Quoting the Masters II


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Quoting the Masters II
By Nandy Ekle

I like to read quotes by authors who know what they’re talking about. I find a lot of inspiration, instruction, wisdom, truth, and humor.

Here’s a few I’ve picked out from other sites on line to share with you.

1, Every first draft is perfect because all a first draft has to do is exist. — Jane Smiley

2. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. — Jodi Picoult

3. Fill your paper with the breathing of your heart. — William Wordsworth

4. You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. — Stephen King

5. A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. — Richard Bach

6. I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it. — Toni Morrison

7. If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less. — Anne Rice

8. Write like it matters, and it will. — Libba Bray

9. Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. — Louis L’Amour

10. It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. — Gustave Flaubert
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Gimmicks


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Gimmicks

By Nandy Ekle

As a horror/thriller writer I read a lot of horror stories and thriller stories. I’ve been told I’m an adrenaline junkie, and that may true. I just love a story with lots of deep layers, tortured main characters, a little action, a little (okay, a lot) of mystery and scary, and tons of surprises.

But as much as I love these things, sometimes I feel like I’m in a rut. I look through my library and pay attention to what I mostly look at in the bookstores and realize most of my reading material is basically all the same. And really and truly, I have to admit half of it did not deliver what the synopsis on the back of the book promised. So I get leery of starting another book with same formula to end up disappointed.

Not too long ago, I found myself in a rut so deep I had completely stopped reading and writing. So on a trip to the bookstore where a friend of mine was having a book signing for her latest book, I shopped for something new. I was convinced something light and fast, humorous and glamorous would be the answer to my dilemma.

So I found a cute little cozy mystery. A cozy mystery is a mystery story that’s very light hearted. There might be a murder, but it’s not tragic, except for the person murdered. The one I bought the murdered person follows the main character around through the whole story helping her solve the mystery of her death. And there’s another ghost of a murdered person from a previous story as well.

One thing I didn’t do before I bought the book was look at the first page. If I had I would have seen that the book is full of gimmicks. The writer shamelessly tries to get the reader’s attention by using sarcasm. As the narration and dialog is so unnatural it’s actually quite distracting from the story.

I’ve always said you can learn something from every book you read, even the not great books. And the thing I’ve learned from this book is to not use gimmicks. You should make your narration and dialogue flow naturally, and that will keep the reader’s attention much better than a gimmick.

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

Writing Prompt


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Writing Prompt

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

“Write about a time you were surprised.

On Monday I was sitting at my desk at the office, I had my earphones on listening to the radio. The DJ announced he was holding the last pair of tickets to the Eagles concert that Friday night.

“I’ve been told these are the last two tickets on the face of the earth. All you have to do for a chance to win them is to put your name and phone number on a piece of paper and drop it in the box at the car lot.”

I have never in my life won a raffle. If there are only names in the bag for the drawing, mine will not be drawn. However, The Eagles are the number one band on my list of favorites. Besides that, if you never put your name in, there will not even a chance at all, no matter how infinitesimal. So every day the week I left the office during my lunch hour and drove across town to put my name the box. My husband put his name in the box, and even my son entered for a chance to win the tickets.

Friday morning I was sitting at my desk at the office. I had my earphone on listening to the radio. The DJ announced he was about to draw a name for the winner of the last existing pair of tickets to the Eagles concert.

“My hand is going inside the box.”

I heard paper mixing around.

“I have one name in my hand.”

I wasn’t paying close attention because I knew it wasn’t my name.

“I’m dialing the phone number.”

I heard beeps and boops of numbers being pressed on the phone. But I kept working.

“The phone is now ringing.”

I heard the phone ring over the radio waves. Then something extraordinary happened. My phone lit up and the caller ID said “radio station.” I stared at it as it rang a second time.

“Is that your phone?” The lady sitting next to me asked.

“Yeah.” It rang a third time.

“You should answer it. I think it’s the radio station.”

“Yeah.” I picked up my phone and pushed the button. “Hello?” I said.

“Is this Nandy?”

“Yes?” I still felt like I was in a dream.

“Did you put your name in the box at the car lot for Eagles tickets?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Well, I pulled your name out of the box. You’re going to see the Eagles!”

