Excerpt for Tales2Inspire ~ Contest Winning Stories For Teens & Tweens by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Contest Winning Stories for Teens & Tweens

Copyright (c) 2018 Lois W. Stern

All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced in any form, or by any means, graphic, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, photographic including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the holder of this copyright.


Tales2Inspire ~ Contest Winning Stories for Teens &Tweens

is one more book in the Tales2Inspire collection

Available at most popular internet and retail outlets.


With all the tragedies happening in our world today, I wanted to assure you that there are also many good people out there with generous hearts and caring ways. This book is filled with their stories. It is a bit different from all the other Tales2Inspire books published so far because I hand picked stories from some of my other collections which I thought would have special appeal for you, my teen and tween readers. But I added something new to this book, something that doesn’t appear in any of my other Tales2Inspire collections. I call them ‘Sparkles’, questions that I hope will help spark some of your creative thoughts. And if you do a good job of answering the sparkles listed after the last story, there is a gift waiting for you. Check it out at the end of this book.

The stories you are about to read come from ordinary people sharing extraordinary moments in their lives. They are all written by Tales2Inspire contest winners, some already accomplished authors, others about to be discovered for their special talents. Following each of their stories you will find a mini biography, so you can learn about their other achievements. Who knows, maybe one day you will write a special story and become a Tales2Inspire winner!

By the way, I should mention that I have written several of these stories myself, simply because I love to write and can’t resist. But rest assured, my stories go through the same anonymous vetting process as any other story submitted to this contest. I welcome the critiques from my fellow authors and often learn from their insights.

Keep reading and writing!

My best wishes,

Lois W. Stern


A HORSE NAMED CODY by Melanie Sue Bowles

With no prior knowledge or experience, Melanie jumps right in, buying a horse on a whim. After a rocky start, she learns how to communicate with Cody and

earn his trust.

ROLL OF A LIFETIME by Gabriel Cordell

as told to Lois W. Stern

Gabriel began his roll across America as a way to validate himself as a man, but soon discovered its larger purpose.

GOD MADE A MISTAKE by Jessica Marie

If you were adopted, don’t judge your birth mother harshly, as you might never know what circumstances drove her to make that decision.


A lost dog inexplicably appears in a meditation garden built in a back yard many miles from its home. The reunion of owner and dog is a joyous one to be sure.


by Lois W. Stern

Animals can display emotions as powerfully as humans. The old adage, “Elephants Never Forget” comes alive in this story of these two devoted animals.

ALL THAT GLITTERS . . . by Maurice Nadjari

Often known as ‘The Heist of the Century, this is the story of the buglers who stole some of the most famous gems housed in the American Museum of Natural History and how they were caught.


Noelle Marie entered the world ten days before Christmas and marveled at its magic every season. Although Noelle departed this world all too soon, she left her family with some wonderful memories

MY SPECIAL BOY, OBI by Ashley Howland

This highly independent pup seemed to feel that everything was okay with the world simply because it contained him. He surely proved his worth when Ashley used him as part of her school behavior management program.


by Winter Vinecki

A determined young girl breaks all records by running a marathon in each of the seven continents.


A volatile, abusive black belt champion uses his martial arts skills to save children in some of the roughest inner-city communities from a life of crime.

NO SUCH WORD AS CAN’T by Lois W. Stern

In discovering her roots, this talented gymnast unveils a buried family secret that brings untold joy to more than just her.

CIRCLE OF HEALING by Jeff Guidry with Lois W. Stern

A wildlife volunteer and an injured eagle form an

Irrevocable bond, enabling them to communicate in ways unknown to man.

LEGACY LOST by Mark Newhouse

The author, son of Holocaust survivors, reveals how he lost the most precious gift he could give to his children and the future, while inspiring others to not make the same mistake. What is the special gift that everyone has the power to give?





by Melanie Sue Bowles

I’ve been thinking about buying a horse,” I blurted out one night, shortly after our move to a five acre home in the country. Everyone around us had horses and I’d become intrigued. “A horse,” my husband responded. “You don’t know a thing about horses.” “Well, I can learn!” I laughed. For some reason, I wanted one more than anything. And I could tell by Jim’s quizzical smile that he liked the idea too.

