Copyright October 2016 St. Louis Writers Guild – All rights reserved
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Street Art in The Grove
Photo by David Lucas
Cover design by Brad R Cook
T. W. Fendley
Brad R. Cook
The Scribe is published monthly digitally by the Saint Louis Writers Guild with an annual print issue. The editorial staff invites Guild members to submit original submissions of poetry, short stories, or articles about writing (4,000 words or less) for publication in this magazine. The Scribe is promoted to more than 1,000 people on our mailing list. Submissions should be sent by the first of each month to -- put SCRIBE in the subject line.
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[In this issue
From the President’s Desk
by David Lucas
by Linda Austin
by Larry Lovan
“A chill wind swept across the field bringing with it a taste of winter, as well as dirt, discarded programs, and hot dog wrappers, flittering about in the glare of the stadium lights.”
by Brad R. Cook
From the President’s Desk
By David Lucas
St. Louis Writers Guild just had its 97th birthday on October 28th. What has kept it running over all those years and what will keep it running for the next century and more? The answer is simple and it is the same. Is it the passion for writing? Is it the common ground and search for publication? The answer is no. What is the reason?
The reason to our success as an organization is our volunteers. Some of these volunteers have a public face of the guild, such as the Board of Directors. Others work tirelessly in the background from setting up for our events, talking to new members and potential members, getting news releases out the door, finding ways to expand our presence in the community and so much more.
It is to all of the volunteers of the past and present to which I wish Happy Birthday and give my deepest thanks. Without you, we would not be the organization that we are—the premier and active organization that we are.
Happy birthday St. Louis Writers Guild!
What Will You Write About?
By Linda Austin
An old man calls me
About notes written long past
Of horror on the front lines
In the Land of Morning Calm
In dark closets and old minds
Would I disturb the dust
To honor a life’s story
Together we write a book
November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, those 30 days when writers challenge themselves to put down 50,000 words of their new novel before the first of December. You don’t just start writing on November 1; first you must plan, even if you are a pantser. That’s what October is for. What will you write about? Who will be in your story? What do you want to cover? Who are you writing to (i.e., who is the reader you’re aiming at) so you can “talk” to them?
November is also National Lifewriting Month. While NaNoWriMo means fiction, there is no reason we can’t instead write a nonfiction narrative. Do you have your own real story to tell? Maybe your grandmother has stories to tell (yes, she does). You can easily adapt NaNoWriMo to writing your own life stories, not so easy to adapt to writing somebody else’s life stories since those require interviewing. However, if you want to capture a family member’s stories, you can set your own goals for the month, be it audio recording all their stories or sitting down with them every week for so many hours to take notes as you listen. The Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to collect family stories. You may set goals of writing the stories down and/or researching so many hours per day or week. Either way, you have started a valuable project.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying that each person is a library. We have within us unique stories of history and culture and sociology. We are in danger of losing our family library books if we do not write down the stories. With our elders, we need to start writing now. Our library books may not be a commercial success, but they would be best-sellers to our families.
Linda Austin is author of three books and encourages life writing and self-publishing through her website and blog, . She wrote Cherry Blossoms in Twilight with her mother and published it because no one else had told the story of Japanese war brides. Poems That Come to Mind is a short book of Japanese-style poems she wrote about the Alzheimer’s caregiving journey. Battlefield Doc is her most recent book, written with William “Doc” Anderson, who was a medic on the front lines of the Korean War.
The poem above is a set of tanka, Japanese seven-line poems that are like extended haiku.
It’s Only A Game
By Larry Lovan
A chill wind swept across the field bringing with it a taste of winter, as well as dirt, discarded programs, and hot dog wrappers, flittering about in the glare of the stadium lights. Coach Dawson called his final timeout with four seconds remaining in the game. The ball rested on the 22-yard line, his team down by two points. A field goal would win it for them. It would be a 39- yard attempt, long by high school standards but well within the range of his star quarterback who also did the place-kicking. Only his star player wasn’t available. The boy twisted his knee early in the second quarter and now sat on the bench, right knee packed in ice, which is why they found themselves in this predicament. Had he not gotten hurt, they’d have put this opponent away long ago.
