The Saturday Morning Blogger – Travel Diary Israel

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Travel Diary Israel

James Barrington

I have heard it said that journalism is the first draft of history. I’m pretty sure that’s true, although in these days it’s more of a rough draft needing a lot of review and correction than a first draft fit to be printed.

That is a prologue to my Israel travel dairy note about ancient graffiti on the stones at the temple mount. If we can get a photo posted on the WordSmithSix blog site, you will be able to see a fourth century AD bit of graffiti chiseled in stone on the western wall of the temple mount. Translated from the Hebrew, it says, “Then you shall see and your heart shall rejoice and their bones like grass shall”. It is almost a quote of Isiah 66:14, which says, “Then you shall see and your heart shall rejoice and your bones like grass shall flourish.”

Our guide speculated that the “author” of the graffiti may have been chased off before he could complete his work. He also said that the difference between “your bones” and their bones” is one letter in the Hebrew. He further noted that at the time the graffiti was placed there, Jerusalem had been rebuilt as a Roman pagan city.

It seems that people have been writing and “editorializing” for centuries, even when it would have taken considerably more effort than simply typing on a keyboard.

What Happened to Detective Dougan?


What Happened to Detective Dougan?

By Nandy Ekle


Detective Jeremy Dougan headed to the station for his first day on the job in the city. After finishing the academy and putting in his time as a patrol officer, he had returned to his home town. He finally had the career he had worked and planned for: working on the police force in his hometown as a detective. He walked into the office with a whistle on his lips and noticed a new case waiting on his rough wooden desk. Setting down his coffee, he opened the folder.

The police report told about a missing person, Anton Easley, last seen getting into his car on July 20 on the Texas A & M University campus. He had told friends standing near that he planned to return to his residence to prepare for an upcoming chemistry exam. Jeremy had seen it before—an irresponsible college student suddenly decides he’s not bound to anyone and takes off without letting a soul know his plans. The last known residence of the uncaring boy sent shivers of surprise through his memory: 924 Ginger Street.

To find out why the address gave Jeremy such a surprise, go to Least He Could Do. It’s $6.99, and Miss Bitsy is the second story in the book.

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




by Adam Huddleston


I picked the literary term this week because my kids know what it is…and I like the way it sounds: onomatopoeia. It is defined as the usage of a word that sounds like the sound it is representing. For example, the word “buzz” sounds like what bees do. The word “drip” sounds like what water drops do. Using onomatopoeia breathes life into your work and grounds the reader in the story.

Happy writing!


Outtakes 287


By Cait Collins


I’ve been blessed to have good role models in my life. I was fifteen when we moved to Amarillo and soon found friends among the youth group at our church. Along with the teens came an assortment of parents who soon became very special to my sisters and me. We lost my dad too soon. I was about to graduate college, three sisters were married, and two were minors. It was a difficult time for all of us, especially for my two youngest sisters. But one of my parents’ friends always stepped in to fill the void. When I married, Joe gave me away. Floyd walked at least one girl down the aisle. Tom supported and advised us in making critical decisions. Glen, bless him, still treats all of us like his own. They were all with us when we lost mom.

I think subconsciously I developed Chris Whitely from my memories of these men. In Three x Three, Chris is the father of Creed who suffers from amnesia. While his primary concern is helping his son, he opens his heart to the kids Creed grew up with. He’s doesn’t interfere in their lives, but will step in to listen, hold a hand, or provide the wisdom that is only gained from surviving difficult times. While he is a minor character, he plays a role in uncovering the events that culminated in a Good Friday disaster. Still, he’s a good man. The kind of man we all wish we had in our lives.

Formatting Your eBook for Publication

Formatting Your eBook for Publication

Natalie Bright

I tried.

With open mind, I tried to learn everything about book formatting, because smart business owners should have an understanding about every component of their operation. Because I kept reading about issues with Microsoft Word conversions, I decided it might be best to make sure my book looks perfect in the format each distributor prefers.

The Scrivener online class was great [] and I LOVE how organized my writing projects are, but the power of Scrivener is in the compile feature. I don’t like those 15 space paragraph indentions when my book comes up in the Kindle previewer and I cannot make them go away. Uhggg.

Another online class on Adobe InDesign for my picture books, researching conversion software with reviews out the whazoo (use this one vs. never use it, only use this one…), more instructional videos. And yes, I know there is exceptional software for MACs only. Don’t own one.

Appeals to our 20-something office manager who is supposed to be keeping our other stuff going while I do book stuff. Even she couldn’t help me, and she’s brilliant, so moving on. 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. What did I write during that time, you might wonder? A few blogs and the draft for an easy reader, and we did finish parent taught driver’s education which is HUGE and has nothing to do with my writing career.

