Magic


Outtakes 286

Magic

By Cait Collins

 

 

Recently my nephew and I went to see the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. The artistry amazed me. Maybe I should back up. The artistry begins with the story. Grimm’s Fairy Tales were a little dark for me. And Into the Woods was a bit fractured. That said I enjoyed both. But I’m glad Disney Studios dressed the tales up. The vilens stayed, but stories became romantic. Sweeter. More of a dream. And thus began the Princess tales. And the wish of every young girl to believe that “Someday My Prince Will Come”.

Disney’s animated version of Beauty and the Beast was a spectacle It was a perfect marriage of love story and technology. Who can forget the dancing dishes in the “Be Our Guest “song? What about the doors opening to reveal a magnificent library? And the ballroom where Belle and the Beast danced was magnificent.

Now translate all that to a movie set.

The live action version combined the best of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Disney animation, a Broadway play and music to create a masterpiece. Every frame drew emotion. That is the artist’s magic. Walt Disney would have been proud of his teams.

From what I learned in my Traditions classes, Disney always looked for new ways to do things. Each movie had its own sparkle and foot print. He was an innovator with an eye to eliciting that gasp of surprise and delight.

Even though I worked the retail side of the Disney Company, I learned the importance of having wings, and flying. The goal of exceeding customer expectations allowed me to use my acting talents, to stand in front of groups of kids at movie premiers. I stepped outside my comfort zone and danced with Jungle Book characters. I was free to reach out to others with more experience and knowledge so that I could become a better writer.

Happy thoughts and a bit of fairy dust allow the artist or writer or editor the freedom to test new methods, to open doors to new worlds, and to find our special place in the artist’s world. I treasure my years with the Disney Company and I appreciate the lessons I learned. While not at the level I want to be, I still look for twists and characters that keep the reader wanting more. While I’m on the journey, I will “wish upon a star” and “just keep swimming”.

Thank you. Walt Disney for an education and years of entertainement.

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Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A vice


Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A vice

Rory C. Keel

It’s funny the things you observe at an intersection. I recently sat at a stop sign watching the flow of traffic come to a halt behind an old pickup. The old man driving the truck waited patiently for the oncoming traffic. His flasher blinking in a universal electrical rhythm indicating his desire to turn left.

Within a minute or two, the woman behind the pickup began to honk and the tension of the moment increased with the speed of the Morse code she was sending with her car horn. As the gentleman finally turned, the woman waved goodbye with middle finger of her right hand.

Head-Jump Point of View


 

Head-Jump Point of View

Natalie Bright

I am alternating chapters between two main characters points of view, and in the first draft I used third person for one character and first person for the other. The reason I used first person is the idea of digging deeper into that character who has a lot of inner conflict. He is very complex and I want the reader to understand that. When using first person point of view, it’s harder to “head-jump” from one character to the next, however it is a challenge to find something to replace the repetitive “I” word. And now I’m rethinking the whole thing during the editing process. Perhaps I will rewrite those chapters and keep it all in third person. And then there are the overlapping scenes; the action from one character’s viewpoint and then the same scene interpreted by the other character’s point of view. I like books with that perspective when it is well done. The problem will be to make sure I stay in one character’s head for that one scene and chapter, and not switch.

If you begin the scene in one character’s head and then jump to another character’s head, and then maybe another, your reader will get lost. It is too hard for the reader to stay with your scene. Have you ever been reading and had to go back several pages to figure out where you were and who is talking? I hate when that happens.

The most common situation when writers purposefully “Head-Jump” is in romance scenes, and that is called “turning on a dime”. A common action or item, is that cause of the switch from one character’s head into another. A kiss, for example. When it’s done well, it can be very smooth, but sometimes it can very awkward and disorienting for the reader.

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Portraits of Courage


The Saturday Morning Blogger – Portraits of Courage

James Barrington

In the forward to George W. Bush’s latest book, “Portraits of Courage,” Laura Bush wrote, “When George and I married, if someone told me that he would become President, I would have thought, ‘Well, maybe.’ He was running for Congress at the time, and we loved politics. But if someone had said, ‘One day you will be writing a forward for a book that includes George’s paintings,’ I would have said, ‘No way.’”