I have no memory of what my answer was.

The concert was as fantastic as I knew it would be. But the most incredible thing was the fact that I won those tickets in a raffle. 🙂

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

Writing Prompt


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Writing Prompt

By Nandy Ekle

 

“Write a story in which a broken coffee pot has a huge impact on the world around it.”

This is the coffee maker. This is the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

This is the crack in the side of the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

This is the man eyeing the crack in the side of the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

This is the frown on the face of the man eyeing the crack in the side of the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

This is the empty cup belonging to the frowny-faced mad eyeing the crack in the side of the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

This is the black cloud floating above the frowny-faced man with the empty cup eyeing the crack in the side of the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

This is the door slamming closed under the black cloud floating above the frowny-faced man eyeing the crack in the side of the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

This the gas pedal getting stomped to the floor after the door slammed closed under the black cloud floating above the frowny-faced mad eyeing the crack in the side of the carafe that fits under the coffee maker.

Well, I’m sure you can see where this is going.

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

And be sure to drink your coffee first thing in the morning. *wink*

 

Reading Challenge


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Reading Challenge

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

I found this challenge on line and got my attention. Let’s all give it a try.

During this year I am challenged to

  1. Read a book I read in school.
  2. Read a book from my childhood.
  3. Read a book published over a hundred years ago.
  4. Read a book published in the last year.
  5. Read a non-fiction book.
  6. Read a book written by a male author.
  7. Read a book written by a female author.
  8. Read a book by someone who isn’t a writer.
  9. Read a book that became a film.
  10. Read a book published in the 20th century.
  11. Read a book set in my hometown.
  12. Read a book with someone’s name in the title.
  13. Read a book with a character with my first name.
  14. Read a book with a number in the title.
  15. Read a book with over 500 pages.
  16. Read a book I can finish in a day.
  17. Read a previously banned book.
  18. Read a book with a one word title.
  19. Read a book translated from another language.
  20. Read a book that will improve a specific area of my life.
  21. Read a book written by someone younger than me.

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

 

THE MUSE


A Postcard from the Muse

THE MUSE

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

I pulled the package from the mailbox. I was so excited I nearly dropped it, and what a horrible tragedy that would have been. Especially after what happened to the first mug. I had been walking into the break room to get a cup of coffee. I raised my right arm, just like always (since I’m so hopelessly right handed). And, at that very moment, the old injury to my shoulder decided to groan, which caused my hand to open mid arc. My precious Stephen King autographed mug flew across the room and smashed on the floor into a million pieces. I was so stunned I could barely breathe. My. Stephenkingautographed. Mug. Smithereens.

Yes, it had become a very dark day indeed. Oh, I know the autograph was just a print on the side of a simple white coffee mug, but what it represented! All those shards of ceramic on the floor—some of them no more than white powder—looked like all the words I had ever written, ever would write, sitting in ground-up piles in my head. Nothing but trash, and dangerous to touch.

The morning crowd of zombies hunting for coffee looked at me and I could hear their thoughts. Did she just throw a coffee cup? Is she crazy? Why in the world would she do that? Look at that mess! Guess who’s going without their morning pot of black gold? Glad it wasn’t me. I fought the tears back from my eyes as I knelt and begin picking up the pieces that were still big enough to pick up. Carefully holding the remnants of my cup, I tried to turn myself invisible and tiptoe to the trash can. I was not to be allowed a moment of grief because I was holding up the traffic of bodies squashing around each other and my pile of Stephen King’s autograph. I closed my eyes and let the bigger pieces fall from my hands into the abyss of rubbish. A broom stood next to the trash can and I went back to my pile of smashed dreams and began sweeping. Another woman ran to get the dustpan to help sweep the rest of “my precious” into it.

I thanked her as I pretended to be aloof regarding the silliness of the situation. “I guess that’s a fitting end to a Stephen King autographed cup.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry. Well, there are the Styrofoam cups there.”

“Yes, I’ll just use one of those. As long as I get my coffee . . .” I trailed off.

