The Royal Bank of Time

by Deborah Owen


For once, I have a little extra time and I want to use it wisely. I feel like a kid with a penny going into the penny candy store, but I’m spending time instead of money.

There must be a time bank. I’m going to call it the Royal Bank of Time. Every person who lives a full day can withdraw minutes or seconds according to their discretion without even leaving their house. Of course, what they do with it is their business. They can drink it or drug it away, watch soaps or work. How about you? What do you do with your time?

Barring an unforeseen accident or tragedy, your 1,440 minutes are already in the Royal Bank of Time for tomorrow. You DO balance your checking account, but do you track your withdrawals from the Royal Bank of Time? This would be a grand opportunity to jot down how you spend those valuable seconds.

Tomorrow you must withdraw another 1,440 minutes – and that time will also come off your lifeline. You cannot choose to not withdraw it. You cannot choose to save it. You must spend it. All of it. And you cannot spend it early or late, so your choices can be earth-moving.

You MAY, however, budget your 1,440 minutes any way you like. You may visit a loved one, go on vacation, exercise, play games, argue, write, help someone else, sleep, eat, shop for clothes or food, clean your house, car or gun, worship, teach, learn, dispute politics, visit on social media, be with your family, or go hiking where no one can find you.

But then you must decide how much time you will schedule per item. Do you want to spend minutes? Hours? Or days on it? Look at your list again. If you were dying and you knew it, you would undoubtedly change your list – but that’s the crazy part. You ARE dying every minute of every day and you don’t realize it. I think the ones who know they have measured time left are the lucky ones. The hands on their clocks don’t run forward as do yours and mine. The hands on their clocks run backward, counting down to the zero hour and minute, but because you and I don’t know how much time is on deposit in the Royal Bank of Time, we fritter it away. It’s like playing Russian Roulette – only with time – hoping we can get everything worked into that unknown quantity of ticking seconds and hours.

If you really, truly, and honestly realized you are dying every minute of every day, you would make different choices. You would ask yourself if the time you invest in _________ is well spent. You would ask yourself if the time you spend with some people is a worthwhile investment.


At some point, you will reason things out and change your values because we humans are fickle people. What attracts us today will not necessarily call as loudly tomorrow. Therefore, the value of everything we like, wait for, invite, seduce and request will fluctuate.

At which point is time most important? If you are smart enough to chart or journal your thoughts and achievements, whether they be minutes or dollars or experiences, you will learn from your mistakes and do better in the future. If there is a future. See? That’s the thing. You don’t know that. But one thing is sure – the longer your flame of life burns, the more secure you become secure in the artificial atmosphere that more remains. Surely there is more. Much more!

But maybe there isn’t. Sorry. No refunds. No do overs. No returns. All time withdrawals are final. All spent time is extremely final.

So here I am, preparing to withdraw one more day from my meager account in the Royal Bank of Time, and thinking how I will spend it. I have learned that time well-spent will come back to me in triplicate because what comes around goes around. That won’t give me any more time, but I will know I spent my time wisely. Giving back to my Creator is the most rewarding of all.


When you meet someone – a prospective friend or love interest, let’s say – do they complete you? Or do they drain you dry? When you leave, are you pumped up? Or torn down? Do they make you feel worthwhile – or browbeat you until you can’t wait to escape? Are they worthy of the time they devour with cunning? Will the love you freely give them come back multiplied, satisfied, and worth your efforts?

I leave you with this thought. My mother is no longer among the living, but when she was, I knew what she would say before I went in her apartment. As soon as she opened the door, she would say something like, “That skirt makes your butt look too big and you should pull some bangs down on your forehead like this (tearing up hairdo). Your forehead’s too high. You look like a skinned onion.”

I thought I got used to her jabs and insults, but – not really. Every word was like a searing coal in an open eye. We took her out to eat every Friday and spent the entire day with her, getting her hair done, shopping for groceries, etc. On one such day, we sat in a restaurant. My sweet husband made a comment about my being a writer and Mom let out a belly-laugh that could be heard three tables away, and said: “Who? Her? She’s no writer!” The sarcasm was scathing, and I felt an inch tall.

Never mind that I had fantastic credentials, founded a writing school and taught writing for a living. To her, it was all a game. My husband almost went through the ceiling.

After that, I re-evaluated my friends and family, how I spent my time and how they affected my mental health, and I made the hardest decision of my life. I limited my time with Mother. I limited our phone calls. I limited our time alone. She was not at all neglected since my husband was in on the plan and filled in the gaps, but I felt relief for the first time in my life. No – I didn’t tell her. I didn’t fuss at her or stress her. I just lived my life a little differently. I wondered if I would regret it when she was gone. She died four years later at age 97.  And no, I didn’t regret a minute of it. She was lovingly cared for… and so was I. I only regret that I had to do it.

Mom once said, “Do you know why we hurt the ones we love the most? Because they are the only ones who will forgive us.”


No one can slice you and dice you and utterly destroy you like a loved one, and you may have to cut that person out of your life (or at least limit them) for your own good. Evaluate the situation clearly. Discuss it with those you can trust and do what you must – because your account at the Royal Bank of Time is less now than it was before you started reading this article.

Spend your time wisely. When you spend it on others – be sure they are worthy of it – and save some of that most precious commodity of time for what you love most – writing.

Do loved ones make your time hell on earth? Comment below. Thanks for stopping by.


Making Time for Self in 2019

by Deborah Owen




Life goes by fast. Very fast. And every year goes faster. If the next one swooshes by as fast as the last, I may not have time to finish this so I’ll type faster.

Looking Back

In 1948, there were no strip malls or shopping malls. If you wanted something you couldn’t get at a drugstore or gas station, you found a little Mom & Pop place like Harry’s Market or you went downtown.

I didn’t like Harry’s Market. Old men sat in a circle of rocking chairs around a wood stove, seemingly unaware of the tobacco spittle that drooled through missing teeth into white beards while they spun yarns longer than their arms. Occasionally, one would spit at the old spittoon that sat on the floor, which was obviously missed more than hit. I gave both it and them a wide birth. Harry’s Market was both scary and amazing.

I held Daddy’s hand a little tighter in there, scared one of the old codgers would speak to me. I stared at them and they stared back at a little bit of nothing propped on skinny legs wearing a short skirt. My eyes said FEAR and theirs said WONDER, but nary a word passed between our generations in all the years I visited Harry’s Market.

