Coffee Break


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

Coffee Break

By Nandy Ekle

 

I’m a coffee drinker. I used to be avid about it, drinking coffee all day long. But a few years ago I cut back considerably. Now I have one medium sized cup in the morning and that’s all. Still, that one cup is very important.

We don’t use the new-fangled single cup coffee makers because my husband has never cut back on his coffee consumption and the little singles are just not practical in our house. So when we make coffee, we make it by the 12-cup pot full. This means putting a filter in the basket, measuring out the grounds, pouring water in the tank, pushing the button, and watching the brown goodness drip, a couple drops at a time, sometimes a small brown stream down into the carafe until it’s full and ready to be poured out.

So, what does making a pot of coffee have to do with writing? Well, I’m a writer. Sometimes I’m a more avid writer than others, cranking out stories all day long. But sometimes just one story a day is enough. Still that one story is very important.

I have to assemble my ingredients: the computer on my lap (make sure the mouse is on), scratch paper and pen next to me (because I always have scratch paper and pen next to me), the internet pulled up and handy (research and polling friends), and my cup of coffee. Then I push the buttons and let the page fill up. Sometimes it only drips one word at a time. But then, sometimes it flows as a stream onto the page in front of me. And when it’s done, I feel the same sense of satisfaction I get from drinking my hot coffee first thing in the morning.

And now, I believe I will have a cup.

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

 

 

 

An Empty Hole


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

An Empty Hole

By Nandy Ekle

 

There’s a hole in my life. It’s bigger and emptier than the Grand Canyon ad it’s frozen all the way to my soul.

A very important presence left, and not only is my soul in havoc, but it also left everything around me in shambles. I look around the room and wonder what happened between us.

There’s a hole in the roof of this room and the rain continues to fall. The blowing wind keeps my world stirred up with just enough wreckage to keep things from settling back in order. And the wind is icy cold. I reach for a piece of paper as it passes me and my hand burns in this arctic cyclone

My soul and this dark empty room are not the only things feeling the cold rain. A parade of people are paralyzed in mid action. In one corner I see two young girls, the best of friends, on their way to the mountains for a weekend of adventure and healing. I see a lonely young woman whose entire life exists on the computer. I see an insecure girl waiting for her lover to come to her as he does every Friday—an artist trying to work through a broken heart and looking for just one friend—a confused woman waking up in an unknown place with no memory of how she got there—a frustrated and bored mother looking for adventure in the monotony of her life—the conflicted bridesmaid who’s lover is the groom—and probably the saddest face I see is the teenage girl who desperately wants independence from her twisted family.

But they are all as frozen as the air around me.

The source of all this icy chaos is my missing muse. She comes now and then, dropping a small seed in my head without providing the water or sunlight needed to make it germinate and grow. Sometimes the seeds pop up and then die, sometimes they never even take a breath.

I picture these characters she had me create, how they are stuck in turmoil and pain, and I want to help them. I want to fulfill their dreams and give them everything they want. But my hands are as worthless as the rain that continues to fall.

Oh, I’ve tried everything to get her back. I’ve begged and pleaded, cried and coaxed. I’ve spent money for lectures, books, pictures, and music hoping she hides there. I’ve re-read the words leading up to her departure thinking she may be in a corner just waiting for me to find her and pick the stories back up. I’ve talked with others whose muses are steady and helpful. I’ve even pretended she was still whispering to me, but the words are as empty as my heart feels.

So, what to do. The masters say to keep putting the words on the paper and she will eventually come back. They say exercise keeps the muscles strong. And they say to take matters into my own hand and give up the muse.

All I know for sure is the hole in this roof needs to be patched and the furnace needs to be turned on.

Desperately waiting for a post card from my muse.

 

 

 

 

It’s all in the execution


A poor plan properly executed, will work. It’s all in the execution.

By Rory C. Keel

As you step out on the stage of becoming a writer, there are many unknowns. Writers groups and conferences are helpful in learning the in’s and out’s of writing and publishing. However, unless this knowledge is put into a plan and executed, it is useless.

