so sure about your house,” said Neiko, helping them to their feet and brushing off the ashes and soot from her clothes, hair, and skin. The black grime seemed to smear and mix with her sweat and war paint.

“Never mind the house. I’m glad you came because that could’ve been us in there!” Eagle Claw said trembling at his close call. “I am certainly glad you didn’t listen to me and were stubborn just like always,” he added with a good-natured and grateful smile.

Neiko looked around as more Crackedskulls came out of the woods, closing in on them. “Oh great. This is nice,” she grumbled as she saw one hundred armed Crackedskulls with Karo, the General and supreme commander of the ground force in the lead. “Don’t look now—we’re not outa the woods yet. I think this situation just got a whole lot worse,” Neiko said gripping her quarterstaff tightly with both hands.

Eagle Claw looked around as the Crackedskulls closed in.

Eagle Claw’s wife began to panic and gather her young kids around her like a mother hen as the older ones prepared to fight regardless if they are only armed with fists and courage.

Deatheagle, the high commander of the Winged Warriors, and his two subordinate commanders surrounded them in the back.

 

“Well, well. I expected to find you here, Neiko. You are so brave and heroic that you are predictable. Well, the trap worked. Get them,” Karo said with fiendish and conquering grin.

“What do we do with them, sir?” asked one Crackedskull.

“Take Neiko to Prince Bloodhawk. But, as for these other rats, take them away and kill them like we intended to do in the first place,” Karo ordered.

“I don’t think so, stinkweed!” said Pike with an insulting jeer that was just like he also said “Surprise!”.

He had two hundred Indians behind him with their bows drawn and clubs raised. They fired on the Crackedskulls further from the apprehended hostages and wounded thirty-five. The Indians came from behind them, and the ground-force Crackedskulls were surrounded. The winged warriors flew away, and some of the infantry retreated. They then closed in and knocked out all the Crackedskulls that remained except for Karo.

“All right, pig dung, you go tell Raven if he tries another cheap trick like this again, then we will visit it back on him one thousand fold. Get outa here before we change our mind,” Pike menaced as he thrust his spear at the general, and Karo ran off. The Indians raised their weapons in triumph as they shouted and trilled their voices in victory calls. To everyone’s surprise this battle was over just as quickly as it started. Raven must be getting sloppy.

“Everyone, let’s return home. We will celebrate this victory tomorrow night!” said Xartna, and everyone chanted as they left. The Mohicans and Sparras left with the other tribes so that they could find a place to stay the night and begin the preparations for rebuilding.

 

Neiko returned home late that night and went to her front door. She took her dirty tennis shoes off. The wood of her new front deck felt good to her tired feet. “Ohhh, that shower is calling my name and will feel sooo good,” she said closing her eyes and craning her head to stretch her neck and thinking about that hot, steamy water hitting against her tired muscles. She was glad she specifically asked for a massaging showerhead for her shower when the Tribes built her house.

She dug around in her pocket for the key. She had to get into the house first before she could get into that shower. She finally found the key, but then she dropped it on the mat.

“Aww, darn it!” Neiko grumbled as she bent over to pick it up with a grunt.

“Nice evening, isn’t it?” came a familiar voice from behind her.

Neiko looked around, and Francesco was standing on her porch, smirking.

“Why are you here and what are you so happy about? We kicked your butts so bad tonight,” Neiko said with cynical tone and a sideways grin. “Go away. You’re not wanted. If you’re still here after I get outa that shower, then your carcass is toast,” she said with an ominous tone. She was tired and cranky and totally not in the mood for his antics or whatever messed-up scheme he was cooking up or whatever his purpose was for being here.

“I wouldn’t be so satisfied about that victory tonight. And you are still painted for war–how nice. This will be the last battle you will win against us because you won’t be here any longer,” Francesco said still smirking. The smirk became more dark and sinister by the second. “Second of all you’re shower will have to wait—permanently. You won’t be enjoying another hot shower ever again where you’re going. You’ll have plenty of the ‘hot’ part.”

Neiko looked at him like he was mad. “What is that supposed to mean? What are you gonna do–kill me?” she asked with a sarcastic snort. “They probably have showers in heaven, but where you’re going they don’t.You’ll stink like rotten eggs, burning sulfur, and soot in hell,” she shot back. “In about two seconds I’ll send you on your one way ticket if you don’t beat it.”

Francesco snorted and grinned like he had become Satan himself. “No. Remember when I said I would get you back for my humiliation and your sorrows would be one hundred fold? Here is that moment—your time has now come, Admiral. Don’t tell me you honestly think you’re that self righteous.”

