At the End of the Day


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

At the End of the Day

by Nandy Ekle

Eight to nine hours sitting in a chair at a desk in an office. I collect a paycheck every other week, pay my bills, buy food for my family, and go to the doctor regularly. For the first few years, I loved my day job. But lately, not so much. I read the same contract over and over (and over and over and over and over… ). And it seems like procedures change without notice, and then I’m called on the carpet because I didn’t see it coming.

And so, my dreams of the future have shifted.

One day not long ago (probably about 31 days ago), my muse turned up at my front door begging to be let back in. Of course, I grabbed her and held her as tightly as I could. All I could say was, “Of course!” and “I’ll never let you go away again!” To which she replied, “I promise never to leave you again!”

Today, as I sat at my desk reading the same contracts over and over and answering the same questions over and over, in the back of my mind I heard, “I’m waiting for you to get home. I have lots of words to tell you.”

And that made the day go much faster.

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

 

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Consider the Onion


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Consider the Onion

By Nandy Ekle

This is not a cooking lesson, or a nutrition lesson, even though I am a pretty good cook, and know enough about nutrition that I raised three kids to health adulthood. But I want to consider the onion as a metaphor. And this is nothing new. Onions have made famous metaphors for time out of mind. I just feel like it’s my turn to consider the onion.

A lot of people don’t like onions in their food because they’re so strong, maybe a little hot on the tongue, they make you cry when you cut them up, they smell bad, and some people claim to get headaches when they eat onions (maybe because of the smell). But these are exactly the reasons onions are needed in our diet.

And so, as writers, we will examine the onion as an ingredient for our stories. First of all, they have layers. Some onions have what seem to be thousands of layers. And our stories should also have layers. The more layers we have in our stories, the better. We want thick, strong purple layer on the outside to get the reader’s attention, but we also want the thicker, juicier layers the deeper we go. This is the flavor of the story. And we want the very center, the core, to be so soft and sweet, so heart gripping, that our readers weep with every cut they make closer to the center.

We also treasure that smell. Now, it is true that an onion’s odor is not really a perfume we want to go to the store to buy. In fact, it has the reputation of being one of the worst smells in the world. But really and truly, isn’t that how we identify that it’s an onion? But then, we add heat to it, and guess what happens. The smell and the flavor change to something so mouth watering we can’t wait to eat.

So there you go. Add heat to your story. You can add a slow, all-day heat and watch the story turn different colors before your eyes. Then when your reader eats it, it will melt in their mouths and they won’t be able to stop reading. Or you can apply high fast heat, which will bring out the sweetness quickly, causing your readers to beg for more, more, more.

And then there’s the tears when you cut the onion. And when your readers cut to the middle of your story, what could be better than a good cry?

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

Happy New Year!


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Happy New Year!

By Nandy Ekle

Ok. Public resolution setting time. Gonna finish at least 5 previously begun writing projects and get them published. Finish two cross stitch projects previously begun. Finish reading ALL THE BOOKS. Go to Winchester House in October. And stay low key next Christmas.

Watch for upcoming announcements.

The Blood


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Blood

By Nandy Ekle

Shameless brag.

I have three granddaughters, ages ten, nine, and six. My ten-year-old has written several short stories with elements of mystery and thrillers. My nine-year-old has written—and won awards— for poetry and has no less than five novels started. And my six-year old has one of the most incredible imaginations ever.

It’s definitely in the blood.

The King


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The King

By Nandy Ekle

 

Anyone who knows me knows I love to read. And I’ve realized the older I get, the more analytical I get. I read everything. I’ve even read things—completely to the end—all the way to the end. One reason is that I’m not a quitter. I hate the thought of an unfinished book sitting around. I may take a break from a book, but I will always come back and finish it.

The other less neurotic reason is that I’m a firm believer there’s something to learn from every single book. Simply the fact that a publisher found a nugget worth latching on to means there’s something there. You may have to work harder to find it in some stories, and you may decide the whole lesson is more of what not to do, but there is something.Another thing people know about me is that I love a story with psychological layers. The more layers, the better. The more psychological the better. And throwing a few ghosts in is the superlative of a good story.

