Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A weather change

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A weather change

Rory C. Keel


One day this week the temperature drops to minus two degrees and then rises to peak at seventy the next day, and the week ended with three inches of rain topped by two inches of snow. Now that’s a weather change!

Perhaps that’s the kind of change that prompted ol’ timers to use sayings like,

“Whether it’s cold or whether it’s hot; we shall have weather, whether or not!”

To tell you the truth, sometimes the best way to forecast the weather is to look outside and see what’s happening at the moment.

Did you have a weather change this week?

Ten Steps to Crafting A Picture Book

Ten Steps to Crafting A Picture Book

Natalie Bright

The step by step process I used to create and publish a nonfiction photo-illustrated picture book for Amazon Kindle using PowerPoint.

1. Words. Write the words first. After slogging through various processes to create a kids’ book series, for me, it all begins with the words. Picture books are typically 1000 words or less, and have a solid beginning, middle and end. Edit your story until every word is an absolute essential jewel. Involve you critique group and BETA readers in this process. The owner of the animals featured in my books became the editor to ensure accuracy.

2. Images. Match the images to your words. While writing, envision what types of photos you need such as royalty free pictures, scanned art work, or graphics. If you use your own photographs, be aware that you may have to obtain releases from the recognizable people in those pics before you publish. Research any legals issues that might apply specific to your situation. I used a combination of my own photos, partnered with a professional photographer, and created clip art specific to the series.

3. Edit. You may have to adjust the text, swap out a few pictures or two, or stay on the hunt for the exact photo you need. You can find picture book templates online. A storyboard tacked to the wall or taped to a dry board can give you a whole new perspective. Stay with the theme and don’t rush the creative process. This is the fun part. Absolutely the words are important, but the pictures enhance the telling of the story.

4. PowerPoint. In my mind, an eBook is not a print book. A print picture book is not an eBook. Over the years, I’ve watched with great curiosity kids swiping through pages on their mother’s iPhones. This is a totally different experience than having a picture book laying across your lap. I kept this in mind as I thought about the animal stories I wanted to share with the world. After eight months and much trial and error with many different processes and multiple do-overs using various software options, I finally settled on Microsoft PowerPoint. The high def pictures are easy to insert, text boxes can be moved around, resizing is super easy, and graphics are a snap to add. Each slide would be one page in the eBook. The pictures I used in the Flash books were taken by a professional photographer because I wanted to capture those beautiful rescue horses in the best possible way.

5. Design. Now is the time to get serious about designing your cover and the pages of your book. I hired a graphic designer to design a professional cover and to provide guidance on compatible colors and layout. We purposely have a cover that looks like a regular thumb nail, but the inside of the book is landscape. Someone else helped with designing clip art and graphics, because honestly by the time I’d written the words and matched text with pics, my brain was fried. Having another pair of creative eyes speeds up the process. Compensation can be by the hour or a share of book sales. Make sure the creative team you’ve put together all share in your vision of the finished product. You are the conductor of this great

6. Facts. Work on front matter, back matter, bios of the contributors, a killer tag line and update all your social media sites. For kids books, I always like to include a glossary of terms and a fact section. Post a few teasers for a “book cover reveal” to Twitter and Facebook. Think about your target market and the key words you’ll need for Amazon. Add the book covers to your Amazon Author page.

7. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Here’s the best news: save your PowerPoint manuscript as a PDF and it opens right up into Kids Book Creator, which is a dream for indie authors. Book Creator is self-explanatory, but if you’re not sure about the how, there are several excellent help videos on YouTube (writers are such a giving lot!). After your book is in Creator and before you go live, be sure to use the review mode and view your book on all devices.

8. Launch. Yay, you did it!

9. Promote. There are so many options out there to promote Indie Authors, but readers can’t read the book unless they know about it. The Rescue Animal Series was launched in October 2016 with four books and more in the works for 2017. I know my little series will not be a runaway best seller at first, but I love these animals and I remain in awe of the people who care for them. I wanted to share their stories with the world, and hopefully we’ll reach the point where book sales can lend support to some of their efforts.

