By Rory C. Keel

“Okay, somebody write a quick blog on trying to find a name for your blog!”

                                                                                             –Natalie Bright

Choosing the one specific term that describes six different writers with very different styles and genres, can be a daunting task. One would think that such an imaginative group could quickly produce a name so extraordinary, so remarkable that the mere mention of it would describe each individual and their genres perfectly. We settled on something a little less complicated.

Choosing the Name

So, how did we choose the name? We tossed words onto a dry erase board, and then the six of us wrestled them around until one stood up and screamed, “Pick Me!” And what is the name that captures the essence of our critique group?

Wordsmith Six

Wordsmith Six consists of six writers who cover the spectrum in genres—a group of a half-dozen close friends who love words, whether we’re reading, writing or researching them. We have individuals who write Women’s Fiction, Historical, Inspirational and Screenplay. Others love Romance, Western, Christian fiction and Middle grade children’s books. Included are authors with published Fiction and Nonfiction books, TV Documentaries, Song Lyrics, Humor and yes, even HORROR.

We have lots of stories to tell and you’re invited to follow along.

Rory C. Keel

Wordsmith Six Welcomes Adam!

Wordsmith Six Welcomes Adam!

We’ve added a new member to the WordsmithSix Critique Group.

Say hello to Adam Huddleston!

Adam brings a new vibe to our meetings in the form of fantasy and world creation. He blew us away when he shared the first four pages of a story idea at our last meeting. It was a unanimous vote to extend an invitation to him and to welcome him as a permanent member. Adam will be blogging on Thursdays.

Let Me Introduce the Wordsmith Six line-up:

Middle Grade Mondays: That’s me, Natalie, a Chicken Soup author and freelance writer. I had every intention of writing romance novels, but discovered that the stories inside my head were for children. My work is represented by Mr. Stephen Fraser with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. For stories about cattle ranching and life in the Texas Panhandle, check out Prairie Purview Blog on my Website / nataliebright.com.

Tuesdays: Rory is the moderator of WordsmithSix blog site. This Chicken Soup author is also a published devotional writer and contest winner. He’s the former President of Panhandle Professional Writers, and is currently working on an amazing novel about Paul. Check out his Website RorycKeel.com

Outtakes Wednesday: Cait writes women’s fiction, screenplays, and is currently working on a wonderful memoir about her and her five sisters, and their life as a military family. She previously served a 3 term as President of Panhandle Professional Writers, and is active in the area youth writing contest.

Thursdays: Adam is a winner and participant in Flash Tales 2, a collection of flash fiction shorts, and currently serves as moderator of their website and contest. He writes fantasy and science fiction. Website http://site.flashfiction5.com

Freaky Fridays: Nandy is our resident horror writer. She’s been published in numerous anthologies. She’s also a contest judge and former Board member of Panhandle Professional Writers. To read Nandy’s stories, go to her Website nandyekle.com for purchasing information.

Saddle Up Saturdays: Joe is a former pro bronc rider and present day cowboy. He’s writing a rodeo tale about coming of age in the rough and tumble realities of professional, competitive rodeo. This is an amazing book and we’re all looking forward to the day when it finds a publishing home.

Our critique group is unique in that we represent a wide variety of genres, which makes for very interesting meetings. Join us as we write, work and muddle through the world of publishing.

Thanks for following Wordsmith Six



An Empty Hole


An Empty Hole

By Nandy Ekle


There’s a hole in my life. It’s bigger and emptier than the Grand Canyon ad it’s frozen all the way to my soul.

A very important presence left, and not only is my soul in havoc, but it also left everything around me in shambles. I look around the room and wonder what happened between us.

There’s a hole in the roof of this room and the rain continues to fall. The blowing wind keeps my world stirred up with just enough wreckage to keep things from settling back in order. And the wind is icy cold. I reach for a piece of paper as it passes me and my hand burns in this arctic cyclone

My soul and this dark empty room are not the only things feeling the cold rain. A parade of people are paralyzed in mid action. In one corner I see two young girls, the best of friends, on their way to the mountains for a weekend of adventure and healing. I see a lonely young woman whose entire life exists on the computer. I see an insecure girl waiting for her lover to come to her as he does every Friday—an artist trying to work through a broken heart and looking for just one friend—a confused woman waking up in an unknown place with no memory of how she got there—a frustrated and bored mother looking for adventure in the monotony of her life—the conflicted bridesmaid who’s lover is the groom—and probably the saddest face I see is the teenage girl who desperately wants independence from her twisted family.

But they are all as frozen as the air around me.

The source of all this icy chaos is my missing muse. She comes now and then, dropping a small seed in my head without providing the water or sunlight needed to make it germinate and grow. Sometimes the seeds pop up and then die, sometimes they never even take a breath.

I picture these characters she had me create, how they are stuck in turmoil and pain, and I want to help them. I want to fulfill their dreams and give them everything they want. But my hands are as worthless as the rain that continues to fall.

Oh, I’ve tried everything to get her back. I’ve begged and pleaded, cried and coaxed. I’ve spent money for lectures, books, pictures, and music hoping she hides there. I’ve re-read the words leading up to her departure thinking she may be in a corner just waiting for me to find her and pick the stories back up. I’ve talked with others whose muses are steady and helpful. I’ve even pretended she was still whispering to me, but the words are as empty as my heart feels.

