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Baby Boomer judging phase is complete.

We have finished the judging phase for the Baby Boomer Plus short story contest and the finalists have been notified. This is the second book for our series, “Stories Through The Ages”. Not only did we receive stories from across the nation, the same as we did for the College Edition, but we received them from around the world. All the stories were unique, interesting, and entertaining, so it would be erroneous to suggest that there are winners and losers. The judges all agree that it has been a pleasure to read the wonderful submissions.

The stories show the best of imagination intermingled with experience. They are engaging, introspective and fun. As we prepare to announce the stories that will make up the first “Baby Boomer” book, we here at Living Springs Publishers look on in anticipation for the biographies of the authors. The judges received only the story with no indication of who wrote it, making it suspenseful to see who wrote each of the enthralling stories.

The competition for the stories is very stringent and many excellent stories will be left out of the book. We hope that those whose story was not chosen for the book will continue to write and submit to Living Spring Publishers next contest. All entries we received were very good.

Our first book “Stories Through The Ages – College Edition 2017” is a captivating book. We feel that the “Baby Boomer Plus” edition will be just as successful. If you haven’t already bought a copy of the College Edition go to our website at livingspringspublishers.com and get a copy.

Remember submissions for Generations XYZ are open until October 15, 2017. If you we born 1965 -1996 be sure to get your story in the contest.

Short story news and Characters in Fiction

News: We are still accepting stories for the Generations XYZ short story contest. The deadline is October 15, 2017. Be sure to get your story in before then.
 

Judging is underway for the Baby Boomers Plus 2017 book. The judges are finding it very difficult to choose the top 15 because the stories are all so good.

Characters in Fiction by Henry Peavler

I often wonder if it’s possible for an author to completely divorce herself from the characters and plot that she creates, or he creates, whatever the case may be. I think of characters that I’ve created. I usually model them after someone I know or a character from a movie, that way I can be consistent in the personality development. In fact, I might say, in my notes, ‘this character is modeled after Jack Nicholson. Not the Jack Nicholson from The Shining but the one from Chinatown’. I don’t want the reader to picture Jack Nicholson, as they read along, I want the reader, in this case, to imagine a sophisticated character, in control and doesn’t take crap off anyone, yet has a sensitive side.

I tried to create a totally evil character in one of my short stories. I struggled mightily and ultimately fell short of what I wanted. I kept thinking ‘how can anyone be this heartless and cruel?’ Yet I see on the news every night that some people are. So I tried to pattern my character after a man in a news report who was described in detail. That made it easier.

I don’t believe that an author can completely remove his personality from the story. Thinking of a few of my favorite writers, and there are many–Dickens created characters that were good or bad and no stone was left unturned in making that distinction for the reader. Was that a trait of Dickens’ that he saw people that way?  If it was a literary devise, used for effect, I think he overdid it. But then Dickens lives on forever and Peavler will fade into that family and friends reader sunset.

Hemingway wrote of flawed, alcoholic men. His heroines were strong women, in most cases, and his experience with his wives was often tumultuous as was reflected in his writing.

East of Eden is my favorite Steinbeck novel, but, of course, it is auto-biographical. I don’t know if that’s what makes it my favorite or not. Of Mice and Men is a wonderful short novella and is considered fiction but the story is about Steinbeck, one hundred percent, from his days as a wandering bum. Lennie was a real insane person that Steinbeck knew as a young adult.

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five, is fiction, obviously, but it’s a result of his real life experiences in World War II. My daughter, Ashlee, is an English Literature teacher and she used Vonnegut’s book in her class when she student taught in Iowa. The students thought that his portrayal of aliens was absurd or ‘stupid’ as they probably phrased it. Some of them came to realize that the aliens were symbols or parallels to the absurdities (stupidity) of war. To me, an alien from the make believe planet of Tralfamadore is no more absurd than a young American soldier from Indianapolis–captured by the Nazi’s, forced to work for them in Dresden, Germany—and then getting firebombed by his own country while he hid in a slaughterhouse cellar meat storage locker—and, one of the few inhabitants of Dresden to survive. That is the ultimate in absurdity and Vonnegut used the experience in a satirical way to make his point.

