A Little Word Art


A Little Word Art

By Nandy Ekle



















Short Stories

Outtakes 318

Short Stories

By Cait Collins



I love trying new genres and seeing if I can put a story together. Since I normally write novels, I’m finding short stories to be a bit intimidating. The short story limits my time to develop a character and tell the story. There’s no long way to define the hero or heroine in 30 or 40 pages. My protagonist still talks to me, but she’s a lot faster about telling me what’s going on in her head. I can’t be too subtle in revealing her issues; there’s just not enough word count.

Here’s what I’m learning.

One word can be more important than detailed description. Brilliant sunset says as much as the “bright orange glow of the sun setting in the western sky…” and it saves your word count.

Moria, my heroine, doesn’t have 250 pages to decide whether or not she’s attracted to Aiden. She either is or she’s not.

Aiden has to go a little slower in order to reach Moria, but then again, he can’t be too subtle. He has to make his move without scaring her off.

Forget men, a good dog can be a girls’ best friend.

One other thing I’ve found to be important is getting the details straight. Route 66 is a well known and well traveled road. People will know if your work is not accurate.

While I’m finding the short story a bit daunting, I am enjoying the challenge. Maybe I’ll consider writing a series of short stories and publishing them. And then again, maybe not.

How Do You Define Success as a Writer?

How Do You Define Success as a Writer?
by N. Bright

The Texas High Plains Writers program this past Saturday featured a Q&A panel of authors. Two traditionally published and two Indie Authors answered questions about their writing process and the publishing industry. Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of 48 books, moderated. It was a fun morning, and I was honored to be a part of the panel along with Linda Broday who writes a successful series for SourceBooks, and Ryan McSwain who is an Indie Author.

“Secrets of Success” was the title of the program, and Jodi pointed out that each writer can define success in totally different ways. For very successful, tradtionally published authors, success might be the number one spot on a national best seller list, or seeing their book on a movie screen. As I juggle two teenagers, a busy day job, and all of the ideas in my head, success for me is holding one of my stories in hand. As an Indie Author, that is the immediate pay off for me personally, and then the book promotion is another faucett of the business that will continue through the long term.
The morning discussion included some great tips.
Jodi says, “Pick a lane,” which in some cases mean genre. Do you want to write kid lit or mainstream romance? In today’s publishing environment, I take it to mean considering the best publishing option for your work in progress as well. Every project may be different and writers have so many choices today. Jodi told us, “Everyone in this room has talent. Are you willing to do what it takes? Pick a lane. Develop your career.”
Linda says to include lots of conflict in your stories and use true events and personal stories to add depth to your writing.
Ryan keeps a character file, where he puts specifics about his characters as they develop. His ‘supplemental file’ is a list of changes that need to be made in previous chapters as he writes the new chapters. Instead of stopping to make changes, he references the supplemental file and makes the changes to his completed manuscript all at one time.
Traditional or Indie involves time and money, but as I told the group, it’s a completely different mindset. If you have a high concept book and you think readers all over the world will read it, then you have to go where the agents and editors are. You need to summarize your book into a one sentence pitch, and you have to practice that pitch. Attend conferences and sign up for appointments with the traditional publishing house professionals who will want your book. Your book must be exceptional in order to rise above the other 500 writers pitching during that same weekend.
As an Indie Author you have to write an exceptional book too, and then you have some aditional decisions to make. Pick a genre. Pick your target market. Pick a writing organization. Pick a cover designer. Pick a professional editor. The work is endless, but the rewards are extremly satisfying.
The secret to success takes hard work, but can be defined according to your terms. Jodi reminded us of one of our favorite local authors who, sadly, is no longer with us. DeWanna Pace always said that her writing goals never involved big dollar signs. “It’s not the money,” she’d say. “I want people to love my work.”
Do you live in or near the Amarillo area? Texas High Plains Writers meets on the 3rd Saturday of every other month.

IT Review

IT Review

by Adam Huddleston



So, knowing how much I like to do movie reviews, and my preference for works by Stephen King, how in the world was I going to get by without blogging about this film?

I saw it at the end of last week with a couple of friends, and I must say, it is a fantastic horror movie! The 1990 mini-series starring Tim Curry will always hold a special place in my heart, but the current iteration, with its new special effects and freedom to explore darker themes, takes the story up a notch. The child actors nail all of their parts as well. The dialogue has a perfect mix of terror and humor. Although jump scares have become quite cliché in horror movies, most of these are done very well, even the ones that the audience could see coming from a mile away.

Now, this year’s version of IT, unlike its predecessor, is rated “R”. It is a fairly hard “R”, tamer than some but more violent than others, so be warned.

If horror is your thing, I highly recommend seeing this film. It didn’t set the opening weekend box office record for a horror picture for nothing!

Outtakes 317


By Cait Collins

 Wordsmith Six is in the process of putting together an anthology centered around old Route 66. Researching the Mother Road brought back memories from my childhood. I have some recollection of driving through Missouri. I recall going through Joplin, but don’t remember if we stayed the night there or just drove through.  
 I’ve studied pictures of the restaurants and motels along the route and they match my memories of ones we stayed in while traveling to St. John’s Newfoundland and Bangor, Maine. When we moved to Amarillo, we stayed in a motel on Amarillo Boulevard, part of Old Route 66.

