Let’s Talk


Let’s Talk
By Nandy Ekle

“Hi. My name is Main Character.” He raised his hand in a wave.

“Hi, Main Character. My name is Nemesis.” He nodded toward Main Character.

Main Character smiled. “It’s good to meet you.”

“Thank you. It’s good to meet you too.”

Main Character looked past Nemesis’ shoulder and Nemesis looked down at the floor. The clock ticked an awkward moment.

Main Character jerked his face back to Nemesis’ face as a flash of thought passed through his mind. “We’re supposed to inspire writers to write a believable dialogue.”

A light snapped on in Nemesis’ eyes. “Oh. Do you mean, like, actually sounding like two people having a conversation instead of sounding like two sides of the same person?”

“Yes. That’s right.” Main Character smiled while his head moved up and down.

“I see.  How do you think a good writer does that?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Main Character said, “Well, I think they have to just almost actually hear two different people speaking and write what they say exactly the way it’s said.”

Nemesis’ eyes darken slightly. “Ya’ know, Mainy, I do b’lieve you jes’ hit da nail rat own its big ol’ head.”

“Yes. And that means the writer needs to know his characters very well.” He took a coupe of steps backward.

“Yore galdern rat ‘bout dat dar rule.” Nemesis took a couple of steps forward toward Main Character.

Main Character turned his head and looked over his shoulder for the door behind him, then he looked back at Nemesis. His brow was lined with worry. “So, do you have any advice to add to that?”

Nemesis stopped moving and lookd up into space as if an idea would appear like a light bulb. “Well . . . yeah. They prolly need to make shore dem readers know who’s tawkin’ when. ‘Cause, like us? We ain’t just standing still flappin’ our gums. We’re acchully doing’ sumpin’”

“That’s right,” Main Character said.

Nemesis grinned a dark toothy grin. Yeah.” He turned to look at the person reading their dialogue. “Got that, reader? Now.” He paused and leaned forward until his nose nearly touched the reader’s nose. The dark light came back to his eyes. “Go do it!”

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

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Book Review: Writing Down the Bones


Book Review: Writing Down the Bones

By Natalie Bright

 

Over the holidays I read Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg, poet, painter, book author, and creative writing instructor on the Zen practice of writing. I’m so thankful that I did not read this as a newbie writer; it wouldn’t have meant so much way back then.

The Why isn’t Important

Presented in short chapters covering varied topics, Goldberg makes the point to dig deep into your writing. It’s an intense process where the writer has to step outside of themselves and just write, and it’s enough that we want to. Just do it. Psychologists can sort out the why—wow! Thank you, thank you Ms. Goldberg. Isn’t that a relief to know? And she gives us this great Hemingway quote: “Not the why, but the what.”

Don’t be a Goody Two-Shoes

One paragraph in particular really made me rethink this crazy process. In the section titled “The Goody Two-Shoes Nature” Goldberg talks about the age old rule of writing every day. She points out that some people go through the motions and follow this rule religiously, but does their writing improve? Is this a waste of time and energy if you stress yourself over staring at a blank screen? Instead, Goldberg suggests you are allowed to stay away, if your heart’s not into writing. Come back when you’re on fire for that WIP, when you’re “hungry to say something.” Don’t just put in the time, but put some heart into your effort as well.

Finding the Fire

I’ve been working on a picture book idea, which isn’t many words but every single word must be the absolute right word. I’ve read it a zillion times. Instead of staring at the manuscript every day during the holidays, I watched movies, cooked, re-arranged Christmas decorations more than once, and made a huge dent in my TBR pile of books. When I finally got a quiet morning to sit down at the keyboard, I was on fire for that story. It had been simmering in my head for several weeks and I stayed with it most of that day. That was a productive writing session and wow, what a great feeling. Writing is fun! I can hardly wait for critique meeting, so I can get everyone’s opinion.

If you read any story craft book in the new year, this is the one. You MUST add this to your writing reference library in 2015 and ASAP.

Hope you have a happy and productive 2015, and thanks for following us on WordsmithSix!

Nataliebriight.com

Word Play


Outtakes 170

 

Word Play

By Cait Collins

 

Halloween is a big deal at our office. Every year there’s a costume contest and a food contest. Work teams spend time planning great costumes. One year the Harry Potter gang lost to a school of fish “swimming” in an aquarium. And if you think the costumes are wild, you should see the food entries. The entries must be edible, but a vomiting pumpkin?

