Words From A Master


Words From A Master

By Nandy Ekle


“As a writer, one of the things that I’ve always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.”  –Stephen King

I’m making a confession here. I’ve bee a huge fan of Stephen King nearly all my life. I consider several of his books to be outright masterpieces.

I like this quote of his because it puts images in my head. Let me show you.

I’m sitting in a chair in front of my fireplace, a blanket wrapped around my legs and a book in my hand. The words march across the pages and occasionally I gasp with emotion.

I become aware of a voice in the room, actually right in front of me. When I look up I see the author squatting before me whispering. Keeping my finger between the pages, I close the book and listen to the words coming from his mouth. The story becomes alive in my head and I feel a connection with the author.

This is what makes a great book.

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



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The Best Gift

Outtakes 151

The Best Gift

By Cait Collins


Writers have the responsibility to instill the love of reading in our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and our children’s friends. Times may have changed with kids spending more time playing video games and watching television or movies, but reading will always be important.

Reading opens the doors of adventure for every reader. I have never been to England, Scotland or Ireland, but I’ve walked the moors, stood on the Dover Cliffs, and explored Westminster Abby. I have seen the lush green of Ireland’s hillsides and watched waves crash on the rocky coast. Does the Loch Ness Monster exist? I searched but never saw him. Thanks to my teachers and my parents, I’ve lived my adventures in books. Think how far your children will explore when they have a book in hand.

A reader can conquer the world. People who read have more employment opportunities. They advance faster in their careers. Children do better in school. They tend to want more education. They enjoy learning. If they can read, learn programming languages, and have a vivid imagination, they can create their own video games and movies.

So, why not turn off the TV, confiscate computers and cell phones. Gather the family on the sofa or in the middle of a bed, and spend a few minutes with a good book. Younger children still enjoy Little Golden Books. Let them pretend to be a puppy or a duck and hear the barks and quacks as the story unfolds. Middle Readers can learn about life during the westward expansion. Old Yeller is a great story. Little ladies become princesses. Trust me. They will begin to reach for a book instead of spending endless hours at the computer. In the end, they will thank you for those hours spent as a family reading a good book.

“Ands and Buts”

Wordsmith Six

“Ands and Buts”

 By Rory C. Keel


Recently I decided to do some rewriting and corrections on my novel. Wow, it’s amazing how much better I write today than months ago when I started the book.

I remember the first day I started. I was confident in my story plot, characters and setting and remained confident every day as I move the story forward. Then I read the beginning; my confidence had covered a multitude of mistakes.

Making corrections is no easy task either. One day you change the “ands” into “buts”: then on the next day after re-reading the corrections again you change the “buts” back into “ands.”

The problem is that you’re confident about the corrections on both days.

Hello Editor!


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Creative Writing Exercise

Creative Writing Exercise
By Natalie Bright

The months of May and June have always been crazy for me. Instead of beating myself up about it, I’ve come to the realization that I most likely will not be engrossed in the old west world of my novel. Instead lengthy session at the keyboard, I use what little snippets of time I can snag to write blogs, short articles, research story ideas, and read writing books. Writing exercises are a good way to keep your skills and muse functioning, even though you can’t dig deep into the WIP.

In celebration of school ending and summer beginning, here’s a great writing exercise for you which will work for both short and novel length stories.

You will need several different colors of highlighters or colored pens.

1. Highlight or circle words which use the 5 senses
2. Highlight or circle dialogue
3. Highlight or circle descriptive phrases relating to place
4. Highlight or circle descriptive phrases relating to people

Were all 5 senses used?

Is dialogue spread throughout the story?

Are descriptive phrases spread throughout?

With a visual picture of your manuscript, you can determine necessary editing components. You should not have large segments of just dialogue or only description. This exercise was done at a writing conference, and I apologize for not making note of who taught the class, but I have done different versions of this over the years.

Wishing you time to write, write, write…


Outtakes 150


By Cait Collins


One of the many things I love about my job is the opportunity to learn. I’ve picked up information that has helped me in my writing. Legal terms fascinate me. I mean who cannot be intrigued with a BLO, an APB John Doe warrants, No-Knock warrants, and UNSUBS. I recently added another term to my list, FNU LNU. Don’t laugh. It’s a real term. It means First Name Unknown, Last Name Unknown. It’s a very handy term for writers.

