Valle Pintado Writing Contest is a Tie
Our First Visual Arts Junction
Writing Contest is a Tie.
Ed Leonard & Jacki Donnelly
A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and that was your assignment. Well, more accurately, 500 — 600 words. And writing about the above photo art, Valle Pintado by Aggie Villanueva, was the subject.
Our six judges returned a split decision, so without further ado Visual Arts Junction, and our many contest sponsors, take pride in introducing you to our two winners, and their winning entries. Click on the links below to see the entries on sponsors' sites.
Life in the Valle Pintado
by Ed Leonard (Papa Ed)
Ankles tucked and breathing slowed, I feel the tree dance, my wood platform sways and rocks in the hot southern trade winds. My sad, burnt, drought-stunted valley stretches before me. My humble ranch home swelters in a dry, coarse bunchweed field surrounded by stunted agreste woods that threaten to become caatinga.
Death menaces life like a Samhain specter. Gnarled stick trees grasp each other for desperate support. Their life juices drawn deep to survive the uncommon warm, dry winter. Earth spirits have driven the Numida fowl and the high plains antelope down the Tocantins to richer lands. The loss of precious water and the increased heat are taking a horrendous toll on animal and plant habitats in the Valle Pintado.
I have barely survived another winter. Spring has arrived with little promise, and my energy and will are suffering. I call out to the spirits of the jaguar and of the ocelot who once roamed here. But, they do not hear me.
I close my eyes, intent on escape. I release my saddened spirit. Hawk spirit enfolds me and I soar to a better time. I stroke the heavens and relish a gentle wind with a smooth glide. I alight to proudly perch atop a tall post and search the autumn grass for my choice of scampering breakfast.
The Valle Pintado proudly displays a dappled Autumn abstract quilt with primary colors blended and fused like fresh oils on nature’s canvas. My well-tended red adobe brick home blends quietly and comfortably before a large sugary wave of Palo Verde, Box Elder, and Hop Trees in full glory. My harvested corn patch glows golden yellow and my second growth wheat field rusty red.
A warm wind whispers, flicks leaves loose to float and flip their way to rich soil, and bathes my feathers in ripples. A hazy gray cooking fire screen rises among the trees with the rich smell of mesquite fired meat.
Two distant sandstone buttes, glimmer and flash with life, shrouded in milky early morning light. My world is balanced, healthy, and harmonious. I know now that the natural cycle of seasons will return my ranch to glorious life.
I spot a striped field mouse and launch, flapping lightly, then diving fast to my target. I dive and dive, but my prey remains distant. I linger, but the inevitable change reaches me. My spirit snaps back to my earth-bound body. Hawk has brought me hope and reminded me of the potential of my life in the Valle Pintado.
I resolve to exercise patience, to go back and seal my roof against the rain that must come again, to mend my fence against the predators that will return, to plant my corn and wheat knowing they will be nourished and watered. I resolve to hike to the top of the distant butte blessing all earth along the way. I resolve to come often to my tree platform and to meditate with the spirit of my totem animal, the hawk.
My sadness is gone.
Ed Leonard: My online name is papaed. I've been a compulsive reader and writer for nearly 50 years. I prefer poetry and have over 100 poems posted online. I've never tried to publish a book or articles in a magazine although I've done journalistic reporting freelance for several newspapers. I chose to place the Valle Pintado in the Tocantins watershed of Brazil and researched the habitat, geography, watershed, language, and native animals so that my 500 word piece reflects a possible mystical scenario there. I advocate meditation and peace issues in many of my writings and found your picture inspirational along those lines.
Judges Comments for Ed's Entry
What I liked: You made the what and why of your transformations clear without actually saying it. I liked that you didn’t insult our intelligence as readers. That’s good storytelling. I empathized with your transformations; physical, spiritual and emotional, that produced a trust in, and ultimately a submission to, the Great Spirit through nature – a trust that transforms despair into hope restored, and then finally seeing things as they really are.
