Navigation Pane in Microsoft Word

Navigation Pane in Microsoft Word

by Adam Huddleston


Hello fellow writers! I have a quick recommendation this week. If you are trying to plot your story, and are working with Microsoft Word, you can organize your draft by utilizing “Headings.” It is very simple to use (and I am not that computer savvy).

Depending on the version of Word that you are using, you can click “View”, then click “Navigation Pane”. This pulls up a separate window on the left side of the screen that allows you to quickly move through your document. By assigning different sections of your story separate headings, you can organize it more efficiently. I use “Heading 1” to create a title for each scene. Then I am able to manipulate where I want my scenes in the story.

There are multitudes of ways to arrange your document, this is just what I’ve found to be most beneficial.

Happy writing!

No Words

Outtakes 315

No Words

By Cait Collins



Have you ever been in a situation that was so intense and over-powering you couldn’t describe it? I can think of several situations where there were just no words that fit or would bring the event to life.

The John Kennedy assignation comes to mind. I was in junior high (that’s the old fashioned word for Middle School) when I watched President Kennedy exit Air Force One and run up into the crowd. He was young, vibrant, and engaging. A few weeks later he was dead. As a kid, I couldn’t define how I felt. Schools were closed, and we watched everything on TV. But it wasn’t real. Who would kill the President of the United States? Fifty some odd years later I still remember that day, and I still can’t make sense of what I saw or how I felt.

The Panhandle Wildfires. I remember an email from a writer friend trapped in her home. “We are surrounded by fire. Pray for us.” She and her family survived but others did not. I read John Erickson’s blogs and marveled at the courage and fortitude of cowboys. Yet I cannot put their situation and losses into words.

My first Presidential Press Corps was exciting. I enjoyed the rush of being investigated, finger printed, and receiving my first national press badge. I stood at the front of the pack with my recorder and microphone in hand waiting for Air Force One to land. When President Ford stepped to the podium, I had my microphone in his face and hoped he’d call on me. I had my question prepared. “Did you have a deal with President Nixon? Was the President’s resignation pending your promise of a pardon?” I never had a chance to ask my question, but I was a close to the President of the United States as the Secret Service allowed. How did I feel? Important is the only answer I have.

“Just a few flurries folks. Nothing to write home about. By morning we had 40 inches of snow on the ground. Mom and Dad had to dig the car out of a drift. Dad had to wade through chest deep snow drifts to connect the oil hose to the tank. I was afraid he’d die.

National and international disasters like the tsunami in the Far East that killed hundreds, destroyed property and left so many homeless. I saw pictures of people running away from the danger, but I couldn’t put myself in their places.

These events are just a few ideas of remembering incidents that should be fodder for our best stories. But our awe of events that are so important or disturbing causes us to freeze. Could I write news stories about the disaster in the Texas Gulf region? No, but I’m glad there are those who can.


Promote You:


By Natalie Bright

If you think about that statistical report which estimates a new title is published every five minutes on Amazon, you might start to hyperventilate and then throw up your hands in frustration. How can we ever get noticed in such a swirling frenzy of titles? That’s a lot of options for readers and your book will probably not be an instant success. Most likely your launch will not result in a flurry of sales.

The good news is there are more ways to publish your work now, more than ever before. Your digital eBook may very well live longer than you.

Case in point, this week I received an order from a public library for a book I self-published in 2010. The ISBN cataloging system did its job, because I took the advice of several Indie Authors and purchased a block of ISBNs myself from Bowker. My book is now on it’s way from Texas to Missouri. That book project and promotion is long since done, but the title and contents are new to the librarian who just discovered it in 2017. It was all very official. I received a purchase order and she will receive a copy of OIL PEOPLE for her collection.

My book went to Missouri!

So the question to ask yourself is this:

How important is it that you find readers, and are you in it for the long haul?

Are you prepared to tweet, create memes, talk to groups, write blog posts, and plan ad campaigns around your books? Are you prepared to do all you can to promote your titles forever?

Your eBooks do not have a limited shelf life.

In reality, the chance of future readers discovering your books depends solely on you, whether you are traditionally or Indie published. And I just realized this week, there is no deadline to that discover-ability.