Have you ever had one of those characters that you just couldn’t name? No matter what you tried, the name just didn’t fit. And of course, the character wasn’t giving out any clues. You could have named him FNU LNU. This provides a good place holder, and when the person decides to reveal himself, a quick find/replace updates the manuscript.

We can take this a little further. I’ve seen writers obsess over the name of a town. They were so frustrated, they couldn’t continue with the story. Fret no more. Plug in CNU (City Name Unknown), TNU (Town/Township Name Unknown), or VNU (Village Name Unknown). Problem solved. Now write the story.

Of course we have CoNU (Country Name Unknown), ONU (Ocean Name Unknown), LNU (Lake Name Unknown), and the ever popular PNU (Parent Name Unknown). As you can see, overcoming the frustration of not knowing what to call a person, place or thing can be solved. Employing the FNU LNU technique frees writers to complete the story and deal with details in the editing process.

Okay, so this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there are opportunities to create your personal place holders and get on with the story. Never let the UNSUB, unknown subject, become a roadblock to your writing dream.


 Endless Possibilities

By Rory C. Keel

Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it, anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.                                                                                                                                                                                   

Endless Possibilities                                                    

On a recent business trip to the west coast, I noticed something amazing. Traveling along the highway, I read the billboards. Some of them knew I was reading them and said things like, “Caught you looking!” or “You’re so good. You read me like a book!” As spots on a connect-the-dots drawing, these towering advertisements had information about the grandest hotels, motels and the cleanest restrooms. They pointed the way to the best buffets and restaurants. Some revealed the places to go for the nightlife, and what it will cost if you drink too much of the highlife and turn into a lowlife while driving.

Occasionally we pulled into roadside rest-stops for short breaks and “free coffee,” and then we would load up on all the local vacation magazines, free maps and tourist information to read along the way. One visitor’s guide said that Arizona has more boats per capita than any other state in the nation—and they’re a land locked desert!

My point is that the possibilities for writers are endless because writing is everywhere. From billboards along the American road to epic novels, behind everything you read is a writer.


What to Expect at OWFI

What to Expect at OWFI

By Natalie Bright


The Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. hosts an annual conference in the spring. If you’ve never been to a conference for writers, I highly recommend this one held in Oklahoma City. My head’s still buzzing from this years, and while it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I’d share what you can expect from the experience:

1)    Buzz Sessions: After a full day of learning followed by a banquet with a keynote speaker, OWFI organizes late night discussions. Usually the current faculty along with several other published authors lead discussions on specific topics either in the lobby area or in their rooms. Beginning right after the banquet around 9:00, these talks can go well past midnight. This year I attended one led by Christine Taylor-Butler. I used up my cell phone battery taking notes because I forgot my notepad. She talked about the Highlights Foundation workshop which she attended as a newbie, her experiences with agents and editors, submitting work, breaking into nonfiction for children, how she organizes her research, plus some. This is where you gain insider information about the business from people who’ve been in the trenches writing and launching careers. Buzz sessions have become one of my favorite parts of OWFI.

2)    Bookstore: Books by the speakers and OWFI members were available for purchase at a bookstore located right across from the meeting classrooms. It’s a good place to catch faculty when they’re not doing presentations to ask specific questions. Conference bookstores may not be the best place to sell your books unless you are a keynote speaker so don’t expect huge sales, but it’s still good exposure so bring bookmarks and business cards too. This year authors were limited to only five copies, which is understandable due to space issues. Be sure to follow the rules of the conference carefully so that it’s fair for everyone. For me personally, it’s a weekend for learning (it’s nice to have a few days out of book seller mode). In the bookstore, I asked Jerry Simmons about the NYC submission process, and visited with David Morrell while he autographed copies of FIRST BLOOD for my teen boys.

3)    Breakfast: The best way to start the day is with hot coffee, a huge breakfast buffet, and writers everywhere! Go early, grab a big table, invite people to sit down, and ask them what they write, where they’re published, how their critique group works…you get the idea.

4)    Diversity: The most surprising thing to me when I attended my first OWFI conference many, many years ago was the diversity of the speakers and of the attendees. I didn’t know there were so many people working is so many different genres. Writing is not just for novels of fiction. It was definitely overwhelming at first, but I came away from that first conference inspired to work realizing that there are so many opportunities. The organizers do a super job at lining up speakers who represent a wide range topics for every level.

