By Nandy Ekle


I will admit, I’ve been in a very dry spell. Even when I had a mood and an idea at the same time, my words sounded like something a toddler wrote. I was frustrated and afraid that after 50 some odd years, words had completely forsaken me.

And there was nothing I could do. I still had a line of characters waiting for me to tell their stories. Some of them have been in my head since I was a child in elementary school. There were also plenty new comers. They picketed through my head demanding to be brought to life on the paper.

So I would sit down and start listening to them, building their lives and the events they were so desperate to have put down on paper, only to watch the whole thing splat into a brick wall.

And I was back where I started.

So today, I decided to let it go. I started a story that is a huge cliché in a genre that’s been so saturated lately that I know my readers will roll their eyes and walk away from the pages saying, “Not another one of those!” And I completely understand. After all, that’s one of the reasons I kept putting this tale in the back corner. “Some day the genre will need to be restarted, and I will write it then,” I said over and over. But it refused to stay in the corner.

Something amazing happened when I finally turned my attention to my little cliché. Even though it’s the same old story – predictable, nothing new whatsoever – I realized the point of this average adventure is not the originality or the spectacular concept. The point of the whole entire exercise was I AM WRITING. And it felt good.

Don’t be afraid to write your worst writing ever. Whatever words you have, good, bad or, ugly—


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


Jury Duty

Jury Duty

by Adam Huddleston


So, I have recently been summoned for jury duty. I’m one of those strange folk who have always wanted to perform my civic duty by serving on a jury, but circumstances have always conspired against me. I wanted to tie-in my summons with my weekly blog, so I began to think about the film “Twelve Angry Men.”

Written by Reginald Rose as a teleplay in 1954, “Twelve Angry Men” centers around a homicide trial and the jurors’ deliberation concerning the defendant’s fate. Each character is fleshed out and the dialogue is technical enough to make them believable.

I remember reading the play in high-school and both film versions are excellent, sporting all-star casts. The 1957 version stars Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and Jack Klugman. The 1997 edition features Jack Lemmon, Hume Cronyn, and George C. Scott. I highly recommend both.

Hopefully, my experiences won’t be quite as dynamic as those in this wonderful work!

Writing Muscles

Outtakes 216

Writing Muscles

By Cait Collins


I learned a number of things during my vacation. I think the most telling was I don’t exercise enough. I did a lot of walking on less than level streets and climbed up and down ladders and stairs. By the end of the trip I was hurting. So I resolve to exercise more so that I don’t punish my body when I travel or have an adventure.

Just like our bodies deteriorate from a lack of exercise, our writing skills can suffer from a lack of use. Too often we use the same formula when we begin a new project? What if we changed the routine? Could the story be more exciting or could the different turn propel us to new avenues for our careers? Is the risk worth the potential results? Maybe the better question would be what if we never take a risk? Will the failure to explore possibilities actually be detrimental to success?

Work your voice. Not the one that verbally articulates your thoughts, but the voice that is uniquely you. Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series has a style that advertises the author. You only have to read a few paragraphs to recognize the style and hand-picked word choices. That’s what we all need and want – – a voice that promotes our individual style and personality.

We must also exercise our basic skills of grammar, vocabulary, characterization, plot and description. We can not become lazy and complacent in these areas. When the primary elements become weak, the whole work suffers. For this reason, I play with lists, colors, unusual situations, and new characters. I recommend 642 Things to Write About and 712 More Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. The books provide fabulous exercises to stretch, mold, strengthen and sculpt our skills.

Just as flabby and weak muscles are not good for the body, underdeveloped skills do not make for good writing. Resolve now to work the skills that lead to better and more fulfilling work.


Story Craft: Book Themes

Story Craft: Book Themes

By Natalie Bright

Throughout the art of story craft, you may have noticed common story threads or themes that are used over and over. This is most often observed in movies. Multi-published writers that I’ve talked to usually have an overall theme that might not be that obvious to the reader, but it helps keep the plot line consistent to the end.

A NYT bestselling author told me that she used a common theme for her main characters, as well as applying it to sub-plots and minor characters. For example, the pain of loss was a theme of a recent book. Every major and minor character had to deal with loosing something or someone.

