William Faulkner

“It is the writer’s privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.”

William Faulkner

by Sharon Stevens

 This last August as I was putting books on the shelf for the fall semester at WTAMU I came across the textbook, “History of Women In America” by Janet Coryell, required in Professor Jean Stuntz’s history class. Since it was a used text I thumbed through it and came across the radio speech First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt gave on the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

I can only imagine how the speech writers must have scrambled franticly for just the right words that day to set the tone for the wife of the president. How Mrs. Roosevelt herself must have agonized as she trembled within to address all those who would listen to her voice, the emotion she knew she must convey. I wonder as well what copy the sponsor, The Pan American Coffee Bureau, had to toss out in support of the history unfolding that could very well affect relations with South America.

This history book is no longer on the shelf. It had been bought by a college student four months ago. So instead on the anniversary of the “day that would live in infamy” I Googled and read those words again, and listened to a recording of what Mrs. Roosevelt spoke December 7, 1941. She noted her husband was hard at work conferring with his cabinet, the heads of state, and even to the Ambassador to Japan. In so many words she was telling the nation that he had everything well in hand and to leave the worrying to him, a sentiment at the time. But she didn’t discount the fears of the mothers, the young people, the community. She, or her speech writers, knew she only had a few minutes with which to celebrate the strength of our United States built on one hundred and sixty five years of sacrifice on American soil.

The world couldn’t know that seventy years later you just had to touch a screen or keypad to take you anywhere in the universe you wanted to travel. Within seconds I pulled up a transcript of that moment in time. I listened to the cultured voice of the president’s wife, the strong words of an American soldier, and the light copy of the advertising sponsor. But the message will always remain the same. Year after year anyone can research any moment of any time recorded in history.

I treasure the ability to read, to research, to remember, to write, to memorialize. I celebrate that generations yet to be born will for a thousand, no a million years be able to question and argue history as it unfolds, all the while looking back on the past as it impacts our future.

I wonder what key points speech writers will write for the president on that day to commemorate our military and those on the home front at the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. All the while as the American people hold their hands over their hearts as the Star Spangled Banner is played.

The following is an excerpt of Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech.

“…You have friends and families in what has suddenly become a danger zone. You cannot escape anxiety. You cannot escape a clutch of fear at your heart and yet I hope that the certainty of what we have to meet will make you rise above these fears. We must go about our daily business more determined than ever to do the ordinary things as well as we can and when we find a way to do anything more in our communities to help others, to build morale, to give a feeling of security, we must do it. Whatever is asked of us I am sure we can accomplish it.

We are the free and unconquerable people of the United States of America!”

Sharon Stevens


Outtakes 124


By Cait Collins

 Sometime being an artist can be very frustrating. The painter, actor, singer, or writer, pours his heart and soul into creating a masterpiece, and then is shot down by critics. While a painting may be appreciated by one viewer, another person may trash the colors and composition. One group applauds an actor’s portrayal of a character, and the second group considers the performance lackluster and boring. A writer submits his manuscript to an agent and receives a “don’t quit your day job” response. But agent B offers a representation contract, sells the work and the novel becomes a best seller.

Critics present one person’s opinion of the work. The harsh critique maybe difficult to accept, but it can be used as a learning tool. As writers, we must realize there is no rule that says we must accept every word of the review as gospel. That said, it is important to read the review, determine what parts are valid, and what portions may be rejected. This is the writer’s story, and he must be free to tell it. However one must keep an open mind so that he doesn’t miss truly constructive advice.

It is so easy to let the nay-sayers destroy our confidence and self-esteem. It’s equally easy for me to say don’t let them. But, don’t let them get to you. The writer must decide how he will respond to the review.  There are choices. Become angry and hard headed. Quit. Develop a thick skin, move beyond the negative words, and pursue your goals. Above all, when called upon to review another artist’s work, respect the effort. Present the positive aspects of the piece first. Then discuss the weak areas. Never be a slash-and-burn critic. It is not productive for the artist and it could damage your reputation.

Three Tenses

Three Tenses

By Rory C. Keel


Here is a reminder of the common tenses in writing.

Past Tense

The most common tense used in most writing.

Example: “I was late.” “Carol jumped when she saw the rat.”

Present Tense

Used occasionally in prose but more common in poetry.

Example: “She is very busy.”

Future Tense

Less often used in fiction and poetry, however it is permissible.

Example: “The dog will stand on its hind legs.” “You are going to be hungry.”


Characterization Profile List

Characterization Profile List

By Natalie Bright



Weaknesses (give your character flaws to make them believable)


How others see him/her


Natural talents

Cultivated talents

Fears (What does your character fear the most? Make them face it)


Dreams (bad/good/reoccurring)

Most comfortable when

Most uncomfortable when

If granted one wish, what would it be? Why?

Present problems

External conflict or problem

Internal conflict or problem

Main obstacle or problem keeping character from obtaining goal

Character Arc

How does your character change from the beginning to the end of your story.

As the saying goes, you must know all of your characters secrets. What’s hidden in their closet? You may not use this information in your story, but you still need to know.

For Your Reference Library

Psychology of Creating Characters – by Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series) by William Bernhardt

45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Dr. Linda Edelstein

Happy writing!


The Great Escape


The Great Escape

By Nandy Ekle

Sub zero temperatures, blowing winds with an edge as sharp as a knife, a little snow here and there. Winter has arrived a few days early and is twisting our lives with grueling intensity. My favorite radio station has two tickets to paradise, but you have to be the ninth caller to get in the drawing — and I’m always number 6.