10. Holy Book Club, Batman, there’s a stinkin’ typo! Yep. That’s exactly what we found. After several people had read over that text many, many times, there it was. Ultimately, it’s me, the author who shoulders the blame. Thank goodness Amazon makes it easy to replace the previous manuscript. Go back to your PowerPoint file, make the changes, resave as a PDF 2nd version, re-upload to Kids’ Book Creator again to create a new Mobi file, and update the original manuscript in your Amazon KDP account.

You can do this! I hope this article saves you hours of trial and error. All the best for a creative 2017, and thanks for following WordsmithSix.

Natalie Bright is author of the Animal Rescue Series; true stories about animals with second chances.

Prompt One


Prompt One

By Nandy Ekle


I am going to attempt something new each week here. I have a list of story prompts that I want to use for my blogs each week. These are not my original ideas, they are from several lists I have found.

So, here is Number One. Not sure what to call it, but here goes.


I’m a person who loves to travel. Going different places to see new things is very thrilling to me. When I was a kid our family took the traditional vacations-two weeks on the road to to a destination for fun and relaxation. We stayed in hotels with swimming pools, we ate picnic lunches at roadside parks, we saw mountains and lakes, deserts and forests, beaches and cities. I have a lot of great memories; however, I am told that we actually went places and saw things and had experiences that I don’t remember at all because I was too young.

My husband and I have also been on several trips: Washington state, Oregon state, West Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Not to mention all over our home state of Texas. We’ve even been on a couple of cruises, going actually leaving the U S of A and spending a day in Jamaica and a couple of days in different cities of Mexico.

I think one of my favorite places to visit is the Redwood Forest in Northern California. I love the mountains and I love the trees. These beautiful giants grow close and thick, the branches and leaves blocking the sun. Standing in a clearing surrounded by the ancient forest is a truly surreal experience. The fog comes in from the Pacific ocean, which is just through the woods that direction. You can smell the salt in the air and feel a cool breeze. When you look up to the sky, you only see so far up because the tree tops have trapped the mist. And as the branches shiver their leaves in the breeze, you could almost swear the mighty redwoods were whispering to heavens.

My second favorite place is the Rocky Mountains. Once we spent a weekend in Estes Park, Colorado. I have to say, the experience was just very nearly as wonderful as the time we spent in the Redwoods of California. We went to Colorado on a Friday in October, and on Saturday there was a light snow. The whole weekend was perfect.

My third favorite place to see is New Orleans. We went to New Orleans to do some research for a story I wanted to write. We weren’t able to stay long because of some problems, but while we were there we saw incredible things, learned some very interesting history, and ate fantastic food.

I could get very philosophical here and talk about my journey through life, but I’m not a philosopher. So I’ll just leave like this.

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


Food for Thought

Food for Thought

by Adam Huddleston


This week, I wanted to pose to you a simple question: What are the benefits (if any) of traditional paper-based literature over electronic?

You thought I was gonna blog about food, didn’t you?

Now, coming from a life-long lover of books, I can tell you what I prefer. To me, there is just something warm and inviting about actual paper. Paper books (both new and used) have their own scent. I would venture to guess that most book-a-holics can recall cuddling up in a comfortable chair and opening the pages of their newly found treasure. The smooth texture of the paper and its sound as the pages turn brings back memories. Also, you never have to worry about the battery dying on your traditionally formatted tomes.

I will admit though that electronic books (or e-books) do have some benefits. The most obvious is the amount of data that can be stored in a very limited space. A library that once used to fill an entire room can now be downloaded onto a device the size of a postcard (which is another antiquity the young folk may not be familiar with).   E-books also allow access to your library quicker. A few finger-swipes and you can purchase literature that you used to have to travel to a store to buy.

What do you think? Paper vs. Virtual? The debate will rage on…for a while at least.