Coach Dawson glanced across the field at his opposite number. The man stared back at him, hands on hips, a smirk on his face. Coach Dawson hated losing, but he especially hated to lose to his school’s archrivals and that loud-mouthed jerk who coached them. The schools traditionally ended their seasons by playing each other and the stands were packed to overflowing.
The team had a back-up kicker, another senior, who’d done some kicking off and attempted field goals in games that had already been decided. He’d hit a 30-yarder, but hooked an 18-yarder badly, and had another attempt blocked. Still, Coach Dawson would be willing to give the boy a shot at it, except he didn’t have him either. His back-up kicker had hurt himself horsing around in gym class and been unable to dress out for the game.
Coach Dawson did carry a third placekicker on the squad, a junior. The junior certainly had enough leg to get the ball there and, at least in practice, was extremely accurate. The junior was left-footed, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the left-footed, junior placekicker was a girl.
She’d shown up at registration and insisted on trying out for the team. Normally Coach Dawson would have run her off, except the girl had enough sense to first speak to the school principal and had him in tow. The principal stated that state high school eligibility rules precluded denying a student a tryout based solely on their sex. He expected her to be treated the same as a boy and would be monitoring practices to verify the coach was in compliance with these rules. The girl certainly could boot the ball, almost as far as his star player. So Coach Dawson had been forced to give her a spot on the roster. That didn’t mean he’d ever use her in a game, though.
The girl’s name was Patricia Brown, which naturally led to endless “Peppermint Patty” jokes in the boys’ locker room as well as a few off key choruses of, “Mrs. Brown you got a luf-ly daw-ter.” Patty stood only 4 foot 8, and was rather stocky; cute in a Teddy Bear sort of way, thought Coach Dawson. Brown eyes, a pug nose, and long, auburn hair she always wore in a ponytail, with very well developed leg muscles, the result of having played soccer all her life. The girls’ soccer coach was beside herself that she wouldn’t have her star forward this season and begged Coach Dawson to cut her. But with the principal watching him, he didn’t dare. Besides, he figured Patty would eventually get tired of sitting on the bench, quit, and go back to soccer where she belonged.
He hadn’t counted on her stubbornness. Patty never missed a practice or a meeting, was always first on the practice field and last to leave. She did calisthenics and ran with the team, outrunning more than a few of her teammates. Then she’d practice kicking, both from a tee and with a holder. She never complained and appeared to take everything in stride.
And Patty had a lot to take in stride. Considered a joke by most of her classmates, she was constantly ridiculed and made fun of. The cheerleaders took an instant dislike to her, asking snotty questions such as, “Why don’t you like get a life?” or, “Is the only way you can like meet guys is to like run into them on a football field?” Patty tried to ignore them but Coach Dawson could see some of the barbs stung. Still, nothing discouraged her, not even being given the number 13. He hadn’t meant anything by that. It was simply the number on the only uniform available in her size.
Now here they were with four seconds to go in the final game of the year. Coach Dawson racked his brain for some brilliant play that would pull out a victory. It’d have to be a pass play as his entire offense was tailored around his star quarterback’s arm. Division One colleges were heavily scouting the boy. Unfortunately, the back-up quarterback had only completed two passes, both for short gains. That’s if you didn’t count the two passes he completed to players wearing the other uniform. It should have been three, but on the last play a defender dropped an easy interception that would have sealed their fate.
Once the team had crossed midfield, Patty began booting balls into a net behind the bench and Coach Dawson could see her now, standing nearby on the sideline watching him intently.
“C’mon coach, our timeout’s about over. We need to get a team on the field or we’ll be hit with a delay of game penalty,” said his assistant coach, pointing out the obvious.
Coach Dawson ran his hand over his face, looked around, and mumbled, nearly choking on the words, “Field goal unit.”
“What?” asked the assistant coach, not hearing him through all the background noise.
“Field goal…Field goal unit!”
“All right,” yelled the assistant coach, clapped his hands and turned toward the bench. “Field goal unit, on the field now!”
