Hard Times Writing Contest

Hard Times Writing Contest

Hard Times Writing Contest
Deadline: May 31, 2018

Write about a difficult experience in your life, how you overcame this obstacle, and how you were changed by it. Winning stories will be chosen for originality and creative writing style. Stories should not exceed 5,000 words (double-spaced, 12 point font).
Multiple entries are accepted. Your name, address, email and title of work should appear on a separate cover sheet. The entry fee is $25 ($20 for Workshop members) for up to three entries.
All contest entries will be returned with judges’ comments. Authors retain all rights. All contests have a $25 entry fee ($20 for members). Fee payable online through PayPal, or by check on money order.
Scroll down for submission instructions.
Awards for all contests:
1st: Choice of a 2 night stay at our Mountain Muse B&B, 3 free workshops, or 50 pages (or 10 poems) line-edited and revised by our editorial staff
2nd: Choice of a 1 night stay at our B&B, 2 free workshops, or 35 pages (or 8 poems) line-edited
3rd: Choice of 1 free workshop, or 25 pages (or 5 poems) line-edited
Up to 10 Honorable Mentions

The next Southwest Florida meeting of the Florida MWA will be Saturday January 13th and will feature NYT bestselling author Lisa Black. She will be discussing fingerprints – just one of her specialties. Along with being a NYT bestselling author, Lisa is a seasoned forensic specialist – it’s a great combination – forensics with a writers perspective. Lisa always impresses.

All meetings start at 1pm. We meet in room 108 of the L-building at Florida SouthWestern State College – adjacent to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. I will put up signs inside. Check the Lee Campus map here for more details <http://www.fsw.edu/about/maps>

Parking: You are allowed to park in Lot 7 next to the L-building (usually reserved for faculty) on Saturday, even if there is an event going on at BB Mann.

You do not have to be an MWA member to attend this meeting – although MWA membership materials will be available – invite your fiction writing friends.

We will meet for lunch before each meeting at 11:30 at Jason’s Deli – 13550 Reflection Parkway, Fort Myers. It’s off Cypress Lake Drive near the FSW campus.

Contact me with questions: <author.mljoy@hotmail.com>

Jim Gustafson — Waffles

Waffles

You should eat a waffle! You can’t be sad if you eat a waffle!
― Lauren Myracle

What the Three Wise Men thought was a guiding star was really the glow of a big yellow Waffle House sign shouting loud in the night. They followed its light for hours, through dew drip darkness;
dodging eighteen-wheelers thundering along the interstate.

At the sight of the Waffle House, they raised their hands in praise, as they prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. There was plenty of room at the counter. A friendly server named Mary and a short-order cook called Joe greeted them with warm smiles.

They chatted with Mary, while they waited for waffles. It was obvious from the way Mary and Joe
at each other, the way their hands touched when she handed him their order slip, and the slight patch of purple on Mary’s neck that she and Joe had a thing going on.

The Wise Men watched the batter ooze and flow. The steam streams rose, the hot iron genuflected and rounded the white dough. An aroma, sweeter than the holiest incense, lounged.

All three had maple syrup. What self-respecting wise man would have anything else?

As they poured the syrup, it seeped through the land of little cross on the gold sacramental wafers.
Road sounds were drowned by the satisfied smacks of their lips. Slight rainbows spread in buttery spills across the maple juice sea.

“Is not the architecture of the bee, designed as this catacomb cake?” said one,
“Is not their honey homage?”

“Is ice cream not best waffle coned? Has ever there been a more divine form?” asked another.

Could any fair maiden’s smile not spread with the gift of this well-plated pastry?” said the third.

When their plates lay still and sticky, in the afterglow of the well-buttered, syrup soaked waffles, they paid their check, and left generous gifts for Mary and Joe.

Having been told of heavy traffic along the interstate, they returned home another way.

