It's always a joy to receive a new book in the mail...especially when said book contains one of my stories! I received that kind of "joy" today when I opened a thick bubble-envelope and pulled out two complimentary copies of Award-Winning Tales, a western anthology complied by R. L. (Becky) Coffield. My story Lost Letters was a Finalist in the short story contest sponsored by Moonlight Mesa Associates. Following the contest Becky was so pleased with all the stories that she decided to publish a book with selected stories from the 2009 and 2010 contest entries.
Lost Letters is a fictional story I took from the title of one of my articles I wrote as a regular contributor for the Hidden Heritage feature page in RFD-TV The Magazine. In Lost Letters the article, I shared the story of Paul LaRoche's adoption papers being lost in the back of his adoptive mother's writing desk for years, thus hiding Paul's true American Indian heritage. When thinking "what on earth can I write about for a western contest?!", I looked at the two simple words, Lost Letters...and the ideas began to emerge.
I placed the story in western Minnesota and South Dakota, settings familiar to me, and told the story through the eyes of Marsha, a young college student who always knew she'd been adopted, and Josephine, a woman who had given up her baby girl for adoption...and why. Becky said the story brought tears to her eyes when she read it, which to me means it touched her heart, and as a writer that is what matters.
Here's the review Becky received from Shirley Johnson, Senior Reviewer with the MidWest Book Review:
I was not quite sure what I would find on the pages of this book, but I knew it would be good. Looking upon the read I had a hard decision to make. Should I start the read from the beginning or just pick a tale? It was not easy because some of the titles seemed to be calling my name. That is one of the pluses of a book filled with different tales, and one that I truly enjoy. You can read it in one sitting, or read a full story when it fits your fancy.
As I began the read I was taken into the magical words of the authors that stirred many an emotion within me. Not something I expected to happen from this book. I usually only experience this when reading a full novel where I have become totally immersed in a longer storyline. It was a pleasant surprise. The stories were down front and personal. In other words, they were so well written I felt I was part of each story, knew the characters, faced the challenges, and felt the emotions of every story I read. Unbelievable but true.
However, the styles of each tale changed like rapid water, always keeping the Western flare, yet cascading me into the rapids of the moment that the author touched upon. Each story showcased that particular author's ability and talent. The fiber that each author wove into his/her story was like a burst of fresh air as I anticipated what was to be unfolded. I was never disappointed, as each story introduced new characters and new locale, like a fresh new picture being painted while I watched. Each story was different and could stand alone, yet they merged under the western skies as one. It may be a tale of romance, murder, competition, struggles, joy or sadness, each brings just the right dish that fills a banquet table before you. Let the feast begin.
This is an outstanding read. Very well written by authors who truly know how to spin a tale that will grab you and not let go. Highly recommended.
If you are interested in reading Lost Letters or any of the stories in Award-Winning Tales, please visit the website for Moonlight Mesa Associates at http://www.moonlightmesaassociates.com/. I haven't had a chance to read the stories yet, so guess you know what I'll be doing this evening!