“Yes! Must have the coffee! Well, if there’s anything else I can do, let me know.” She smiled and blended back into the crowd yawning and waiting in line for coffee.

You could conjure a new Stephen King autographed cup for me, I had cried out in my mind. My cup is broken. My dreams were in that cup. No one understands what that cup did for me.

That was six weeks ago. Today my new cup came in the mail. It’s still just a simple white ceramic mug with “Constant Reader” and his signature printed on the side. Same loops, same whirls, same angles, all the letters are exactly the same. And something else is the same. The spirit of the cup.

I’ve always loved Mr. King’s books, and stories. I was in high school when his first book, Carrie, hit the shelves. The story is about a girl in high school with no friends, and I identified with her in some ways.

In the 1970s, a lot of stories and movies came out about people with telekinesis. I enjoyed those stories because, for one thing, they were eerie. But also, I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to suddenly discover I could move things around with my mind. I would sit for hours alone in my bedroom at night, when I wasn’t working at the local Sonic Drive In, and try it. I would stare at the light switch next to my bed and concentrate until I couldn’t see anything else in the room but the light switch. “Flip off,” I would think in my head over and over. Of course, it never did. So I decided maybe I needed to say it out loud. “Flip off.” After repeating this command uncountable times, my mother would stick her head in the door thinking I was cursing at something.

“What are doing in here? And we do not say those words in this house!”

“I’m doing my homework, and I wasn’t saying bad words.”

She would look at me sideways with an I-really-don’t-believe-a-word-you-say look in her eyes. “Well, hold it down.” And she would leave.

So, Carrie. Carrie is one of those telekinesis stories. The other kids are cruel to her and her mother is crazy and she uses her powers to get back at everyone around her for their bullying all her life. Well, I didn’t have telekinesis, and I did have friends, but there were times when I felt alone and bullied. So Carrie was MY kind of story.

Then Mr. King’s Salem’s Lot came out and I was over the moon. Vampires! I had loved vampires since I was in elementary school, and now here was a book about a whole town of vampires.

The next book to hit the shelves was The Shining. By that time I had graduated from high school, married a mortician, and we lived in a duplex next door to the funeral home. The Shining was one of those books with so many layers that I didn’t even see half of them. Even now, as a writer in my own right, I still find new layers every time I read that book. Mountains in Colorado, snowstorms, a massive hotel, troubled parents, a child with ESP, and to top it all off, ghosts. Every single element I’ve craved in a good story since learning to read. And Mr. King added so many interesting layers that it would take the rest of my life to see the whole thing. Reading that book is like discovering a new cave, and the deeper I go, the more new rooms I find.

After that, his books came out so fast it was hard to keep up with them. I’ve read a lot of  his stories, some I have not read. Some I’ve started but not finished because my life became so busy with motherhood and my own attempt at writing.

But I can truthfully say that even though I’ve never met Stephen King face to face, he’s taught me everything I know about writing.

So, my cup. One night I had wandered onto to his website. I realize it’s maintained by a staff he’s hired just for that purpose. But still, to put the pointer of my mouse over his site and read the King News is thrilling. And then I noticed he has merchandise other than his books. So I clicked. T-shirts, towels, dog bowls, liquor flasks, pillowcases, tote bags, silver trays, computer skins, shot glasses, tumblers, and coffee mugs. And not just generic stuff. Some of it is specific to certain books. But there’s also a line of merchandise labeled “Constant Reader”, what he affectionately calls his fans. And I definitely qualify to be Constant Reader.

I ordered my first cup.

When it came in the mail I danced circles around the house waving my new coffee mug, which declared to the world that I am a Constant Reader fan of Mr. Stephen King’s books. And I made sure to point out his printed signature to everyone who had been unable to avoid me. My. Stephenkingautographed coffee cup.

I took it to work and, after waiting in line, holding my version of the Holy Grail close to me to keep from being jostled, I filled it with coffee. In my opinion, that was the best cup of coffee I had ever had in my life. From that moment on, I knew I would never drink coffee from any other vessel while sitting at my desk reading contracts and assuring customers their retirement funds were in good hands.