In his life after the presidency, George W. Bush took up painting. He eventually graduated from flowers, pets, and landscapes to portraits. With his love of our nation’s military personnel, and especially his commitment to our nation’s wounded warriors, he began painting portraits of many of the men and women he has come to personally know and help through the Wounded Warrior programs he supports.

“Portraits of Courage” includes George Bush paintings and brief stories of more than 100 current and former military personnel who were wounded in combat. The stories detail the circumstances and nature of their wounds and their paths to recovery. Reflecting real life, not all the stories have “fairy tale” endings, but all offer hope and display courage in overcoming adversity. They display adaptability and the strength of character of so many members of our military who put their lives on the line and are now recovering from horrific injuries.

I recently won a copy of the book at a presentation by Todd and Dallas Bell of Burrowing Owl Bookstore. After eagerly reading every story and examining every portrait, I am donating the book to the Canyon Area Library to make it available to everyone. For those who want their own copy, the Burrowing Owl Bookstore at 419 16th Street on the east side of the courthouse square has copies for sale. It’s a beautiful coffee table book filled with stories of courage and inspiration.

The Reluctant Hero


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Reluctant Hero

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

“A reluctant hero is a tarnished or ordinary man with several faults or a troubled past, and he is pulled reluctantly into the story, or into heroic acts. During the story, he rises to the occasion, sometimes even vanquishing a mighty foe, sometimes avenging a wrong. But he questions whether he’s cut out for the hero business. His doubts, misgivings, and mistakes add a satisfying layer of tension to a story”. (From Wikipedia)

As a reader, the reluctant hero has always fascinated me. This is the person who wants a normal life, hearth and home, living in his own world fulfilling his own desires. But due to circumstances he has no control over, he is forced to think about the good of others.

In my opinion, the epitome of this type of character is William Wallace in the movie “Braveheart.” I’m not sure about the historical accuracy of the story. I’ve heard a lot of talk about how there’s not a shred of truth to it. And, to be fair, it does give a pretty dark light on a certain group of people. But, let’s face it. Most, especially those of us with an overdeveloped sense of imagination, don’t really care how accurate of a biography it is.

Braveheart is a masterfully told epic with a true reluctant, unwilling hero at the very center.

Scotland in the 1300s has been taken captive by England, and the king of England is a cruel man who rules his people (including his family) with an iron fist. At the first of the movie, William Wallace is a boy and his father and older brother leave him in to look after the cottage and the farm while they go to peace talks between their clan and a the English rulers over their homestead. William watches as a wagon brings the bodies of his father and brother back home. At their funeral, a little girl offers him a thistle, her gesture of comfort for the new orphan. His uncle rides into the village and takes young William off on a journey where he is educated to read, write, other languages, and calculate numbers.

When he’s grown, he comes back to his home to live as part of the clan, raising animals and vegetables, and to marry the now grown thistle girl who has been on his mind for all the years he was gone. His only wish is to marry her, run his farmstead, and raise children. The circle of life, as it were.

But then, his wife (they did marry, but only is secret to protect her from the attention of the lusting English soldiers.) This ended his wife’s death. And this is the moment the hero reluctantly emerges. William kills the English soldiers, and the rest of the clan help him out and was able to pinpoint the exact moment when he became the successful leader that lead a country to freedom.

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

The Drive-Thru Girl


This week, I’m posting the first part of a flash fiction horror story I wrote some time back. It’s only been slightly polished. Oh, fair warning, it’s probably a PG-13 rating.

 

The Drive-Thru Girl

by Adam Huddleston

 

So, there’s this girl that works the drive-thru at the Burger Barn on Alton Street. I’ve only seen her at the first window, you know, the one where you pay. She always smiles as she’s giving me my receipt; and she’s gorgeous. Light blonde hair, a little below shoulder length and blue eyes that reflect the glow of the register monitor in front of her. Well, this morning something pretty weird happened.

