By Natalie Bright


Calm, serene, cool, the color of the sky and sea. Blue is my favorite color. I guess that’s why I love the Texas sky so much. We enjoy so many shades of an endless sky blue stretching as far as the eye can see.

Blue has such a positive vibe, creating a mental soothing, as opposed to red which creates a physical reaction. Blue is mentally calming. Consider the products that use blue such as vodka, water purification systems, airlines, mineral water. High tech gadgets use blue to put forward precision. Blue is associated to males, and is considered to be the preferred color for corporate America.

Light blue: health, soft and fluffy clouds, healing, tranquil seas, understanding.

Dark blue: power suit, seriousness of a mortician, knowledge, integrity.

Blue can have create negative mental images as well: lack of emotion, cold, aloof, unfriendly.


Sky, sapphire, azure, delft turquoise, aqua, aquamarine, violet, peacock, teal, cobalt, royal, navy, steel, powder




The Click


The Click

By Nandy Ekle


In my day job, I read a lot of contracts, and I read some court documents. I analyze these papers and put together letters to answer any question our customers feel like asking. Even though I am writing, it’s a very different kind of writing from that of story telling. And I would never use any facts from any contract or customer in my story, and I work very hard to keep the right side of my brain completely separate from the left side.

While these two types of writing are entire worlds apart, occasionally they do bump into one another. It just goes to show how pieces of stories are just laying around like grains of sand on the beach.

I’ve had this story in the back of my head for a while. I have my characters, setting, and the main points of the plot. I think I even started it a while back, but allowed it to rest long enough that I forgot to finish it.

So I was reading a court document concerning a lawsuit between two entities and found something very interesting that caused a clicking noise in my head. In fact, it was so interesting I immediately saw some things that could happen, and they were a little bit scary. The next thing that happened was the four characters from partially written story began to scream and jump up and down.

Immediately I saw how this new piece of information could be used to create the last few pieces I needed to finally put this story together.

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






My Favorite Works of Fiction

My Favorite Works of Fiction

by Adam Huddleston


A couple of weeks ago I published a blog concerning my favorite non-fiction books for writers. This week, I would like to list a few of my favorite works of fiction (in no particular order). As you can imagine, me being a life-long reader of fantasy and horror, the list is full of selections from those genres.

Stephen King has always been a “fave” of mine. He has a plethora of thrillers and chillers. Some works seek to get you at the “gross-out” level. Others are more intimate examinations of the inner-self. My favorite novel of his belongs to the latter; “The Long Walk.” Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, this story follows a young man as he participates in a horrific annual tradition. The book is eerie and very well written.

Shifting to fantasy, you can’t find many works better than those of J.R.R. Tolkien. In a world where new writers are shoveling their wares in both bookstores and electronically, this legendary author’s work stands the test of time and his “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is, to me at least, at the top. It is the definition of an epic fantasy with a huge cast of characters, a sprawling world, and an entire language created by the author.

The late Michael Crichton penned a ton of great science-fiction stories, many of which were adapted into motion pictures. My favorite work of his is “Jurassic Park.” The movie, once it gets going, travels at a break-neck pace. Guess what? The novel does as well. The author even goes into great detail concerning how they manipulated the DNA to create the stories antagonists.

The last piece I’ll mention is one by Richard Adams. One of my earliest cinematic memories is watching “Watership Down” on a VHS player in my parent’s bedroom. When I was older, I discovered that it was based on a novel of the same name. The book does a great job of personifying the characters, mostly rabbits with a black-headed gull thrown in for good measure, and bringing their adventures to life. Like Tolkien, Richard Adams gives us a healthy dose of backstory, native language, and even a form of lupine religion.

Whatever your favorite genre might be, these novels are worth looking into. They will give insight into proper world building, plot, dialogue, and character development.

Happy writing; and reading!

It’s One of Those Days

Outtakes 197

It’s One of Those Days

By Cait Collins


Have you ever had one of those days when every electronic device you touched just rebelled? Monday was just such a day. My computer at work was slow in booting up and I barely clocked in on time. Then one of the main systems decided to have the hic-ups. It would freeze, or decide not to work at all. My new cell phone sent an activation message, but it didn’t fully activate. I spent 20 minutes on the phone trying to correct the problem, but the tech’s system didn’t want to work. A now my Netbook wants to run marathons when I touch the scroll bar.

Needless to say, it ain’t been a good day for electronics.

Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate the conveniences modern electronics afford. But the more parts, the more things to break or stop working. Sometimes I wish for my trusty IBM electric typewriter and correction strips. Then I remember how difficult corrections and changes were to make. How many trees did I kill retyping whole chapters in order to add or delete segments and paragraphs? Yes, computers, cell phones and tablets have their places. I just wish my six-year old nephew’s comfort with the devices wasn’t so intimidating.

Since I’m frustrated with everything electronic, I think it’s time to shut everything down and open a good book. A real book with a cover, pages, a spine and a back. I’ve never had a book freeze, shut down, or crash. It’s nice to have something to rely on.

Basic Social Media for Writers

Basic Social Media for Writers 

By Rory C. Keel


After mountains of research, hours of keeping my rear end in the chair and wearing out the keyboard, they expect me to do what?

Yes, that’s right, as a writer you need to have an internet presence on social media.

Recently, I was asked to present some basic materials about social media, to the Ranch House writers, a group of writers who occasionally gather for a meal and encouragement from others in the writing community.

This blog will be the first in a series of four, dealing with the basics of social media for writers.

What is Social Media

Simply put, social media is a varied group of internet based applications that allow YOU to create and share content.

Early in the development of the internet, most websites were static. In other words, much like a billboard on the highway, it was costly to change and no had ability to interact with consumers.

Today, social media platforms give writers the ability to create, share, discuss ideas, and publish user-generated materials.

These applications are often categorized into groups such as networking sites, blog sites, video Sharing sites and even photo sharing sites. There are hundreds of applications and Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube and Flickr are just a few examples.

Will Social Media benefit me as a writer?

While there are many reasons an individual might use social media, for the writer it’s as simple as Business 101.

Writing is a business

Have you ever read the reviews of a restaurant before going out to dinner? Have you ever researched someone on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN, before meeting for an appointment?

It is estimated that in 2015, 93 percent of all businesses will use some form of social media. For both consumers and businesses it has become the norm and is expected.

Using Social Media

Using social media as a writer allows easy communication between you and your readers. It is a medium that allows the ability to develop relationships by having accessibility to groups where individual time is not possible.

And finally, social media allows you multiple mediums to develop your brand as a writer. By blogging, posting, tweeting, google plus-ing, you can establish yourself as a writer and build a large readership.

Next Tuesday we will discuss which social media platform to use. See ya’ then!




By Natalie Bright


A recent eBook purchase proved to be very frustrating.

It wasn’t the writing, which was very descriptive, literary, and wonderful. It’s the formatting. It has no paragraphs. At least on the eBook version, words continue for screen after screen after screen, with no paragraph break. I’m not sure how that would translate to a printed page, but I can tell you as far as the Kindle version it’s just impossible to read. It feels like my brain and eyes are working extra hard.

Let’s turn to the experts.

Under Chapter II Elementary Principles of Composition, The Elements of Style (by Strunk and White), they describe the paragraph as thus: “The paragraph is a convenient unit; it serves all forms of literary work.”

Paragraph Review

  1. In dialogue, each change of the speaker (even if it’s a single word) begins with a new paragraph.
  2. Each change of topic needs a new paragraph.
  3. Begin the paragraph with a sentence that suggests the new topic, or helps with transition.
  4. The paragraph can begin with a concise statement with the purpose of presenting or holding together the details to follow.
  5. For narrative action, the paragraph gives the reader a stylistic pause, used to highlight importance of some detail of the action.
  6. Large blocks of print look formidable and daunting to a reader.

In summary, Strunk and White explains, “Moderation and a sense of order should be the main consideration in paragraphing.”

Enough said. Write on people.

REF: Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Fourth Edition, Longman 2000.

Let’s Talk

Let’s Talk
By Nandy Ekle

“Hi. My name is Main Character.” He raised his hand in a wave.

“Hi, Main Character. My name is Nemesis.” He nodded toward Main Character.

Main Character smiled. “It’s good to meet you.”

“Thank you. It’s good to meet you too.”

Main Character looked past Nemesis’ shoulder and Nemesis looked down at the floor. The clock ticked an awkward moment.

Main Character jerked his face back to Nemesis’ face as a flash of thought passed through his mind. “We’re supposed to inspire writers to write a believable dialogue.”

A light snapped on in Nemesis’ eyes. “Oh. Do you mean, like, actually sounding like two people having a conversation instead of sounding like two sides of the same person?”

“Yes. That’s right.” Main Character smiled while his head moved up and down.

