Goals 2017 Happy New Year!


Goals 2017

Happy New Year!

In looking back over my writing goals from the past years, I am reminded how drastically career goals can change from one year to the next.

In a previous post, “FOUR YEARS FROM NOW”, the blog covers an idea from Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com, about modeling your writing career around the four year Olympic games. I love that idea because the publishing industry moves like molasses. By looking at things over a multiple year perspective you might be surprised at how much work you accomplished.

PRIORITIES

When I get up in the morning, there are two primary goals that I want to achieve every day, besides the usual day job and life happens stuff.

1) write

2) exercise

Writing feeds my soul, and exercise because I’m not getting any younger. It’s beyond my comprehension why I’m loading the dishwasher at eleven o’clock at night and I have yet to accomplish either of those two things. What did I do all day?

Pressing Onward

The muse of ideas in 2016 that materialized has shifted my priorities in a big way for 2017. Has that ever happened to you?

A rescue horse and his trainer fell into my life, and their story is finally a reality as an eBook. Because of a great team of extremely creative people, the RESCUE ANIMAL SERIES was born! We have four titles so far, with many more to come. This project has totally shifted my focus from two middle grade novel series currently in progress, to promoting this new picture book series. Who knew? Sometimes the story chooses the writer.

NEWSLETTERS

In 2017 I will be doing more newsletters and blogs. I love reading blogs, and for me, blogs are fun to write. They’re short, narrowly focused, informative, and include interaction with readers. Of course, we’ll continue our popular wordsmithsix.com blog site about story craft.

As the newly elected Newsletter Editor & Publicity Chair for Texas High Plains Writers (formerly known as Panhandle Professional Writers), I’ll be cranking out newsletters and announcements for that group over the next two years. The TPHM Window is FREE to anyone. Let me know if you’re interested, and I can add you to the distribution list. If you live anywhere near the Texas Panhandle, you can join the THPW writing organization for only $36 per year and you’ll be added to the eList automatically. We meet every other month in Amarillo. It’s a great time to network and talk writing. panhandleprowriters.org

PRAIRIE PURVIEW is the blog featured on the home page of my website. Posts are about the history of Texas and life in the Texas Panhandle, with particular focus on the western lifestyle. Please check that out each month. I’m also doing a NAT’s eNEWS which will be an extension of the rescue animals and their owners. Think of it like a behind the scenes as we create the books. You can sign up for my free eNewsletter via my website nataliebright.com

Also in 2017 are two projects near and dear to my heart. My uncle and I are working on a family genealogy book about the John G. Williams clan from of North Carolina and following their journey to Texas. Along those same lines is a book about the cattle industry in the Texas panhandle, that will be filled with original recipes and photos of working cowboys and cowgirls featuring our own cow/calf operation and the Sanford Ranch, located in the Texas Panhandle.

IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD

I’m wondering, do you have a story tugging at your heart and occupying head space? I have so many! How do you decide which one to write? Tell us about your work in progress.

I may have to dig into the ‘discard’ file drawer and revive a small-town tale about heartache, a new life, and a second chance for love. I don’t know why I’ve been obsessing over this story for the past few months, but perhaps it has some redeeming qualities. The characters are driving me crazy.

Wow! That’s a lot of writing to be done in 2017. I am so excited, and I am determined to stay on track with my story telling this year.

It’s not looking that great for yoga.

Hope your 2017 is filled with an abundance of

glorious words, sweet tea and sunshine!

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We’re Back


Outtakes 206

We’re Back

by Cait Collins

It’s been a while since our critique group has been together. Work, family obligations, vacations and floods (yes, flooding in the Texas Panhandle) have kept us apart. But as summer comes to a close, it’s time to get back to the business of writing. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on some ideas; it means I haven’t been focused.

There’s something about having deadlines and meetings that tend to help me keep on track. Knowing I need to have about ten pages ready to read on Thursday night forces me to put a book away, turn down the TV, and open the lap top. I often do my best work under pressure or time lines.

