The Great Reward


The Great Reward

By Nandy Ekle

Your favorite author has a new book on the shelf. You read all the books he/she ever wrote. You’ve waited for a long time for this new book and you spend the whole evening at the bookstore waiting for the midnight release. You grab the book, run to the check out counter and the clerk has to pry it from your fingers to ring it up and take your money.

You immediately begin turning pages and devouring words, but suddenly realize this will not be your favorite of his/her books. The story starts slow, the drama is over the top, and the inner dialogue makes you want to simply curl up and dream of something else. But you’re so committed to this author that you can’t just quit the book. You have faith that they will eventually pull out all the stops and become the same wonderful writer you’ve always loved.

Pressing on. You’re now half way through the book and a little interest has been sparked. If nothing else, you have an idea of the path the story is taking, or even a couple of different paths. And you’ve begun to wonder which way it will go in the end.

But the main reason you keep reading that book is your belief that this author can do no wrong. True, this has not been the best beginning he/she ever wrote, but you’re a die hard constant reader fan, and you will die before you quit reading the book.

Three-fourths of the way through the book, you can tell the crescendo to the climax has begun. While it’s still a little predictable, and you feel a big flat anti-climax coming up, you are committed. At the point you reason with yourself that you have invested too much time and too much faith in the author to stop now. By this point, you have to finish it on principal alone.

And there it is. The great reward. The twist at the end. It may not have been a complete total surprise, but it was satisfying enough that you’re glad you finished the book. After all, you are no quitter. And one dud book does not make a normally amazing author into a dud.

And that is the lesson you learn from reading this book, because there’s a lesson in every book you ever read.

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


“The Nanny” Film Review

“The Nanny” Film Review

by Adam Huddleston


The next film up for review is “The Nanny”. Released in 1965 and starring Bette Davis in the titular roll, “The Nanny” is a class in suspense. Unlike many movies that try to create a “slow burn”, this picture begins raising questions very early and spends its 91-minute run time answering them.

The dialogue is perfect and many of the screen shots are very well done. One in particular is an extreme close-up of a character as she crawls along the floor. The effect really draws the viewer into the scene. The acting is superb, not just by Ms. Davis (which is suspected), but also by the two main child actors (William Dix and Pamela Franklin).

“The Nanny” is a perfect example of “hag-horror” and I highly recommend it to any horror or suspense fan.

Happy watching!


Outtakes 322


By Cait Collins


I love the changing seasons. Spring gives the promise of birth and renewal. Blossoming flowers and budding trees give us hope for a brighter, warmer time. Summer’s brightness and warmth bring families and friends together to celebrate by the lake or the pool. Picnics and bike rides are popular activities. Crops planted in the spring grow to maturity.

Fall is my favorite season. The turning leaves paint the world with unspeakable beauty. The golden colors of the aspen and birch trees against white trunks reaching up to a cold blue sky take my breath away. Red, gold, and brown maple leaves fall gently to the ground. Every turn of the road reveals more beauty. The air is cooler and crisp fall scents of the harvest perfume the air.

Winter snows blanket the ground and we slip and slide on icy streets and sidewalks. Frigid air chases us indoors and we gather around the fire popping popcorn and telling stories while the world sleeps preparing for rebirth in the spring.

Writing a book or story follows the pattern of the seasons. Spring is the spark or beginning of the work. The author opens his mind to possibilities. He embraces this new-born idea and nurtures it.

As spring becomes summer, the work grows under the watchful eye of the creator. Characters mature and actions lead to reactions that are both good and bad. The climax is on the cooling horizon.

The work is completed and sold. The author settles in anticipating the harvest of sales. And then the resting time comes. It is a time to restore the mind and allow the body to recharge and while the seed of a new idea takes hold. A new flower blooms.

Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture

Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture

By Natalie Bright

Spent a Saturday morning with my Thursday night critique group researching historic Route 66, which runs through our area of the Texas Panhandle. We are working on an anthology of stories set on this iconic road.

I’ve been involved in this discussion before with a previous group of writers, and even have a 25,000 word story that never materialized into anything tangible. Sometimes you have to give a story everything you have, and then know when to move on. Maybe I can revive that someday, but in the meantime the topic of doing a group project came up again. We’ve talke about this before, and finally, we are actually to the DOING because Mr. Keel hit on a common theme that inspired us all:

Old Route 66

To set fire to our inspiration and story sparks, we planned a field trip to visit one of the most well known landmarks on Old Route 66 in our area. The U-Drop Inn is located just up the road in Shamrock. It was a great day and very inspiring. My character and her journey is definitely more clearer in my head. At some point in the story, she will make her way along Old Route 66 and stop at the U-Drop Inn diner.