“I see.  How do you think a good writer does that?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Main Character said, “Well, I think they have to just almost actually hear two different people speaking and write what they say exactly the way it’s said.”

Nemesis’ eyes darken slightly. “Ya’ know, Mainy, I do b’lieve you jes’ hit da nail rat own its big ol’ head.”

“Yes. And that means the writer needs to know his characters very well.” He took a coupe of steps backward.

“Yore galdern rat ‘bout dat dar rule.” Nemesis took a couple of steps forward toward Main Character.

Main Character turned his head and looked over his shoulder for the door behind him, then he looked back at Nemesis. His brow was lined with worry. “So, do you have any advice to add to that?”

Nemesis stopped moving and lookd up into space as if an idea would appear like a light bulb. “Well . . . yeah. They prolly need to make shore dem readers know who’s tawkin’ when. ‘Cause, like us? We ain’t just standing still flappin’ our gums. We’re acchully doing’ sumpin’”

“That’s right,” Main Character said.

Nemesis grinned a dark toothy grin. Yeah.” He turned to look at the person reading their dialogue. “Got that, reader? Now.” He paused and leaned forward until his nose nearly touched the reader’s nose. The dark light came back to his eyes. “Go do it!”

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

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

by Adam Huddleston


I would venture to guess that every famous author of fiction has at one point or another been asked the standard question: “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a query often brought forth from novice writers looking for any bit of advice they can get.

As is typical with authors, the answers are quite varied. Some look back to life experiences for their inspiration. Others might take a previously published work and add their own personal twist on it.

One of the major impetuses for my writing is the dialogue I hear in everyday life. For example: One of my kids once asked if they could play on my phone. My wife responded that they couldn’t because, “Dad’s battery is dead.” That’s when the muse slapped me upside the head. What if, in the future, the male gender was extinct and all men were androids? And what might happen if one of these android’s batteries were running down, causing his spouse to need to reorder another husband, and this caused the artificially intelligent being to feel first sadness, then anger?


That’s the kind of stuff that goes through my mind.

My advice for a struggling writer would be to search for ideas everywhere. Internet queries, favorite songs, even that awkward first kiss from a junior high classmate are fair game. If you look hard enough, eventually that muse will start swinging.

Just don’t duck.

Happy writing!

Garage Sale

Outtakes 196

Garage Sale

By Cait Collins


Spring is here and with it comes garage sale season. Last Saturday, the residential areas of Amarillo, Texas sported garage sale and estate sales. Some streets were a bit congested as cars lined both sides of the streets. That’s the negative aspect of the season. Truth is these events can be a great place to find bargains and inspiration.

Never pass up glassware and pottery displays. Many sellers do not realize they have valuable pieces of Depression glass or antique pottery. Certain brands and styles bring back memories. I’m editing a novel set in a small Texas town. The house described in the story hadn’t changed much since Grady and Lucille Walker moved in. So when I began describing Miss Lucille’s kitchen, I filled it with garage sale finds; like green Sandwich glass, Fiestaware, Franciscan china, McCoy cookie jars, and Fire King bowls and kitchen utensils.

Farm house tables and chairs, massive gas or wood burning stoves, Frigidaire refrigerators, pie cabinets, TV lamps, crystal candy dishes, porcelain elves, tri-fold mirrored vanities, and crocheted doilies helped me establish the old home.

I also look at jewelry. I’m floored at the value of vintage jewelry, but good pieces do sell. So you’re writing about a lady from the 1940’s and 50’s. How would you dress her? Would she wear a broach on her jacket? What colors would she wear? What about hats, gloves, and lace handkerchiefs? Check out an estate sale. You will find some gems.

Look at the book shelves. If you are building a personal library, you could find some great out-of print volumes. Make sure the pages are not water stained. You don’t want to carry home mold or mildew. What was your favorite Little Golden Book? I looked for quite a while before I found a couple of my favorites. These little books were great readers and often used when my Dad would gather my sisters and I in the big arm chair for our bedtime story.

Items of interest to men could be old fishing gear, sporting equipment, woodworking equipment, or tools. Back in the day, men wore business attire, ties, dress shirts, and suits. So, you just might find the perfect suit for your hero or your villain.

Not all research requires hours spent in dusty stacks. While that is important, a morning or an afternoon exploring yard sales provides great exercise and a chance to look through older household goods, apparel, or accessories. The time spent examining an old bamboo fishing pole, or an old great coat may provide the spark the cements a character or a period of time. It’s well worth the effort