I’ve been considering how to complete the set-up of my new story. I have names, cities, settings, and now I know how to describe that office. It’s simply a matter of getting the edits on paper. I can’t wait to read the results to the group.

The other thing I have missed is the friendship. Not only do we critique each other’s writing, we’ve developed a camaraderie that helps us work together for the benefit of each member. No one is more important than another. And if one is struggling, we make the time to give the extra support and guidance needed to help him or her over the slump. That’s what makes a good, productive group.

I’m so blessed to be a part of Wordsmith Six. I wish every writer had such dedicated friends and writing partners.

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?


WHAT’S IN A NAME?

By Rory C. Keel

“Okay, somebody write a quick blog on trying to find a name for your blog!”

                                                                                             –Natalie Bright

Choosing the one specific term that describes six different writers with very different styles and genres, can be a daunting task. One would think that such an imaginative group could quickly produce a name so extraordinary, so remarkable that the mere mention of it would describe each individual and their genres perfectly. We settled on something a little less complicated.

Choosing the Name

So, how did we choose the name? We tossed words onto a dry erase board, and then the six of us wrestled them around until one stood up and screamed, “Pick Me!” And what is the name that captures the essence of our critique group?

Wordsmith Six

Wordsmith Six consists of six writers who cover the spectrum in genres—a group of a half-dozen close friends who love words, whether we’re reading, writing or researching them. We have individuals who write Women’s Fiction, Historical, Inspirational and Screenplay. Others love Romance, Western, Christian fiction and Middle grade children’s books. Included are authors with published Fiction and Nonfiction books, TV Documentaries, Song Lyrics, Humor and yes, even HORROR.

We have lots of stories to tell and you’re invited to follow along.

Rory C. Keel

WHAT’S IN A NAME?


WHAT’S IN A NAME?

By Rory C. Keel

“Okay, somebody write a quick blog on trying to find a name for your blog!”

                                                                                             –Natalie Bright

Choosing the one specific term that describes six different writers with very different styles and genres, can be a daunting task. One would think that such an imaginative group could quickly produce a name so extraordinary, so remarkable that the mere mention of it would describe each individual and their genres perfectly. We settled on something a little less complicated.

What about Tuesday?

Welcome to our blog. My name is Rory and every Tuesday I will be sharing with you some of the ideas and lessons that I’ve learned, and will learn along the way to publication. I’m excited to be a part of a group of writers ranging from beginners to the experienced, from the unpublished to multiple publications, and that has the motivation to move forward in their writing. I write Christian fiction and non-fiction, Historical western, short stories, and creative nonfiction. I have published several Christian devotionals, and I have song lyrics published on a CD, “Alabaster Box.”

Choosing the Name

So, how did we choose the name? We tossed words onto a dry erase board, and then the six of us wrestled them around until one stood up and screamed, “Pick Me!” And what is the name that captures the essence of our critique group?

Wordsmith Six

Wordsmith Six consists of six writers who cover the spectrum in genres—a group of a half-dozen close friends who love words, whether we’re reading, writing or researching them. We have individuals who write Women’s Fiction, Historical, Inspirational and Screenplay. Others love Romance, Western, Christian fiction and Middle grade children’s books. Included are authors with published Fiction and Nonfiction books, TV Documentaries, Song Lyrics, Humor and yes, even HORROR.

We have lots of stories to tell and you’re invited to follow along.

Click on the author page above to connect with Rory.

Rory C. Keel

Better Critiques


Better Critiques

By Rory C. Keel

 

Recently I re-examined a few rules on critiquing other writers’ works. Occasionally I have to do this because I tend to get caught up in the stories. There’s nothing better than someone reading a story to you, right?

First, when you give a critique, start with praise. The most fearful thing about having your work judged is the fear of mean spirited criticism. Find something that you like about the piece, whether it is the overall story idea, plot, character or phrase in the writing that touched a cord with you.

