Hook the Chapter


Hook the Chapter

By Natalie Bright

Think about your favorite author. Do you sometimes find it impossible to put down their book? Each chapter propels you to turn the page to the next, and before you know it half the night is gone.

This author might be using a technique of ending each chapter with a hook.

Chapter hooks are placed at the end of the chapter. These last sentences, or words, compel the reader to keep reading. The reader is teased into turning the page and going on. We have to know what happens next. Keep your readers curious, keep them on the edge of their seat.

Chapters are an easy way introducing a scene change or changing to a different characters point of view. “Hooks” are creative ways to end that chapter, and take your story to the next level. The exception might be if you have chapters with high tension and drama, not every one needs to end with a cliff-hangar, for example

Choose a handful of your favorite books. Work your way through the stack, reading out loud the last sentence at the end of every chapter. Listen to the words carefully. Study their order, and how specific word choices can create tension and drama.

Examples of Chapter Hooks

-decision to act

-hidden threat

-broken routine

-new disaster

-dare

-having second thoughts

-arrival

-departure

Happy writing!

www.nataliebright.com

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The Greatest – Jimmy Cleveland


A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols

The Greatest – Jimmy Cleveland

When rodeo cowboys get together, there’s often a discussion about who is the best ever in a particular event. I have several friends that could be considered the greatest of all time in their event, but for the Bareback Bronc Riding, my vote goes to Jimmy Cleveland from Hollis, Oklahoma.

He was the most analytical person that ever competed in rodeo. He dissected a bareback riggin down to the most minute detail. The angles and geometry were calculated to the last millimeter. The way he strapped his spurs to his boots had a specific effect. He even adjusted the spin of the rowels for each individual horse. On bended knee, he used a screwdriver to loosen or tighten the screw to get the desired drag, spinning the rowel like he was tuning a carburetor. The fit of his glove, the shape of the handhold, the position of how he set the riggin on the horse, everything was done for a purpose, and he wasn’t guessing. He knew more about the science of his event than anybody before or since.

Jimmy rode with more control than anyone I ever saw. He looked like a computerized machine more than a human being. He could ride rank horses flawlessly, and dress up the mediocre ones. He could win on any type bronc. His style was aggressive, yet smooth. He was poetry in motion.

My good friend Dale Hirschman, who is a great rodeo photographer, showed Jimmy a picture he had taken of him. Dale made the comment, “Boy, I don’t how it happens, but every picture I get of you, your eyes are closed.”

Jimmy gave Dale a hesitating stare, “I ride with my eyes closed.”

“What?” Dale replied in disbelief.

“Yeah, I close my eyes when I ride. It helps me feel the horse better with my feet.”

Now, think about that. Would you get on a bucking horse, have them turn him loose, and close your eyes? I’ve shut my eyes when I had been launched toward the fence like a torpedo, but never while I was still trying to stay on. That would take a tremendous amount of confidence. But, you know? He was in such perfect time with those bucking horses, he did ride with his feet.

I guess that’s why he was, and is, the greatest.

 

Grand Week


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Grand Week

By Nandy Ekle

This week has been a very special week for us. For the first time, we have had all of our grandchildren with us. And let me tell you, it has been a great Grand Week. Our oldest is six years old and the youngest is twelve months. And watching them all laugh and play, sing and dance has been an extremely amazing event for us.

One of the wonders of this week, other than the obvious of just having them close to us and enjoying their interactions with each other has been their games. They all have super busy imaginations and they came up with some of the most creative ideas I’ve ever heard. The girls put together a singing group and practiced a specific song until they were comfortable enough to sing it in public and even have a grand finale ending. The boys played cars and car tracks. They all colored pictures and drew on paper. And Nana read stories.

So what does this have to do with inspiration for writing (other than gloating that I got to keep the grands this week)? Listening to the stories the kids made up sparked my own imagination. Each game they played, each song they sang, each story they told stuck in my own head and took a corner to mature in. And, of course, they will get all credit for the ideas they gave their nana.

If your imagination feels like it’s running dry, spend a few days listening to children play together. The well of ideas will suddenly grow too deep to keep up with it.

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

GREEN PANTS


GREEN PANTS

“What was I scared of?”

Dr. Seuss

Sharon Stevens

 

Our carton of milk outdated today, June 12, 2013.

That doesn’t mean it needs to gurgle down the garbage disposal drain. This just means if I leave it in the refrigerator for another day or two the milk may sour, spoil, decay, or become odoriferous. I don’t know about you but spoiled milk is not palatable on any level, not even for cooking.

The outdate occurred on the same day I read in the Amarillo Globe News that this was the anniversary of the birthday of Anne Frank. But more lovely than that was the mention of this day in history that it was the time Anne received her diary, really an autograph book, on her thirteenth birthday in 1942. Her very first writing…“ I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”

The day my milk outdated also coincided with the funeral of Mary Huntington. Mrs. Huntington was the librarian at the old Canyon Public Library for so many years. She is the one who kept the library going when others felt it needed to be closed. Also she, with the help of her volunteers and co-workers transferred and adapted all the codes from the Dewey Decimal system to switch to the computer database for the Harrington Consortium. She also volunteered at her daughter’s elementary class to help the kids with their reading, and the whole family pitched in and taught the children chess.