One day, I happened by a garage sale. There were horses in the pasture, so I felt a surge of excitement when the woman announced, “Everything’s for sale, including the house.” “Even the horses?” I asked. “Lord, no,” she answered placing a hand over her heart. “I could never part with my horses. They’re like my children, except, unlike my children, they don’t cause me any grief!” She wrote a name and number on a scrap of paper. “Call Miss Alma. I’ll bet she’ll have a horse for you.”

I wasted no time in calling Miss Alma. The horse for sale, Duchess, was a bit thin and her coat rather dull, but nothing some good quality food and careful grooming wouldn’t fix, I thought. It was time for a trial ride. But after I admitted my ignorance on how to saddle a horse, Alma beckoned her nine year old daughter, Betsy, to help me. I felt smaller than small when Betsy hollered, “Why ya buyin’ a horse if ya don’t know how to saddle one?” After an uneventful ride, I paid Alma twelve hundred dollars, and had Duchess delivered to my doorstep. I renamed her Cody.

My neighbor, Karen, took a quick look at my new horse. I felt deflated as she had a difficult time finding anything positive to say. She suggested I have a vet check her out. The day the vet was due to arrive I went to lead Cody up to the barn. After fumbling with her new halter, I finally managed to fasten it correctly. But Cody lifted her head, rocked back on her heels and refused to come forward. Defeated, I handed the lead rope to the vet who promptly got her moving.

By the time the vet finished examining Cody, I felt even worse. He said she needed to gain about two hundred pounds. He filed the sharp points on her teeth so she could eat properly. She needed antibiotics to heal the sores in her mouth, and deworming medication. He advised me not to ride her until the severe splits on her hooves were completely healed.

As the months passed, Cody’s health bloomed. I was able to work on my skills as I handled her daily. She was calm and gentle, and looked forward to her treats. Finally the day came when Cody’s feet were healed. I was filled with confidence as I saddled her and fixed the bridle in place. Cody seemed a bit nervous, but I foolishly ignored her body language as I stepped into the stirrup.

In an instant Cody’s eyes were rimmed in white. She twisted her head from side to side and jigged sideways. Suddenly, she reared a few feet off the ground, spun around, then sped down the driveway as clouds of dust billowed around us. In my frantic scrambling to stay on her back, I had dropped the reins. Desperately trying to grab them, all I felt was Cody’s neck and shoulders, now soaked in sweat. As we neared the road, my mind flashed to visions of getting hit by a car while clinging desperately to Cody’s mane. That was the motivation I needed to bail out. I recklessly slid off her back, landing hard on my rump. 

Cody breathed heavily as I walked her back to the barn. As I removed her saddle, she suddenly pinned her ears, swung her head around and tried to bite me. Then she lifted one powerful leg to strike, a sharp hoof barely missing my thigh. I couldn’t believe that this horse I had been nurturing for months had turned against me.

The next few weeks were a nightmare. In addition to biting and striking, she also refused to lead. I was terrified of her, and I knew I needed help.

I called an experienced friend. “Sell her,” she said. “She’s too much horse for you.” I refused to accept her advice. I hired a professional trainer who, after forty minutes of working with us said, “You need to get rid of this horse before she kills you.”

I listened to all the expert opinions, but believed with all my heart that I could find a way to communicate with Cody, break down all the barriers she had formed from a lifetime of abuse and neglect. “How do I communicate with my horse?” I asked everyone I could, but too often was told, “You need to show her who’s boss. She’s taking advantage of you.” I simply couldn’t believe that horses are schemers who need to be broken. I was determined to learn to communicate with Cody in a language she understood.

One day, watching a neighbor’s six horses jockeying for position at the water trough, the owner saw me and walked over to introduce herself. Together we watched the interaction of her herd. “They’re funny, aren’t they?” she said. “The one horse who’s making the others move is the one who’s in charge.”

That one sentence reverberated in my head many times over. As soon as I returned home I went directly out to Cody. After sniffing me for a treat and realizing I was empty handed, she went back to grazing. That’s when it hit me; I was nothing more to her than a carrot dispenser. A horse’s survival instincts are strong, and the day of our one and only ride told her that she couldn’t count on me for security or decision making. I was nothing to her; and I was ecstatic over this discovery.