Second, examine the overall piece. Does it make sense? Will it fit within the stated genre or purpose for the writing? What is the plot or premise? Does it have a reasonable conclusion? Does it read smoothly? Does it show rather than tell?

Third, check the details. This is the time to check the facts, note any phrases that seem to be odd or out of place. Mark grammar, misspelled words and punctuation errors.

Finally, critique another writer’s work with respect. Have an attitude of helping them improve their skills, not tearing them down.

Follow these simple rules and you will give and get better critiques.

roryckeel.com

Better Critiques


Better Critiques

By Rory C. Keel

 

Recently I re-examined a few rules on critiquing other writers’ works. Occasionally I have to do this because I tend to get caught up in the stories. There’s nothing better than someone reading a story to you, right?

First, when you give a critique, start with praise. The most fearful thing about having your work judged is the fear of mean spirited criticism. Find something that you like about the piece, whether it is the overall story idea, plot, character or phrase in the writing that touched a cord with you.

Second, examine the overall piece. Does it make sense? Will it fit within the stated genre or purpose for the writing? What is the plot or premise? Does it have a reasonable conclusion? Does it read smoothly? Does it show rather than tell?

Third, check the details. This is the time to check the facts, note any phrases that seem to be odd or out of place. Mark grammar, misspelled words and punctuation errors.

Finally, critique another writer’s work with respect. Have an attitude of helping them improve their skills, not tearing them down.

Follow these simple rules and you will give and get better critiques.

roryckeel.com

Better Critiques


Better Critiques

By Rory C. Keel

 

Recently I re-examined a few rules on critiquing other writers’ works. Occasionally I have to do this because I tend to get caught up in the stories. There’s nothing better than someone reading a story to you, right?

First, when you give a critique, start with praise. The most fearful thing about having your work judged is the fear of mean spirited criticism. Find something that you like about the piece, whether it is the overall story idea, plot, character or phrase in the writing that touched a cord with you.

Second, examine the overall piece. Does it make sense? Will it fit within the stated genre or purpose for the writing? What is the plot or premise? Does it have a reasonable conclusion? Does it read smoothly? Does it show rather than tell?

Third, check the details. This is the time to check the facts, note any phrases that seem to be odd or out of place. Mark grammar, misspelled words and punctuation errors.

Finally, critique another writer’s work with respect. Have an attitude of helping them improve their skills, not tearing them down.

Follow these simple rules and you will give and get better critiques.

roryckeel.com

WHAT’S IN A NAME?


WHAT’S IN A NAME?

By Rory C. Keel

“Okay, somebody write a quick blog on trying to find a name for your blog!”

                                                                                             –Natalie Bright

Choosing the one specific term that describes six different writers with very different styles and genres, can be a daunting task. One would think that such an imaginative group could quickly produce a name so extraordinary, so remarkable that the mere mention of it would describe each individual and their genres perfectly. We settled on something a little less complicated.

What about Tuesday?

Welcome to our blog. My name is Rory and every Tuesday I will be sharing with you some of the ideas and lessons that I’ve learned, and will learn along the way to publication. I’m excited to be a part of a group of writers ranging from beginners to the experienced, from the unpublished to multiple publications, and that has the motivation to move forward in their writing. I write Christian fiction and non-fiction, Historical western, short stories, and creative nonfiction. I have published several Christian devotionals, and I have song lyrics published on a CD, “Alabaster Box.”

Choosing the Name

So, how did we choose the name? We tossed words onto a dry erase board, and then the six of us wrestled them around until one stood up and screamed, “Pick Me!” And what is the name that captures the essence of our critique group?

Wordsmith Six

Wordsmith Six consists of six writers who cover the spectrum in genres—a group of a half-dozen close friends who love words, whether we’re reading, writing or researching them. We have individuals who write Women’s Fiction, Historical, Inspirational and Screenplay. Others love Romance, Western, Christian fiction and Middle grade children’s books. Included are authors with published Fiction and Nonfiction books, TV Documentaries, Song Lyrics, Humor and yes, even HORROR.

