Countdown to the WNFR-conclusion


A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols

Countdown to the WNFR-conclusion

Many of you might be surprised that I take an interest in Barrel Racing. There’s still plenty of the idiot horses around that gave Barrel Racers a bad reputation, but most of them these days are trained. I like to watch good horses no matter the discipline, and the Barrel Racing at the NFR is really exciting.

Sherry Cervi, Marana, AZ, leads the field. She is in the business of raising and training and in my opinion, sits a horse better than anyone else going. She leads Mary Walker of Ennis, TX, by $10,000.

Mary has an amazing life story, overcoming some personal tragedies that most of us can’t imagine. If you want to be inspired, research her. She has a big brown horse that doesn’t look like he’s running all that fast, his turns are nothing special, but he’s so consistent and he stops the clock in the money. The best part of her run is when they put the camera on her husband, Byron. He grinds his teeth, foam comes out of his mouth, and he flails around in his chair like he has rabies. He gets excited.

All these contestants are good cowgirls riding great horses, but I really think it will come down to these two ladies for the title, and that it will be close. I’ve heard Fallon Taylor has a super horse this year and she has experience, qualifying for her first NFR at 13 years old. Watch out for her. One other note, Trevor Brazile’s wife has qualified for her first Finals. I always think it’s special when spouses or family get to make the trip to the “Big Show” together.

J.W. Harris, Mullin, TX, is at the top of the leader board in the Bull Riding by $30,000. That may not be a safe lead, but it is substantial. He rides a high percentage of his bulls, so if he stays healthy, I don’t think anyone will threaten him for the title.

Another guy I will keep an eye on is Cooper Davis, a rookie who made the top 15 this year. I’ve only seen him ride a few times, but I’m impressed.

Ah, now to the classic event of rodeo. The true origin of the sport, the intellectual and sophisticated mans competition.

Cody Wright is my pick. He’ll have to beat back his two twin brothers to win it, but I still think the elder Wright is the best in the pack. He has a $20,000 lead. After the Etbauers, I didn’t think it would happen again to have three brothers in the same event the same year. But there’s a whole brood of these Wright boys in Utah, and they all ride the same. How can this be? We could see in the near future where if your last name isn’t Wright, you don’t get to go the Finals. They’re amazing.

Tyler Corrington, Hastings, MN., is in striking distance and certainly rides well enough to get it done. They all ride good or they wouldn’t be there, I’m just picking out some guys that get my attention.

Another bronc rider I like is Wade Sundell. He’s from the tall corn circuit, and sometimes I think they don’t want him to fit in. He goes 150 miles an hour every time he calls for the gate, and he is totally unconcerned. That’s my kind of bronc rider.

Thanks for reading and good luck to all the contestants. We’ll find out shortly if my predictions are valid. The first performance is Thursday, Dec.5th.

What’s For Supper?


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

What’s For Supper?

 By Nandy Ekle

“Mom, what’s for supper,” my kids were obsessed with knowing what I had planned for dinner every night. Sometimes that was the first thing they said every morning.

Did I always have an answer for them? No. In fact, a lot of the time I didn’t know what was for supper until 4:45 that evening. And let me tell you, 4:45 p.m. with three starving kids home from school and not a single idea of what I was about to feed them will inspire a mother to create miracles in the kitchen.

So deadlines for writing are a lot like that. I know every week a blog is due Thursday night for posting Friday morning. I know there are hungry readers on their way to my table. But do I always know what I’m about to feed them? Absolutely not.

There are weeks when I walk around with blog ideas bubbling like a pot of stew on a hot fire. Those are the weeks when words pour out of my brain at the speed of lightning. This is the milk and honey that I love to serve my readers. Dinner is ready, come and get it!

But then there are those weeks when at 4:45 before dinner time at 5:30, I’m still wandering around, studying the contents of the pantry, the freezer, the refrigerator, and back to the pantry praying for inspiration. These are the lean times when even the words I do have are frozen hard as a rock and refuse to budge to any sort of usable condition.

Oddly enough, these can be the weeks when creativity kicks in and I look at what I’ve managed to write and say, “I gotta remember that recipe!”

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

BOGGLE


BOGGLE 

“Gather all the witnesses you can…”
Twilight  Breaking Dawn Part 2
 
By Sharon Stevens
 
Years ago our family used to play a word game called “Boggle”. The object was to shake the box with the letter squares, and then turn over the hourglass timer and to try to make words out of the letters. The more letters you formed into words the more points you gained. To our family this was a fun game, noisy but fun.
 