Here’s the cool part; the spark from the my story came from my husband’s great-grandmother who was given to a man 31 years older then her when she was 21. Some of the family believe it was to pay off her own father’s gambling debt, others can’t say for certain. I’ve thought alot about this lady and how she must have felt. She was an interesting lady. She acquired a divorce in Washington D.C. and married a young man her own age, my husband’s great-grandfather. I have no idea if she ever traveled on Route 66 during her lifetime, but that’s where the character becomes fictional. Don’t dismiss those wonderful family stories as sparks.

Our characters  and their adventures are beginning to take shape. I am so excited about this anthology. The six stories in our new book will be in various genres and time periods, but they will all have at least one scene at the U Drop Inn. I’ll also be offering my novella as a stand alone title.

Promote You

Have you been on a research trip? Post pictures on your social media and create a little buzz about your upcoming story.

Are you looking for inspiration? Nothing like a road trip. Clear your head and just look, listen, smell, and touch. Don’t forget your pen and notebook.

More about Old Route 66

Built in 1936 at a cost of $23,000, the Tower Conoco and U-Drop Inn were featured in the 2006 Disney Pixar movie CARS.

Although the cafe does not serve food today, it is immaculately preserved. At the grand opening in April, 1936, it was considered “the swankiest of the swank eating places.” When Route 66 came through Shamrock in 1937, it was the only eating place for a hundred miles along the new roadway. Elvis ate in one of the corner booths. As an excellent example of Art Deco, the building features two flared towers with green glazed ceramic tile walls and neon light accents.

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1984 and Shamrock became one of the many towns bypassed by highway Interstate-40. Through several owners, name changes, and layers of paint, a son of one of the original owners purchased the dilapidated building in the 1980s and restored it back to the original colors and name.

Today, the U Drop Inn is owned by the city of Shamrock and houses the local tourist information center.

The Day Job


The Day Job

By Nandy Ekle

Today at my day job we moved to our third building this year. Two of those three moves were somewhat traumatic.

First They moved us downtown to an older building our company wants to sell instead of renovate. No problem. The reason they did this was because they wanted to renovate the building we had been in. Great. The renovations promised to be absolutely wonderful, so we were happy to move to allow the to happen.

I was on vacation when the move actually happened, but when I got to my desk, things seemed great. However, we soon discovered the reason the downtown building was to be sold instead of renovated. The internet was overworked. This was a big problem because 100% of the work I do depends on the internet.

So they moved us back to the other campus, different building from where we started, but same campus. This went very smoothly. The internet worked much better and the work went well. But the grand scheme was that our permanent home was to be a different building in the same campus which was in the process of being renovated. So I only unpacked enough to be able to do my job, knowing that we would be moving again soon.

Today was that day. Today, the day I happened to have a doctor’s appointment. When I got to the office, I opened the email telling me it was time to move. So I packed up all the things I had had at my desk, including my computer, and moved from one building to the the other. Then I unpacked and reconnected my computer. But internet did not work. At all. So they had me pack my laptop and my rolling chair to a different building in the same campus in a training room where I set up as if I were working from home.

I did get a little work done, but then I clocked out and went to my doctors appointment.

So I will go to work in the morning wondering where I will be sitting for the day. But I am determined to get the letters written for our customers, who I really want to help.

And with my doctor’s help, I will get my muse back.


Outtakes 321



By Cait Collins


Blood and gore. Slasher movies. Halloween One to whatever. Some find these movies frightening. But think back to the shower scene in PSYCHO. A black and white movie instead of Technicolor. The music. A knife stabbing down. The heroine cringing in the shower. The scene was so artfully filmed the mind took over and the viewer imagined he saw the knife strike a woman’s body.

The mind is far more powerful than blatant scenes. Alfred Hitchcock had the creative talent to scare the life out of me without the blood and gore. To this day, the movie THE BIRDS still terrifies me. The swarming birds hid the damage to the humans. The teacher died from being pecked to death, but we never saw the sightless eyes and ripped face.

The point is a well-crafted paragraph that builds a villain has more impact than the blow-by-blow vision of a killer’s actions. Give me a masterful book or a brilliant movie and I can imagine so much more than what I read or see.

