A Little Word Art


A Little Word Art

By Nandy Ekle



















Short Stories

Outtakes 318

Short Stories

By Cait Collins



I love trying new genres and seeing if I can put a story together. Since I normally write novels, I’m finding short stories to be a bit intimidating. The short story limits my time to develop a character and tell the story. There’s no long way to define the hero or heroine in 30 or 40 pages. My protagonist still talks to me, but she’s a lot faster about telling me what’s going on in her head. I can’t be too subtle in revealing her issues; there’s just not enough word count.

Here’s what I’m learning.

One word can be more important than detailed description. Brilliant sunset says as much as the “bright orange glow of the sun setting in the western sky…” and it saves your word count.

Moria, my heroine, doesn’t have 250 pages to decide whether or not she’s attracted to Aiden. She either is or she’s not.

Aiden has to go a little slower in order to reach Moria, but then again, he can’t be too subtle. He has to make his move without scaring her off.

Forget men, a good dog can be a girls’ best friend.

One other thing I’ve found to be important is getting the details straight. Route 66 is a well known and well traveled road. People will know if your work is not accurate.

While I’m finding the short story a bit daunting, I am enjoying the challenge. Maybe I’ll consider writing a series of short stories and publishing them. And then again, maybe not.

How Do You Define Success as a Writer?

How Do You Define Success as a Writer?
by N. Bright

The Texas High Plains Writers program this past Saturday featured a Q&A panel of authors. Two traditionally published and two Indie Authors answered questions about their writing process and the publishing industry. Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of 48 books, moderated. It was a fun morning, and I was honored to be a part of the panel along with Linda Broday who writes a successful series for SourceBooks, and Ryan McSwain who is an Indie Author.

“Secrets of Success” was the title of the program, and Jodi pointed out that each writer can define success in totally different ways. For very successful, tradtionally published authors, success might be the number one spot on a national best seller list, or seeing their book on a movie screen. As I juggle two teenagers, a busy day job, and all of the ideas in my head, success for me is holding one of my stories in hand. As an Indie Author, that is the immediate pay off for me personally, and then the book promotion is another faucett of the business that will continue through the long term.
The morning discussion included some great tips.
Jodi says, “Pick a lane,” which in some cases mean genre. Do you want to write kid lit or mainstream romance? In today’s publishing environment, I take it to mean considering the best publishing option for your work in progress as well. Every project may be different and writers have so many choices today. Jodi told us, “Everyone in this room has talent. Are you willing to do what it takes? Pick a lane. Develop your career.”
Linda says to include lots of conflict in your stories and use true events and personal stories to add depth to your writing.
Ryan keeps a character file, where he puts specifics about his characters as they develop. His ‘supplemental file’ is a list of changes that need to be made in previous chapters as he writes the new chapters. Instead of stopping to make changes, he references the supplemental file and makes the changes to his completed manuscript all at one time.
Traditional or Indie involves time and money, but as I told the group, it’s a completely different mindset. If you have a high concept book and you think readers all over the world will read it, then you have to go where the agents and editors are. You need to summarize your book into a one sentence pitch, and you have to practice that pitch. Attend conferences and sign up for appointments with the traditional publishing house professionals who will want your book. Your book must be exceptional in order to rise above the other 500 writers pitching during that same weekend.
As an Indie Author you have to write an exceptional book too, and then you have some aditional decisions to make. Pick a genre. Pick your target market. Pick a writing organization. Pick a cover designer. Pick a professional editor. The work is endless, but the rewards are extremly satisfying.
The secret to success takes hard work, but can be defined according to your terms. Jodi reminded us of one of our favorite local authors who, sadly, is no longer with us. DeWanna Pace always said that her writing goals never involved big dollar signs. “It’s not the money,” she’d say. “I want people to love my work.”
Do you live in or near the Amarillo area? Texas High Plains Writers meets on the 3rd Saturday of every other month.

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A weather change

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A weather change

Rory C. Keel


One day this week the temperature drops to minus two degrees and then rises to peak at seventy the next day, and the week ended with three inches of rain topped by two inches of snow. Now that’s a weather change!

Perhaps that’s the kind of change that prompted ol’ timers to use sayings like,

“Whether it’s cold or whether it’s hot; we shall have weather, whether or not!”

To tell you the truth, sometimes the best way to forecast the weather is to look outside and see what’s happening at the moment.

Did you have a weather change this week?

PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at last week’s critique group meeting about word count. Nandy Ekle found this bit of information on Pinterest:

Short Story = 7 scenes

Novella = 27 scenes

Novel = 60 scenes

Our current group project in progress will feature six novellas around the common theme of the famous highway that goes through the Texas Panhandle: Route 66. We are striving for around 20,000 words each, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you have to tell the story you want to tell, however long or short it turns out to be.

Here’s another word count guideline I found, which includes several options I’d never thought about:

Twitter fiction (really?)

Under 1000 words = flash fiction

Under 7500 words = short story

7500 – 17500 = novelette

Up to 40,000 = novella

Around 90,000 – 100,000 words = novel (360-400 page manuscript)

Series = 1 scene 1500 words (a change of setting or location is a scene change and usually signals a new chapter)

Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on word count. Thanks for the comments and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

How To Melt A Nana’s Heart



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 Human Spirit

Outtakes 316

The Human Spirit

By Cait Collins



I’m continually amazed by the resilience of men and women. Throw the book at them and most will catch the volume. Take a look at what’s been going on in southeast Texas in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. Although forced by rising water to leave their homes, these ordinary men and women are determined to return and rebuild. They are not wailing “Oh woe is me.” No, they are fighting back. Sure there are exceptions. There are the looters, the scam artists, and the quitters. But the fighters outnumber them.

Some people might say the citizens are Texas Tough, but they are just people fighting for their homes and lives. They are the very best of the human spirit. And they are not regulated to Texas. This is the humane endurance we write about. We take our characters from their calm, quiet lives, force them to reach bottom, and then crawl back to happiness or contentment. Without the day-to-day examples of normal individuals, we might have little to write about.

Humans who always appear to be on top of everything, who have no obstacles in their paths, who live well, are boring. Heroes are not born, they are made. And some heroes are ordinary men and women who rise to the occasion and excel. We need heroes, but we also need the average man who lives out his life going to work, caring for his family, and respecting others. The human spirit is the basis of all character growth. Never discount the ordinary man.

Monday Writing Quote

Monday Writing Quote


Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.”
― Brian Clark

The Dog And the Leash


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.