When I think back on the things those men could have told me about living in the 1800’s and fighting in World War I, I could kick myself. There it was, in the palm of my hand and available for the asking and I wasn’t smart enough to recognize the treasure in front of me.

I wish I had grabbed a notebook and tape recorder and jumped on the dirtiest old man’s lap and flooded him with questions until he begged me to stop… but this blog isn’t about missed opportunities or Harry’s Market. It’s just that Harry’s Market has been stuck in the front of my brain for ages and I had to write it out so it would leave me alone. This blog is about taking control of your life. Slowing down. Doing what you really want to do.

You DO want to slow the rat race down, don’t you? You DO want to do more writing, don’t you? Then listen up and follow the leader.

I’m 77 years old. I have seen the turn of a half century, the turn of a century, invention of TVs, dishwashers, and cell phones. Seems like only a few years ago when Dad came home from work and said, “They have invented a new thing that shows moving, real people in a box and you can see whole movies in your living room.”

“That’s impossible,” Mom said.

“No. It’s the truth. I saw it with my own eyes. You plug it into a socket and somehow it brings pictures through the air.”

We thought Dad slipped a cog or two that day, but three years later he brought one of those thingamajigs home and we saw a television for the first time. There they were, people talking and singing and dancing in our very own living room. Old folks that already had one foot in Alzheimer’s slid the rest of the way quickly. One old fella said, “How do they get all those people in that little wooden box?”

In those days, all TVs were console models, meaning they were built into a cabinet and the screen was only about twelve inches across, but children whose parents owned a TV could lift their social status a full notch by letting it be known.

So, we glued our faces to the black and white screen that mesmerized us. I memorized all the TV commercials and said them aloud with the announcer without even trying. Parents had no idea how their children’s minds drank everything they saw and heard like a sponge collecting water. By the time three or four years had rolled by, everyone’s family was addicted to the boob tube.  Conversations had to wait for a commercial. Family outings began to wane.

Two years later (about 1951), Dad came in grinning like a Chessy Cat, holding something mysterious behind his back.

“Wait ‘til you see this,” he said, as proud as a peacock and he pulled a square of colored cellophane out in front of him. The top was blue, blending into a flesh color in the middle, and merging into green on the bottom. With one voice, the three of us said, “What’s that?”

“Colored TV!” he declared to the stupefied crowd. Dad dusted the TV screen with his handkerchief, and I could hear the crackle of static electricity. He pressed the cellophane against the screen and lo and behold, it stayed there, held in place by static electricity. Man, oh man! We had colored TV! Never mind that John Wayne’s hat was sky blue, black people had orange skin, and the dessert was green… WE HAD COLORED TV!

Gone were the days when the four of us huddled around the radio eagerly listening to an announcer clopping half coconut shells across his desk to represent a galloping horse. Gone was the shaking and crumpling of aluminum foil to resemble lightning. Gone were the pictures each of us painted in our own mind as the narrator read the story. Our imagination was painted for us on the TV and we collectively watched it acted out – in color! For the first time, all of us imagining the same scene in the same way and the same color. Individuality and creativity died in our house that day.

Fast forward through our children’s weddings, births of grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I turned around twice and woke up mired down to my neck in technology and a crazy world that is spinning so fast it will surely fly off its axis any time and here I am, a slow-moving, heavily loaded freight train on a super nova highway, horns blaring all around me as I try to keep up with smart phones, texting, social media, and computers.

My husband and I have been full-time RV’rs for nineteen years and I don’t even have time for a wienie roast any more! No time to cook out. No time to sit around the fire.  Heck… no time to even make a fire! My husband has retired three times. Officially, I “don’t work.” I’m a housewife – who hasn’t had one full day off work in nearly thirteen years. Now, this is just plain stupid, so I said to myself, “Self, things are going to change, and it’s up to you to do it.”

If this crazy, crashing, whining, spinning, reeling, clammering, mad world of terrorism and technology is going to engulf me and enslave me, I must build in compensations to keep my sanity and feel that my living is not in vain. I am responsible for doing this for myself. No one can do it for me! So I am doing the following:

  1. Shutting down The Writer’s Choice Newsletter and with aching heart dismissing my precious volunteer staff.
  2. I own three websites for Creative Writing Institute (.com, .org, and and I am closing some of those down.
  3. I have laid off CWI tutors and am changing the courses so they are now available for only $79. For $130 extra, a student can have a tutor.
  4. I will train a few somewhat experienced writers who want to write full-time for a living. Present cost is a flat fee of $200, but I imagine that will go up quickly. I only have room for two more students at that price if you’re interested.
  5. My husband and I are going to settle down, slow down, and travel a couple of years.



Look in the mirror and have a talk with yourself. If you’re going crazy in the swirling madness of today’s foolishness, sit down with pencil and paper and make a list of priorities. You can’t do everything you want to do, right? Life is too short. Time too pressing. But you can work two things into your life if you try hard, so decide what those two things will be. Next, see where you can trim time by combining chores or meeting both sides of the family on the same day.

Consider what you can change and what you can’t. Social media is fun, but do you have time for it? Decide how much time you should give it and literally time yourself when you get online. Opt out of groups that people invite you into without even asking. Choose your favorite social media and give up the rest. Keep the one that is most beneficial to your business and/or mental health.

When researching, don’t chase rabbits. When you find something irresistible, make a note to pursue that website another day and move one.

Most homes have no strict guidelines. Back in the day when I practiced piano, I forbid my children to interrupt me during that hour of practice unless someone was bleeding or dying – and they didn’t! Draw some hard lines in your household and make them stick if you want this madness to end.

No one can take control of your life but you. Here is my new priority list as of Feb. 1:

  1. God, worship and devotions

2. Family

3. Limited work

4. Writing

The end.

The rest of my time is my own… at long last.

There ARE ways to deal with your issues if you will just try. I know it’s tough, but you can do it – and ONLY you can it for yourself and your family.

Share your approach on time management with the rest of us in the comment section.

The Little Dead Stinkbug

The Moral  of the Stinkbug

by Deborah Owen


bmsb dorsal drl

Tonight I saw something on the floor. Thinking it was a piece of a leaf, I picked it up and found myself holding a dead stinkbug with his feet pointed toward the ceiling. I’m not a stinkbug fan, but neither am I scared of them. Especially dead ones. I studied him as I walked to the trash can and unceremoniously plopped him in and suddenly wondered if any of his stinkmates would miss him.

