Consistency creates success


Consistency creates success

At the 2012 Frontiers in Writing conference in Amarillo Texas, I had the opportunity to speak to the “First Timers” class. Several years ago this type of class proved to be very helpful in preparing me for my first writing conference. Important writing information is shared such as what to expect when attending a writers conference, appropriate attire, behavior toward guest speakers and agents, how to choose which classes to sit through, and how an individual can maximize their learning experience for a profitable return on their investment paid at registration.

During the open forum portion of the class, a student asked the question, “Does an author become successful because they write a minimum number of pages or words a day?”

The truth is, each writer is different. Some write minimum word counts; others write volumes of pages quickly or stretch those words out over hours.

When you look at successful writers the one thing that is common among them all is consistency.

Whether it’s one word or ten, slow or fast, they write every day.

Rory C. Keel

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Dr. Pepper and Peanuts


Dr. Pepper & Peanuts

By Natalie Bright

My kids ask for Dr. Pepper’s during the summer, and I remember craving them just as bad when I was a kid. My grandfather, Pappy, used to take me to the Coop in Lockney, Texas where he’d buy me a “sodi pop” and a handful of peanuts. You had to take a couple of sips before your peanuts would all fit in the thin necked bottle. I always studied the artwork on the bottle and asked him why couldn’t we have one at 10, 2 and 4 everyday?

The memories of our childhood, the tastes, the experiences all influence our stories and add color to our writing. If it has to do with history, I always have to know how and why. Which brings me to the point of this blog: how long has Dr. Pepper been around?

The unique flavor of Dr. Pepper was created and sold beginning in 1885 in Waco, Texas. Dr. Pepper is the oldest manufacturer of soft drink concentrates and syrups in the U.S. It originated at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store by Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist who worked there.

Alderton liked the syrup flavor smells and in his spare time served carbonated drinks at the soda fountain. Keeping a journal, he began experimenting with numerous mixtures until he found the one he liked. Long story short, the store owner loved it, the fountain customers loved it, and its popularity soon spread.

Robert S. Lazenby, a young beverage chemist, also tasted the new drink and along with Morrison, formed a new firm, the Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Company, which later became Dr Pepper Company. They introduced Dr Pepper to almost 20 million people attending the 1904 World’s Fair Exposition in St. Louis. At the same Fair, hamburgers and frankfurters were first served on buns, and the ice cream cone was first served.

So now I’m wondering in my fictitious town of Justice, Texas, 1887, if my main character’s grandfather might buy her a Dr. Pepper? The challenge comes in taking our experiences and applying them to another time and place. That’s the magic of writing.

Did you Know, 23 fruit flavors give Dr Pepper its unique taste?

www.nataliebright.com

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

DESTINATION


DESTINATION

by Sharon Stevens

“Destination-The purpose for which anything is intended or appointed; end or ultimate designs.” 1890 Webster’s Dictionary

I just love pageantry, don’t you? I love everything about it… the colors, the music, the fanfare, the camaraderie, the life stories, what’s not to like? I am amazed how people can pull together thoughts and families and turn them into visions and images for the whole world to view.

There is so much pageantry going on this weekend. To name just a few, the Olympics begin, the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon will be displaying a lock of George Washington’s hair, and last but not by any means least, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and Jodi Thomas are in Anaheim California for the Romance Writers Conference and Awards.

There is enough inspiration in just one moment with any of these events to carry an average observer for an entire year.  I was reminded of this when I was cleaning out the trunk of my car and came across the May 2001 issue of the local magazine ACCENT WEST. In it was the article by Liz Cantrell, “The Power Of A Dream,” about Brandon Slay and the story of his memories with the Olympics.

I had forgotten there was so many connections to our area so I stopped by the Canyon Public Library and picked up a copy of “Pride Of The Plains, 50 Years of the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame” by Mike Haynes and Dave Wohlfarth. The first story was about Joe Fortenberry, the Olympic basketball player from Happy Texas who attended WTSU. The last story was about Brandon Slay and his commitment to youth and sports all around the country. One of the many stories in the book was written about Merry Byers from Canyon, and her journey in basketball, all written by Jon Mark Beilue.

Every story I read is pageantry. I can’t help it. My heart doesn’t need to hear the “Star Spangled Banner” to explode with pride. It swells with everything I read in every publication with each word printed, and every photo posted no matter what country is represented. I can celebrate every single second all the way from the Opening Ceremonies to the last fireworks bursting in the skies over London. And this leads me to the connection with destination.

