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Why My Ears Work Better Than My Eyes When It Comes To Advice About Writing

There is lots of writing advice out there, but there are two things I can’t entirely agree with that some authors swear by.

The first is to drink gallons of coffee because writers need lots of the stuff. I’m not too fond of coffee, are you? But I am partial to a bar of coffee-centred chocolate or coffee-flavoured cake. Does that count?

What if you don’t read books?

The second thing is that to be a good writer; you must read books.

The problem with that piece of advice is that picking up a book often terrifies me.

As somebody with dyslexia, reading books is something I struggle with.

I cannot finish reading 90% of the books I pick up because I can’t make any sense of them. But it’s not usually the author’s fault, but the fault of how my brain works when reading words on a page.

My heart sinks when I read the advice that you must read lots of books to be a good writer. I start doubting that I’m not a good writer because I don’t read enough books.

Picking up a book is a frightening experience because my brain tells me I will fail to reach the end.

But even though I dislike drinking coffee and don’t read many books, I still love to write!

They say practice makes perfect.

It’s one of the reasons I participate in the Carrot Ranch 99-word flash fiction challenge every week. People tell me that my writing and flash fiction has improved a lot. And, yes, I can see the improvements.

However, if I rephrase ‘to be a good writer, you must read books,’ to ‘to be a good writer you must watch lots of television,‘ would you look at me oddly?

You see, there are many ways I get ideas for writing fiction and improving my writing, and reading books hardly features.

I watch much more television than I do reading books.

Because of my dyslexia, I find watching television, a movie at the cinema, or a show at the theatre much easier. I can sometimes lose the plot, but I often put that down to a poor script or lousy acting.

I have much more success improving my writing from the screen or stage than from a book page.

However, just because I find reading books problematic doesn’t mean I find other stuff hard to read.

How the world of blogging helps.

When I first discovered the world of blogging, I amazed myself how easy it was to read many blog posts.

I can easily read most blog posts providing the quality of writing is good and does not show any signs of being rushed. I can spot a rushly-written blog post from miles away.

One downside for me because of being dyslexic is that I find blog posts written in accents hard to read. Even the simplest of words prove difficult as my brain tries to determine what the characters are saying.

However, I have no problem if I’m watching a movie or television show where the characters speak in a particular accent. This dyslexia can be a funny business, sometimes.

One last writing tip that may help.

I also get many ideas for stories and blog posts when ‘people-watching’ and listening in on conversations that I and the entire world can not miss because of how they’re being conducted.

My ears work more than my eyes to help me overcome my problem with dyslexia.

I’ve had some success listening to audiobooks, but my eyes need to watch something while listening, so I often give up on them too.

So don’t feel weird or out of touch when other authors and writers recommend that you must read many books to become a good writer and author. It isn’t true for all of us, especially those with problems with words and letters playing tricks on them.

As for drinking gallons of coffee, I’ll have a couple of slices of that coffee and walnut cake rather than a mug of coffee, please.

Are you somebody who is dyslexic but who loves to write? Do you have difficulty reading books? What tips do you use for improving your writing?

Copyright © 2022 Hugh W. Roberts – All rights reserved.

About the Author

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues, including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping, and walking his dogs. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived in various parts of the United Kingdom, including London, where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends.

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is, “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

You can follow Hugh’s blog at Hugh’s Views And News and follow him on Twitter at @hughRoberts05.

Looking Back, Growing Forward  

We all are one, yet so different from each other.

Our present is shaped based on our past, and our choices shape today. Memories keep us company on dull days. They can either choose to make us edgy or excite us. 

All individuals have a story to tell. This story could be a laugh-out-loud incident or a tear-jerker one or inspire the listener. 

Either way, it’s unique since your emotions are entwined around it. 

Why don’t we give ourselves some ‘me-time’ and pen it down? 

Aah! the things writing can do!

  1. Overcoming Trauma
  2. Discovering your inner self: Dialogues with the Soul
  3. Journaling into a creative story

Overcoming Trauma

We are such intelligent souls that we faced the brunt when life threw lemons at us. Many of us got bruised along the way. 

No doubt, we got hit by the lemons, but eventually, we learned to make lemonade out of it and fought our battles.  

This applies to going back in memory lane and penning down our journey where we overcame a physical, mental or emotional trauma. Now, our fight could inspire many out there. So, with that mindset, suit up and go back into those dark, grimy lanes, which can make you nauseous. Surprisingly, when you pen down those details, you too will heal from it. Writing has such magical power that it can outlive a magic wand. 

“You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.” — Unknown. 

Discovering your inner self: Dialogues with the Soul

The title was inspired by the poem, A Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body by Andrew Marvell. Here the poet describes the conflict between the human body and the human Soul. Each attributes its troubles and sufferings to the other. 