Did he have a family? His body is about to disappear from the earth and there I was wondering if his mate would miss him. And then I thought, Really, Deb? Does a stinkbug even have a brain? I supposed so. And then I wondered… if that were me… deposited in a considerably larger trash can – make that a dumpster – how much would I be missed? More importantly, what would I leave behind to speak in my absence?

Will anyone see lasting value in the items I have kept, the stories I have written, the classes I have taught? Will anyone keep the lessons I wrote? Will anyone remember me? I’m not talking about my family, mind you. They’d better miss me, or I’ll haunt them for eternity. I’m talking about neighbors, church friends, online friends with whom I have shared my life and values. Students I took an interest in, business people I have known, the tutors I have worked with. Will I leave anything of value for these folks?

In writing creative nonfiction, I have shared family secrets and cried when I wrote them, but will the tears shine through? Will the stories dearest to my heart even survive?

Other than your immediate family, who will miss you? Will anyone find value in your work? Will anyone think, “This is really good. I wonder if it ever got published.” Will they be cleaning your house out someday and one person hollers to another, “I found another story!” Will they read those stories? Will they publish them? Or will they say, “Here’s another story, but it stops at Chapter 5. Why didn’t she finish them? All of them are incomplete.”

“Throw it away?” the other person says.

“Yeah, I guess so. I told her they were good, but she wouldn’t believe me.”

You can always find an excuse for not writing. Here’s a novel idea: why don’t you just sit down and write! So what if you never get it edited? So what if you never sell it? You will have fulfilled the part of you that yearns to shout, “Hold on, world. Just hold your britches for one cotton-pickin’ minute. I’m leaving something behind that you might find interesting.”

Well, the stinkbug corpus delicti rests in my trashcan, although I’m beginning to think he deserves a proper burial in a fruit jar. He could lay there and stare at the dandelions drooping at half mast, stirred by the dim knowledge that he did his best to boost lazy, dying-on-the-vine writers.  Maybe… just maybe… that’s why he came.

Every time you think about giving up, remember the little stinkbug. Put a hand over your heart for three seconds and begin again!




Feeling Lost? Don’t Know Where to Begin in 2019?




Well, here we are… December 29, 2018. Almost to the end of a very long year that whizzed by like a cold arctic wind. My daughter’s birthday was Dec. 27 and my anniversary is Dec. 30, so after the 30th, my plan for 2019 will kick in. How about you? Do you have a plan? He/she who aims at nothing hits same.

How do you gear up for a new year of uncertainties, unexpected upheavals, and possible tragedies? Innocently. That’s how. Hoping for something better. That’s how. Keeping your fingers crossed. At least that is how most people approach a new year, but you can do much better. When you realize you DO have the ability to shape most of your future, you are strolling down the right road.


Right now you should be examining yourself and your accomplishments in 2018. You should be reviewing your mistakes and making plans to overcome those pitfalls if they should come again. You should be planning ahead, using wisdom, facing reality, recognizing pipe dreams when you see them, and facing the future with inspiration, enthusiasm, persistence, and above all… domination over self!


I have decided to semi-retire from Creative Writing Institute. The writing courses that were $295 are now available at $79. Those who want a private tutor may have it for an additional $120; however, this lady is going to turn to full-time writing and personal tutoring before her decaying body collapses in a pile of dust.

Believe it or not, I miss the writing rejections. I miss the efforts to do my best. I miss listening to the late night muse and its rolling cadence just as I’m going to sleep. I even miss sleepily tape recording notes so I’ll remember them tomorrow. I miss going over and over my work until I’m sick of it, looking for verbiage, counting the prepositional phrases in a sentence, changing passive voice to active, and telling instead of showing. It’s time to get back to the battle.


Twelve years ago, I was of the mistaken notion most new writers were begging for help but couldn’t find or afford it. Surprise! That isn’t true. Surprisingly — most writers won’t invest a nickel in their dream. (Note: I asked for money for my birthday and Christmas to buy my first writing course. Where there is a will, there is a way.)

And now, after twelve years of full-time dedication to new writers, I learned why most writers don’t make it. It isn’t because of their lack of study. It isn’t because of erratic new beginnings. The successful students invested both time and money in their dream. They are the ones who did their homework, turned their assignments in, did the rewriting tutors requested, did not argue with their instructors, put writing at the top of their priority list, and most of all – did not give up. Yes. Those are the ones. The ones who studied daily.  The ones that reviewed. The ones that bathed in every instruction like a sponge that couldn’t get full. Those are the REAL writers.

Here are a few interesting statistics:


Out of 100% of the population, 80% will have a desire to write at some point in their lives. Out of that 80%, about 40% will actually write one story or article and submit it. Of those, 20% will submit a second time. Half of that 20% will submit until they sell one item, and of the remaining ten, only eight will keep submitting, keep writing, keep drinking at the well of success. You will notice the ones who DO find success are those who did NOT give up.

But still, you have to know where to go to get started, how to set up a profile, choose the right picture, gather recommendations, write a bio, and a dozen other things. This is where I can help you.


The truth of the matter is – talent has very little to do with it. Any average writer can be a successful seller. They can even write full time if they wish, but I grant you – there ARE a lot of secrets to learn. I don’t know all the secrets, but I have learned my share in the past 12 years.

Do you want to write for a living? Work from home in your pajamas? Go to work at 10 a.m. and quit at 3 p.m.? Work four days a week? Then pay attention:

If you have the persistence, I have the knowledge. If you are ready to devote one to two years to become a full-time writer, I can help you do it. There are, however, a few prerequisites: you must do exactly as I say, and you cannot give up.

  • You must have at least mediocre writing abilities
  • You need at least some formal training
  • You must be compliant and dedicated to your own success

Can I guarantee your success? If I lead you to the rippling, exuberant waters of the Fountain of Youth, can I make you drink?

The introductory price of personal tutoring is a flat fee of $200 and I will work with you personally.

If you are tired of failing in writing…

If you are tired of beginning over and over again…

If you mean business in 2019…

write to me at

I’m looking forward to writing full-time and helping  Y O U make your dream a reality.

  • I reserve the right to select the students in which I have the most confidence.


Once Upon a Christmas – True Story – Read to your Child/Grandchild

by Caroline Grace

Just for fun… if you have a little person in your care, they might like to hear this true story of how I found my little teddy bear at age six.

The Very Worst, Very Best Christmas Ever

Once upon a long, long time ago, an almost-new little brown teddy bear started out on a great adventure with his little boy. It was a cold, rainy December day when the very worst thing and the very best thing happened to that almost-new little brown bear.