I drove through and ordered my usual sausage biscuit combo. I had my fingers crossed that she was at the window, and sure enough, there she was. I paid and when she handed me my receipt, I noticed there was this little card there; a business card. On the back was a phone number scribbled in blue ink.

I looked up at her and she gave me a wink and pressed her finger to her lips (lovely, full lips) in a shush gesture. I literally felt a buzz run through my legs. I opened my mouth to say something, not sure what exactly, and she slid her window closed with a snap.

Pulled forward, got my food. It was good as usual. Hot and greasy constitutes “good” in this case. I spent the rest of the day running my fingers over the smooth paper of that business card in my pocket. Should I call? I always thought of myself as a faithful husband, but how often does a chance like this come around?

I thought about my wife and kids. Then I thought about those red lips and how I wanted to explore them and every inch of her wonderful body. What if I just called and talked? That wouldn’t be cheating, right? Maybe she just wanted to talk?

I stuck around for a bit after the office closed this afternoon. I stared at that phone number for a few minutes then dialed.

The voice that answered after the second ring was soft and sensual. My heart melted and if I hadn’t been in my cushioned office chair, I’m pretty sure I would have slid into the floor.

“Hello?” I answered back.

“I’m glad you called,” she whispered.

“Yeah, well, I wasn’t sure if…so, how’s it going? Your biscuits were great!” I winced.

“Hehe, thanks. So, what are you doing now?”

I thought for a second. I couldn’t tell her I was about to go home to my family. If this was going to work, I had to play it cool. Super cool.

“Not much, not much. What are you up to?”

“Do you want to see me? If you do, I’m at 6700 West Driver. There’s a code to get in. Just type all sixes.”

My brain was scrambled. I blurted out something incoherent then hung up the phone. It stared at me accusingly so I jumped up and headed out the door.

What Did You See?


Outtakes 285

What Did You See?

By Cait Collins

 

 

How good are your powers of observation? If you were surrounded by group of people at the mall or at a concert, would you be able to describe the person in front of you, behind you, and on either side? How would you describe a child that broke free of his mother and is now terrorizing the zoo?

Observing the people around us is essential for a writer. If we don’t hone our skills, we could miss vital elements for our work. Let’s say you are standing in line at the bank. The teller is calm and helpful. Transaction completed, the man walks away without looking the folks in the line in the eye. The police and FBI agents question you. Would you be able to tell them the color of the suspect’s hair? His race? Height and weight? What he was wearing?

It should be easy to identify the person standing in line in front of you, but you are drawing a blank. Even with the detective feeding you hints you are unable to pick the robber out of a picture array or a line up. You know you saw something important but you just can’t remember it. You’re not alone.

Trust me, you are not alone. Several years ago, I was the person in line behind a bank robber. He was so cool I didn’t suspect anything. As soon as he walked away, I stepped up and set my deposit bag on the counter. The teller excused herself and rushed to the back. A few minutes later, one of the bank officers came out and shut down her station. He directed me to the next line. Then he announced the doors were being locked and we must wait until the police spoke to us and released us. All I could tell the law enforcement officer was the robber was short, had dark hair and was wearing some type of work uniform. Not really good on my part. I was too busy making a shopping list in my head to notice there was a problem.

My suggestion is to go to the mall, find a comfortable spot and indulge in some serious people watching. What you observe may make for a great character or plot twist for your current project.

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A vice


Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A vice

Rory C. Keel

It’s funny the things you observe at an intersection. I recently sat at a stop sign watching the flow of traffic come to a halt behind an old pickup. The old man driving the truck waited patiently for the oncoming traffic. His flasher blinking in a universal electrical rhythm indicating his desire to turn left.

Within a minute or two, the woman behind the pickup began to honk and the tension of the moment increased with the speed of the Morse code she was sending with her car horn. As the gentleman finally turned, the woman waved goodbye with middle finger of her right hand.

THE END! Now what?