Vonnegut was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and my own father was also in that conflict. Maybe their paths crossed somewhere along the line. That would be astonishing but not absurd or stupid.

Fiction is make believe but it has to come from the soul of the author or it risks being ineffective. I do believe that good authors can create characters that are completely fictional but, for the most part, literature that will stand the test of time is a reflection of the person who writes it.

Short story contests

Submissions for our short story contest Baby Boomer Plus 2017 are closed. We got a lot of great stories and are now in the process of judging them.

We will announce the finalists by September 15, 2017. There will be three cash winners:
1st prize $500
2nd prize $200
3rd prize $100

In addition, the top 15 finalists will be published in our book and receive a copy of the book.

Submissions for Generations XYZ 2017 and College Edition 2018 are open. Visit our website for more information on these contests.

Why we write

As technology evolves, publishing the written word has become easier and easier. As a result, there is an influx of new writers taking the plunge into giving us their perspective on the world. There are thousands and thousands of new authors each year.

Many write for a sense of accomplishment. To read something that you have created is very satisfying. Authors often re-read something they wrote in the past and are amazed that it is something they produced. Simply completing a story can be gratifying.

Others write to persuade and inform the masses of people. Historians will most likely look through the corpus of new books from our era to get a true account of the world. Everyone’s perspective matters.

Numerous people write because they have a passion to do so. These are the authors who find it easy to compose a story. The great literary individuals, who have found success in writing, are often people with a great imagination that is matched with an analytical ability.

Some authors write with the hope of gaining fortune and fame. Many have found their dreams and expectations to be fleeting. In today’s literary arena very few self-published authors make money. But as stated above there are successful authors. So, no matter what anyone says, writing with a sense of confidence, with hopes of fame and fortune are still good reasons to write. Dreaming and hoping for a better life is never bad. More often than not it makes a person happy.

In the future, legacy writing will be one of the main reasons people write and self-publish a book. I will write my next blog on this large and growing area for new authors,.

All and all, keep writing. Hopefully it triggers your imagination and keeps you smiling.

Also, remember our short story contests are all open. You can enter a story that could be published in one of our books.

Contest deadlines are:
    Baby Boomer Plus August 15, 2017

    Generations XYZ contest October 15, 2017

    College Edition 2018 January 15, 2018

Baby Boomers Plus deadline is Aug 15, 2017

The deadline for Stories Through The Ages Baby Boomers Plus 2017 is fast approaching.  Submissions will close August 15, 2017. The contest is open to anyone who was born 1964 or earlier. The word count for this contest is 700 – 4000 words. Cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100 will be awarded to the top three entries. The top 15 entries will be published in our next book. Winners will be announced by September 15, 2017.

After Baby Boomers comes Generations XYZ, open to anyone who was born 1965 – 1996. The deadline for submissions to this contest is October 15, 2017. The word count for the contest is 1500 – 4000 words.

College Edition 2018 is open to any person enrolled at a Nationally Accredited United States college or university at the time of submission. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2018. The word count for this contest is 1500 – 4000 words.

Submissions to all contests are now open. The entry fee is $25. There is no theme or prompt and all genres are accepted.

Take a look at the first edition of our book, Stories Through The Ages College Edition 2017. It is available on our website and on Amazon.

The Lost School Bell

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I should call this story “The Lost School Bell” because it wasn’t really lost, I just didn’t know where it was. It was not lost to those who had it. It’s kind of like when I hit my golf ball out into the rough, which I do a lot, and when we can’t find it we call it a lost ball. But then inevitably someone else comes along and finds that ball and uses it and it becomes a stolen ball to me and a found ball to that person, but it’s no longer lost in the technical sense. The word lost fascinates me, for example, someone will say, ‘Ok, I’m lost’ but they really mean they don’t understand. People say that to me a lot when I’m trying to explain something—like now—but I’ll get back to the bell in a minute.