The day of the great adventure dawned dark and gloomy, but that didn’t matter to Little Boy. At first light his eyes bounced open wide. He squeezed the little brown bear and said, “Wake up, Bear! Today is the day I am going to visit Santa Claus.”

Before he could go on his great adventure Mama said Little Boy had to make his bed. And so he did. He crawled up on the bed to smooth the wrinkles away, but when he slid down to the floor, there were more wrinkles than before. But Little Boy didn’t mind.. He was going to see Santa.

After his bed was made, Mama said he had to eat his breakfast. And so he did. He chewed his bacon and toast as fast as he could until Mama made him slow down. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

After he ate his breakfast, Mama told him to brush his teeth. And so he did. He left little drops of green toothpaste on the sink so he wiped them away with his washcloth before Mama saw them. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

After he brushed his teeth, Mama told him to put on his coat and hat and scarf. And so he did. His scarf got tangled in the zipper of his jacket and he asked Mama to help. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

Then Little Boy asked a question. “Mama, can I bring Bear?”

And Mama said yes. Little Boy and Bear didn’t know this was the beginning of the very worst thing.

In the car Little Boy hugged Bear tight. He had practiced being good all year and now he practiced what he would tell Santa when he sat on his lap. Little Boy whispered into Bear’s fuzzy, floppy brown ear all the things he wanted to say. Cold hard raindrops made a snapping sound as they hit the window, but Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

Mama steered her blue car into the shopping center where Santa’s house sat in the corner where the sidewalks met. Little Boy looked around. Santa was having a very busy day, and Mama had to park far away. Mama and Little Boy and Bear stood together at the back of a very long line and they waited. And they waited. And they waited.

The rain kept raining and the wind kept blowing until all of them were rain-soaked and cold and tired. Little Boy started to cry, so Mama found a dry place for them to rest under a tent-like canopy outside a toy store. Mama set her bags and her purse down on the dry sidewalk under the canopy and Little Boy set Bear down in the store window sill. They all rested and waited until the rain stopped, then Mama picked up her bags and purse with one hand and took Little Boy’s hand with the other. And then the very worst thing happened; Little Boy was so excited to see Santa that he forgot to pick Bear up from the windowsill. Bear could only watch as Little Boy faded into the busy crowd.

Bear tried with all his might to throw himself off the window sill, but he couldn’t move even one inch. Bear tried to call out, but he couldn’t make even one sound. Mama and Little Boy were fading farther and farther away and Bear could only cry. Little tears fell from his plastic eyes, but he was already so wet no one could tell.

Bear waited and waited but Mama and Little Boy didn’t come. Bear was wet and cold when he had a sad thought: no one would ever call the almost-new little brown bear almost-new again. Because he wasn’t. Even if he dried out and warmed up, he feared he would never be the same. He was wet clean through to his stuffing.

The windowsill where Bear sat was close to the ground, and people on the sidewalk passed right by him without even a glance. He had never felt so alone. He hoped Little Boy and Mama would come back for him, but in his little bear heart he knew better. The rain had started up again and the wind blew cold against the windowsill where Bear sat.

Quite suddenly Bear found himself eye to eye with a little blonde, brown-eyed girl. She was tugging on the arm of the lady next to her. “Mamaw, look! A little teddy bear, and he’s all wet. Please, can I take him home and dry him off? He must be lost. If we don’t take him, what will happen to him?”

Mamaw hesitated and the little girl spoke quickly, “Please Mamaw…look how sad he is.”

“Well, honey, we don’t know where he’s been or what kind of germs he’s carrying.”

“But Mamaw, you can clean him up, can’t you?” The little girl clearly had absolute faith in her Mamaw. Bear missed his little boy but he was starting to like this little girl.

“I suppose I can.” Mamaw hesitated and the little girl grabbed Bear.

“So we can take him home with us?” the little girl asked.

If Mommy had been here she would have said, “We’ll leave him here in case his owner comes back for him.”

If Daddy had been here, he would have said, “We’re not taking that wet thing home!”

If Baby Brother had been here, he would have screamed and cried and no one would have listened to the little girl at all..

But Mommy and Daddy and Baby Brother weren’t here. Mamaw was here. And Mamaw said, “Yes, honey, we can take him home,” then turning to the bear she said, “Okay, let’s get you home and cleaned up, little fella.” Mamaw put her purchases together in one shopping bag, then swept Bear up and deposited him in the empty bag.

Bear heard the car door slam and felt the car moving, but it was dark in the bag where Mamaw had put him. Little Girl was asking if she could get him out and hold him, but Mamaw said, “Not yet.”

Then Little Girl said, “His name is Fuzzy, Mamaw. That’s because he was almost new and I can tell he was Fuzzy before he got wet,”

“That’s a good name, Honey.”

His little bear heart surged warm and he would have smiled if he could have. Fuzzy! His name was Fuzzy. He had never had a proper name before. Little Boy had just called him Bear.

When they reached Mamaw’s house, she wasted no time cleaning him up. Oh, the things she did to that little brown bear! Mamaw used sprays and powders and washcloths and towels and hair dryers until she finally pronounced him clean.

And it was then that the very best thing happened to Fuzzy. Little Girl picked him up and she never let him go. She slept with him and she dragged him from Mamaw’s house to her own house. She set him up on the bed every day so he could see when she came home from school. He met her other dollies and stuffed animals, and soon became fast friends with them. He had never been so loved in all his life.

He was so loved, in fact, that over time he lost his little red mouth. Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she made him a new one. And then he lost an eye. Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she made him a new one out of an old button. When his stuffing started coming out under one arm and then under the other, Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she re-stuffed him and patched his torn places with cloth the color of his fur.

Years passed as years always do, but Fuzzy and Little Girl remained the best of friends. Fuzzy began to lose his fur. And Little Girl grew up. But she still tucked the little bear into bed with her every night. Sometimes when she was sad she would hug the little bear tight and he would get wet with her tears, but he always knew just how to make her feel better.

In time, Little Grown-up Girl got married and had children of her own, but she never forgot the little brown bear. As a matter of fact, every Christmas, Little Grown-up Girl reads the story of the Very Worst, Very Best Christmas Ever to her own children.

And, to this very day, every morning when Little Grown-up Girl opens her bedroom closet, she looks up on the closet shelf and blows a kiss to Fuzzy, the old, raggedy, almost-new little brown bear and Fuzzy winks right back at her with his best button eye.


CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: $79 for any writing course. Lessons only. Must write to me to get this unadvertised special:

Christmas Tree Shopping in Yesteryear

by Deborah Owen

A - Cartoon of Big Christmas Tree

Art work by Luana Spinetti

Christmas Tree Shopping in Yesteryear

While writing to a student today, I suddenly remembered how things were when I was a child. I’m talking about the stone age, people! Wow. How times have changed.

In those days, families owned one car. People stayed home at night and actually spoke to one another. No cell phones. We were lucky to have an eight-party line. That meant everyone could listen in on each other’s intimate conversations. That also meant we had to count the rings before answering. Ours was two long rings and and a short one.  Our phone number was State 9694. We didn’t have an address. We were just “Route #4,” and we lived a really long way from school down a gravel road. In later years I measured it. It was three miles. Perspective was a bit different in those days.

We used the same angel at the top of our tree every year. The poor thing got so bedraggled that Mom had a seamstress make a new dress for her. I hated that new dress. It was like putting a frilly party dress on a dirty princess.

Daddy and I (yes, I said Daddy – a precious endearing term) always picked out the Christmas tree while Mom cleaned the living room and made a place for it.

I’ll never forget what those tree shopping trips were like. I was tiny for my age. Even adult’s kneecaps towered over me (or so it seemed), and when Daddy and I walked down rows and rows of cut Christmas trees and I looked at the tops, the lights of the parking lot shone in my eyes, giving the Christmas trees the magical touch of a brilliant fairy. Daddy inevitably chose a sensible, short, fat tree. Of course, I chose the tallest, fattest tree I could find, well nourished, begging for a home with happy children. I could feel my smile envelop my whole body when I found the perfect tree.

“Daddy, look at this one!”

“Debbie, I would have to cut the trunk off. It’s way too tall. I don’t even think we could get it through the door.”

“Oh, please, Daddy. It’s just beautiful.”

“But it has a bare place over here.”

“We could put that side in the corner,” I said. “No one would see it.”

“What about this one over here?” he would say, but I was wise to his game of trying to change my mind and I was a persistent little devil. Excited beyond control, I jumped up and down in my little green coat and leggings.

(In those days, they made leggings (pants) from the same material as the coat to keep girls’ legs warm because little girls seldom wore anything but skirts and dresses. Oh, how I hated those leggings. I always took them off on the school bus and put them on just before I got off at my stop. Confession: I admit to being deceitful –  and I may have stretched the truth a little… like… every time I got the chance. Like the time I lit a cigarette and Mom came back in the house too soon… and the time I poured my milk down the sink… but those stories are for another time. Let’s just agree that I wasn’t a model little angel.)

I was so thrilled on the way home with that big tree strapped on the top of our 1949 baby blue Chevy (which my brother later wrapped around a telephone pole). It was longer than the car. When we pulled in our driveway, I ran in the house and told Mom all about it with emphatic gestures and non-stop description. Daddy dutifully followed, unstrapping the tree and patiently pulling, tugging, and pushing until that humongous green thing occupied most of our tiny living room. There it stood, its poor little head all scrunched down, praying for a ceiling eight inches taller.

“See. I told you it was too tall,” Daddy said.

I expected a temper tantrum, which was not rare in our house, but it didn’t come. He patiently tried to tug the tree outside again, take it to the garage, cut the bottom off, and then try to get it through the door one more time.

We strung popcorn, made paper chains out of construction paper, added balls, electric lights, and of course, tinsel. I was always assigned the lowest limbs and I did my duty very well. They were loaded heavy with tinsel, bubble lights, balls, strung popcorn, and all the rest. A work of art to behold that surely glittered in my little eyes until the tree came down. What fun memories.

I dreamed of Daddy a few nights ago and it was so good to see him again. And I came across the old Christmas angel Mom had covered with a new dress. I ripped that new dress off her and to my delight, found the angel still wore her original dress beneath.

Those memories are about 70 years old and they still bring joy to my heart. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for the lovely Christmases we always had. Thank you for telling us what Christmas was really all about. I still put the old manger scene under our tree, although the sheep has a broken leg now, the straw has come off the top of the barn, and one cow is missing. Everything else is there… everything but my brother, Mom and Dad. Everything but Gene Autry singing. Everything but hot, buttered popcorn and homemade peanut butter fudge. Everything but laughing and having so much fun.

Why was I in such a hurry to grow up?

I guess I never told Mom and Dad how special those Christmases were. I hope they know now.


CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: $79 for any writing course. Lessons only.  Must write to me to get this unadvertised special:






Re: Discrimination Article

by Deborah Owen

Dory B-day, 12-28-12 (57)

Apparently, a few people saw what they wanted to see in my article on discrimination a month or two ago. If you read the article and take nothing out of context, you will clearly see I was saying every person should have STANDARDS based on their own inclinations. It isn’t up to me to tell you what your standards should be (or vice versa). The point of the article was every person should have SOME kind of standards and live up to them because that is what responsible people do. You need to make your own list, which I referred to as discriminations to attract the public. If you will be so kind as to scroll down and reread the article, you will see I clearly referred to “discriminations” as STANDARDS.

If you knew me personally, you would know I invite strangers to join us for Thanksgiving (and so does my family); you would know all of us have worked with the homeless and I have worked with addicts as well; I also work with the grieving and those who have low self-esteem. If you knew me, you would know I love everyone, regardless of race, nationality, creed, sexual preference, or body odor.  🙂  Anything or anyone who claims otherwise is doing so falsely. If you and I disagree, that’s all right. It doesn’t make us enemies. It just means we differ. 

There are a lot of hurting people out there, and this is the time of year when hardships seem worse than usual. Take time to be kind to everyone. It won’t cost you a thing, but you will reap the reward for it.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my house to yours.



How to Use the Readability Statistics

by Brent Middleton



Ever hear of Readability Statistics? No? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This little key feature in Word is probably one of the most underutilized facets of the program. Unless you used it to track the number of characters for an assignment in school, you probably never noticed it. We are talking about the little pop-up at the end of the Spell Checker.

Readability Statistics have three main categories: Counts, Averages, and Readability. The first two options are self-explanatory. Counts lists the number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences in your document, and Averages displays the average sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word.

Readability makes things a little more interesting. It lists three calculations: Passive Sentences, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. While Passive Sentences simply shows the percentage of passive sentences found in your document (which should never be more than 3% for fiction), there’s more to the story regarding the Flesch/Flesch-Kincaid readability tests.

