Snowflake Method (cont.)

Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

Last week, I began my attempt at using the snowflake method created by author Randy Ingermanson.  This week, I’ll continue with Step 3.

Step 3: Write a one-sentence summary of each major character and a paragraph summarizing their goals, conflicts, and overall changes.

Dwight Lara (major character)- A new baseball recruit uses black magic to lead his team to the championship.

Dwight Lara, a twenty-three year old center fielder from Nassau, Bahamas is drafted by the Amarillo Yellowjackets midway through their season when they find themselves at the bottom of their division.  Seeking to help his team, he secretly begins using black magic spells he had learned growing up in the Caribbean. The payment for each hex is the loss of a human life. As the season draws towards its conclusion, Dwight begins feeling more remorseful for each death he causes.  When his deeds are discovered by the manager, he resolves to stop immediately. The manager however presses him to continue, and prior to the championship game, has the player’s son murdered in an attempt to win it all. Although the team is victorious, Dwight kills his coach and performs his final spell, a deed which causes the entire stadium to collapse, taking the lives of everyone.

Stephen Craight (major character)- A losing baseball team’s general manager forces his new player to continue his deadly methods of helping the team win.

Stephen Craight, a fifty-six year old general manager of the Amarillo Yellowjackets drafts Dwight Lara in an attempt to resurrect their season.  He discovers Dwight performing black magic in a little-used area of the locker room but says nothing when he realizes that the team is now winning every game.  His new player has a change of heart near the end of the season, so in an attempt to win the championship, he has Dwight’s son murdered. Lara discovers what has happened and kills Craight once the championship game is over.  





Natalie Bright

The following list of elements for middle grade novels was a handout from a writing conference. The name or origin of the information is not on the handout, so apologies that I cannot give credit. It’s a helpful list as you are crafting your story for middle grades, defined as a core audience of 8 to 12 year olds or 3rd through 6th grades.


  1. Drama!
  2. Imagination.
  3. Use humor.
  4. Write to the age level.
  5. Make place a character.
  6. Make each word resonate.
  7. Bring history alive.
  8. Mix genres.
  9. Craft prose carefully.
  10. Let joy spill out!

The Future


The Future

By Nandy Ekle

On a recent trip with my husband, I met someone who made my heart soar. I met a young lady, around the age of 18 or 20. She had brown, very curly hair, glasses on her face, and braces on her teeth. And her eyes told me she was very shy, but couldn’t hold her interest any longer.

“I heard you write stories,” she said in a small voice. She had sidled up as close to me as she dared, which was still a little far away for me to hear her easily (I have begun to wonder if my hearing might be going the way of my spike heeled shoes).

“Yes, I do. I write mainly short stories, but I’ve also got a couple of novels going as well.” I smiled nurturingly at her.

“I used to write stories when I was in junior high,” she said, just barely over a mumble.

I felt my face split with an excited grin. “Really? That’s when I started writing!” When I told her that, her face lit up as if the sun had risen, even though the clock said the time of day was after nine p.m. 

She and I talked for another hour about writing, stories, ideas, other authors, books to read for instruction, and books to read for fun. I don’t know how she felt at the end of the evening, but I know I felt wonderful.

I’ve always believed that young people who love to write deserve a special place. After all, writing is not a social activity; it can be lonely. And for a young person to enjoy writing a story instead of sitting on the hood of a car with a bunch of buddies, that’s a special person.

But more than that, I believe our youth is our future and it’s our job, as seasoned experienced writers, to encourage them with their craft. One day, we olders will be gone and the youngers will be in charge.

So when you meet these young folks, give them the encouragement you craved when you were their age. Always remember, you might just be in the presence of the next Stephen King, or E. A. Poe.

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

Snowflake Method

Snowflake Method

By Adam Huddleston

Over the next few weeks, I will be attempting to use the snowflake method created by novelist Randy Ingermanson to outline a horror story that I’m working on.

Step 1.  The one-sentence tagline

A new baseball recruit uses black magic to turn around his team’s failing season.

Step 2.  Expanding the tagline into a full paragraph

When the Amarillo Yellowjackets find themselves at the bottom of their division, they recruit a mysterious center-fielder in the hopes of turning their season around.  As their luck begins to change, a startling fact becomes apparent; fans are dying at their games. The club manager discovers that his new player is a master of black magic, and is responsible for the tragedies.  When the team makes the championship series, conflict arises between player and coach concerning the fielder’s role on the team. The aftermath of their feud results in the greatest horror yet.

Step 3.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each main character

To be continued next week!


Writer’s Block Remedy

Outtake 355

Writer’s Block Remedy

By Cait Collins


Robert J. Ray, author of The Weekend Novelist and The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery (Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick) had some excellent ideas for working through the rough spots in your story or novel. My favorite is free writing.  It’s a simple concept.

Write a sentence.

Set a timer for three minutes.

Ready. Set.  Go.

For the next three minutes write whatever comes to mind based on the sentence. Do not think. Just write.

