Monthly Archives: October 2009

Sharon Helgens

SHARON HELGENS is an award-winning, internationally published author. Her work has appeared in magazines throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

In addition to several other awards, Sharon’s stories won or placed in THE CATHOLIC PRESS ASSOCIATION awards three years in a row. One of her earlier works was a finalist in the Golden Heart Contest, sponsored by ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA.

Over the years Sharon’s writing has touched readers’ lives in many positive ways. For example, RTS BEREAVEMENT, a national organization that helps people deal with the grief of miscarriage and stillbirth, asked permission to reprint “Heart-To-Heart” for their counselors to distribute during group therapy sessions. Sharon says, “This kind of reader feedback keeps me going. It adds extra meaning to what I do and makes me feel appreciated as an author.”

In addition to writing, Sharon occasionally teaches creative writing classes and speaks at writer’s conferences throughout the Midwest.  She is currently compiling a third short story collection, THE QUILTER’S HEART, A Fictional Treasury of Homemade Love.

Sharon will be visiting the Noble Pen Nov. 12th.


Brian jumped down from the big, yellow bus, lost his balance and fell to his knees. The sheet of paper he carried flew from his grasp and slowly drifted down to land in the center of a big puddle. High-pitched laughter sprayed from the windows of the bus. Fighting against his tears, the boy awkwardly struggled to his feet. The bus roared away, and the giggles and taunts receded into the distance.

All during the long ride home Brian had been careful not to wrinkle his math paper, before he could show it to Mae and Jarod. Now he watched helplessly as the muddy water soaked into it, obliterating the word “Good,”scrawled across its top in bright red letters. Angry, he stomped on the paper, shoving it beneath the surface. Cold water splashed the front of his jeans and slowly seeped into his sneaker. He turned and hurried up the long drive, bordered by protective pines, the wet shoe squishing with every step of his right foot.

Usually the day’s tensions drained away the closer he got to the house, but not today. As he rounded the bend, he saw Jarod watching him from the doorway of the barn. Brian’s footsteps slowed, but Jarod came to meet him, frustrating his attempt to delay the inevitable questions.

Placing one large hand on the boy’s shoulder, Jarod said, “How did it go today?”


“No problems?”

Brian shrugged his slight shoulders. “No.” He could feel the muscles of his neck tighten and the pulse in his left temple begin to throb.

Reining in his long-legged stride, Jarod walked beside the boy in silence, just long enough to raise false hopes. Maybe he wouldn’t ask, Brian thought.

Jarod slid his hands into his pockets. “Did you sign up for Little League today?” he asked casually.

Brian had planned on saying no in a very matter-of-fact tone, as if his answer were of no importance either way, but he found he couldn’t answer at all. Ashamed, he stared down at his feet.

Jarod’s arm pulled him into a brief hug. “Never mind, son.”

For once the word son failed to warm him. Brian would do almost anything to please Jarod, yet the one thing Jarod had asked of him, he couldn’t bring himself to do. Jarod wanted him to join a club or some other organization. He didn’t care if it was Cub Scouts, 4-H, or some kind of sport, so long as it forced Brian to mix with other people.

Mae and Jarod had adopted Brian more than a year ago. Slowly he had learned to trust someone, after a lifetime of broken promises. With them he was fine, but with anyone else he froze up. Mae and Jarod had become his entire world. He would like nothing better than to stay here on the farm with them forever. He would too, if he didn’t have to go to school.

Brian had lived in too many foster homes and been transferred to too many schools. Every school was the same. He did fairly well on his written work, but if a teacher called on him in class, his heart would pound, and he could do nothing but stutter and stammer, even if he knew the answers. The other children soon gave up trying to include him in their games and eventually ended up calling him “dummy” and making fun of his stutter.

More than anything in the world, Brian wanted to be like other children and make his new parents proud of him, especially Jarod. But he wasn’t like other children. That’s all there was to it. Probably, that was why his real father had left right after he was born, and why his real mother hadn’t liked him.

“I’d better bring the cows home,” Jarod said. “Go change your clothes, son, and meet me in the barn. I could use two more hands tonight.”

His father turned away, and the boy hurried toward the house.

