Politics and Life


 TRAILS END – The Novel

    Politics and Life

The political season is among us, and whether we are involved or not, or if we are informed or not, our daily lives are effected by election outcomes. I hope you are knowledgeable about the issues of this great and free country, and exercise your right to make your voice heard.

Cowboys have their political battles as well. Professional Rodeo holds elections for directors, event representatives, selection of top pickup men, bullfighters, contract acts, and a continuing barrage of rule changes and proposals. Also, the cowboys vote on the top timed event horses and bucking stock of the year awards. This is a specific part about the story of Trails End.

Jim Barnes, who is a hero in the eyes of Donnie Williams, is a veteran bronc rider and past event director. He campaigns for Trials End to be Bucking Horse of the Year. Although the owner of the horse is his close friend Jerome Jarrett, Jim believes the bronc deserves the title.

The current bronc riding director, the villain, won’t agree. His Uncle owns a rodeo company and he would rather promote a horse owned in the family. “Pretty Boy”, (nicknamed by Jim) refuses to acknowledge the ability of Trails End.

The award means substantial financial compensation and a significant upgrade to a rodeo company. This can lead to higher paying contracts and overall success.

Learn how this conflict develops, and see some of the politics of rodeo.

Thanks for reading,

Joe

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Message From Mundania


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Message From Mundania

Life, moving slowly, as if the same day repeats over and over and brings to mind a phrase from the days of Flower Children: What a drag.

You get up in the morning, rub your eyes, wash your hair and drink your coffee. You go to your jobs or classes, work a while, eat your lunch, work a while, go back home. You eat supper or dinner—whatever you like to call it—turn on the TV and settle for the night. And it all starts over the next day.

But what we forget are the little adventures we have every day, you know, the little things that are different about a day. The postage machine hijacks the fax machine, the client forgot to send in the payment, or a black plastic bag scoots across the highway and reminds you of an alligator coming after your car. Once, just breaking the promise to myself that I would not eat my favorite snack that day brought a very nice story.

When something happens just the teeniest bit out of the ordinary, whether it’s frustrating or hilarious, you can write an entire story centered on this event. Let your imagination ponder and study it. Then add in some exaggeration to what you already know about the event. You’ll soon find that your ho-hum life is full of story-worthy adventures and “boring” will be for people like detectives and spies.

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

Nandy Ekle

MYRIAD


MYRIAD

by Sharon Stevens

 In honor, memory and celebration of Anna Corn and James Hartwell

 I’m such a slacker! And I don’t mind admitting that fact. “Hi, my name is Sharon and I am a slacker.”

Let’s face it, here I sit in my jammies nestled in a cocoon of quilts in my favorite chair with the TV remote in my lap, a 32 ounce soft drink by my side with a sack of chips and a bowl of chocolate Kisses within easy reach, working on my weekly blog on the laptop perched on a soft cushion. You can’t get any more slacker than that.

Oh sure, at any given moment I could set my work aside, get up and stretch, put a load of clothes in the washer to wash, or transfer them into the dryer to dry. Or if I so choose I could fold any number waiting in the laundry basket.

While up I just might open up the refrigerator and stand there as long as I like perusing the leftovers contained therein. I could choose out of a myriad of the selection before me to select any number of goodies to microwave. (Note to self-remind me to google “myriad” in the online dictionary and compare it to my 1890s Webster’s)

If I want I might load a sink full of dishes in the dishwasher. I didn’t say I would, I just said I might. On second thought who needs to do dishes with a stack of paper goods on every shelf that will fill any need. Silverware, cups, plates, bowls…it doesn’t matter I’ve got it all.

What about if I wanted to go soak in the tub. My words would still be waiting and with just a gentle touch instantly I could bring them back to life and “home“ or “end“, “page up” or “page down”, delete, or insert, or backspace wherever I pointed the arrows..