A theme for books can be used in both fiction and nonfiction. It keeps the author on track and prevents them from deviating from the basic story structure.

For example, the hero’s journey is a popular theme that is used in a lot in books and movies. The hero is reluctantly called to adventure, faces insurmountable obstacles, and ends up saving the day. There are several excellent books on how to craft a story using this popular theme.

Listed below are some other examples of overall themes for books:

*Cinderella: down trodden girl is rescued from her dull existence and finds true love with her prince.

*Perseverance: characters never give up, even when faced with impossible obstacles.

*Honesty: always tell the truth, no matter what the cost.

*Kindness: generous, considerate, friendly characters, even when treated differently.

*Acceptance: differences and beliefs are overcome and characters find respect for each other. Or, maybe it’s an acceptance of love lost, crushed dreams, or life’s path.

*Romeo and Juliet: star-crossed lovers against the world.

*Loyalty: trusting each other, friends to the end or trusting yourself and your heart’s desire.

*Cooperation: a problem is solved or a goal is achieved through everyone working together.


Happy writing and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

The Moon

Postcards From the Muse

The Moon

You’re riding in the car late at night.  The sky looks like black velvet with tiny rhinestones dotted around the darker inkblots of clouds.  You admire the dark shapes the clouds make and notice a bright sliver working its way out from under the edge of the blackest splotch in the sky.  The moon struggles for attention.

As you watch the contest, you notice that as the cloud moves at just the right angle, the illusion of a frowning brow is created over the face of the moon morphing it into a giant eye watching the earth below.  You can’t take your eyes away.  A fuzzy line of fog forms around the silver disk morphing the illusion further.  You suddenly feel certain that a being observes and takes notes of the night life on the planet.

Who or what does this eye belong to?  Does it spy on a crime taking place?  Has a lover’s tryst caught its attention?  And why does it choose to appear angry?  What story can you find here?

Congratulations.  You have just received a postcard from the muse.


Encouraging Others to Write

Encouraging Others to Write

by Adam Huddleston


So, you’re a writer. Or, like me, you at least attempt to be one. You spend a good deal of energy in the creation of a literary work in the hopes that it will make you rich and famous; or maybe brighten someone’s day. My question to you is: Do you ever encourage others to write?

Personally speaking, there are two types of people that I would like to see writing more. The first are my children. They know that “Daddy” is a writer and has even had a few flash fiction stories published. My oldest has created a few basic stories mostly concerned with he and his best friends fighting crime in and around our town. I praise him constantly for his efforts and encourage him to keep up the good work.

The second of my babies has even begun writing a few elementary stories. Her spelling is atrocious and the tales are quite basic, but guess what, I couldn’t care less. I fills my heart with joy and tends to bring a tear to my eye to see my kids imitating dear old Dad. I hope and pray that they continue to.

The other group of folks I encourage to write are those who are interested in writing short fiction. As a moderator of www.site.flashfiction5.com, I would love to see more people participate each month. It is completely free, it strengthens your writing skills, and is a lot of fun! If you are reading this right now, open up another window in your browser, type in the web address above, and embrace a literary nirvana.

Happy writing!

Lazy Day

Outtakes 215

Lazy Day

By Cait Collins


This is one of those days when writing does not compute. I am relaxing on the deck of the Mary Day, a beautiful windjammer. We are sailing Penobscot Bay in Maine. The fall colors are glorious. No phones, radios, television sets, no computers interrupt my communing with nature. I am at peace. My only thought at this moment is the promise of a fresh lobster dinner.

I’ll write something tomorrow.


Writer Appreciation

Reasons To Write

By Rory C. Keel

This week I will share with you reason number 4 of why I write.

 Reason #4 – Writing helps me appreciate other writers.                                              

Having put my hand to the mighty penand wielded the awesome power of a fine writing instrument –well ok, I used a computer—I have come to appreciate other writers. While I have not read the writings of every author whose name is attached to a poem or printed on a glossy cover of a book, I can honestly say that I appreciate their work.