So, what to do. The masters say to keep putting the words on the paper and she will eventually come back. They say exercise keeps the muscles strong. And they say to take matters into my own hand and give up the muse.

All I know for sure is the hole in this roof needs to be patched and the furnace needs to be turned on.

Desperately waiting for a post card from my muse.





Adding and Subtracting

Outtakes 190

Adding and Subtracting

by Cait Collins


As a writer, I try to get the most bang for the buck with my stories. For example, can I turn a novel into a screenplay? Or could I rework a short story into a novel? No matter what I decide to do, I run into roadblocks, tar pits, and briar patches. Truthfully, I can’t decide if it’s easier to expand a work, or cut it back. Here’s what I’ve learned.

I had a novella. I really liked what I had written. The characters were multi-dimensional and interesting. Secondary characters added spice to the story. I had a good setting with my small Texas town. Above all, I liked my storyline. A rich man tries to destroy a young woman and her family because he can. Now the lady is back and out for justice. I ran the idea by an agent and he replied, “I can’t sell this as a novella, but you have enough plot twists to make it a novel.”

Okay, I could do a novel. All I needed was another 300 pages and I had to write the additional material while maintaining the integrity of the story. Well, I wrote it; 550 pages of carefully plotted revenge. Now it’s too long and I have to cut about 150 pages; which means I will have to delete scenes I really like.

On the other hand, I have a short story that is too long for a call for submissions. But how do I cut it back to 350-400 words without destroying the emotional impact of the piece?

At some point, a writer realizes part of the craft is either adding scenes or subtracting words. We balance the plot while increasing dialogue or deleting adjectives and adverbs. And sometimes we just can’t make the math work, so we scrap the revisions and start over. I guess I never realized how important mathematics would be for professional writers.

They Will Smell Your Fear


They Will Smell Your Fear

By Nandy Ekle


One of my friends was taking a poll. She asked everyone which they preferred, a story written in first person or a story written in third person. Of course, the numbers were pretty even on both sides of the question because this is a personal preference.

But I started thinking. There are definite advantages and disadvantages to those Points of View (POVs). I can enjoy a good story no matter what the POV is, if it’s done right. With first person, the goal is to be more connected to the main character, and therefore the reader will be more connected. The disadvantage is you can only have the one view point. If you are the main character, you are restricted to your own head. And these two rules are the opposite for third person: you can see through lots of eyes, but because of that, you don’t have time to connect as deeply with the main character.

So what was my answer to my friend’s survey? I told her to write in the POV she was most comfortable with. If you’re connected with your characters and you’re comfortable with them, it will show up in the way you tell the story. This will make your readers connected and comfortable with them. If you’re not comfortable, that will also show up in your writing. The readers will definitely know that too.

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


Characters and Conflict

Outtakes 189

Characters and Conflict

By Cait Collins


Setting up conflict in a story can be tricky. A writer who is not in tune with the various idiosyncrasies of his characters may have difficulty in creating the tension needed to craft plausible conflict. The story is not the incident; it’s in the characteristics of the people involved. Human resources and training department employ personality profiles to help determine the traits that each team member possesses. Knowing the personality types for a team enables managers to better assign tasks and manage a group.

For example, two co-workers have a difference of opinion regarding the best way to handle the upper management directive to set up a data base to track expenditures for the past ten years. The information pertains to the sales department, the tax department, and the advertising department. One of the people charged with the task is methodical; compiling the necessary information with attention to detail.

A second worker approaches the job in a helter skelter manner. There’s no organization or precision in the work. Errors are abundant. It’s impossible for the data to correlate with the more methodical worker’s.

A third person, the peace maker, tries to help out. Instead of getting involved with the project, the team member keeps looking for a “we are friends” moment. Everyone must get along he or she insists. By trying to force peace, the other co-workers become more stressed and less productive. The project stalls and management gets involved.

This is your assignment. Write the confrontation between the three co-workers and the managers.


Stay on Course

Stay on Course

By Rory C. Keel

In writing, most authors have a general direction for their story. However, a story will often veer off course and become confusing. While it is understood that part of the story is developed during the writing, subplots or irrelevant information should not take over and distract from the main story.

Causes that often affect the writer

  1. Personal or family difficulties – At times during our lives we experience various personal difficulties or family changes. A new baby welcomed into the family, a change in where we live or even the death of a family member can have a profound affect on the writer.
  2. Outlook of life due to the writer’s life changing course – Sometime our outlook and personal views on life can change due to social events or national emergencies such as a war or other national tragedy.
  3. Lack of prepared story research and material – With the many great ideas for a story there must be research. That one “Ah-hah!” moment will quickly run out of steam or fall off the track when we don’t prepare the material.
  4. A change of mind during the writing – This happens most often when we take too long to write. When time stretches over our story we begin to overthink our Idea and frustration sets in.

While the writer needs to allow flexibility for background and characters to develop, these things give fullness to the story and shouldn’t drive the direction of the story.

The good story divergence is the one that causes a change but still holds within the original framework of the story. The bad story divergence jumps out of the frame and pulls the story off course.