Mary meant more to me than anyone can ever know! When our girls were small I would take them into the library every week and we would check out a mountain of books to read at home. I told Mary that I was a failure as a mother as I just couldn’t seem to read Dr. Seuss. So even though I didn’t discourage the girls from checking out his books I didn’t encourage them either. She was such a tiny, mild mannered, little munchkin, and she looked at me sweetly and kindly and told me. “It’s because you are trying to READ Dr. Seuss”. Then she went on to explain that Seuss is not one you can read. She encouraged me to enjoy, and sing, and use expression and it will all come together. It worked and I have loved this man and MOST of his writings ever since.

As I pour out my milk and replace it with a new carton in the refrigerator I will remember Anne Frank and Mary Huntington. And I don’t mean this in a bad way or any disrespect. Quite the opposite. I know this is a lousy way to express endearment, but please bear with me. Milk, fruits, vegetables, dip, canned goods, etc. will always carry an expiration date of a time that will end. Nothing can last forever that we put in our bodies. Our brain, bones, and organs need sustenance that will separate what we put in our mouths to what can be broken down and used for fuel.

Books are different. Once they are written they NEVER expire. The stories they carry will last forever and never get old, a tangible expression of so many letters chained to words, connecting to sentences, linking to thoughts. They can be read over and over, and then read again. Books can be shared and dissected, treasured or argued, once and again.

Isn’t that a lovely sentiment? Timeless. Everlasting. Forever. Never a death, never an expiration date. Heart and soul always intact. Never spoiled, never soured. Right there on the page in front of me. What treasures, what a gift!

The only problem is, so many books, so little time. I’m the one with the expiration date.

 

A Little Child


Outtakes 98

 

A Little Child

By Cait Collins

 

Vacation Bible School 2013 ended this evening. Tomorrow the children will be treated to a waterslide and dinner before midweek services. I had only one student in my cradle roll class. Brooklyn is about 19 months old and beautiful. Her eyes are huge, dark curls bounce when she walks, and her smile lights up a room. I love teaching this age group. Babies (0-24 months) keep you on your toes. Everything is new and exciting. They are so curious. These precious little ones are sponges absorbing everything they see and hear.

When I handed her a lion and roared, she grinned and roared back. I watched Brooklyn mimic my movements to make a stuffed tree frog “talk”. Her little fingers pressed on the left front toe but no trill came forth. She continued to focus as my finger make the frog speak. Then she tried again. Finally she found the button and the frog trilled. Her eyes widened and she smiled. Baby chatter erupted as she proceeded to explain to me how she made the frog talk. Those moments of discovery never cease to amaze me.

Studies indicate early instruction enhances the normal discovery process and can increase the child’s learning potential by as much as 15%. This should not surprise us. Think of all a child learns in the first two years of life. He recognizes mom and dad, discovers his fingers and toes, learns to say a few words, begins to walk, and strings words to make sentences. Why not encourage the learning process by reading to a child or listening as he or she, extols the virtues of an ant. You can build a tower with blocks or dig in the dirt together. It doesn’t need to be elaborate or extremely time consuming. A few minutes each day can mean so much to a little one.

Writers can play a role in educating our children. I write little songs. One of my sisters told her Bible stories in poetry form. We need to at least attempt to write something for very young children.  It’s not as easy as you might think. Children’s books are more than a series of pictures decorating pages. Like adult novels, children’s literature requires characters and a plot. Who is up to the challenge? Wouldn’t you enjoy reading your story to a jury of kids and parents? I know I would.

Where do I start?


 Where do I start?

This is a common question by those who want to write a book. With all the many instructions and how-to’s out there, let me suggest three simple Ideas.

Develop a THEME for your book.

First, develop a theme for your story. Theme is different than subject in that it expresses a purpose or intent of the subject. For example, your subject might be a run-away girl, but your theme might be, “There’s no place like home.” The theme is what ties your plot and characters together.

Develop the PLOT

Develop the Plot or the action of your story. The plot is not equivalent to conflict, but is a series of dilemmas or encounters, which may include conflict, that helps your main character to evolve through their needs and motivations.

Create CHARACTERS

These are the people who reveal your theme. They connect with the reader by their traits and inner qualities described by the writer in a believable way. By matching their characteristics with the theme and running them through the plot, they must change in some recognizable way.

These three intertwined together will form a satisfying story. So let’s get started!

Rory C. Keel

Hook the Chapter


Hook the Chapter

By Natalie Bright

Think about your favorite author. Do you sometimes find it impossible to put down their book? Each chapter propels you to turn the page to the next, and before you know it half the night is gone.

This author might be using a technique of ending each chapter with a hook.