We have lots of stories to tell and you’re invited to follow along.

Click on the author page above to connect with Rory.

Rory C. Keel

Lost


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Lost

By Nandy Ekle

Okay. You’ve got a concept and you sort of have a plot—at least, you know where you want to the concept to go. You’ve got a theme and a great opening that reaches out and grabs your readers by the throat. This is going to be a great story! You can’t write it fast enough. Your characters are telling all the right things and you are humming along telling your tale and feeling wonderful.

Until a giant wall of Nothing hits you in the face. You stare at he computer screen for days and no new words appear. You re-read everything you’ve written up to this point, still nothing. You know exactly what happens next and how it happens, why, and even what comes after that. But when you type a word, it sounds like a toddler just learning to talk. You have come to *cues Psycho Shower Scene Music* Writer’s Block.

I don’t know how to cure Writer’s Block or even how to avoid it. Stephen King says the cure is to write through it. But it is debilitating enough to make you want to stick your tongue out at Mr. King.

So I tried something this week. I thought to myself, I love the challenge of being able to write anything. So I wrote to my critique partners (you’ve really got to get some of those—they’re wonderful) and asked them to assign me something to write about, just to see if I could do it. They suggested I take the main character of my story and write a characterization for her. So I did.

And I learned a million and one things about, not just a paperdoll I had made up, but a person that lives and breathes. She’s more than just a vehicle to tell my story, she’s living it. I already knew her name and things like that. I knew what she wants and why she wants it and how she’s going to try to get it and what’s going to happen when she does. What I didn’t know is what her favorite color is, what her hobbies are and why she wants what she does, other than the obvious. I needed more than just to hear her voice, I needed to feel her breath on my ear when she speaks.

In learning these things, I could see the deeper layers of my story. I can see that it’s not just the story of what and where she is now, but where and what she will be in the future and why. I learned that the little adventure she’s having now is actually just the beginning of her story, because what she wants deep down is way more than one book can handle.

In short, I now see exactly where she’s going for at least two more books.

Dear Critique Group, Thank You.

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

FISHHEADS


FISHHEADS

by Sharon Stevens

 At critique group the other night I presented a story. The first part was good and the second part was good. Somewhere between the beginning and the end the connection was lost. My group couldn’t make the leap across the great divide I had created. They said I needed to cut off the fish head and use it in another story.

I believed in my thoughts, but even I could see where I missed the mark. This story would be understood by my target audience, but I wanted to reach so many more than just those who had a bull’s eye on their heart.

So back to the drawing board I went. I copied and pasted, revised and restored over and over again. I took myself out of the equation and found a way to link the first paragraph to the last sentence. I totally focused my direction to the best of my abilities. And believe me this is a very hard task.

When I read my words out loud as I started to rework the piece I was well aware of the message I wanted to convey, and knew it was IN the body of my work. I believed in myself and what I wanted to share very deeply. But if I couldn’t change it enough to make it readable the whole experience would be lost. You can take as many creative writing classes as you want and read as many books on writing as well. But at some point in time you have to get down to business, and just as importantly you also have to pay attention to the advice of those around you.

A critique group is valuable on so many levels. One, is that they understand you. Each story is unique, but the writer’s signature is the same whether writing of the horror persuasion or historical romance. Critique won’t change how you write the story, but instead will help to strengthen and clarify whatever is being written. Again, they know you, and your difficulties, but guide you past these roadblocks.

I thank my Wordsmith Six group for all they have done for me and my writing career. They helped me to believe in myself and stand beside my writing. But to see it through the eyes of others is priceless. I know that if anything is ever published that my group will have seen the foibles and problems and help me fix it before it goes out into the deep blue sea, fish heads and all.

Sharon Stevens