Sunday, June 19, 2011

2nd Place!

I won 2nd place the in short story contest! I am so incredibly thrilled!! My confidence as a writer had been waning a bit this week and to have reached the top three in this contest was the perfect boost I needed to keep trekking along!  It really was a great experience. The three winning short stories are posted at

Go and check them out. I thought the other stories were super! 

So, I said I would post my short story and so here it is...

The Shore
by Andrea May
                Anna walked along the weathered boardwalk with a heavy heart. Usually the ocean with its soothing sounds brought peace and serenity, but not today. A man sitting in the shadows caught her attention and she hastened her step to greet him.
                “How ya doing, Joe?”
                “Can’t complain,” Joe said in a hoarse voice as he looked up at her with clear green eyes.  
                Anna sighed and sat down next to him. “Have you remembered anything this morning?” The man was a wanderer that daily found himself on the boardwalk, not knowing who he was or where he’d come from. Since their first meeting, Anna had called him Joe and made it her mission to help him remember.
                Joe shook his matted dread locks.  
                “Maybe tomorrow.” Anna patted his knee. “I’m heading down to the beach. You want to come?”
                “I prefer to stay here. I don’t much like the beach or water.”
                “Okay, see ya later.”
                Striding toward the shore, her melancholy returned with full force. She thought about Joe’s eyes, so similar to the sea green eyes of her brother—the reason for her grief. Ten years ago, Chris was lost at sea. An aching hole burned within her as she thought back to the past decade without her older brother to guide and protect her.
                Anna stepped into the water, hoping that each stride toward open sea would wash away her sorrow.  The call of a seagull brought up her head as a large wave crashed into her, knocking her onto the sandy floor. Salty water washed over her and she felt her head crack against a rock, turning the world black.
                Anna opened her eyes to bright lights and the sound of a familiar, almost forgotten voice. “You gave us quite a scare.”
                “Where am I?”
                “At Cape Regional Medical Center. I was out swimming this morning when you washed up on shore.”
                As Anna’s fuzzy vision cleared, she blinked and gaped at the young man seated beside her, his green eyes filled with concern. “Chris?”
                The young man laughed. “Wow, you guessed my name on the first try.”
                Anna shot up. “Chris!”  
Chris gently pushed her back down on the bed. “Hey, you need to rest.”
“Chris, it’s me. Anna.”
“Hey, that’s my kid sister’s name. You actually look a lot like her…only she’s ten.” He winked.
“Ten? I’m not ten, I’m twenty.”
“No, my sister’s ten.”
“But,” Anna shook her head in confusion. “I’m your sister.”
“Um…I think you’re confused.”
                “Chris, what date is it?”
                “May 25th,” Chris said with concern.
                “No, the year. What year is it?”
                “It can’t be…” Anna’s voice drifted off.
                Chris trained his emerald eyes on her. “Are you okay?”
                Anna’s heart raced as a thought began to form. “Chris, this is going to sound crazy but you need to listen carefully.  I am your sister and I’m here to warn you.”
                “Warn me?”
                “I know about the sailing trip you’re planning. You can’t go.”
                Chris scoffed. “What?”
                “You get caught in a storm and lost at sea.” Anna grabbed Chris’s hands, her voice wavering. “You don’t come back.”
“Look,” Chris said as he pried his hands out of Anna’s grip, “I don’t know who you are or how you knew about my trip in the morning, but you don’t have to worry. I’m an experienced sailor.”
“In the morning? NO! Chris, you can’t!” Anna felt herself going into hysterics. “I’ve come back to tell you—“
“Shhh, it’s okay.” Chris patted her arm and reached into his pocket, pulling out a seashell carved into the shape of a dolphin. “I have this hobby of carving seashells. I want you to have it.” He placed the delicate dolphin into Anna’s hand.
She wrapped her fingers around the shell and held it to her heart as warmth enveloped and calmed her. “It’s beautiful.”
Chris smiled, “I’m glad you like it. Tell you what—meet me at Spinners on June 12th at noon and I’ll give you a new one, carved from a seashell I find on my trip.”
Anna looked up at him, pleading, “Please, don’t go.”
“I have to.” He squeezed her hand. “Spinners. June 12th. Don’t Forget.” Chris stood up and walked out of the room, leaving Anna drowning in her own tears until sleep overcame her.
Anna woke to the sound of rhythmic waves crashing upon the shore. Sitting up, she rubbed her throbbing temples and groaned. She saw a man sitting next to her, dripping in salt water and gasping for breath.
“I saw you go down. Had to get you out of the water—before it was too late.” 
“You saved me?”
He nodded.
“It was just a dream,” she said to herself.
“Excuse me?”
Anna shook her head as tears filled her eyes. “Did you know that my brother was lost at sea?”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I just dreamed that I saw him again. I tried to stop him from going, but he didn’t listen. What the—” A shiny glint caught her eye. She pulled a dolphin, carved out of seashell, from the sand.
“What is it?” Joe asked.
Anna showed him the dolphin. “My brother carved it.”
“May I see it?”
As Anna handed Joe the dolphin, he gasped and stared at it in wonder. “I…remember.  I used to carve things out of seashells, as a hobby. I made this and gave it to a girl…and I promised…” Joe pulled a rose carved from an abalone shell out of his pocket.
                Anna scrambled to her knees and held Joe’s face between her hands, searching his sea green eyes. “Chris?”
                He met her gaze and she saw a flash of recognition cross his face. “Anna.”
                “Is it really you?”
                “I got caught in a storm and lost my way,” he said in a shaky voice. “I couldn’t remember anything. So I followed my heart and it brought me here.”
                Anna threw her arms around his neck. “It brought you home.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Short Story Contest!