No matter the genre, the fact that they took the time to write down their thoughts and ideas is truly amazing.

Consider a few things it takes to succeed in writing:

The idea – Having an idea that draws someone into the writing, then takes that person through a meaningful journey and places him at the end, and having them enjoy the experience is a monumental task. Many of us wish we had an Idea.

Commitment of time – Alas, writing is not like a pyramid scheme, which claims to allow a person to make millions of dollars with only five minutes invested each week. No, writing takes time. Constantly learning the craft of writing, doing research on materials, then actually sitting and writing takes dedicated time.

Persistence – Many who start writing become discouraged through the process of continual critiques received and the re-writing which must be done during the process. Keep writing, use these things as learning tools and don’t give up, consider it as fine-tuning.

Yes, I appreciate other writers, both the famous and unknown, because they wrote.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



By Natalie Bright


Children’s literature once offered the genres of picture book and everything else. Thankfully today that grey area of choices after pictures is more clearly defined with early readers, chapter books, middle grade, upper middle grade, tween, and young adult.

The new group that emerged with efforts to focus on “tweens”, between childhood and young adults, is the topic of this blog post. You’ve probably noticed that many industries are reaching out to this group, from entertainment to fashion to reading material.

Tweens Defined

Tweens, defined as being between 10-14 years of age, seem to live in two worlds. When I talk to classrooms I’m reminded that they are still children and sometimes very immature. In other instances, I’m shocked at the complexity of the questions they can ask.

It’s a complicated age; that time period between childhood and young adult. I’ve witnessed this with our own boys. Reading a book with chapters was a big deal. Our oldest totally skipped most of the tween offerings and went straight to nonfiction on the topics that held interest for him. Our youngest enjoyed the light, simple plots of chapter books. By the time he was in fourth grade he was reading at a Jr. High level and he wanted stories that were more complex. As a parent, I was cautious about the drug and sex themes covered in the young adult genre, and thankfully there were some in-between novels that held his interest.

Holes, by Louis Sachar

HOLES is the perfect example of a book for tweens, in my opinion. It includes folklore, a mystery, and contemporary issues of a work camp for difficult teenagers, along with a mystery that spans across several generations. It appeals to both girls and boys. I enjoyed the book and the movie equally as well.

Children today are much more sophisticated in their reading choices I think. Of course, there’s always the kids who never read and those who read anything and everything. Several books I would have classified with young adult type themes, seem to have resonated with the younger crowd as well.

Good Story is Everything

As my then 6th grader got into the car after school one day, he asked, “What is team Edward and team Jacob?” Twilight was a hot topic among the tween crowd from many years. My son really wasn’t interested in reading the books at all, but agreed to watch the Pay-per-View with me. “I guess I’ll have to, so I can know what the girls talk about all day.”

Bottom line: a unique, well-written story is a good story, no matter the target age.



Facebook Page Promotion


Facebook Page Promotion

By Nandy Ekle


Several years ago I met a crew of writers at a certain online writing community, which I will not name for a lot of different reasons. These writing friends and I have all left said online writing community, but we’ve kept in touch on Facebook. And that makes me a very lucky person, indeed.

One of my friends lived in Texas when I met her. Of course, the other friends who didn’t understand Texas thought we must just hang out together all the time since, of course, we both lived in the same state. What most of them didn’t understand is that she lived about 600 miles away. And that even though our state was big enough to hold both of us, it was still a huge distance away. So much so that you would never even believe it was all Texas.

A couple of years ago, she moved to the Pacific Northwest. We still keep in touch through cyberspace, and I’m very thankful for that because she is an amazing writer.

But more than being an amazing writer, Mrs. Heiser is also an incredible editor. In fact, my blog this week is about a new Facebook page she has opened called “Ask Midge.” On this page she invites the public to ask questions about writing (technical, structural, theoretical . . .) and she also gives some pretty good tips.

So, if you are on Facebook, you should look up the Ask Midge page. “Like” it, “follow” it, enjoy it.

And you can tell her Nan sent you. https://www.facebook.com/askmidge/photos/

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