Thank you for your interest in my stories. As it turns out, some of them have been considered worthy of special recognition by “professional readers” like contest judges and journal editors. If you’re wondering how to organize a reading list, you might consider starting with those. To help I have listed below my stories that have won contests or other recognitions and where to find them on this website. I annotated the list to give you a feel for the stories. Check out my notes, pick one (or several), and escape.
1st Place Winner, Silver Quill Society Best Short Fiction Contest 2008. Leonard Bessom and His First Flying Machine. — Leonard Bessom was in the fifth grade. On the last day of summer school, his teacher held a paper airplane flying contest. Leonard put his out-of-the-box thinking to work and designed an airplane to fly using fly power. His pals helped him clear the classroom of flies and glue them onto his airplane. The smartest kid in class said would never work. But it did. You might have known someone like Leonard and his pals when you were in the fifth grade. I had so much fun writing this that I subsequently wrote two other Leonard Bessom stories. In all of them a friend of Leonard’s tells these stories, recalling their school days together. They are all found in the Stories About Friends section.
1st Place Winner, WestSide Story Contest. California Writers Club 2009. Laura. — Laura’s husband, Tom, visits her in the hospital. He tells her about his visit to the neighbors, and recounts happier moments of their long life together. But she doesn’t respond. She is unconscious. Laura and Tom are easy to relate to. They may remind you of someone you know. Her story, and Tom’s, is in the Stories About Life and Love section.
Winner, The Flatlander writing contest 2005. Alone — If you’ve ever been dumped by your One-and-Only, you can identify with Peter. Even a gentle rejection is a rejection, and it wraps you in a cloak of loneliness so cold and damp that you feel rained on even on a sunny day. Read this with a friend in the Stories About Life and Love section.
3rd Place Winner, WestSide Story Contest. California Writers Club, 2009. How Big Red Got His Name. — Red is a young rooster in charge of the chicken yard and its hens. Some hens think he’s wonderful and some think he’s still too new. Red, of course, takes himself and his job seriously: clawing the ground to help the hens find food, chasing away avian interlopers trying to steal grain, and announcing the sunrise. His self-image and command status are seriously challenged when he investigates a commotion in the hen house, and comes nose-to-beak with an egg-sucking opossum with a bad attitude. The ensuing clash earns Red his new moniker and uniform admiration by the hens. When you read it, it’s okay to think cartoon. It is in the section Stories Just For Fun.
Best of 2008, The Cynic Online Magazine. The Ark Project. — There is a reason this story appeared in a magazine called The Cynic. The story takes place in contemporary times when God decides that there is too much sin in the world. (Who can argue with that?) He’s going to flood the place and needs someone to build an ark. He selects Edward Zachary Banner, owner of E.Z. Banner Advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona. Because God’s voice is so much like that of a friend of Ed’s, Ed first needs to be convinced that it is actually God speaking. Extra-normal phenomena ensue. Ed is convinced. Then Ed convinces God that flooding is not the best approach (kills the innocent; destroys the landscape; it’s been done before). Ed sells God on the idea of using advertising to convince people to stop sinning. After all, advertising shapes behavior. The story tells how Ed built an advertising behemoth using money that God made to appear in his bank account. Sin went down, good deeds went up. Everything was going according to plan when federal agents saw what looked like a money laundering scheme. Then it was God versus the FBI. There was also a swarthy character with perfect teeth and a curvy woman who does wonders with food. Read the details in The Ark Project, located in the section Stories Just for Fun.
Honorable Mention for fiction, The Green Silk Journal. October, 2008. Our Ficus. — This Ficus tree grew under an over-sized skylight in a home entryway. It’s spreading crown offered filtered bright light to the people and plants below. It welcomed visitors, helped the smaller plants grow, and made the people smile. The tree brought peace and joy to the household. Then it got sick. It had a fungus that endangered the health of the people in the house. The tree, the household’s emotional pillar, had to go. Read of its travails and lasting influence in the section Stories of Life and Love.
Pick of the Month, Fiction on the Web. January 2017. Up a Creek. — The psychological demons of Joanna Mark’s childhood had haunted her, nagged her, and pushed her around for her whole life, and now they were blocking her career path. It was time to fight. With gritted teeth and clenched fists she confronts them. And at the same time she learns how to catch frogs with her bare hands, implant tracking tags, and saves the life of a co-worker. Even with a rough start, she has a very good day. Check out her story in the section on Stories of Life and Love.
Pick of the Month, Fiction on the Web. March 2018. Outside In. — If you’ve ever wondered how to get a blood sample from a crocodile, this is the story for you. This story takes place in Australia where crocodiles are routinely captured and removed from areas where they clash with people whose houses encroach on crocodile habitat. Two scientists are leading a team in a project to determine why larger (but not smaller) crocodiles are dying when captured. They need blood samples. In the meantime, the aspiring photojournalist on the expedition keeps getting in the way, threatening the project’s success. Check out how they captured the crocodiles, bled them, and realigned the photographer’s priorities in the section Stories About Life and Love. [p.s. This research project is true. My office-mate in graduate school worked on it.]
Pick of the Month, Fiction on the Web. November 2019. On the Edge. — College and graduate school are huge investments in the future. But until those degrees and jobs are in hand, they are investments with no return. When Raul finishes his PhD in a few months, he will start the job that is the ideal first step for his future academic career, and his investments will start to pay off. But then his father dies, and his mother suffers a debilitating stroke, and his sister in high school needs him to help stabilize her life. Raul returns home and his life and career teeter on the edge, uncomfortably similar to that of the chicks of the penguins he’s studying. But penguins can’t make music, and it is through his music that Raul is able to regain his balance. Read of his successes, struggles, and penguins in the section Stories About Life and Love.