Parts of Speech

Outtakes 309

Parts of Speech

By Cait Collins



Every writer knows books, short stories, tech manuals, screenplays, and so forth, are made from words. Surprisingly, many do not really understand the different parts of speech. It’s a word. I was shocked when I attempted to explain to a young writer why a prepositional phrase needed to be moved. Eyes wide she asked, “What is a preposition?”Ooops. How do you explain a grammar error when the writer doesn’t even know the parts of speech? This is a refresher on basic part of speech used in everyday writing and in professional writing.

A noun is a person, place, thing, idea, or quality. Nouns may be common or proper. Common nouns are not capitalized. Examples are dog, sky, table, a boy. Proper nouns reference specific persons or places such as Robert Frost or Paris, France.

A pronoun replaces a noun.

I spoke to Mary.

Jane met the boys at the ice cream shop and bought them banana splits.

A verb expresses action, being, or a state of being.

Bob planted a garden.                         Love grows.

The teacher is retiring.

An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun. It may be a single word, a phrase, or a clause.

The vase is Wedgewood.

The new book by Jodi Lawrence was released today.

The presenter whose topic was law enforcement is an FBI agent.

An adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. It may be a single word, a phrase, or a clause.

He wrote well.

The police stormed into the house.

Andrew left before Matt arrived.

A preposition shows the relation between its object and some other word in the sentence.

We walked to the theater.

Tom took possession of his inheritance.

A conjunction connects words or groups of words.

Mom brought hot dogs, buns, mustard, and chili to the cookout.

An interjection expresses strong feelings.

Freak!   Liar!

The interjection has no grammatical relation to the rest of the sentence.

Words and their use within a sentence are the building blocks of novel, presentation, or other writings. Understanding what words to use and their relationship to each other allows a writer to create masterpieces.



Natalie Bright

Currently reading:

How To Market A Book: Third Edition by Joanna Penn

This well-known Indie Author and owner of wildly popular podcast, The Creative Penn, has updated her marketing book. So far, it’s a common sense and jammed packed with ideas on marketing your book. I’ll post a book review for you in a few weeks.

In the meantime, hope you’re having a great summer!



The Saturday Morning Blogger – Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer?

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer?

James Barrington

I remember a song from my youth that said something like, “Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…” I guess I should admit to having more than my share of naps this summer, but it feels more like they are due to exhaustion than laziness. Maybe that’s just my take on things.

Almost as soon as school was out for the summer, we ran away to spend a week in Maine with our older daughter and her family. I came back from that more worn out than before I left – and I was CERTAIN that I NEEDED a vacation when we boarded the airplane. The events of that trip, although enjoyable with the kids and grandkids, were exhausting.

That was just the first week of the summer of 2017! We’re already talking about band practices, football season and school again! What’ with that?!?

I remember childhood summers (through the haze and fog of memory) spent reading “Tom Swift” books on the front porch. Of course my brother and I had to mow lawns to make money for the movies, but that was generally not more than one or two lawns a day in our lazy pace. This summer, it’s not like I have a lot to do, it just seems that everything on my calendar has a deadline!

I have been reading a lot this summer, but as the calendar pages are now flying by like the second hand on my watch used to, I find myself turning reading sessions into nap sessions more often than not. A recent slip-and-fall accident has slowed my walking. The heat has reduced my appetite. I’m not really complaining, although it may sound that way. What I’m trying to do is get my mind around this thing called aging. I know I’m not “OLD” yet, because I heard the other day, “Old is 20 years older than I am.” That sounds like a good philosophy to me. Most of the folks I visit in nursing homes talk about those old folks down the hall, never pondering the face that looks back from the mirror. That’s a good thing to my way of thinking. Who wants to be old? Mature? Experienced? We have a lot of euphemisms for “old.”

Although my August calendar is already filling up – and I hate to think what the school calendar may bring – I hope to get a few days to get away to the mountains, or the seacoast, or a hotel overlooking a lake – just for a few days. A nap while breathing mountain air or the sea’s salty air would be a refreshing change. I think a touch of change is one of the things that makes for an interesting vacation. I just like for the change to be at a pace I can manage these days.

When It’s Good, It’s Very Very Good; When It’s Bad, It’s Horrid

Post Cards From the Muse

When It’s Good, It’s Very Very Good; When It’s Bad, It’s Horrid

By Nandy Ekle


And, of course, I’m ranting about the computer. In today’s world, a simple pen and paper, or even a typewriter are archaic and hardly even worth thinking about. The corporation I work for during the day loves to think of itself as paperless, except for the actual letters we print to send to our clients. For old timers like me, those of us whose favorite things in the whole world are gel pens and Big Chief Tablets, this has taken a lot of work to appreciate.

