Monday, November 3, 2014


Success Breeds Success

How do you win a contest? The first requirement is to enter it. However, some fear the disappointment of rejection so much, they won't try. Failure is heartbreaking and if you don't try, you don't risk suffering disillusionment, but you also deny yourself the chance of winning and experiencing the elation of success.

I recently entered a contest in a new genre of writing, the first contest of its type in the world. It deals with Tourism Writing and it started in my home state of Alabama. Patrick Miller is the founder and the concept is to write fiction using real places and inserting photographs and links to interest tourists in visiting the highlighted locations. The first place featured was Moundville, Alabama; the second was DeSoto State Park at Lookout, Alabama; and the third was Mobile, Alabama, where I reside.

Entrants must focus on a particular place or event. I chose Mardi Gras, giving its history, and stressing its family-friendly atmosphere. Using the point of view of a masker riding a float enabled me to show how people from all walks of life—from former members of the royal court to the homeless and physically challenged—enjoy catching moon pies, beads and other trinkets. It's a great equalizer as attendees at parades, adults and children, end up scrambling for grabs they often share with others.

My entry, Raisin' Cain, won first place. The Alabama Tourism Department co-sponsored the contest and the prize was $500.00. The story is posted on the internet. The big thrill, though, was Congressman Bradley Byrne coming to the Mobile Carnival Museum for the Awards Presentation to present a plaque to me October 15, 2014. He also made a comment in the House of Representatives entitled Highlighting the Value of Tourism through Literature (September 18, 2014). This becomes a permanent part of the Congressional Record. In it, he mentions that I won the 2014 Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative Tourism Writing Contest and that Dr. Sue Walker is currently teaching tourism writing to several of her English classes at the University of South Alabama. He suggests incorporating tourism writing into other college courses in all states.

This new genre has another spin-off. It can boost the economy in an area. When people read about places that interest them, they often decide to visit. Tourists spend money. Also, if enough people discover attractions that intrigue them, places become considered tourist destinations. But that only happens if they hear or read about those things; otherwise, they'll never know they exist.

I am happy that my story won this contest and the $500 prize. I am happier that it can lead to bigger things by promoting a challenging, innovative category of writing while boosting the economy.

I hope others will consider this and enter writing contests. If you don't try, you can't win. Better yet, if you win once, you may win again. Success breeds success.

Mary S. Palmer



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Upcoming Spooky Month - Anticipation

The end of October
Is a time for fear
That all the children
Hold very dear.

They don their costumes
And get their sacks
To trick or treat
And bring candy back.

That night they eat
Until they're stuffed
And go to bed
With stomach puffed.

With dreams of goblins
Filling their heads
They toss and turn
While in their beds.

It's all in fun
And the next day
Fear has gone
Quite far away.

Monday, August 11, 2014


My play will be produced at St. Dominic's Murphy Center, October 11, 2014. It is the life of Msgr. Francis Murphy who has served the Diocese of Mobile over sixty years. The dinner theater, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, is being held to contribute to the support of seminarians.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alabama Writers' Conclave

     The Alabama Writers' Conclave was held in the quaint, artsy town of Fairhope last weekend, July 11-13. It hosted people from all over Alabama and some from Tennessee, Mississippi and other states. For the first time, I had the honor to attend.

     In her introduction, Jeanie Thompson, Founding Director, Alabama Writers Forum, pointed out that Alabama was twenty-third in funding for the arts. That's a good position. Other speakers included presentations on both prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction and play writing. All were impressive but one point that stuck with me was literary agent Katharine Sands' statement that all novels need a person, a place and a pivot. Having all three start with a "p" makes it easy to remember.

     Other speakers included the passionate Michael Martone, witty Jim Murphy, amusing T.K. Thorne and Linda Busby Parker, and Scott Wilkerson, Barry Marks, Terri French and Keynote Speaker Pulitzer Prize Winner Rick Bragg, Rob Gray, Susan Luther, P.T. Paul, all who gave eloquent and informative presentations.

     President Sue Walker and Vice President P.T. Paul made sure everything, including the food, was first class. If you didn't learn something from the experience, you weren't listening. One particular thing I learned would have justified attending. It was simple, it was obvious, but it took a new reader to spot an easy change that may make the difference in whether my mystery novel is accepted for publication. When I read the opening paragraph, the speaker suggested moving one sentence to the top and opening the novel with that line. I could then see that sentence as the grabber which would set the scene and the tone for the entire book.

Such conferences are truly worthwhile. As one speaker pointed out, you may not be told anything you don't already know, but we don't always do what we know we should. And we forget. Reminders serve us well. These events do, too. They also reinforce our belief that we can write and encourage us to write on and write right. We may have a message only we can give to the world.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I'm taking on a new challenge by teaching a Contemporary Literature class this summer. The five week course will be at Huntingdon College at the Daphne, Alabama campus. It should be very interesting and a change from any other English classes I've taught in the past, including Creative Writing.

Since my science-fiction novel QUESTION OF TIME (a sequel to TIME WILL TELL) is being released May 9, 2014 and the third book of the trilogy, TIME WAS, will be released September 9, 2014, I'll also be busy promoting those. I have two other books under consideration with a publisher, too. It keeps me busy, but we always find time for what we really want to do.

May Be New

The month of May
May bring new challenges,
And opportunities.

The showers of April
And its storms
Are long gone.

Flowers begin to bloom
And sparks of new life
Are evident, too.

All should forget the past
And take advantage
Of new chances.

Use challenges to change.
Benefit from
Life renewing itself.

Friday, April 4, 2014



New Life

Weather warms and

Hearts overflow

With love.


New life refreshes

As flowers break out

In their blossoms.