Here is a rundown on the different formats to take our book “wide”. In a nutshell, set up an account and submit your properly formatted manuscript:

Amazon Kindle: MOBI

Kobo: refer to their conversion guidelines, but everything is converted to EPUB.

Smashwords: prefers DOC, DOCX which goes through a MeatGrinder, which turns it into an EPUB.

CreateSpace: PDF for print; fonts and pics must be embedded.

Ingram/Lightning Source: refer to the 37 page “File Creation Guide” (yikes! This made my stomach hurt.)

Draft2Digital: Their process creates an EPUB. Good news: you can skip the distributors above, as D2D will do the conversions for free and put it everywhere you want for 10% of your sales.

The Question

So, it boils down to this very important question: would you hire me to do your book formatting?

Absolutely NOT. Are you crazy? You are a savvy Indie Author and a smart business owner to boot. I wouldn’t hire me either, so I fired myself. There is this guy I know who is an absolute whiz and saved me another three months of learning software that I have no desire to understand.

Thank you, Phillip!

The Next Question

Accounts are set-up, submitted books are approved, tiny prayer for no typos, and then I am moving on to the next question. Who are my readers and where can I find them?




Natalie Bright


We had a great discussion at critique group about the myriad of publishing options for today’s writers. One of the reasons I love our critique group, is we each have so many different projects in the works and we write in various genres. Somebody is always coming up with a new story idea. It’s like an inspirational feeding frenzy of words.

This week, one of our members brought the first draft of a children’s book about a rodeo horse based on one of his published magazine articles. What a great idea! Someone pointed out that kids books have a longevity because there are always new generations of readers waiting to discover your book. You just have to keep telling parents about it. I got to thinking that it’s not just children’s literature. With electronic books, our work will stay out there floating around in eBook land long after we’re gone. Will my kids keep tweeting about my backlist? Will Amazon be around in 10 years? 25 years?

Regardless of the opportunities to choose agented traditional publishing or to be an Indie Author, the decision to become a writer and publish your work is for the long haul. You will be talking about your stories and lugging books around for the rest of your life. This is a marathon, just like any passionate career choice. The bad news, there is a new title published on Amazon every five minutes. It’s getting more and more tedious to get the word out and connect with the readers who care. The good news, authors are finding ways to connect directly with their fans and readers like never before. Crafting an engaging story is hard work. Identifying your target market—the people who will love your book—is an even bigger challenge.

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For passion will lead you right into your purpose.”

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Travel Diary Israel

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Travel Diary Israel

James Barrington

As a child in the summer of 1964, I began a diary of the sights and experiences of our family vacation to Yellowstone National Park. That was lost somewhere in our moves over the years, but my habit of keeping such travel diaries was never lost. My most recent tome was in November of 2015 as I traveled to Israel with a group sponsored by Red River Family Encampment.

Having made the flights from DFW to Newark and Newark to Tel Aviv (and back) on United, the recent black eye United has been taking over forcibly removing a man from one of their flights who happened to be sitting in a seat they wanted seems appropriate to one of my diary entries. To the best of my memory, the flight from DFW to Newark was my first experience with “the friendly skies” of United. My diary entry regarding the landing in Newark says, “We had a really rough landing at Newark. The USS Kennedy arrested landing was smoother. The landing gear slammed down and the plane gave the motion of skidding sideways for a couple of seconds before straightening up on the runway.” Fortunately, the rest of our landings were technically smoother.

I’m not sure I want to know the case of the roughness. While many friends and family members have asked me (before and since flying) if I was concerned for my safety, I must say that the most concerned I was during the two weeks of the trip was when I thought we were about to skid off the runway at Newark. It might have been nice to have a Southwest Airlines flight attendant to break the tension a bit with a wise crack. But I guess Southwest Airlines flight attendants have more sense than to fly United.

Six and a half hours into the flight, we were “feet dry” over Spain. The TV console in front of me said it was -65 degrees at 37,000 feet while traveling at 629 mph. Sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea was memorable. My dairy reported, “After seeing stars against the black sky at 37,000 feet, the sun rose as we were above the toe of Italy’s boot.”
We weren’t even to Israel yet, and I had already written four and a half pages in my diary. Many of the details I’ve mentioned here were probably meaningful only to me, but they form part of the fabric of the adventure – like the ice crystals on the window and the sun shining up off the surface of the Mediterranean. Look down was like seeing a 3D map of lands I had seen before on globes or maps, with cities and geophysical contours that I could readily identify.

I highly recommend travel diaries. I believe the relatively short duration and the unusual sights and experiences off the incentive to stay with it. I’ll share more of my musings in future blogs.

The Writing Playlist


The Writing Playlist

By Nandy Ekle



In my world music is the backdrop of a lot of things. I listen to it while working at my day job of writing letters. I listen to it while I drive my car, if I’m not listening to an audio book. I usually wake up with a tune in my head and go to bed humming.