Diane Sawyer interviewed Apolo Ohno for the 2010 Olympics. He said something so interesting and deep I have carried this in my writing ever since.

Ohno mentioned that most of the other kids were there to win a Gold Medal, but he said he was living his destination. He had come to enjoy and celebrate the experience of just being among competitors and athletic friends.

So this weekend if you watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, or travel to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to view the lock of George Washington’s hair, or google the awards at the Romance Writers Convention in California of Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, Linda Broday and DeWanna Pace, embrace the joy and excitement and pageantry each represents. Wish them God Speed as they travel to their destinations, and don’t forget that they cherish these wishes as they return home.

As always I am living my destination. Happy trails as you journey to yours.

Sharon Stevens

Thank You


Outtakes 52

Thank You

I cannot believe this is my 52nd post. We started WordsmithSix a year ago on August 1. I wondered if we would remain committed to this blog. We are all so busy. We have full time jobs, family commitments, personal lives, and writing projects. I feared we would, at some point, allow life to interfere with our blog posts. But here we are 52 weeks later, still working hard and still writing our blogs.

My greatest concern was I would have nothing to say that would be worth reading. Yet you proved me wrong. I so appreciate your comments, votes, and likes. It’s good to know that others have shared my experiences and wanted me to know they appreciated reminders of days gone by. Your posts have encouraged me to reach higher; do better. Thank you for visiting our site. Thank you for reading our posts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your comments mean more to me than you will ever know.

As I look back, I realize I wrote and posted a complete piece every week. That’s 52 publications over the last year. By committing to WordsmithSix, I set aside time every week to work on my blog. I did my best on all of the posts, but not all of them were winners. Even so, you kept reading. Your support made me determined to do better. I hope to do even better in the future.

So where do I go in the second year? Good question. I said in the beginning my thoughts are simple. I love writing. I love the challenge of creating characters, scenes, and dialogue.  There’s more to say along those lines. What about the books I read, the authors I respect and follow? What have I learned from fellow writers? Yes, there is much more to say.

This is my last blog for our first year. I look forward to the next year and the continuing challenge of writing my weekly blog. Thanks Craig, Natalie, Nancy, Sharon, and Joe for your support and encouragement. You all are the best friends and critics a writer could hope to have.

Cait Collins

Story Starter


Story Starter
Write a piece that takes place in a one of the following places:

A fishing pier in the Florida Keys
A Public Library
A Bus station
A Shopping Mall

Keep this in mind:
1. The piece may take place partly in one of the above places and partly in another.
2. Don’t just describe these places make something happen there.
3. Pair your piece with something unusual for the setting like characters of a book coming to life in a public Library when their book is read. This will make for an interesting story.

Rory C. Keel

GO FOR THE OUTRAGEOUS



GO FOR THE OUTRAGEOUS

By Natalie Bright

Hilary Sares, freelance editor and ghostwriter, spoke at the recent Frontiers in Writing Conference this summer and encouraged us to go for intensity and outrageousness in all of our writing. “Stories can take on a life of their own and don’t be afraid to spin your story into something new without loosing sight of the craft,” Sares told us. The example she gave is a self-pub runaway bestseller by John Locke called SAVING RACHEL, the story of what happens when killers force a man to choose between his wife and his mistress…and the one he rejects must die. It’s different, it’s a new premise and readers loved it. She reminded us that structure must include magic and plot. “Write from your soul, write from your heart, and write your life experience,” Hilary said. If the topic means something to you, you will reach people in a direct way. The trick is to put yourself into it and leave yourself out of it. One of the biggests problems she sees with newbie writers is the intrusion of clever asides. The author must be invisible. In today’s market we see larger story arcs where individual characters can be spun off into their own series. “The writing is tight, fast moving and stripped down,” Hilary said. “You are a pro. Be willing to change and edit.” She encouraged us to work our contacts, be shameless in promoting ourselves, and always keep the magic in mind.

Natalie Bright

www.nataliebright.com

Movie Madness


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Movie Madness

I stand in the dark warehouse next to my new friend and soon to be partner. He has definite ideas about running a night club, I have definite ideas about location and design. However we are from two different time periods and wonder if we will agree on anything.

He points to one corner and begins to describe a bandstand and a female trio singing in harmony. He says he sees dancers in period costumes from the 1940’s and the music is the big band era style.

I stop paying attention to his vision when I see my own vision come to life on the other side of the room. A modern heavy rock band plays and the audience dances in their disco outfits. The music pounds and the bodies gyrate and excitement fills the air like electricity.

