Thursday, August 27, 2015

Circle C Adventures (and Goldtown) Short-Story Writing Contest 2016

Greetings, young writers! I'm excited to announce the 3rd annual Circle C Adventures (and Goldtown) story-writing contest for 2016. Anyone between the ages of 6 and 17 may enter. There is  no fee, and no purchase is required. However, since the writing contest revolves around the characters and settings from the book series, you might want to find a copy of the books in your local library to familiarize yourself with the premise. If you would like to see previous contest winners' story, both book are available on Amazon as print and Kindle editions

This page gives you a quick summary of the contest rules. However, you will also need to download and read the OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES in order to enter. The Entry Form (which your parent will need to sign) must be scanned and emailed to me (or sent via snail mail) in order to be officially entered in the contest. NOTE: I need at least eight (8) entries in each category to run the contest. So far, this has not been a problem. :-)

CATEGORIES and WORD COUNT: There are three (3) categories for contestants, based on age.
       A. Ages 6-9 (500-1,000 words)  (Children in this age category may narrate their story.)
       B. Ages 10-13 (1,500-2,500 words)
       C. Ages 14-17 (2,000-3,500 words)

CONTENT: The stories must revolve around the characters and settings from the Circle C and Goldtown books. Any characters from any of the four (4) series may be used in any combination. You may also create new characters, as long as the characters from the original series are part of the story in some way.

To learn the basics of writing a character/problem/solution story, on which this contest is based, click the link for a PDF file: Five Elements of a Story: Ages 10 and up
Younger contestants can go here: Five Elements of a Story: Ages 6-9 

PRIZES: There will be a FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD place winner for each category, as well as one Honorable Mentions for each category.
 First-place winners receive:
     1. $25.00 cash (U.S. winners only, unless PayPal is available outside the U.S.)
     2. a copy of the paperback book, Along the Western Trail, containing the 12 winning stories.
     3. a copy of the Tenth Anniversary Expanded Edition of Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home.
     4. a Circle C Milestones journal

Second-place winners receive:
     1. $10.00 cash (U.S. winners only, unless PayPal is available outside the U.S.)
     2. a copy of the paperback book, Along the Western Trail, containing the 12 winning stories.
     3. a copy of the Tenth Anniversary Expanded Edition of Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home.

Third-place winners receive:
     1. $5.00 cash (U.S. winners only, unless PayPal is available outside the U.S)
     2. A copy of the print book, Along the Western Trail, containing the 12 winning stories.

Honorable Mentions receive:
     1. A Certificate of Honorable Mention (emailed to winners outside the U.S.)
     2. A copy of the paperback book, Along the Western Trail, containing the 12 winning stories.

To read more about how your story will be judged, how to submit your story, and the rest of the details for the contest, download the OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES.

If you have questions (after reading the Official Rules), you may leave a comment on this page. I will address your questions in follow-up comments. Before you ask a question, check the FAQs (frequently asked questions) and see if somebody has already asked it.

Have fun! Deadline: January 15, 2016. Winners announced on or before April 1, 2016

(Andi's official sponsor of the contest)
Here you can read about our fantastic, independent judges for the contest. They have read and are familiar with the characters and situations in the Circle C Adventures / Circle C Beginnings / Circle C Milestones / Goldtown books:

Judges for Ages 6-9:

Colleen L. Reece was born and raised near Darrington, WA, a tiny logging town in the Cascade Mts. Her family had no electricity or running water, and she learned to read by kerosene lamplight. She dreamed of someday writing a book. God multiplied her "someday" book into more than 150 titles, with over six million copies sold. Colleen is a great example of what an extraordinary God can do with an ordinary person who wants to love and serve Him. Visit Colleen on her Amazon Author Page.

Heather FitzGerald wears disguises and avoids showing her face in public for fear of retaliation from Trolls and Dark Dwarves. Ever since she wrote her novel, The Tethered World, which reveals their existence and chronicles their hostilities with Gnomes and Nephilum, Heather must take precautions to protect herself. With Finding Christ Books accepting her Christian fantasy trilogy for teens, you'll soon get a chance to read this sensitive material for yourself. In the meantime, discover more about the Tethered World at

 Judges for Ages 10-13:

Donna Alice Patton is a freelance writer and history buff living in rural Ohio. She is the author of three books: The Search for the Madonna and The Gift of Summer Snow for children, and Roses are Red, Diamonds are Blue, a mystery/thriller for adults. Read more at

Emily McConnell is an aspiring Christian novelist. A nominee in four categories of fan fiction's "Papa Bear Awards" including best story, she's also had several articles published in small magazines, newspapers, and online newspapers. Her favorite genre to write is historical fiction, particularly World War 2 and the Cold War, though she does love to write crazy stories where her characters come to life and hijack her blog for the day. Emily lives in Washington state with five of her eight siblings, her parents, and her horse, Bodie.