What could be improved: I know you had a word limit, but I’d like to see it more developed.
What I liked: What an intriguing story of hope. Beautifully painted images; excellent use of the first person POV. Thank you for your contribution to the contest and good luck with your writing career.
What could be improved: My only criticism pertains to the structure of one sentence: Two distant sandstone buttes, glimmer and flash with life, shrouded in milky early morning light. I don’t understand the comma after buttes or the switch from present to past tense (glimmer, flash, shrouded). I wish my own writing problems were so small.
What I liked: The imagery of the story is good and the writer's effort to paint a story with apt descriptions works well.
What could be improved: The story reads like a synopsis for a much longer story. The grammar needs a little attention -- split infinitives and occasional change of verb tense.
A Painted Mountain Life
by Jacki Donnelly
It was almost a month since I resigned as Editor in Chief of New York’s most popular fashion magazine “Moda”, but my mental alarm clock was still sounding off promptly at 6 a.m. For the past 29 days this annoyed me, but today was different. Today I started my new life- I left my upscale life and the chaos in NYC. I traded it all in for what I hoped would be a more peaceful and meaningful life.
My dearest friend lost a life long battle with cancer. During her last few months I didn’t spend as much time with her as I should have. I didn’t have the time, you know, with being successful and all. Luckily I made it to her before she died. She reminded me to enjoy the life’s little things, and not always focus on money and work. “You are only what you let yourself become.” she gently whispered. And with that I gently embraced her frail hand for the last time.
I finally understood the meaning behind her unsolicited suggestions. She always wanted me to take time off work, to go on a date or read a book, which I refused. I always justified my disregard by her not having or wanting the lavish lifestyle I was accustomed to. I was wrong. Now I sat humbled and dissatisfied.
At that moment I decided to change. I resigned from my job, sold my apartment and packed only the necessities, which included a book I had been working on for over twenty years. I searched the internet for a cabin to retreat to in the mountains. Finally I found a quaint cabin rental nestled in the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest. After a short telephone call with the owner I packed up my car and headed west.
I slowly got out of bed letting my feet touch the cold wooden floor. The sunrise was creeping over the mountains and into the cabins’ windows. The fall air had a slight chill with a sweet smell to it. I managed a fire in the ancient woodstove, the only heat source for the small cabin. I walked to the kitchen and poured me a cup of coffee in my only mug. I grabbed a sweater from the pile of clothes on the floor and wrote a few items on a box lid I needed from the market. My chores today were to unpack, set up a space to begin writing again, and groceries.
That would have to wait I wanted to enjoy my first cup of coffee of my new life. I walked out onto the porch and sat down in a rickety, wooden rocking chair. The warmth of my coffee felt good as it trickled down my throat to the pit of my stomach. The scenery took my breath away.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling of awe and tranquility, foreign feelings to me. Such beauty greeted me with open arms on that porch. I listened to the sweet melody of the Mountain Chickadees’ and the Western Meadowlarks’ coming from the forest that surrounded me. The wind was swooshing gently through the Locoweed and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers that outlined the small wooden cabins land. The trees adorning the mountains were reflecting shades of crimson, wheat and amber down to me.
I sat captivated. At that moment, with that warm cup of coffee in my hands, I knew I had made the right choice. Today would mark the day I started to “live” life. A Painted Mountain Life - one I could only dream.
Jacki Donnelly: I currently live in the tropical state of Florida. I am new to writing and am currently discovering my talents. Any commentary on the attached piece would be greatly appreciated. This will be my first piece entered for review! I am very excited and look forward to continuing my path of writing. I am 30 years old, married to a wonderful husband and have a wonderful Boxer puppy named Baxter.
This picture reminded me of a trip we took recently to the Appalachian mountains - Life is so much different in a quiet country setting. I have recently returned to college in pursuit of a degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis, and so far I am loving every minute of it. I hope to one day become an editor for a small press!
