The Fourth Winner

Four authors have been chosen as winners in the writing contest. They may choose a free download of the ebook of one of my four novels from I will print their stories on this blog in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.

The story was to go with the photo below.


Here is the fourth one. Congratulations to Pam Wight.


Returning was not a choice.

Returning wasn’t a dream or a wish.

Returning was the only way to escape.

She hitchhiked from her cottage overlooking the sandy dunes and indigo waves of the Atlantic Ocean to her old home, to the home she hated with a passion and left with no intention – ever – of returning.

Miranda accepted rides from Cape Cod to Pittsburgh (a blue-haired woman with her shaggy dog on the way to visit grandchildren), from Pittsburgh to Chicago (a gray-haired bearded trucker who kept calling her “dearie”) and then from Chicago to Tripp, South Dakota.

“What a trip!” the long-haired, hippie-like 40-something kept saying to her as they drove in his Beemer. She wanted to ask him who he was, how he could afford such a fine car, but she knew better than to begin a conversation.

A conversation could lead to questions about her own life.

She couldn’t afford to give any hints of who she had been, what she’d become, and why she needed to hide. The less said…the better.

“Where you off to?” the hippie man had asked when he stopped on the side of the busy Chicago street. His light blue eyes were kind, his soft Southern drawl comforting, his rumpled clothes matched her jeans and cotton shirt.

“South Dakota,” she answered, her voice shaking despite her desire to seem confident.

“Exactly where I’m going!” he said as he leaned from the driver’s seat and opened the passenger door. The car smelled clean and new. The car smelled like success and happiness. The car smelled safe.

So Miranda hopped in and deflected questions.

“I’m George,” he began, extending a soft hand and a pause, waiting for her introduction.

“I’m returning,” she offered as she closed her eyes and envisioned her dad’s crumbling old farm, dilapidated and distressed.

Just like her.



Pamela S. Wight is the author of two romantic suspense novels: The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires (found in Amazon in softback or as e-book). She’s working on her third novel: As Lovely as a Lie. Pamela’s children’s illustrated book, Birds of Paradise, is scheduled for an April 2017 publication. Check out her ‘flashes of life’ weekly blog

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Writing Contest – Four Winners – Part 3

Four authors have been chosen as winners in the writing contest. They may choose a free download of the e-book of one of my four novels from I will print their stories on this blog  in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.

The story was to go with the photo below.

025aHere is the third story Congratulations to Angela Noel.

I heard my mother’s voice––urgent, as if the pigs had escaped again. The saddle felt heavy in my hands, but the smell of it, dirt and sweat and old leather, always calmed me. I wondered if I could ignore her, pretend the wind had carried her voice away, and let my feet continue on their path to the pasture where Edmond waited for me. I only had an hour or less to ride, only an hour before he’d return and life would change again.

I heard Edmond nicker a greeting. The clop of hooves against the dry, soft dirt sounded like a heartbeat. I took four more steps and sighed as my mother’s voice became shrill.

“Sonja! You get in here now! Right now!” I didn’t turn around, but I knew she was standing there, her housedress billowing behind her, sensible shoes planted like roots in the ground, hand shielding her eyes from the sun.

“Sonja . . . please.”

It was the please that stopped me. I turned towards her, saddle still heavy on my shoulder. The initials on the pommel, visible from the corner of my eye–ORJ–accused me.

“What, Mama?” I sighed, tipping my hat from my brow with my left thumb, before shifting the heavy weight from my right shoulder to the ground.

“What is it?”

She waited for me, still squinting into the sun.

“Do you . . . do you think he’ll like it?” She fingered the belt on her dress. I noticed it was new, not the same one she’d been wearing this morning for chores. This one was cornflower blue, little sprays of daisies across the sleeves.

I opened my mouth, closed it again, aware of the dirt slashes across my arms and cheeks. “Yes, ma’am. He’ll like it just fine.”

Her eyes, a welling of liquid, ready to overflow, looked away. She reached one hand towards me. “Best get ready. Your brother’ll be here soon. Ain’t every day we have a homecoming.”

I sighed. Owen, home again.



Angela Noel lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In between fiction projects, she posts inspiring stories about interesting ideas and compelling people on the You are Awesome blog. She enjoys yoga—except crow pose—and loves books, humans, wine, and chocolate (but not necessarily in that order).  Connect with her on Twitter at @angiewrite or subscribe to her blog for a new post each week.

Writing Contest – Four Winners – Part 1

It was very difficult deciding on the three best short stories to go with the photo below.


So, four authors have been chosen as winners in the writing contest. They may choose a free download of the e-book of one of my four novels from I will print their stories on this blog  in alphabetical order by the author’s last name .

Here is the first one. Congratulations to Barbara Breese, from Harvard, Massachusetts.

El Paraiso

“Hey Mom? What’s this?” my daughter Katie calls to me from the attic. She thumps down the attic stairs, then appears in her bedroom doorway trailing a collection of backpacks and duffel bags.  She has something in her mouth that she drops at my feet like a puppy.

I am helping Katie pack for college, but I pause and pick up the small white object.  It’s an old photo.

“What is that weird place?”  Katie asks.

“El Paraiso.”  I haven’t seen it in years, but I think about it every day.

“No way!”  She’s worldly-wise, my daughter.  “It doesn’t look like paradise.  Looks more like a dump!  Does anyone actually live there?”

