By Nandy Ekle
We are now in the middle of August. In my part of the world we are still in the throws of a huge barbecue under the sun, temperatures soaring into the hundreds daily. However, there is a slight change in the air reminding us that summer is coming to a close. I may be because of the ads and the themes the stores and malls are spreading to remind parents to get their kids ready for school to start. Or it may be the calendar, hanging so proudly on my wall announcing that we have indeed entered the eighth month of the year. Or it could be that we are all so tired of being roasted daily like marshmallows that we are dreaming of those cooler days.

Most assuredly, the approach of autumn is felt with much excitement to those like me because all of the above reasons, and a few more: colors, weather, adventure, smells . . . I guess the only thing I do not like about the fall season is the fact that where I live, we only have about two weeks of true fallish type weather before the deep freezer door hangs open letting in all the ice and snow we can stand. And then, by late April, we will be praying for the heat of summer to come back.

Autumn holidays are practically non-existent. Of course, the biggest day of autumn is Thanksgiving, which opens the Christmas season and starts the holly jolly madness of the winter holiday. There are also a couple of smaller holidays between Indepenced Day and Christmas: Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Halloween. And then, Of course, Thanksgiving. 

There is another thing about autumn that is very exciting. NaNoWriMo. This is a group of authors who have gotten together and sent November as Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a novel of 50,000 words, at least, in the 30 days of November. The first couple of times I participated in this, my attitude was, piece of cake. I could write anything any time. But I have learned what a pompous attitude that is. It is a challenge, and the challenge is big.

Beginning midnight, November 1, through midnight November 30, 50,000 words will be put on paper. The only rule is you cannot have written any of the story before midnight, November 1. On that night, you may type “Once upon a time,” or “It was a dark and stormy night,” and kick off your story. The story does not have to make sense, it does not have to to be one long story. And it may be one that goes on further than 50,000, or stops short. As long as you have 50,000 words by midnight November 30, you will be able to say, “I beat NaNoWriMo.” And being able to say this is worth the prize, which is more of a prize than than the other NaNoWriMoers could ever give you.

So the time is right. November is still a little ways away, It may still be blisteringly hot outside, but it’s not too early tho begin thinking about November.

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



By Sharon Stevens

This last weekend my husband and I decided to take off for a long weekend. Even though we needed to get away, with the price of gas we knew we couldn’t go too far. So yet again we chose the same old journey that has provided refuge for our family over the years. Even though we didn’t think we would be doing much fishing we packed the tackle box and fishing gear just the same. Monument Lake Colorado here we come.

Our excitement continued to build as we got closer to our destination. The colors began to change the farther we traveled. The air was lighter, and so was our hearts. The road wound through the familiar countryside. Oh, if only our children, our families, and our friends had been with us. So many times they had come along to keep us company in years past, and filled our soul with the kind of memories that kept us warm however cold a winter’s night. Actually my husband and I were sort of lonely, with just the two of us along for the ride. How would we keep each other company over the next three days?

But after we got to the lake, and once my husband threw his line into the water it didn’t take long for us to go our separate ways. Forget any kind of relationship bonding. We both knew we needed to refresh ourselves. To each his own.

As usual while he fished, I wandered. I wondered and marveled and rejoiced to see all the beautiful creation that welcomed me. I smelled leaves, and grass. I heard birds twittering and elk calling. I felt the breeze brush my face. The last of the wildflowers and the ever green pines filled my head with the scents of autumn, the last before blizzards buried the smell till the coming spring.

And the colors! How could anyone describe the colors? There were no words for every shade of red, orange, green, yellow and every hue in between. I turned my camera this way and that and took pictures from every angle, with every light and shadow I could fathom.

And this brings me to my thoughts as a writer. Everywhere I go I take a picture of a sign. This may be a STOP sign, or a yield sign, or a directional sign, or one advising of speed limits, or a twist or a turn. These metal fixtures are there in my camera as a constant reminder…a reminder of what?

Once they are downloaded they are in my computer forever. Later when I come across them as a slide show I can relive them again and again, in my heart and in my soul, and with every fiber of my being. I never know when these may help me to STOP for just a moment, and reflect on what I am really trying to say. Or maybe it’s my character’s way of saying not to go down that path, but to choose another. Or it could be my psyche’s way of reminding me I need to take a break for myself or my story, to stave off getting too bogged down with the nitty-gritty. Or it could be God’s way of saying to take a minute and remember HIS Creation. Every sign may have the same word, but the message may carry a different meaning.

And as a final thought, when this symbol comes across, it could be a sign that I need to get up from my laptop, go find my husband, and tell him how much I love him. If I follow the direction printed on the sign, I can remind him how much he is appreciated. With love I can thank him for taking me for a weekend getaway, driving hundreds of miles, burning expensive fuel, spending his (our) hard earned money for a night’s stay in a hotel, and blowing our food budget by eating out again and again. Even though I did let him fish, how wonderful it was that he would drive all that way just so I could STOP for the briefest of moments, and capture countless pictures of every STOP sign at every intersection.

After all, he ever so gently reminds me, each one says the same thing.