The Dog And the Leash


The Dog And the Leash

By Nandy Ekle

I took part in a survey recently—one question, intended to make you think introspectively: name one thing you wish you could bring back from your childhood. This question definitely did get my brain cells working.

I started thinking about what kind of child I was. And then a story bubbled which gave me my answer.

Once upon a time, a girl had a dog. This dog was very energetic and very powerful, and the girl had to learn to control it. She clipped a leash to its collar and they went for a walk. The dog wanted to run and play, and he wanted the girl to run and play with him. But he was big and strong and the girl usually ended up huddled in a corner with a skinned elbow or a tear in her jeans.

But she couldn’t get rid of the dog because he was her constant companion. He went everywhere she went. He slept next to her at night, got up and went to school with her in the morning, came home and ate dinner with her, took baths with her, and then went to bed with her every single night.

And every day she took him for a walk on the leash. She learned to tell him no, that she didn’t want to run. She pulled on the leash to slow him down when he went too fast. And she yanked the leash if he tried to run after a bird or a rabbit.

But she also gave him treats. She bought tasty things for him to chew on. She gave him his favorite snacks. She scratched him behind the ears and made sure he had plenty of healthy food and water.

One day she took her dog out for a walk. She took hold of his collar with one hand and held the leash in the other. She rubbed the metal clip of the leash on the metal loop of his collar, but she didn’t really attach them. Instead she hung the leash around her neck, held her arm out as if she actually was holding the leash, and they began their walk. And an incredible thing happened. Her dog walked as if he really was attached to the leash. He didn’t run away from her, or drag her, or jump around. He walked calmly by her side and obeyed her when she talked to him.

After a while she remembered how much fun it was when he was running and jumping, and she wanted him to do that again. So she pretended to take the leash off his collar, but he still stayed calmly by her side. It wasn’t until she began to run that the dog started running as well.

So, I’ve gone through all this to say, I’m the girl and my imagination is the dog. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning to control it, and now when I want it to run wild, it looks at me as if I still have it leashed. If I could bring one thing back from my childhood, it would be my wild and free imagination.

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

Example of Flash Fiction

Example of Flash Fiction

by Adam Huddleston


Years ago, I was a moderator for a flash fiction website. That site was deactivated some time back but there is still a warm place in my heart for that story style. We participated in a monthly competition where a set of words were given that had to be used in the tale. The catch was that the story could be no longer than one-hundred words, but should contain a beginning, middle, and ending. Here is a very quick and basic example:

  1. Cat
  2. House
  3. Dog
  4. Mouse
  5. Kill

A warm sun crested the horizon, waking Serenity, the Harrison family’s cat. His first mission was to traverse the house for his food bowl, taking care to avoid the moronic dog. Once his belly was full, he partook in another lengthy nap. When he felt sufficiently rested, the tabby began his quest for his true arch-nemesis; the dreaded field mouse. After an exhaustive search, Serenity rounded a corner and spotted the fiend. It was now that the cat contradicted his given name, and pounced for the kill. As the sun set, Serenity nestled into his bed, belly full.

Gotta See

Outtakes 273

Gotta See

By Cait Collins


Years ago when the first Harry Potter movie was released and the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit the theaters, my youngest sister’s boys and I began a tradition of seeing these movies together. When the last Harry Potter ended, so did the tradition. By then the young boys were young men and had their own lives.

The older nephew came over to help me put up Christmas decorations in early December and we got to talking about the years we spent going to the movies together. He suggested we go see the new Disney release, Moana. We were finally able to match our schedules and see the movie. The theater was almost sold out, but there was no noise from rowdy kids. The film was so brilliantly produced, the only sound was laughter.

I have always loved Disney movies. I grew up with Darby O’Gill, Old Yeller, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. My first date (at age 6) was a school outing to see Perry the Flying Squirrel. I have found that the productions to be well written, masterfully produced, and ever memorable. Moana is no exception.

A young girl seeks answers for her fascination with the ocean, but she is not allowed to go beyond the reef. She battles to be a good daughter and a good future chief for her village. Her journey is filled with witty dialogue, spiced with beautiful music, and enhanced with magical animation. It is a treat to watch.

