It’s a Book Birthday Party and you’re invited!

It’s a Book Birthday Party and you’re invited!

Help me celebrate two new books in my Rescue Animal Series.

  Friday, June 1

10:00 AM to Noon

Canyon Area Library

1501 3rd Avenue

Canyon, Texas

Now is your chance to buy a copy of the book, meet the rescue horses and their trainers, and get an autograph from all of us! Posters, stickers, bookmarks, balloons, cookies, juice, and photo ops.

Please help us raise awareness about the people who work to give animals a second chance.

Co-Sponsors: Canyon Area Library

Burrowing Owl Books, on the Square in Canyon


Excerpt From “Miss Bitsy”


Excerpt From “Miss Bitsy”

By Nandy Ekle

“We’ll keep working on that mystery. This cake is wonderful! and the caramel brownies,… I think I died and went to Heaven. Miss Bitsy, you’re amazing.:

“Oh, thank you, Dear. It’s just the same old recipe I’ve always had”

“Now you said you last saw Anton about a month ago?”

“Yes.” She stopped and looked up the stairs as if she’d heard a noise. Her expression changed to a dark frown, then back to her sweet, smiling self, as if a could had crossed her face.

“Miss Bitsy, are you okay?”

She turned back and smiled. “Oh, yes, I’m fine. I just thought I heard something. Must be squirrels up there. Yes, I think it was about a month ago. I’m afraid we had a little disagreement. You see, some of my things disappeared. Oh, nothing big, but gadgets I was fond of. I’m afraid I accused him of taking them. I just can’t imagine why he would want that stuff. He said he hadn’t touched them, but he was the only other person here.”

“Do you think he stole your stuff and left town?”

“Well, I don’t know about that. I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of him taking anything from me. If he had just asked I would have given him anything.”

“What things were missing?”

“Let’s see… things missing… well, my rose colored Pyrex dish… my green apron… oh, my marble rolling pin, and my flour sifter.”

Jeremy looked at her, incredulous at the list of missing items. The Miss Bitsy he remembered would never have made a big deal out of losing something as inconsequential as a Pyrex dish. Surely she had plenty of dishes to cook in. “Are you sure Mr. Easley took those things? What kind of monetary value did any of that have for a college student?”

“Well, I don’t know why he would want them, but he was the only other person in the house; it couldn’t have been anyone else. He said he didn’t take them, but there was no one else here.” Again she looked up the stairs as if she’d heard something, and once again a frown momentarily creased her brow.

“Miss Bitsy, let me go look for the squirrel to pay you back for the cake and brownies.”

“Oh, Jerry, I could always count on you to do little jobs for me, but I think this is a job for someone else. Don’t you worry about it.”

He swallowed  gulp of milk and nodded. “Exactly what did Anton say when you asked him about those items?”

“He said he didn’t take them. He said I’m like his grandmother and he would never steal anything from me.” She turned back to the stairs, frowning, and after a moment she stood up, shook her finger at the rooms above her head and began to yell. “You can’t threaten me like that anymore, Eli Bevel! I know you’re dead ‘cause I killed you myself!”

An excerpt from the anthology, One Murderous Week. A book of seven short stories written by Nandy Ekle, available at a book store near you, or, or from 

More Cool Websites for Readers/Writers

More Cool Websites for Readers/Writers

by Adam Huddleston


This week I wanted to mention a couple of websites that are must-visits for avid readers and writers. The sub-reddit: full of interesting story starters.  Some can get a little wacky, but overall it’s not a bad place to look if you just want to knock out a short, fun tale.

Another site that I recently discovered is  It contains a huge collection of written works that are in the public domain.  The advantage of this is that the books, short stories, etc. are completely free to download and read.  You can browse by title, author, language, or works that are recently posted.  Another plus is that they are available in several formats.

Happy reading and writing!


Outtakes 347



By Cait Collins


On Mothers’ Day my sister posted a photograph of my Mom and all six of us girls on Facebook. I don’t know what all she said about Mom, but I received over forty notices about being tagged in that photo. I started reading all the comments and so many memories came back. You see, they were voices from the past: members from our congregation, kids I grew up with, and my sisters. I could see each face and hear each voice. There was Terry’s gentle and simple response, “Loved your Mom.”

And Bonnie’s “Uh…7 girls. I know I was a challenge for her but she always let me know she loved me. Best everyday day mom I could have had. Love you and miss you Mom!My mother took care of Bonnie while her mom worked. She was another sister to us.

And then there were the cousins. She even stayed graceful and loving when she 8 girls for two solid weeks. I know we had to have driven her crazy. Miss her too.   A Blessing to all of us.