And so, everything in the world is on a computer, out in cyberspace, up in the cloud. And in most cases this is very convenient and freeing. I especially like being able to do my research for a story sitting own my couch in the living room. I love being able to have all my tools in my lap because it all weighs less than five pounds. And most of all, I love having unlimited books, unlimited blank sheets of paper, and unlimited kegs of ink to use whenever and however I want. For these reasons, I love my computer, at work and at home.

But then there are the times when the computer refuses to work. These are times when my day job is totally crippled, even completely shut down. And the things available on my home computer are a distraction to my stories.

And those are the times that remind me of the poem of the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very very good. But when she was bad, she was horrid.

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




by Adam Huddleston


This week, I wanted to bring you another literary term: chiasmus. It is the use of two parallel phrases that are inverted in a sentence. For example: You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. This is not to be confused with an oxymoron, which is the use of two contradictory terms, i.e. pretty ugly.

I know this is a short blog, but hopefully it will help you in your writing!

Thoughts on Grammar

Outtakes 308

Thoughts on Grammar

By Cait Collins


I remember the good old days when English teachers taught grammar rules and made us diagram sentences. I’m sure grammar rules are still taught in school, but with our reliance on email and texting, we seem to forget how to write properly. The following are examples of statements from actual police reports.

The pedestrian had no idea which direction to run so I ran over him.

I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel.

To avoid hitting the car in front of me I struck the pedestrian.

The other car collided with mine without giving any warning of his intentions.

I was thrown from my care as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.

If you think these statements are amusing you’ll enjoy the following signs posted in the workplace.

On a repair shop door: We fix anything. (Knock hard, the bell doesn’t work.).

On a leaflet: If you can’t read this, it tells how to get lessons.

In a safari park: Elephants Please Stay in your Car.

At a dry cleaner: Anyone leaving their garments here for more than 30 days will be disposed of.

In a church: This is the gate of heaven. Enter ye all by this door. (This door is kept locked so please use side entrance.)

We all make grammar mistakes. We rush to finish a project, forget to proof read, and then we send out the work with misspelled words, typos, misplaced modifiers, and punctuation errors. And then we wonder why no one takes our work seriously. Over the next few weeks we will look at some common grammar errors and how they can be corrected. Be prepared to diagram a few sentences.

Putting a Slant On Things

Putting a Slant on things

Rory C. Keel

When words are slanted to the right, they are in Italic. In writing, this can indicate several things to the reader.

Italic word are used to accent words with emphasis or importance. They can also indicate book, magazine or play titles, even words from a foreign language.

Standard practice when writing of typing a manuscript is to underline the words to be Italicized.

THPW Youth Writing Contest: Celebrating Young Writers!

THPW Youth Writing Contest: Celebrating Young Writers!

Natalie Bright

Texas High Plains Writers sponsors a youth writing contest every year. Propelled by area English teachers, kids grades 3-12 can submit their work in three categories: short story, memoir, or poetry. I judged short stories for grades 7-8, and as with every year I’ve volunteered, the entries were amazing. The depth of emotion and sophistication of the themes are mind blowing. Awarding a first place is extremely difficult, and possible only after hours of deliberation.

This past Saturday afternoon, we held the awards ceremony. The room was packed with the winners and their families. As I watched kids make their way to the front to accept their medals, I couldn’t help but feel a burst of joy.

One of the hardest things is giving a stranger your very private musings to read. One of the most rewarding things in any writer’s life is recognition. As a kid, no one explained to me that the conversations floating through my brain were normal. Strange places and people that were so vivid in my adolescent mind was not a sign of crazy. These are the things of a writer’s imagination, waiting for us to give them wings on the page.

I remember jamming my freshman college schedule with poetry, English and history courses. My father asked, “Shouldn’t you take more business courses?” In the present rise of the Indie Author, who could have predicted that my reluctant shift to business finance and marketing would serve me so well today.

Young writers are oblivious to the possibilities. We are most likely not the most popular, nor do we excel as class leaders. Often, we watched others from the sidelines, observing and hesitant to join in. Even as children, we had an uncanny eye for details, filing the information away to be used later in our stories. We have a slightly skewed view of things, which is unexplainable to non-writers. As I watched those kids on Saturday, I understood that they see the world so very differently; you know what I’m talking about.

After the awards ceremony, I wanted to tell every parent how talented their kids were, and how important it is to celebrate and encourage that writerly weirdness. Their creativity and imagination is boundless. The experience of walking to the front of a crowded room to accept a writing award will remain with them their whole lives.

I guess the main point of this blog is that one day I’ll be able to read their books. I can hardly wait!

Workshops for Writers: I love talking to kids and adults about the writing process. If you have a group who is interested in a writing workshop, please call my office 806.655.4046.

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey



HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey

As writers, you understand that when someone says, “Tell me about your book.”, it’s a complex question. Not only do our books have inexplainable parts such as themes, plots twists, and glorious characters, the finished manuscript can go on a long and complicated journey on its own.