THE END! Now what?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at WordsmithSix meeting about the next step, after you’ve edited and polished your manuscript. You are ready to publish: now what? Several of our members have finished, or are in the home stretch with their manuscripts, and have a very big decision: a) shop their book with agents and editors and pursue a traditional publishing deal, or b) become an Indie Author. We try to keep it real here at Wordsmith Six, so here’s your reality check:

Today’s publishing environment is exhilarating and exhausting. It basically boils down to the following issues, assuming you have a polished and edited book ready for publication.

A. Traditional Publishing

1. Author receives 10% royalty from sales (+/- depending on deal).

2. Author pays 15% from their share to a literary agent, who negotiates the deal.

3. Publication date: years (some smaller presses move faster)

$. Advance: possible, but not guaranteed

6. Sign on the dotted line and give up ALL rights to your novel, characters, cover design, content. You are out of the process, which is a huge relief and appealing to some authors. Go write the next book.

7. Big name publisher assists with promotion (minimal for first-time authors, but invaluable if you are at best seller status). Authors maintain website and social media.

8. Publication Date: Years from now.

9. Validation from a traditional publishing house and the writing community (this is exciting because we all have big dreams).

B. Indie Author

1. Author receives 70% cut of sales (+/- depending on venue)

2. Author learns how, or pays out-of-pocket for professional editor, formatting, cover design, promotion. Most indie authors agree, the work is 50% writing and 50% business owner. You maintain complete control.

3. Go wide as in world wide eBooks and/or Print. You identify the target markets and you design promotion that best connects with your readers.

3.Publication Date: within weeks from this very minute. You decide launch date.

4. Validation from family and local community. Your cousin doesn’t care if the publisher is Me Writer, LLC or Random House, they just want to buy a copy of your book. The local book club is excited to hear your talk.

Have I left anything off of the list that might be significant to newbie authors based on your experience?

This past Saturday, I went to the Texas High Plains Writers workshop by Indie Author Bethany Claire[bethanyclaire.com who has propelled herself and her Scottish time-travel series to best-selling status. She has become successful on her own terms, to the point that she was able to hire her mother as her assistant. They are developing an online class to help other indie authors who are serious about elevating their writing to the next level and who want to build a successful business.

After Saturday’s workshop, I feel better about a recent decision regarding my own work. At the end of last year, I turned down an offer from a small press. For the standard 10% royalty and no advance, I would have signed away an entire page and one-half listing of rights for my inspirational book. Sure, this deal might have propelled it in the market place, but I had to submit a marketing plan as well. Why do publishers want rights they never intend to exploit? That’s not to say traditional publishing deals are something I’d never consider. It depends on the book. For this one, I said no thanks.

Remove your author big-dreams cap for a moment and look at things through clear, sensible eyes. This is business. YOUR business. What process will be optimal for the book in hand, and for your continued success? You have three choices: traditionally published; an Indie AuthorPrenuer all the way; or a ‘hybrid’, which is an author who has published books through both options. It’s all good.

Keep writing, be excellent, and more importantly, get your work out there so I can read it!

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Burrowing Owl Books on the Square in Canyon


The Saturday Morning Blogger – Burrowing Owl Books on the Square in Canyon

James Barrington

For anyone who has not yet discovered the Burrowing Owl Bookstore on the east side of the square in Canyon, it is a shop worth visiting. Dallas and Todd Bell own the store, but Todd’s duties as a medical doctor ensure than most of the office hours at Burrowing Owl are kept by Dallas – and her mother and daughters.

They have an eclectic variety of new and used books. For the kids, the doors of a wardrobe open to provide entrance to the kids’ books section. My 12-year-old granddaughter and I have already explored it a few times and made purchases there.

The shelves are arranged to make browsing easy, but if you know exactly what you want, odds are good that Dallas can take you right to it. They even take trade-in on your used books with credit toward purchases of other used books.

It reminds me in many ways of the “Shop around the corner” from “You’ve Got Mail.”

With a new snap of cooler weather, it’s a great place to pick up a book for reading in front of your fireplace!

Keep reading! It gives you great ideas for your own great American novel.