As my friend and I watch our own personal visions of the blossoming nightclub, a strange thing begins to happen. The two bandstands and the two crowds of singers and dancers move toward the middle of the room. They notice each other and their music starts to merge and harmonize together. The dancers from the 1940’s are now dancing openly with the dancers from my own time period. They end with a grand stand bang and blow my friend and me across the room with excitement.

If you have nothing else to write about, describe your favorite scene from one of your favorite movies. Write as if you are the main character and you are experiencing the scene. Do not be afraid of detail, sounds, feelings, taste, sights, and smells. And above all else, enjoy!

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

Nandy Ekle

GAN


GAN

by Sharon Stevens

“Gan-A contraction of began, or rather the original simple word.”

1890 Webster’s Dictionary

I BEGAN Tuesday morning with the news of the murder of a man in Lubbock with the involvement of a local doctor here in Amarillo. I ended the day with a news interview on Pro News 7 about Dr. Warner at Pioneer Town at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. In between I checked my facebook account, and clicked on the picture of my daughter, Andrea Keller and her friend and colleague Elaine Plybon, both teachers, on their way to a conference in Wichita Kansas for Podstock.

Whew! What a ride!

In words taken from the musical drama TEXAS. “Take good news where you are going, say to the waiting dead that your brothers intend good things.”

The whole day I celebrated good news. Not news of puppies, bunnies and rainbows by any means. I rejoiced in the fact that each of these stories were shared and could be shared on every level and all mediums. As a writer I can write, or share, or click to my heart’s content. Any one of us can read Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe, or Harry Potter. Not only that, we could read anything at any hour of the day and night. And just think of it, I only have my husband to tell me to turn out the light and go to bed.

I can sing, even though there are those who wished I wouldn’t. But I can hum and rejoice and worship to any Almighty Power that leads my soul. No one can force me, coerce me, drag me, or guilt me into believing against my beliefs. On the other hand, they can guide me and lead me and stand beside me wherever I go.

To me it is so important for each of us as writers to take a moment every once in a while to give thanks for the Freedom TO write. I believe there is no greater gift we cherish than to be able to put words to paper or into cyberspace with only the worry of rejection to guide us. How rich are we in our society that we don’t face retaliation against all we hold most dear. Not only can we write, but we can read whatever anyone else writes about such things as vampires or murder or ugliness, as well as whatever sugary sweet confection that appeals to some palates, mine included.

Each and every morning as I BEGIN my day I remember the very basic and simple privilege given to me by those who protect that freedom. Celebrating the ability to write means the world. With this good news I am given the universe, all because I write.

Sharon Stevens

Risk It


Outtakes 51

Risk It

Sometimes I think I’m pretty complacent regarding my writing. I write women’s fiction. My characters are strong women facing new challenges in their lives. They must confront their problems in order to grow in to even stronger women. They encounter good men who help them in their journeys, but the men do not overwhelm the heroines. I believe my stories are exciting and full of emotion and conflict. But can I do more? Am I destined to write only women’s fiction?  I hope not. I know I am capable of producing much more; therefore I’m writing a contemporary cowboy short story.

Big deal, you say? It is a big deal. I am a city girl. I like windjamming, books, puzzles, restaurants, plays, and movies. I’m not thrilled with the lone prairie, snakes, rodents, and extreme heat. What do I know about cattle, ranching, or the day-to-day operations of a big spread? I know absolutely nothing about all that. But I do know about the cowboy mystique, the allure of the old west, and I have contacts. It all boils down to needing to challenge myself.

It is much easier to write what I know, but at some point I’m concerned my work will get stale, routine, and boring.  By taking on this challenge, I will force myself to research the wildfires that devastated the Texas Panhandle in 2006, and build a story around the survival of ranchers in the face of overwhelming odds. I will learn the lingo and dialect associate with ranching. I will build my characters around the cowboy heritage. The story will be written. My critique partners will guide me in making the work the best it can be. I will submit the story.

What if it is not accepted? I will be disappointed, but I will learn from the experience. Am I struggling with writing Wild Fire? Yes, but isn’t that the point? Why shouldn’t I experiment with new genres? How will I, or for that matter, how will any writer know how far we can go unless we try? Truth is we only fail when we fail to stretch our talents. I’m enjoying this experience and the opportunity move beyond the comfortable. Who knows, I might try a children’s story next.

Cait Collins