Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Oquirrh Hills 2012 eBook Contest Winners

Earlier this year my League of Utah Writers chapter held an eBook contest.  There were six categories, and books were judged based on writing, cover design, website, and overall presentation.

Contest generes:
  • General
  • YA/Juvenile
  • Sci-fi/Fantasy
  • Romance/Inspirational
  • Historical
The deadline was extended through March, and the results were announced on the 15th.  Here are the winners: 

1st Place: Counting Crows by T W Abbott 
2nd Place: Kuhlain's Quest by L Charles Grant 

Romance / Inspirational:
1st Place: Love on Laird Lane by Cindy A Christiansen 
2nd Place: Braving the Blaze by Cindy A Christiansen 
3rd Place: Inside Hope by Krista Siegler 

Young Adult / Juvenile:
1st Place: Become by Ali Cross 
2nd Place: The Darkness Within by Sara Fitzgerald 

1st Place: Five Scalps by Jerry A Matney & D A Gordon 
2nd Place: Woman War Chief by Jerry A Matney & D A Gordon 
3rd Place: I, Nephi by K M Mittan 

So, I took first place in Fantasy.  This was pretty exciting.  The contest was a good exercise for me because it made me really think about presentation, and my website, and the cover, and everything else that goes along with ePublishing a story.

Right now you can read the novel for free.  The story works really well standing on its own.  I'd like to make a series based on these characters, something like Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew set in a mythical Anglo Saxon England.  I like the period of history where paganism was slowly being replaced by Christianity, when people worshiped Christ but still invoked Thunor or Woden when they needed a little extra luck.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Golden Eagle Visits Our Neighborhood

We don't see ravens every day, so when a pair of them began swooping over our street and making a fuss, I stopped what I was doing for a second look.  They were enormous.  I called my kids over and pointed them out.  Then--on sheer impulse--I went into the house and got my camera.  It's not like ravens are all that rare, but I think they're wonderful.  The ancient Scandinavians considered them the messengers of Odin, and that makes them kind of cool.

I can't describe why I went for my camera, or why I went out my garage instead of trying to get a picture from my back yard, but I'm so glad I did.  It was just one of those moments of rare serendipity where an impulse paid off in a way I'll never forget.

Across the street, a honey locust tree towers over a neighbor's yard.  The ravens were swooping around, croaking and diving.  I didn't realize they were after something until I got close.  Then I realized it was an enormous bird.  It was a monster.

It was a golden eagle.

This guy was just sitting there, cool and alert.  Every now and then one of the ravens would land and try to get close.  The raven would squawk and peck the bark of the tree.  At one point, one of the ravens ripped off a small branch, gave it a good thrashing and then threw it down.  Very dramatic!

All this time, the eagle just sat there.

This guy was enormous.  To give you a size comparison, consider that an adult raven is about two feet long from beak to tail.  Here's another side-by-side photo.  The raven is trying to look tough.

I could almost hear the eagle saying, "Come one step closer.  Just, one, step..."

That was quite a sight.

Ravens are feisty and very cunning.  You usually don't see them hanging around cities, or places where Man lives.  They like the wild country.  You're more likely to see one picking a carcass by the side of a remote stretch of highway then you are to see one circling our neighborhood.

Even more rare is to get a visit from a golden eagle.  My kids were awed.

Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, and before long all the neighbors had their cameras out, and were clicking away.  People were slowing down as they drove past and gazing into the treetops.  The eagle was very well camouflaged.

I would never have seen it had there not been a pair of angry ravens making all that noise.