Another thing people know about me is that I love a story with psychological layers. The more layers, the better. The more psychological the better. And throwing a few ghosts in is the superlative of a good story.

And people who know me know that’s why I like Stephen King. And my favorite Stephen King story is, hands down, no questions asked, The Shining. Legend says Mr. King was still teaching high school when they waited out a freakish snow storm at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. According to the tour guides at the Hotel, they were closing up for the season when the Kings walked in while the blizzard was blowing through the mountains. They were handed the keys to the hotel and told to make themselves at home and lock up on their way out. They were not told about the reputation the Stanley Hotel has as one of the most haunted hotels in the nation. After waiting out the storm with the spirits, Mr. King feverishly wrote The Shining in one setting.

Of course, this is legend, relayed to tourists in a place that plays the movie over and over and over 24 hours a day on their very own Shining channel on every television in every room in the hotel. I know because I’ve been there, and I’ve been on their history and haunted tour and heard the story directly from the tour guide.

Whatever part of that story is true, Mr. King says the book was a turning point in his writing career. And I know just enough about psychology, ghost stories, and writing to understand exactly why he says that. In the Introduction which he added with the date February 8, 2001, Mr. King states he reached a point where he knew he had to make the decision to reach higher than he had done before. And he did. And the result is a story with so many layers, so many issues, such strong characters, that this novel is easily his masterpiece.

I am re-reading the book for the umpteenth time because this is my Halloween tradition. Read my blog next week for a specific review of this amazing masterpiece of writing.

Congratulations. You have just received a postcard from the muse.

 

The Day Job


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Day Job

By Nandy Ekle

Today at my day job we moved to our third building this year. Two of those three moves were somewhat traumatic.

First They moved us downtown to an older building our company wants to sell instead of renovate. No problem. The reason they did this was because they wanted to renovate the building we had been in. Great. The renovations promised to be absolutely wonderful, so we were happy to move to allow the to happen.

I was on vacation when the move actually happened, but when I got to my desk, things seemed great. However, we soon discovered the reason the downtown building was to be sold instead of renovated. The internet was overworked. This was a big problem because 100% of the work I do depends on the internet.

So they moved us back to the other campus, different building from where we started, but same campus. This went very smoothly. The internet worked much better and the work went well. But the grand scheme was that our permanent home was to be a different building in the same campus which was in the process of being renovated. So I only unpacked enough to be able to do my job, knowing that we would be moving again soon.

Today was that day. Today, the day I happened to have a doctor’s appointment. When I got to the office, I opened the email telling me it was time to move. So I packed up all the things I had had at my desk, including my computer, and moved from one building to the the other. Then I unpacked and reconnected my computer. But internet did not work. At all. So they had me pack my laptop and my rolling chair to a different building in the same campus in a training room where I set up as if I were working from home.

I did get a little work done, but then I clocked out and went to my doctors appointment.

So I will go to work in the morning wondering where I will be sitting for the day. But I am determined to get the letters written for our customers, who I really want to help.

And with my doctor’s help, I will get my muse back.

The Dog And the Leash


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Dog And the Leash

By Nandy Ekle

I took part in a survey recently—one question, intended to make you think introspectively: name one thing you wish you could bring back from your childhood. This question definitely did get my brain cells working.

I started thinking about what kind of child I was. And then a story bubbled which gave me my answer.

Once upon a time, a girl had a dog. This dog was very energetic and very powerful, and the girl had to learn to control it. She clipped a leash to its collar and they went for a walk. The dog wanted to run and play, and he wanted the girl to run and play with him. But he was big and strong and the girl usually ended up huddled in a corner with a skinned elbow or a tear in her jeans.

But she couldn’t get rid of the dog because he was her constant companion. He went everywhere she went. He slept next to her at night, got up and went to school with her in the morning, came home and ate dinner with her, took baths with her, and then went to bed with her every single night.

And every day she took him for a walk on the leash. She learned to tell him no, that she didn’t want to run. She pulled on the leash to slow him down when he went too fast. And she yanked the leash if he tried to run after a bird or a rabbit.

But she also gave him treats. She bought tasty things for him to chew on. She gave him his favorite snacks. She scratched him behind the ears and made sure he had plenty of healthy food and water.

