An Embolism


An Embolism

By Nandy Ekle


In Leviticus 17:10-11, of the Old Testament of the bible, we are told:

10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

This tells us that we live because we have blood in our veins. And we know that blood is made up of tiny little cells that float in plasma. If we get a cut in our skin, the blood can escape, which can lead to blood loss, and too much blood loss causes death. And death happens because life is in the blood.

So one of the defenses God built into the living blood in our bodies is the ability to clot when there is a break in the vessel. The clotting factors gather around the opening and this causes the blood cells to stick together and dry out, which builds a makeshift dam over the opening, which keeps the blood from escaping out of the body, which keeps the body alive.

And as fabulous as this natural defense is, it can go wrong. For some reason the blood can spontaneously clot for no good reason. When that happens, the clot can cause tremendous problems to the living body because it keeps oxygen from getting where it needs to be to keep the body living. These harmful clots are called embolisms. And this is my metaphor.

I’ve often referred to the writing part of my brain as a long hallway with many doors, or a laboratory/hospital full of beds with partial patients, or even a pot of stew on a campfire. But a new picture has come to my mind.

Writing is also like a circulatory system. We have the brain which pumps the words through the body. We have the arteries/veins which conduct the words from the brain to the page. And, yes, we also have the rogue clots which plug up the system and cause major problems to the manuscript. This is Writer’s Block, and I do believe it is a real thing.

So, what can cause a writing clot? Well, I believe there are as many causes as there are people who experience this. There’s laziness, depression, not enough time, too many distractions, no inspiration, illness, stress . . . The list goes on and on and on and on and…

In researching how to beat these word clots, I’ve heard many different ways to beat it, but of everything I’ve read, they all seem to agree with one exercise. And that is WRITE. You don’t have to have a specific plan, or theme, or outline, just put words on paper. You can write about your day. You can write about your decision to write. You can write about having nothing to write about. You can write a detailed description of the room where you are sitting. You can write a synopsis of a story you would like to write. You can write a book review.

Whatever words you write down, just write them. Just get them written and they will clean the clots out of your word veins, which will allow all your words to fly out of your pen.

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


Number 5

Number 5

by Adam Huddleston

Last week, my family and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world; kid number 5 (if anyone’s counting). I used to write a bit of poetry, and while my skills are beyond rusty (and they were always far from sharp), I felt like dusting off the old lyrical portion of my brain and recording my feelings in verse. If you’ve ever spent those other-worldly hours in a delivery room, I’m sure you can relate. God bless and I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

I know we did.


Cold steel, coats of white,

Nervous smiles, and gleaming lights.

Weary eyes, hearts beat fast,

Hours from now, we’ll meet our “last”.

Computers beep, the I.V.s drip,

The nurses float, the doctor’s quip.

….as pressure climbs,

“You’re doing great,” they say. “It’s time.”

The lovely face I see each day,

Begins to frown in tightening pain.

I hold her hand and kiss her brow

And tell her that “It’s not long now.”

The doc and nurses gather ‘round,

And do their job so smooth and sound.

Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes,

Two perfect eyes, and one button nose.

We hold our breath until she cries,

And grin so wide to know she’s fine.

We swaddle her in blankets soft,

Invite friends in to show her off.

Brothers/Sisters take their turn.

Pictures made and lessons learned.

We thank our loving God in heaven.

The Huddleston clan, now boasts seven.


A Christmas Memoir

Outtakes 270

A Christmas Memoir

By Cait Collins


As I have been going through my father’s papers and notebooks, I’ve found some notes and stories he wrote. What a gift these writings are to my family and me. My dad died young and none of his grandchildren really knew him. The kids were infants and toddlers at the time he passed. Not only did they not know their grandfather, many of them never met my husband. So Uncle Bill is just a name they’ve heard.

