HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey


 

NOW IN PRINT!

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.

Rejection.

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 nataliebright.com for buy links.

The Saturday Morning Blogger – The Generals


The Saturday Morning Blogger – The Generals



I recently acquired a book entitled “The Generals,” by Winston Groom, author of “Forest Gump.” I learned that Groom has written several non-fiction books, including The Generals. This book traces the intertwined lives of Douglass MacArthur, George Patton, and George Marshall from their youngest days until the ends of their lives. While they all played roles in World War I, it was in World War II that their military stars rose to prominence. 

While MacArthur and Patton have developed a cadre of detractors both in their lifetimes and in the subsequent years, Groom treats them all with kindness to soften the candor with which he also exposes their human foibles. 

One of the more interesting tidbits of trivia I learned was that Marshall was promoted to the “permanent” rank of major general (two stars) just moments before being given the “temporary” rank of full general (four stars) and being sworn in as Army Chief of Staff. After World War II he created the “Marshal Plan” as Secretary of State, a plan to reconstruct a devastated Europe than many have credited with preserving the peace in Europe for more than seventy years. He subsequently also served as the Secretary of Defense.

Of course Patton’s untimely death shortly after the cessation of hostilities silenced him at the time when his predictions of the Soviet threat that led to the “Cold War” were being realized. None of the hints of his death being an assassination have ever been proved, but his death was very “convenient” for many politicians and military leaders.

MacArthur lived on to gain fame and infamy for his exploits in Korea – first as a military genius for his invasion and later for his insubordinate actions that resulted in President Truman firing him.

The book was well-written and presented a very personal and very poignant profile of each of the men, exposing their strengths and their human frailties. For anyone interested in world and U.S. history during the 20th Century, it is a worthwhile and interesting volume of entertainment and information.

The Post Card


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

The Post Card
By Nandy Ekle

 

I’ve been sitting here for a week staring out my window, trying to think of something to write. Anything. At. All. I see a squirrel run up a tree and think, Okay, must be something there. But nothing interesting happens. I watch as a beetle trudges across the sidewalk to the other side and wonder if I can make a play on the old “chicken crossing the road” story. But then I decide that’s too cliche.

I’m about to give up and spend another day not writing when the mailman puts a stack of letters in my mailbox. Looking through the day’s deliveries I find a couple of bills (must remember to make those payments), sales’ ads, sales’ gimmicks, and a few announcements to “Resident.” Then I come across a picture of a beautiful sandy beach. The sun is setting and the palm trees are almost black against the bright purple, pink and orange sky. The white foamy water has seeped across the beach nearly up to the legs of the two Adirondack chairs positioned under the fronds of the trees.

I turn the post card over and see these words: “No Drama Here.” And the story of who sat in those chairs under those starry palms with their feet swishing in the tide, and how they got there. The events leading up to such utterly delightful peace exploded in my mind and I couldn’t get to the computer keyboard fast enough.

Dear Muse. I get frustrated with you, nearly on a daily basis. But when you’re right, you’re very right indeed. Thank you.

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

 

Reunion


Outtakes 306

 

Reunion

By Cait Collins

 

 

The older I get, the more I am made aware of the frailty of life. I recently lost a friend whose family has been a part of my life for fifty years. She suffered from Alzheimer’s for a number of years and has not known us, but the loss hurt.

My friend and her husband sponsored youth events, held parties in their home. She was a hostess for many of our wedding and baby showers. Together they mentored young people who didn’t have good role models in their homes.

I appreciated the way the family did the service. There was no rush to leave the church building. Instead the funeral home quietly removed the casket while the mourners gathered in the auditorium, the foyer, and outside and talked, shared memories, and caught up on our lives. There were also the awkward moments when someone came up and said, “I haven’t seen you in years. How are you doing? I stood there with a smile pasted on my face thinking, “Okay the face is familiar, but who are you?” We laughed and cried, and maybe healed a bit.

You see, I was part of a church youth group of about 70-80 teens. We learned the importance of checking on friends who were not attending, put out a monthly youth bulletin (I can still smell the machine fluids), and we fellowshipped together. Our folks would take 60-70 of us to Palo Duro Canyon and turn us loose. We supported each other in good times and bad times. We were, are a family.

Family is important whether it’s blood family or family of the heart. Maybe that’s why family is prominent in movies, books, and plays. Family shapes our lives either for good or bad. Our characters can wallow in thoughts of bitterness and never find happiness. Some rise above their upbringing and find happiness and security. Others thrive on the acceptance and support of a good, strong upbringing. Family memories can bring tears of anger and frustration, or tears of love and appreciation. I can truthfully say that I have been blessed with both a loving blood family and a family of the heart.

Life is fragile and I know that there will be more funerals; more gatherings to remember those who are gone from us. It is the way of life. But I know I will not face these events alone. I have family.

Monday Writing Quote


Monday Writing Quote

 

“In the final exam in the Chaucer course we were asked why he used certain verbal devices, certain adjectives, why he had certain characters behave in certain ways. And I wrote, ‘I don’t think Chaucer had any idea why he did any of these things. That isn’t the way people write.’