Or I might just throw on some clothes, run into town and pick up a burger or pizza or chicken or any other kind of take out anywhere at any time. The grocery store is open twenty four hours a day for whatever my sweet tooth desires. All it takes is my keys, my car, a little gas in the tank and with my garage door opener I am good to go. Wait a minute, who says I need to change clothes. “jammies” are an acceptable choice of apparel now a days.

Yep, there is no other word for it and I give no excuses. I am a slacker through and through and I can only hang my head in shame.

I was slapped in the face with this fact while doing research on Panhandle Professional Writers and their history of dedication to the Panhandle Press Association. Their annual convention was being held in Canyon for the first time in their 102nd history on the campus of WTAMU and also at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I had come across a reference from the book, “Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs” by Betty Holland Wissepope. In it she writes of the history of PPW and the bylaws for continued membership in the group.

To be an active member you must have sold a book, two articles, a poem, a short story, a scenario, or a play that had been produced by a theatrical company. In addition to presenting proof of publication active members had to demonstrate they were writing 30,000 words a year. Associate members had to write only 15,000. Complimentary memberships were for beginning writers but expired at the end of the year.

I know thirty thousand words a year doesn’t sound like a lot, especially in this day and time with spell checker, Ipads, Facebook, cell phones and the like and the opportunity to blog like on my Wordsmith Six blog site. But lets face it, in the 1920’s when PPW was formed by Phebe Warner and Laura V. Hamner the entire population of women didn’t work outside the home and some still lived in dugouts. Electricity was a luxury and not even in every household and was shut down at night. Refrigerators could not be stocked with a days worth of groceries and microwaves had not even been invented yet. Laundry washing was done by the hand of the washee, and clothes hung on the clothesline outside to dry. Which meant that after they were dry they had to be gathered in to be folded, and/or starched, and/or ironed, and/or hung, and/or put away, stacked on shelves, hung in closets, or heaven forbid, placed on towel rods in the bathroom. Likewise to the dishes in the cubboard, (oops, spell checker alerted me to a mispelled word I need to change.) cupboard. It automatically change my misspell.

Each meal included full courses with accompanying silverware and plates. This meant every pan, every bowl, every napkin used for three meals a day had to be washed, dried, and put away each and every day. And before this everything had to be cooked fresh, not frozen accompanied by homemade biscuits or fresh baked bread made from scratch. And I don’t even want to discuss the meat. Chickens were alive in the morning and fried chicken for supper that night by their own hands no less. As for red meat, “Pink Slime” hadn’t been invented yet which tells you if it hadn’t been bought fresh from the market that day it probably didn’t smell that good.

And as for transportation, husbands were the only ones who held the keys to the car and HE was the one who drove it to and from work and out on the road for the family weekend excursion.

Lets face it, with raising the children, sewing the clothes, cooking the meals, cleaning the house I can’t see how women were able to write a hundred words, much less thirty thousand. In fact, I found a reference to Olive K. Dixon as one of the original members of PPW. Her husband was the one who made the longest shot in history at Adobe Walls. She was very involved with the museum in preserving the history of our area while raising seven children.

And when you think of Phebe Warner. How did she write all those newspaper articles with jotting notes on a piece of paper with just a pencil? When did she find the time to sit down at a typewriter with carbon paper in between, all the while correcting mistakes, polishing the words, and then getting up to find an envelope and a stamp, much less mailing her manuscript to the Amarillo Globe News, Canyon News or to any of the other area newspapers in the surrounding towns.

All the while she was helping to gather stories of the pioneers and helping to build the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to house them in. She served on committees of various and sundry civic groups while participating in every community, school and church function centered in her town. Phebe not only formed the first federated women’s clubs in the country she helped form libraries all across the panhandle. AND then to be named as a representative for the state park board and to work tirelessly to get Palo Duro Canyon established as a state park was above and beyond. Think of it, as a woman and a mother in the 1920’s while still maintaining a household and supporting her husband’s practice as a small town doctor is a feat many women in this day and time would find at the very least as tiring.

Who knows what she could have done if she had been a suffogete, (oops-spell checker again), suffragette.

