McDowell one of six winners in short story contest, will be published in collection

By Lynn R. Parks

Connie McDowell has been creating stories since she was a young girl.

"My brother is seven years older than I am, and we grew up in the country," said McDowell, Greenwood. "There weren't a lot of children around for me to play with. So I would make up little skits, even when I was young, to keep myself entertained."

That early training, as well as good high school English teachers and a lifetime of reading, she said, made McDowell into a good writer. Her short story, "Jazzed," is one of six stories to be published in a collection by Cat & Mouse Press, Lewes, and received a judge's award.

"Beach Nights" will be released in November. The book is the fourth in a series of compilations of short stories selected through the Rehoboth Beach Short Story Contest, managed by the publishing house. Other collections are "Boardwalk," "Beach House" and "Beach Days."

McDowell's story will be one of 23 stories in the collection. Another McDowell, "Witchy Women," was included in last year's compilation, "Beach Days."

"Jazzed" was inspired by the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, McDowell said. It is a suspense story, and the author is unwilling to reveal all of its twists and turns. But she will say that it is about a man plotting to murder his wife, because he has fallen in love with another woman.

"He has a plan that he thinks is foolproof, and the readers follow him along on his journey," she adds. But of course, as those stories usually go, "there are some unforeseen events that change everything that the readers think will happen. There is a shock or two before the final revelation."

McDowell, 61, grew up in Greenwood and graduated from Woodbridge High School in 1973. There, she said, two outstanding English teachers, Barbara Short and Norman Reynolds, taught her things about writing that she retains to this day.

She went to Salisbury State College (now Salisbury University), where she graduated in December 1976 with a degree in elementary education. She has a master of arts degree in education from the same school, which she obtained in 1983.

McDowell went to work for the Woodbridge School District in 1977, as a second-grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary School. In her fourth year with the district, she was named part-time special education coordinator. She retired in 2010 as a full-time special education coordinator, a position she held for 20 years.

In addition to writing fiction, she enjoys reading, primarily suspense novels and murder mysteries, travel, shopping for antiques, crafts and photography. She lives not too far from her mother, Anna McDowell, and her brother, Glenn McDowell. In fact, it was Glenn who brought home a postcard about the short story contest and encouraged his sister to give it a try.

McDowell said that she takes workshops and attends writer's conferences whenever she can. She also reads publications about how to write, including "Writing is a Shore Thing," a weekly online newsletter put out by Cat & Mouse Press.

Beyond all that, she said, she picks up a book whenever she can.

"We were taught in college that a child who reads a lot is a child who will able to write," she said. "The same is true of adults. Just reading in general is the best thing you can do to be a good writer."

For your information "Beach Nights," including the short story "Jazzed" by Greenwood resident Connie McDowell, will be released in November. For details, visit the website

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