The next morning the cup sat waiting for me on my desk where I left it the night before, and I noticed the lipstick mark on the rim. As an adult woman past a certain age, I make sure I look presentable each morning, which includes my favorite lip gloss. Now, looking at my autographed mug, I saw the symbolism of my lipstick mark on the brim and my heart danced again.

But something else happened during my lunch hour that day. I know that my most creative time of day is noon, so I use my lunch hour to write my own stories. However, I had been in a sort of stalemate with my current work-in-progress. Writer’s block, if you will. And I’ll just tell you, there is nothing more miserable in the whole world as a writer who can’t write. That’s like a breather who can’t breathe. I had writer’s block so bad I was on the brink of giving up and chucking the whole idea of story writing.

Until the second day of being a Constant Reader. That day I opened up my little laptop I brought to work tucked into my work computer bag. It booted up and I put my hand on the keys. The next thing I knew, my hour was up and I had written four thousand words without even realizing I was writing. I had gone into “THE ZONE” and words had shot out of my hands onto the computer screen. And I knew it was because of my fabulous cup.

And then the unspeakable had happened.

Needless to say, the words stopped pouring out of my hands again, the characters in my head lost their voices, the color went out of the world.

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.

Prompt Three


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Prompt Three

By Nandy Ekle

I am going to attempt something new each week here. I have a list of story prompts that I want to use for my blogs each week. These are not my original ideas, they are from several lists I have found.

So, here is Number Two. Not sure what to call it, but here goes.

SLEEPLESS (accompanied by a picture of a woman lying on her side on a bed in the dark with her eyes wide open).

One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep, five sheep, six sheep, seven sheep, eight sheep, nine sheep, ten sheep . . .

Nope. Still wide awake. Oh, now my feet itch, but I can’t reach them. I’ll have to sit up and bring my knees to my chest. This is not fun since my knees don’t like to bend that far. But the itch is one of those sharp, SCRATCH ME NOW types of itch. So, I toss the cover off, raise my upper body up while pulling my knees up, and my hand curls into a claw as it zips to the spot. Oh! deep itch, deep scratching, hurts so good.

Okay. I’m now going to try sleeping again. I turn to my right side because that’s where my best sleep is. My left arm is down my side so that my left shoulder is supported. Ah. I am finally comfortable, just warm enough, and my eyes think about closing.

Suddenly, my right shoulder feels like a rusty nail has been pounded directly through the joint. The pain is unbearable and I have to turn to my other side. I push the covers off my arms, rotate my hips and shoulders, and lay back down. I pull the covers back up to my ear when I realize my pillow has shifted. Now I have to grab it and reposition it to support my head and neck so my left shoulder is not smashed as much as my right shoulder was, and the shell of my left ear is in the low part of the pillow. It tends to ache in the middle of the night if I don’t.

Now I’m feeling slightly drowsy when heat nearly explodes out of my chest, down my arms to the tips of my fingers. Sweat breaks out on my upper lip, under my arms, and my legs down to my toes. I throw the covers off and flip over to my back. The air around me in the room is icy, but feels like heaven while I ride the heat wave out.

After a few minutes I feel the flame inside me start to wind down. The coldness of the room seeps into my skin and I reach for the cover. Now I must go through the routine of finding the comfort spot on my left side again.

My eyes close and I wait for the bliss of unconsciousness. One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep, five sheep, six sheep, seven sheep, eight sheep, nine sheep,             ten sheep . . .

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

Prompt Two


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Prompt Two
By Nandy Ekle

I am going to attempt something new each week here. I have a list of story prompts that I want to use for my blogs each week. These are not my original ideas, they are from several lists I have found.

So, here is Number Two. Not sure what to call it, but here goes.

AN UNEXPECTED EVENT.

Every day is the same routine. Get up in the early morning, go to bed late at night. Work at my desk job during the daylight hours, work at my home job during the nighttime hours. Gather documents from eight to twelve, eat lunch hour from twelve to one, write letters from one to five. Go home, eat dinner, surf the net, bed, start over.

But then something completely unexpected happened. When I got to my desk I noticed one of my shelf decorations had an altered look. When I saw this, I knew my life would never be the same.