The motel had a diner attached, and we would eat breakfast and dinner there. Since there were eight of us Dad has to get two rooms. Each room had two double beds and we got a roll-away so that everyone had a bed. When Sister #5 was a baby, Mom took a drawer out of the dresser and made her bed in the drawer. It might sound weird and wild to young people today, but it was a great childhood.
 I think one of my favorite memories of driving Route 66 was having my dad read the Burma Shave signs. I still remember one of them:
He lit a match

to check the gas tank.

That’s why they call him

Skinless Frank.

Burma Shave
 I pulled a list of sayings from the Internet and don’t remember any of them, but some of them were full of satirical driving tips. Not only was Burma Shave advertising their products, they were reminding travelers to stay alert. Sadly, the development of the super highways spelled doom for Burma Shave signs. They have been resurrected in the western sections of the road and in Missouri. 
 I feel sorry for kids today in that technology has in many cases made traveling by car boring. Highways often block the beautiful vistas we witnessed while traveling. Old roads like Route 66 provided such lovely scenery. Working on my story for the anthology has awakened so many good memories. Route 66 was not the only road we traveled, but some of the scenes were similar. Along the way, I learned a respect for history and for a simpler way of life. There truly is something to be said for the “good old days”.

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A weather change

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A weather change

Rory C. Keel


One day this week the temperature drops to minus two degrees and then rises to peak at seventy the next day, and the week ended with three inches of rain topped by two inches of snow. Now that’s a weather change!

Perhaps that’s the kind of change that prompted ol’ timers to use sayings like,

“Whether it’s cold or whether it’s hot; we shall have weather, whether or not!”

To tell you the truth, sometimes the best way to forecast the weather is to look outside and see what’s happening at the moment.

Did you have a weather change this week?

PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at last week’s critique group meeting about word count. Nandy Ekle found this bit of information on Pinterest:

Short Story = 7 scenes

Novella = 27 scenes

Novel = 60 scenes

Our current group project in progress will feature six novellas around the common theme of the famous highway that goes through the Texas Panhandle: Route 66. We are striving for around 20,000 words each, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you have to tell the story you want to tell, however long or short it turns out to be.

Here’s another word count guideline I found, which includes several options I’d never thought about:

Twitter fiction (really?)

Under 1000 words = flash fiction

Under 7500 words = short story

7500 – 17500 = novelette

Up to 40,000 = novella

Around 90,000 – 100,000 words = novel (360-400 page manuscript)

Series = 1 scene 1500 words (a change of setting or location is a scene change and usually signals a new chapter)

Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on word count. Thanks for the comments and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

How To Melt A Nana’s Heart



How To Melt A Nana’s Heart

By Nandy Ekle


Last January we went to visit our kids and grandkids. We have a granddaughter who is nine years old and reads on a college level. I remember when she was only eighteen months old. I bought her the book “Where The Wild Things Are.” This book is one of my all time favorites because it’s a story of imagination. As a young mom, I read it to my kids over and over. As a nana, I get to read to my grandkids.

When my nine-year-old granddaughter was a year-and-a-half old, her baby brother was born. I stayed at their house to help out while her mom and dad were busy with the new baby. I took a copy of Where The Wild Things Are as a gift from Nana to Grandgirl. And I read it to her once. Then she brought it back to me to read over and over and over. I think we bonded deeply during that time.

So last January when we went to visit, she handed me a card she made herself that said, “Welcome Nana and Pawpaw.” Later that night she came to me with a book in her hand.

“Nana, would you read to me?”

No way I could answer anything other than, “Absolutely!”

She put a copy of Where The Wild Things Are in my hands. When I opened the cover of the book, I saw where I had written seven years ago, “From Nana, who loves you very much.”

I almost couldn’t read for all the heart melting going on inside me.

The Human Spirit

Outtakes 316

The Human Spirit

By Cait Collins



I’m continually amazed by the resilience of men and women. Throw the book at them and most will catch the volume. Take a look at what’s been going on in southeast Texas in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. Although forced by rising water to leave their homes, these ordinary men and women are determined to return and rebuild. They are not wailing “Oh woe is me.” No, they are fighting back. Sure there are exceptions. There are the looters, the scam artists, and the quitters. But the fighters outnumber them.

Some people might say the citizens are Texas Tough, but they are just people fighting for their homes and lives. They are the very best of the human spirit. And they are not regulated to Texas. This is the humane endurance we write about. We take our characters from their calm, quiet lives, force them to reach bottom, and then crawl back to happiness or contentment. Without the day-to-day examples of normal individuals, we might have little to write about.

Humans who always appear to be on top of everything, who have no obstacles in their paths, who live well, are boring. Heroes are not born, they are made. And some heroes are ordinary men and women who rise to the occasion and excel. We need heroes, but we also need the average man who lives out his life going to work, caring for his family, and respecting others. The human spirit is the basis of all character growth. Never discount the ordinary man.