I believe this as strongly now as I did then. Most of what is best in writing isn’t done deliberately.”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Circle of Quiet

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey


 

NOW IN PRINT!

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.

Rejection.

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 nataliebright.com for buy links.

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Vacation Bible School


 

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Vacation Bible School

James Barrington

 

Some of my earliest childhood memories include attending Vacation Bible School. As a pre-school child, I loved it. The songs were geared toward my age group and the lessons were simple and yet direct in their message of the love of Jesus. “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” were among my favorites, but “I’m in the Lord’s Army” was great for marching, flying o’er the enemy, and shooting the artillery. A whole new generation of songs has come along to keep the youngsters in step with modern rhythms and tunes. Of course the hand and body motions are designed to burn off some of the excess energy so they will be calm enough to hear the lessons. And what VBS would be complete without a snack along the way? Even the snacks these days are designed to reinforce the day’s lesson.

Our children took part in VBS when they were little and became helpers as they got older. Now, our grandchildren are into the “helper” age range and still look forward to the excitement of Vacation Bible School.

The University church of Christ will be having VBS on July 10-13 this summer from 9 a.m. – noon. On Wednesday evening, we host a cookout for the parents and students and then have a Wednesday evening service to let the parents see what their children have been doing, including hearing (experiencing) the songs, and seeing the crafts that the children do to reinforce the Bible lessons they have been learning.

It seems like everyone enjoys the events, and by the end, everyone is bone tired and ready for a vacation. There is always a need for volunteers and the usual families generally always spread around the load of preparation and presentation. If your children haven’t been to a Vacation Bible School, they should take advantage of the opportunity to meet new friends, sing new songs, and learn more about how much Jesus loves us.

For more information about the University church of Christ VBS, call 655-3952.

THE BEGINNING


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

THE BEGINNING

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

Prologue

Andrea felt the pinprick on the pad of her heel. The first thing that crossed her mind was the memory of the the empty glass falling out of her hand as she walked from the living room couch to the kitchen. It had hit the floor with a loud explosion, invisible splinters of glass raining across the room. She tried to sweep it all up, but the sudden sting in her heel made her wonder if she had missed a piece.

The second thought she had was that her heel—actually her whole foot had begun to burn as if it were on fire. Sweat beaded on her forehead and the feeling of flames raced up her leg, into her hip, and crossed to the other leg at the exact moment it also flew up her chest, arms, neck, face, and covered her scalp. Her jaw clenched painfully for a couple of minutes, then absolute numbness. Her legs fell out from under her and she fell to the floor.

The last thought she had before paralysis closed her eyes was that she was utterly alone. Tom was at work, the kids were in school, even the dog was at the vet. And she could not move any part of her body to get to the phone.

An undetermined amount of time later, Andrea became aware of being in a dark room. She couldn’t see anything, could just barely breath. No part of her body would obey her instruction to move. She felt something heavy and sticky covering her face. Her arms were definitely at her sides, but the sticky substance was wrapped tightly around her body. Somewhere close by she heard a strange clicking sound, then felt another pinprick in the top of her head going deep into her brain. She tried to scream as what felt like an arrow tipped with fire pierced through her skull and all the way to her spinal cord. No sound would come from her throat. The clicking sounds became more like the sounds of liquid being sucked through a straw. The pain turned into the sensation of floating up through a narrow tube up to another world.

All in all, the entire process only took about thirty minutes. When it was over, Andrea was an empty husk wrapped like a mummy and thrown against the wall. Nia had emptied Andrea’s carcass of all its essence. She threw the empty bag of bones against the wall, slunk back to the dark corners of the secret room, and locked the door. Andrea had been strong with a lot of essence that would keep Nia’s hunger away for a long time. And now she needed rest.

She curled her legs under her body and slept.

Somewhere Only We Know


Somewhere Only We Know

by Adam Huddleston

 

Several years ago, a group called Keane released a song entitled “Somewhere Only We Know”. The lyrics, while able to be interpreted many different ways, struck a chord with me (no pun intended). Being a writer, I felt that the song lent itself to a story, possibly in the fantasy genre. This is my attempt at such a story.

Each week, I am going to try to release a bit more of the tale. We’ll see how it goes. Enjoy!

*

Robert savored the cool dampness of the earth under his body. He sat with his arms stretched behind him, hands gently clinching the rich grass covering the hillside. A fragrant breeze played with the sparse tufts of grey hair that still clung to his scalp.

He smiled.

The wind’s scent was familiar; comforting. For some reason it reminded him of breakfast. This got him thinking about Ellen. No one could make coffee like his sweet Ellen.

Coffee.

“You want another cup of coffee?”

Robert blinked. He was sitting in his usual chair at the tiny kitchen table. A plate of half-finished scrambled eggs and toast stared up at him. The only light came from an eastern-facing window.

His wife repeated, “Another cup of coffee, hon?”