With the Flesch Reading Ease test, the higher the test score the easier the doc. is to read. The count is determined by comparing the number of syllables to the number of total words. The scale is widely used by both publications and governmental agencies. Time magazine, for example, scores roughly a 52 on the scale, while the Harvard Law Review scores in the low 30s. Meanwhile, a great number of government agencies have certain readability standards that official documents must attain.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test is used widely in education. The formula translates to the U.S. grade level via a 0-100 score, making it easy for teachers and librarians to determine the readability level of books and texts for students. The formula comes up with a number that translates to a grade level (i.e. a book scoring an 8.2 would correspond to the level of an 8th-grade student in the U.S.). The lower the score, the lower the grade level.

Although you might not use these tools in your everyday writings, they can be valuable when writing for a certain audience, whether it’s for a magazine, newspaper, or novel. For short story writers, I would suggest aiming for a range of 30-50 Flesch Reading Ease and 6-9 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. Click here to learn how to enable the Readability Statistics setting on Word or Office.

Fun fact: The readability scores for this article are 51.6 for Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and 10.0 for Flesch- Kincaid Grade Level. Avail yourself of this free gift!

To read more on this topic, visit this site:

Brought to you by, the only writing school that gives every student a private tutor.

Flash Fiction Contest

Writing with Integrity

by Deborah Owen, CEO of Creative Writing Institute

Psalm 26:11 – But as for me, I will walk in my integrity…

I read that verse today and it touched my heart. I had to do some soul-searching.

There are all kinds of writers. I don’t mean good and bad ones. I mean honest and dishonest. Are you willing to take whatever comes your way?

Editing, for instance. If the book is full of filthy words, words that you wouldn’t dream of saying – will you edit it? Personally, I have enough trouble with my thoughts without feeding the beast – and the same goes for what I read, watch on TV, or write.

Did you know a lot of unethical work is floating around? The question is, are you willing to do it? If you’re just getting grounded in writing, I encourage you to define your ethics now and live by them.

In my last blog, I talked about a company who wanted me to advertise their illicit business of selling term papers to college students in a jam. It would have been so easy to look the other way, run the bloomin’ ad and sit back and collect the money – and for about one second, I was tempted, but I realized I would be a willing part of their dishonest endeavor.

Think about those who write that material – and the company selling it – and the dishonest students who buy it. Lies, lies, and more lies. Deceit that spins hundreds of thousands of greenbacks like Hurricane Florence. Beau-ti-ful green stuff to roll in. Or just pretend it’s salad and lace it with vinaigrette! But no. I couldn’t escape that little word – integrity. There are many kinds of writing deceit.

My inexperienced friend accepted a job that called for dozens of articles to be written as reviews, signed with various names and titled with various locations. She fell into the trap because the company was not upfront [but later, declined more assignments]. Question: have you ever read fantastic reviews, ordered the product, and it didn’t arrive or was pure junk? But what about those astounding reviews? Now you know where they originated.  (So, how can you know when reviews are genuine? They are probably genuine when mixed with others not so favorable.)

So here is the question: would you write false reviews? Would you write theses for cheating students? Would you accept dishonest work? Would you edit objectionable language you wouldn’t dream of speaking? Would you write porn, romance, or erotica that pulls ravenous minds and abusers of mankind into dark, secret places?

Where and how do you draw the line? Rate and comment below. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on the subject.

  • Free WRITING CONTEST starts tomorrow and ends October 31. Enter now!

Discrimination? Good or Bad?

by Deborah Owen

Do I discriminate? I sure do… and you should, too!

I’m sick of people’s attitude toward the word discrimination. It is not a vile word. It’s a good word, and if you don’t discriminate in most areas of your life, you haven’t taken much of a stand.

For example, I discriminate on business partners. Not long ago someone agreed to pay whatever my going rate of advertising was. I asked what content they wanted to advertise. They write theses for college students! In other words, they are not only selling a method of cheating, they are encouraging it. I told them I wasn’t interested.

I also discriminate in hiring tutors. If my tutors are not willing to give personal one-on-one tutoring to each of their students, they won’t find a home with my staff. If they aren’t willing to get personal and go the extra mile, they won’t work for me.

I also discriminate about where I live. My surroundings say a lot about who I am. No, I’m not content to live next door to someone who doesn’t cut their grass, pick up their trash, and keep their house in decent order.

I most certainly discriminate on those I select to be my friends, and I do so without apology. If you want to be my friend on Facebook, don’t smear four-letter words on my site. Don’t tout political arguments that do nothing but infuriate. Don’t post smutty pictures. Write decent content, offer love and a kind heart, be friendly, and I’ll welcome you with open arms.

I discriminate about the places I attend. We are known by the company we keep. Years ago, I learned one of my employees was a scam artist. After carefully investigating the facts for myself and personally discovering six people he had scammed out of life savings, I fired him and made a public announcement that blackballed me forever on the site where I made the announcement. That’s okay. No one has to wonder where I stand regarding his dishonest activities while under my employment.

Yes, I discriminate – about where I shop for groceries, what kind of vehicle I drive, where I go, who I associate with, how I dress and speak, and what I teach and advertise at Creative Writing Institute. I even discriminated when I chose my husband and set rules for our household. I discriminate every day of my life, and I’m proud of it.

Discrimination will cost you something, my friend. To put it another way… being WISE and concerned about your image will cost you something, but the reward of a clear conscience and good business ethics will go a long way to salve those wounds. Back in the day, we used to call them STANDARDS.

I also discriminate about what I write, the language I use, the point I make, and even who buys it. Everything I do says something about me.  I think that’s important.

Do you discriminate? Tell me how in the comment section and rate this article below.

(Sept. 28, 2018 update: I think I must have been grouchy when I wrote this. lol Sorry, but I’ll let it stand. It does make a point. Deb)

*Deborah Owen, CEO and Founder of Creative Writing Institute, the only school that gives every student a private tutor.

Reactivating this Blog

Like most people whose blog goes dormant, it happened one day at a time. Looking back, I see I haven’t run anything but contest ads since my son almost burned to death in a race car, my cousin who was once like a sister was found dead, and Mom died – all within six weeks of each other. To be honest, life has been little more than a blur since then. I wondered if my son would live. (He did, and is doing fine.) I wondered if my cousin laid there for days, crying and praying someone would come. (They didn’t.) I wondered how I would live without my dear mother. (I made it.) But I couldn’t cope under the triple tragedy. Two years of illness and doing what I absolutely must have brought me to this point.