I think the one that really got me was a post from my nephew:  How she ever put up with all us grandchildren is a mystery! Many great memories at Grandma Brown’s house!!!  In fact, it was Grandmas house that was my last stop before I left Texas.

In each comment I recognized the speaker without even reading the name. The comments were so like the people who are so dear to me.

Writers have distinct voices. I can pick up a book without a book jacket or cover and know that I’m reading a Nora Roberts’ story, or a James Patterson novel. Even the Wordsmith Six members have distinct styles. A voice is something we cultivate so that we stand out from the crowd. We have no need to copy another writer, to try to make their voice our own. We should be unique. We want to be remembered for our work and style, and not for being an imitation of someone else.

My advice is to find that voice and build on it. Let readers fondly recall memories of our stories. After all the reader is the audience we write for.




Rory C. Keel

His desire to go home grew stronger every day. He gave every bit of his strength to the mission in front of him and pushed forward through the stress knowing it was the only way he could go home. He endured the constant running, the overbearing heat of the desert, the sand getting in places where grit shouldn’t be, and eating the same bland military rations every day. Every evening he dug a fresh foxhole to cradle him while he slept. And every night when he closed his eyes, he dreamed the same dream. In his nightmare, he would dig his own shallow grave in a foreign land and settle into the cool sand to sleep. And one-by-one, the other men would shovel the sand over his body while he slept and forget where they buried him. And he would be alone forever.


Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

Coming in June



by Adam Huddleston


Although it’s (regrettably) been some time since I’ve met with them, I’m a part of a writers group that gets together to read and critique each other’s work.  It is extremely beneficial to gain both positive and negative feedback concerning the craft that you’re working so hard on improving.  Recently, one of the members asked me to critique a few pages of her writing and it got me to thinking: What would be considered good etiquette when it comes to this process.

  1. Always be truthful. It may sound like something you would teach a child but it still rings true to the critiquing process.  The writer may be your closest friend and confidant, but you won’t be doing them any good by lying about what you feel could be improved upon.
  2. Try to include positive reinforcement with the negative. Tell the writer what they are doing right, what you enjoyed, and how it makes you feel.This will go a long way toward encouraging them and making their work stronger.
  3. Make sure your advice is clear. Plainly state what you don’t understand and if you are critiquing by hand, make your notes legible. Insertion arrows, punctuation changes, and paragraph signs should be easy to see.

This list is far from exhaustive.  Hopefully it will help you if you find yourself facing the rather enjoyable task of helping another writer with their work.

River Valley Writer’s Workshop, Canadian, Texas

River Valley Writer’s Workshop, Canadian, Texas

Natalie Bright

Sponsored by the Canadian Arts Alliance and Texas High Plains Writers, we had a good mix of brand-new newbie writers to multi-published hybrid authors in April. In addition to local writers, I met people from Lubbock, Shamrock, Abilene, and San Antonio. This was the first ever workshop sponsored by the Canadian Arts Alliance.

One of the most interesting talks that really made an impression on me, was by young adult fantasy author, Kathleen Baldwin. She talked about the differences between two writing methods: pantsers vs. plotters.

Pantsers vs. Plotters

If you’ve been writing for a while, these terms are probably familiar to you. In case these terms are new to you, I will clarify the difference.

Plotters plot.Plotters work in a more controlled creative process than pantsers. Some begin with an outline, scene diagram, timeline, or even a lengthy book bible with character profiles and meticulous setting details. Some have visual storyboards with a guideline for which chapters they will work on that day, or a chapter-by-chapter or scene-by-scene outline posted on a wall. They usually know the ending and take their characters on a journey to that point.

Pantsers Wing It.They are in the zone, writing and creating and following their characters where ever they go.  They might begin with a great character or no more than a seed of an idea for a first sentence, or descriptive imagery for a unique setting, and then they’re off. The story takes over and they don’t stop to research or question why, they just keep going to the end with a complete book.

The Secret Life of Pantsers

The session in Canadian was nothing like I had ever heard before regarding the pantser vs. plotter method. Kathleen introduced us to our creative brain. We took an interesting quiz to determine if we lean more towards being a pantser or a plotter. Our personalities have a lot to do with influencing our creative process.

Pantserslove adventure and not knowing where their characters will take them. If they know the ending, they are bored. A pantser plots on the fly, relies on their subconscious creative mind or even on their dreams.

Plotters are brilliant planners who like working from outlines. They rely on the power of conscious creation, and usually like structure and order in their lives.

Studies have shown that there are just as many bestselling authors who are pantsers as plotters.

The main point of her talk is to know your brain. How can you maintain balance in your life? How do you minimize stress? One way is to write at the same time every day because we are wired to respond to habit/repetitive behaviors. When are you the most creative? Your creative mind blossoms when you reward it for brilliance. Give yourself emotional strokes for your creative accomplishments.