As Cody grazed, I relaxed and simply took up her rhythm. For over half an hour I mimicked her every move while replaying my neighbor’s words in my head: “The horse who makes the others move is the one who’s in charge.” I recalled my neighbor’s dominant horse walking briskly toward the others, nodding his head at them as if to say, “Move along,” then relaxing his posture once they had moved. I tried it now with Cody. In one movement, I squared my shoulders and walked firmly in her direction, nodding my head and thrusting my chin. Cody lifted her head to look at me and immediately, but calmly moved out of my way. And the second she did, I relaxed my posture and stepped into the spot she had just vacated, claiming it as my own. I felt like I was going to cry. It was the first time she hadn’t completely ignored me. Such a tiny bit of progress, but I knew it was the beginning.

In the months that followed Cody began to depend on me for more than food. She looked forward to the ground work we did together as we became truly bonded. And her eyes increasingly shone with a radiant light built on a trust we now shared.

Melanie and Cody

Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Note: Cody was the inspiration for The Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary, a place Mel and Jim established for abused horses. Established in 1991, Proud Spirit is one of the most successful, longest existing facilities for horses in the United States.

Questions to Spark Your Creativity

* When Alma’s daughter asked Melanie a question, did you think she was serious or funny? Did you think that question added anything special to the story? Explain your thoughts.

* What signs did Melanie miss when she saddled Cody for their first ride?

* Melanie learned that sometimes even ‘the experts’ can be wrong. What advice did they give her? Why did she ignore them?

  • How did Melanie use a casual comment from a neighbor to help her communicate with Cody.

This story is one of the many ‘Personal Awakenings’ stories, published in

Tales2Inspire ~ The Topaz Collection


Author Melanie Sue Bowles was born and raised in Sylvan Lake, Michigan, a small village near Pontiac. She moved to Florida in her early twenties where she earned her living as a professional firefighter/medic. After acquiring her first horse and becoming immersed in the equestrian community, Melanie discovered a disturbing amount of mistreatment. She vowed to make a difference. While working at the fire department, Melanie and her husband Jim set out to create a sanctuary for abused horses.

Melanie is the author of three nonfiction books which chronicle the start-up and evolution of this remarkable place of healing, now located in Linconton, GA. Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Visit the Proud Spirit website at

And we thank you!


The life we are given is not about ourselves, It’s about ways

to give back to the world around us.


by Gabriel Cordell

As told to Lois W. Stern

It happened in a flash. One moment I was in his Jeep on my way to an acting audition and the next instant I was lying on the ground with my back pressed hard against a telephone pole. I couldn’t feel my legs. They wouldn’t move. They didn’t hurt – but they didn’t work either.

I would later learn that a woman had run a red light and crashed into my Jeep. I had been catapulted from my vehicle, still clutching my steering wheel, and now was paralyzed from the waist down. As I lay in the hospital bed listening to the doctors, I knew my life would be altered forever. I just was determined not to let the accident destroy me.

After weeks of hospitalization, I was transferred to the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Medical Center. There were only two choices of available rooms at that time. The first was a room with two men, both nearly comatose and immobile. The other was the children’s ward, where I would have to abide by a 10 PM curfew. I chose the children as my roommates.

While in rehab I came to know the children. Many of the little ones had never known a life without the stresses of rehabilitation. I thought about my twenty-two years of good health and strong legs and felt strangely blessed to have had the opportunities I once took for granted. Plus I was no stranger to hard work

I was six when my family emigrated from Libya. My parents brought with them a strong work ethic and I learned it well. While other kids were playing baseball or shooting hoops, I could usually be found working in one of my father’s delis or doing an odd job in the neighborhood.

It took three months of recovery and physical rehabilitation before I was ready to leave the center, but in that time I learned a lesson from those children. If they could be brave and hold back their tears, I would do that too. I was ready to pursue my dream of becoming an actor.

That fateful day in 1992 changed my life, but it didn’t deter me from forging ahead with my career. Already an accomplished actor, I moved to Los Angeles where I continued to land acting jobs even with my wheelchair. Stage, television, film and commercials sustained me but I wanted more. I somehow felt always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

My next years were somewhat counter productive. I made some bad choices during those next few years, numbing my disappointments with drugs. Looking back, I have some regrets of that period of wasted time. But, at age forty-two, twenty years after the accident that changed my life, I finally came to what I call getting a grip. I just felt time was running out.