Yep, I’m a slacker through and through. I admit it and embrace it. But I think the founders of Panhandle Professional Writers regardless would be proud of me for the efforts I make on their behalf. They might not cut me any slack, but they would still give me kudos for my contribution. My words might not be as significant as theirs but from their vantage point in the heavens above they know the passion hasn’t changed over time.

Oh, and for your information the dictionary definition of the word myriad is a noun meaning a great number. The description said that recent criticism of the use of this word and to paraphrase… “seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. However the noun is in fact an older form dating back to the 16th century. The noun has appeared in the works of Milton and Thoreau and continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.”

The winning motto chosen for the founding years of PPW was, “The elevator of success is not running; take the stairs!”

I was just lucky enough to be born in a time where I had the choice to do one or the other, the elevator or the stairs, to slack if I wished to, or to even fly if I wanted.

Just not on Jet Blue.

Sharon Stevens

TENDER


TENDER

by Sharon Stevens

I found two one dollar bills in my dryer this morning. To find these meant they had been washed in our washing machine and cleansed by the water from our own well. This water was unquestionably drawn from the Tierra Blanco Creek flowing from the Ogallala Aquifer underneath our land. The electricity for the washer and dryer may have been supplied by Excel Energy, but as God and John Wayne are my witness I know the power was provided by the sun during the day and the moon and the stars at night.

Yep, these are my dollar bills. I know this because one is I picked these out of the dryer myself, and I know my husband never has any ready cash on hand. And two, I was washing MY clothes and not his. So I claim them lock stock and tender.

What to do, what to do. This money instantly began to burn a hole in my pocket with possibilities galore. I could use them to buy my daily soft drinks or powdered sugar donuts at Marks Chevron across the street from our Buffalo Bookstore. Maybe I can save it for popcorn at the Varsity Theater down the block. Naw. What about if I use it to purchase gee gaws at the Hideout next door or maybe I could travel down to Dollar General to buy Ginger snaps for the cookie jar in our business or candy for the goodie bags. What if I pay for printing at Hayley’s Printing on the Randall County Courthouse Square or to find some treasure at Stevens Flowers or H.R. Flowers down the road. Or there is coffee at the Palace, or ice cream at the Rock and Roll Soda Shop.

Agony! Endless possibilities! Glory be!  After pondering my dilemma and contemplating the consequences of my actions and reactions I formulated a plan. I will first put one of these precious bills in our cash register, and get change to buy both the Canyon News and Amarillo Globe News. Who knows where those quarters will go.

The other dollar I will tuck among those who have found their way into my pocket. Without a glance I will pull it out to pay for something, and send it on its maiden voyage from me to some unknown destination around our big blue marble.

I may never know, can never know where this money came from, and I have no clue where they will travel in the future, or how they will be used. Perchance they may have originated at a local bank, or a banking institution millions of miles away. They could have come from a tourist or a tramp, a child or child at heart. The combinations are not only endless but timeless.

Each time I glanced at these bills before they went into circulation, no matter how hard I tried, George Washington wouldn’t and couldn’t share any clues of his travels, and I know for a fact he had no way to document his path. I couldn’t find a “Where’s George” anywhere on his person.

So his appearance in my dryer will have to remain a mystery forever and ever Amen.

As writers we string words together and send them out the door, or the internet, or facebook, or twitter. We have no clue who or whom will pick them up and settle them in their hearts or pass them on to the next destination. This is why we write. I take this back, this is why we SHOULD write. For when we focus on connecting to one certain individual or a single interest we have lost the journey and sacrificed the story. And if we spend all our time worrying who we can link to, or who it will offend we can never fully set ourselves free to write. We just cannot choose who receives the message.

Besides imagining the other is way more fun. Happy Trails!

