Monday, November 17, 2014

Four Donan Berg Writing Entries Win

Author Donan Berg’s three winning stories dominated the 2014 short/long series romance category at the 9th Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Writing Contest. Coordinator Nicholas Genovese of the sponsoring RWA SOLA Chapter announced the results today.

Author Berg’s entries were “Twice Tempted,” second place; “Ashley - A Lake Series Romance,” third place; and “Love in Lilac,” honorable mention.

For inspirational novels, Author Berg’s “Rosemary’s Awakening” won third place.

In “Twice Tempted,” shrewd businesswoman Cherry Everex inherits a New Orleans hockey club. An acrimonious annulment from the team’s star forward, Shane Hull, is nullified by a state law change. It wrecks havoc with their personal relationship and clashes with their divergent ideas for whether to sell  the hockey team.

“Ashley - A Lake Series Romance.” Ashley Ulrich saves Peter Edwards from drowning and they fight a ruthless real estate developer for love and money.

“Love in Lilac.” Connie Nunnley fights to save her dementia-inflicted grandfather’s newspaper from bankruptcy. She falls in love with new advertiser, Lucas Knowles, whose business interests conflict with Connie’s.

“Rosemary’s Awakening” is a fictional account of a courageous young Iowa woman’s battle to regain life and love after a competitive horse race mishap confines her to a wheelchair.

“I’m honored to be in a great circle of talented writers,” said Berg. “The Dixie Kane competition annually ranks as one of the premier United States writing contests. To be recognized for a third year in 2014 is a great thrill.”

Author Donan Berg has five murder/mystery novels, a stand-alone short story and a short story collection in print and electronic formats, published by DOTDON Books, Moline, IL. He previously cracked the Dixie Kane winner’s circle in 2010 and 2013.

CASI, Davenport, IA, Book Club selected his novel, Adolph’s Gold, a murder/mystery police procedural, as its October 2014 selection.

His 2009 debut novel, A Body To Bones, debuted at number 27 in the top 50 most popular books, all genres, at, an online literary community visited by a million plus authors and readers every month. A year later on September 19, 2010, his novel held its top 50 ranking as the 32nd most popular. His novels are in libraries nationwide, including Davenport, Iowa City, Moline, Rock Falls, and Rock Island. A Writer’s Digest judge wrote: “Donan Berg writes a nice, clear, consistently readable prose, and he manages to create a winning character in Sarah Hamilton.”

Following A Body To Bones, he’s authored The Bones Dance Foxtrot (2009), Bubbling Conflict and Other Short Stories (2010), Abbey Burning Love (2011, E-book only), Baby Bones (2012), Amanda (2014) and Adolph’s Gold (2014).

The Dixie Kane Memorial Contest is named for the late New Orleans writer Linda Kay West, who wrote under the pen name Dixie Kane. The sponsoring New Orleans chapter is a non-profit literary organization dedicated to the craft and business of writing book length fiction with a focus on romance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day

To all who served in the United States military and those who supported them: Happy Veterans Day.

Words are simple; actions superior. May the fruits of your dreams and the magnitude of your sacrifice endure for all ages.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Donan Berg's Amanda, Read Free

For a limited time, read Donan Berg's short story entitled Amanda as a free download.

To do so, go to and at checkout
enter the code RV42U. Your price then will be $0.00.

Notice, this code RV42U has expired. Thank you to all who downloaded.
The free download option with a new code may return.

If you go to the above website link, a free download sample is still available.

This site is the only one offering the free download. And again, it's for a limited

Monday, August 18, 2014

In Memoriam


The funeral home’s lush brown carpet captured our six footsteps until the door creaked. Four heels clicked and two soles squeaked on the greenish-gray linoleum squares in the room protected by the windowless door. Closed to public view were gleaming silver sinks, water sprayers and metal knives and stainless steel counters, fixed and rolling. Our lips remained pressed silent.


“Did I make a good choice?” my brother asked, his words light enough to drop to the floor within six feet.


“Dad would be pleased," I whispered. There was nothing else for me to say. To fulfill my Dad’s request, the gray cardboard coffin that speckled like a Broadway Play flat arrived via special delivery. He had made us all promise that what had been ordered for Mother would be good enough for him.