But let’s get back to the costumes. My team is a correspondence team, so we are working on costumes based on plays on words. There are some clever ideas floating around: First Class Mail, Bag Lady, Pig in a Blanket, Identity Thief; Serial Killer; Fruit Loop, Book Fairy, and Formal Apology.

So here’s the challenge. Think of a play on words or a pun and write a description of the costume. This is my entry. She is beautiful. Her hair is professionally dyed and styled in an up-swept do. Wisps of blonde hair caress her face. Make-up is skillfully applied so that her complexion is flawless. A soft blush tints her cheeks. She struts down the aisle in a form-fitting evening gown of deepest black decorated with varying sizes and shapes of silver nines. She is Dressed to the Nines.

Half Price Books



Half Price Books

By Natalie Bright

Voted best bookstore in Dallas/Fort Worth by viewers of WFAA-TV Channel 8, and voted best bookstore in Dallas by Nickelodeon Parent’s Pick, Half Price Books has always been a must stop every time we journey to Dallas. I remember our first experience there many years ago when my oldest was struggling to find reading material that would hold his interest so he could pass middle school Accelerated Reading. His teacher offered to give him credit based on the nonfiction books he read, after she looked them over. Upon the advice of my cousin, I turned him loose in Half Price Books. He discovered the military history section and passed AR that year.

Half Price Books – Flagship- Dallas, Texas

A converted Laundromat was the location of the first Half Price Books in 1972. Stocked with over 2,000 titles from the personal collections of co-founders Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson, it has grown to stores in 16 states offering used books, music, movies and games. The simple philosophy of offering “a great product at a great price” continues under Pat’s daughter, Sharon Anderson Wright.

A recent trip to the Dallas area to visit family included a stop at the Half Price Book main store. I love digging through stacks of old, dusty books, but this isn’t your typical used book store. It’s clean, modern, and very well organized by genre with clearly marked sections by topic and alphabetized by author. “Preserving and recycling resources and entertainment of every form is our business“, and everything is half the publisher’s price or less.

As a children’s author, I particularly appreciate the Newberry Award section where I can find treasures for a few bucks. Featuring both medaled and honor awarded stories, these classics provide invaluable material for the study of story craft.

Classify yourself as a book hoarder? Bring a few books with you and leave with cash. The Coffee Shop and pastry was a delicious diversion too.

www.hpb.com for more information about Half Price Books.

 

 

Half Price Books



Half Price Books

By Natalie Bright

Voted best bookstore in Dallas/Fort Worth by viewers of WFAA-TV Channel 8, and voted best bookstore in Dallas by Nickelodeon Parent’s Pick, Half Price Books has always been a must stop every time we journey to Dallas. I remember our first experience there many years ago when my oldest was struggling to find reading material that would hold his interest so he could pass middle school Accelerated Reading. His teacher offered to give him credit based on the nonfiction books he read, after she looked them over. Upon the advice of my cousin, I turned him loose in Half Price Books. He discovered the military history section and passed AR that year.

Half Price Books – Flagship- Dallas, Texas

A converted Laundromat was the location of the first Half Price Books in 1972. Stocked with over 2,000 titles from the personal collections of co-founders Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson, it has grown to stores in 16 states offering used books, music, movies and games. The simple philosophy of offering “a great product at a great price” continues under Pat’s daughter, Sharon Anderson Wright.

A recent trip to the Dallas area to visit family included a stop at the Half Price Book main store. I love digging through stacks of old, dusty books, but this isn’t your typical used book store. It’s clean, modern, and very well organized by genre with clearly marked sections by topic and alphabetized by author. “Preserving and recycling resources and entertainment of every form is our business“, and everything is half the publisher’s price or less.

As a children’s author, I particularly appreciate the Newberry Award section where I can find treasures for a few bucks. Featuring both medaled and honor awarded stories, these classics provide invaluable material for the study of story craft.

Classify yourself as a book hoarder? Bring a few books with you and leave with cash. The Coffee Shop and pastry was a delicious diversion too.

www.hpb.com for more information about Half Price Books.

 

 

How Do You Eat An Elephant?


Outtakes 153

How Do You Eat An Elephant?
By Cait Collins

Have you ever had one of those weeks that just fell apart? You have so many obligations you can’t seem to get a handle on things. The pressure builds and one tiny little incident creates a meltdown. For me misplacing my keys was the last straw. My youngest sister told me about a time when she had a similar situation. Her husband asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is really quite simple. “One bite at a time.”

