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 smashwords.com. 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 smashwords.com. 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: www.darlenejonesauthor.com