I appreciate the new Disney heroines. More recent releases have departed from perfect princesses to flawed young women who must meet challenges and grow to be strong, confident women. Do not misunderstand, I still watch the princesses on the Disney channel and on DVD’s from my movie collection. They are a part of my youth. Aurora, better known as Sleeping Beauty, will always be my favorite princess. But, I’m delighted with the brave, spunky, sarcastic Moana. You really gotta see this movie.

In Media Res

In Media Res

by Adam Huddleston


The literary term this week is: in media res. It is a phrase referring to the usage of beginning a story in the middle of a sequence of events. Many tales utilize this, as it puts the reader right into the action. An often used bit of advice is to start your scene as close to the high-point as possible then get out quick. In media res takes this philosophy and applies it to the entire plot. “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad” both use this device.

Although I have yet to utilize this technique to a great extent in my writing, I feel confident in stating that when using it, the writer should be sure to provide a background that engages the reader and drives the story forward. Hope this helps!

Happy writing and have a Merry Christmas!

Just Before Christmas

Outtakes 272

Just Before Christmas

By Cait Collins



This blog is going to be short. I want to take the time to wish each of you that follow the happiest of holiday seasons.

Take the time to be with friends and family.

If necessary mend fences.

Be jolly even if you are a Grinch.

Be thankful for the good in your life.

And if things are a little rocky, remember this is a season of miracles.

If you have snow, make a snow angel.

Sing a holiday song even if you can’t carry a tune.

Wish a stranger a happy holiday.

Thank a soldier or a first responder for their service.

Drink a cup of hot chocolate.

Pay it forward.

Listen to the silence.

Above all, be happy.


Happy holidays.




Rory C. Keel


Lights, Camera, ACTION!

Without Verbs, stories would be boring. There would be no action such as running or jumping. No motion or movement, like when the spy rolled and dodged the bullet. There would be no romance without kissing or holding her tight.

Verb or Noun?

There are times when a word can be a verb or a noun, depending on how it’s used in a sentence. For example, the word dance would be a noun when describing a type of dance. The nutcracker is a ballet dance.

Dance is a verb when describing the action of those in the play. We watched the actors dance during the Nutcracker.

Verbs are what give life to your stories, so use them often.

What’s that Smell?

What’s that Smell?

Natalie Bright

Using the five senses to draw readers into your fictional world is probably something you’ve heard before.


What better time of year brings back more memories than the holidays? Last week the owner of our local Mexican food restaurant shared the memories of his grandmother’s kitchen. She lived in a small house, and kept plastic over the windows for added insulation against the cold winter wind. The smells from her tiny kitchen were overwhelming when he stepped inside. Flour tortillas, sizzling beef, cinnamon, sugar and hot chili peppers. As he described the scene it was almost like I was there. I really miss my grandmother’s kitchen too.


About a month ago I was reminded how powerful the five senses can create emotion. I walked into my son’s high school band hall. BAM! It was as if I’d been transported through time.

The sensory overload swept me away. The dusty smell from feet taking countless steps on a carpeted floor. The scent of sweat, with 100+ bodies in one room. A few notes from a trumpet. The solid clank of a locker door. A scale of notes by a clarinet. The constant, unending chatter of young voices.

My heart beat a little faster and my throat closed. My eyes actually misted over. I froze. In my mind’s eye I was back there; the Dimmitt High School band hall. The faces of the Bobcat marching band floated through my mind. If we could only go back to those moments for one day. Would you? I certainly would. I would revisit every sight and sound and horrible smell, and I’d go armed with a notebook this time. I’d write it all down to keep that moment forever ingrained into my memory.

A band director snapped me out of my time warp. “Can I help you?” he asked.

I just stood there, gripping three cases of goldfish snacks. “They go around the corner. First door to the left,” he said.

My journey down memory lane was done. Reality crashed around me.


There was one other time when a smell overwhelmed me with emotion. My father has been dead almost fifteen years. He owned a welding shop and I hung out there most every day. Several years ago, I toured a huge plant in New Mexico that made natural gas circulating systems as part of a work related field trip. The entire back portion of the plant was a welding room. I walked through the plastic stipes covering the door into a personal meltdown. The smell of heated metal was overwhelming. My eyes filled with tears and it was all I could do to not sob uncontrollably. My father had suffered a long, slow battle with cancer. He had died at home and the visual image of paramedics carrying his body out of the house will forever haunt me. I have no idea what our tour guide said. We took a slow walk through the space and I honestly did not know if I would be able to hold it together.