No one can eat an entire elephant, but if broken into pieces, the task can be accomplished. This is my solution.

  1. Admit there is a problem. Write it down. “I have over committed myself and need to get everything together.
  2. Take a nap. Yes take a nap. Even a twenty or thirty minute power nap can clear the cobwebs and allow you to think more clearly.
  3. Make a detailed list. Begin with what must be done today. Do not put anything on this list that can be put off until tomorrow. Do the same for each day. Now everything is broken into manageable bites.
  4. Do one task from beginning to end. Do not allow yourself to be sidetracked. When job is completed, mark it off the list and go on to the next one. When the day’s list is finished, quit for the day. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
  5. When the crisis has passed, get a better handle on your calendar. Make sure you allow yourself time for professional and social commitments, but do not neglect your responsibilities to family, faith, and yourself.
  6. Responsibility to self includes eating right and getting sufficient sleep. No one can function properly if the body is not fueled and rested.
  7. If you know you will not be able to honor an obligation, own up to it, but don’t wait until the last minute. Try to give your editor, agent, or the organization notice so that they may make other arrangements.

Life happens. That’s why it is best to avoid getting behind. But when the world does get a bit crazy, step back, take a deep breath, and then take the first bite of the elephant. You might season the beast with a bit of salt and pepper and a bottle of steak sauce. It will make the meal go down better.

“Ands and Buts”


Wordsmith Six

“Ands and Buts”

 By Rory C. Keel

 

Recently I decided to do some rewriting and corrections on my novel. Wow, it’s amazing how much better I write today than months ago when I started the book.

I remember the first day I started. I was confident in my story plot, characters and setting and remained confident every day as I move the story forward. Then I read the beginning; my confidence had covered a multitude of mistakes.

Making corrections is no easy task either. One day you change the “ands” into “buts”: then on the next day after re-reading the corrections again you change the “buts” back into “ands.”

The problem is that you’re confident about the corrections on both days.

Hello Editor!

roryckeel.com

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Countdown to the WNFR-conclusion


A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols

Countdown to the WNFR-conclusion

Many of you might be surprised that I take an interest in Barrel Racing. There’s still plenty of the idiot horses around that gave Barrel Racers a bad reputation, but most of them these days are trained. I like to watch good horses no matter the discipline, and the Barrel Racing at the NFR is really exciting.

Sherry Cervi, Marana, AZ, leads the field. She is in the business of raising and training and in my opinion, sits a horse better than anyone else going. She leads Mary Walker of Ennis, TX, by $10,000.

Mary has an amazing life story, overcoming some personal tragedies that most of us can’t imagine. If you want to be inspired, research her. She has a big brown horse that doesn’t look like he’s running all that fast, his turns are nothing special, but he’s so consistent and he stops the clock in the money. The best part of her run is when they put the camera on her husband, Byron. He grinds his teeth, foam comes out of his mouth, and he flails around in his chair like he has rabies. He gets excited.

All these contestants are good cowgirls riding great horses, but I really think it will come down to these two ladies for the title, and that it will be close. I’ve heard Fallon Taylor has a super horse this year and she has experience, qualifying for her first NFR at 13 years old. Watch out for her. One other note, Trevor Brazile’s wife has qualified for her first Finals. I always think it’s special when spouses or family get to make the trip to the “Big Show” together.

J.W. Harris, Mullin, TX, is at the top of the leader board in the Bull Riding by $30,000. That may not be a safe lead, but it is substantial. He rides a high percentage of his bulls, so if he stays healthy, I don’t think anyone will threaten him for the title.

Another guy I will keep an eye on is Cooper Davis, a rookie who made the top 15 this year. I’ve only seen him ride a few times, but I’m impressed.

Ah, now to the classic event of rodeo. The true origin of the sport, the intellectual and sophisticated mans competition.

Cody Wright is my pick. He’ll have to beat back his two twin brothers to win it, but I still think the elder Wright is the best in the pack. He has a $20,000 lead. After the Etbauers, I didn’t think it would happen again to have three brothers in the same event the same year. But there’s a whole brood of these Wright boys in Utah, and they all ride the same. How can this be? We could see in the near future where if your last name isn’t Wright, you don’t get to go the Finals. They’re amazing.

Tyler Corrington, Hastings, MN., is in striking distance and certainly rides well enough to get it done. They all ride good or they wouldn’t be there, I’m just picking out some guys that get my attention.

