Painting From Corners and Cutting Off Branches


Painting From Corners and Cutting Off Branches

By Nandy Ekle



I love a good mystery show, especially if it has a twist. And sometimes the biggest twist is actually no twist at all. Here’s how it works.

You begin building the story in the usual way, introduce the character who is amazingly handsome and brilliant but who also has a sad little flaw. He reveals this flaw but justifies himself by listing the rules he has set for himself to control it. Then we go through a day or two of his life to see how it works. As the action/drama builds, we suddenly realize there is no way out for our character. He either has to break his own rules, or he has to give up. The more the story progresses, the tighter the noose gets and we are sure he’s about to be undone. Finally, at the end, just before he gives up, the light comes on and you realize what was forgotten. One of the smaller rules in his self-imposed control. As soon as that loophole opens up, he wins and lives happily ever after.

But then there’s the story line where he has to cut off his nose to spite his face. This is the character who does everything right. But the problems he faces grow huge enough and chase him out on a branch. You know he will have to do something, but everything he tries is thwarted. And in the end, he has to cut the branch he’s hanging from and drop to the abyss. But the twist is that he only drops a couple of feet. That’s when you gulp a deep breath of air and fall back in your chair.

This is great writing.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

What If?

Outtakes 171

What If?

By Cait Collins


It amazes me how little people know about history, geography, and basic civics. I watch some of these man-on-the-street interviews and cringe. How is it possible young people and adults do not recognize a picture of the Vice President of the United States? What country is the home of the Eifel Tower? I was shocked to hear answers like Rome, Africa, and Italy. Is it really imaginable that our young people cannot put the following events in chronological order: War of the Roses, the fall of Rome, the signing of the Magna Carta, the battle at Thermopile, the American Revolution? Why can folks not name the 50 states and at least half of the state capitals?

I have a couple of theories. One, video games, the Internet, and television have eclipsed homework and study. Two, so many of the text books and extra reading materials are dry and boring. So what do we do about it? What if we write history, geography, and civics better?

Bill O’Riley has hit pay dirt with his Killing series. While not excessive, the descriptions in KILLING LINCOLN put me in the action. Hour by hour events, introductions of cabinet members and military figures put a new perspective on the events. I actually enjoyed the reading. Young people like the books. So what if we take a page out of O’Riley’s play book, select an event, forget the politics and ideology, use verifiable facts, and write the story? What if we revealed the event through the eyes of an ordinary person?

I enjoyed Rick Riordan’s mythology lessens in his Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series. I began to realize how much I had forgotten and started to research the gods and goddesses. Myths and legends are a part of the culture and history of nations. They are viable influences on history. So what if we took other myths and legends and created stories?

With so many distractions, it’s a challenge to teach our children, teens, and even adults the past and how those old events affect today. If we don’t know where a city or country can be found on the map, how can we possibly understand the importance of events in that country? What if each writer chose an event, a location, or a person, and wrote a story? If we do our jobs well, we will not only teach, we will create readers.

A Thrilling Suspense


A Thrilling Suspense

By Rory C. Keel

Whatever happened to action/adventure stories? Today they’re called thrillers or suspense stories.

This genre defines itself with stories that evoke an emotional thrill by placing the reader in the middle of situations such as a conspiracy or an eco-thriller.

Suspense might include an aviation story set in the past, or even a future time, and may include a familiar theme such as legal or medical thrillers. In thrillers that have espionage, exploration or treasure hunters, the protagonist’s life goes beyond the ordinary.

Thrillers are usually full of fast action and the hero always wins and leaves the reader wanting more.

Attention, Please

Attention, Please
By Natalie Bright

Oops, they’re it is. Their’s no place like home. There use of this word is driving me crazy!

Please Spread the Word

Yes, spell check can be a pain, but for the love of grammar please share this post with your friends and enemies.


They’re—short for “they are”.

There—a place, a physical location.

That is all.

Writing Prompts


Writing Prompts

By Nandy Ekle


I have written about writing prompts before, but I’m going to write a new blog here about them because sometimes they can really give us that jump start we need. I once ran across a prompt that was to write a short flash fiction story backwards and to start with the words, “Finally he (she) heaved a sigh of relief.” I guess that was exactly what I needed because I quickly wrote a story less than 1,000 words. It had a beginning (which was really the end), a middle, and an end (yeah, the beginning). And I had a ball writing it. (You can find it on – search for author Nandy Ekle and it will pop right up for you to enjoy *shamless plug*)

Another prompt I stumbled on was to write a story using exactly 50 words. It had to contain people dressed formally and a fatal action had to happen. My words poured out and my fingers flew and I had a 50 word (exactly) story that soon became an idea for a great novel. Well, we’ll talk about finishing a novel some day in the future.

However, there are a few prompt sites and generators that really do the opposite. These are the ones that are like slot machines. You give each wheel a spin and they all land on topics that could not possibly go together or make any sense whatsoever. I try to stay away from those.