I’d heard of three paraplegics who rode their wheelchairs across America. Each of them used specially modified wheelchairs, but I was determined to roll across America in a stock wheelchair like the ones anybody could buy at a medical supply store. It was really important to me to accomplish my goal in a standard wheelchair because it represented the everyday person. I felt I could make a difference while fulfilling my destiny to do something special with my life.

Always physically active, I normally chose to roll my chair for short jaunts rather than drive. I was in pretty good shape but even so, I knew a journey like I envisioned would take more than just pretty good shape.” I began a training regimen that was demanding, exacting and specialized for my task. I worked out at the Burbank Y to strengthen my shoulders and arms. Swimming and weight training helped, but soon I came to realize that the local high school track was the place to receive the most complete conditioning. Circling the track in my wheelchair, I rolled in seemingly endless laps for six to seven hours a day, twenty miles day after day for eight long arduous months – until I felt ready.

Not only was the conditioning imperative but I had to find a way to document his trip. I knew I couldn’t do it alone and through the magic of viral email, a documentary producer by the name of Lisa France learned of my planned voyage. She contacted me and I could tell that she was passionate about this project. She and I just seemed a good fit. Lisa became part of my team.

We were a total of eight people that formed the team that set off from Burbank, California on April 1st.. We began a 3,100 mile odyssey with a goal to reach our final destination of West Hempstead, New York in less than 100 days. Since I had graduated from the West Hempstead High School, it seemed a fitting destination.

Each team member had a specific role: the Main Cook who would feed them along the way and handle media content; the Navigator whose job it was to keep us on course and map out RV campsites for the end of each grueling day (as well as do the shopping for needed supplies); a chase car that carried a passenger and extras such as food, drinks and spare tires for the bikes and wheelchair. Two bike riders and two alternates accompanied me on the road. Derek assumed that position for nearly 75% of the time and Lisa pulled that duty for about the remaining 25% of the time. Throughout the trip every member of the team documented its happenings with a variety of technologies from cell phone to video and still cameras. Each night we all rested in the RV that was to be our home throughout our many days and nights together.

The trip itself was a daunting task, but add to that the pressure of creating a documentary and you can see how it put the team under extreme stress. Oh, yes, there was even dissension amongst the crew members. Not with malicious intent, it was just that these were seven strangers learning about one another and building trust. At the end of the day, they are all good people – selfless and kind, so we worked things out.

Gabriel being tracked by several members of his team

Our goal was to travel forty miles each day but flexibility ruled. Lots of factors, including terrain and weather, influenced that goal. There were some fifty mile days and an occasional day off – six vacation days in all. There were good days and bad days. I can recall one particularly challenging day while traveling through Missouri. I awakened feeling not quite right, had slowed my speed to three to four miles per hour, when I hit a pothole and flew off my chair. When it happened a second time, I was done for the day.

But on the whole, the experience was upliftings. I was stopped by people along the way who wanted to meet me, pray with me, get my autograph, donate money or offer words of encouragement. The media began to follow my trip announcing my route in the local news and TV, so people would be waiting, tracking me on their way to work and again as they returned home at the end of their work day.”

In the beginning I thought this trip was all about me – both fulfilling a promise to myself and meeting a challenge. I wanted to validate myself as a man. But I also wanted to give my parents that moment of pride.However, a week into the roll I came face to face with my ‘Awakenings’ moment. I suddenly realized that the trip

was not about me, it was instead, it was a way I could inspire people to be better and do better with their lives. We all have capabilities to do something bigger than ourselves – to do our part to make this a more loving, compassionate world. With that thought driving me, I was able to complete my journey on its 99th day.

Questions to Spark Your Creativity

* Why do you suppose it was important to Gabriel that he ride across America in a non-motorized wheelchair?

* Do you think his trip could help other wheelchair bound people? Why or why to?

* If you had been standing on the sidelines during Gabriel’s roll across America, what would you have wanted to do or say to encourage him?

This story is one of the many ‘Personal Awakenings’ stories, published in

Tales2Inspire ~ The Topaz Collection


My name is Jessica Marie, but my birth name was Maria Luvia. Every year my family gathers together on “Gotcha Day” to celebrate the day my parents brought me home from Guatemala after adopting me as their baby daughter. I was exactly six months old on that very special day in my life.