Develop a plan

Set short-term goals and long-term goals for your writing and put together a plan to reach them. Write them on paper or log them on a computer where you can physically see them every day to remind you of what you want to achieve.

Finding a topic or story to write about this week is a good example of a short-term goal. Set a daily, weekly, monthly word count to reach and a time management schedule in order to meet them.

Develop long-term goals such as setting a date to finish the first draft of your story or novel, research agents or publishers to pitch your book to or determine to submit your story to multiple markets until someone buys it.

Now execute the plan

You must execute your plan! Good or bad, no plan will work unless you carry it out. When you plan a vacation you use the knowledge you have available and make a plan. If you never move forward, you will never reach your destination.

What if your knowledge is limited or you realize your plan is not perfect? Move forward – adjust. Often we need to reread the map or take a detour to get to our destination, but we continue to move forward. Even a poor plan that is properly executed, will work, but it must be executed to reach the goal.

Roryckeel.com

Words From A Master


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Words From A Master

By Nandy Ekle

 

“As a writer, one of the things that I’ve always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.”  –Stephen King

I’m making a confession here. I’ve bee a huge fan of Stephen King nearly all my life. I consider several of his books to be outright masterpieces.

I like this quote of his because it puts images in my head. Let me show you.

I’m sitting in a chair in front of my fireplace, a blanket wrapped around my legs and a book in my hand. The words march across the pages and occasionally I gasp with emotion.

I become aware of a voice in the room, actually right in front of me. When I look up I see the author squatting before me whispering. Keeping my finger between the pages, I close the book and listen to the words coming from his mouth. The story becomes alive in my head and I feel a connection with the author.

This is what makes a great book.

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

 

 

Tag words:

Word Play


Outtakes 170

 

Word Play

By Cait Collins

 

Halloween is a big deal at our office. Every year there’s a costume contest and a food contest. Work teams spend time planning great costumes. One year the Harry Potter gang lost to a school of fish “swimming” in an aquarium. And if you think the costumes are wild, you should see the food entries. The entries must be edible, but a vomiting pumpkin?

But let’s get back to the costumes. My team is a correspondence team, so we are working on costumes based on plays on words. There are some clever ideas floating around: First Class Mail, Bag Lady, Pig in a Blanket, Identity Thief; Serial Killer; Fruit Loop, Book Fairy, and Formal Apology.

So here’s the challenge. Think of a play on words or a pun and write a description of the costume. This is my entry. She is beautiful. Her hair is professionally dyed and styled in an up-swept do. Wisps of blonde hair caress her face. Make-up is skillfully applied so that her complexion is flawless. A soft blush tints her cheeks. She struts down the aisle in a form-fitting evening gown of deepest black decorated with varying sizes and shapes of silver nines. She is Dressed to the Nines.

It’s all in the execution


A poor plan properly executed, will work. It’s all in the execution.

By Rory C. Keel

As you step out on the stage of becoming a writer, there are many unknowns. Writers groups and conferences are helpful in learning the in’s and out’s of writing and publishing. However, unless this knowledge is put into a plan and executed, it is useless.

Develop a plan

Set short-term goals and long-term goals for your writing and put together a plan to reach them. Write them on paper or log them on a computer where you can physically see them every day to remind you of what you want to achieve.

Finding a topic or story to write about this week is a good example of a short-term goal. Set a daily, weekly, monthly word count to reach and a time management schedule in order to meet them.

Develop long-term goals such as setting a date to finish the first draft of your story or novel, research agents or publishers to pitch your book to or determine to submit your story to multiple markets until someone buys it.

Now execute the plan

You must execute your plan! Good or bad, no plan will work unless you carry it out. When you plan a vacation you use the knowledge you have available and make a plan. If you never move forward, you will never reach your destination.

What if your knowledge is limited or you realize your plan is not perfect? Move forward – adjust. Often we need to reread the map or take a detour to get to our destination, but we continue to move forward. Even a poor plan that is properly executed, will work, but it must be executed to reach the goal.