Putting a Slant on things

Putting a Slant on things

Rory C. Keel

When words are slanted to the right, they are in Italic. In writing, this can indicate several things to the reader.

Italic word are used to accent words with emphasis or importance. They can also indicate book, magazine or play titles, even words from a foreign language.

Standard practice when writing of typing a manuscript is to underline the words to be Italicized.

PROMOTE YOU: Write More!

PROMOTE YOU:  Write More!


“As you produce more books (or more stories or content of any kind), you are likely to grow your audience or reach more readers. And this in turn naturally leads to more followers on social media.”     — JANE FRIEDMAN

No question about it, it’s up to you, the writer, to produce more of your content. Why advertise a store with nothing in it? That’s why I’m always seeking new ways to work my life around writing time. What an uphill battle!

This past week, I read: “The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3)” by Monica Leonelle  

Book Review:

For an indepth look at why you’re not producing more words like you think you should, add this book to your writer’s reference library and beware—Leonelle doesn’t care about stepping on toes. She tells it like it is and bluntly explains how to change your mindset. This book will give you several great soul-searching moments.

Here are two passages that really hit home with me:

1)            “butt-in-chair” … “this is officially the worst advice ever unleashed on poor, unsuspecting hoping-to-be writers.” Monica Leonelle

2)            “Right now, you are probably pitting your writing goals against all the other important things in your life, and writing is losing every time. The trick is to stop pitting them against each other.” Monica Leonelle

Trying to push myself to make time for “butt-in-chair” has definitely caused me to resent the reasons I can’t spend more time writing. How about you?

From two teenagers who are always hungry to day-job obligations that run into early evenings spent at the office, I’m grouchy and frustrated, wondering why bother to finish a novel that’s buzzing my head. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but what a great new thought process: can I make writing the most important part of my day instead of the feeling like everything else is keeping me from my writing? As Leonelle says, “…you have to integrate writing into your life.”

She definitely gave me some food for thought. I have so many ideas for stories and there is only 24 hours in a day, but I’m not dead yet! Maybe it’s time for a mindset change. My writing is just as important as day-job deadlines and cooking dinner. Moving onward…

REF: Leonelle, Monica. The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3) (p. 2). Spaulding House. Kindle Edition.


The Dog And the Leash


The Dog And the Leash

By Nandy Ekle

I took part in a survey recently—one question, intended to make you think introspectively: name one thing you wish you could bring back from your childhood. This question definitely did get my brain cells working.

I started thinking about what kind of child I was. And then a story bubbled which gave me my answer.

Once upon a time, a girl had a dog. This dog was very energetic and very powerful, and the girl had to learn to control it. She clipped a leash to its collar and they went for a walk. The dog wanted to run and play, and he wanted the girl to run and play with him. But he was big and strong and the girl usually ended up huddled in a corner with a skinned elbow or a tear in her jeans.

But she couldn’t get rid of the dog because he was her constant companion. He went everywhere she went. He slept next to her at night, got up and went to school with her in the morning, came home and ate dinner with her, took baths with her, and then went to bed with her every single night.

And every day she took him for a walk on the leash. She learned to tell him no, that she didn’t want to run. She pulled on the leash to slow him down when he went too fast. And she yanked the leash if he tried to run after a bird or a rabbit.

But she also gave him treats. She bought tasty things for him to chew on. She gave him his favorite snacks. She scratched him behind the ears and made sure he had plenty of healthy food and water.

One day she took her dog out for a walk. She took hold of his collar with one hand and held the leash in the other. She rubbed the metal clip of the leash on the metal loop of his collar, but she didn’t really attach them. Instead she hung the leash around her neck, held her arm out as if she actually was holding the leash, and they began their walk. And an incredible thing happened. Her dog walked as if he really was attached to the leash. He didn’t run away from her, or drag her, or jump around. He walked calmly by her side and obeyed her when she talked to him.

After a while she remembered how much fun it was when he was running and jumping, and she wanted him to do that again. So she pretended to take the leash off his collar, but he still stayed calmly by her side. It wasn’t until she began to run that the dog started running as well.

So, I’ve gone through all this to say, I’m the girl and my imagination is the dog. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning to control it, and now when I want it to run wild, it looks at me as if I still have it leashed. If I could bring one thing back from my childhood, it would be my wild and free imagination.

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