Another bronc rider I like is Wade Sundell. He’s from the tall corn circuit, and sometimes I think they don’t want him to fit in. He goes 150 miles an hour every time he calls for the gate, and he is totally unconcerned. That’s my kind of bronc rider.

Thanks for reading and good luck to all the contestants. We’ll find out shortly if my predictions are valid. The first performance is Thursday, Dec.5th.

Writing is Stupid


BE BOLD WRITERS

By Natalie Bright

In a previous blog, I talked about a little book often referred to within writing circles titled ELEMENTS OF STYLE. I turned to this book, not as a writer, but as a mother to help my son retake a major state competency test in English. I’m happy to report he passed the multiple-choice portion on editing with an above average score! However, the discussion question was lame and he didn’t want to fill up a whole page with something stupid so he wrote a short paragraph. One paragraph does not a one page answer make.

Words on Paper

What is it about putting words on paper that is so defeating to some people? Kids trying to answer discussion questions aren’t the only ones who wrestle with these issues. Adults do too. I’ve met so many people at conferences who have some amazing stories to tell. They’ll talk your ear off, but become incapacitated when it comes to actually putting pen to paper. “I’m afraid I’ll mess it up,” said one lady, who’d been collecting family letters and genealogy research for years yet it’s all in a box, waiting. She had an amazing history to tell and a solid idea for a creative fiction novel. I hope she finds the courage someday to tackle the project.

Fearless Attitudes

From this day forward, let’s become fearless writers. No matter how lame, or how silly the idea might be that pops into your head, write it down. Whether it be fiction or nonfiction, setting, character, or a snippet of dialogue, write it! Jot it down on a sticky note, and you can elaborate in your idea journal later. I have ideas on meeting programs, napkins, and bank deposit slips.

  • A card index is a good way to stay organized; title, markets, short synopsis or intro paragraph.
  • A 3-ring binder filled with project sheets with details where you were when the idea came to you, possible titles, markets, themes.
  • A new .doc. It might only be a one sentence note, but it’s there and surprisingly I remember it and find myself expanding on the idea years later. Some have even turned into something major (see next week’s blog for some exciting news!)

Regrets

The one thing I haven’t done in years past is to write every idea down. Regrettably, there’s been tons of sparks that have popped into my head at the worst possible moments. Unique and wonderful gifts of inspiration that I knew I’d remember. Unfortunately, I never could.

So be bold ye fellow wordsmiths! Just write.

www.nataliebright.com

The Greatest – Jimmy Cleveland


A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols

The Greatest – Jimmy Cleveland

When rodeo cowboys get together, there’s often a discussion about who is the best ever in a particular event. I have several friends that could be considered the greatest of all time in their event, but for the Bareback Bronc Riding, my vote goes to Jimmy Cleveland from Hollis, Oklahoma.

He was the most analytical person that ever competed in rodeo. He dissected a bareback riggin down to the most minute detail. The angles and geometry were calculated to the last millimeter. The way he strapped his spurs to his boots had a specific effect. He even adjusted the spin of the rowels for each individual horse. On bended knee, he used a screwdriver to loosen or tighten the screw to get the desired drag, spinning the rowel like he was tuning a carburetor. The fit of his glove, the shape of the handhold, the position of how he set the riggin on the horse, everything was done for a purpose, and he wasn’t guessing. He knew more about the science of his event than anybody before or since.

Jimmy rode with more control than anyone I ever saw. He looked like a computerized machine more than a human being. He could ride rank horses flawlessly, and dress up the mediocre ones. He could win on any type bronc. His style was aggressive, yet smooth. He was poetry in motion.

My good friend Dale Hirschman, who is a great rodeo photographer, showed Jimmy a picture he had taken of him. Dale made the comment, “Boy, I don’t how it happens, but every picture I get of you, your eyes are closed.”

Jimmy gave Dale a hesitating stare, “I ride with my eyes closed.”

“What?” Dale replied in disbelief.

“Yeah, I close my eyes when I ride. It helps me feel the horse better with my feet.”

Now, think about that. Would you get on a bucking horse, have them turn him loose, and close your eyes? I’ve shut my eyes when I had been launched toward the fence like a torpedo, but never while I was still trying to stay on. That would take a tremendous amount of confidence. But, you know? He was in such perfect time with those bucking horses, he did ride with his feet.

I guess that’s why he was, and is, the greatest.