July 2023 Contest Winners

From the July 2023 Bloc Buster Challenge writing contest.

The top four stories are listed here:

First Place  – Wristwork by Brian Condike

Second Place tie – I Don’t Remember Dying by Leon Dixson (withheld at author request)

Second Place tie  – A Glimpse into the Future by Gary Christenson

Third Place  – The High(est) Stakes Game by George Bowden

Speaker: September 30, 2023

Greg Gifford: Firearms In Fiction  – Getting It Right

The three big rules for firearms in your stories are:

Be period correct.

Be capacity correct.

Be performance correct.

Topics to be covered include:

A brief history of firearms in America, what is black powder, what is smokeless powder, what are the various types of rifles, what are the various types of pistols, and what is the National Firearms Act of 1934.

In addition, a short explanation of ballistics will be covered.  Also, how to research a particular firearm.

Some serious historical questions to address. 

  • Why did so many criminals have a “Tommy Gun” during the prohibition era?
  • Why did the U.S military switch to tiny bullets during the Vietnam era?
  • Who were the great gun designers of the 20th century?
  • What emotions do characters feel when they are anticipating using a gun?  What emotions do characters feel when they are engaged in a gun battle / fire fight?  What emotions do characters feel after a battle? These intense experiences are not always the easiest to get down on paper.

Bio for Greg Gifford

Greg graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in education. He worked the majority of his career in the insurance industry and earned the Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter designation.

Other teaching pursuits included secondary school Special Education and seminars for adults seeking a license to enter the insurance industry. During his retirement, he also taught English as a Second Language, a challenging and rewarding activity.

When not in front of eager learners, Greg enjoys outdoor pursuits and motor sports. He has hunted small and big game extensively in North America with occasional forays into Africa, South America, and Europe.

Instructing firearms safety and marksmanship are two rewarding and favorite activities. When not punching holes in paper targets or reloading ammunition, Greg enjoys philosophical conversations with his cat, George, who is an attentive listener.

GWB January Speaker

Our speaker for the January 27, 2024 meeting (last Saturday of the month) is Lori Freeland.

Topic: The Ins and Outs of Internal Thought  

What your characters don’t say is as crucial as what they do say.     

Internal thought can either add depth to your story and amplify your characters or dilute your wow moments and water down your words. The goal in any novel is to make your readers feel as though they’ve stepped into your character’s body and to let them experience the world through your character’s eyes. Discover how internal thought relates to topics such as deep point of view, dialogue, subtext, tension, pacing, character likeability, character motivation, and story credibility. What goes on inside your character’s head can be a major player in creating their world. It’s worth taking the time to perfect.  

Lori’s Bio:

Lori Freeland, an encourager at heart, believes everyone has a story to tell. An author, editor, and writing coach, she holds a BA in psychology from The University of Wisconsin and lives in the Dallas area. A regular contributor to Writers in the Storm and Crosswalk and former editor for The Christian Pulse and Armonia Publishing, she’s presented multiple writing workshops at conferences across the country and has experience in developmental and copy edits in various genres of fiction and nonfiction. She writes articles, novels, and everything in between. When she’s not curled up with her dogs drinking too much coffee, she loves to mess with the lives of the imaginary people living in her head.

GWB November Speaker

Our speaker for the November 25 meeting (last Saturday in November) is our own Laura Drake.

Her Topic: Characterization: Be the Dude!

Laura’s Bio:

Laura Drake is a hybrid author of Women’s Fiction and Romance. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 14 more books. She is a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Assn. and Writers in the Storm blog.

Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

October Speaker for GWB

Our speaker for the October 30th in-person meeting at Hood County Library is Lori Wilde:

She will speak on “Less Tell, More Show: Techniques for Making Your Writing Leap Off the Page.

Her Bio:

Lori Wilde is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 97 works of romantic fiction. She’s a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist and has won numerous other awards as well. Her books have been translated into 26 languages, with more than five million copies of her books sold worldwide.

Her series, Wedding Veil Wishes, inspired three movies from Hallmark, that went on to shatter viewing records.

Lori is an RN with a BSN and a MLA from Texas Christian University. She holds a certificate in screenwriting from UCLA, a certificate in forensic nursing from Kaplan and she is also a RYT-200 yoga instructor.

A sixth-generation Texan, Lori lives with her husband, Bill, in the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.

Speaker – August 26, 2023

Charles Somervill is a retired Presbyterian minister. His educational background includes a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, an MA in psychology from Eastern New Mexico University, and a PhD from the University of Oklahoma. 

Since retiring Charles has taken up fiction writing.  His published works include Murder by Faith, The Granbury Murders: A Mark and Lori Mystery, The Granbury Assassin: A Mark and Lori Mystery, and The Granbury Witch: A Mark and Lori Mystery.

Non-fiction published works include Leadership Strategies for Ministers, and Stepfathers: Struggles and Solutions.

You can read reviews on books by Charles Somervill at Goodreads.com/csomervill or Amazon or Thrift Books.

On the Goodreads website Charles answers the following questions.

  1. How do you deal with writer’s block?
  2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?
  3. What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
  4. What are you currently working on?
  5. How do you get inspired to write?
  6. Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

We expect a good attendance from our membership to hear this accomplished author.

Writers' workshop and writing group