Try these Magic tricks for your brain: aim for ten ideas, state the most obvious and then state the opposite of that. For example, If Buffy the Vampire Slayer is walking through a graveyard at midnight she might see: a vampire jumping out and attacking her. The opposite of that might be; a happy clown pops out of the headstone. The second idea is very different, but too weird and doesn’t work for the story. List five or more opposite ideas, but less obvious. What works best? 1) An old lady sits in a rocker, knitting. 2) Buffy’s dead mother floats up singing a ghostly warning. 3)Buffy finds a baby sleeping. 4) Maybe the baby is a toddler, and it looks like Spike. 5) Little vampire Spike is trapped in a time warp, and is crying, lost, alone, hungry. Does this idea make sense for your story, characters and theme?

I have several friends who are pantsers and their stories are amazing. I felt very frustrated when trying to understand their writing method and put it to practice. My day job involves numbers and deadlines, and now I understand that my brain likes that sort of structure. I like having an outline for my story and realized that I don’t feel ready to write until the story has come together in my brain. I usually know the ending. It’s at that point that inspiration strikes and I am able to put words on a page, which is the exact opposite from the pantser method. After taking Kathleen’s quiz I discovered that I exhibit qualities of both processes, which might explain my hyper, squirrel-chasing work habits. I can never settle on one project. There are too many things going on in my head at once.

What about you? What process makes you feel the most creative?

It was a great weekend of inspiration to learn story craft, eat some great food, and meet some awesome creatives. If you ever have the chance to visit the beautiful town of Canadian in the Texas Panhandle, stop in at the Stumbling Goat Saloon for a burger and a beer, or The Cattle Exchange for a steak. So many other great places to dine along with unique boutiques for shopping. A must is The Citadelle Foundation which houses an amazing art collection.




Nandy Ekle


Raylene was in a hurry to get in the house. She thought she had seen her ex-husband’s truck in the neighborhood when she left for work that morning and she didn’t want to take a chance on him spotting her.

She dropped her purse and keys in the chair by the door. Her six-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Pearl, and her just-turned-five-year-old son, Jam, came bounding up the steps into the mobile home behind her, trying to tear each other apart.

“No, I get the first snack,” Pearl yelled.

“No, I do,” Jam yelled back.

“Ow! You pulled my hair! I’m telling. Mom, Jam pulled my hair and it really hurt!” She rubbed the offended part of her scalp, then she stomped on his foot.

 Jam let out an amazing shriek. “Mom! Pearl stepped on my foot!”

 Raylene took a deep breath and shut the door. “Stop it right now! Both of you. No snacks for anyone. Both of you get to your rooms while I figure out supper. Now.”

            “But, Mom,” they both whined in unison.


Find this story and more in OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66.

Coming in JUNE.

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.


Outtakes 346


By Cait Collins



I don’t know what to write next. Do I work on my next Route 66 story or do I work on the edits for my memoir?

I don’t know when I’ll finish the edits on the last draft of my novel How Do You Like Me Now?.

I don’t know the best way to inspire my students to write about their dreams and fantasies.

I don’t know who my best mentor is.  My life has been blessed with many inspiring people.

I don’t know where I’ll find the perfect place to write my next story. There are many choices.

I do know I will finish both the Route 66 story and the memoir.  I just have to put my mind to it.

I do know How Do You Like Me Now? is my favorite of my novels.

I do know young people need inspiration and as a writer I must help them develop their verbal and written skills.

I do know that I must be willing to mentor others because I have been blessed.

I do know that there are many places where beauty inspires me to write.  Some are close to home and others require travel, but each destination brings peace and the opportunity to create.

I know that I don’t have all the answers, but my job is to seek knowledge.

I know that knowledge requires dedication to study and by studying I learn not only facts but how those facts can impact my life and my surroundings.

I know that it’s often difficult to come up with a topic for my blog, but the fun is in playing with the thoughts and words.




Rory C. Keel

The fumes from the Yellow Coach Greyhound parked in front of the Tower Station and U-drop Inn cafe swirled around the vehicle. The odor of diesel fuel was familiar to him on the farm but it never lingered very long in the swift West Texas wind. 

Standing on the sidewalk between the cafe and the open door of the bus, Brennon O’Neill held his new bride Patricia as if it would be the last time. Pulling her close, he inhaled deeply, drawing in the sweet aroma of cinnamon, apples, and the hint of rose perfume that always hid in Patricia’s thick auburn hair. He knew the one thing that the stiff breeze could never blow away was the scent of her.

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

Coming in June