The special cremation coffin number three on his list. He made us promise two other things: one, no embalming; two, no official service or obituary. While we unanimously didn’t agree with his reasoning, he presented a simple truth. He’d not been born in this country and it contained no record of his birth so he deemed it fitting and proper that no public record of his death need be created. Dad said that something with no beginning also lacked an end. My brain cells sprouted no effective rebuttal. My brother and sister agreed Dad lived his life in his manner. There were neither roofs nor walls on his thoughts. His body would join them on the wind.


My brother had argued with Dad stating that the government owed him a flag, a stars and stripes for his military service. If so, Dad replied to us all, you decide who keeps it. Better I not be planted in the ground, he said, beneath cloth, which in a season becomes tattered and torn.


The funeral director lowered the white sheet to my Dad’s shoulders. We all gasped. This was not our Dad. The brown wavy hair could have been his, but this hollow face of a man—never!


The eyes we saw were clouded as if Dad’s cataracts had regrown across his artificially implanted lenses. His cheeks were sunken, water drops collected in the crevices as if the sun had ducked behind a cloud and obscured the drying rays. The bluish hint of death knocked from afar as if the funeral director had locked it into the rear of the hearse parked outside.


My sister had rifled Dad’s closet for a suit and the blackness hung draped across her arm.


“We don’t really don’t need clothes if there’s to be no viewing,” the funeral director said. “Have you changed your mind?”


“No,” I whispered.


“Then I’ll give you all a few moments to say good-bye. The documents are all ready and the plane leaves this afternoon.”


His words of “I miss Mother,” swirled in my head. I did, too. Now, I’d miss them both.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where to begin? Amaze Yourself.

Driving on a rural road this past weekend surrounded by cornfields prompted a writing thought: where does one best begin the next story. At the beginning is a vague answer that, while true, is worthless. Any word written on a blank page is a opening to a story, but is it the best?

The green corn stalks seen in August will, in the upcoming months, turn brown and be ready for machines with metallic pointed snouts that will pluck the cobs of dented yellow kernels and shoot them into trailing wagon beds. After the precision GPS-guided chopping of selected rows, the harvested stalks left standing will morph into a fanciful Halloween maze.

The created maze can metaphorically represent the task of where does one begin his or her novel? The variables are endless, often confusing, and perhaps daunting to the nth degree.

If there is an apparent opening, all may be well and good until trapped by a dead end. If there's no entrance visible, there's nothing to stop a writer from hacking through the exterior maze perimeter to find a carved out pathway. Either way for the writer is likely to result in his or her trashing written pages, perhaps a hundred or more.

If one is reminded that every novel has a logical central point or an emotional heart, why not sit (for fantasy purposes only) on the end of a catapult's arm and be flung into the maze's center? Or find the nearest mountaintop to give one a bird's eye view to create a strategic maze plan to locate the story character's pivotal decision. The problem with being dropped into the maze's center is that one loses all the prior decisions and information gained that fleshes out the character's journey.

While reader's most often dread any story's middle, to get there without experiencing what initiated the character's imbalance results in bewilderment and/or anger when not fully in the know. The reader has been deprived of the logical steps leading to the story's satisfaction.

In addition the story progression requires strong interrelated elements. Just as chopping off the necessary triggering imbalance leads to reader apathy, not proceeding along the maze paths creates a disconcerting jumble for the reader.

In the end, getting into the maze and twisting and turning, even retreating from a dead end, can be an exhilarating experience for the reader as well as the writer.

Ps, If the writer jettison's thousands of words, all is not lost. They were probably geared to the maze that exists for the next novel.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Is It More Than Hype?

It's been awhile since I created a post. There have been a myriad of reasons. Not the least of which was a trip to Italy. I'm really blessed to have been able to afford such a trip, even if the Pope was too busy to grant me an audience. I guess I didn't have enough royal blood.

While I was gone, the academic fund-raisers were hard at work filling my inbox. The not-so-subtle message was that I should feel privileged to have attended the colleges that I did. Let's be clear, I didn't transfer around. My two degrees are from two colleges that are housed and exist within one land-grant university. And, my time was interrupted by a tour of duty for Uncle Sam. In fact, it was the GI bill, since modified, that allowed my return to school.

If my uneducated brain and psyche were elevated, isn't that what I paid for? Didn't the education process teach me to understand the world, especially salesmanship? No salesperson touts the negative or the obvious, just the benefits to achieve a sale.

