Dr. Pepper & Peanuts

Dr. Pepper & Peanuts

By N. Bright

My grandfather, Pappy, used to take me to the Grain 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 sounds, the experiences and the tastes all influence our stories and add flavor to our writing. These are the details that give your stories voice.

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 have bought her a Dr. Pepper? The challenge comes in digging deep for answers, and taking our experiences and applying them to another time and place. That’s the magic of writing.

Did you Know that a total of 23 fruit flavors give Dr Pepper its unique taste?

Who Said That?



Who Said That?

By Nandy Ekle



  1. Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

— Rudyard Kipling

  1. We live and breathe words.

–Cassandra Clare

  1. Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is       more real than the person standing beside us?

–Cornelia Funke

  1. A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.

–Italo Calvino

  1. What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with            flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance             at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for        thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and             silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human            inventions, binding people together who never knew each other, citizens of distant        epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are            capable of working magic.

–Carl Sagan

  1. I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write             one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.

–Emily Dickenson

  1. Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.

–Orson Scott Card

  1.          Literature is my Utopia.

–Helen Keller

  1. There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as that faint, subtle reek which comes             from an ancient book.

–Arthur Conan Doyle

10.  We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live    forever, unforgettable.

–Neil Gaiman



All Grown Up

Outtakes 141

All Grown Up
By Cait Collins

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of attending my nephew’s junior violin recital. A.J. is music major at West Texas A&M University and plays in the University’s symphony orchestra. I have attend his concerts, but this is the first time I’ve heard him play solo since he began playing the violin in grade school. His music brought tears to my eyes. Just watching him was a treat. There was magic in the play of his fingers over the strings at the instrument’s neck and in the changing angles of the bow’s movement across the body of violin. For about forty-five minutes, he welcomed us into his world. I was enchanted.

During the post recital reception I asked my brother-in-law if he ever thought Twinkle Little Star sounding like a dying cat would become so beautiful. He shook his head. Maybe we didn’t know, but A.J. did. He worked at his music, learning not only the violin, but also dabbling with the keyboard, cello, guitar, base, and French horn. He sacrificed play time to practice and learn music. He earned the accolades he received from family, friends, future in-laws, and fellow students.

A writer’s journey is similar to the musician’s. Our first stories are rough. Sometimes they make little sense. Yet, if we were lucky, we have a mom and dad who read scribbled messes and praise the efforts. They walk the path with us, encouraging and correcting until we can step out on our own. We have a support group as we hone our craft and submit our first works to agents and editors. They watch our documentaries and act as beta readers for our novels.

While loved ones support us, they cannot give us the passion required to continue the journey. That passion must come from inside us. We succeed because we want it, desire it, and work for it. Talent plays a role in success, but even talented writers must invest the time and discipline required to rise to the top. Sacrifice is required. Work ethic is a must. Our futures as writers are mainly in our hand. We must put the words on paper, write the query letters, and submit the work. Nobody will do the work for us.

I am definitely proud of my nephew. I celebrate his success. But I also applaud my writer friends who are on their way to successful careers. They have earned my respect and congratulations.

Go West Young Man, Go West!

Go West Young Man, Go West!

By Rory C. Keel

“Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men where ever he goes.” – Outlaw Josey Wales

The Western genre is defined by a specific time and place. Most are set west of the Missouri River from Mexico to the south and as far as Alaska to the north. The stories flourish with greenhorns, gringos and cattle driving cowboys. Usually set between about 1800 and 1890, the rugged hero or heroine always endures through any adversity.

Some of the most popular authors include Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Elmer Kelton.

 Western Subgenres include:

Black Cowboy (buffalo soldier) and Civil War westerns.  Bounty Hunter stories of men chasing outlaws, and Cattle Drive westerns which are set during a frontier cattle drive, such as Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Cowpunk, these tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier with slight sci-fi slant. Eurowestern, Gunfighter, Indian wars such as James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Land Rush stories usually focus on the Oklahoma land rush. Lawmen (Texas Rangers) are about the honest lawmen who brought order and justice to the wild frontier. Mexican wars (Texan independence), Outlaw westerns, and yes, most of them wear black hats.

Railroad stories connect the east with the west and Range wars are stories where ranchers are pitted against the farmer. Romance is an overlapping subgenre, which features romance relationships in a ‘western’ novel. An excellent example of romance western is the anthology Give me a Texas Ranger by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace.