 

My daughter lost a book she was reading and I told her, ‘don’t worry, we’ll find it in the last place we look.’  And, of course, we did because once you find something lost you always find it in the last place you look because you quit looking once it’s found. She was impressed with my insight, but then she was seven.

The bell was lost in the sense that we didn’t know where it was. But, we weren’t looking for it, in fact, we had forgotten about it. Mom had it when we were young and we rang it at Christmas or whenever we were bored. We would lose interest, until a friend would discover it and ring it, like kids are programed to do. Generally it just sat on the piano. We weren’t interested in the story of why Mom had the bell in the first place. I’m not certain I ever knew why Mom had the bell, but I can make an educated guess.

In 1953, I was a first grader in the one room school house known as Living Springs School located about one mile north of the old Living Springs stage stop in Eastern Adams County. Our teacher, Mrs. Parker, rang the bell in the morning when it was time for class to begin, at the end of recess and after the lunch period, like all the teachers before her back to 1891, the year the school was built.

My memory of the bell itself is non-existent, but I can still remember the sound of the bell clanging, calling us back to the building from wherever we were enjoying our few moments of delicious freedom from the confines of those four walls. I was not an adventurous boy but, curious, kind of a day dreamer. One of those boys who actually enjoyed learning, enjoyed listening to Mrs. Parker, and studying the Dick and Jane first grade reader. I was the only student in the first grade. The others, maybe ten in all, ranged up to the eighth grade.

The bell has a history but we don’t know what it is. At least I don’t. Maybe someone else does because a good many of the students who were there in 1953 are still alive. Mrs. Parker is still alive, she’s 95 years old. I sent a letter to her son, Howell, and asked if they know anything about the bell. Maybe it was there when she became the teacher, maybe it was the first bell ever used in that school back in 1891.

I believe that Mrs. Parker gave the bell to Mom in 1954 when the school was closed. Mom was alone on our homestead with 5 small children. I can picture Mrs. Parker saying “here, you use this to call those boys home when you need them.”   Mom was a very sentimental person and the bell went with us when we moved to Bennett in 1957.

The school house was later moved into Strasburg to become a part of Comanche Crossing Museum.  I include a picture of me peering in the window of the building, sometime in 2005, looking for some answers or maybe looking for long lost ghosts of my past, but I didn’t find any—answers or ghosts.

Actually, I don’t include the picture because I can’t find it. I know it is in this machine somewhere but I have been rummaging around for 45 minutes and can’t find it. So picture a bright sunny day in Strasburg with me, left hand shading my eyes, as I peer in the front door. I am wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt that says, ‘Who are these children and why are they calling me Grandpa?’

Maybe the ghosts stayed out at the school site 12 miles south on Headlight Road some half-mile from our homestead. I don’t think so though, because I went out there and looked. I even climbed the hill to Mrs. Parker’s old home site but the house is gone, all that’s left is the foundation and some detritus from the passing years. I stood there a long time but didn’t see anything unusual. I heard the wind blowing in the trees and saw some cattle grazing in the pasture to the east. I’m sure there are ghosts out there, it seems like the kind of place they would go. Maybe some of the soldiers from World War I or II, boys who had taken classes in the Living Springs one room school house, then marched out to war. Maybe they listened to the sound of that same bell.

Anyway, back to the misplaced bell. I was married to Cathy in 1971, she was a school teacher I met in Bennett when I came back from college. My sister had written to tell me about her, so I came home to see for myself.

Mom was very fond of Cathy, as was I, and Mom decided, somewhere along the line, to give the bell to Cathy. I don’t remember any of that. It might have been a secret transaction, but I can’t imagine why. Cathy and I were married for about 20 years and when we divorced, Cathy retained possession of the bell, not realizing the significance it had for me. Actually, it didn’t have any significance for me because I had forgotten about it, but I think it makes the story more interesting if I say that it was a very important part of my life and in a way it was, but I just didn’t realize that until recently.