Patty ran onto the field with the other players and the visitors’ stands erupted with laughter and catcalls. Adult males who should know better, stood and pranced about calling out, “Ooh, look at me, I’m a football player.” The opposing teams’ bench broke into laughter as well, but their head-coach spun toward them and yelled for them to knock it off. It wasn’t that he disagreed with them; he just didn’t want to draw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, which would move the ball closer to the goal line. He made no attempt to still the loudmouths in the stands, they weren’t his responsibility. If the referees wanted to stop the game and eject some of them, fine. He was all for anything that would put more pressure on that girl kicker by making her wait. Patty stared at the fans, dumbfounded by the reaction her appearance produced.
In the home stands, Patty’s mother wrung her hands. She’d hoped this moment would never come, and it almost hadn’t. Four seconds! Four lousy seconds and the season would have been over! Why couldn’t that boy hold onto the ball?
“Hey!” the center yelled. Patty turned away from the stands and joined the huddle to go over the snap count. Then she watched, trying to control her trembling, as her teammates took their positions. She could see the opponents on the other side of the line of scrimmage looking at her. Many had smirks on their faces and some were making kissy motions with their mouths. Patty took a deep breath and tried to calm down. Just like practice, she lied to herself.
A referee stood on the line of scrimmage. Both teams got into their stances as he set the ball. The referee looked around, blew his whistle, then backed out, signaling with his arm to resume play. Patty sucked in another deep breath and started to call out signals.
But the referee was back, blowing his whistle again and waving his arms over his head. He turned his back to Patty and held both arms straight out. The opposing teams’ coach had called timeout.
Patty watched as the coach pulled his squad off the field and into a huddle by the sideline. They were close enough she could clearly hear him shouting at his players. “You’re not going to let a girl beat you are you?”
“No!” they bellowed in unison. Behind them the visitors’ stands were going berserk. Everybody seemed to be yelling taunts at her. Patty turned to look at her own grandstands to find them deathly silent. She turned back toward the line of scrimmage. Her teammates stared at her blankly. She realized, with a sickening drop of her stomach, none of them believed she could do this.
Then timeout was over. The defense ran back onto the field, smirks and kissy faces replaced with looks of grim determination. Everyone resumed their stances as the head referee once again set the ball. He glanced around, whistled, backed out and signaled for play to resume. Patty took another deep breath, swallowed, and began to call signals once more, her voice a high-pitched screech. There would be no stopping this time. “Hut, hut!” The ball was on its way.
Several factors contributed to the center and the holder failing to connect on the snap. The center, who was also the starting nose tackle, was exhausted. He’d been on the field for the entire game. His hands were sweaty and he’d been unable to dry them. He’d wiped them on his pants several times, but it hadn’t helped. Now as he hiked the ball, he hiked it a little too hard and a little too high. Worse, his hands slipped and instead of a good spiral, the ball wobbled badly.
Still the holder, who was also a starting cornerback, probably should have handled the snap, except he’d badly jammed a finger on his right hand earlier when diving to break up a pass. The finger had swelled to twice its normal size and hurt like the devil. He hadn’t told anyone—he didn’t want to come out of the game. He was a senior and unable to afford college. This would be the last real football game he’d ever play in. As he reached for the high snap, the tip of the ball struck his sore finger and he flinched. Instead of gathering in the ball with both hands, it ricocheted off his left, flew to the side, bounced on the turf, and rolled toward the sideline.
“Oh no!” he cried, jumped up and started after the ball. Before he could reach it, a short, squat figure in a black jersey, with a long ponytail trailing out of her helmet, cut in front of him, gathered up the ball, and turned up field.
In the stands her mother leaped to her feet and screamed, “Are you crazy? Don’t do that!” But Patty couldn’t hear her. Nor could she any longer hear the taunts and catcalls. She couldn’t even hear the shouts and yells on the field. All Patty could hear was the blood pounding through her temples, and all she could think of were those blank stares her teammates had given her.