Wagon Train westerns tell the historical stories of the pioneers’ struggles on their transcontinental journey on the Oregon Trail.

Just remember “Every gun makes its own tune.” – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Ten Best from Enid

Ten Best from Enid

by Natalie Bright



Enid Writers Club sponsored a one day seminar on The Story, a Craft of Writing seminar. Based on my notes, here’s the best quotes from Saturday’s workshop.

1)    Things will be tough in your life, but when you get to the other side you still gotta write that book. Dusty Richards, Spur Award winning author and President of Western Writers of America

2)    Anybody can be published in 40 days. We all know there are a million opportunities for writers these days. To rise above the others, you must have a kick-butt story that connects with readers in a unique way.  Lucie Smoker, Enid Writers Club

3)    There’s a time, there’s a publisher, there’s a place on the shelf for your story. Never take no for an answer. Work on getting better.  Dusty Richards

4)    Begin with a commitment to write a chapter every day. Stop whispering, “I’m a writer.” Don’t be afraid to declare it—I write! Tara Hudson, best-selling YA author

5)    Kick that story off like you kick a football to start the game. Get ‘em by the shirt front and grab that reader into your book. Your job as the writer is to intrigue people. Dusty Richards

6)    A reader doesn’t give a damn about all the things the writer thinks we need to know. We want to have an adventure. It’s up to you as the writer to take us on one. Dusty Richards

7)    Let your mind run. That’s when you write your best. Create the book. Don’t listen to anyone during this part of the process. When it’s time to edit, then listen to others. Dusty Richards

8)    Write at least one paragraph on the next chapter before you quit for the day. Don’t stop at the end of the chapter. Dusty Richards

9)    Setting is a character. You may not have thought of it in that way.  Tara Hudson

10)  Develop rules of your world, which is particularly helpful if you are writing a series. Don’t ever break them. Tara Hudson

Very inspiring conference and we made it home before the snow storm hit. Thanks Enid Writers Club for a great day!


Deliberate Randomness


Deliberate Randomness

By Nandy Ekle

The clouds lazily crawl across the sky. They look like big old cotton balls and you feel comfortable watching them while the white globs of fluff change and begin to take on shapes. The longer you stare, the more recognizable the shapes are. The shapes morph and become other shapes.

Later you’re sitting in the office waiting for your appointment. Looking down at the tile floor, you notice the flecks of color in the squares. They seem to be random, but after a minute or two, they begin to look like objects or people. You think you see a strange story in the floor.

Then you gaze across the room at the bookcase and notice the grain of wood. The swirls and peaks catch your attention and pretty soon you have another vision of something vaguely familiar.

Randomness is a hard concept to follow. There are patterns all over the place, especially where we least expect them.

Keep your eyes open to the most random spots in your world and see if a picture doesn’t arrange itself for you.

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



Outtakes 140



By Cait Collins

Spring tends to bring on the winds in the Texas Panhandle. We sometimes refer to blustery days as the wind driving down from the north with nary a fence to stop it. Yes, trees are scarce on the High Plains. While I get tired of bad hair days and red dirt on everything, I find the sounds and scents intriguing.

Think of the number of words used to describe the wind. Tornados, hurricane force, breezy, zephyr, blowing, howling, gusty, gentle, blizzard are among the descriptions. Each word helps to set a scene, evoke emotions, and create an atmosphere. How many romantic suspense stories are set in a blizzard? Trapped in a ski lodge, two strangers unite to survive a cat burglar and a serial killer. Their need to rely on each other to survive brings them closer together as the wind howls and the snow piles up. It may sound hokey, but a skilled writer makes it work.

Wind not only has sound, it touches, has a taste, and a scent. And while we cannot see the wind, we see the effect of its passing. We can open our arms to the gale, hide in the basement or a bathtub when the tornado blows through, or bask in the in the gentle breeze on a sunny afternoon. With all its properties, it is no wonder this weather element is often used as a secondary character in stories and books.  The wind takes on a personality when incorporated into our works.

Today the winds are battering. Even with my heavy purse, walking from the office to my car was difficult. The air temperature wasn’t bad, but the high wind made it feel much colder. My heavy sweater was not enough to keep me warm. So it was inconvenient, but it did make me think about writing Panhandle winds into my stories.

Oh, The Horror of it All!

Oh, The Horror of it All!