Remember that seven year old book I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Guess I better start thinking about new ways to revive the blurb.

Carry on, writers–we’ve got some promoting to do, and in your spare time, keep writing!


The Saturday Morning Blogger – Japanese Steakhouses

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Japanese Steakhouses

James Barrington



We recently had occasion to do something special with our younger granddaughter, so we took her to Sakura Japanese Steakhouse for their dinner and “floor show” of flashing knives and flying food being prepared as the patrons sit around the grille on which dinner is being cooked. It was our granddaughter’s first experience with such a restaurant; it had been more than twenty years since our last experience with one – in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. I realize there are other Japanese Steakhouses in Amarillo and this is not intended to be a recommendation of one over any other; we chose Sakura because it was the most conveniently located for us.

We left early to get there as they opened. We were actually the first to be seated as one of their cooking tables. We were soon joined by four other people at the table that will seat eight. It is not a place to go with a light wallet, but the food is first quality and the entertainment aspect of the evening further justifies the price. The bill for the three of us, before tip, was just under $100.

Our granddaughter didn’t say much during the preparation and the meal, but her eyes were watching everything. Some of the food was not her favorite, but she was willing to sample everything that was put before her. The soup, a mushroom broth, came my way after one or two sips. She chose one of the steak entrées but could only eat about half of it. The portions were very generous. Even my wife brought home enough for another meal. It had been a long time since I ate swordfish, so I made a pig of myself and finished everything on my plate except for some of the fried rice.

The flames on the cook top surprised our granddaughter, but she took it all in stride. Afterward, as we were getting in the car to return home, I asked if she might like to go again. Her response was quick and affirmative. Our budget does is not designed to handle that type of meal on a regular basis, but as a special treat, with advance planning, it created a memorable evening with our granddaughter – hopefully one that she will remember fondly as she grows into adulthood.

My dad was a strictly a “meat and potatoes” type of eater, so I had the pleasure of introducing my mother to some “different” cuisine while I was a working adult with a healthy income. Cajun dinners and such exotic seafood as crab and swordfish were among the foods she had never eaten as a child or while she had children living at home. She seemed almost childlike in her glee as having the opportunity when we presented those to her.

Meals are often the key ingredients of family memories – whether holiday turkeys or hams or special meals out at restaurants that not off our normal “beaten path.” By being open to new experiences (such as my trip to Israel a couple of years ago), we can discover new flavors that those faint of spirit will never know.


The Dream


The Dream

By Nandy Ekle

I roll out of bed and see the new born sunlight peek through my bedroom window. I stretch luxuriously. No reason to be in a hurry, I work from my kitchen table. I go to work when I want to, work as long as I feel like it, and clock out when I’m ready.

I play my computer games or read my books as I soak my achy joints in a scalding hot bath. This is an important part of every day for me because that’s where I find the energy to move. Also, I must start each day by washing and styling my hair. This is mainly out of consideration for the rest of the world. If I don’t do that, people tend to be afraid of me because my hair looks like a monster.

Now that I’m out of the bath, all soaked and moveable, I sit at the kitchen table and travel to faraway lands. I meet all the people of that land and they tell me all about themselves. Sometimes these people cry and complain about their lives. Sometimes they fight with each other. Sometimes they want to control their world and make all the others do what they want. Some of these people don’t want any attention because they want to do things no one else can see.

I will sit at my table and play with these people all day long until I get tired of them. Then I can simply tell them goodnight and shut down.

My job is to write down all the stories they tell me. I never try to tell them what their story is because that usually guarantees they will stop talking to me. I sit and let them talk to me. If they seem to head down a rabbit trail, I will remind them where we were and what they were saying, but I never change what they have to say.

I am a writer, and this is my dream.

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



by Adam Huddleston


I firmly believe that most avid readers are also movie fans. In my opinion, there is often something special about seeing the elements of a good story (plot, setting, and characters) on the screen. It can also be quite enjoyable to see a fellow film aficionado, especially one who is knowledgeable about motion pictures, dissecting said pictures in order to illuminate the varied techniques that lend them their greatness.