How powerful our emotions can be when something triggers those memories. Think about how this kind of sensory overload might be for your characters. Create a history for them and then bring them crashing back into reality. The memories can be good, or sometimes that smell might recall something horrific.


A children’s author, in describing her process, explained that she makes one final pass of her manuscript to add sensory images. Wish I could remember who said that and give credit, but it was one of those invaluable tidbits I picked up at a writer’s conference. At the point her story is solid, she adds even more sight, sounds, and smells which bumps everything up a notch. The reader can’t help but be immersed even more into that fictional world.

May the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday inspire you!

Merry Christmas!



by Adam Huddleston


During a slow period at work the other day, I was perusing a website of writing prompts and came across an interesting one. I jotted down this flash fiction story in a matter of minutes. It has no beneficial theme or deep message.

I like that in a story.



The thump from my son’s bedroom woke me from a light slumber. Sleep is always light when you have a newborn whose feeding schedule mirrors that of a hummingbird. Once I deduced that the baby was fine, I hopped (as nimbly as a near 40-year old can) out of bed and stumbled to Jason’s room.

“Everything ok-,” I began, but stopped short when I first felt, then saw the giant shadow in the corner. It seemed to suck up what little light was being cast by my five-year old’s Star Wars nightlight and squash it into oblivion.

Before I could move, I caught a streak of brown out of the corner of my eye and flinched backwards. My jaw dropped to see Jason’s stuffed teddy bear “Robot” (who knows), executing a flying sidekick. Its termination point was the bridge of some massive creature’s nose. I heard the bones snap and the being let out an other-worldly bellow. That sound will most assuredly remain with me for the rest of my life.

Without skipping a beat, Robot drove his small, furry fist into the beast’s chest and pulled out a pulsing, black heart. My son’s new hero gave out a triumphant yaw and held the organ aloft. That was when our eyes met.

A sheepish grin crossed his little face and he trotted across the tan carpet of my son’s bedroom floor.


“Yes, Dan?”

“Is this really happening?”

The bear stood in silence for a minute, brow creased.

“Tonight it is, Dan. Tomorrow may be peaceful. The days and weeks following may as well. But some day, some day…”

I looked over to the corner of the room where an evil creature lay dead then back to my son’s sleeping buddy.

“Oh. Okay. Uh, thanks…Robot?”

“You’re quite welcome, Dan; you and Jason both. I swore to protect his precious life the day you brought me home, and I plan on keeping that promise for as long as I am able.”

I nodded at the dead beast.

“What are you gonna do with that?”

“Don’t worry about the Gorthok. It’ll be disposed of before you son wakes. Oh, and he whispered to me that he wants toaster pastries in the morning.”

“Uh, toaster pastries. Got it.”

I turned toward the hallway, had a thought, and turned back. The room was as it always was. Jason was tucked in sweetly under his comforter. All four bedroom corners were empty. Robot was sitting still in the little red rocking chair my grandfather had built for my son when he was born.

That thought returned to me once more.

No more Italian food after eleven.

Make Time

Outtakes 271

Make Time

By Cait Collins


I love the holiday season, but sometimes the hustle and bustle gets to me. My calendar is as full as a CEO’s and I don’t know how everything will get done in time. The other problem is I haven’t touched my novel in two weeks. That’s why next week is so important to me. By Monday, the Christmas cards will be mailed and the gifts will be wrapped and under the tree. I will be on vacation. Then I will have eight days to write.

Of course I have parties and family gatherings to attend, but that’s the evening. Mornings and early afternoons are my time to get the story in shape. I want to explore Sean’s new memory and how it impacts Tyler. And how will Sean handle knowing that Liz dated his friend Adam and it wasn’t a good ending? Tyler has his own news. And Sara learns she has a father instead of an uncle. The story is in my head. I just need to get it in the computer or at least on paper.

At this time of the year, it’s easy to make excuses for not writing. But it’s important to make the time to work on projects or meet deadlines. Waiting until the first of the year when all the madness is over will only put us further behind. Even if it’s one hour a day, sit down and put words on paper. I don’t mean indiscriminately put words on paper. I mean really write something. Or take the time to edit a few pages. Any writing activity that gets you closer to completing a writing project is worth the effort.