By Rory C. Keel

The term Horror describes an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust. In this genre you will find stories created to stir these intense feelings in the reader. From the classic Frankenstein to The Blob of unknown origins, from the resurrected dead to the mad protagonist who never dies.

The stories in the horror genre make the nightmares of our childhood real by describing the horrific and shocking details in a way that bends them into a plausible scenario.

It has several subgenres including the following:

Aliens: which may also overlap with science fiction.

Creepy Kids: Involves possessed, ghostly or dead children.

Cross Genre: Horror that contains major elements of other genres.

Cutting Edge: Usually associated with graphic novels.

Dark Fantasy: Is the companion to human evil and strife, instead of monsters.

Dark Fiction: This is a term used in the horror genre to market stories without using the term HORROR.

Erotic: Horror that usually contains violent sexual elements.

Extreme (splatterpunk, grindhouse or visceral): 
When thinking of this subgenre think Texas Chainsaw massacre. It intends to be bloody and gross.

Fabulist: horror emphasizes stories in a specific place or old-fashioned style.

Gothic (English gothic, southern gothic): 
This subgenre is written in a ‘literary’ style such as much of Edgar Allen Poe’s work.

Haunting: Have you ever seen a ghost? You will find them in this subgenre.

Holocaust: tales involve mass deaths, or a near-future apocalyptic plague, whether past or future.

Humorous horror: The Macabre in parody such as the Munster’s.

Paranormal: These are stories that describe the battle against the evil supernatural.

Rampant Animals: Horror containing animals: birds, dogs, giant ants, etc.

Rampant Technology: Horror where machines take over.

Supernatural (demons, zombies, etc.): 
Stories of monsters persistent on consuming the lives of mankind.

Be scared, be very scared!


Chasing the Creative Impossible

Chasing the Creative Impossible

by Natalie Bright



The elusive part of our lives that all creatives tend to never have enough of, whether you’re firing ceramics, designing jewelry, painting with oils, gluing scrapbook pages or crafting stories with words. There comes a time when chasing your passion is like taking a slow, tortuous swim in a deep, murky pool of self-guilt. The reality is that most of us won’t realize world notoriety.

People Who Inspire You

I just returned from a writing conference where, of course, the topic of making time to write was discussed. Everyone struggles to follow their passion. Spending time with imaginative people helps me bring my ambition into focus. It makes my goals list seem more realistic and achievable, because I meet others who have accomplished what I dream about. Feeling exhausted, rejuvenated, and itching to apply what I’d learned to my waiting manuscript, the drive home took forever. I couldn’t wait to get my fingers on the keyboard again.

What Creative People Do

This weekend at the Enid Writers Group in Oklahoma, Spur Award winning author, Dusty Richards said, “Things will be tough in your life, but when you get to the other side, you still gotta write that book, or do whatever it is that drives you. Just do it.”

Something from Nothing

I think this applies to anyone who chases that elusive need to bring into being what they alone can visualize. People who are driven by an unseen creative muse can’t explain the why. At some point, it’s time to stop providing the excuses, the clarification, or the justification to others. At some point, all that’s left is the doing.

Dig deeper, keep going, just keep writing.

Note: Dusty Richards is author of over 100 books and countless short stories, and currently serves as President of the Western Writers of America. His Brynes Family Ranch Western series is a fan favorite, published by Pinnacle Books. www.dustyrichards.com

Left and Right


Left and Right

By Nandy Ekle

The brain is a whole entire organ. Or is it?

The medical books tells us our brains are actually made up of two hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum. The left hemisphere controls our logic and analytical skills. The right hemisphere, according to experts, is the home of our creativity and imaginations. The corpus callosum enables communication between the two sides.

Sorry. I didn’t mean to give an anatomy lesson.

In the past couple of decades, this has been a hot topic for doctors, nurses, psychologists, educators, even artists. And writing, my friends, is art.

So, the point of all this. When we’re working, as in a day job that pays our bills, we mostly want our “left brains” to be the active side. We might need complete silence in order to keep the right side sleeping, or we might need music playing to distract the right so the left can work. (I actually have a funny story about how my right kept my left from doing what it does . . .)

When we sit at the desk in front of the computer, that’s the time to open the door and let          Mr./Ms. Right out to play. The hard part is getting Dr. Left to go behind that door.

So, my dear readers, your assignment. Write in the comments below the ways you deal with the two sides of your brain to accomplish whatever task you have.

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