Judges for Ages 14-17:

Rebekah A. Morris is a home-school graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author, and a passionate writing teacher. She has written and published eleven books including Home Fires of the Great War, Gift from the Storm, and the Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes--when she isn't writing one of many different stories--include reading and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. The Show-Me state (Missouri) is her home, though she dreams to one day visit all fifty states, starting with Montana. Visit Rebekah at: 

Karla Cook is a freelance writer, blogger, and aspiring novelist. She is currently working on a coming-of-age story set in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, inspired by her grandmother's letters and diary. She makes her home in the panhandle of Idaho with her husband, two homeschooled daughters, and an assortment of pets. She loves to read, research family history, and take road trips. Learn more at


Fire and Forgiveness Part 2 . . . by McKenzie S. and Kara S.

And here comes the conclusion to Fire and Forgiveness!

“Oh, doctor, how is he?” Margaret asked frantically when he emerged from the room where Thomas lay.  
Doctor Weaver explained the situation, “Thomas has been awake for some time now, but when he first woke up he was a bit delusional. His head hit the ground pretty hard. He probably won’t suffer long term damage, but he’s going to have to rest for a few weeks. I’ll be back to check on him in two weeks.”
“Thank you, doctor.  We’re most grateful for your help,” said Mr. Lawrence.
The doctor replied, “You’re certainly welcome. I’m just glad I was able to get here without delay. Good evening.”
That night after dinner, Andi went to bed early. She lay in deep thought on her bed. This arm hurts. Whew, I wish it wouldn’t have been broken. Today has been a horrible day for me and Taffy. Taffy is injured, thanks to Thomas. I’ll never speak to Thomas again.
A soft knock interrupted Andi’s thoughts.
“Andi, may I come in?” Justin’s voice floated quietly into the room.
“Sure, Justin.”
Justin entered Andi’s room and sat down on the bed, “Mother wanted me to tell you that we are inviting the Lawrences to our Thanksgiving celebration.”
Andi sat up, “Our what?”
Justin nodded. “Yes, to our Thanksgiving celebration.”
“Well, they don’t have any family around these parts, and I thought inviting them to a celebration would be nice. The Blakes are out of town for the week anyway.”
“No, don’t want Thomas here,” Andi cried.
Justin took Andi’s shoulder, “Listen closely, Andi. I want you to take the invitation to Thomas’ family tomorrow morning, understand? I don’t like threatening you, or anybody, but if you don’t invite them, Taffy will be off limits for a month.”
Justin kissed Andi’s forehead and left the room. Hot tears ran down Andi’s face until she fell asleep.
The next morning Andi got up and dressed. After a quick breakfast, she headed to the barn for chores. The barn was silent as Andi started to muck out stalls.
In the silence, an audible whisper coaxed, Forgive Thomas.
Andi looked around, startled.
Forgive Thomas. He’s lonely and needs a friend.
After her chores were finished, Andi went to find Justin. She found him in his room with papers scattered on the floor. “Justin, may I talk with you?”
Justin looked up. “Of course.”
Andi explained what she had heard in the barn and Justin smiled. “Do you think it’s true?”
“Thomas has fun hurting people.”
“Because he’s lonely,” Justin replied. “Just invite Thomas and say you forgive him. You may not know it at the time, but God may be working on him as you speak.”
Andi sat quietly as she thought. “I’ll take the invitation.”
Justin smiled and hugged Andi, “How about you do that.”
The next morning, Mitch took Andi to the Lawrences. When they got there, Andi was shaking like a newborn foal nervously taking its first steps as Mitch rapped the knocker. Mr. Lawrence opened the door.
“Mornin’, Joe,” Mitch greeted.
Joe grinned. “Howdy there, Mitch.”
“We’d like to invite you to our Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow.” Andi looked down.
Joe smiled. “Thank you kindly. We’d be mighty obliged to come.”
Mitch shook Joe’s hand and asked, “Can we visit Taffy?”
Joe nodded. “Sure.”
They entered the shed and found that Taffy was able to walk around with only a slight limp.
Mitch said, “I think that she can come home with us, Andi.”
Andi leaped, “Oh, thank you Mitch!”
They led Taffy out of the shed and towards her home.
Thanksgiving Day came too quickly for Andi. When she got up that morning, she felt strange. God, I need to forgive Thomas. Will you help me? Feeling a sense of peace, Andi said quietly, “Thomas, I…I forgive you and what you’ve done to Taffy and me.”
You’ve done the right thing, Andi. I love you.
Andi knew it was God and smiled. The fire in her heart ceased.
Later that day, the guests arrived. Pleasant voices drifting from the parlor guided Andi to where they were gathered.
“Hello Andrea, I hear you’ve been mending well,”  Mr. Lawrence cheerfully began. “Thomas has been looking forward to riding Taffy this afternoon. Since we were able to board her at our ranch for a while, we’ve been thinking of her almost as a family pet.”
Oh no! Andi thought. I can’t let Thomas near Taffy. She’ll go crazy...and so will I. I’ve got to figure out a way to deter Thomas’ hopes of riding Taffy.
“Well, can’t I go see my long-lost friend?” Thomas’s question interrupted Andi’s thoughts.
“Uh, yeah. But not until after dinner because she’s in the pasture, so she might not be close to the fence.”  
 “We might as well look,”  Thomas snapped.
Slightly frightened, Andi dashed out to the fence with Thomas following. Taffy was grazing right next to the fence when they arrived.
After petting Taffy for a while, Thomas demanded, “Let’s go riding.”
Andi shook her head. “No. I want to go inside.”
“Why not? Hey, I bet you’re still afraid of gettin’ hurt again, huh?” Thomas taunted.
“No, I’m just cold.” Andi turned to go.
“Betcha’ hate me, huh?”
“I can’t say I like you, but I can’t say I hate you. But…” she paused, “I forgive you.”
Thomas stared at her. “You what?”
“I forgive you. I don’t like to do it, but it’s the right thing. I forgive you for hurting Taffy. I hope you’ll forgive me for treating you poorly.”
Andi felt awkward, but she knew she had said the right thing.
Thomas held back, clearly thinking about what Andi had said.
When Andi and Thomas got to the house, Justin opened the door. “Just in time; dinner is about to be served,” he announced while motioning them inside.
 After dinner, when it was time to leave, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence thanked the Carters for their hospitality.
“We’re glad you could make it.” Justin shook Joe’s hand.
“Thank you again, Justin.” Joe stepped up into his family’s wagon.
 As the Lawrence wagon proceeded down the road, Thomas looked back.
“Bye, Thomas!” Andi called out, waving. She suddenly felt embarrassed.
Surprisingly, Thomas waved, and Andi knew something had changed in her. Forgiveness truly was what she needed to do to settle the anger towards Thomas for what he had done to her beloved horse.

The End

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fire and Forgiveness Part 1 . . . by McKenzie S. and Kara S.

Time for a fan story. This one is co-authored by McKenzie and Kara S.Enjoy! 