One day she took her dog out for a walk. She took hold of his collar with one hand and held the leash in the other. She rubbed the metal clip of the leash on the metal loop of his collar, but she didn’t really attach them. Instead she hung the leash around her neck, held her arm out as if she actually was holding the leash, and they began their walk. And an incredible thing happened. Her dog walked as if he really was attached to the leash. He didn’t run away from her, or drag her, or jump around. He walked calmly by her side and obeyed her when she talked to him.

After a while she remembered how much fun it was when he was running and jumping, and she wanted him to do that again. So she pretended to take the leash off his collar, but he still stayed calmly by her side. It wasn’t until she began to run that the dog started running as well.

So, I’ve gone through all this to say, I’m the girl and my imagination is the dog. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning to control it, and now when I want it to run wild, it looks at me as if I still have it leashed. If I could bring one thing back from my childhood, it would be my wild and free imagination.

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

How To Melt A Nana’s Heart


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

How To Melt A Nana’s Heart

By Nandy Ekle

 

Last January we went to visit our kids and grandkids. We have a granddaughter who is nine years old and reads on a college level. I remember when she was only eighteen months old. I bought her the book “Where The Wild Things Are.” This book is one of my all time favorites because it’s a story of imagination. As a young mom, I read it to my kids over and over. As a nana, I get to read to my grandkids.

When my nine-year-old granddaughter was a year-and-a-half old, her baby brother was born. I stayed at their house to help out while her mom and dad were busy with the new baby. I took a copy of Where The Wild Things Are as a gift from Nana to Grandgirl. And I read it to her once. Then she brought it back to me to read over and over and over. I think we bonded deeply during that time.

So last January when we went to visit, she handed me a card she made herself that said, “Welcome Nana and Pawpaw.” Later that night she came to me with a book in her hand.

“Nana, would you read to me?”

No way I could answer anything other than, “Absolutely!”

She put a copy of Where The Wild Things Are in my hands. When I opened the cover of the book, I saw where I had written seven years ago, “From Nana, who loves you very much.”

I almost couldn’t read for all the heart melting going on inside me.

The Dog And the Leash


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Dog And the Leash

By Nandy Ekle

I took part in a survey recently—one question, intended to make you think introspectively: name one thing you wish you could bring back from your childhood. This question definitely did get my brain cells working.

I started thinking about what kind of child I was. And then a story bubbled which gave me my answer.

Once upon a time, a girl had a dog. This dog was very energetic and very powerful, and the girl had to learn to control it. She clipped a leash to its collar and they went for a walk. The dog wanted to run and play, and he wanted the girl to run and play with him. But he was big and strong and the girl usually ended up huddled in a corner with a skinned elbow or a tear in her jeans.

But she couldn’t get rid of the dog because he was her constant companion. He went everywhere she went. He slept next to her at night, got up and went to school with her in the morning, came home and ate dinner with her, took baths with her, and then went to bed with her every single night.

And every day she took him for a walk on the leash. She learned to tell him no, that she didn’t want to run. She pulled on the leash to slow him down when he went too fast. And she yanked the leash if he tried to run after a bird or a rabbit.

But she also gave him treats. She bought tasty things for him to chew on. She gave him his favorite snacks. She scratched him behind the ears and made sure he had plenty of healthy food and water.

One day she took her dog out for a walk. She took hold of his collar with one hand and held the leash in the other. She rubbed the metal clip of the leash on the metal loop of his collar, but she didn’t really attach them. Instead she hung the leash around her neck, held her arm out as if she actually was holding the leash, and they began their walk. And an incredible thing happened. Her dog walked as if he really was attached to the leash. He didn’t run away from her, or drag her, or jump around. He walked calmly by her side and obeyed her when she talked to him.

After a while she remembered how much fun it was when he was running and jumping, and she wanted him to do that again. So she pretended to take the leash off his collar, but he still stayed calmly by her side. It wasn’t until she began to run that the dog started running as well.

So, I’ve gone through all this to say, I’m the girl and my imagination is the dog. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning to control it, and now when I want it to run wild, it looks at me as if I still have it leashed. If I could bring one thing back from my childhood, it would be my wild and free imagination.

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