One of the websites that provides easy access to this expertise is YouTube. After viewing several pages dedicated to film, I have discovered one that in my opinion is hands-down the crème de la crème; Cinefix.

Where other sites simply give their opinions on why certain films make their “Top Ten” lists, Cinefix goes into terrific detail about them. They explain cinematic techniques, ranging from camera angles to color palettes. After viewing one of their videos, I feel as though I’ve taken a course in film school.

Topics include: The 10 Best Uses of Color in Film, Top 10 Best Character Arcs, Top 10 Best Scenes, and 5 Brilliant Moments of Camera Movement. And this is just a small sampling.

I cannot recommend this YouTube site enough.

Least Favorite Part

Outtakes 314

Least Favorite Part

By Cait Collins



I love the creative part of writing, but I hate editing. It takes too much time and can create even more issues if one is not careful. I have two memoirs and a novel to edit. I have a new short story to write, and a novel to finish. Please excuse my short and to the point Outtake.


Making Sense of the Senses

by Rory C. Keel

How does the loss of sight affect your hearing?

What color does an orange smell like?

How loud is an inner voice?

Can you describe how the wind feels?

What does sour taste like?

When I am writing, it’s easy to visualize what I want my characters to see and feel or even smell. However putting it down on paper so that the reader can clearly see them is a difficult task. For example, if I write, “He walked into the room and gazed at the beautiful painting hanging on the wall.” What does the reader see? What object is displayed in the painting? What colors make the painting beautiful? How is it framed?

This dilemma came to life for me when the main character of my novel, UNLAWFUL WORDS, suddenly goes blind. Writing what he saw with his eyes came to an abrupt halt. How do I write his experiences now?

A blindfold

Using a blindfold I spent several hours experiencing the darkness. Immediately I began to depend on my hearing, turning my head from side to side trying to capture all the sounds around me. My hands automatically reached forward hoping to feel something familiar and my feet slowed their steps to prevent stumbling. The objects once identified by sight now had to be described by feeling the texture, or the smell. These are the details that help the reader understand what the character is experiencing.

In your writing, use the basic senses such as taste, touch, hear, see, smell. Be careful not to give the reader sensory overload by giving a long string of description using all five sense on every situation, when generally the use of two or more different senses can tie the picture together for the reader.

Rory C. Keel

Promote You: Are You an Indie Author?

Promote You: Are You an Indie Author?

Natalie Bright

To better promote yourself, you need a clearer picture of the path you want to pursue.

The old west, history of the U.S. and the hardiness of the people from that time period has always fascinated me.  I ran across this quote from the Editor of the Cheyenne Valley News, Harry Lovald, who wrote: “The trouble with most of us is a restless spirit. Instead of making opportunity come to us, we are chasing our legs off running after it.”

That description of early pioneers perfectly describes today’s Indie Author.  This week, someone asked me, “What is the term you keep saying? Indie Author? What does that mean?” For me the choice is finally clear. After four years, I terminated the contract with a literary agency to become a proud Indie Author.

For those of you who are new to the creative art of writing and publishing your book, here is a quick review of today’s terms.


  1. Indie Author: independently published author, meaning an author who not only is the creator of the work, but shoulders the cost for putting that work into production for the consumer and maintains complete control of the intellectual property. An Indie Author realizes there are many opportunities and paths to realize their goals. They can do everything themselves or put together a capable team of others to help.


  1. Traditionally Published: an author who uses the traditional gatekeepers of publishing such as literary agents and editors of publishing companies. A traditional publishing contract transfers ownership of the intellectual property from author to publishing company.


  1. Hybrid Authors:a fairly new type of author that has emerged meaning they are both traditionally and independently published. A) They may have obtained their rights back for their backlist of traditionally published books, and are now putting that work out themselves. Or,  B) they may have started as an Indie Author and realized great success in the rankings to garner a substantial fan base, and then was offered a deal from a traditional publisher.

Either way you look at it, it’s all good and it’s a wonderful time to be the creator of original content.

“It is a great responsibility to be pioneers in so great a world.” NARCISSA WHITMAN