Then there wasn’t time to think about anything as a sea of frantically shifting bodies engulfed Patty. Several teammates who had initially jumped up to run after the ball turned back and tried to throw blocks. Helmets and shoulder pads clashed, grunts and yells, bodies hit the turf. Their opponents attempted to bull their way through. Hands grasped for her and bodies banged into her. She tried to keep her legs churning and her body moving. She zigged, she zagged, she cut, she danced, she spun, she pivoted, she wiggled, she squirmed, all in a desperate attempt to pick her way through the seething throng. A body slammed into her with enough force to knock her down and end the game. Except instead of knocking her down, she was knocked into another player, bounced off, and kept her feet under her.
A partially blocked defender lunged for her. With his left hand he tried to knock the ball loose while wrapping his right arm around her waist. Patty spun completely around, out of his grasp, stumbled, and fell forward against the back of a teammate. She regained her balance, rolled off, and oozed between him and another player. And she was through the scrum, nothing in front of her except green grass, and two very enormous defenders.
The defenders charged straight at her. One angled in from her left while the other came from dead ahead. No chance to get around them on the left. She might wait until the last instant, fake to her left, and cut or spin around them to her right. That wouldn’t work. They were only a yard from the sideline. All they’d have to do is shove her out of bounds. There was only one thing to do. All this passed through Patty’s mind in a microsecond. She pulled the ball tight against her belly, covered it with both arms, lowered her shoulders, gritted her teeth, and ran for the gap between them. A gap that would no longer exist by the time she reached it.
In the stands her mother screamed, covered her eyes, and therefore missed what happened next. It would go down in the state’s high school football lore. But here at Chester A. Arthur High School, home of the Black Knights (Who really knew anything about Chester A. Arthur anyway? But everyone knew about King Arthur. Ergo the Black Knights) it would be forever immortalized as simply, “The Block.”
An instant before those three bodies would connect in a bone-jarring, game ending tackle, another figure in a black jersey with a white 72 on his back, flashed past Patty’s left. He slammed into the defender coming from her left, drove him into the player to her front, and all three went down in a pile. Patty hurdled over a tangle of thrashing legs, shifted the ball to the crook of her right arm, and ran for her life.
On the sideline Coach Dawson ran, too, right arm pinwheeling madly, screaming, “Go! Go! Go!”
Fifteen…ten…five…Patty heard a body hit the turf behind her with a loud, “Oomph!” and fingers claw at her right ankle. She shook them off and was in the end zone. She ran to the middle, turned, knelt, and placed the ball on the ground. A referee skidded to a stop, blowing his whistle, with both arms straight up.
Her teammates swarmed her. They jerked her to her feet. They slapped her on the helmet. They pounded on her shoulder pads with their fists. They chest-butted her back and forth. Two linemen hoisted her onto their shoulders and started toward their sideline.
Spectators boiled out of the home team stands. They swarmed the field—students, cheerleaders, band members, pom-pom squad, faculty, parents—all in the throes of ecstasy. They cheered, laughed, danced, high-fived each other. As Patty was carried amidst them they applauded and chanted “Pat-ty! Pat-ty! Pat-ty!” Even the cheerleaders called out her name.
On the far sideline, the opposing coach, face dark with rage, screamed at an official. His players had been clipped. The referee wasn’t buying it. He’d had an unobstructed view of the block. He thought about throwing a flag on the coach but what was the point? The game was over. When the coach paused his ranting to suck in air, the referee said,” I saw the play. It was a clean block. You lost. Deal with it.” He turned and strode away. Behind him the coach tore off his cap, slammed it on the ground, and kicked it as far as he could.
Patty spotted number 72. He’d removed his helmet,- and several strands of his long, blond hair were plastered to his forehead with sweat. A huge smile lit up his face while he applauded and called out her name. Number 72 was a senior and one of the most popular boys in school. That he was cheering for Patty made her chest swell with pride. She could feel tears running down both sides of her face. It was the happiest moment of her life.
That lasted right up to when her mother ran on the field bawling and blubbering, “Oh thank you! Thank You!” She ran over to number 72 and threw her arms around his neck. Then as Patty watched in horror, her mother proceeded to cover the startled boy’s face with big, sloppy wet kisses, completely mortifying Patty and totally grossing out her teammates.