No Resolutions No Problem

Outtakes 274

No Resolutions No Problem

By Cait Collins


I’m not ready for 2017. It seems like I didn’t have much of a chance to really enjoy 2016 and now the year’s gone and a new one is here ready to be explored. I really didn’t make New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Of course there’s the standard “I’m going to lose weight”. Already broke that one. There’s a carton of Braum’s peppermint ice cream in my freezer and it’s calling my name. So far so good on the saving money resolution. I haven’t been to the mall, the craft store or Barnes and Noble since Christmas Eve. And I’m not looking at new LL Bean catalogues. Me and LL Bean is a dangerous combination.

About my writing, well that’s coming along. I’m still far from having the new book finished, but I’m making progress. I’ve done some editing on my memoir and made a few changes on HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW. The truth is I hate editing. But I refuse to make a resolution to finish the new novel, the memoir. and the previous work. As long as I don’t resolve to do something, I can continue the work on the new novel and the work on the editing projects. But the minute I utter the words “I am resolved…”, the whole plan falls apart. So I’m just going work at it.

Working at it frees me. Without the goals and resolutions hanging around my neck I can breathe. And when I can breathe I can free my thoughts and write. You see, I working at it.

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – An Accident

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – An Accident

Rory C. Keel


This week i’m posting the first of my 2017 Jump Start your writing challenge from last week. this piece is of an accident, one I remember as a child.

One of my fondest memories is roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire pit in the backyard. My Grandma would let us weave  hotdogs onto the hook of a wire coat hanger, and my brothers and I would hold them over the fire and giggle with delight as the flames licked at it searing it to perfection.

Marshmallows naturally followed as the best dessert for a backyard campout. When I had worked a mallow onto the hook,  I would slowly rotate the hanger in order to evenly toast the soft sugary puff until the dark brown color indicated it was warm and gooey.

On one occasion my younger brother, with his hunger for the sugary delight and a tendency toward being a pyromaniac, jabbed the sweet treat deep into the heart of the red-hot fire. Deciding he needed to rescue the melting goodness when it erupted into flames, he jerked the hanger catching it on the wire grate. Panic set in. As he twisted and pulled to save the mallow, he yanked and the hook let go flicking the flaming marshmallow toward my brother.

After pealing the goo from his face, Grandma bolted into the house, picked up the receiver and dialed my mother informing her of the emergency. The urgency of the situation suddenly changed with the laughter of my mother when she heard my Grandma’s high-pitched voice say, “We need to go to the hospital. Your son has been hit in the eye with a marshmallow!”

Write about an accident you remember!

Happy New Year


Happy New Year

By Nandy Ekle

A new year, but the same goals: lose more weight, exercise my body, organize the house, cook more meals/eat out less, and write more words.

Yes. Write more words. I want to write more words. However, the year started off with lots of activities, lots of overtime at my day job, but not much energy to get it all in. And on top of that, I still have one more Christmas present to finish, several more to wrap, and a quick trip to deliver these gifts to those we haven’t celebrated with yet.

So write more words. I wonder if Stephen King says that every New Year? Write more words. How many words are enough? At this point, if I could just write SOME words that have nothing to do with my day job, I would be ver happy with even that small goal.

So, please accept this as confirmation the annual resolution of WRITE ORE WORDS has been set for this new year.

Let me know your goals for this year in the comments below.

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

More Flash Fiction

More Flash Fiction

by Adam Huddleston


Last week, I revisited my authorial roots and presented a very elementary flash fiction story. This week I thought, Why not try it again? If you’re interested, you can play along. The mandatory words are: galactic, vase, intrepid, morose, and final.

Although Terrell’s galactic ship was fast, the flight from Morris-1 to the icy moon of Gatak long. During the wait, the pilot and his saucy wife had plenty of time to argue.

“If you hadn’t stopped for a drink two planets back, we would have been there by now!”

Terrell looked down morosely at the floor between his boots and sighed. Even intrepid explorers like Terrell Gaines were subject to ridicule. He glanced at a vase perched on a nearby table. This was the final straw.

One more complaint and he’d turn that from an ornament to an urn.