Jim Gustafson
From Driving Home
Aldrich Press, 2013
Available on Amazon.com

Joe Pacheco on Gulf Coast Live

For the eleventh day of Christmas, I had the honor of performing “My First Tropical Christmas” on Gulf Coast Live, WGCU, 90.1 FM. Thursday, January 4 at 1:00. PM. If you do not live in the Sanibel area, you can tune into the station on the internet: http://news.wgcu.org/programs/gulf-coast-live-wgcu


Our local NPR station, WGCU, was kind enough to broadcast and create a website for my poem My First Tropical Christmas. Click the link below if you are interested in hearing the broadcast.
http://news.wgcu.org/post/nuyorican-child-s-christmas-vieques-my-first-tropical-christmas

Joe Pacheco

Poem by Joe Pacheco

A Nuyorican Child’s Christmas In Vieques
(My First Tropical Christmas)

No hableh ingléh en Viequeh,”
(Do not speak English in Vieques)
I still remember my mother’s words
a few days before Christmas
and after we had just completed
a five-day steamship voyage to Puerto Rico
and a long drive in a público to Fajardo
where we were waiting for “La lancha
to brave the choppy straits for two hours
and land us on my mother’s home island,
Vieques, an island off
the eastern shore of Puerto Rico,
itself an island in the West Indies.

And I still remember
that when half the island came
to greet my mother
and see the first americano
born in the family
and hear him speak English
and kept demanding
Habla ingléh, habla ingléh,.”
that I held out for as long as I could,
repeating after each request
my mother’s admonition,
“No hableh ingléh en Viequeh.”
but the bribes of bananas, oranges,
sugar cane and pennies were too great
for four year old me to resist
and I succumbed by reciting
the first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner
that my brother had taught me
before I left New York
and even though I was not too sure
of the meaning and pronunciation
of many of the words,
a shower of applause and pennies
rewarded my first adventure
into performance poetry.

A few days later
I wowed the crowd even more
at my uncle Agustin’s house
when I remembered it was Christmas
and added to my repertoire
“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
but when I asked,
“¿cuándo viene Santa Claus?”
I was given the bad news:
Vieques was one town
Santa (San Nicolás) didn’t go to.

Everyone watched my reaction
in a careful silence
until my devastation was relieved
by my uncle’s revelation
that there were Tres Reyes,
Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar
who delivered presents
not on Christmas Day
but on January 6 because
the camels on which they traveled
were much slower than reindeer.
They would be tired and hungry
and if I left some straw for them
in a shoebox, the next morning
I might find presents.
‘Three Santa’s! Three times more presents!’
I remember thinking in English,
‘and they don’t even have a list
of who’s naughty and nice.’

I obeyed and did not speak English in Vieques
except on those performance occasions
and that one time when my Uncle Braulio
tripled the ante to three pennies
to hear me say curse words
but the Spanish I spoke
was an equal source of delight  —
larded with English words and syntax
hybrid utterances such as
me comí five bananas and no me gustan anyway
were preserved in family lore for decades.
I didn’t realize then —
I was one of the pioneer speakers of Spanglish.

There were parties every night,
and three of my uncles were the island’s musicians
and my cousins and I
would accompany them on parrandas
to people’s houses where they played
while everyone sang aguinaldos
and danced and ate and drank
and partied on to the next house
with many of us being carried sleepily
and piled on beds and hammocks
at each stop.

On New Year’s Day, I wept with my cousins
who were heartbroken over the slaughter
of their pet suckling pig, Cucharón,
but that evening we fought over the rights
to his cuerito — roasted crinkled skin,
that tasted better than candy.

Barefoot and happy the entire time,
I spent my second remembered Christmas
with coconut palms instead of pine trees,
sand instead of snow, sleeping in open shacks
without doors, rocking softly in hammocks
canopied with mosquito nets,
with Three Kings and camels and straw
and hand-made gifts in shoeboxes,
and family singing and dancing every evening —
the rhythmic joy and faith of the aguinaldos
shining through their poverty,
illuminating and deepening
the memory and celebration
of all my Christmases to come.

~ Joe Pacheco