Chapter hooks are placed at the end of the chapter. These last sentences, or words, compel the reader to keep reading. The reader is teased into turning the page and going on. We have to know what happens next. Keep your readers curious, keep them on the edge of their seat.

Chapters are an easy way introducing a scene change or changing to a different characters point of view. “Hooks” are creative ways to end that chapter, and take your story to the next level. The exception might be if you have chapters with high tension and drama, not every one needs to end with a cliff-hangar, for example

Choose a handful of your favorite books. Work your way through the stack, reading out loud the last sentence at the end of every chapter. Listen to the words carefully. Study their order, and how specific word choices can create tension and drama.

Examples of Chapter Hooks

-decision to act

-hidden threat

-broken routine

-new disaster

-dare

-having second thoughts

-arrival

-departure

Happy writing!

www.nataliebright.com

 

The Greatest – Jimmy Cleveland


A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols

 

The Greatest – Jimmy Cleveland

When rodeo cowboys get together, there’s often a discussion about who is the best ever in a particular event. I have several friends that could be considered the greatest of all time in their event, but for the Bareback Bronc Riding, my vote goes to Jimmy Cleveland from Hollis, Oklahoma.

He was the most analytical person that ever competed in rodeo. He dissected a bareback riggin down to the most minute detail. The angles and geometry were calculated to the last millimeter. The way he strapped his spurs to his boots had a specific effect. He even adjusted the spin of the rowels for each individual horse. On bended knee, he used a screwdriver to loosen or tighten the screw to get the desired drag, spinning the rowel like he was tuning a carburetor. The fit of his glove, the shape of the handhold, the position of how he set the riggin on the horse, everything was done for a purpose, and he wasn’t guessing. He knew more about the science of his event than anybody before or since.

Jimmy rode with more control than anyone I ever saw. He looked like a computerized machine more than a human being. He could ride rank horses flawlessly, and dress up the mediocre ones. He could win on any type bronc. His style was aggressive, yet smooth. He was poetry in motion.

My good friend Dale Hirschman, who is a great rodeo photographer, showed Jimmy a picture he had taken of him. Dale made the comment, “Boy, I don’t how it happens, but every picture I get of you, your eyes are closed.”

Jimmy gave Dale a hesitating stare, “I ride with my eyes closed.”

“What?” Dale replied in disbelief.

“Yeah, I close my eyes when I ride. It helps me feel the horse better with my feet.”

Now, think about that. Would you get on a bucking horse, have them turn him loose, and close your eyes? I’ve shut my eyes when I had been launched toward the fence like a torpedo, but never while I was still trying to stay on. That would take a tremendous amount of confidence. But, you know? He was in such perfect time with those bucking horses, he did ride with his feet.

I guess that’s why he was, and is, the greatest.

 

Birthday Feast


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Birthday Feast

By Nandy Ekle

At my age a birthday is really more dreaded than anticipated. Women my age tend to symbolically stop having birthdays and do what they can to keep any shred of youth they are able to keep. But most women my age don’t have the experience I had theis week.

Like a lot of women my age, dieting is a daily battle. I have recently been successful on a great plan, but in the past few months, my will power has melted. One thing that has not ben much help in this area is the wonderful, wacky and insanely fantastic group I work with. There are twelve of us, if you count the manager (and let me emphasize, she most definitely does count). So that’s an average of one birthday every month. The custom is that the person whose birthday was last orchestrates the celebration for the next person’s birthday. And the rule of thumb has always been a themed food spread, birthday honoree’s choice.

So a very unique and special feast took place this week. They al know about my struggles with The Diet, and they all know my love for stories. So the feast we had this week was a feast of words. Each and every person on our “team” chose a passage from their favorite book, and then took turns coming to my desk to read these jewels.

That evening I came home and started reading the new book my husband gave me.

When your appetite for words is low, plan a pot luck word spread.

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


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POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

Birthday Feast

By Nandy Ekle

 

 At my age a birthday is really more dreaded than anticipated. Women my age tend to symbolically stop having birthdays and do what they can to keep any shred of youth they are able to keep. But most women my age don’t have the experience I had theis week.

Like a lot of women my age, dieting is a daily battle. I have recently been successful on a great plan, but in the past few months, my will power has melted. One thing that has not ben much help in this area is the wonderful, wacky and insanely fantastic group I work with. There are twelve of us, if you count the manager (and let me emphasize, she most definitely does count). So that’s an average of one birthday every month. The custom is that the person whose birthday was last orchestrates the celebration for the next person’s birthday. And the rule of thumb has always been a themed food spread, birthday honoree’s choice.

So a very unique and special feast took place this week. They al know about my struggles with The Diet, and they all know my love for stories. So the feast we had this week was a feast of words. Each and every person on our “team” chose a passage from their favorite book, and then took turns coming to my desk to read these jewels.

That evening I came home and started reading the new book my husband gave me.

When your appetite for words is low, plan a pot luck word spread.

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