I believe most of us have similar situations in our families. Names and pictures don’t really tell the family story. We can improve that situation by writing down stories about those who are no longer with us. What if we begin with a favorite story about a parent or grandparent? Then we move on to Uncle Jim and Aunt June. Add Cousin Fred and his kids, and soon we have a family history. Don’t forget holiday traditions. Try having family members contribute their stories. It may not be the great American novel, but it will be a history filled with voices and laughter.

A local printing firm might be able to print, compile and bind your memoir. Start now and you could have your book ready to present to your family next Christmas. Your Christmas memoir will be treasured for generations to come.

The Power of Emotion through Words

The Power of Emotion through Words

Natalie Bright

A ‘spark’ for writers is the moment an idea is ignited in our mind. I have spark notes written on everything. Sticky notes, deposit slips, and torn bits of paper. I have numerous spiral notebooks and journals filled with spark notes. Some have morphed into written works, some are still waiting patiently. You just never know what those ‘sparks’ might become. In this case, one man’s sorrow becomes a beloved Christmas Carole of hope.

As I writer, I’m always fascinated with the history behind the words and how the environment at the time might influence the spark. Good or bad, joyous or devastating, a writer’s strong emotions can evolve into powerful words. The prefect example is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Hopeful Words behind the Sorrow

In the case of Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words to his poem on December 25, 1864. The music and words are up-lifting and it’s always been one of my favorites, recalling joyous holidays with my favorite grandmother.

The words came from a very distraught Longfellow during one of the worst times in his life.

Tragedy Strikes

Just three years earlier, his wife Fanny had tried to preserve her daughter’s hair clippings in wax. In a tragic turn of events, hot candle wax dripped onto Fanny’s dress, igniting it in flames. She ran into her husband’s study, where Henry tried to extinguish the blaze with a rug. He experienced severe burns to his face, arms, and hands. How they both must have suffered through that long night, only to have Fanny die the next morning. Henry was much too ill to even attend her funeral.

“A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” reads Longfellow’s’ journal entry dated December 25, 1862.

Tragedy struck the family again in 1863 when his oldest son Charles, who was only 19 at the time, suffered a severe wound as a lieutenant in a battle. Charles had left without his father’s blessing, joining the Union cause in March of that same year.

The Christmas season of 1864 must have been a dreadful time for Longfellow, as he carried on to care for his motherless small children, Ernest, Alice, Edith and Allegra. The Civil War was raging, skirmishes had continued throughout the country as they were still months away from Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox.

From the depths of his soul he wrote “Christmas Bells”, which some believe to be a pacifist poem roused by his grief upon hearing about his son. It was first published in 1865 in a juvenile magazine.

In 1872, five stanzas were rearranged by John Baptiste Calkin and put to the tune “Waltham”. Two stanzas referencing the war were omitted, and the poem became a beloved carol, sang and enjoyed by many generations.

As you read the words out loud, think about the emotions of a distraught husband and father, who is seeking peace and hope in a life that is filled with sorrow.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day


I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing

Like a choir they’re singing

In my heart I hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head

There is no peace on earth I said

For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing

Like a choir singing

Does anybody hear them?

Peace on earth, good will to men

Then the bells rang more load and deep

God is not dead, nor does He sleep

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they’re ringing

Like a choir they’re singing

And with our hearts we hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing?

The life the angles singing

Open up your heart and hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth

Peace on earth, Good will to men

My all time favorite version of this song is performed by Casting Crowns. You can watch them signing Christmas Bells on YouTube.


Knock, Knock


Knock, Knock

By Nandy Ekle

I watched a movie which, for several reasons, took my breath away. The plot was a sweet love story about a grown man searching for answers about his father who had died. One thing he knew about his father was that he had written a very popular children’s book that became an overnight classic.

While he’s searching for answers he meets a man who believes himself to be the king of the imaginary kingdom the book was written about. This triggers a memory of an interview his father gave on a talk show promoting the book. The interview actually is the turning point of the movie and plays a part in the resolution at the end.