This is true about my book HANGIN’ DAY (title number four). This story has evolved into book #1 of my new middle grade mystery-adventure series, TROUBLE IN TEXAS. This manuscript has a long history. If publishing journeys bore you, I understand that your time is precious. For you, I’ll say keep writing and keep moving forward. Don’t ask why, just write it.

If you’re interested in the story behind the story…

The main character came to me in a dream, in part because of a question from my then elementary aged son. I saw a tough, skinny young girl with dark curly hair staring at a hangman’s platform. My son was studying westward expansion at the time and had asked about lawmen and hanging criminals in the Wild West. (Dinner conversation with our boys has proved to be an invaluable source for filling up my idea journal. Need inspiration? Take a kid to dinner and put the cell phones away.)

The lawless frontier has fascinated countless generations, and sentencing outlaws to hang is a real and horrible part of U.S. history. Law abiding citizens didn’t want to wait weeks, or sometimes even months, for the lawman to pass through town, so they administered justice themselves most especially to horse thieves.

As a life-long fan of historical novels, I wanted to write a humorous tale set in frontier Texas, that would be heavy with details of the time period to address my son’s questions and with enough action to hold a kids attention. The book was written during lunch breaks over a year’s time, and after edits from my awesome WS6 group, I felt it was ready to submit to contests. The story won 2nd in a contest, and then it won a face-to-face meeting with an agent at an SCBWI Oklahoma conference. The 15 minute ‘prize’ meeting with that literary agent was invaluable. He totally got the premise and characters of my story. I worked on his suggested revisions.

The next year I approached the same agent at a conference. He didn’t remember my name, but when I mentioned the characters, he remembered my book. He asked to see the revisions I’d made. We corresponded over several months and together worked to polish it even more. One day he emailed me with a question: “what other stories are you working on?”. Within 30 minutes I had an offer for representation, and just like that I had a literary agent who was shopping my books with publishers in New York City! Working on edits with someone who has read hundreds more kid lit books than I and who knows more about story structure than I’ll ever learn in my lifetime was an unforgettable experience. His suggestions were spot on. The book was finally the best it could be and I had a new found confidence in my writing abilities.

Silver Belle was on her way! That was 2013, four years after the spark. I waited AND I kept writing Book 2 and Book 3 of this series, plus freelance and wrote a coming-of-age novel for young adults. Except my middle grade series set in the Texas frontier never found a home in traditional publishing, nor did any of my other novels that he shopped during that time. My entire body of work was sinking into a deep, dark hole.


In an effort to keep it real for you, I’ll share a portion of the feedback I got over the years relating to the TROUBLE IN TEXAS series.

1) An editor told me at a conference that country kids don’t read that much and that I’m wasting time writing stories about farms and ranches and the frontier. Nobody wants to read those kinds of stories any more. (Unfortunately, the historical market continues to be a hard sell in kid lit these days.)

2) The marketing department will never be able to sell this book because it has no wide appeal.

3) Would I consider making the town sheriff a werewolf?

4) An agent stated that this story is unbelievable. It would be impossible for a twelve-year-old girl to accomplish the things my character does. Obviously, this from someone unaware of the abilities and chores required of farm and ranch kids. Taking a moment to shed light on the rural lifestyle, I grew up in a small-town but spent summers on my grandparent’s farm. I drove my Pappy’s tractor in Junior High, and my kids were doctoring cows, mowing the lawn, and driving the backhoe by about the same age.

I respected and greatly appreciated those who took the time to provide critiques. I carefully considered their suggestions. One horrible day I realized that my style of story telling had no place in the mainstream world of children’s literature. I write frontier Texas, horse and buggy, and Wild West adventures. I’ve read those kinds of stories my whole life. The reality of popular culture boils down to this: how can a feisty group of mystery-solving frontier kids ever compete against world apocalypse? My target market of readers is not on a world wide scale, but selective and unique.

Even at this point, I didn’t stop writing. Would you? There are too many ideas in my head to quit now. Here I am, back to square one it seems, to sink or swim as an Indie Author. I’m tackling the publishing business in different ways, and seeking new opportunities to find readers.

It is my belief that stories choose the writer.

Stories grow wings and fly because of us and the words we write. The characters we create really do exist to breathe, laugh, cry, and have adventures. We can’t ignore them. I hope readers love this black horse named Sweet Fury and these rowdy frontier kids as much as I do. The commotion in my head will not quite down…their adventures continue, just waiting on the writer to supply the wings.

TROUBLE IN TEXAS Series ~ Historical Middle Grade Adventures

Hangin’ Day Book 1

The Great Train Caper Book 2

Murder in the Morning Book 3

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the nonfiction RESCUE ANIMAL series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, recently selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017). Go to her website for buy links.