Pressing On

Pressing On 

Rory C Keel

Today I’m spending time reassessing last year’s writing goals.

I have made it a custom to take the time at the beginning of each year to evaluate my writing and see where I accomplished my goals, and examine where I fell short of my expectations.

I confess—I failed to meet ALL of my goals.

While this may seem like defeat to some, it really isn’t. The truth is, I did exceed some goals and didn’t reach others. My novel is not finished, but my goals of submitting other works were achieved and rewarded with paid publication.

This year I will set my writing bar high and reach for it, and any goals not met will be closer and easier to reach the next time.

My number one Goal is to finish my novel. Secondly, is to submit ten smaller pieces of writing to various publications. Thirdly, there is a need to constantly improve in the writing craft. So, I will read and study at least one book on writing and attend one or more presentation on writing.

So, I’m pressing on.

Top Sixteen OWFI 2014

Top Sixteen OWFI 2014

By Natalie Bright

 Oklahoma Writer’s Federation held their annual conference this past weekend in Oklahoma City. This group always offers a diverse slate of speakers representing multiple genres and topics plus agents and editors. For more information Hope to see you in 2015!

  1. You can pursue regional and niche markets that the big traditional publishers ignore. JERRY SIMMONS, retired, V.P. of sales, Time Warner Book Group.
  2. A Fairy Tale Sampler by ELOISA JAMES, free to every OWFI attendee!
  3. Authors are damaged people. It’s not normal what we do. DAVID MORRELL, bestselling author, creator of Rambo.
  4. We don’t believe in sleep at OWFI. Be sure to attend a buzz session after the banquet. CHIRSTINE JARMOLA, 2014 OWFI President.
  5. Become a student of the market place. SIMMONS.
  6. Embrace the reasons we are doing this crazy thing. MORRELL.
  7. Write blogs to showcase your voice and practice your writing. HEATHER DAVIS, popular MiniVan Momma blogger and author.
  8. Writing has to be a real job in your head. CHRISTINE TAYLOR-BUTLER, best-selling children’s author.
  9. Every person has a dominate emotion. Probably it’s something that is so painful and so shameful you don’t acknowledge it. Admit it and write it. MORRELL.
  10. Schedule your time to write as if it’s a doctor’s appointment or part of your day job. TAYLOR-BUTLER.
  11. Don’t blog unless you really want to. If you’re not genuine, people will know. DAVIS.
  12. Don’t get your work critiqued until you know clearly what you are writing. Opinions will get you off track. TAYLOR-BUTLER.
  13. Keep an idea folder for newspaper or magazine clippings, articles, even junk mail—anything that sparks an idea. DARLEEN BAILEY BEARD.
  14. In real life, we do not address one another by our names. Don’t use them in the dialogue of your fiction. MORRELL.
  15. If you are serious about writing as a career, you must write two pages per day. No excuses! TAYLOR-BUTLER.
  16. The future will include newer, faster forms of delivery, easier forms for payment, and content will become shorter. eBooks aren’t going away. SIMMONS.


8 Good Writing Practices of Neil Gaiman

8 Good Writing Practices of Neil Gaiman

By Natalie Bright

Neil Gaiman pens science fiction and fantasy in a variety of forms—novels, children’s books, graphic novels, comic books, and film. From an article in The Guardian, I’m sharing his tips on writing:

8 Good Writing Practices

  1. Write.
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Cowboy Slang


Cowboy Slang

By Natalie Bright

Southerners have a way of cutting consonants and lengthening vowels to speak our mind. Some people may assume we’re ignorant. I think we’re entertaining and somewhat lazy. For instance, we’ve shortened you all to y’all. Rather than converse in a lengthy explanation of our intentions and plans, we simply say, I’m fixin’ to. The listener has to guess at the intended task.

Lunch or Dinner; Which Is It?

Common day phrases have been altered too. My husband and I have had many a discussion regarding breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He insists the correct names are breakfast, dinner and supper, just like his grandparents used to call it.

Talking Hoss

Same thing goes for the American cowboy. Raising quality beef steak was a real profession, and continues to be so today. Technology has had some influence on the cattleman and ranching industry, but what remains is a simple way of speaking his mind. There are few story tellers equal to a group of cowboys gathered around talking hoss. These types of conversations are gold to a writers ear.  I heard a cowboy mention that his horse was smoked, which means the horse had already been ridden hard and needed a rest so the cowboy had to quit work for the day. One simple word can say a lot. 

Down in the Skillet

In the olden days, the Texas Panhandle was down in the skillet. On the cattle drive, the chuck wagon cook, or dough-wrangler, might whip up a batch of sour-doughs with sop (biscuits and gravy), along with a boggy top for dessert (a pie with only a bottom crust).

After work, the ranch hand would dig around in his war-bag for a clean shirt, which is a carry-all for his personal possessions. I’ve heard the term still used today. A war bag is similar to a sports bag with a cowboy’s rodeo gear for riding broncs or bulls.  Back to the olden days, if he could find clean duds, he’d slick-up for the shin-dig at a neighboring ranch where they’d shake a good hoof until day break.

Cowboy Slang Reference

These witty and colorful catch phrases are interesting to me and I love sprinkling a few throughout my stories. I’ve discovered several helpful reference books, in case you’d like to learn more about the lingo of the great American west. These are a few of my favorites:

COWBOY LINGO by Ramon F. Adams, is a collection of slack-jaw words and whangdoodle ways (Houghton Mifflin Company).

WESTERN WORDS, also by Adams, A dictionary of the Old West (Hippocrene Books, New York).

COWBOY SLANG by Edgar R. Frosty Potter

Happy trails and keep writing!


8 Best Quotes on Writing from FiW’12

8 Best Quotes on Writing from FiW’12

By Natalie Bright

Based on the sessions I attended during Frontiers in Writing 2012 in Amarillo this past June, here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  1. “The work of writing: a writer writes. Save the make believe for your books, not your excuses.” Jodi Thomas, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author
  1. “Keep it real, keep it authentic, keep it accurate, keep it human.” Jeff C. Campbell, former law enforcement and detective, now author and historian.
  1. “Every book has to have a heart which the reader will find beating in the central drama.” Hilary Sares
  1. “Writing comes from blue BIC pens. That’s what I wrote with beginning in 7th grade, and that’s what I still use.” Nandy Ekle, multi-award winning horror author, blogging at
  1. “Only tell the reader what they need to know at that point in your story. They don’t need a lot of back-story in the first chapter. Instead, sprinkle it throughout your book.” Candace Havens
  1. “My stories come from who I am and where I come from, not from a course that is taught.” John Erickson, prolific author of Hank the Cowdog series.
  1. “The barriers to getting published are way lower today.” Chris Stewart, Attorney
  1. “Texas writers get to the heart of the matter. You have clarity of situations that are  very rare.” Hilary Sares, former Kensington acquiring editor, now writer and freelance editor.

Natalie Bright