Anyway, I wrote a book called ‘What is a Hero’ and in that book, I describe scenes that occurred in the Living Springs School back in 1953. And the story gets better because when we had the book launch for ‘What is a Hero’, who shows up but 95 year old Mrs. Parker and a newspaper reporter who created all kinds of excitement by putting pictures and a story in the newspaper about that encounter. You can read the article at  http://livingspringspublishers.com/index.php/i-70-scout-article/:

The story got back to Cathy and she read my book and realized that the bell she had in her possession was the very bell from the Living Springs School. She knew this because Mom had told her the bell came from an old school that had a great deal of meaning to her because I had been a student there when my father, Henry, was killed in a car accident. Mrs. Parker was the person, back in 1953, who told me about my father dying. Cathy is also a sentimental person and felt that the bell should be returned to its roots.

When I was in Austin visiting my children last month, June 2017, Cathy gave the bell to me. She suggested that it be placed in the old school building that is now a museum. And so it has been. The bell has journeyed full circle and is now found and back in its rightful home. Maybe some child will pick it up and clang it calling back all those children who, for 60 years, began their education in a one-room Colorado schoolhouse, now a museum. That thought kind of gives me comfort.

After August 4th the bell will have been returned, you can visit the school and see other memorabilia of the Eastern Plains at The Comanche Crossing Museum in Strasburg, CO.

If anyone reading this story knows more about the bell or has a relevant story, please let us know about it at Livingspringspublishers.com

HENRY E. PEAVLER with JACQUELINE VERYLE PEAVLER

Kindle and paperback versions available

The kindle version of Stories Through The Ages College Edition 2017 will release on Amazon tomorrow. It will be available in Kindle Unlimited, or, for purchase.

Copies of the paperback version have been sent to the Authors, and should have all been delivered by today.  The book can be purchased from our website and there is a link to the Kindle edition there too.

We are very proud of how College Edition 2017 turned out. Be a part of our next book and get your short stories in. The deadline for Baby Boomers Plus submissions is August 15, 2017.  The deadline for Generations XYZ submissions is October 15, 2017.

Exciting times!

It’s an exciting time at Living Spring Publishers. Our new book, “Stories Through The Ages, College Edition 2017”, featuring fifteen stories written by college students from across the nation, is at the printers and will be available after the fourth of July. Anyone who loves reading short stories will find this diverse book to be very entertaining.

We are also receiving short stories from Baby Boomers (born 1964 and earlier) and Generations XYZ (born 1996 -1965) as we prepare for the next two books in our series.. We are finding, just as in the college edition, that imagination and creativity have no bounds.

Enter the contest or purchase the college edition here on our website. We know you will have fun writing, or, simply enjoy reading the stories by our college age students.

Baby Boomer Plus and College Edition updates

After getting feedback from several people we have decided to lower the minimum word count for the Baby Boomer Plus contest. The word count for Baby Boomer Plus is now 700 – 4000 words. Generations XYZ and College Edition 2018 (when submissions open) will remain 1500 – 4000.

We are very excited about the College Edition 2017 book. It is coming together nicely. We are doing final proofreading while we wait on the Library of Congress number. Once we have that it will be ready to send to the printer and publish on-line as an eBook.

We are still on track for the end of June.

Thanks to Nick Reid, the first prize winner in our short story contest Stories Through The Ages, College Edition 2017, for sending us a picture of him with his $500 check,

The website has been updated with the synopsis for each story that will be in the book. There is also a button to “Reserve a Copy” to make sure you get one from the first printing. We are planning to have the book available in late June. You can read the synopses here.

Remember, submissions for our short story contests Baby Boomers Plus 2017 and Generations XYZ 2017 are open.