Isn’t it a wonderful thing that we have a trillion or more words right at our fingertips?
 
If we are writing a story we can pluck thoughts and ideas out of our hearts, our soul, our minds and our very being. We can take these bits and pieces and shape them into anything we choose. Every genre starts with something this simple.
 
Think of this…pick a word, any word and turn it into horror, romance, fiction, non-fiction, laughter, darkness, pain, or joy. See how easy it is to twist and turn groupings of letters into ideas and dreams.
 
At the end right before the credits of Twilight- Breaking Dawn 2 I witnessed certain words highlighted out of Stephanie Myers book. Words like “forever” came to light and it struck me how these same letters could be linked together in so many ways to convey every feeling humanly possible.
 
And this is my Thanksgiving wish for all. I am most thankful that there are so very many ways to turn the alphabet into wonderful memories. Not only that, to know how great it is to be able to read and write and share with the blessings of our American freedom. To me this is the symbol of a true Thanksgiving.
 
One word at a time!

Reflection


Outtakes 122

 

Reflection

by Cait Collins

The holiday season is upon us, signaling another year is almost gone. It’s time to reflect on what we have achieved and what we have to be thankful for.

This year has been very productive for me. I have completed the rewrite of a novella into a novel. I have all my critiques and am in the process of making the final edits for HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW? I started a second work, my first attempt at a memoir. TABLES led to a spin-off entitled FIRST LOVE, FOREVER LOVE. I sent the last two chapters of FIRST LOVE to my critique group Monday night. TABLES will be completed next year.

I have three major goals for 2014. First is to complete the final edits on the novel HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW and begin submitting the work to agents and editors. Secondly, I plan to finish the final edits for FIRST LOVE and send it off. And third, finish and submit TABLES.

I have so much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for a job that allows me to earn my living as a researcher and writer. Sometimes it’s difficult to switch from business correspondence to creative writing, but that’s part of the fun.

I am thankful for the teachers and mentors who have encouraged me to keep working on my craft.

I have the greatest critique group. Natalie, Sharon, Joe, Craig, and Dee, I could not do this without you. You keep me honest and don’t let me get away with being mediocre.

I have a wonderful family and the best of friends. They listen to me tell my stories and forgive my ramblings.

I’m thankful I’ve been given stories to tell. Life, current events, work, and family all provide inspiration.

I’m very thankful for all of our readers who log on to Wordsmith Six and send comments and who “like” our work. You are the reason I write.

 

He’s still playing


He’s still playing

By Rory C. Keel

yAfv2Yz

Recently I ran across a post on Reddit and felt compelled to write something about the picture of this boy playing the violin. What does this have to do with a writing blog? Consider it a writing exercise.

Diego played his violin. With each pull of the bow across the strings his chin trembled and tears spilled from his eyes. But Diego played.

The twelve-year-old boy held the instrument in his hand as if it were his life. Born in the slums known as a favela, a Brazilian squatter settlement, Diego lived there until Evandro da Silva rescued him and taught him to play the violin.

Diego suffered from leukemia, yet his fingers moved with grace, and with a purpose as he performed the most mournful song his violin had ever made. He still played.

His music teacher, Evandro da Silva, the coordinator of the musical group Afro-Reggae, was assaulted and killed by a gang in Rio de Janeiro in October of 2009.

At his mentor’s funeral Diego’s tears washed down across the surface of his violin as he played, but he kept playing.

His teacher had given him a gift; Evandro had taught Diego and several other kids how to play musical instruments and they would use that talent to raise donations for other sick kids.

In March of 2010, only five months after playing at his teacher’s funeral, Diego died during a medical procedure related to his leukemia. At twelve years of age his tears had stopped, but I’m sure Diego is still playing.

roryckeel.com

Photo published in Zero Hora

Ideas With Potential


Ideas With Potential

If you’re brand new to writing, you may question the ideas that pop into your head. And believe me, those ideas will come out of no where at the worst, most inappropriate times. The moment when there’s not a pen or paper in sight, BAM, that idea will be brilliant. You won’t remember it. Ever.

Those flashes of brilliance are a gift really. I had one such idea two days ago. It was a spark of an opening for a book, a new adventure for the characters I’m writing about now. I didn’t jot it down because I happened to be driving on the freeway with two teenagers in tow, listening to (rather blocking out) their debate over Xbox 360 or Xbox One.