However, there is a way to visit the tropics while Antarctica eats the siding off my house and tries to cut off our water supply. I can take a pencil and a piece of paper and describe my vision of the Hawaiian beach. I’ve seen the pictures of two palm trees connected by a hammock hanging in the middle between them.

I close my eyes and hear the water rush up the sand, then glide back to the depths. I smell the salt air, feel the slight breeze as the clouds float across the blue sky. Out in the distance I see an ocean liner on the horizon. Sea gulls gossip in the air, but there are no other sounds.

Looking at the line where the briny water has washed up on the beach I see a crab side stepping away from the water. Where is he headed? What is he after? Where did he come from?

I roll off my hammock and walk to the water. As it laps up on my feet and I feel the sand being sucked out from under my toes, I notice a tiny hole open up next to my heel. The hole covers as quickly as it opens, but bubbles rise to the surface and pop. I want to dig down in the hole and find what  made it, but a picture suddenly appears in my head of a sea monster waiting for some unsuspecting finger to plunge down. I go back to my hammock and lay down again.

My eyes close and even the calling of the birds disappears. The air turns cold once again and the biting wind picks back up. I have just arrived home from my trip.

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

No Vacation

Outtakes 123


No Vacation

By Cait Collins

I don’t know about any of you, but my December calendar is beginning to fill up. Between my job, dinners, parties, shopping, cooking, and wrapping presents, I’m finding it difficult to do much writing. That doesn’t mean I take the month of December off. I keep polishing my skills by writing Christmas letters.

I don’t sit down at the computer, type out a year-end update, and then open my mailing list, mail merge and send the same letter to everyone on my card list. I write individual letters, by hand, using a good ink pen and holiday stationery. Each letter is directed to the recipient. The tone is based on the relationship I have with the person. I make every effort to write the letter as if the reader and I were sitting side by side on the sofa, sipping wine, and just catching up.

If I’m writing to a relative, I give the news of our family. I include accomplishments, milestones, what the kids are doing, plans for the holidays, and hopes for the New Year. For friends I recall memorable experiences, work, reunion ideas, and holiday plans. I focus on common interests. No two letters are alike, and I’m proud of each one of them.

Writing a good holiday letter allows t writer to draw on his experiences and his craft to create enjoyable correspondence. We have all received Christmas letters that have no real felling or heart because they are not personal. Why not take the time to compose real heartfelt missives. After all, we are writers.

Making a Transition

Making a Transition

By Rory C. Keel

Have you ever felt the need to write every minute detail in order to transition between a situation, image or scene? You know, the insignificant information that ends up getting cut during rewrites? The words that took so much of your precious time, because you felt you had to “fill in the gap” to get to the next idea?

Too much filler can diminish the impact of the previous idea, or bog the reader down so they lose interest going into the next scene.

Here are a few simple fixes that can help.

First, you could start a new Chapter.

Secondly, Skip a line and start a new paragraph. The extra space indicates the start of a new scene. Simply leave the filler out.

Thirdly, use a transitional word or phrase, such as “Meanwhile…” or “the next day…” or even “when he opened his eyes, everything had changed…”

Fourthly, Use common traits in two different objects, for example, “The frost on the window reminded him of the ice that ran through her veins. She was cold, but not because of the weather.”

Remember, transitions should be simple, direct and crisp advancing the reader to the next scene or idea.


A Book Makes A Great Gift

A Book Makes A Great Gift

by Natalie Bright

Our critique group, WordsmithSix, came together in part from connections made through a local writing organization to combine with an existing group who lost several members, and through long time friends and new neighbors. We’ve been meeting since 2009.

We began with a common goal—get published. We’ve consistently produced, read our work to the group, revised (and revised some more), and submitted. Between us we’re now multi-published across several genres in short stories, inspirational, devotionals, and kid lit. Since 2010 we became active bloggers. Each success motivates us to keep writing. Every meeting inspires us to work harder.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. I’d like to share a few of our recent works with you.

The Least He Could Do And Eleven Other Stories

Featuring Miss Bitsy by Nandy Ekle

From StoneThread Publishing comes an eclectic collection of twelve short stories. At times you’ll laugh out loud, and at times you’ll have to stop reading to let your heart calm down. This edition includes a story from WordsmithSix member Nandy Ekle. Miss Bitsy tells the tale about a kindly neighborhood grandmother who isn’t all she appears to be. This story gave me chills when I first read it in critique group, and I’m thrilled that it’s out there for everyone to enjoy. Way to go Nandy!

The Least He Could Do And Eleven Other Stories 51xt5BNVf3L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers

Featuring The Challenge by Rory C. Keel
Features 101 Motivational Stories for Writers. Sometimes we need to be challenged to write, and this would make a great gift for those special writers in your life. This edition features The Challenge, by WordsmithSix author Rory C. Keel.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writerscss-inspiration-for-writers-2

West Texas Christmas Stories

Featuring A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessings by Natalie Bright

An anthology of more than 30 Christmas stories–short and upbeat, set in West Texas or by West Texas writers including Elmer Kelton and John Erickson. You’ll laugh out loud at the clever piece by editor Glenn Dromgoole about a holiday fruitcake, while other stories will evoke warm memories about past holidays.  My story, A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessings, was inspired by the cowboys and their families who live and work on Texas cattle ranches. It’s an age old tradition and a proud heritage that continues today.

Texas Christmas Stories west texas christmas stories

Remember, books make great gifts!