I belong to Scribophile, a writers’ group which fosters peer review for writers seeking their best work. Alex Cabal, the group’s administrator, sponsors competitions to provide members both incentive and focus. I entered “Llorona” in the “Who’s Afraid of the Dark?” contest and just learned that it was awarded first place.
We were quite simply enthralled by this spooky western featuring the imperturbable Joaquin Murrieta, a gray-shaded hero who faces evil and brings goodness where it’s needed. We absolutely loved that this piece, though short, went for the interplay of light and dark within humanity and succeeded in doing so with subtlety, charm, and adventure. Interesting, nuanced characters felt authentically real as they inhabited a near-tangible setting for an entertaining take on the classic ghost story, celebrating the light that empathy gives us, and how it can be used to both mitigate and snuff out darkness.
I thank Alex, the judges and all those who entered for helping me find my best story!
Larry Upshaw, editor and founder of Ageless Authors, sponsors yearly contests for folks who are past fifty. I imminently qualify! This year’s contest theme was “Coping with Crisis”. My story Navidad was a finalist among hundreds of entries. It’s one of my Joaquin Murrieta stories and is a personal favorite. I based it on local history, a sad occurrence far up Reliz Canyon a hundred and forty years ago. I am very pleased by the recognition and hope that the story will be included in a future anthology. If you can’t wait, I’ve put a PDF of this story on TPT, along with the lesson plans I’ve created for it. It’s free. Here’s the link:
Bewildering Stories just included “Llorona” in its Third Quarterly Review, a collection of the best stories from all its summer issues. I’m most pleased that Joaquin Murrieta’s encounter with the famous ghost was so honored!
Central California historical anecdotes and local legends have inspired and informed many of my stories, especially those including Joaquin Murrieta. The Los Burros gold mining area has many ghostly tales and it is the setting for this story. Joaquin rides in to Manchester, a mining camp in the Santa Lucia, to search for a missing woman. He finds her and a treasure, as well.
This story was accepted for publication more than three years ago. Publisher Alternating Currents hit many bumps in the road while getting its “Footnote 4” anthology of historical writing out, but here it finally is and I am most pleased. “The Wreck of the Annabelle Lee” won a prize in Moonlight Mesa’s western fiction contest a decade ago and I used it subsequently in Chalone Peaks Middle School’s reading fluency program. I never dreamed it would take this long to see print. It continues Joaquin Murrieta’s adventures in a most civilized setting: San Francisco of the late 19th Century. I had a great deal of fun researching and writing the tale. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too! Here’s a link where you may purchase “Footnote 4”.
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.