April showers

Water and nourish

Plants bursting alive.


People, too,

Become refreshed

And revitalized.


The Earth

Renews itself

In the springtime.

April Fool's Day, or All Fool's Day, reportedly began in the Middle Ages in Europe. Some claim it started with the Romans. So, we had mischief-makers way back in time. The pranks vary from a Kick Me sign sneaked onto the back of a shirt, to a phone call asking for help when none is needed. It's all done for fun. No harm is intended. And we all fall for these jokes. Just this morning, I was thinking about what April Fool's tricks I might encounter today when I got an E-mail. It was from a doctor who elaborated on how he gained more time by finding a drug that allowed him rest without sleep. He claimed he got down to two hours a night. I was beginning to wonder about the safety and sanity of taking this drug when his writing took a turn. He said he discovered how it was to be on the receiving end of psychiatric help. Then the twist: APRIL'S FOOL. GOTCHA!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Match


The Match

     Peggy's children were grown and she didn't have a pet, but she loved Sally. She provided for her well, giving her good shelter, spending a lot of money taking care of her other needs and keeping her clean and neat. She also showered her with attention; they went everywhere together. One Valentine's Day, Peggy put a huge red bow on Sally, but Sally didn't care. In fact, she didn't even know the bow was there. Despite her limitations, Sally was Peggy's pride and joy.

     Talk about true love--one day Peggy told me, "My dad had her a long time and he took excellent care of her. When I inherited her from him, I made a promise to do the same, no matter what. We fit together; we're a match." She sighed. "I know she's getting older now and can't move as fast as she once could, but I still love her."

     I scratched my head. Peggy was less than realistic. Sally had more problems than moving fast. She was slow starting in the morning, then she'd sputter around before getting into gear. Even when she got going, nothing went smoothly. Sometimes, at the worst possible times, she'd come to a complete standstill.

     Nonetheless, at Peggy's insistence, the three of us often went places together. I really didn't like to be involved with her. But, despite my reservations, I couldn't tell my friend that; she'd be too offended. I couldn't even tell Peggy, who had physical problems, that Sally took more care than she could feasibly provide. At twenty years old, it was time for Sally to go somewhere else. But I didn't express my opinion. Saying those things was useless. I knew Peggy wouldn't have listened to me.

     However, one day, after Peggy told me, "My friend's son is interested in Sally," I spotted my chance to speak up and took the leap.

     "You can't do anymore with her, Peggy," I insisted. "Why don't you give Hal a chance? Maybe he can fix her up." I thought this might be Peggy's opportunity to break the bond.

     She dismissed the idea then. But, to my surprise, after a lot of deliberation and indecision, Peggy did let Hal take Sally. At first, he took good care of her. But that was short-lived. Before two months were up, he had a wreck. Knowing how Peggy would react if she saw Sally all bent in on one side, barely able to move, Hal's mother called her.

     "I'm sorry, Peggy," she began. "I hate to give you bad news, but there's been an accident and Sally was hurt. Hal did what he could to steer her out of harm's way," she said, "but a truck ran a red light and then plowed right into them and, well,"--she stammered--"Sally got the brunt of the damage. I had to let you know. I didn't want you to come over here and see what happened and be shocked."

     With eyes downcast, Peggy shook her head as she told me, "I boo-hoo'd. My baby was hurt bad. I haven't been over to their house yet. I just can't bear to see her like that."

     Lines crossed my brow. "She's just..." I began.

     When Peggy blinked and her shoulders stiffened, I decided my next words would hit a nerve, so I chewed on my lip, cutting off my statement. Then I asked a question. "Doesn't Hal have insurance?"

     Wringing her hands, Peggy nodded. "Yes, he does. But if he makes a claim..."

     She couldn't finish the sentence. So, I did. "They'll cancel his insurance."

     "Worse than that." Peggy pressed her hands tightly against her cheeks. "They'll consider her a total loss." Sobbing, she added, "And my poor baby, my beautiful 1994 Buick Park Avenue, will end up in some old car junk yard." She shivered. "Oh, my! They may even put her in one of those horrible car crushers and crush her into a tiny cube. That's barbaric! If I could, I'd rather have her cremated."

     I went over and put my arm around her, wondering what words would provide appropriate sympathy for a car. I was also beginning to wonder if I'd personified this car like Peggy had. Was this getting to me, too? I was stumped, but it turned out that I didn't have to say anything.

     Taking a deep breath, Peggy looked up at me and cocked her head. "I, I sure hope," she sniffled, "I hope there's a car heaven."

     All I had to do was nod and be gratified at the consolation in my friend's eyes.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Every year brings new challenges. Sometimes we are involved with people we can't understand. They do things that are illogical, inconsiderate and different from the norm. Their actions may be inconsistent with the values they've been taught. We tend to want to break the barrier, to make them see our viewpoint. But that quite often doesn't work. They have their own ideas and cannot be convinced otherwise.

In such cases, as difficult as it is, we have to realize that we're not supposed to understand everything, or everybody, on this Earth. It isn't Heaven. Problems exist.

Then how do we deal with such situations? Maybe the only way is with acceptance. First, though, we have to note that acceptance does not mean approval. It does not mean we condone the actions of others that are against our principles, or against principles that are considered morally correct.

In the end, we have to understand our limitations, change what we can, resign ourselves to accepting what we cannot change, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


In the new year, 2014,
Resolutions will be made
Some kept; some broken.

Things will change
Time will move fast
And it will stand still.

Excuses for failures
Won't affect those changes
Nor make anything better.

It's not what happens
To us that matters--
Not at all.

The outcome of situations
Depends entirely on
How we deal with things.