On a cool November day in 1884, fourteen-year-old Andrea Carter made her way into the schoolroom.
Her friend Cory bumped into her.
“So, Andi, is your family going to have a Thanksgiving celebration at your ranch this year?”
Thomas Lawrence, the newest pupil in school, interrupted their conversation, “Who would want to go to your place for Thanksgiving? I’ve heard that you always have a lousy horse race. I can’t believe you even have horses after what happened to your father. If he would’ve known how to ride, he wouldn’t have gotten thrown off his stupid horse.”
The words stung like a thousand cacti spines. Andi blinked the hot tears away. The rest of the day she couldn’t concentrate on her lessons. When Justin came to pick her up, she told him everything. Andi choked back tears, “Why would he say something like that?”
Justin put his arm around her and said, “Give it some time. Maybe once you get to know him he’ll soften up a little. Just remember that you need to show God’s love to Thomas even when you don’t feel like it.”
Andi nodded, but she doubted his words.          
Several days after the school incident, Saturday evening came and the Carters were in the library. A knock at the door interrupted the silence and Chad went to answer. In a minute, he came running, “Justin! Come quick! The Lawrence barn has caught fire! Mitch, stay here with the ladies.”
Chad and Justin grabbed their coats and were out the door.
As soon as the two men rode into the Lawrence property, they realized the situation could quickly become hopeless if something wasn’t done to put the raging fire out very soon.
Chad started to help haul water, while Justin made sure no one was inside the barn.
“Carter, anyone in the barn?” someone yelled. “Thankfully, no, but the animals are trapped in there. We need to let them go before the roof caves.” Justin yelled back above the noise of the roaring blazes.
Worry creased Joe Lawrence’s face as the intensity of the inferno raged on.
Justin ran to the barn and swung the double doors open. The animals inside were frantic, but calmed themselves enough that he was able to go from one stall to the next, freeing them from their entrapment. Once outside the barn, the horses froze, as if they were in a daze, then bolted away from the burning scene. The remaining livestock ran in all directions.
When the fire became manageable and there was no danger of it spreading to the dry hills surrounding the Lawrence property, the men gathered to discuss what needed to be done.
“Thank you, men, for helping tonight. I couldn’t have gotten that fire contained without you. I’ll be rounding up my horses tomorrow at first light. Anyone who wants to come is welcome, but I understand if you can’t make it.” Joe said.
“I’ve got a horse you can borrow,” a fellow offered.
“We can loan you Snowflake, Pal, and Taffy,” Chad pitched in.
Andi’s heart sank when she heard the news. “Chad, Taffy is my horse. I should be the one who’s deciding—”
Chad cut her off, “The Lawrences need her more than you do right now. They’ll only have her until they can find their own horses and get the farm up and running again. Besides, I think Taffy will enjoy the thrill of a chase. Don’t you?” He tried to lift Andi’s spirit, but his attempts didn’t help the crushing reality that Thomas would probably be the one riding Taffy.
If only the fire would have never happened,”  Andi thought.
Early the next morning Chad prepared the animals to take to the Lawrences. Andi went to say goodbye to Taffy. She opened the door to Taffy’s stall and Taffy’s nose pushed against her face. “I’ll miss you Taffy,” She hugged Taffy’s neck. “I don’t want Thomas to hurt you. Please don’t get hurt.”
Andi fed Taffy three sugar cubes and patted her head.
Chad knocked at the door, “Hey, Andi. I got to get Taffy out to the wagon.”
Andi nodded and grabbed Taffy’s halter from the wall. “I’ll get her, Chad.” She slipped the halter over Taffy’s nose and behind her ears and led her out to the wagon where she was tied securely. “Bye Taffy. I’ll miss you.” Andi waved as the wagon rolled away.