Now, I don’t want to highlight the exchange of words between the enslaved Soul versus the bolts of bones. 

Instead, let’s ponder the exchange of dialogues between our minds and the intellect when we deal with emotional, mental, or physical pain. 

Our mind is known as the pirate, which can cause turbulence within ourselves. Thank heavens’ our intellect takes over and helps with the reasoning for the latter to curb its thoughts. 

There must have been junctures in our lives where our intellect has had dialogues with the Soul. The consciousness then signals the body to act accordingly. And those are the turning points in our lives. 

Pen them! 

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” — Will Rogers.

Journaling into a creative story

Every story has a sweet and a sour element to it. After all, it’s the life that all humans are living. 

You have been brave enough to dig up all your past’s emotional and mental debris. You can either choose to add a fictional character or give it your name. 

Give it wings and let it fly. 

Life has given us the tools to achieve wellness within and around us; however, it’s up to every individual how they can piece it together. 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

― Maya Angelou


About the Author

Ruchira Khanna is an indie author and an energy healer. She draws inspiration from the issues that stalk our minds and she addresses them through her tales of fiction. Her characters undergo a contemplative arc she hopes her readers will, which is why they classify each of her novels as, “one that will make you ponder.”
http://explorereikiworld.com/

https://www.instagram.com/ruchira.khanna/
https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01/

Thoughts to Ponder

I live with one foot in tradition—and keep it there—while the other foot steps out to allow me to grow with modern technology. 

As I have watched the explosive growth of technology in modern society, my heart still acknowledges that the old ways are not so bad. Certainly, they’re different, but there are some things about the lifestyle we need to hang onto and share with the generations coming up. 

The ‘traditional’ era is when I started to embark on my life experiences. I didn’t know it then, but I was learning about consequences without being told that’s what they were, and I was testing the waters of life from a child’s perspective. Life was pretty dang good.

We played outside, even when the winter weather was below zero, and that’s Ferenheight. We made snow angels and dug caves in the snowbanks the grader had left when clearing the roads. We built fires to toast cheese sandwiches and melt snow in a can to make a hot drink. 

We walked to the two room elementary school until we were old enough to take the bus to a neighbouring town to attend high school. Contrary to stories that circulated about the hardships of walking to school, it was about a half a mile and it was not up hill both ways. We did not have professional days or teachers gong to conventions to deal with. We were expected to attend every day, regardless of the weather unless you came down with measles, mumps, chicken pox, or your meals weren’t staying in your stomach. That was about the only way to get out of going to school. 

We climbed trees and built forts in them. We played in the creek with bits of wood and leaves that were our boats. We played kick-the-can, hide-and-go-seek, hopscotch, and whatever else was inspired by our imagination. 

Hours were spent sprawled out on our backs in the grass, conjuring up shapes in the clouds our imagination let us see. At night, that same position let us gaze at the stars, finding constellations and watching for the satellites moving in and out of our view. 

Our patience was tested to the limits while we sat in the middle of a clover patch, without talking, waiting for the bees to come along so we could catch them in a jar. The challenge was to see who could catch the most bees in one jar before we let them all go and moved on to some other activity like running along the top rail of the snake fence that was part of the nearby fence line. 

We were young entrepreneurs, too. We dug worms at daybreak to sell to early morning fishermen on their way to the lake. Twenty-five cents a dozen for the worms was big money to us. When it wasn’t fishing season, we supplemented our income by collecting pop and beer bottles from along the side of the road. Those dabbles into self-employment provided the funds to buy jawbreakers and Bazooka bubble gum at the general store in town. 

When you hear someone telling a tale about knowing it was time to go home when it got dark, it really was like that. It was a good life. We improvised, we tested our parents, and mostly we had fun. 

I had chores to do, but my memory tells me that wasn’t until I was older, maybe after I was ten and my first horse arrived on the scene. That would also be about the time I learned to drive. There was no better place than a hayfield to put newly learned driving skills to the test. After my first year helping to bring the hay in, I was relegated to staying home to help with the cooking because my driving skills—or lack thereof—kept shifting the load of hay. Let’s just say It didn’t take Dad long to realize that a person who is about 40 inches tall should probably not be the one responsible for driving a truck with a clutch and four-on-the-floor gear shift while looking through the steering wheel, especially when hay fields with hills are involved. 

We had friends and relatives who depended on oil or gas lanterns for their lighting. Their wood stove not only provided heat to cook on, but it also heated their home and the stove’s reservoir heated water. Regardless of how hot the weather got, the wood stove was kept going to cook meals. Before bedtime, it was stoked to make sure there were hot coals in the morning to start the fire so breakfast could be made. That stove was also used for baking bread and canning preserves.