Neiko burst out laughing. “Just you being here makes me sorrowful,” she slandered. “Why are you here anyway? I could beat you up with one hand tied behind my back! I’m not self righteous at all for your information. I think Karo and Deatheagle have more honor than a traitorous scum like you any day. Since you won’t get lost, let’s have at it—mano y mano,” she said dropping her key back into her pocket and putting up her fists like she was in the mixed martial arts octagon.

Francesco looked at her like she was nothing more than a Neanderthal that solved everything by hitting it with a club. “I’m not here to fight you! I’ll let you figure this out on your own. And there is no way back,” Francesco said as he pulled out a green crystal from his pocket. “It will be the same for you as it was for them…”

Neiko looked at it with surprise and raised her right eyebrow quizzically that asked “Hey, neat—what’s that?”. “Oh, are you gonna frame me like last time? Ha! That won’t fly this go ’round. And what do you mean there’s no way back…and who is the ‘them’ you’re talking about? What kind of new toy is that anyway?”

Francesco said nothing as he rubbed the crystal. It began to glow. He mumbled chants, and it glowed brighter and brighter. Then he thrust his hands up and waved the crystal toward her. A green light surrounded her, and she disappeared.

 

 

aktaylor_zps686ba214About the Author

A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 16. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband.

 

Contact Author:

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Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AR3G4MS

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/escape-from-ancient-egypt-ak-taylor/1020754284?ean=2940153173535

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/escape-from-ancient-egypt-1

Apple: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/escape-from-ancient-egypt/id1118835472

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=BMRADAAAQBAJ

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/267115

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/EscapeAncientEgypt

Soaring Eagle Books: http://soaringeaglebooks.org/books/escape-from-ancient-egypt/

Author Site: http://www.backwoodsauthor.com/books/the-neiko-adventure-saga/

 

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Winner January 7th Amazon Gift Card Drawing

I have been sick with a horrible head cold and didn’t get around to announcing the winner on January 7th.

 

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Peg Nichols

 

 

 

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Christmas Bride: A Gift for Pete

51hle34rgzlTitle: Christmas Bride: A Gift for Pete

By: Terri Grace

Publisher: Clean Christan Romance

Publication Date:  November 2, 2015

Genre: Historical Romance

Excerpt: (from Amazon)

Young Emily’s well-planned escape from an abusive father, to first deliver her baby brother to a kindly aunt, and then continue West herself to the arms of an unknown pioneer doctor is fraught with questions.

And kindly Doctor Pete is certainly surprised when the naive young girl destined to be his helpmate steps from the stagecoach onto the dusty street of Lewiston.

A near tragic accident threatens their fledgling marriage but leads to a Christmas delivery on Emily’s doorstep beyond her highest hopes.

Christmas Bride – A Gift For Pete is the third title in the heartwarming seasonal series, Brides For All Seasons. Sincere seasonal stories filled with simple honest characters you will fall in love with.

 

Author Bio:

Terri Grace is a storyteller by heart, and a helplessly ‘hopeful’ romantic. All of her books are clean Christian romance with great stories, wonderful characters, and delightfully happy endings!

Above all else, she loves to write Mail Order Bride historical romance, but also enjoys baking in a little cozy mystery now and again to keep readers on their toes. So if you are ready for some good old Mail-Order Brides of the West romance, or an adventurous American Mail Order Brides series, you will always discover an exciting historical western romance novella or short story to suit your taste.

For some FREE Mail Order Bride books visit:  http://pureread.com/terrigrace to download them for free.

All of Terri’s Mail Order Bride historical western romance Kindle Unlimited titles are FREE to read for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers.

Other Mail Order Bride titles include:

A Miracle for Christmas

Christmas Bride: A Gift for Geoffrey

Christmas Bride: A Gift for Connor 

Mail Order Bride & The Miracle Child

And More!

 

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True Love at Christmas

51bzpjqi80lTitle: True Love at Christmas

By: Juliette Duncan

Publication Date:  December 3, 2016

Excerpt: (from Amazon)

Margaret and Harold had planned to spend Christmas in London with their twin daughters, Chloe and Sophie, but when Harold comes home ill from work one day, their plans are thrown into disarray. Will they be happy spending Christmas at home when they’d been so looking forward to their trip and to meeting their two small grandchildren for the first time? Will their son, Harrison, be able to make the day special by springing a few surprises on his parents? This short Christmas love story will be sure to warm your hearts this festive season.