Judges Comments for Jacki's Entry
What I liked: I thought the story was well written and had a great story line. If the Author wished she could make this into a novel.
What could be improved: The one thing I would change would be to describe the picture more in depth.
What I liked: BROUGHT TEARS to my eyes. She obviously was drawn into the picture and let the emotions of it be real in her story.
What could be improved:
What I liked: I chose Jacki's story because of the creativeness of her story and how well it went with the picture. It showed a lot of imagination. That's a good thing! Keep up the good work!
What could be improved: The one thing I would've changed in the story, was that it was told in the first person, a pet peeve of mine. First person should be left for non-fiction stories, in my opinion, such as the author's biography in his/her own words or a memoir. Otherwise, it was great!
The Fine Print: Entries are judged on storytelling quality only. We do not judge on editing, manuscript prep, etc. Congratulations winners.
Your winning entry will also appear
at each of the sites below
Aggie Villanueva Visual Arts Junction: http://www.visualartsjunction.com
Rightfully Mine http://www.aggiev.org/rightfullymine/
Carol Langstroth The Frontpage http://www.carollangstroth.com
Author Meeting Place http://www.authormeetingplace.com/mindfogreviews.html
Linda Yezak 777 Peppermint Place http://lindayezak.wordpress.com/
Cindy Bauer Cindy Bauer Bookshttp://www.cindybauerbooks.com/
Reviews by Cindy http://reviewsbycindy.blogspot.com/
Nanci Arvizu Page Readers http://pagereaders.com/
Nanci’s Thoughts www.nanciarvizu.com
Shelagh Watkins http://shelaghs.blogspot.com
Kim McDougall Blazing Trailers Blazing Trailers http://www.blazingtrailers.com/
Melinda Elmore Melinda’s Blog Spot: Pen to Paper www.melinda.essentialwriters.com
Fran Lewis Fran’s Website www.gabina.49.webs.com
Fran’s Blog email@example.com
Bertha 160 xanga.com bookmarketing.ning.com/profile/FranLewis
Amber Rigby Grosjean Amber Rigby Grosjean blog http://amberrigbygrosjean.blogspot.com/
D.K. Christi D.K. Christi , Consultant and Author www.dkchristi.com
Jhonny Thermidor Unexplored Oceans of Wisdom www.JhonnyT.wordpress.com
Johnny Thermidor www.JhonnyThermidor.webs.com
Robert Appleton Mercurial Times http://robertbappleton.blogspot.com/
Chelle Cordero Chelle Cordero’s Promo Page http://cce613.xanga.com/
Abe F. March Abe F. March http://www.abemarch.com/apps/blog/
Paidra Delayno Paidra’s Pen http://paidraspen.blogspot.com/
Sandra Kay Sandra Kay's Musings http://www.sandrakayauthor.blogspot.com/
Jo Fulkerson Writer’s Life http://www.freewebs.com/thedesertwriter/
Elena Dorothy Bowman Elena Dorothy Bowman’s Book Blog http://elenadorothybowmansbooks.blogspot.com/
Hank Quense Blog, the writing blog of Hank Quense http://hankquense.com/blog/
Mark Stephen Levy Overland http://authormarklevy.blogspot.com/
Jay Heinlein Publishing Professional http://heinleinpubservices.blogspot.com
J. Michael Orenduff author of the Pot Thief series www.ThePotThief.blogspot.com
Yolanthaiti Harrison-Pace YOLANTHAITI yolanthaiti.blogspot.com
Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Why I Wrote The Sid Series
I began writing The Sid Series as I did things with my grandson when he was very small. It was mainly for me to remember some of the cute things he said, but he was also manifesting some spiritual intellect and I was learning from this little boy who called himself an “old soul.”
