The Great Reward


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Great Reward

By Nandy Ekle

Your favorite author has a new book on the shelf. You read all the books he/she ever wrote. You’ve waited for a long time for this new book and you spend the whole evening at the bookstore waiting for the midnight release. You grab the book, run to the check out counter and the clerk has to pry it from your fingers to ring it up and take your money.

You immediately begin turning pages and devouring words, but suddenly realize this will not be your favorite of his/her books. The story starts slow, the drama is over the top, and the inner dialogue makes you want to simply curl up and dream of something else. But you’re so committed to this author that you can’t just quit the book. You have faith that they will eventually pull out all the stops and become the same wonderful writer you’ve always loved.

Pressing on. You’re now half way through the book and a little interest has been sparked. If nothing else, you have an idea of the path the story is taking, or even a couple of different paths. And you’ve begun to wonder which way it will go in the end.

But the main reason you keep reading that book is your belief that this author can do no wrong. True, this has not been the best beginning he/she ever wrote, but you’re a die hard constant reader fan, and you will die before you quit reading the book.

Three-fourths of the way through the book, you can tell the crescendo to the climax has begun. While it’s still a little predictable, and you feel a big flat anti-climax coming up, you are committed. At the point you reason with yourself that you have invested too much time and too much faith in the author to stop now. By this point, you have to finish it on principal alone.

And there it is. The great reward. The twist at the end. It may not have been a complete total surprise, but it was satisfying enough that you’re glad you finished the book. After all, you are no quitter. And one dud book does not make a normally amazing author into a dud.

And that is the lesson you learn from reading this book, because there’s a lesson in every book you ever read.

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

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The Great Reward


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Great Reward

By Nandy Ekle

Your favorite author has a new book on the shelf. You read all the books he/she ever wrote. You’ve waited for a long time for this new book and you spend the whole evening at the bookstore waiting for the midnight release. You grab the book, run to the check out counter and the clerk has to pry it from your fingers to ring it up and take your money.

You immediately begin turning pages and devouring words, but suddenly realize this will not be your favorite of his/her books. The story starts slow, the drama is over the top, and the inner dialogue makes you want to simply curl up and dream of something else. But you’re so committed to this author that you can’t just quit the book. You have faith that they will eventually pull out all the stops and become the same wonderful writer you’ve always loved.

Pressing on. You’re now half way through the book and a little interest has been sparked. If nothing else, you have an idea of the path the story is taking, or even a couple of different paths. And you’ve begun to wonder which way it will go in the end.

But the main reason you keep reading that book is your belief that this author can do no wrong. True, this has not been the best beginning he/she ever wrote, but you’re a die hard constant reader fan, and you will die before you quit reading the book.

Three-fourths of the way through the book, you can tell the crescendo to the climax has begun. While it’s still a little predictable, and you feel a big flat anti-climax coming up, you are committed. At the point you reason with yourself that you have invested too much time and too much faith in the author to stop now. By this point, you have to finish it on principal alone.

And there it is. The great reward. The twist at the end. It may not have been a complete total surprise, but it was satisfying enough that you’re glad you finished the book. After all, you are no quitter. And one dud book does not make a normally amazing author into a dud.

And that is the lesson you learn from reading this book, because there’s a lesson in every book you ever read.

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

Stockpile People


Stockpile People

By Rory C. Keel

 

A writer needs to have a stockpile of people. No, not like in the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but a file full of descriptions, characteristics and quirks of real people.

The truth is that all characters are based somehow on actual people. Think about it, even the characters you invent are based on elements taken from real people. The people you place on the page come from someone that you, as the writer, have seen or come in contact with, either personally or by hearsay.

The Gathering

To place these characters on your page, you must own them, every part of them the good, the bad, and the ugly. To do this you need to try and understand real people. Interact with them, watch them and observe their condition in life. When you finally know them, they are yours. Gather them up and stockpile them by writing them in a file. They will be glad to repeat their behaviors on the pages of your writing.

Roryckeel.com 

 

TEN YEARS FROM NOW


TEN YEARS FROM NOW

Natalie Bright

“In ten years, do you see yourself as a middle grade author?” An editor posed this question to me at my very first pitch session. I was terrified, so of course I squeaked out a ‘yes’.

Many, many years later I’m older and wiser, toughened by rejection, and ever hopeful, which is why I can honestly say ‘No.’ I see myself as a productive, published author who is not afraid to write the ideas that are in my head.