It was a tiny twinkle of dialogue, a scene clearly in my head, and it’s still out there somewhere waiting for me to catch it again and fan the flames.

This One Time

Why can’t I ever learn? I remember something that my oldest son said when he was four years old that I did write down.

We had taken them to Palo Duro Canyon State Park for the day. We hiked, splashed in the stream, and cooked hotdogs. As we drove the 800 feet to the rim out of the canyon my son turned around and stared longingly out of the back window. “Can we ever come back?” he asked.

From his comment I had an idea for a story about our family outing on that day, which got published a year later in a local magazine. One of the mother’s at karate class remembered that article and asked me to do a writing workshop for the local homeschool group at our library. I had a great group of 15 kids plus mothers, all ages, eager to learn and hurry home to start their writing journals. From that event, I got two more invitations to speak including the regional homeschool coop conference the next year. That class was a fun group of about 45, and it included a generous fee.

One idea. One reflection, one short story, or a finished novel can keep going and going and going, opening doors in ways you never imagined.  Next time I’m stopping the car and taking notes.

www.nataliebright.com

 

Countdown to the WNFR Part-2


A Pinch of Rodeo

 By Joe R. Nichols

 

Countdown to the WNFR Part-2

 

K.C. Field will dominate the Bareback Bronc Riding.

A bold statement, but one I believe will prove out. The Utah man comes in less than $6000 behind Bobby Mote, who now resides in Stephenville, TX. Will Lowe of Canyon, TX, is $5000 behind K.C.. There is a reason these three men are at the top of the standings, they ride better than the rest.

Bobby Mote rides good and looks even better doing it. Will Lowe is so correct and never makes a bobble. But K.C. has flash. A wow factor. Fast feet, aggressive style, yet no mistakes. I predict this will be his third consecutive title.

Roy Cooper was the most dominate and talked about calf roper when I was a kid growing up and on in to my own rodeo career. He revolutionized the event and changed it forever. His son, Tuff, is the next phenomenon and I believe before he is done, he’ll have all the records and could be considered as the best ever. He seems to be level and balanced in his life, dedicated to excellence, and has the confidence in his skill to win.

I mean no disrespect to the other qualifiers or even the next 16-30 guys in the world. There are so many great calf ropers. Trevor Brazile, Cody Ohl, Shane Hanchey, on and on.

Tuff Cooper still stands out.

For years, I have defended the Team Ropers at the Finals, but no more.

Every year I would hear people say, “Those Team Ropers are terrible. They’re suppose to be the best in the world, and they can’t even catch.”

I would then remind these experts that when you are trying to be four flat or less, it’s not a high percentage shot. A late four second run won’t place in a lot of go-rounds at the NFR. What’s the point in making a five or six second run and not winning a dime?

But the last few years have been different. The older veterans will use a steer that will let them be fast and place in the round, but if the opportunity is not there, they still catch and keep themselves in the contest. These young guns have made up their mind to be 3.5 every time they back in the box, no matter what. Sometimes it’s just not there and one more swing can get things right. But they throw it anyway and wave it off or miss the left horn. There have been times towards the end of the round, when it was wide open, like 9.2 was winning third, and the last several teams still took themselves out of it trying to win first. Somebody has to win third through sixth for $11,000 down to $3000. What’s the matter with them? I wish all the Team Ropers good luck, and maybe they’ll rope smart this year.

I think Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith will be contenders this year, but the team I would point out would be Nick Sartain and Rich Skelton. They could light ’em up and win the whole deal.

Thanks for reading. I’ll conclude my thoughts next week.

What’s For Supper?


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

What’s For Supper?

 By Nandy Ekle

“Mom, what’s for supper,” my kids were obsessed with knowing what I had planned for dinner every night. Sometimes that was the first thing they said every morning.

Did I always have an answer for them? No. In fact, a lot of the time I didn’t know what was for supper until 4:45 that evening. And let me tell you, 4:45 p.m. with three starving kids home from school and not a single idea of what I was about to feed them will inspire a mother to create miracles in the kitchen.

So deadlines for writing are a lot like that. I know every week a blog is due Thursday night for posting Friday morning. I know there are hungry readers on their way to my table. But do I always know what I’m about to feed them? Absolutely not.

There are weeks when I walk around with blog ideas bubbling like a pot of stew on a hot fire. Those are the weeks when words pour out of my brain at the speed of lightning. This is the milk and honey that I love to serve my readers. Dinner is ready, come and get it!