There is one other prompt that I enjoy and it is sitting in a time waste with a pad of paper and a pen. This would be like a doctor’s office, or some other type of dead time space. One time I found myself waiting for an appointment in an office full of other people just sitting around staring at the wall. I decided to describe the room. I started with the gray walls and described them down to the bumps in the sheet rock. I went into great detail with the carpet, the furniture, and finally some of the people sitting in the chairs. I could see all the emotion in their faces: the desperation, the fear, the frustration, fatigue, anger and hope. Before my name was called I had a discovered some characters, a conflict, and a story started.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.


Quiet Please. I’m Reading

Outtakes 110

Release 09-04-2013


Quiet Please. I’m Reading

By Cait Collins

I know the trend is to download books and read them from a Kindle, Nook, or tablet. While I see the convenience of carrying a small electronic gadget, it’s just not the same as opening a hard back or a paperback. I bought three books today. In between work on my memoir and the final edits on my novel, I’m going to take a break and read.

Diana Palmer is a multi-New York Times bestselling author and one of the tope romance writers in the United States. Her recentl released hard-back PROTECTOR is the story of a Texas Sheriff who is always around to comfort the heroine who loves another guy. Hayes Carson knows all about losing the gal. But his lonely days are numbered. Ms. Palmer’s novels are always well-written, her characters well-developed. They are worth the read.

Irish author Maeve Binchy died in July of 2012. Her last novel A WEEK in WINTER. is set in the small town of Stoneybridge on the west coast of Ireland. When Chicky Starr sets out to renovate an old decaying mansion on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, the towns’ folk think she’s lost her mind. Her first guests are a hodgepodge of characters destined to spend a week in winter at the renovated resort. This novel has been on my must read list for several months. I look forward to another hit from this popular best-selling author.

An imprisoned evil is unleashed after centuries of captivity and is out for revenge. Atlantean god and leader of the Dark Hunters, Acheron, and his twin brother, Styxx, have spent more centuries battling one another rather than protecting each other. Now Styxx has the opportunity to prove his loyalty to his brother. The epic novel STYXX by New York Times bestseller, Sherrilyn Kenyon, explores the age old question — What happens when the most powerful beings in the world go to war? Ms. Kenyon’s works are the best in escape reading. No matter the genre, she never fails to provide hours of entertainment for her readers.

So pardon me if I request in my best librarian’s voice, “Quiet, please, I’m reading.”



By Rory C. Keel


At one end of the street three bodies lay in the dirt, at the other end smoke drifted from the barrel of a pistol that a man in a trench coat held in his hand.

Who were these three dead men? Why did they challenge the man in the trench coat? What was this gunfight about?

The first few sentences of a piece of work should draw the reader into the story and cause them to read further. A good introduction may tell the reader what kind of story it will be and help them decide if it’s their kind of story.

Listed below are five basic opening techniques

  1. Picture or unusual image
  2. Dialogue
  3. Action
  4. Question
  5. Interesting fact

Try using each of these in your writing and see which one creates the greatest interest in your opening paragraph.



By Natalie Bright


Put a comma:

Before—and, but, or, for, nor, yet, still, when joining independent clauses.

He arrived in town last August, and everyone was happy to see him again.

Between—all terms in a series, including the last two.

She brought candy, cookies, and punch to the meeting.

To set off—parenthetical openers and afterthoughts.

Running to meet him, the children helped him carry the books into the house.

Before and after—parenthetical insertions (use a pair of commas).

He, overjoyed at their greetings, hurried toward the villagers.

Words From A Master


Words From A Master

By Nandy Ekle


“As a writer, one of the things that I’ve always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.”  –Stephen King

I’m making a confession here. I’ve bee a huge fan of Stephen King nearly all my life. I consider several of his books to be outright masterpieces.

I like this quote of his because it puts images in my head. Let me show you.

I’m sitting in a chair in front of my fireplace, a blanket wrapped around my legs and a book in my hand. The words march across the pages and occasionally I gasp with emotion.

I become aware of a voice in the room, actually right in front of me. When I look up I see the author squatting before me whispering. Keeping my finger between the pages, I close the book and listen to the words coming from his mouth. The story becomes alive in my head and I feel a connection with the author.

This is what makes a great book.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.



Tag words:

Word Play

Outtakes 170


Word Play

By Cait Collins


Halloween is a big deal at our office. Every year there’s a costume contest and a food contest. Work teams spend time planning great costumes. One year the Harry Potter gang lost to a school of fish “swimming” in an aquarium. And if you think the costumes are wild, you should see the food entries. The entries must be edible, but a vomiting pumpkin?

But let’s get back to the costumes. My team is a correspondence team, so we are working on costumes based on plays on words. There are some clever ideas floating around: First Class Mail, Bag Lady, Pig in a Blanket, Identity Thief; Serial Killer; Fruit Loop, Book Fairy, and Formal Apology.

So here’s the challenge. Think of a play on words or a pun and write a description of the costume. This is my entry. She is beautiful. Her hair is professionally dyed and styled in an up-swept do. Wisps of blonde hair caress her face. Make-up is skillfully applied so that her complexion is flawless. A soft blush tints her cheeks. She struts down the aisle in a form-fitting evening gown of deepest black decorated with varying sizes and shapes of silver nines. She is Dressed to the Nines.