This past weekend I heard a speaker who is a retired rodeo, bull rider. Chimp Robertson has written a family memoir, two volumes of rodeo tales, short stories, freelanced for magazines, and is currently working on a western fiction series. Also, he happened to know someone who knew the country singer Chris LeDoux. Long story short, LeDoux recorded two of his songs. Chimp Robertson is a former rodeo cowboy who writes.

His program at the Texas High Plains Writers meeting inspired me to think about a memoir I wrote about a devastating loss. I published it on Smashwords as an eBook, but have had numerous requests for a hardcover edition. It’s time to explore all of the possibilities that this book might become. (Stay tuned.)

I understand now that, if you let them, words can take you on a journey to places you’ve never thought possible. I know that a jumble of sentences can become a short story. I’m rethinking an unmarketable middle grade idea that might work better as a picture book. Your family memoir could lend material for a fictional series. As writers, do we have to be labeled?

Author. Songwriter. Poet. Creative. Playwright. Published. Freelancer. Wordsmith.
Happy. Successful. Writer.

In 2016, I hope you write and realize all of the labels you can ever imagine.

Natalie

Stockpile People


Stockpile People

By Rory C. Keel

 

A writer needs to have a stockpile of people. No, not like in the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but a file full of descriptions, characteristics and quirks of real people.

The truth is that all characters are based somehow on actual people. Think about it, even the characters you invent are based on elements taken from real people. The people you place on the page come from someone that you, as the writer, have seen or come in contact with, either personally or by hearsay.

The Gathering

To place these characters on your page, you must own them, every part of them the good, the bad, and the ugly. To do this you need to try and understand real people. Interact with them, watch them and observe their condition in life. When you finally know them, they are yours. Gather them up and stockpile them by writing them in a file. They will be glad to repeat their behaviors on the pages of your writing.

Roryckeel.com 

 

The Grail


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Grail

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

I found it on line, filled out the order form and typed in my payment information. Then I sat back and waited. I didn’t have to wait long. It came in the mail this week; I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get home from work and open my package. And I was not disappointed.

Of course, it’s nothing more than a plain, simple coffee cup. It has the name of my favorite author printed around the cup and a print of his signature. That’s all it is. But to me, it might as well be the Holy Grail. It looks really cool in my hands, the coffee tastes better, and suddenly my words flow much better.

There is an old story about a child who wants to learn to do something, but they have no self-confidence. They are given some little trinket and told that it has magic powers and they are immediately able to do the thing they want to do and believe it’s because of the magical object they hold. Then, in the middle of a very intense moment, they lose their magical possession, but are able to continue what they’re doing.

The intelligent side of my brain knows this story and laughs at the creative side for believing it. But I guarantee that since receiving my new cup in the mail, I have been able to write again.

Sometimes we just have to do whatever it takes to get the words on the paper.

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

 

THE VERY BUSY SPIDER


THE VERY BUSY SPIDER

 by Natalie Bright

 

A recent Publishers Weekly article announced a new initiative involving publishers and more than 30 communities working to make popular eBooks available for free to children. The Open eBooks app is being developed by the New York Public Library. More kids reading and discovering stories is so exciting. I hope the ConnectED Library Challenge is a huge success.

For the Love of Books!

Remembering the joy I found as a child from my favorite books makes me think of Eric Carle’s THE VERY BUSY SPIDER.

My son loved that book. His father and I took turns reading it out loud. Every. Single. Night. Never mind that I joined a book club and received 2 to 3 new picture books each month. Our boy wasn’t interested. The sheer drudgery of reading Mr. Carle’s book over and over for many years became almost unbearable. My husband and I took turns talking in goofy voices for the animal parts, seeing who could keep a straight face the longest.

Being desperate, I offered a brilliant compromise. We would read two stories every night. One of his choosing and one of my choosing, from the growing pile of book club treasures. My son thought this over for several long seconds. “O-tay,” he says. “But we wead busy spider two times.”

So that’s what we did. One new book and then the spider book every night. Twice. Outsmarted by a three year old, I admit it, but who can argue with that logic when someone you care about loves a book that much?

Dyslexia Diagnosis

Several years later, when my son was in elementary school and struggling, we discovered he had dyslexia. After training sessions and classes which included parent’s participation as well, I understood his fascination with THE VERY BUSY SPIDER. It has clean lines, simple yet detailed illustrations, pages filled with white space; that book literally relaxed his over active brain. The story calmed him down after a day of sensory overload.