Sid was able to communicate with me telepathically from the time he was born. He exhibited the gift of premonition at about age nine months, he channeled his higher self at age three, related his ability to see spirits and used a magic potion to heal a crippled dog at age four. When he would spend the night at my house, he would wake up with nightmares. From the descriptions he gave me, and from what my inner guidance was telling me, I was aware that his astral spirit was traveling to dark realms. Rather than discourage him from his astral travel, we created a mantra that we repeated before he went to bed: “Thank you, angels and guides for letting my spirit visit only the realms of highest light and love and travel only to safe places filled with loving beings.” Sidney is still very much in touch with his inner guidance. He receives most of his messages through dreams now that he is in third grade. He related one of his dreams to me when I interviewed him on my podcast.
I knew I had a special child on my hands and I wanted to do everything I could to help him develop his spiritual gifts—the same gifts I was accustomed to that had been strangely unappreciated by the churches I had attended. Sid’s spiritually-enlightened mother has been very encouraging to me and together we have taught Sidney how to use his gifts as a tool to help himself and others. I realize this is not the norm and that most psychically gifted children do not have this type of adult influence. In fact, many adults are afraid of the supernatural. That is my main reason for writing The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children.
I wrote the stories as much for parents as for the kids because a the time when most kids are at the peak of displaying their spiritual experiences, they are too young to read. Even though I used a lot of illustrations in The Sid Series, I wrote the text on a level that would require an adult to read the stories to their toddlers. The message would stir interest and help guide the adult, and the stories and illustrations would entertain the children. The Sid Series is my gift to the kids and parents of this special generation.
For more information about this book, please visit http://TheSidSeries.com
Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and editor, award-winning Amazon.com bestselling author, podcast host, blogger extraordinaire, newsletter publisher, Internet marketing guru, and an outstanding keynote speaker. She is a graduate of American Institute of Holistic Theology where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Metaphysics.
I would like to introduce you to Yvonne Perry, Freelance writer, editor, award-winning author, speaker, and owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services who lives in Nashville, TN.
Who is Yvonne Perry?
Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and editor, award-winning Amazon.com bestselling author, podcast host, blogger extraordinaire, newsletter publisher, Internet marketing guru, and an outstanding keynote speaker who enjoys making people laugh.
She is a graduate of American Institute of Holistic Theology where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Metaphysics. Her style of writing is lovingly controversial and challenges people’s belief systems in order to help them move past what she calls “Sunday School mentality.” She has earned Platinum Expert Author status for her 170+ articles on spirituality, death, afterlife, spirit communication, suicide, and politics published on ezinearticles.com as well as many other online article directories.
As a ghostwriter and editor, Yvonne enjoys helping people get their message into a well-written book or article that is ready to publish. Yvonne is the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services. Her personal strengths include excellent communication, writing and editing skills, publicity and marketing, team writing, and business management.
Children's Books by Yvonne Perry
The twelve stories in The Sid Series are offered as individual e-books, a consolidated e-book, and as a collection in a printed book. These body-mind-spirit stories highlights unique lessons about love, acceptance, self-worth, caring for the body, diversity, facing fears, dealing with change, experiencing the death of a pet, using spiritual gifts, and understanding paranormal experiences today’s children exhibit.
It's more than a series of cute little stories; it is a series of life lessons that every parent or grandparent can relate to on some level.
The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children (Printed version)
Meditate with Sid’s fairy, face an awesome storm, find the pirate’s treasure, be anything you want, ask your body if its hungry or sleepy, discover a ghost in Sid's closet, mix up a powerful healing potion, notice your friend’s skin, enjoy a puppy's love, learn to recycle, always be honest, and help make room for baby brother!
Each story is available as an individual e-book. The entire collection is available as a 142-page full-color e-book or. . .
Get all twelve of the mind-body-spirit stories in the Sid Series as a full-color, 52-page full-color printed book on Amazon.com for $19.95
You can read more about Yvonne and her books on her website: http://www.writersinthesky.com