5)    Friendly and Helpful: I had been told by more than one person that the Oklahoma Writers bunch is one of the friendliest conferences around, and that is definitely the case. I’ve been to other conferences in several different states and OWFI continues to be the one I look forward to every year. People are more than willing to help you. Ask about their first publishing experience, how to with an agent, writing a query letter, places to send a query, writing for a magazine; you’ll discover people are more than willing to share. Ask, learn, and leave inspired.

Put back $10 bucks each week for 52 weeks and by then it’ll be time to register for OWFI May 2015. Make an investment in your writing career and get another step closer to reaching your writing goals.

What If


What If

By Nandy Ekle

  1. What if . . . every night after you turn off the television and lay down in your bed, you hear whispers. You don’t find anyone in your room, or house. So you walk out on your porch and the noise is so loud you can almost make out words. That’s when you realize the stars are talking to each other.
  1. What if…you went on a picnic with your significant other. After your sandwiches, chips and cookies you lay on the blanket next to each other and watch the white fluffy clouds laze across the sky. Suddenly they begin to bunch up and split apart. That’s when you realize they are spelling words.
  1. What if . . . you listened to the dedication hour on the radio. You don’t really pay that close attention to the stories the callers tell about their loved ones, you just like the songs they ask for. Then a voice comes on the radio dedicating your favorite song to you. That’s when you realize the voice belongs to someone you knew a long time ago who has passed away.
  1. What if . . . you planned a vacation to another country. You’ve never had a passport before, so you start the process to get one. You dig through the drawers and find your birth certificate, but it’s become tattered and faded to the point it’s completely unreadable. You go to the courthouse to get a new certified copy. They take your money and pull the certificate out of the printer. That’s when you realize that everything you knew about your birth up until now was a lie.
  1. What if . . . you decided to buy new bedroom furniture. You shopped the furniture store and found exactly what you wanted–bed and mattress, nightstand, and dresser with mirror. You come home and get the old furniture ready to be taken away. As you clean out your bottom drawer, you discover something you thought was lost. That’s when you realize your life would have been totally, completely different if you had known the object was there.

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


Writing Heritage

Outtakes 149


Writing Heritage

By Cait Collins


I received a telephone call from my dad’s youngest brother on Monday to let me know my Uncle Bob had passed away. We talked for over an hour about the family and the good times we’d had over the years. Then he asked me how my writing was going. I told him about my projects, and he said, “I want to buy a copy of your book when it’s published.” I have no contract, but my uncle is confident my book will sell. He has no idea how much that confidence means to me.

Uncle Gene told me, “Your dad was a very talented writer. I often wondered how far he could go if he’d been able to get a college degree.” I agreed Dad had talent. I’ve read some of his writings. They are the beautiful words of a simple man. His short story about his father’s death and having to grow up and support his mother and youngest brother touched me deeply.

I do believe we received some writing genes from Dad. My Number 3 Sister is a talented poet and writer. She has taken ideas for special events and created fun poetry. She has also written memorials for friends and family that never fail to bring tears. Sister Number 6 would take her Bible stories and turn them into poetry. The kids loved them. Sister Number 5 writes professional presentations, and she can really help with that all important resume.

Dad never allowed us to just get by when writing. He read book reports and corrected our grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If we failed to properly represent the book, we had to rewrite the report. I guess you could say Dad was my first critique partner. He made me do my best.

As I am writing this Outtake, I realize the best way to honor my father’s gift is to share his legacy with others. And when I’m asked to judge a contest or critique a story, I will not allow the writer to slide by. My critiques will be honest, but professionally given.

And for my uncle who is so proud of his big brother, I’m going to make copies of some of Dad’s stories and send them to Uncle Gene. I know he will treasure the words.

Think About It and Become Inspired

Think About It and Become Inspired

By Rory C. Keel

Recently I found myself bogged down in writing my Novel. My first thought was that I had lost my ability to write. However, I seem to be able to spell and put a sentence together and my computer still functions. My fingers are flexible enough to hold a pen write on the reams of paper I have so what’s the problem, the lack of inspiration.


Inspiration doesn’t fall from the clouds nor is it mystical but it is a product of action.

When we feel inspired, it’s because we’ve been thinking and meditating on information we have taken into our minds through our senses. We take all of this information and then twist it, shake it, mold it and place it into a certain order in our minds that makes sense to us.

We then become inspired.

This process is action that produces inspiration.