Indoor bathrooms were not all that common unless you lived in town, and even then, it wasn’t a necessity. The bathroom, a.k.a. known as outhouses, was either a one or two-seater. It was located out behind the house, usually not too far away. Nighttime visits to the bathroom were a chamber pot under the bed. 

My aunt and uncle’s ranch had no water in the house but had a water pump outside the back door. When I stayed with them, I loved pumping the water, but, like driving the truck, I was not big enough when it came to carring the filled pail into the house. 

A weekly newspaper told us what was going on in the world. The local diner where people gathered when they went to town kept us informed of what was happening in our more immediate world.

Our home had some modern amenity luxuries such as electricity and running water. I don’t remember us being without indoor plumbing, but I do remember an outhouse behind the house, and at the school. I’m guessing it was what we refer to nowadays as: it’s good always to have a backup plan. We had a crank telephone, our number was Fawn 3B, and our ring was a long and three shorts. The B & W television with one channel (and definitely no remote) arrived on the scene when I was about four or five. It was never turned on during the day unless you were sick because you had too many other things to entertain you that were mostly outside. The house was heated with wood-burning stoves: one in the living area, one in the furnace or mudroom, and a small air-tight heater in the bedroom area.  It was my twelfth summer when the oil furnace was installed, and the woodshed became redundant.  

Back then, it was acceptable to drop in for a visit if you happen to be driving by. No pre-arranged phone call or appointment was needed. Either people were home, or they weren’t. There was always fresh baked goods to be offered along with refreshments. The men might make their way outdoors to discuss mechanics, ranching, logging, and sometimes sample a glass or two of what was fermenting in a barrel in the shop. The women would get caught up on the area’s news while the woman of the house finished up whatever chore she might have started before company had arrived. The visitor would make themselves useful in any way they could. 

People helped each other without being asked. It wasn’t expected; it was just done. Births, deaths, emergencies, weddings, haying and harvest, building a new barn, garage or house, neighbours and family came from miles around to help in any way possible. You could be rest-assured that there was no lack of food when it came to these events, and it wasn’t the woman of the house doing all of the cooking. Anyone who came brought food. If the woman couldn’t make it, the man brought what she had prepared. It was called neighbouring. Unfortunately, neighbouring has become a lost art unless you live in a small or rural community. 

It is my understanding some of the things I talk about are now included in the new age era of roughing it. Something referred to as Glamping. I suppose if there is a want to learn about the old ways, that is one way of introducing them. I find it humorous to listen to those who return from days of Glamping. They talk like the experience is something new to the world. I suppose I shouldn’t judge, because for many, it is. 

I should probably touch on the modern technology a bit since it has become a major part of my life, especially when it comes to my writing and marketing. I have several social media platforms and enjoy using all of them. But I do not need to be plugged in, tapped in, conversing, and checking what’s going on with them all of my waking hours. I like to be unplugged. It throws my children in a tailspin because they can’t reach me when they think they should, but I am doing what suits me, taking a page out of my other time in life and reconnecting to my old ways. Of course, I embrace modern technology and will be the first to say I’m glad I don’t have to get the fire going before breaking the ice off the water bucket to make coffee first thing in the morning. 

The changes to those old-time traditions can be mind-boggling at times. Some think about that era as being simpler or less stressful, but were they? Back then, everyone was expected to show up and work at whatever they were doing in life. A saying often repeated about the mindset of people in that era is, “They worked hard, they played hard, and they showed up for work the next day.” 

Further education was not a given path for most teenagers. Those who drove in the family shared one vehicle. You planned when you wanted to go to the lake for a day. You planned if you were going to drive three hours to a big centre to shop. 

There was only one telephone, if you had one. It was on the wall, usually in the kitchen where anyone in the house could listen to your conversation. 

Communication came by way of newspapers, radios, and letters in the mail. Mail delivery might be once a week in the country. In town, it was Monday to Friday pick up at the post office. 

Stores were not open 24/7/365, but the catalogue that came in the mail could be browsed until the pages were ragged. Ordering online was not an option. One would mail their order along with the payment and wait patiently until the parcel was delivered, sometimes up to a month or more. 

Some doctors made house calls, but not every town had a doctor. The dentist might come to town every six months or once a year. The optometrist might come once a year. 

Again, I say: some think about that time as a simpler life, less stressful, but were they?

I leave you with some pictures and thoughts to ponder from another era.