Wow, that turned out darker than I expected, but, that’s how writing goes sometimes.

Have a Happy New Year!

Jump-start your writing in 2017

Jump-start your writing in 2017

Rory C. Keel

I’ve never been very good at keeping any New Year’s resolutions so I‘ll not make any for 2017. However, I may be up for a challenge, perhaps a short-term challenge.

In the month of January I will attempt to write a few short pieces based on the following ideas:

  • A trivial event
  • A casual remark
  • An accident
  • A photo in the newspaper
  • A weather change
  • A vice that someone has
  • A virtue that a person exhibits

This should jump-start my writing in 2017.

Try it with me!


Goals 2017 Happy New Year!

Goals 2017

Happy New Year!

In looking back over my writing goals from the past years, I am reminded how drastically career goals can change from one year to the next.

In a previous post, “FOUR YEARS FROM NOW”, the blog covers an idea from Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com, about modeling your writing career around the four year Olympic games. I love that idea because the publishing industry moves like molasses. By looking at things over a multiple year perspective you might be surprised at how much work you accomplished.


When I get up in the morning, there are two primary goals that I want to achieve every day, besides the usual day job and life happens stuff.

1) write

2) exercise

Writing feeds my soul, and exercise because I’m not getting any younger. It’s beyond my comprehension why I’m loading the dishwasher at eleven o’clock at night and I have yet to accomplish either of those two things. What did I do all day?

Pressing Onward

The muse of ideas in 2016 that materialized has shifted my priorities in a big way for 2017. Has that ever happened to you?

A rescue horse and his trainer fell into my life, and their story is finally a reality as an eBook. Because of a great team of extremely creative people, the RESCUE ANIMAL SERIES was born! We have four titles so far, with many more to come. This project has totally shifted my focus from two middle grade novel series currently in progress, to promoting this new picture book series. Who knew? Sometimes the story chooses the writer.


In 2017 I will be doing more newsletters and blogs. I love reading blogs, and for me, blogs are fun to write. They’re short, narrowly focused, informative, and include interaction with readers. Of course, we’ll continue our popular wordsmithsix.com blog site about story craft.

As the newly elected Newsletter Editor & Publicity Chair for Texas High Plains Writers (formerly known as Panhandle Professional Writers), I’ll be cranking out newsletters and announcements for that group over the next two years. The TPHM Window is FREE to anyone. Let me know if you’re interested, and I can add you to the distribution list. If you live anywhere near the Texas Panhandle, you can join the THPW writing organization for only $36 per year and you’ll be added to the eList automatically. We meet every other month in Amarillo. It’s a great time to network and talk writing. panhandleprowriters.org

PRAIRIE PURVIEW is the blog featured on the home page of my website. Posts are about the history of Texas and life in the Texas Panhandle, with particular focus on the western lifestyle. Please check that out each month. I’m also doing a NAT’s eNEWS which will be an extension of the rescue animals and their owners. Think of it like a behind the scenes as we create the books. You can sign up for my free eNewsletter via my website nataliebright.com

Also in 2017 are two projects near and dear to my heart. My uncle and I are working on a family genealogy book about the John G. Williams clan from of North Carolina and following their journey to Texas. Along those same lines is a book about the cattle industry in the Texas panhandle, that will be filled with original recipes and photos of working cowboys and cowgirls featuring our own cow/calf operation and the Sanford Ranch, located in the Texas Panhandle.


I’m wondering, do you have a story tugging at your heart and occupying head space? I have so many! How do you decide which one to write? Tell us about your work in progress.

I may have to dig into the ‘discard’ file drawer and revive a small-town tale about heartache, a new life, and a second chance for love. I don’t know why I’ve been obsessing over this story for the past few months, but perhaps it has some redeeming qualities. The characters are driving me crazy.

Wow! That’s a lot of writing to be done in 2017. I am so excited, and I am determined to stay on track with my story telling this year.

It’s not looking that great for yoga.

Hope your 2017 is filled with an abundance of

glorious words, sweet tea and sunshine!