Walking Out of War cover wins 1st place

I’m thrilled to announce that the cover of the third book in the Eastern Front trilogy, Walking Out of War, has won first place in the East Texas Writers Guild 2017 Blue Ribbon Book Cover Contest for Nonfiction/Memoir.

The contest drew entries from across the U.S.A., as well as from the U.K, Australia and Canada.

A team of artists and designers from the Dallas, Texas area judged the entries in five categories:

  • romance
  • mystery/thriller
  • science fiction/fantasy
  • historical fiction
  • nonfiction/memoir.

You can find all the winning entries on Caleb & Linda Pirtle’s blog, Here Comes a Mystery.

Walking Out of War’s cover won first place in the nonfiction/memoir category. It tells the story of my father-in-law’s experiences from 1944 to 1947, as he fought in the Soviet Red Army across the Baltic States, Poland and Germany, finally at the Battle of Berlin.

This award-winning cover was designed by David C. Cassidy, who also created the covers of the previous books in the Eastern Front trilogy, Army of Worn Soles and Under the Nazi Heel.

It depicts a Red Army soldier, walking calmly away from conflict and toward a brighter future. Meanwhile, the shadow of the Soviet Union reaches for him from behind. It’s an image that perfectly captures the main theme of the book.


David has also done covers for most of my other books, as well, including One Shade of Red, Torn Roots, Jet: Stealth, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying, Echoes and The Wife Line.

You can see all the covers on the Books by Scott Bury page.

David, of course, also designs covers and websites for a lot of authors and companies. He is also the author of excellent and truly scary horror novels, such as Velvet Rain and The Dark. Check out his work at his website.

I would like to thank David for his excellent work, and the East Texas Writers Guild for holding the contest that helps promote so many excellent authors and designers.

A lovely award

Every time this blog gets one of these spontaneous, friendly “awards,” I’m surprised and delighted. It still makes me happy not only that people read Written Words, but like it enough to give it some public recognition.

Thank you, Rosalind Burgess and Patricia Obermeier Neurman of the Roz and Patty Write blog for nominating Written Words for the One Lovely Blog Award.
Roz and Patty are co-authors of the Val Kit Mystery series, which includes The Disappearance of Mavis Woodstock, The Murder of Susan Reed, Death in Door Country and LethalProperty. Follow the links and check them out.

The One Lovely Blog Award is one of those award chains. Now that I have gladly linked back to the writers who nominated me, it’s my turn to nominate some of my favourite blogs.

But first, I have to share seven things about me. Here goes:
  • I like my coffee black, and after all these years, I’m still searching for the ideal ratio of coffee grounds to water.
  • I am enjoying this cool summer. It makes it so much easier to ride my bike to work when the air isn’t hot and muggy. On the other hand, it’s been windy most days, and for some reason, the wind always seems to be blowing exactly from the direction I need to go.
  • I have more ideas for stories and books than I believe I will ever have time to write down, even in rough form.
  • I once tried starting my own religion, but it’s really hard to rally fanatical followers with the phrase, “Think for yourselves, you self-deluded fools!”
  • I used to do book paste-ups using waxed galleys. I also used actual glue to do rough paste-ups of a magazine I used to work for.
  • I hate pomegranates. Just hate ’em.
  • I love the prairies, and wish I had more time to visit them.

Now it’s time for me to nominate the blogs I think are lovely. Remember, nominees: in accepting this award (you have no choice), you must follow through by acknowledging your nominator (me), confessing seven facts about yourself, and nominating 15 “or so” other bloggers. And you have to let them, and me, know about all this!

It probably won’t surprise you that most of my favourite blogs are about writing and writers. Here you go:
  • BestSelling Reads—a collective of authors whose books regularly hit the best-seller lists—not because of a huge marketing push, but because they know how to appeal to an audience.
  • Rachel in the OC—the blog of Rachel Thompson, bestselling author and one of the driving forces behind BestSelling Reads. There always something to get out of this blog.
  • Van Brown’s Journal—Van is one of my first fans, an actor, writer, funny guy and all round good person. I haven’t found I disagree with him, yet. Except maybe about motorcycles.
  • Seb Kirby’s New words for new times—Seb is an excellent, best-selling writer, author of the Take No More series of thrillers as well as the sci-fi book Double Bind (which evokes my favourite old-time science fiction author, Philip K. Dick).
  • WriteHook by my brother from another mother and father, Scott Morgan—one of the best writing stylists I have ever found.
  • Cinta Garcia de la Rosa’s many blogs, like Indie Authors You Want to Read, I Can’t Stop Reading and Cinta’s Corner. I don’t know how she manages to produce so much every day.
  • Guild of Dreams—a collective of independent fantasy authors who always produce something worth reading.
  • Rob on Writing—the blog of my friend and bestselling author in his own right (grrr…), Rob Guthrie.
  • Because Life is a Reallly Good Story—the website and blog of writer, designer and photographer David C. Cassidy, author of Velvet Rain, Fosgate’s Game and the upcoming The Dark, and designer of some terrific book covers (including two of mine).
  • Author Unplugged— Frederick Lee Brooke’s blog about writing and life.
  • Ms. Cheevious—the blog of “Ms. Cheevious,” Lisa Jey Davis, Hollywood publicist, author, health speaker and personality. Yah, I know I’m not the target audience for this blog, but it’s fun to read and educational, too.
  • The Thoughts and Opinions of a Writer on the Rise—Bruce Blake is one of the most original fantasy authors out there, and someone like me who doesn’t seem to want to be constrained to one genre. I just wish I could be as successful as him!
  • Indie Universe—Gary Henry is an excellent writer, and he’s a proponent of indie authors, to boot!