A week later after school, and five days before Thanksgiving, Mitch approached Andi with an unexpected question, “So, Andi, how would you like to go to the Lawrences today?  Chad and I are going to be helping them build a new barn, and then you could have a chance to visit Taffy again.”
Andi eagerly joined them and the trio soon arrived at the Lawrence’s home. They found Joe on the porch and he explained to Chad and Mitch some of the barn’s plans.
“Hey, Mitch, I’m going to go visit Taffy.” Andi said and started to go. “Is it okay if I ride her too?”
“Sure. Be careful,” Mitch replied.
After a minute, Andi found Taffy inside the Lawrences’ shed. The sight that greeted her wasn’t at all what she had expected Taffy to look like. The beautiful mare was caked with mud, her color hardly distinguishable.
Andi reached up to pet Taffy and Taffy jerked back.
“Don’t touch her!” Thomas called suddenly from the doorway, “She’s been actin’ wild-like lately. Now, let’s ride.”
Before Andi could say anything, Taffy was saddled and Thomas mounted first in front, while Andi climbed in the saddle behind him. They started out into one of the pastures. Thomas slapped Taffy’s rump continuously because of her slow speed, “C’mon! Faster!”
“Stop it!” Andi cried. A growing inferno threatened to explode inside Andi’s heart.
“Make me.” Thomas raised a fist.
Before he struck, Taffy jerked and everything went black.
     After Chad, Mitch. and Mr. Lawrence had finished cutting some of the boards for building the barn, Mitch started to get worried about Andi.
Mitch voiced his concern, “Thomas and Andi should be back by now. I told Andi that we were going to leave one hour before sundown, and it’s practically sundown already. I’m gonna’ go look for her.”
“We’ll come with you,” Chad and Mr. Lawrence said.
They prepared their mounts and soon arrived upon Andi and Thomas laying on the ground, unconscious. Chad and Mitch went over to Andi and Mitch poured his canteen of water onto Andi’s face to revive her from her current state.
“Are you okay?” Mitch asked.
Andi wiped her face and winced, “My arm… hurts badly.”
“What were you doing?” Chad shouted angrily.
“I… we… Thomas and I were riding Taffy, and he was beating her. I stopped him and then we were suddenly thrown from Taffy,” Andi answered as Mitch gently took her arm.
Mitch’s voice was soft, “I’m glad you’re okay. Chad and I will see to Taffy. You lie still.”
A few paces away, Joe knelt next to Thomas’s side and saw a horrible gash on his forehead. Thomas’s his leg was twisted oddly. “Chad, get over here!” Joe called over his shoulder.
Chad rushed over. “What?”
“His leg and head are badly damaged,” Joe said worriedly.
“I’ll get Doctor Weaver from town!” Chad rushed over to Sky, mounted, and took off.
An hour later, Chad returned with Doctor Weaver. While Chad was gone, Joe and some other men had taken Andi and Thomas back to the ranch house. Mitch also had discovered that Taffy’s leg was broken from the major fall.
Mrs. Lawrence stepped out onto the porch of the ranch house, “Doc Weaver, hurry!”
“Don’t worry Margaret,” Dr. Weaver addressed Mrs. Lawrence, “I’ll do my best. But before I look at Thomas, how are you, Miss Andrea?”
Andi winced. “My arm hurts.”
Doctor Weaver examined and prodded Andi’s arm for a few minutes and pronounced her condition, “She has a broken arm, but I took care of that by putting it in this sling. She won’t be allowed to move it for quite a few weeks until I can check up on her.”
“Thank you doctor,” Chad said. “Much obliged.”
“Jonathan,” Mrs. Lawrence moaned impatiently by the door.
“I must go,” Doc Weaver made his way into the house, followed quickly by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence.
Joe came out a minute later as the Carters were about to leave and pulled Chad aside.
“Hey, Andi, come over here,” Chad called.
When she came closer, Chad continued, “The Lawrences will keep Taffy in their shed because we can’t transport her back to the ranch with her broken leg and all.”
Andi shook her head fiercely. “Thomas may hurt her.”
Chad looked back at her, “I’m sorry, but there’s no other way. Now, let’s go.”
Andi opened her mouth to protest, but Chad waved a finger. “No arguing, we’re leaving.”
Andi sighed but obeyed Chad. They galloped away from the farm, leaving Andi staring at the barn vanishing behind them.