But then there are those weeks when at 4:45 before dinner time at 5:30, I’m still wandering around, studying the contents of the pantry, the freezer, the refrigerator, and back to the pantry praying for inspiration. These are the lean times when even the words I do have are frozen hard as a rock and refuse to budge to any sort of usable condition.

Oddly enough, these can be the weeks when creativity kicks in and I look at what I’ve managed to write and say, “I gotta remember that recipe!”

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

HEART


HEART 

by Sharon Stevens

A mother and her young son came into our bookstore to price college textbooks. After they found what they were looking for we took a moment to discuss the high price of books, the terribly hot weather, the rising cost of fuel, groceries, school clothes, work clothes, play clothes, cost of living and just life in general. As they were leaving I invited them to rummage through the basket up front that I keep filled with trinkets of stickers, bubbles, necklaces, bracelets, bouncing balls, slinkys and other such odds and ends that find their way into my stash.

The mother declined but encouraged her son to go through and pick something out to take home. After stirring everything up with his fingers he reached in and chose a golden heart bracelet and shared it with his mom. But he didn’t just pass it on to her, he placed it against her chest and told her he chose it special for her because it reminded him of her heart. The look she shared with her son for this wonderful gift I will carry in MY heart forever. What a precious thought from a young man to his mom.

The dictionary definition of heart describes it as a “chambered muscular organ in vertebrates that pumps blood”. I understand that. You have to have a heart to survive. But I also recognize that heart transcends all definitions and connections. Thomas C. Foster mentions in his book “How to Read Literature Like A Professor” that a heart can have so many different meanings. His book reminds me to never look at a heart simply the same way again.

And if I had my druthers I would choose for my definition the verb tense that describes a heart as one that encourages. Even though it is not in general use it fits me to a capital H.

I watched the mother and son leave our store after just heartbeats in time. I wonder how many pulses were exchanged between the three of us not only in that lifespan, but how many hours that moment will sustain us for the future. Who knows.

It wasn’t until after they left that I realized the young man had placed the bracelet heart against the RIGHT side of his mother’s chest instead of the left.

No matter, his mother and I both knew which side her heart was on.

– Sharon Stevens

Click on the author page above to connect with Sharon.

Where Were You?


Outtakes 121

Where Were You?

By Cait Collins

November 22, 1963 was an ordinary school day for this 12-year old junior high school student in Bangor, Maine. I had just left my social studies class and entered my home room for the last period of the day. My home room teacher was a very strict lady. Miss Rankin did not tolerate talking or fooling around. She considered this period to be a chance for students to receive school news, report cards, or other paperwork to be taken home to parents. Once the business was completed, the time was to be used to do homework. My English teacher assigned a book report so I began reading a book I had checked out of the library earlier in the day.

Each room had a receiver installed near the door allowing the principal or other members of the office staff to contact a teacher without sending a runner. It did not ring often, so the buzz interrupted all study. Miss Rankin rose from her desk to answer the summons. She identified herself and then stiffened. “I shall be there immediately.”

Replacing the receiver, she turned to her students. “I must go to the office. I trust you will continue your study with no talking.”

No talking. Was she serious? Whispers circulated. “What’s happened?” “I don’t know.”

I cannot say we continued to study. We watched the door.

Miss Rankin returned. She stepped to her desk, pulled out her chair. “Children.” She always called us children. “We have been ordered to lower the flags to half-staff. President Kennedy has been assassinated.” She sat down. “Please return to your studies.

I couldn’t believe it. My current events report that day had been on the President’s response to the assassination of Vietnamese President. Besides I had seen President Kennedy a few weeks earlier when he landed at Dow Air Force Base for a speaking engagement at the University of Maine in nearby Oreno. It did not make sense.

When the bell rang I gathered my books and went to the bus stop. My older sister joined me. “I was shelving books for the librarian. I had PT 109 in my hand when Mr. Sweat announced the President died.”

On Sunday, Jack Ruby murdered suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald. We watched the events on television. And as school was suspended, we were glued to the television for the funeral services. I will never forget John-John saluting as the coffin was loaded on the caisson.

Whenever people of my generation speak of the Kennedy assassination, they vividly recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard the horrible news. History should be told dispassionately with attention to facts. However, the human response and emotion is revealed by those who witnessed the events. Where were you when the Challenger exploded? Where were you on September 11, 2001? Have you recorded what you heard, saw, and felt? Will your children and grandchildren only know the facts and not the emotion?

Pick a historic event. Where were you? Write it down.