 

51wjnlv-nrl-_ux250_Author Bio:

Juliette Duncan is a Christian fiction author, passionate about writing stories that will touch her readers’ hearts and make a difference in their lives. Although a trained school teacher, Juliette spent many years working alongside her husband in their own business but is now relishing the opportunity to follow her passion for writing stories she herself would love to read. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Juliette and her husband have five adult children, seven grandchildren, and much loved elderly long-haired dachshund.
Apart from writing, Juliette loves exploring the great world we live in and has traveled extensively, both within Australia and overseas. She also enjoys social dancing and eating out.
Juliette’s first published series, “The Madeleine Richards Series”, was written specifically for middle-grade girls as she has a real interest in that age group, and she believes the more they can be encouraged to read good, wholesome books the better. Her most recent series is a Contemporary Christian romance set in sunny Brisbane.

Website: julietteduncan.com

Visit Juliette’s website and get a free book when you sign up for her newsletter.

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Snow Kissed – Free Today on Amazon

51qycs3iwzlTitle: Snow Kissed: An English Christmas Holiday Romance

By: Lisa Swallow, USA Today bestselling author

Publication Date: December 14, 2015

Genre: Romance

Excerpt: (from Amazon book page)

Sadie’s holiday season is officially off to the worst start ever. After losing her job a week before Christmas and starting a fight in a toy store, she decides to throw in the tinsel and heads to the English Cotswolds early for a quiet Christmas with her family.

She wasn’t counting on the complications caused by her sister’s Christmas wedding. Or the groom’s brother and best man, Jamie. 

The wealthy, charming Jamie is everything Sadie tries to avoid. But the best man has a secret that will change everybody’s Christmas.

In the snow-kissed Cotswolds, will Sadie have a happy holiday after all?

 

Sign up for Lisa Swallow’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Po81D

Webpage: lisaswallow.net
Twitter: @lisa_swallow_au
Facebook: facebook.com/lisaswallowbooks

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Leave a comment below to be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  Drawing will take place January 7th.

Featuring Young Adults and Children’s books in January 2017!

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Christmas Eve

Again, no books!

Wishing all my family members and friends from all around the world a wonderful Christmas Eve filled full of magic and love.

Oh, Holy Night!

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2 Days Before Christmas

No books today!

Instead, I am going to tell a favorite Christmas story.

In 1988, my husband asked me what I wanted or needed for Christmas.

I am a simple person and I don’t need or want much of anything.  I thought about what to say to him and this is what I said: “I want a Christmas Sock stuffed full of fruits, nuts, and candy just like when I was a kid on Christmas morn.”

I didn’t think much about it in the coming days, however, I should have known better.

You see, the first Christmas we spent together after meeting, he asked me the same thing and my response was: “I want a red jeep, a million dollars, and a trip around the world for two.”

On Christmas day, I got exactly what I asked for, but not in my way of thinking, yet it was funny.

monopoly-money2I got a red plastic toy jeep that was parked in the driveway between two vehicles.  I got a million dollars of Monopoly Game money and I got my trip around the world for two by him placing a world globe in the middle of the living room floor and walking me around it.

So, you see.  I really should have seen what was coming.

76881450e85d781040c3eebd9b0d8b04mixedchristmasnutsOn Christmas morn, 1988, I got up and there on the back of a chair in the dining room was one of my hubby’s sock stuffed full of fruit, nuts, and candies–all from my childhood: apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, English walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. and the ribbon Christmas candy, etc.

It really did bring back my childhood memories and tears flooded my eyes.

So, this year, when you hang your stocking with care, ask your parents and/or grandparents what did they receive in their stockings on Christmas morn.

One thing is for sure, it was probably nothing electronic!

Enjoy yourself today and this evening and on Christmas Eve, don’t rush around like a chicken with its head cut off.  Instead, enjoy your family and/or friends, eat what you want (in moderation), and laugh.

And if you are a church going person, go to church and enjoy the candlelight service.

Wishing Peace to Everyone!

Merry Christmas!

Cindy Harris

P. S.  Don’t forget to leave a comment so you can be entered into my giveaway of a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  Drawing to take place on January 7th.

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Leaving Galway

12Title: Leaving Galway
By: James Linnane
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: August 8, 2016
Genre: Non-Fiction, Short Stories

Book Excerpt:

My First Tree

I remember distinctly the day I cut down my first tree.  I was eight years old.

I used to pal around with the only other boy in our small village around my age named Patrick.  Patrick was four years older than me.  He was stronger, bigger and smarter than me, so I always played second fiddle, with regard to who was boss.  He once told me he was going to be a doctor and years later I can tell you that’s just what he did.  Our village was, at that time, in a remote part of County Galway.  We were both farmer’s sons, fond of the fields, the seashore and the open air.  At the weekend and on holidays when there was no school we would spend time together when we had no homework or farm work to do and we always invented some sort of adventure for ourselves.