I have stockpiled a lot of music on my phone and my tablet. It’s a very eclectic collection from Irish instrumentals, Spanish instrumentals, western ballads, movie soundtracks, operas pieces, disco, dance tunes (Macarena), and techno.

However, there are certain pieces of music I’ve purchased just for the purpose of writing. And I’ve created my own “Writing Playlist.” These are the ones that make my skin prickle with excitement because I can feel the story hiding in there. Some of the stories are very evident, like watching a movie. But some of them are like playing a hidden pictures game. It’s there. The instructions tell you it’s there. There may even be a ghostly shape of what the story looks like, but I have to see it. And then, half way through the song, it begins to glitter and I wonder why I didn’t see it straight-out before. So I look away, then look back, and I have to find it all over again.

So, I’ll show you some of my writing playlist, and I’d love to know what your writing playlist looks like.

  1. Music of the Night – from Phantom of the Opera
  2. Phantom of the Opera (Junior Vasquez Club Remix) – from Phantom of the Opera
  3. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  4. Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
  5. It’s All Coming Back to Me Now – Celine Dion
  6. Dark Lady – Cher
  7. Hotel California – The Eagles
  8. Fire On High – Electric Light Orchestra
  9. Here We Are – Gloria Estefan
  10. Hallelujah
  11. Tom Dooley – The Kingston Trio
  12. El Matador – The Kingston Trio
  13. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  14. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show – Neil Diamond
  15. Try – Pink
  16. Just Give Me a Reason – Pink
  17. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
  18. Cell Block Tango – From Chicago
  19. Blood Theme (Alaska in Winter Remix) – from the TV series Dexter
  20. Perfect – Pink

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


The Drive-Thru Girl (Part 2)

This is the second half of the flash fiction horror story from last week. Again, parental guidance is suggested…


The Drive-Thru Girl (Part 2)

by Adam Huddleston


I phoned my wife on the way to Driver Street to tell her I’d be a little late. Head Honcho was coming in tomorrow. Had to do some paperwork. She said okay and be careful. I said okay and I loved her. Did I though? What kind of husband has an affair with someone he met at a fast food drive-thru line?

Twenty minutes later I was pulling into the entrance of a massive home sitting behind a brick wall and iron gate. A pole with a small keypad stuck out from among a thick collection of greenery. I hit the button marked “six” until the mechanism beeped and the gate slid silently open.

The driveway to her house was completely clear, which was surprising because her yard was covered in large oaks and they should have shed their leaves weeks ago. There was something else odd too; it was almost totally silent. No birds, no wind in the branches, nothing.

I pulled up in front of the house and killed the engine. Double glass front doors; swanky. I fingered the doorbell but when she didn’t answer I let myself in.

“I’m upstairs! Take a left at the top! Last room on the right!”

My legs grew weaker with each step I took and a nervous excitement began to grow in my gut. By the time I’d made the top of the stairs, I was sucking in great gulps of air.

I came to the door she’d told me to and peeked in. There she was, sitting up in bed with her back against the headboard. She was wearing lacy, black lingerie.

Oh my.

“Come in and close the door.”

I obeyed and instantly regretted it. As soon as the door clicked behind me, she leaped to her feet in the bed and opened her mouth wide. What was inside will haunt me for the rest of my life. Row after row of tiny, sharp, blood-stained teeth glistened in the light of the room’s lone bulb. Then she began this low, gravelly moaning. I’m not gonna lie, I threw up a little on the floor beside me.

The eyes I had loved to gaze into during my twenty seconds in the burger line morphed into these black…slits. I could see the pupils spinning behind what used to be eyelids.

I think I screamed for a second and when I reached behind me, the door was locked. I didn’t think I’d locked it, but, whatever. She moaned for a few more seconds then just…came at me! Her mouth actually got wider as she ran.

“Stop! Please stop!” I yelled.

She didn’t.

I tried to dodge out of the way but she was so fast, so incredibly fast. I mean like, too fast to be real. She grabbed me and bit into my cheek. The pain was beyond anything I’ve ever felt. I kicked hard and managed to flip her off me for a second.

Without thinking, I sprinted for the bedroom window and jumped through it. I didn’t care. Anything was better than being eaten alive!

The fall was bad. The landing was worse. Doctors say I broke both legs and most of my ribs. Morphine does wonders for the pain but I do have to eat on a full stomach or I’ll toss my cookies.

My family came by a few minutes ago toting a white, paper bag with heavenly aromas drifting from it. The wife said a nice, young check-out girl asked how I was feeling and to get better soon. She told her that she couldn’t wait to see me in the drive-thru again.


Maybe I’ll switch to Taco Hut.