Larry Lovan is a retired auto damage appraiser who lives in Webster Groves, Mo., with his wife Wanda and cat Ziggy. When he’s not writing he’s reading, trying to unlock the mystery of successful wordsmithing.
St. Louis Writers Guild at Penned Con
By Brad R. Cook
St. Louis Writers Guild had the honor of being one of the sponsors of this year’s Penned Con, a book fair that brings authors and readers together for charity. It was a resounding success for the third year in a row. This year’s event was held the weekend of September 23-24 at the City Center Hotel. More than 950 readers attended, which made for two days of readers streaming through the hotel and scooping up every book and bookmark they could find.
One of the highlights of Penned Con is its focus on charity. The entire event centers on raising money for a St. Louis autism foundation, Action for Autism. This year they raised more than $13,000. The money comes not only from the entrance fee, but also from silent auctions and a variety of charity-focused events like a nerf gun shootout between authors and readers, and the pig-roasting luau. St. Louis Writers Guild is proud to have contributed to the money raised for Action for Autism.
St. Louis Writer Guild had a table in the sponsors’ hall, David Lucas and I spent the weekend talking to every writer and reader about SLWG and all that the organization does. The SLWG table had contest information and other Guild promotional materials. Bookmarks from SLWG members that we displayed were a big hit. We brought all that we had, and almost all were gone by the end of the weekend.
Many of the authors had the most interesting SWAG, like Claire Applewhite’s syringe pens. We saw all kinds from postcards and other printed material, to bracelets, candies, and other visuals to draw readers to their booths and keep them there long enough to make a sale.
Penned Con featured more than 150 authors, many of whom were USA Today Bestsellers. They come from all over the country, and included several St. Louis authors like Nicole Evelina, Eric Asher, Maggie Adams, Mark Pannebecker, and Claudia Shelton. Readers lined up before the doors even opened to get the latest books from their favorite authors and to browse the tables in search of their next favorite book. In fact, David and I watched as many attendees walked around trailing wheeled suitcases loaded down with books. Many used vacation time to attend. Beyond the book fair, Penned Con had inspiring keynotes by Quinn Loftis and L.P. Dover, plus workshops on variety of topics. David Lucas talked about crafting the villain to very receptive crowd.
Penned Con 2017 is set for September 29-30. Interested authors can reserve a table on website listed below. Sign up soon! Many tables have already been booked, and the rest will go quickly. St. Louis Writers Guild will be there, and hopes to be a sponsor and partner of Penned Con for years to come. This is a great event supporting a worthy cause. If you can’t make it as an author, consider attending Penned Con as a reader and book buyer. Right now they have a VIP ticket giveaway, so you might be able to attend for free! Either way, be sure to stop by the SLWG table while you’re there.
To learn more about Penned Con, visit
Photos by Brad R. Cook.
For the latest information on poetry events in the St. Louis, MO area, visit the .
Second Friday Notes, second Friday of each month, 7 p.m., at Whole Foods Town & Country, Clayton Road just west of Highway 141
RIVER STYX. Third Mondays, 7:30 p.m., Tavern of Fire Arts, 313 Belt Ave. riverstyx.org/events.
POETRY AT THE POINT, 4th Tuesday of the month, at Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Ave. Read their ezine at
Sheila Nolan Whalen Reading Series at SLU, 221 N. Grand Ave., Dubourg 409.
Tuesdays at 4 p.m.
CHANCE OPERATIONS on the last Monday of each month at Tavern of the Arts, 313 Belt Ave., just off Pershing, between Union and DeBaliviere. 7:30 p.m. Open mic follows featured poets.
EVERY WEDNESDAY open mic for poetry and music at Stone Spiral Coffee & Curios, 2500 Sutton in Maplewood (2 blocks N. of Manchester). Great food and beverages. Open mic, 8 until around 11 p.m.
GOODY HOUSE, 7 p.m., fourth Thursdays at Art Marketplace, 2028 S. 12th Street. Featured poets.