Do not edit.  Just write.

Do not lift your pen or pencil off the paper.

When the timer sounds, stop.

Put down your pencil and review your work.

You’ will be surprised with the results when you allow your subconscious to control your pencil.

Another exercise is to write a sentence.  The next sentence begins with the last word in the previous sentence. The last word in the previous sentence is the first word in the nest sentence.  For example:

Winter arrives bringing the sailors home.

Home from the sea.

Sea waves crash against the shore…

Set the timer for three minutes.

Allowing your subconscious to momentarily control your writing frees you from worrying about the best word, proper punctuation, and is this going to work. Once you get the ideas down, you can make the corrections and enhancements in editing.  The point is to just write.

Let’s Start Here!

Let’s Start Here!

Rory C. Keel


Whether you’re just starting to write or you have advanced into the realm of an experienced professional writer, Quality writing is the number 1 reason people buy your books.

Here are some suggestions to get us started.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek advice from other writers, join writer groups and use editors.
  2. The old saying “Write what you know,” is still good advice. Use what you know as a foundation to springboard into further research on your subject.
  3. Add a different twist to a story. Approach a dilemma differently. Create a new dimension in time.
  4. Be realistic in setting your goals. Have you ever wanted to be a Best Selling Author, but you haven’t ever finished a book? Write it, Finish it!
  5. Write as much as you can—when you can. Schedule reasonable time to write, Publish and promote. Understand that achieving each of your goals for one day, each day, is being successful!

Scenes Defined

Scenes Defined

Natalie Bright

Does your scene in your book play like a movie in your head while you write? It takes some concentration and the ability to block out the world around you, but I love it when this happens. I try to focus on every detail, no matter how minute, as I focus on the “moving picture”.

The scene is the unit of story, and in a book usually starts with a character arriving and ends when something has changed. A scene propels the story forward.

  1. Scenes in a book are anchored in a certain place and certain time.
  2. A narrative summary can describe the specifics of your scene.
  3. Scenes usually contain some type of visible action, not just internal thinking from the character.
  4. Do not use italics for internal dialogue, or what your character is “thinking”. Once the standard norm, the point of digging deep is writing inside your character’s head. This one is hard to break. We’ve discussed this several times in our critique meetings. Next time you read a recent release, notice that italics are a thing of the past.
  5. Keep the scene and action moving. No backstory in the first chapter (maybe two). Hook the reader and save the backstory for later.
  6. Skillfully weave your backstory into the story, these can be tension filled scenes into itself.
  7. End scenes (chapters) with a hook—a punchy, pithy statement.


Historic Buildings

Outtakes 354

Historic Buildings

By Cait Collins

I’m considering using a building on historic Route 66 in Amarillo in a new story. Sixth Street has a number of buildings that would fit the story, but just how far should I go in reinventing the building.  I considered turning the Nat Ballroom into my heroin’s place of business.  But that would mean totaling redoing the building into an artist’s studio.  The old ballroom has a great history.  Big names performed there in the early years.  Soldiers would attend Saturday evening dances at the Nat.  So would destroying the bandstand be a bit too much?

Perhaps it would be better to renovate an old house.  Some of the two-storey homes could be remodeled to house a gallery, plus artist studios, a potter’s studio and display cases. Question is how much red tape would be involved in getting the Historical Society and the Route 66 Association to sign off on the revisions.  What  information is required to petition the various agencies for approval to alter historic places?  I’m not sure I really want to know. Besides I’m only remodeling the place in a story. I’m not taking a sledge hammer to it.

I realize how much study I need to do before I can even start to select a location.  About all I’ve figured out is I need a lot more information than I have right now in order to select a location and repurpose it.  If I make a mistake, the folks who know the area would be quick to correct me.  And do I really want to risk alienating a reader?

Book Review

Book Review

Natalie Bright
HOW TO MARKET A BOOK, Third Edition by Joanna Penn, is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to launching your book.
Every author has to devote some effort into marketing. We have to tell people about our book and hopefully make it appealing enough that they will want to read it. Finding people to read your book sounds simple enough, but as we all know this is a marathon and can take as much time as our writing.
As Ms. Penn suggests in her book, “If you re-frame marketing as creative and fun, you will find yourself enjoying it more.” Her book definitely provides you with a place to start as she covers many options.

Writing Ideas


Writing Ideas

By Nandy Ekle

I have a book of writing prompts called 300 More Writing Prompts, and I thought I’d share ten of them with you.

1. Name a novel you’d love to model your life after.

2. How far would you go to get what you want?

3. Have you ever been betrayed? If so, how?

4. Create a short story about your life that is complete fiction.

5. You’re in charge of a murder mystery dinner theater for one night. Describe the scenario you’ve set for your guests to solve.

6. How do you feel about secret admirers?

7. What is your idea of the perfect summer?

8. When you close your eyes, what do you daydream about?

9. Name something you’re never willing to risk or take a risk on and why.

10. What was the scariest urban legend or ghost story you’ve ever heard, and how did it originate?