Roryckeel.com

Words From A Master


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Words From A Master

By Nandy Ekle

 

“As a writer, one of the things that I’ve always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.”  –Stephen King

I’m making a confession here. I’ve bee a huge fan of Stephen King nearly all my life. I consider several of his books to be outright masterpieces.

I like this quote of his because it puts images in my head. Let me show you.

I’m sitting in a chair in front of my fireplace, a blanket wrapped around my legs and a book in my hand. The words march across the pages and occasionally I gasp with emotion.

I become aware of a voice in the room, actually right in front of me. When I look up I see the author squatting before me whispering. Keeping my finger between the pages, I close the book and listen to the words coming from his mouth. The story becomes alive in my head and I feel a connection with the author.

This is what makes a great book.

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

 

 

Tag words:

Words From A Master


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Words From A Master

By Nandy Ekle

 

“As a writer, one of the things that I’ve always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.”  –Stephen King

I’m making a confession here. I’ve bee a huge fan of Stephen King nearly all my life. I consider several of his books to be outright masterpieces.

I like this quote of his because it puts images in my head. Let me show you.

I’m sitting in a chair in front of my fireplace, a blanket wrapped around my legs and a book in my hand. The words march across the pages and occasionally I gasp with emotion.

I become aware of a voice in the room, actually right in front of me. When I look up I see the author squatting before me whispering. Keeping my finger between the pages, I close the book and listen to the words coming from his mouth. The story becomes alive in my head and I feel a connection with the author.

This is what makes a great book.

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

 

 

Tag words:

Foundation and Details


Foundation and Details

By Rory C. Keel

In the past I have been involved in planning and building a new facility for the church where I attend. In the planning, every aspect of the building has a purpose. The measurements of the foundation are laid out on paper and then the details are considered, what color of paint, what kind of flooring? Will the congregation be comfortable with the seating? What about sound quality? What happens in an emergency? Is the lighting adequate? The list seems endless.

The day came when the project started and the foundation was poured. At the end of that first day, I stood gazing at a slab of concrete that didn’t come close to looking as large as I had imagined. My mind said something’s wrong! The plans confirmed the size was correct!

Every day since, I have watched as each wall was raised and the roof now appears atop the building, and my perspective has changed. The building has been transferred from ink on paper, to a multi-dimensional object that better fits the concept I had imagined.

As a writer, a similar process takes place, only we use words as the building materials. We hold a story concept in mind with all of its grandeur and we begin to write, one page then two, our mind says something is wrong! What we see doesn’t look like what we have imagined, so we wad the paper up or hit delete.

The story doesn’t look like the grand story in your head, because it isn’t finished!

Don’t give up too quickly, create an outline, the foundation, and then build your story by filling in the blanks with the details.

roryckeel.com

Say It Better


Outtakes 146

 

Say It Better

By Cait Collins

 

I love finding snappy phrases. They make the author and the story really stand out. One I read recently got to me. “The memory was frozen in amber.” What a picture. I could imagine the image of the man she loved encased forever in the translucent stone. My niece gave me another wonderful image in describing a teenage facial expression. “Her eyes rolled so far back in her head she could see her brain.” I will find a place in a story for that one.

So many times we fall back on the same old phrases instead of looking for the unique. A writer should go for something different. Instead of referring to a kiss as hotter than a fire cracker on the fourth of July, why not say it was hotter than Mt. Etna in full eruption? Better yet, replace those trite statements with bold action verbs. Strong verbs replace adverbs and adverb phrases. They make the story tighter, crisper.

Just for the fun of it, come up with a list of well used phrases and rewrite them. For example, find another way to say “fit to be tied, at wits end, and chomping at the bit”. Romance writers should come up with new phrases for “melted at his touch, set afire by the smoldering look in his eyes, and drawn like a moth to a flame.”

Stephen King is a master with description. Read his depiction of the cellar in IT. I could smell it, taste it, and feel it. It terrified me to the point I could not enter a basement for months. Good descriptive phrases, strong verbs, and catchy sayings only enhance the story we are telling. It’s worth the extra effort to say it better.