I work in a small cubicle, a U-shaped desk, two filing cabinets, two shelves. One of the shelves, the one closest to my arm length, is covered with books and information I use to research my letters. The other shelf is covered with my personal decorations. I love skulls, sugar skulls, skeletons, all manner of Halloween type stuff. I have several pieces arranged in a tableau to looks like a dark corpse wedding. The centerpiece of my tableau is a bronze skull on a platform looking at a black bronze rose, as if in contemplation. I call him Horatio.

I greet Horatio every morning and he stares back at me with his hollow bronze eyes as if to say, “Good morning, Nandy. Today we will be writing a story about a bullfight.” “Good morning, Nandy. Today we are researching tarot cards.” “Good morning, Nancy. Today we are going to read a book to get ideas about how to handle your main character’s current situation.” But one morning when I came in, Horatio didn’t say a word. He didn’t need to.

Up until around four months ago a woman sat in the cubicle behind me. She had always been a woman woman who was know for being harsh. She had a strong personality, and usually came off as a hard nose. Her speech could be abrupt, and she used that to her advantage. It was a while before I felt comfortable with her, and she did not like my skulls and skeletons. So when I saw Horatio on this particular morning, my co-worker suddenly gained a huge amount of respect and love for her.

Horatio staid in his spot on the shelf. He didn’t say a single word, but he didn’t need to. a giant rainbow colored Afro wig was perched on his head, I laughed at him, and he laughed back. And i hear the voice of my co-worker behind me break out in a giant giggle. I looked over the cubicle wall and watched as my co-worker wiped the tears off her face.

“Is that your wig?” I asked her.
“Well, if it’s not, it should be.”

She didn’t answer, but together she and I took some awesome pictures. And Horatio has been more than just a pretty skull.

What I said on that day is, “So, we’re having some dark humor today?” Horatio just looked at his rose while grinning his bronze grin. Kay became a very good friend of mine and when she retired a few months later, I could almost swear the skull named Horotio blow me kisses when no one else is working.

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

Prompt One


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Prompt One

By Nandy Ekle

 

I am going to attempt something new each week here. I have a list of story prompts that I want to use for my blogs each week. These are not my original ideas, they are from several lists I have found.

So, here is Number One. Not sure what to call it, but here goes.

THE FURTHEST AWAY FROM HOME YOU HAVE EVER BEEN.

I’m a person who loves to travel. Going different places to see new things is very thrilling to me. When I was a kid our family took the traditional vacations-two weeks on the road to to a destination for fun and relaxation. We stayed in hotels with swimming pools, we ate picnic lunches at roadside parks, we saw mountains and lakes, deserts and forests, beaches and cities. I have a lot of great memories; however, I am told that we actually went places and saw things and had experiences that I don’t remember at all because I was too young.

My husband and I have also been on several trips: Washington state, Oregon state, West Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Not to mention all over our home state of Texas. We’ve even been on a couple of cruises, going actually leaving the U S of A and spending a day in Jamaica and a couple of days in different cities of Mexico.

I think one of my favorite places to visit is the Redwood Forest in Northern California. I love the mountains and I love the trees. These beautiful giants grow close and thick, the branches and leaves blocking the sun. Standing in a clearing surrounded by the ancient forest is a truly surreal experience. The fog comes in from the Pacific ocean, which is just through the woods that direction. You can smell the salt in the air and feel a cool breeze. When you look up to the sky, you only see so far up because the tree tops have trapped the mist. And as the branches shiver their leaves in the breeze, you could almost swear the mighty redwoods were whispering to heavens.

My second favorite place is the Rocky Mountains. Once we spent a weekend in Estes Park, Colorado. I have to say, the experience was just very nearly as wonderful as the time we spent in the Redwoods of California. We went to Colorado on a Friday in October, and on Saturday there was a light snow. The whole weekend was perfect.

My third favorite place to see is New Orleans. We went to New Orleans to do some research for a story I wanted to write. We weren’t able to stay long because of some problems, but while we were there we saw incredible things, learned some very interesting history, and ate fantastic food.

I could get very philosophical here and talk about my journey through life, but I’m not a philosopher. So I’ll just leave like this.

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