Honestly, I still cringe every time I see that cover. No matter how much I dreaded reading that book, what if I had insisted on reading the other books instead? His heart would have been broken, and his over-active mind would have never settled down for sleep.

Readers Have to Connect

As a writer I stand in awe of THE VERY BUSY SPIDER. I learned two lessons from my son and that book:

  1. Some readers may not connect with your stories. Every reader is different.
  2. Stop writing to catch the latest trend. If you’ve never reached the end, it might be time to start something new. If you’re not really into it, how can your readers connect? Write the kinds of books that burn in your heart and mind.

When I dropped the drudgery of writing to what’s popular, my clip file and pub credits grew. The characters that spoke to me gained me a literary agent.

Book Lovers to Do List:

Long before I was a writer, I was a book lover and reader. Here are a few ways we can all promote the joys of reading.

* Recommend a good book to a child or parent, even if it’s not yours.

* Post a book review for an author.

* Comment on an industry related blog and share the link.

* Keep writing the stories of your heart.

Stockpile People


Stockpile People

By Rory C. Keel

 

A writer needs to have a stockpile of people. No, not like in the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but a file full of descriptions, characteristics and quirks of real people.

The truth is that all characters are based somehow on actual people. Think about it, even the characters you invent are based on elements taken from real people. The people you place on the page come from someone that you, as the writer, have seen or come in contact with, either personally or by hearsay.

The Gathering

To place these characters on your page, you must own them, every part of them the good, the bad, and the ugly. To do this you need to try and understand real people. Interact with them, watch them and observe their condition in life. When you finally know them, they are yours. Gather them up and stockpile them by writing them in a file. They will be glad to repeat their behaviors on the pages of your writing.

Roryckeel.com 

 

Something to Sit On


Something to Sit On

By Natalie Bright

It’s plush pleather (fake leather) mixed with springy black mesh, arch support, and swiveling arm rests. You can adjust the arm rests out straight for when you write or closer in if you’re holding something to read. The back and seat can tilt either way for maximum comfort. It’s a serious piece of office equipment. It’s beautiful and it’s my new desk chair.

Tools of the Trade

The reason I invested in an office chair is credited to Dusty Richards, SPUR award winning author and president of Western Writers of America. He said, “If there’s anything you remember from my talk, I hope it’s this: buy a quality office chair, because if the writing’s going good you have to stay put.” He explained that he’s logged in 10 to 12 hours straight before and walked away from it just fine. What a great piece of advice. If your back hurts or if your legs go to sleep you can’t keep writing. Something to sit on is an important piece of equipment essential to an author’s office.

The current work in progress is burning a hole in my head. Kids are back in school. Casseroles are put-together and stacked in the freezer.

Deep breath. Begin.

Blank.

My computer screen is blank. Well, it wasn’t blank a minute ago. I had just started reshaping chapter one because I’m making a huge revision for my character’s motivation…and then a blip. No, not a blip. A major, heart wrenching snafu.

Noooooooooo….

Some days, it really sucks to be a writer.

Exercise


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Exercise
By Nandy Ekle

My list of mood creators used to be pretty big. In fact, at one time I could close my eyes and say, “Okay, characters. What happens next?” And I couldn’t write fast enough. My best ideas came to me as I was driving down the road, or sitting in the bathtub, or laying in bed at night trying to sleep. And usually I would get so excited over the voices and actions in my head I could remember word for word exactly what to put on that paper.

These days, however, it takes a little more romancing to get those words to stick. I’ve got the ideas, but my characters have tape over their mouths. Instead of yelling and screaming for me to write, they just sit in the heap where I left them waiting for me to say, “Okay, how about this?” Then they just look up at me and frown as if to say, “You gotta be kidding.” And of course, this is just a sneer on their faces because their mouths are taped shut.

I have a playlist of certain songs/music that can get them moving a little, but usually when I’m in the middle of something really intense during my day job. And the little imps are so lethargic they usually just tell me in sign language, “Whatever.”

I’ve got a favorite author who, in my opinion, is the pure definition of talent. When I read some of his work, I think about how easy he makes it look. I’m sure I could do that. I have the story. Why won’t my words stick together and sing so pretty like his do.

I’ve got a support group. The Wordsmith Six group, the best critique group, friend group in the world. I’ve got time since the kids are grown. I’ve got computers, paper, pens, pencils, pictures, current events, life problems, life greatness, prompt books, everything I need to write these stories.

But these days the words are more like rocks than bubbles. These days my characters are lazy lethargic mimes.

I need a word gym to get these guys moving again.

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