Brian always hung around the barn while Jarod milked, even when he wasn’t asked to help. He liked everything about it-the way the cows warmed the barn on a cold winter morning and all the soft sounds that filled the high-raftered building. Swishing tails and munching. Breathy snorts and low-pitched moos. The hissing and humming of the milkers. Cow pies landing on the ground with a soft plop. He even liked the smell of the cow pies-sweet, like the hay. Everything about milking seemed soft and warm and intimate. And neither man nor boy felt a need to fill the quiet.

Now, as he entered the barn, Jarod greeted him with a beckoning finger. “Come see our latest arrival.” He turned and led the way to a stall in the back of the barn.

At first Brian could see nothing but layers of shadow then he heard a rustling noise, and, suddenly, the darkest shadow of all unfolded itself from the straw and backed away from them on wobbly legs. The calf was nearly all black, unusual for a purebred Holstein, with only one patch of white, around its left eye.

Brian gasped. “Oh,” he breathed. “She’s beautiful.”

“You mean he is,” Jarod corrected.

“It’s a boy calf?”

Jarod nodded. Brian leaned over the partition and ran a hand along the calf’s neck. It felt like living velvet. The animal nervously danced away.

“Can I name him?”

“No point in getting attached to him,” Jarod answered. “We won’t be keeping this one.”

Noble Pen Meeting, November 5th, 2009

Noble Pen Meeting

November 5th, 2009
Happy Chef, 1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

Most writers paragraph for effect, punctuate on impulse, and let split infinitives and comma splices fall where they may. Omnivorous reading substitutes for systematic study. Syntactic nomenclature is a thing they learn only if, somehow trapped into teaching others the craft, they find themselves in need of terms to describe the errors of their students.
Dwight Swain

Until you do what you believe in, how do you know whether you believe in it or not?
–Leo Tolstoy


George has obtained permission to use General Fuzz music in his podcasts. I would have gone with Rollins and Shatner muppets.

For an early Halloween party, Ciuin wore a gorilla suit and was subsequently captured by animal control. She can now be seen daily at the St. Louis Zoo. Of course, she could just take off the suit and they would let her go, but she’s too modest.

I pitched PANIC NO MORE to a publisher last weekend and sent the manuscript to him earlier this week. I have chosen a handful of agents to start querying. And I started an author blog. Now, for my encore, I will drink a glass of water whilst singing La Marseillaise, on a unicycle. Then again, maybe not–my French pronunciation sucks.


The book market sucks right now. That really isn’t news though, is it?

Upcoming Critiques

Thursday, November 5. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique


Adam – Chapter 3 for Ardioc

Thursday, November 12. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique

No Critique

Talk and reading by Sharon Helgens — See website announcement for more details.

Keep Writing


Noble Pen Meeting October 29th, 2009

Noble Pen Meeting

October 29nd, 2009
Happy Chef, 1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

“Drinking Zima is something Douglas Coupland would make a character do…. It’d be a device that would allow him to locate the characters in time and a specific sort of culture.”
–Douglas Coupland, jPod

Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.
–Gore Vidal


George has become involved with European podcaster nerds, who are reading his material on their podcasts. He should be careful though, European nerds are not like American nerds. For instance, this is the American reaction to a broken computer and here is the European reaction. Actually, I believe the European video is the reaction to an IBM 5100 with a bad mainboard.

Ciuin has done most of her writing for school, but she will be performing ghosts stories at Usher’s Scary, Friday and Saturday night. She’s been working hard on her delivery. I hope her story has a Gypsy Witch in it.

I sent a followup letter to an agent which got me a new manuscript request. I didn’t even have to threaten violence to animals.


The Barnes and Noble e-reader is not a rumor. It is called the Nook, and they have a video where an attractive woman tells us all about it. It is only one of three e-readers published this week, but it is backed by B&N and if you say Nook e-Reader fast, it sounds funny. It also allows you to lend books to a friend–of course they have to have a Nook too, making you into kind of a Nook-crack dealer.

Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears, and Target are involved in a book price war, dropping the price of hardcover bestsellers to $9–which is under cost, totally screwing small books stores, and making me say, “Sears sell books?”

Upcoming Critiques

Thursday, October 29nd. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique

Call of the Beast Query Letter by Shannon, I’ll mail this one out, as it’s a one-off.

George – Podcast material.

Thursday, November 5. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique


Sometime in the future I am working on getting another author in to speak with us. She gave me a call last night, but I need to check her creds and set up dates. More details to follow.