So this past week I entered my very first writing contest. A fellow ANWA member was having a short story contest because May was Short Story Month. I decided to go and give it a try. What can it hurt?

Well, writing a short story is actually very difficult. I mean, you think 1,000 big deal. Anyone can write 1,000 words. It was SO hard. At the beginning I just had a hard time coming up with an idea. It needed a strong but short story line and it had to have a twist at the end. Hmmm...I thought about it for over a week. Then, in the middle of Sunday School it hit me! I started scribbling down my ideas (which I'm sure my teacher thought I was taking wonderful notes that day).

I came home and wrote my first draft. It ended up being 1,600 + words. Man! So I had to go and whittle it down to practically nothing-- just the bare minimum. It was actually a great exercise for me to learn how to describe as much as I can in very little words. I had to pick my words wisely and focus on the most important things. I finally got my story down to 999 words. So I added a word, just because I could (1,000 words was the cut off mark). :)

Anyway, I'll find out what happened to it in a couple of weeks. I'm not really planning on winning, but after she posts the winners on her blog, I'll post my story here...for all the world to see. Yikes!

Illuminations of the Heart Review

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena
My Rating: 5 stars

Illuminations of the Heart


"Clothilde." He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world is shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem; her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother's will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother's friend Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator's shop - until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guild he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?
My Review

Joyce does it again. From the first chapter this book hooks you. You've got it all, action, romance, danger, intrigue, revenge and adventure. Just when you think your characters are safe, something else happens to throw them in disarray. This book was a fun ride and Joyce really knows how to write sweet romance. This book has kisses that sizzle, but don't make you blush while reading. I love not having to worry about being caught off guard with inappropriate things. I can always trust Joyce to keep it nice and clean. Then I can just throw myself into the story. Thanks Joyce for a great read!

The Stranger She Married!

The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch
My Rating: 5 stars

The Stranger She Married (Rogue Hearts, #1)


When her parents and only brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor's prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.

Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he'd thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true.

When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer's attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to her heart.

My Review

I love regency and I love a clean romance. Ahhhhhh. So it's only natural to say that I really love Donna Hatch's writing. She has a way of making the words flow while painting the perfect picture. When I read her books, I get so into the story. I feel like I'm watching a movie in my mind and I get swept away on a fantastic ride. She always has some sort of twist in her stories which makes it a lot of fun.

I actually read the second book in The Rogue Hearts series first (which I loved), so I was already acquainted with the characters a bit. I ate up this story. The characters were so real and the whole story just came to life. It's a bit steamy in parts, but nothing that crossed my conservative boundaries. It might have bothered me that Cole was trying to woo (is that the right word) Alicia, except that I had some suspicions that made it okay for me. How is that for cryptic? I'm trying to write a review without adding spoilers. It's very difficult. Let's just say that I loved it and it made me want to read the second book in The Rogue Hearts series, The Guise of a Gentleman, again. And then it made me hungry for book Donna? 

The Upside of Down Review

The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley
My Rating: 3.5 stars

Back Cover Blurb

"Hmmm," the doctor muttered.
Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, "What does that mean?"
"You do know you're pregnant, right?"
Her breath caught in her throat. "Excuse me?"
"You're pregnant."
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. "I'm what?"

Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise--she's going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn't what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.

Beloved author Rebecca Talley carefully creates this touching and heartfelt story that is sure to inspire you. With true-to-life characters and situations, The Upside of Down will reignite your faith and remind you of the importance of family.

My Review

Warning: This may contain spoilers...sorry.

This book was written for an LDS audience. Reading this book was very surreal for me. Just like the main character, Natalie, I am an only child with six kids. I really could relate to all of the crazy things that would happen, the snide comments from others about having a large family and feeling overwhelmed with just daily life. In fact, it kind of made me feel good--that maybe I'm not alone. Natalie was kind of a stress case and I think I handled the situations differently than her. I'm a little more easy going.

A couple of years ago, I had to go through the experience of having my child diagnosed with Autism. So even though it wasn't the same disability as in the book, I could understand some of Natalie's feelings. Even now, I have to deal with others not accepting my daughter or the fact that she is quirky, odd and doesn't fit in. Even more...I had another daughter that had a fever at 3 weeks old and I had to take her to the ER. I blubbered the entire time they were doing her tests, including the spinal tap. She ended up having a urinary tract infection just like in the book, although we had to stay in the hospital instead of taking her home. Maybe I didn't pray enough (just kidding).

Anyway, it was crazy how much Natalie's life experience was like mine. We had the poopy finger painting and the haircutting. I'm sure my parents could relate when I, like Andrea in the book (don't mind the fact that we have the same name) was dating someone and had to decide whether to get married or serve a mission. They struggled as they let me make my own choices, even if they didn't agree. In the end, I made the right choice. I guess this book and story really came to life for me...because a lot of it is my life in one degree or another. The only thing I couldn't relate to though, is the husband. He's pretty near to perfect and I'm not sure if any husband is THAT supporting and loving. I wish...Anyway, I enjoyed reading the book and I really loved the resolution at the end-- the dawn after the darkness. Thanks for the ride, Rebecca.