These blogs are all more than worth your time, so click on the links and spend a few minutes every day.
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I have won TWO (count ’em!) Liebster Awards for blogging!

Two good friends, fellow bloggers and writers have nominated me for the Liebster Award for Blogging: Christine Nolfi, founder of the BestSelling Reads group; and Bruce Blake, fantasy author and fellow member of Independent Authors International.

As a Liebster Winner (Liebsterite? Liebsterine?), I now have to:

• tell you 11 random facts about myself

• answer 11 questions that Christine and Bruce sent

• nominate 11 authors; and

• send them 11 completely new questions.

11 random facts about me

1. My last name has changed twice in my life, and I’m not running from the law.

2. I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the land of frozen Januaries.

3. I had a LOT of hair when I was in university.

4. I suck at paperwork.

5. My first car was a 1969 Cutlass two-door with a V8 engine.

6. I cannot focus a camera myself. I need auto-focus.

7. I know how to sail a sloop.

8. I have occasionally been unkind to others. Okay, more than occasionally. Sorry.

9. I love maps.

10. I am fascinated by plate tectonics and ocean currents.

11. I could listen to Carlos Santana play guitar all day long.

11 Questions from Bruce A. Blake

1. Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?

I waved once at Bruce Springsteen a couple of years ago in Lake Placid, New York, and he gave me a “peace” or “Victory” sign back. But I didn’t actually speak with him. I guess the most famous person I’ve ever met and spoken with is Bill Gates, back in the 80s, when he wasn’t the Wizard of Oz but merely the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

2. What article of clothing could you not do without?

Pants are good for walking down the street, but for some other activities, they’re too … obstructive. I’m not much of a clothes fan. I like my leather jackets, but I survived before I had them and I’ll survive without them, too.

3. You have one meal left before you are put to death. What would you eat and what did you do to be condemned?

I pissed off the people in power by asking too many tough questions. Seriously, back when I was a full-time journalist, I once made a guy sweat with so many questions. And it wasn’t even that serious a story!

My last meal: New York steak with perogies and lots and lots of fried onions; two bottles of Chianti from Baron Ricasoli’s most private, select cellar; a gallon of Stella Artois beer to wash it down; chocolate soufflé for dessert, finished with lots of Remi Martin Louis XIII cognac. While getting oral sex from the SOB who condemned me.

4. If you were a computer program, which one would you be?

A grammar checker vastly better than Microsoft’s, one that would suggest shorter and more elegant sentences.

5. What book have you read that you most wished you had written?

Either Life of Pi, Winter’s Tale or The Master and Margarita.

6. If you could only own one movie, which one would it be?

David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago, the movie with Omar Sharif.

7. Sweet or savoury?

Boldly, dangerously savoury.

8. Would you rather give a speech in front of a large audience or touch your tongue to frozen metal?

Already touched my tongue to frozen metal, back in Grade 1. Don’t want to do it again. Already spoken to large audiences. That wasn’t as bad.

9. If you had your choice, are you an early bird or a late riser?

Early bird. I do have the choice. Sleeping is such a waste of time.

10. You have a new pet and it is entirely up to you to name the beast. What kind of animal is it and what do you call it?

How about a swordfish named Cyrano.

11. If you could recommend one non-fiction book, which one would it be?

Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

11 questions from Christine Nolfi:

1. Describe your life five years from now.

Here’s the fantasy writer’s answer: I make more than enough money from selling books to live comfortably. I come down to my main-floor study every morning with a big cup of coffee to write, correspond, update social media and create my next work. I can afford to take my family on vacations once or twice a year, and occasionally give an interview or a talk on my work, the writing process or the publishing world.

Now the reality: in five years, I’ll probably be doing more or less what I’m doing right now, except that I’ll have five more books available at bookstores.

2. What was your favorite toy during childhood?

I remember a turquoise Matchbox car, and later, a larger die-cast Batmobile. I also had a GI Joe (back when Joe was bigger than Barbie) as an astronaut, with a Mercury space capsule and a silver space suit.