R_SPACE. Last Saturday of the month, Lenny Smith and friends at 2 p.m.
ST. LOUIS WRITERS GUILD open mic for prose and poetry, second Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m., Kirkwood Train Station, Argonne Drive, just west of Kirkwood Road. Allow time to find parking.
ADDITIONAL OPEN MICS at The Wolf, (every Tuesday), Legacy Books & Café (every Friday), The Historical Crossings (every other Tuesday), Shameless Grounds (Wednesdays at 7), Venice Café (Mondays at 9)
A Quick Guide to St. Louis Writers Guild Events
It’s as easy as
Workshops for Writers
First Saturday of every month (except holiday weekends)
10 a.m. to Noon at the Kirkwood Community Center
Station Open Mic
Second Tuesday of every month
7-9 p.m. at the Kirkwood Amtrak Station
SLWG Authors Series
Third Thursday of every month
Query for “SLWG Authors Series” on YouTube or check the Members’ Room on our website, .
Brad R. Cook, author of the young adult steampunk series, The Iron Chronicles (Treehouse Publishing Group). A former co-publisher and acquisitions editor for Blank Slate Press, he is a member of SCBWI, and currently serves as Historian of St. Louis Writers Guild after three and half years as President. A founding contributor to , a resource blog for writers, he can be heard weekly as a panelist on Write Pack Radio. A cover designer since 2013, he also creates posters, bookmarks, and other marketing materials. Find more @bradrcook on Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.
T.W. Fendley is an award-winning author of historical fantasy and science fiction for adults and young adults, including Zero Time (2011) and The Labyrinth of Time (2014). She’s a founding contributor to , a resource blog for writers. Her short stories are available on Kindle and Audible. When she’s not writing, T.W. explores the boundaries of consciousness through and shamanism. twfendley.com
Steven W. Langhorst is a life-long resident of St. Louis with an insatiable hunger for the facts and trivia of St. Louis history. He is a retired elementary school principal who still serves education as a mentor and consultant focusing on leadership. Steven has dabbled in poetry and photography since his youth and still plans to publish a book of poems and photographs as well as a memoir of his years at principal. Besides holding membership in the St. Louis Writers Guild he also proudly holds a membership in the Professional Tour Guides Association of St. Louis. Steven also contributed to the design of the new St. Louis Writers Guild logo.
David Lucas is the President of St. Louis Writers Guild, a published fiction short story author and poet. He has a Master’s Degree in Management from Webster University. For two years, David has been the host and producer of Write Pack Radio (WPR), a podcast with a panel of authors exploring the changing writing industry. In 2016, David decided to take his experience in podcasting and his love for radio dramas and start Winding Trails Media, which will produce podcast audio dramas beginning in the fall of 2016 as well as continuing WPR podcast.
Lauren Miller is the Director of Communications for the St. Louis Writers Guild, and she reviews books quarterly for the Historical Novels Review. She has a fifteen-year background in library science and has over fifty nonfiction reviews and articles in print. Lauren likes to spend her free time discovering new reads, games, period films, and be surrounded by dogs. To read more about Lauren, visit her blog at
Jennifer Stolzer is an author and illustrator living and working in St. Louis, MO. She graduated from Webster University with a degree in digital media and animation and uses this skill set to create bright and engaging characters. In addition to illustrating books for clients, Jennifer writes and illustrates original work, serves as secretary for the St. Louis Writers Guild, and commentates on the weekly writing podcast Write Pack Radio. See more of Jennifer’s work at , as well as Twitter, tumblr, and Facebook.
For more than a decade, The Scribe has been the mainstay for communicating with members of the St. Louis Writers Guild. It began as a way to showcase the organization and share insights into the publishing world. Back issues give a wonderful record of the Guild. The Scribe is now available to everyone, not just members. It features stories, poems, and essays from our members, as well as information about our events, most of which are open to the public. The October 2016 edition features a word from our guild president, coverage of the St. Louis Writers Guild at Penned Con by Brad R. Cook, an article on National Novel Writing Month by Linda Austin, and a short story by Larry Lovan.