Keep Writing


Noble Pen Meeting October 22nd, 2009

Noble Pen Meeting

October 22nd, 2009
Happy Chef, 1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

I am a kleptomaniac. I will steal your lamps, mattress, clock radio, even the ice machine from the hallway vending area. I want to tell you about this before I check in so that when you see the room completely empty after I leave you will understand.
– Ted L. Nancy

The show basically revolved around this one officer. “Mad” Dick Robinson. People called him Mad because he was basically insane. I can’t remember if he was actually clinically insane, but people were always questioning his decisions. Mad often blew his top and chewed out some of the other officers, most of whom had unquestionable moral character.But we all know it’s a tough world, the stakes are high out there, and everyone who watched the show held Mad in great regard. I think everyone on the squad grew quite a bitas people, thanks to Mad’s passion.
– Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby


I emailed the two literary agents who asked for my manuscript and never got back to me. They have still not gotten back to me. I’m sensing a trend.

Ian filled his Hybrid with Wal-Mart gas and his getting 3 MPG less, although he admits it might have been because the gas was a winter mix, which is, of course, standard unleaded gasoline mixed with reindeer blood.

Wendy passed her Russian mid-term & Language in Society midterm. She is working on a 12 page paper. She finished her City Revealed articles during midterms and she finished her Usher’s Scary program. Plus it was her twentieth wedding anniversary this week. She will align the planets and bring them into universal harmony, allowing meaningful contact with all forms of life from extra terrestrials to common household pets.


Nanowrimo is only two weeks away. Mark your calendar if you have trouble finding November 1st.

Gizmodo has photos of what it believes to be the new Barnes and Noble ebook reader.

J. A. Konrath goes through six months earnings. Yes, someday, as a professional author, you may make as much as $16,000 a year.

Upcoming Critiques

Thursday, October 22nd. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique

Hard Luck by Shannon, Chapter Seven–go to and enter username:noblepen and password:nblpn or ask me for a copy. It should be up by Saturday night, Sunday at the latest.

Ciuin – Petty Theft chapter

Thursday, October 22nd. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique


Keep Writing


Noble Pen Meeting, October 15th, 2009

Noble Pen Meeting

October 15th, 2009
Happy Chef, 1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
– Mark Twain


I wrote a sixty-seven word sentence yesterday. My goal is 140.

There are no other victories, so I included this very inappropriate video from The Onion.


You can now buy a Kindle in every country on Earth except Canada. Suck it, Nova Scotia.

Google founder Sergey Brin wrote a New York Times Op-Ed on Google Books.

Upcoming Critiques

Thursday, October 15th. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique

Hard Luck by Shannon, Chapter five and six–go to and enter username:noblepen and password:nblpn or ask me for a copy. It should be up by Saturday night, Sunday at the latest.

New chapter of A Convenient Truth, by Ian

Thursday, October 15th. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique

Looking for takers.

Keep Writing


Noble Pen Meeting, October 8th, 2009

Noble Pen Meeting

October 8th, 2009
Happy Chef, 1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

The electronic I Ching calculator was badly made. It had probably been manufactured in whichever of the South-East Asian countries was busy tooling up to do to South Korea what South Korea was busy doing to Japan.
-Douglas Adams

Laughter is the only thing that cuts trouble down to a size where you can talk to it.”
– Dan Jenkins


I am writing again. This might not end well.

Adam has been revising, when not tribute dancing in Stockholm.

Ciuin has managed to get some writing done in addition to all her writing work. Her first Assembly of Roma article is going to be on the Internet soon. She is writing a script for Usher’s Scary.


Usually, I just rip off everything in my “News” section from Nathan Bransford’s “This Week in Publishing.” The week, I made the effort to find everything myself, but after checking, Nathan had them anyway. Next week, I will return to the old method.

Remember the guy suing Amazon because his 1984 ebook was deleted. Amazon has settled out of court for $150,000, or $20,000 in 1984 dollars.

The success of Dan Brown’s ebook sales have been greatly exaggerated.

Upcoming Critiques

Thursday, October 8th. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique


Ciuin – Petty Theft

Thursday, October 15th. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique



Thursday, October 22nd. Happy Chef, 7pm Welcome and Victories, 7:30pm Critique–Wow October already?

Hard Luck by Shannon, Chapter five and six–go to and enter username:noblepen and password:nblpn or ask me for a copy.

Empty slot

Keep Writing