Part 2 (conclusion) tomorrow . . .

Friday, August 21, 2015

No Chatting Tomorrow for Mrs. M

I'm sorry to say that I won't be able to chat on the box tomorrow (Saturday). We just got our Level 3 evacuation notice so we have to leave our mountain. Now, I ask you: THIS tiny plume might make its way to us from miles and miles away? True, the gray clouds to the right are the BIG FIRE everybody's seen on the news. And there is another to the left that I didn't catch with my cheapy phone camera. No way to zoom. Seems it jumped the river and is intent on licking up every blade of grass and every tree in north-central Washington.

But the wind is whipping and it's better to be safe than sorry. The entire Okanogan County seems to be ablaze if you look at a fire map. At any rate, no chatting for me tomorrow. I'll be far away and probably not thinking about normal things. *sigh*


More Andi Fans Meet!

This is so great! Summer is the time for meeting friends, and two more Andi fans had the privilege of meeting face to face this month. I'm thrilled they sent a picture, like Anne and Hannah did. Enjoy!

From Jesseca:

So, this last weekend my family was in WA and I was able to meet my long-time pen-pal, Rebekah. Both of our families had such an amazing time of fellowship, and it was thrilling to be able to meet Rebekah in person.

Thank you so much for writing the And I stories and keeping the blog up. If it wasn't for Circle C, I never would have known/met Rebekah. And thank you for being willing to send emails and addresses back and forth so we have a way to "meet" each other!

God bless!