Start from the beginning (again) when a mistake is made while typing a letter or document on a typewriter. Multiple copies required the use of carbon paper.
Listening to a private telephone conversation on the party line. It took place through a brown box that hung on the wall. Reaching friends, neighbours, and the outside world happened when you turned the crank handle on the side of the box to connect you with the operator at the telephone exchange.
The summer was spent cutting wood. The results would be used in the wood stoves to cook the meals and heat the house in winter.
Last night’s dinner leftovers were heated on the stove or in the oven. 
The grocery store, for the most part, was a large garden. Fresh produce full of flavours during the growing season. Canned and preserved for enjoyment during the winter. 

The sound of a tick, tick, tick with an intermittent gong was prevalent from the wind-up clock. Forgetting to wind it was not an option nor was it an excuse.
Businesses advertised in the newspaper with an occasional one-page flyer that came in the mail, by word of mouth and the radio. Social event announcements garnered a large part of a page of the newspaper. 
Documents and letters were sent through the mail, taking days and sometimes weeks to reach their destination. 
The sweet smell of laundered bedding that had been hung on the line outside to dry. Every shirt needed to be ironed. 

The list could go on and on.  

As you read the life and times of the old ways and looked at the pictures, there may be wonderment and thoughts of “Ya, right” floating through the brain waves. 

If the truth were known, there are a lot of people who not only remember, but also lived the life. 

Do you know someone who can tell you stories from their childhood? Maybe you are that person. We would love to hear the stories. 

Ann Edall-Robson relies on her heritage to keep her grounded. Reminders of her family’s roots mentor her to where she needs to go. Gifting her with excerpts of a lifestyle she sees slipping away. Snippets shyly materialize in Ann’s writing and photography. She is a lover of life and all things that make us smile. Edall-Robson shares moments others may never get to experience at HorsesWestDAKATAMA™ Country, and Ann Edall-Robson where you can also contact her. Books written by Ann Edall-Robson are available through her website, at Amazon, and various other online locations

#CRLC #QuiteSpirits #AnotherEra #AnnEdallRobsonBooks #OldFashioned #WesternLifestyle #TheOldWays #CarrotRanch

Tales from the Silver Screen: Part 8-Capers Noir

In this series-depending on how long it lasts, for life, writing, and so many other things, are quite fleeting-I hope to look at a few classic films, give my take on them, perhaps even say something new that will have significance for today, and, failing that, try like the devil to be entertainingly provocative. I also hope to post a link or two about/to the films I examine, if available, so that they can be enjoyed (or dismissed) with full access.   

In this, the eighth in my limited series of film observations, I thought I would give a shout out to one of the more exciting noir themes: the caper. I have to admit that crime does appeal to me, ( I should be very specific here, crime in film), especially in black and white films, especially when great planning is a key ingredient, great planning and human foibles.

Both of my selections this time are excellent films. One, the 1950 thriller, The Asphalt Jungle, was helmed by John Huston, a seasoned pro at the top of his game. The other, the 1956 classic, The Killing, was guided by Stanley Kubrick, close to the beginning of his stellar career.

There of course have been a wealth of caper films but for my money, my hard-earned and never gained by committing a caper money (although, as a teen, I did speculate on crime but that was, thankfully, adolescent bravado), these two films head the list.

I may mention a few of the other interesting caper films along the way just to name drop. We will see.

Caper Noir: The Asphalt Jungle

The Asphalt Jungle has an outstanding opening montage.  The look is of a desolate city. Cops are on the prowl. Crime is out of control. Our antihero is on the lam. The city, stark, drab, looking possibly bombed out, is actually Cincinnati. Our ambulatory fellow in flight enters a café with signage: American Food on one outer wall and Home Cooking on the front. The café is next to Pilgrim House (not to be confused with Provincetown’s Pilgrim House which I wasn’t but I had to google it.) We are in an empty heart of America.

Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) is suspected of pulling a ton of lone gunman heists. Moments in, we have no doubt that he is a stick-up artist. And that he has associates.  James Whitmore as his food joint restauranteur/buddy, Gus Minissi, is a standout.

We soon learn that Dix is pretty much a hard case gunsel with not much going for him but his toughness.                                                      

The conspiracy comes together. There are a range of participants. Among them are the smooth money man, Alonzo D. Emmerich (Louis Calhern), and the brains, the one who has the complex vision and skill, Doc Irwin Riedenschneider, played by Sam Jaffe. Jaffe inhabits the calm and focused skin of Doc Riedenschneider and was the only actor in the film to garner an academy award nomination (best supporting actor) losing to the excellent George Sanders in All About Eve. Coincidentally,Calhern, who plays the desperate crime financier in the Asphalt Jungle was nominated that same year for Best Actor in The Magnificent Yankee, a film about Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes.                                            

To return briefly to Sam Jaffe, whilst in this film he portrays a brilliantly criminal mastermind with (spoiler alert) devastating carnal tendencies, I best remember him as the High Llama in the classic paradise found and misplaced film version of James Hilton’s novel, