Congratulations, Joe and Hello, James!


Congratulations, Joe and Hello, James!

Natalie Bright

It’s an extra special celebration to kick off the New Year because we are adding a new member, James Barrington. James will introduce himself and tell you more about his work in a later blog. This week I wanted to share some wonderful news about one of our members, Joe Nichols.

Joe and I are neighbors. We live about eight miles from town past the pavement down a bumpy, caliche road. A mutual friend noticed we had similar addresses, and I was thrilled to find out he was interested in writing. He joined our group many years ago to write a book; an idea that he’d been thinking about most of his adult life. He came to that first meeting knowing nothing about plotting or sentence structure, but I remember how determined he was to learn. The story he wanted to write wouldn’t leave him alone. As a former rodeo bronc rider, his story-telling is raw and authentic. He has also been developing ideas for freelance articles. We are so excited that Western Horseman magazine has published BRUTUS’ NEW JOB. It’s about a bucking bronc who decided he didin’t want to buck anymore and gets a second chance at life in the rodeo arena and on the ranch. You can read Joe’s article in the February 2017 edition of Western Horsemen Magazine. Congratulations, Joe!

WordsmithSix writers critique group has been meeting together since 2009. We’ve said goodbye to a few members and gained a few. We have cranked out words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters which have been discussed, cussed, submitted, published and rejected. Writing is some of the hardest work you’ll ever decide to tackle in your life. Seeing your words in print is one of the most rewarding things ever. When one of my critique mates has good news to share, I’m just as excited as if it were my own work. Every little success just propels the rest of us to work harder.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix as we navigate the world of writing and publishing. Have you set your goals for 2017?

Writing onward…

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The Perfect Writing Space


The Perfect Writing Space

By Natalie Bright

The second blog post I did for WordsmithSix Blog, I talked about my perfect writing space: our lovely home office. It should have been the perfect place to dream, imagine, explore words, and create. When it came to the work in progress, I couldn’t write a darn thing in that room. Instead, the kitchen table called out to me. I watched my world as I wrote: the kids were much younger, food simmered on the stove, and the dogs peered at me through the window.

Years later WordsmithSix has grown to almost 500 subscribers (thanks everybody!), and I’m writing in a new space.

Luckily, I’ve been able to cut my day job hours which allows me more time to write. In the office space that we share with my in-laws, I’ve taken over my mother-in-law’s office. It hardly seems possible that she’s been gone almost ten years. She was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. Material wealth had absolutely no meaning to her. She was never interested in fancy clothes, shoes, or filling her home with stuff. Instead, her collection of Stephen King and Dean Koontz hardbacks were her pride and joy. She loved a good horror story. Cooking a huge meal for her family or proudly showing me the first prefect rose on the bush that she had grown from a dead twig where her rewards. This was where she did the books for their real estate business, and where my kids sat on her lap to play computer games. She kept a pile of trucks and legos in the corner.

The memory of her quiet presence reminds me that this was always her office, which is why we haven’t used it until now. It has been transformed into my ordered chaos. Stacks of edited manuscripts, research notes, and books that cover every available space. I don’t have to be orderly or put anything away, and it’s wonderful. I look forward to work every morning and can hardly wait until my hands are on the keyboard.

As for the kitchen table, it’s back to being a table in the kitchen. The home office has been taken over by our high school aged son who has embraced the online gaming community.

I guess the point of this blog is this: be YOU, create when and where you can, and realize that crafting words is a complicated, joyous process that we shall never understand.

What about you – has your perfect writing space changed from time to time?

WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?


WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?

By Natalie Bright

Everybody has secrets. Things deep, down they never tell about their childhood, fears, likes, dislikes, first loves…you know some.

Characters have secrets too. Those buried, dark secrets of your fictional characters, that only you as the creator can know, might lend itself to creating some interesting scenarios for your plot.

Maybe the character knows the secret, or maybe he doesn’t (Luke Skywalker’s father, for example.). Maybe the secret leads him to make wrong decisions. Perhaps the secret is so debilitating it affects everyone your character encounters (a serial killer, for example.).

Here’s a quick guide for creating complex characters:

What’s at stake?

Reason

Real reason

Secret

Greatest fears

Quirks

Dig deep, and don’t be afraid of what you might find.

Author. Speaker. Girl About Town.


Author. Speaker. Girl About Town.

Natalie Bright

The Amarillo Club is located on the 30th and 31st floors of the tallest building in downtown Amarillo. I was invited to join a study club for lunch and to present a program on the history of energy in the Texas Panhandle. It’s a very interesting group of ladies, mostly retired educators, several local, long-time business owners, ranchers and professional women. This group is fun. They had lots of comments and questions, which makes for lively conversation and an enjoyable experience. This is my second time to present a program for them.

The view is breathtaking from this lofty vantage point. I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook of the downtown skyline and the flat Texas Panhandle.

When I got back to my car, I checked the mirror to apply lip gloss and noticed a speck of food. In my teeth. For the entire talk? Gross! I held on to the hope that perhaps the people at the back of the room couldn’t have seen it. I half cried as I checked Facebook comments on the picture I had posted. My Uncle commented: “Eating at high altitude produced gas (Boyle’s Law). You can control it by eating slowly.” So much for hanging on to any credibility for my #authortalk.

Embarrassment and horror turned to giggles as I drove back to my office. No matter how sophisticated and worldly I might be in my own mind, I’ll never escape these redneck roots. I’ll always be a small-town Texas girl, even in pearls and high heels while dining at the top of the world.

The same holds true for my writing.

No matter how hard I wish it, the stories in my brain are not mainstream. Honestly, I had big plans of being a romance novelist. I’d love to write the next zombie mega hit. Or even better, why can’t my muse ignite me with an earthshattering future world adventure that breaks all records as a New York Times Bestseller? Yes please, I want to write that.

Reality check. More than likely, it’s not going to be my book with, “Now a Major Motion Picture” printed on the cover.

The stories in my head are set in the past. My characters are thundering across the wide open prairie on a paint pony, or storming through a clump of Redcoats. In my mind’s eye, I see wagons and horses and Comanche braves. I have no idea why.

The why is a mystery.

The where and who are moving picture shows in my head.

The doing is the hardest work I’ve ever done.

Follow your characters, no matter where they may take you….

 

THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

By Natalie Bright

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 12 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year.  As a member of two critique groups, one which is all romance writers, it stands to reason that I’d be a natural at creating these kind of stories. Easy peasy.

Wrong.

The stories in my head are not of the romantic nature.

The characters that interrupt my dreams are young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. Not only have I spent many, many sleepless nights wondering about these characters and their adventures, I’ve also asked myself, WHY am I doing this? I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West at an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting historical novels. I’ve since walked many a mile on the dirt road behind my house, staring into the setting sun, trying to channel a 15-year old Comanche brave. Why this character haunts my head is a mystery.

This summer, my entire mindset has changed regarding my writing journey.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member I didn’t expect to know anyone there, and then a very nice lady from Utah introduced herself and said, “I’ll be your mentor.” (Thank you Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons, SPUR Award finalist of Big Buckaroo & Moose the Cow Dog.)

Educational Panels and Much More

While there, I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their original music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker!

At a table over a plate of Texas Bar-B-Que, I listened to the daughter of Don Coldsmith tell how her father gave up a successful medical career as a family practice physician to write stories set in the west. His first book came from the discovery of a valuable bit in an antique bin in Oklahoma, which he bought for a dollar. He penned 40 novels which involved a whole series covering centuries of history. She told us about his writing process and about how he never missed a WWA convention.

The Why Doesn’t Matter

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

WWA members endlessly research the subjects they love. WWA members write about the people and the places that burns a hole in their gutt. My guess is WWA members would pen those stories, songs and poems whether anyone read them or not. A writer writes. From this day forward, I’ll strive to write the very best story I can and leave the why for somebody else to worry about.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA NEEDS YOU!

If you’re a fan of history, cowboys, horses, and anything relating to the American West, close to 600 WWA members share your enthusiasm. You will LOVE this group. Check them out at www.westernwriters.org.

Perhaps I’ll meet you June 2016 at the WWA Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Whatever haunts your dreams, stop questioning the why and write on!

Nataliebright.com

THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

By Natalie Bright

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 12 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year.  As a member of two critique groups, one which is all romance writers, it stands to reason that I’d be a natural at creating these kind of stories. Easy peasy.

Wrong.

The stories in my head are not of the romantic nature.

The characters that interrupt my dreams are young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. Not only have I spent many, many sleepless nights wondering about these characters and their adventures, I’ve also asked myself, WHY am I doing this? I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West at an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting historical novels. I’ve since walked many a mile on the dirt road behind my house, staring into the setting sun, trying to channel a 15-year old Comanche brave. Why this character haunts my head is a mystery.

This summer, my entire mindset has changed regarding my writing journey.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member I didn’t expect to know anyone there, and then a very nice lady from Utah introduced herself and said, “I’ll be your mentor.” (Thank you Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons, SPUR Award finalist of Big Buckaroo & Moose the Cow Dog.)

Educational Panels and Much More

While there, I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their original music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker!

At a table over a plate of Texas Bar-B-Que, I listened to the daughter of Don Coldsmith tell how her father gave up a successful medical career as a family practice physician to write stories set in the west. His first book came from the discovery of a valuable bit in an antique bin in Oklahoma, which he bought for a dollar. He penned 40 novels which involved a whole series covering centuries of history. She told us about his writing process and about how he never missed a WWA convention.

The Why Doesn’t Matter

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

WWA members endlessly research the subjects they love. WWA members write about the people and the places that burns a hole in their gutt. My guess is WWA members would pen those stories, songs and poems whether anyone read them or not. A writer writes. From this day forward, I’ll strive to write the very best story I can and leave the why for somebody else to worry about.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA NEEDS YOU!

If you’re a fan of history, cowboys, horses, and anything relating to the American West, close to 600 WWA members share your enthusiasm. You will LOVE this group. Check them out at www.westernwriters.org.

Perhaps I’ll meet you June 2016 at the WWA Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Whatever haunts your dreams, stop questioning the why and write on!

Nataliebright.com

THE SYMBOL OF ROYALTY: PURPLE


THE SYMBOL OF ROYALTY: PURPLE

 By Natalie Bright

The color of robes for kings and wizards, making you think of wealth, spirituality, and the world of fantasy. If purple is your favorite color, you are probably a free spirit, compassionate, supportive of others. Your feelings run deep and people come to you for help.

The dye for purple was rare and very costly to produce, therefore only rulers could afford it. Queen Elizabeth I forbad anyone except close members of the royal family to wear purple. In modern times, it can designate things of high quality or superiority like cosmetics or Cadbury’s chocolates.

Write deeper using purple:

Lavender lilac orchid mauve plum fuchsia magenta

I like to write with a lot of emotion and a lot of power. Sometimes I overdo it; sometimes my prose is a little bit too purple, and I know that.

G. Bissinger

 

THE PARAGRAPH


THE PARAGRAPH

By Natalie Bright

 

A recent eBook purchase proved to be very frustrating.

It wasn’t the writing, which was very descriptive, literary, and wonderful. It’s the formatting. It has no paragraphs. At least on the eBook version, words continue for screen after screen after screen, with no paragraph break. I’m not sure how that would translate to a printed page, but I can tell you as far as the Kindle version it’s just impossible to read. It feels like my brain and eyes are working extra hard.

Let’s turn to the experts.

Under Chapter II Elementary Principles of Composition, The Elements of Style (by Strunk and White), they describe the paragraph as thus: “The paragraph is a convenient unit; it serves all forms of literary work.”

Paragraph Review

  1. In dialogue, each change of the speaker (even if it’s a single word) begins with a new paragraph.
  2. Each change of topic needs a new paragraph.
  3. Begin the paragraph with a sentence that suggests the new topic, or helps with transition.
  4. The paragraph can begin with a concise statement with the purpose of presenting or holding together the details to follow.
  5. For narrative action, the paragraph gives the reader a stylistic pause, used to highlight importance of some detail of the action.
  6. Large blocks of print look formidable and daunting to a reader.

In summary, Strunk and White explains, “Moderation and a sense of order should be the main consideration in paragraphing.”

Enough said. Write on people.

REF: Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Fourth Edition, Longman 2000.

SENSORY WORD: RED


SENSORY WORD: RED

By Natalie Bright

 

We think of our eyes as video cameras and our brains as blank tapes to be filled with sensory inputs.

Michael Shermer

I love this quote! Think of your readers as blank tapes. It’s your job as a writer to convey that image in as vivid a picture as possible. You create a world on a page with words that comes alive in the readers’ brain.

Let’s consider the color red. Think about digging even deeper. Instead of red, how about:

Pink, salmon, coral, raspberry, strawberry, tomato, currant, cherry, crimson, vermillion, flame, ruby garnet, wine

Each one of those shades of red creates a totally different mental image.

Thanks for following Wordsmith Six!

Nataliebright.com

 

 

 

The Writing Process


The Writing Process

By Natalie bright

 

If you enjoy reading about other author’s writing process like I do, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong way. I think the main goal that will set you apart from other writers is to actually get to THE END.

Here are examples of two totally different methods that have worked for me.

Option 1: Chasing Rabbit Trails

When you look at the pasture behind my house, you can see several well-worn trails used by cotton tales and jack-rabbits. They criss-cross, head in every direction going on as far as you can see or ending at a fence or under a tree. Here’s a true confession; I find it extremely difficult to stay with one project.

With two teen boys (a senior and 8th grader) and day job demands, I’ve decided to follow the advice of Natalie Goldberg in WRITING DOWN THE BONES: go with the thing that’s burning a hole in your heart. Come to that story with fire in your gut. From novels to nonfiction magazine articles to short stories, I just write. I’ve learned to never question the idea muse and to write whenever I get the chance.

Take for example a picture book manuscript I just finished. The idea hit me as I was climbing into my husband’s pick-up truck on our way to lunch. We were talking about the kids fighting. He was explaining to me that it’s nothing unusual for brothers. As an only child, I can’t relate to how mean siblings can be to each other. I got a visual image of a picture book, as clear as if I held it in my hand. I made notes right then and there, and worked on it over the next two months. Then sent it off to my agent, who had a few suggestions. Took several more weeks to work on edits, and now it’s out in the world. Fingers crossed that it finds a home.

This process may seem crazy to some, but I am able to get things done.

Option 2: Emersion into Fictional World

The middle grade manuscript I recently finished involved a total emersion into the world of Comanche, a Plains Indian tribe that once walked the ground that is now our cattle ranch. The book began as a story about a mule skinner’s son set in the old west, but when I typed THE END it felt incomplete. Something was missing. One Saturday morning, after two hours of digging in the dirt, I found a perfectly shaped arrowhead point which reminded me that the last person who had touched that piece of flint had been a Native American. The burning in my gut turned into a Comanche brave. I had to bring Wolf’s point of view to that story.

A secondary character became a main character, and I started over with research. If words refused to come, research turned into long walks staring at a Texas sunset trying to figure out what in the heck a Comanche teenager might be thinking in 1854. This was the most difficult and most fun book I’ve ever written. Hopefully it will find a home as well.

Don’t Question the WHY!

Take the advice of David Morrell, father of Rambo and an amazing speaker; don’t question the why. He really motivated me to keep writing; no matter the rejection, no matter the crazy ideas that pop into my head, no matter that my story may never be seen by the world.

Let’s be fearless, dear writers! Follow that fire in your gut and discover where it leads. You might be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Please share your writing process. How do you stay on task until THE END?