Posted in Writing



That’s how I felt when I found out my story “Phoenix” had been selected as a runner-up in the WOW! Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest.

I’ve been a WOW! reader for years. I first discovered their quarterly flash fiction contest back in 2013. I submitted a couple of times, without success. My writing wasn’t at the level they sought, and I didn’t yet have a good grasp of what flash fiction really meant. But I started reading their blog, The Muffin, where I drew inspiration from their writing tips and anecdotes, eventually becoming a guest blogger myself, twice in 2014 (in September and November) and again in 2016. I was honored to have my words share space with the women who had motivated me.

This fall, I decided I was ready to give the flash fiction contest another try. I submitted my 748-word story “Phoenix” and crossed my fingers.

“Phoenix” is a subtly witchy story about the power of nature and the power we hold within ourselves. It’s about persistence and sacrifice and a love for unwanted things. It’s unlike most of the pieces I write, and I didn’t know how it would be received, so I was ecstatic when I learned it had placed in the top ten of the contest.

(A visual collage of “Phoenix”)

I want to thank the editors at WOW! for selecting my story as a finalist and Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency for choosing it as a runner-up. I appreciate you giving Gwen and her story a home.

Go to this link to read all the winning stories from the Fall 2018 Flash Fiction Contest. Or, to skip straight to “Phoenix,” simply click here.

WOW! will be publishing an interview with me on The Muffin, so if you’re interested in hearing the background story of “Phoenix” and what the writing process was like, stay tuned…

Posted in Poetry, Teaching

Contests, Workshops, and One Very Creepy Poem

Hello and happy Thursday!

I’ve got some POETRY NEWS to share with you. There’s a little something in this post for everybody—adult poets, student poets, teachers, and even lovers of horror.

Student Poetry Contests

pstlogo_paint_05Entries to the Poetry Society of Texas Student Awards are due March 1, 2016. PST offers 82 contests to students in grades 1 through 12 on a variety of subjects and forms. This is a great way for young writers to find out what it’s like to send their work out to the world. There is no fee to enter, and winning poems will be published in the PST anthology. Teachers, please consider sharing this opportunity with your students. The deadline to submit is only 12 days away!

Austin Poetry Society Annual Awards

APSIf you’re an adult looking to submit work, the Austin Poetry Society’s Annual Contests are open right now. The deadline for submitting is April 1, 2016, and you must be an APS member. (See our website for details about the contests and information on how to join the society.) Winners will be announced at our Annual Awards Ceremony on May 28, 2016. First, second, and third place poets will win cash prizes, and first place poems will be published in the Best Austin Poetry anthology for 2016. (You can buy a copy of the current anthology, which includes two of my poems, at

School Visits, Poetry Presentations, & Workshops

SchoolVisits_WellsBranchTeachers in the Austin area, if you’d like a published poet to teach a workshop or presentation to your class, please contact me. I now do school visits and offer five different presentations for grades 3 through 12. Details can be found on my SCHOOL VISITS page. If your students miss the PST contest deadline and are still interested in submitting their work, consider hiring me for the “Path to Publication” presentation. Not only will I teach them proper submission etiquette and help them craft a professional cover letter, but I’ll also provide information about more contests, journals, and organizations who accept work from young poets.

A Little HORROR Poem

377239_origAnd last, but not least, my poem, “Someone,” is published this week at Grievous Angel. If you’re in the mood for something creepy, check it out. And while you’re there, don’t forget to read the other three poems published with it. I’m in good company with Ken Poyner, Herb Kauderer, and John Grey. (Oh, and don’t worry. If you hire me for a school visit, the poems I share with your students will NOT be this scary!)


Have a great day! Sweet dreams.  🙂

Posted in Poetry, Writing

Poetry News

Hello friends in the blogosphere!

I’m still recovering from my five blog posts in five days last week. Whew! It was fun but also a lot of work, and as I said in Tip #10, even blogging can be a form of procrastination. So this week I’m focusing on my novel draft and keeping things simple in the blogging world.

In lieu of a lengthy post, here’s a quick update on a few things happening in my poetic endeavors.



This past Saturday, I attended the Austin Poetry Society’s Annual Awards Banquet at The North Door, where my poem “Up a Tree” won second place in the “Moving Along” contest. At the banquet, I was also inducted into the Board of Directors as the new Corresponding Secretary. I look forward to my new role in the society!

On Monday, I received some more good news. Dos Gatos Press accepted my poem “August in Texas: A Tritina” for publication in the 2015 Texas Poetry Calendar. I am honored to once again be included in this wonderful anthology. I’ll post more updates when the calendar becomes available for purchase. Dos Gatos always does a beautiful job with the cover and the layout of this poetic and practical book.

And yesterday, the Poetry Society of Texas released their ebook anthology, A Texas Garden of Verses, which includes two of my poems: “Something I’ll Miss About My House on Ramsey,” which was originally published in di-verse-city 2011, and “Enchanted Rock in September,” another tritina that first appeared in the 2012 Texas Poetry Calendar. This collection includes eight poet laureates as well as many other award-winning poets and is available on Kindle for only $1.99!

Speaking of the Poetry Society of Texas, membership in this organization is only $25 a year for current residents of Texas, and your membership permits you to submit to any and all of their one hundred annual contests, the deadline for which is August 15, 2014. So, fellow Texan poets, what are you waiting for? Join PST today!

That’s it for this week. I wish everyone productivity in your poetry and prose. (Or a deliciously lazy three-day weekend, whichever you prefer.) 🙂