Sharon Stevens

Your Taste Buds


Outtakes 35 

Your Taste Buds

I wouldn’t call myself a picky eater. I’ll try most anything once as long as it sounds appetizing. I’ll even try a few things that sound crazy. For example, my co-worker loves bacon. When we asked if she had a theme for her office birthday celebration, she requested bacon. Imagine how many things are made with bacon. There are bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, loaded baked potatoes with bacon, bacon bits in a green salad, scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast burritos, baked beans with bacon. I could write a cook book on bacon recipes. Did you can even buy chocolate and bacon candy bars, and beef jerky flavored chocolate bars.

I like peanut butter and chocolate, mint and chocolate, chocolate covered cherries, chocolate and caramel. Well, you get the idea. But chocolate and bacon is a little out there. So is beef jerky flavored chocolate. But when samples of my friend’s birthday gift were offered, it bit. Literally. The chocolate shell was pretty good, but when the bacon crunchies landed on my tongue, I swallowed hard. My lips curled and my nose wrinkled. I got it down, but I never again want that flavor combination in my mouth.

Then I took a bite of the beef jerky flavored chocolate. My taste buds revolted. I grabbed a piece of paper off my desk and spit out the offensive candy. I can’t really describe the flavor. It’s a cross between scorched chocolate and under cooked beef. A whole bag of Hershey’s crème de menthe kisses could not erase that taste from my tongue.

Let’s face it, some flavor combinations work and some don’t. Same goes with our characters.  A woman defined as classy dropping the F-bomb every other sentence is too jarring. However, that same character with racist tendencies is believable. An explorer who hates to travel and experience new cultures might not ring true. On the other hand, if the character travels in search of a lost child or the cure for a terrible disease, it works. It’s all in how the writer develops the character. How are the situations set up? Is there sufficient background to grab the reader? Are the characteristics consistent beginning to end? Well-crafted characters with outrageous flaws could make for interesting reading. It’s all in the mixing and blending.

A thrilling Suspense


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.

Rory C. Keel

Part 4 Giving and Receiving Critiques: Respectful Behavior



 

Part 4 Giving and Receiving Critiques: Respectful Behavior

By Natalie Bright

The personality of your group can dictate the overall benefit you receive from participating. The members may be the most creative writers you know, but they may not be who you need critiquing your work. You may need a “brainstorming” group. You may need a group with several grammarians, who are experts in the rules of English. Or, you might consider a “genre” group, in which all members write mysteries, for example.

Your ideal group might be one beta reader or an online group with hundreds of members. The critiques you receive might be via email or a weekly face-to-face meeting. What do you want from a writers critique group? Identify your goals and share them with the group.

Essential Keys to a Successful Critique Group:

  • Leave your personal feelings at the door and listen with an open mind.
  • Don’t use up valuable time explaining away and defending your work. In reality, this would not be an option when reviewed by an editor or agent. Just listen.
  • Establish ground rules.
  • Critique the work, not the author
  • Be respectful of all work and individuals.
  • Share professional goals: critique with the idea of moving each participant closer to their goals.
  • Your work is not another writer’s work, and their work is not yours.

Happy writing!

Natalie Bright

Did You Write A Blog


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Did You Write A Blog

 Ten forty-one p.m, Thursday night, a few moments before exercise time and I still have not written my Freaky Friday blog. What to write? What to write?

I sit here with my fingers on the keyboard willing words to scroll across my brain in some sort of order that looks like an interesting piece. My fingers tap on keys and letters rush together forming words on my screen. But do they make sense?

Well, the theme is here: breaking through the block. The tools are working: letters to words to sentences to paragraphs. The form is here: big title, middle title, by-line. But is the meaning here?

Sometimes the best way to break a block is to pick up a pen or pencil, or put your hands on the keyboard, and starting typing words. Most of the time, the first few words come out forced and silly, but will soon become exactly what you were looking for. If you doubt that, just read this blog.

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

Nandy Ekle

TENDER


TENDER

I found two one dollar bills in my dryer this morning. To find these meant they had been washed in our washing machine and cleansed by the water from our own well. This water was unquestionably drawn from the Tierra Blanco Creek flowing from the Ogallala Aquifer underneath our land. The electricity for the washer and dryer may have been supplied by Excel Energy, but as God and John Wayne are my witness I know the power was provided by the sun during the day and the moon and the stars at night.