It’s been 2 and 1/2 years. How can that be? It’s time to wake up and force myself into the living mode. Thanks for being with me as I start a new journey.

I just came across a letter I sent to a writing student who has had it tough for a long time and I want to share it because it tells who I am and what I am willing to do for you under the right set of circumstances. Here it is:

          I gave up my career to help new writers, thinking they would succeed if only they had the right kind of help. I was so wrong, but I had to learn that for myself. Most of them are darling people, but they are failures when it comes to writing because of one reason. They are quitters. You don’t have to be a good writer to make writing a full-time job. That isn’t the secret. The secret is that even a mediocre writer can succeed if they don’t give up. If they will just keep learning and be willing to do entry-level jobs, they will make it.
           Time is a precious commodity. When it’s gone, you can’t bring it back, so now I give most of my time to the few writers who are really trying or really having a tough time. It has become a ministry. So, when I come across someone like you, it’s like a breath of spring air and I don’t feel like I’m wasting my efforts. I will give you anything you need: prayer, love, encouragement, emails, texts, phone calls, Skype, information, my personal files, etc. I am very happy to be of assistance because YOU are my reward. As time passes, remember this and pass it forward.
          That’s the end of the letter, and I’ll have to keep indenting since the formatting won’t allow me to double space now.
          So, to bring you up-to-date, lots of things are popping right now. Creative Writing Institute has a free Flash Fiction contest coming up September 15 – October 31, and we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary by opening a brand new site at Very exciting!
          Thanks for taking your precious time to read my thoughts. If you enjoyed it at all, please like it. A comment would bring a delirious smile.  🙂
          Have a great evening, day, or whatever it is on your corner of the planet. See you next time.
Deborah Owen


A Short Story Contest!

Thanks very much! Deb

Writing Wicket

Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest offers a fabulous opportunity for publication, in addition to cash prizes.

Prizes: $200, $100, $50. First place winner may choose a free, tutored writing course in lieu of $200 prize.

Top five winners and ten Judge’s Pick stories will be published in 2017 anthology along with best-selling guest writers and stories written by CWI staff. (Available December.)

Word limit: 2,000 words.

Themed, unpublished story must include this sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.” 

No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.

Contest closes midnight, EST, August 31, 2017. Only five dollars to enter.

Join the fun!

See full set of guidelines and book cover at Direct questions to head judge, Jianna Higgins, at

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Creative Writing Institute Short Story Contest 2017



This is the greatest opportunity for publication you will ever have.

Welcome to Creative Writing Institute’s annual short story contest. This is going to be our biggest and best contest yet. In a small fee-based contest like this, the competition is much less and your chances of winning are much greater. Our fee is the price of a Starbucks’s cup of coffee and it helps subsidize our nonprofit charity contest, so invest in us and at the same time invest in yourself.

Publication: we will publish the first, second and third place winners, two honorable mentions, and ten additional Judge’s Pick stories in our fifth annual anthology, along with best-selling guest authors and stories written by Creative Writing Institute’s staff. Enjoy the competition. Join the fun!

Judge’s Pick: you may be asking what a “Judge’s Pick” story is. That is a story that impressed a judge so much that he/she nominated it for publication, even though it was not a winning entry. A very high commendation for the author!

First place:

* $150 and Gold eMedal OR a free, privately tutored writing course valued at $260

Second place:

* $100 and Silver eMedal OR $200 applied toward a privately tutored writing course

Third place:

* $50 and Bronze eMedal OR $125 applied toward a privately tutored writing course

Fourth and Fifth place:

* Honorable Mention eMedal

In addition, we will publish ten Judge’s Pick stories.

For the First Time — the Lucky Draw!

We would like to express our gratitude to Microsoft and TechSoup for donating a Norton AntiVirus Package for five computers, valid for one year. *The Norton Package will only open in the USA, but that’s fine. You have 15 other opportunities to win!

eMedals: You will love the classy eMedals. Make them any size you want. Post them on your site and on social media!

Revealing our Cover: for the first time, we are revealing our cover for the next anthology, which will be titled LOST. (You can see the enlarged picture at

The theme sentence is below the picture. Be sure to use it in your story.


“I am completely and utterly lost.”

  • Open genre
  • One prize per person
  • Entry fee: $5 per submission
  • Submit each story individually
  • Word limit is 1,500 to 2,000 words.
  • Story may not have been published before.
  • No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
  • Your story must include this theme sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.”
  • Winners agree to minor editing rights and will grant first, non-exclusive, electronic rights.
  • All Rights return to the author upon publication.
  • Accepting submissions until August 31, 2017, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
  • Apply the theme sentence to an emotional state, a physical location, fighting illness, or any other application that comes to mind.
  • Copy and paste your document into

Do NOT send your submission as an email attachment. We will not open it. Direct questions to head judge Jianna Higgins, at


NEW 2016 ANTHOLOGY Win $10 Gift Card!


Get thirty short stories written by short story contest winners, invited best-selling writers, contest finalists, judges, CWI staff, and guests! The perfect gift for relatives, readers and writers. For a chance to win a FREE  $10   Amazon gift card, share this ad on Facebook  Dec. 6. Every time you share it, your name goes into a drawing. We will draw THREE winners at midnight Dec. 6, EST. Winners will be announced at Get the new anthology, called EXPLAIN, at

A - Explain eBook Cover 2016.jpg

Creative Writing Institute, at your service, meeting all your writing needs.

The only school where very student gets a private tutor!

Imagination Turns Moon Into Cheshire Cat Grin

Pat Bean's blog

“Slowly, the grin disappeared, until nothing was left but the cat. This is nearly as scary as the other way around.” — From Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” 

Travels With Maggie

Early last night I was riding in the car with my granddaughter, Jennifer, and her best friend, Ellen. I had spent the afternoon with the two of them at their home in Temple, Texas, and they were driving me back to my RV in Harker Heights.

 As I looked up at the night sky, I saw the glowing grin of a Cheshire cat. Jennifer and Ellen saw it too. And if you were looking up at the sky last night you probably also saw it. But only if your imagination allowed a glowing sliver of crescent moon to morph into the smile of Lewis Caroll’s fictional cat. Its smile followed us during the entire 30-minute journey.

 Later, as…

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What Does It Mean: Upmarket Fiction?