I earned (a key point) a degree in journalism. So, if I now write novels, (It's a rhetorical question as all blog readers know.) that's within the realm of my education that I paid hard-earned dollars for. Should I be required to pay again? Those terms aren't used by the college solicitors. They use terms like donations or "giving back." If I bought a car two years ago and paid a fair price, should I now this year be required to pay more? Is education any different?

Now, if the educational institution had since my graduation given me additional enhancements, I would indeed be a slacker if I ignored the fair value of what I'd received. But that's not the case. The college hasn't shelved my novels in their library. They haven't invited me to speak to demonstrate that they've given me a special skill above and beyond tuition paid. They have neither purchased nor promoted the fruits of my paid-for skills. All correspondence has not been "how are you doing, we worry about you," but here's an envelope for your check, payable to us.

This year represents the 40th year since my graduation. What did the school do? They said, send us money and you can attend a reunion in your honor. Well, if I'm a guest to be feted, do I need to buy an admission ticket? If I was allowed to attend without paying, wouldn't the college be compensated by my spreading of good will? I guess they didn't wish to take the chance. It may say something about how revered they held my school attendance.

Reality is not sour grapes. Reality is what it is.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

No Rhyme or Reason

Writers, and I include myself, fumble and perspire to create the best prose possible. We judge ourselves, unmercifully so. And, what is the commercial outcome? We don't know. It's impossible for us to project. And, that's the truth.

This simple truth was no more apparent to me then this week. Attending a book club of which I've been a member for years where the books are member-chosen it's always interesting to see what selections are agreed upon. This month's book, the core of which I had no quarrel, did cause me pause in that the writing switched numerous times from past to present tense. I have no quarrel with either tense (in fact I've written novels utilizing both) but it drove me to distraction when reading to have to switch from one to the other, back again, and then to switch again.

Yet, while fellow book clubbers had no difficulty appreciating my concern, they were willing to overlook it. As one member said, this was a first time author. What a break. I stayed silent, but thought where was the book editor.

This past week I found a copy of a book on editing by Sol Stein. Admittedly it was an old book. However, editing principles don't change that quickly, if ever. He took to task The Firm, an early novel by John Grisham that achieved remarkable sales. And, one of many movies made from Mr. Grisham's writing endeavors. The point by Editor Stein was that commercial fiction could be successful even if it didn't meet what could be considered "literary" standards of writing quality. One can not begrudge the success of Mr. Grisham, in fact, it should be idolized for, notwithstanding critical judgments, he's made the book buyers of the world ring his cash register. We should all be so fortunate.

Nevertheless, we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that editors, even hardnosed ones, are unnecessary and that any writer will be successful no matter what they write. Do I hear an "alleluia?"

There are many factors to successful writing. Clear prose should be one of them. It's like a well-built automobile: if nothing goes wrong and gets us economically to the intended destination, we don't give it much thought. If the onboard computer malfunctions and leaves us at the side of the road the screams of "why me" can be heard across numerous counties. In writing, concrete prose correctly presented doesn't receive encores. It's taken for granted. Or, is it?

Let's say it ups a writer's chance to obtain reader approval. Reader approval will make for greater sales of the current book and, hopefully, others that follow.

As a native of Ireland, I'm mindful of the Irish author who came to New York, wrote four novels, and achieved no commercial success. After his death, his novels were "discovered" and made his heirs or the publisher a pretty penny. Was he a failure as he thought? Apparently not depending on when the judgment is made. So, does this true to life story inspire? We can hope so, not that I wish any writer to die.

There is no rule that says violation of what is considered to be preferred writing style will condemn that writer to failure or poverty. However, there are many other writers who gain both monetary and public acclaim by being exceptional writers, not by talent alone, but by hard word in learning the craft of writing, nurturing their own instincts, and abiding by the skills gleamed from others. There is no official survey, but I would speculate that those writers who have acquired and polished the skills espoused by well-known and esteemed editors have prospered by all yardsticks of success.

Yes, there will always be exceptions. Isn't it better to shoot for the majority road to success?

If you answer, the truth will be known to you and you need not share, but keep on writing.

Author Donan Berg has published five novels, the latest is Adolph's Gold. It's available at major online book retailers in e-book format and in paperback (374 pages) at . He also is available for flat-fee manuscript critiques and line editing through . Click on the marketplace link for more information. He offers a no obligation consultation. What have you to lose?

Also, he's scheduled to be on blogradio April 14, 2014, at from New York City. Listen in or join the conversation with a call in.