So while I’m watching the movie, I hear a knock at my door. I open it and see a middle aged woman standing on my porch with several bruises. Her husband stands next to her with a bandaged knee and a black eye. Their dog sits next to them with his head hanging low to the ground. They begin to tell me their story and urge me to write it down.

I look back at the television just in time to hear the man’s father tell the interviewer, “Sometimes the story finds you instead of you finding the story.”

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



by Adam Huddleston


This week’s literary term is: hamartia. It is also referred to as a “tragic flaw.” A hamartia is an aspect of the protagonist which can hinder their progress or possibly bring about their downfall. This “tragic flaw” can be external, but more often than not, it is an internal characteristic. For example, hubris (ego or pride) is one of the more commonly seen problems with characters. This inflated sense of oneself may lead to unwise decisions.

One of the positive results of utilizing a character’s hamartia, is that they are more relatable. Readers like to see a hero that suffers from the same issues that they do. This can increase suspense for the reader because they may realize that the protagonist could ultimately fail due to their flaws.

Hopefully, the use of hamartia in your writing will help flesh out your characters and make the story more enjoyable. Happy writing!

The Holidays

Outtakes 269

The Holidays

By Cait Collins


Once October 31 is over and the Halloween decorations disappear, I begin to realize the year is almost gone. Thanksgiving is upon us, and while I have bought my Christmas cards, I haven’t addressed one. Black Friday is two days away and I have to work. Just think of all the money I will save because I’m not at the mall. I’ll be on vacation Christmas week, and I plan to write.

Before all the real hustle and bustle begins, I’d like to take a minute to sit back and think about all my blessings, and to thank those who add so much to my life.

I’m thankful that I went 65 years without breaking a bone. But when I did lose the battle with the sidewalk, I’m grateful I was not injured as badly as I could have been. I happy the three doctors in the emergency room were kind, and supportive, and good looking. (If you have to be in pain, it’s nice to have something pleasant to look at.) Excellent care and good insurance are bonuses. Think about all the people around the world who are not as fortunate.

I’m thankful for my family. I don’t know what I would do without my sisters, nieces and nephews. I also have great in-laws.

I’m blessed with good friends.

I have enough. While more might be nice, it’s good to have enough to eat, enough to wear, enough shelter.

I can read. That might not sound like much, but I have opportunities and experiences because I can read. For this reason, I support programs that encourage children to read. One of my favorite baby shower gifts is a story book. If parents read to their children, the kids have a head start in learning.

I have a memoir and a novel in final editing, and a new work in progress.

I have a job I love. Of course it’s frustrating and sometimes tedious, but it keeps me on my toes and gives me fodder for new books. There are some real characters around the office.

I have faith. Not only do I have a strong religious background, I have faith that tomorrow will be better than today.

I have a wonderful critique group and great writer friends. They keep me writing and striving to reach my potential.

This is a short list of good things and people who make my life happy and fulfilled. I wish all of you who visit are as blessed and happy as I am. And for those of you who, like me, are working toward that big break, I wish you success. To all of you, may your holiday season be blessed with family, friends, good food, good books, and may your favorite sports team make the playoffs.



Why do we feel the need to write?

Why do we feel the need to write?

Rory C. Keel

The reasons people write are as varied as the individuals doing the writing.

Some are motivated by a desire to be famous and others write to express their personal feelings or beliefs. Some want to share their imaginations and others record the realistic facts that surround them.

For me, I have an appetite to learn about the past. It motivates me to write about how other people felt and their thought processes during their life experiences.

For me understanding the strength and wisdom of those who have written about their past struggles of life, as well as their ideas and hopes for the future, inspires me to share my thoughts for others to read in the future.

What are your hopes and dreams? What struggles do you face today that others could learn from tomorrow? Write about them.

NaNoWriMo aspirations

NaNoWriMo aspirations

Natalie Bright

Totally defeated by my NaNoWriMo aspirations, but maybe I will end up with half of a novel by month’s end. Sometimes the entire universe seems to be against the written word. How is the word count going with you all?
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

― Louis L’Amour