Excellent article. New writers need to study this. Deb Owen

The Writing Place

In an earlier post I talked about commercial fiction and literary fiction.  When agents and editors talk about “upmarket” fiction, they are referring to books that appeal to both audiences. They are books that have excellent writing along with a story line that appeals to a mainstream market.  

While many genre books are well-written, and might be thought of as commercial, they aren’t generally considered upmarket. However, you’ll see agents asking for upmarket thrillers, upmarket women’s fiction, upmarket crime, as well as other classifications that might be considered genre books. One agent’s submission guidelines asked for fiction that straddles the line between literary and commercial. I think that’s a good explanation of what upmarket really means.

Miss Snark’s blog has a helpful post distinguishing between genre, literary, and commercial writing, along with some excellent advice:  “Just write something fabulous and it will all work out.”

What books can…

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How to Win a Short Story Contest


Secrets of Winning a Writing Contest
by Bob Bruggemann

If you want to win a contest, the first thing you must do is follow the guidelines. Many submissions are disqualified because they don’t meet all the requirements. If the rules state a maximum of 1,000 words, a 1,025-word story, however brilliant, will hit the trash. (Do not include the title or byline in the word count.)

If the contest calls for G-rated material (which means no swearing, vulgarities, or erotica) and your entry contains just one swear word, it will be discarded. If you are in question as to whether a word will be considered a swear word, don’t use it or write to and ask.

Assuming you follow the guidelines, the judges will look at the following four elements.

  • Originality
  • Creativity
  • Style
  • Technique


Some contests give you a theme, such as, “Wedding Day.” What’s the first story idea that comes to mind? Whatever it is, forget it. You can bet everyone else will have thought of it, too. A large percentage of submissions will be so similar that the competition will be fierce, but if you use an original angle, the judges will love it.


Don’t wrack your brain for an idea. Relax. Get your conscious, critical mind out of the way and allow ideas to bubble up from your subconscious. In other words, daydream.

Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, how, and ‘what if?’ Let your train of thought go where it will. Before long, you’ll have an idea for a unique story.


In short story contests, you’ll never wrong with the KISS method: (Keep It Simple, Sweetie.)
Don’t try to impress the judges with $3 words. Like any other reader, they want a story that is easy to read.

Every sentence must move the story forward. The reader doesn’t want flowery descriptions of a rose garden in the moonlight. He/she wants to know what the girl is doing there at two in the morning and what will happen next. Stick to the point.


A short story contest calls for three distinct parts: the beginning, middle, and end. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The beginning introduces the main character and the action and what the story is about. The middle develops the theme and keeps the reader hooked. The ending must be believable, resolve the problems, and leave the reader satisfied.

Above all, don’t overlook simple formatting rules.

  • Make a new paragraph for every new speaker
    · Single space your short story and indent paragraphs
    · Run the spellchecker!
    · Watch your punctuation

Last, but not least: write an original story specifically for the contest – but assuming you don’t follow that good advice, at least rewrite your story to fit the guidelines.

Creative Writing Institute’s annual short story contest is now in session and accepting entries until September 15, 2016. This is a small contest and your chances of winning are good. Invest in yourself and get your entry ready! For details and submission instructions, visit

Prizes: First prize is $100, a first place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.

Second prize is $50, a second place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.

Third place is $25, a third place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.

*We will also recognize honorable mentions and several “Judge’s Picks,” which means the story didn’t place, but at least one judge really liked it and it will be published in our anthology. Judge’s Pick winners will receive a Judge’s Pick ribbon.

Above all, have fun! Hey! Wait a minute! “Like” us before you go, will you?

See guidelines at

Short Story Contest Opens


First, second and third place winners and seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our fourth annual anthology. In addition, we are giving cash prizes and professionally designed eMedals to post on your site. (See medals below.)

First place: Professionally designed Gold eMedal and $100, plus publication

Second place: Striking Silver eMedal and $50, plus publication

Third place: Brilliant Bronze eMedal and $25, plus publication

Fourth and Fifth place: Finalist eMedal and publication

This is a themed contest and this exact sentence must appear in the story:

 “Explain how that happened.”

 Open genre.

  • Your story must be between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
  • No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
  • Your story must not have been published before. Winners grant minor editing rights for publication; Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Pick stories in our anthology. All Rights return to the author upon publication.
  • ONE submission per person, please.
  • Accepting submissions from July 15, 2016, until September 15, 2016, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
  • Entries will only be accepted through the form at
  • As you go through the submission process, there will be a space for you to copy and paste your document. Do NOT email attachments.
  • Entry fee $5.

Please direct questions to Ms. Jo Popek, head judge, at Our special thanks to all judges and award winning Competition Co-coordinator, Jianna Higgins.

Sign up for The Writer’s Choice newsletter to receive articles that teach you how to win contests. Top right corner of

Medals 2016.png







Secret Writing Techniques #3 Polysyndeton



Last week we talked about asyndeton – a method of listing items without using a conjunction for the purpose of showing more by saying less – and the week before was onomotoepia.

Today we will study polysyndeton, which is diametrically opposed to asyndeton. Polysyndeton is the repeated use of conjunctions for the purpose of intensifying the scene, building the excitement and indicating (like asyndeton) an endless and innumerable list.

Our thanks to Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers for this example. This quote comes from Charlotte’s Web where a rat is telling Wilbur the pig, in no uncertain terms, what he expects.

“Struggle if you must,” said Templeton, “but kindly remember that I’m hiding down here in this crate and I don’t want to be stepped on, or kicked in the face, or pummeled, or crushed in any way, or squashed, or buffeted about, or bruised, or lacerated or scarred, or biffed.”

Do you think Templeton made himself clear? And how did he do that? He drove the point home by using the repetitious ‘or.’ You will find a lot of this in children’s books. If you will listen to children talk, they use a lot of polysndeton when they talk:

“Mommy, I want ice cream, and chocolate, and nuts, and whipped cream.”

Do you see how these examples build the scene by intensifying repetition? This is a simple technique, but don’t discount its importance.

P.S. Did you notice this example uses antiquated language? Writing styles are always morphing and wise is the writer who morphs with them. Today’s writer would have written “Templeton said” instead of “said Templeton.”


Write three sentences using ASYNDETON and three more sentences using POLYSYNDETON. Send them to Memorize these words and know what they mean.

See for all your writing needs. Sign up for our newsletter, The Writer’s Choice, on the front page, top right corner.