The centuries long struggle for racial justice and equality continues. I am honored to have two stories about this struggle included in the Saturday Writers’ new anthology, “Duck Plucking Time” and “Sockdologizer”.
Some decades ago, I recall sharing a campfire with an old friend. Campfire talk led us to recalling childhood experiences, his in a Jim Crow borderland state, mine in deep South Alabama. This conversation eventually sparked a fictional exploration of our shared history – “Duck Plucking Time”.
Historian Jim Bishop did a stellar job of detailing the traumatic events surrounding Lincoln’s assassination in his book The Day Lincoln was Shot.
I saw a chance to employ his work in a fictional treatment of those events. By creating characters, adding dialog and basing my story on Mr. Bishop’s sequence of events I hoped to pull young readers into the history by putting them next to the characters, both historical and fictional. “Sockdologizer” is the result. It won first place in the Saturday Writers contest for youth fiction.
Please view the teaching materials I’ve prepared for Sockdologizer on TPT. I’ve made both scripts for the story and classroom activities:
My short story Duck Plucking Time was awarded first place in the Saturday Writers March contest. I’m most honored and also pleased that it received a nice writeup in their current newsletter. Look in the “Decades Ago” article if you wish to read what they had to say. Here’s the link:
Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos, at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.
I’m pleased and most honored that “Duck Plucking Time” was awarded first place in Saturday Writers’ March short fiction contest. I’m looking forward to the autumn publication of the contest anthology and will let all know when it comes out. I should add that this story was based on a true incident. Old friend Ed McKean spent his childhood in the Jim Crow South and a campfire reminiscence of his planted the seeds of the story in my mind. The ghosts of Jim Crow that now stride openly across our land impelled me to write it. I’m ashamed of what happened before and fear what may happen again. The contest judge’s comments:
“This story flowed well from beginning to end. The voices of Jessie and Emma mirrored the voices of black people during that era perfectly. The reality of how they lived and what they lived withand through is real in every sense of the word based on past historical references.”
Here’s a link to Saturday Writers in case you wish to support their worthy efforts:
My “Dogwood Dream” and “Black Maggie’s Secret” are to be dramatized and presented at a literary evening in Hollywood on October 8th. If you’re in Southern California and are interested, I’ve put the official announcement containing pertinent details above. I won’t be able to make it, but I’m most interested in how this turns out. Both stories are personal favorites of mine.
P.S. If you know somebody in L.A. who might like to attend, please send this link to them!
Should the Confederate statues go? That’s an easy one for me. I visited Northern Alabama in 1964 when still a teen and learned a great many things. Among them was the fact that the Civil War had not ended when I thought it did. It still hasn’t. Dogwood Dream is fiction, but its facts are true.
My short story Alabama Appleswas just awarded first place in the 2016 Writers’ Drawer short story competition. I thank editor Beryl Belsky for offering international writers both her forum and this specific contest. I spent considerable time in Birmingham when I was a kid and Harper Lee still makes me poke around in my memories for stories that only got whispered in 1956. I put a few of them together – including one from my grandmother’s turn of the 20th Century childhood – to offer a glimpse of life in the Jim Crow South.
WELCOME!I've dedicated my life to literacy and literature for young people. I'm sixty-three and don't intend to change my focus now. I hope that this site will contribute to both! I hope it will be of use to kids, parents and teachers who love to read.
For Kids: I want to know what you think of my story! Writing can be pretty lonely and authors like to hear from readers. Ask me questions about Chaos Gate and I'll do my best to answer them as quickly as I can.
For Parents: I want to know what you think of my story! I'd also like to know how this website can best help you, what activities here are most effective and what you would like to see me include in the future.
For Teachers: I know how hard you folks work. I'm offering you effective, interesting activities to accompany Chaos Gate, whether you're reading it aloud to your class, using it in small groups, or simply have one or two students reading it on their own. I have (or soon will!) comprehension questions, vocabulary activities and word find puzzles in pdf format for every chapter. Check them out and take what suits you best.
Robert's story "Joaquin's Gold" just won the
2010 Art Affair Western Short Story Contest. The story brings legendary bandit Joaquin Murrieta back to Central California during the 1880's in a search for hidden treasure. Robert hopes to produce a book including all of his Joaquin Murrieta stories. Stay tuned.