On my way to JFK Airport

Each year we watch the video of my parents carrying me off the plane at JFK airport. I’m clutching a baby rattle as I meet my new family of grandparents, aunts and uncles for the first time. They are all clapping and jumping up and down as they wait their turn to hug and kiss me. They have big smiles on their faces but their cheeks are streaked with tears.

My new Grandma, Grandpa, Grandma-ma and Papa are wearing T-shirts printed with my picture and the words: Jessica, we love you. They are holding bunches of pink, purple and white

balloons, a cuddly toy puppy dog and a multi-colored donkey-shaped piñata.

Everything ready for my arrival at JFK airport

Seven months after that first “Gotcha Day”, my mother gave birth to one of my brothers, and the following year, a second brother. Lots of cousins were born in those next few years too. I was very aware of all those growing bellies and kept asking: “But whose tummy did I grow in?” Although I was always made to feel like I was the special angel in the family, I couldn’t help but notice that I was the only one in our family without blonde hair and blue eyes.

Last year, at the end of “Gotcha Day”, my aunt invited me to go with her family to Nicaragua to help build a home for a family that needed one. Without even hesitating, I said "NO"! Everybody was surprised by my response, including me, because I am normally a nice, caring person who loves to help others. Why wouldn't I want to help a family in need? I was so confused.

Here I was, the same person who, from the time I was a toddler, always was looking for ways to comfort my brothers. When one of them cried, I’m told I’d be the first to run to the rescue - even once snatching a Binky right out of the mouth of a baby none of us had ever set eyes on before, to plop it into my brother’s mouth.

Here I was, the same person who at age five was so deeply effected by the World Trade Center tragedy that I emptied my piggy bank and asked my dad if he could give the hurting families my money. And once he assured me that he would do that, I’m told I said: “Oh, Daddy, my heart feels so much better now.”

Maybe empathy is something I learned by example, from being raised in such a loving family, but I sometimes wonder if my loving nature comes from my birth mother as well. And if she was so loving, why did she give me up? And why was I saying ‘NO’ to going to Nicaragua now? The questions kept coming.

My parents helped me talk through some of my feelings and suggested that I start writing down my thoughts. I didn't think it would help, but I started writing anyway and discovered that they were right. As I wrote, feelings about my birth mother came up. I suddenly had so many questions.

. . .

Why didn't she want me? Was she sad when she gave me away? Did she ever love me? Does she think about me on my birthday? Do I have any brothers or sisters in Guatemala? The questions kept coming.

Eventually, I was able to understand that the reason I didn't want to go to Nicaragua was because, in my mind, Nicaragua was very similar to the place where I had been born. By going there, I would have to deal with the feelings that my biological mother gave me away. I was also afraid to see, with my own eyes, how awful my life could have been living in poverty.

Well, I finally decided to go to Nicaragua and I was relieved by what I saw. The people were happy and loving to each other. The children were having fun just playing in the river and digging in the dirt. I saw that they didn’t need possessions to be happy; they just needed to be loved. Maybe I could have been happy living in Guatemala after all.

How the Nicaragua house looked when we arrived

After a week of hard work, the house was built. It was only one room with four walls, but the family was so excited you would have thought they had won the lottery. It made me feel really good inside.

Going to Nicaragua opened my eyes and helped me see things in a new light. I began to realize that I probably could have had a happy life in Guatemala. I wouldn’t have known about beautiful clothes and Smart Phones, so I wouldn’t have felt sad that I didn’t have those things. But knowing all this makes me feel so grateful for the life that I do have. And even though I will probably never get the answers to the questions about my adoption, I know in my heart that God had a plan from the start, to place me with this very special family that I was meant to be with. As my mom said, “Maybe God made a mistake first time around, and needed to fix it by bringing you to us.

An outside view of the rebuilt house in Nicaragua

Children with new bunk beds

Addendum:: I am an eighteen year old woman who prefers to remain anonymous, but simply wanted to tell my story to help other adopted kids work through their adoption issues. My main message is this: “It’s natural to wonder about your birth mother and the reason why she gave you up. But please don’t hold on to bad feelings or judge her harshly, as you might never know what circumstances caused her to make that decision. And if you have been as fortunate as I, to have been adopted by a wonderful family, count your blessings.

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