But I have to admit that the leisure items I spent the most time with while growing up were books.

3. Most embarrassing moment during adolescence?

Geez, Christine, whose side are you on? Okay, this story requires a little background: in Canada, we have a TV games show called Reach for the Top, where teams of high-school students compete in answering trivia questions — kind of like a team version of Jeopardy for teens.

In Grade 11, I had two friends on my high school’s Reach for the Top team, and one Saturday I accompanied them to the TV studio. This was a working studio in a small-city station; the only accommodation for a live audience were a few random chairs at the back.

I sat on a high stool. At the very end of the show, when my team had won, I applauded. I don’t know what I did, but the stool tipped and I toppled onto my butt. Watching the taped show later, I saw my friends on the team pointing at me (off-camera, thankfully) and laughing as the credits started to roll.

4. What do you most enjoy about the writing process?

I know that some people say “I don’t like writing — I like having written.” I disagree. I love the process, I love thinking up ideas and the way they take their own shape as I type them onto the screen.

5. You can spend the day with someone famous (living or dead). Who do you choose? Why? What do you talk about?

Jack Kerouac. We could talk about writing, about breaking into the publishing world, gaining attention and the interface between literature, music and other arts.

6. How many unfinished manuscripts sit dusty and unloved in your office?

Many dusty, none unloved. I really plan to finish them all, one day.

  • There’s the high-adventure science-fiction novel that I began with “It was a dark and stormy night.”
  • Then the story of the girl who stole all her research from her unappreciative employer.
  • Dark Clouds, the story of the son of the Witch Queen.
  • A psycho-killer story.
  • My memoriam to my father-in-law, who was drafted into the Red Army in 1941 and later escaped, with the 12 men under his command, from a German POW camp.
  • The doctor’s in-laws
  • And several more.

7. Of which of your works are you most proud?

So far, it’s the only novel that’s been published so far: The Bones of the Earth. I am proud of it for being my first published novel, and because I believe it’s a good novel. It has several levels: it’s an adventure story, but it also illustrates the struggles of a young man with a disability in an unforgiving society.

The plot encompasses all seven basic stories: the quest, revenge, rite of passage, kill the king, fish out of water, redemption and of course, boy meets girl — you gotta have a love story!

And I’m also proud of it for earning some very good reviews. Not a huge number (not a huge number of sales, either), but mostly very positive.

8. Please share the most heartwarming or amusing comment you’re received from a reader.

There have been many, I am very thankful to be able to say. I am so moved when readers tell me how they love Javor, the protagonist of my novel, The Bones of the Earth. For example: “Javor, whom I love, is the slayer of monsters and dragons,” from Linda, a reviewer on Goodreads.” And a good Internet friend and fellow author, Cinta Garcia Rosa, wrote about Javor “One of my favourite characters from now on.”

9. Do you eat your veggies?

Absolutely! Not only do I love vegetables (and meat, and dairy, and sweets, and … food), I hit the “5 to 10 a day” mark every day!

10. What was the catalyst that drove your to write your first book?

I had wanted to write a dragon story for my children for a long time, and I wanted to write something that went beyond typical fantasy. Also, I wanted to write something that evoked eastern European cultures, something largely overlooked in Western literature.

The catalyst had two sparks:

• David Keys’ Catastrophe: An investigation into the origins of the modern world, which theorizes that the eruption of the Krakoa volcano in Indonesia in 535 AD led not only to the plague that killed Emperor Justinian, but the migration of the Avars from China to Europe, the rise of the Turks and the weakening of other civilizations around the world.

• At about the same time, I came across a theory (cannot find it again, alas) that the historical King Arthur and Beowulf both died that same year — 535 AD. That led to the story!

11. Favorite vacation spot?

Vienna. Friendly, clean, courteous, walkable with unbelievably great food and dense, rich culture!

11 new questions for authors:

1. Which villain character did you have the most fun writing. Admit it, you loved it!
2. In the genre you have chosen to write in, which convention (typically followed by other authors in the same genre) drive you nuts the most?

3. What genre that you have not written in yet would you most like to? What’s holding you back?

4. Have you ever written a character based very closely on someone you know in your real life?

5. What word or phrase do you find you overuse the most?

6. Name your favourite author: what is it about that person’s writing that appeals to you so much?

7. What music do you listen to while you write?

8. Coffee or tea?

9. Dog or cat?

10. Who was Jessica Rabbit?

11. If you could meet one fictional character from any book other than your own, who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?

And now, the next 11 victims authors to receive the Liebster Award:

1. David C. Cassidy

2. Cinta Garcia Rosa

3. Scott Morgan

4. Roger Eschbacher

5. Gary Henry

6. Benjamin X. Wretlind

7. Martin Crosbie

8. David Mark Brown

9. Alan McDermott

10. Kathy Lynn Hall
11. RS Guthrie