Yep, these are my dollar bills. I know this because one is I picked these out of the dryer myself, and I know my husband never has any ready cash on hand. And two, I was washing MY clothes and not his. So I claim them lock stock and tender.

What to do, what to do. This money instantly began to burn a hole in my pocket with possibilities galore. I could use them to buy my daily soft drinks or powdered sugar donuts at Marks Chevron across the street from our Buffalo Bookstore. Maybe I can save it for popcorn at the Varsity Theater down the block. Naw. What about if I use it to purchase gee gaws at the Hideout next door or maybe I could travel down to Dollar General to buy Ginger snaps for the cookie jar in our business or candy for the goodie bags. What if I pay for printing at Hayley’s Printing on the Randall County Courthouse Square or to find some treasure at Stevens Flowers or H.R. Flowers down the road. Or there is coffee at the Palace, or ice cream at the Rock and Roll Soda Shop.

Agony! Endless possibilities! Glory be!  After pondering my dilemma and contemplating the consequences of my actions and reactions I formulated a plan. I will first put one of these precious bills in our cash register, and get change to buy both the Canyon News and Amarillo Globe News. Who knows where those quarters will go.

The other dollar I will tuck among those who have found their way into my pocket. Without a glance I will pull it out to pay for something, and send it on its maiden voyage from me to some unknown destination around our big blue marble.

I may never know, can never know where this money came from, and I have no clue where they will travel in the future, or how they will be used. Perchance they may have originated at a local bank, or a banking institution millions of miles away. They could have come from a tourist or a tramp, a child or child at heart. The combinations are not only endless but timeless.

Each time I glanced at these bills before they went into circulation, no matter how hard I tried, George Washington wouldn’t and couldn’t share any clues of his travels, and I know for a fact he had no way to document his path. I couldn’t find a “Where’s George” anywhere on his person.

So his appearance in my dryer will have to remain a mystery forever and ever Amen.

As writers we string words together and send them out the door, or the internet, or facebook, or twitter. We have no clue who or whom will pick them up and settle them in their hearts or pass them on to the next destination. This is why we write. I take this back, this is why we SHOULD write. For when we focus on connecting to one certain individual or a single interest we have lost the journey and sacrificed the story. And if we spend all our time worrying who we can link to, or who it will offend we can never fully set ourselves free to write. We just cannot choose who receives the message.

Besides imagining the other is way more fun. Happy Trails!

Sharon Stevens

The Journal Jar


Outtakes #34

 The Journal Jar

I believe writers should write something every day. I do have an advantage as my job requires me to write. That does not mean it’s always easy to be creative in my commercial endeavors. Unfortunately, sitting at the computer forcing words on to the screen does not always provide useable material. That’s when I look for alternative inspiration.

A Secret Sister gave me the best gift for a writer—a Journal Jar. The jar is full of slips of paper with writing assignments. Subjects include music, art, family, friends, school days, holidays, and dreams. I have a special journal I keep with the jar. When I get stuck or don’t have hours to sit at my computer, I pull a slip out of the jar, paste it to the top of a blank page, and begin to work on the request.

There’s true liberation in this type of journaling. The writer is not confined to reciting historic events in a who, what, where, when, why format. Instead he is permitted, encouraged to relive an event. Recall the sights, scents, sounds of the occasion. What about creating your dream job? What would you do? How do you envision your day? What kind of education would you need? In a few minutes, a couple of pages are filled with creative details.

Not only does the Journal Jar provide a creative outlet for the writer, it is a record of the times. It may also give your children and grandchildren a chuckle when they read about your youthful exploits.

So where do you find Journal Jar strips? My Secret Sister found mine on-line. Fire up your favorite search engine and browse the web for journaling supplies. Don’t forget a book or notebook to record your assignments. Oh, yes, you’ll need a pen. I like gel pens in different colors. Open your journal and your mind. It’s fun.

Cait Collins