I sit on Katie’s bed. This photo tells the end of the story, but I remember the beginning.  I remember the ranch when it was alive. This was the view from my bunkhouse window. The jersey cows lived in that barn; they were my favorites, sweet-natured and gentle. They liked having their noses rubbed. That smaller building was the canteen; we had breakfast there every day, and lunch, too, unless we sat under the tree. That tree hadn’t always been twisted, gray and dead. I never knew exactly what kind of tree it was but I had loved its cool, shady canopy.

“I did,” I tell Katie.  “I lived there.”

Katie lets the bags drop. “NO WAY!” She’s worldly-wise and articulate. She sits next to me, staring at the photo. I feel her breath on my cheek.  She smells like shampoo and lip gloss.  I ask where she found the photo.

“In one of the duffel bags,” she answers.   Katie looks at me, her eyes round with surprise, and I know that as I pack up Katie’s life, I must unpack my own.


Writing Contest – Four Winners – Part 2

Four authors have been chosen as winners in the writing contest. They may choose a free download of the ebook of one of my four novels from I will print their stories on this blog  in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.

The story was to go with the photo below.


Here is the second one. Congratulations to Darlene Jones.

A Picture Paints 300 words for this prairie girl

She pulled the wooden chair over to the wall, climbed up on it and turned on the radio. Hop-Along Cassidy, her favorite show was coming on and with her ear glued to the radio, she wouldn’t miss even one word of it.

Suddenly, her dad ran into the kitchen—without even taking his boots off—calling for her mother. She wanted to ask him to be quiet, but knew better and plastered her ear even harder against the radio speaker.

Her mother came in from the bedroom. “What’s wrong?”

“My wallet. I’ve lost my wallet.” She shivered for the voice coming out of her father’s mouth didn’t sound like him.

“Here,” her mother said, shoving the baby into her arms, and switching off the radio. And then her parents were gone. Scared to get off the chair with the baby in her arms, she stayed where she was. She tried reaching the knob to turn the radio back on, but wasn’t able to hold the baby with just one hand.

From where she stood, she could see out the small porch window. The tractor and harrow stood in the middle of the field and her parents ran around madly, with their heads down as if searching for something.

A very long time later, her mother came in and took the baby from her aching arms. She climbed down from the chair and put it back by the table. Then her father came in. He was crying. She’d never seen him cry before and the great sobs tore at something inside her.

“Forty dollars?” her mother asked.

Her father nodded.

“It was supposed to last us the winter.”

Her father nodded again and sank onto one of the kitchen chairs staring down at the floor. The silence seemed to drag on forever. They went to bed soon after. Her mother didn’t even cook dinner that night.




Darlene Jones is a retired educator and writer. A graduate of the University of Alberta she was a teacher, principal, second language consultant, and staffing officer with Edmonton Public schools. Her multiple roles included second language curriculum development for secondary students. After retiring she continued to provide educational workshops for teachers in the province of Alberta.

She began her career as a volunteer with Canadian University Services Overseas. She taught school in Mali and it was the plight of the Malians that inspired her to write her first novel—science fiction—described by readers as a “think piece.”

She continues to write fiction that incorporates topics such as world affairs, aging, and Alzheimer’s, with the added mix of adventure, romance, and humor.

Find out more about Darlene Jones at her web page:





Writing Contest Results


I’m happy to say I had a good response to the writing contest. The challenge was to write up to 300 words to go with this photo.

Congratulations to all who sent in their stories.  It was hard to choose the winners and in the end I had to choose four stories instead of only three. I had help from an unbiased judge and after discussing the merits and critiquing of each entry, I went with that person’s choices.

I will be posting these stories in the next days, and will be making arrangements for those winners to claim their free e-book.

Thank you to all who sent their entries to the contest. It’s great practice for your writing and I enjoyed reading your stories. Please try again in another contest that I hope to hold soon.

The winners, in alphabetical order, are Barbara Breese, Darlene Jones, Angela Noel, and Pam Wight. Honourable mention goes to Joanna Gawn. You can read their stories on this blog over the next days.

In the short story I was looking for a beginning, middle, and end. A hook to get me interested in the beginning and a tidy wrap-up at the end was another thing I looked for. At the end, there might be a twist, but it had to be something that the reader could relate to – something that would help them imagine what probably happened next. If you put in a twist or surprise at the end and it comes out of the blue with nothing to relate it to, it won’t do the trick.

I like to see a clean manuscript but sometimes a typo can creep in so I wasn’t too judgmental about that, but I was critical about common grammar mistakes and correct word usage. For example, a writer should know the difference between it’s and its, and your and you’re, and know when to use each one. Run-on sentences don’t make me happy, even after allowing for poetic licence.

The stories I have chosen held my interest and they met the criteria I have outlined in the previous paragraph.

I hope you enjoy reading the stories of the winners.


Writing Contest

The challenge is to write a story that would fit with the photo below. Maximum length is 300 words. Three winners will be chosen. Their stories will be posted on this blog and they may choose the e-book version of one of my four novels for free. Send your stories to

Be brave. You don’t have to be an expert writer to enter. You can write anything that has a connection to the photo.

I reserve the right to copy-edit the winning posts for correct spelling and word usage without changing the sentence structure or meaning. The authors would be informed of the changes before publication and may opt out if they disagree.

Contest ends December 4, 2016.