On that day we decided to build ourselves a hut in a remote, inaccessible corner of one of my father’s fields.  The spot was picked.  We trampled down the vegetation around it and so it began.  Somewhere along the way, and for some reason best known to ourselves at that time, now well and truly forgotten, we decided nothing would do us but to cut down some unfortunate Ash tree for the main structure.  We intended to build a framework, which we would cover with plastic bags, to keep out the rain, with leaves and branches to camouflage it from prying eyes.  It would be our secret hiding place.

I was duly dispatched to get tools in my father’s shed.  My father’s precious tools, a risky venture at best, but he was well occupied, as he usually was, and I crept in and then out laden with an old saw, two formidable hatchets and some plastic bags, unseen.  I sped down the fields as fast as my burdens would permit me, which probably was not too fast.  Patrick had been waiting at a safe distance and met me along the way to assist with my load.  When we arrived back we surveyed the doomed tree.

We began to work.  Our abundance of enthusiasm was only matched by our total ineptitude and lack of skill.  I began sawing like a man possessed.  The saw bounced and slipped, bucked and buckled.  I nearly fell over a couple of times, sweat poured from my brow and then Patrick took his turn.  Truly he fared no better than I.  Finally, the saw stuck fast and neither of us could move it.  A titan struggle ensued and finally the saw was free.  It was decided to finish the job with the hatchets.  We were about as good with the hatchets as we were with the saw, or maybe worse, and it amazes me that we did not kill or maim each other.

We both walloped the poor tree till we were fit to drop.  The tree stooped unimpressed and unmoving while we lay on the ground panting and sweating, red faced and beaten.  The tree seemed to bear only minor scars despite our exertions and for a while, it looked as if we might well be beaten.

But perseverance and downright stubbornness are a funny thing and we were country lads with boundless energy, raised on farm work, hurling, plenty of fresh air and home cooking.  Our swearing vocabulary, at that time was quite limited, but we used them all just the same as we renewed our efforts yet again.  Still being raised on the rosary and mass on Sunday we chose not to overdo it lest a bolt of lightning strike us down.

We grunted, chopped, sweated and thumped as the day wore on.  The day became sunny it compounded our hardships.  Hands began to blister and bleed our shirts were off, wood chips lay scattered all around, but the tree still stood.  We rested and worked alternately and spasmodically.  Our tired limbs ached and throbbed as we whacked the pock mark trunk, inflicting more grievous, gaping wounds on the already wounded tree.  On towards evening the tree let out an almost inaudible groan and a slight shudder.  We attacked it with renewed zeal and it was I who struck the mortal blow, allowing us to pull it down, narrowly avoiding being pinned underneath it, however, we survived.

Having succeeded in our efforts, we trimmed its branches and tried to fit it to our hut, only to be convinced that it wouldn’t do.  We duly discarded our hard won prize.  It lay there, accusing, its naked stump, blatant in its starkness, a dying thing and we the villians of the plot.

It was getting late as we donned our shirts, collected the tools and gazed again at the say dejected tree lying prone and smitten.  We hid the plastic bags before we headed home.

I felt slightly nervous as I bade my friend goodnight wondering what my father might do if he should notice the unnecessary havoc we had wrought and left.  I quietly replaced the tools in the shed.  As I walked towards our house I felt elation tinged with sadness.  We had, had a grand adventure, I had cut down my first tree.  I don’t know if we ever finished that hut, I don’t think we did.  Youth is always fickle and restless, so certain yet so foolish and I was all of these things even at that age, a country lad just starting to grow with a head full of nonsense, coupled with a childish wisdom and a question for every answer.

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Author Bio:

James Linnane was born in County Galway Ireland in 1962. The youngest of a family of 10 children. The son of a building foreman/farmer and mother who essentially ran the farm while raising the family. James has lived in various parts of Ireland, has had various jobs and a career spanning barwork, security, construction and engineering.

His first book Never take an Irishman seriously unless he’s armed was published in New York in 1988, his sec­ond book, a novel(The Life and Times of a Gotcha) was released in 2011 and his third, The Potless Generation (a book of poetry) was released in 2014.

James has been a member of various writing groups including The Boyne Writers, The Meath Writers, and Splinter4all among whom James has many good friends. He has been widely published in various publications be­sides his own books. James is also involved with doing vol­untary work and with festival groups like Scurloughstown Olympiad.

James now lives in Ballivor County Meath with his wife and 2 daughters.

Connect with James:

Blog: jameslinnanebookchatcorner.blogspot.ie

Email: Jameslinn48@gmail.com

 

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Don’t forget to leave a comment below to be entered into a $25 Amazon Gift Card drawing that will take place on January 7th.

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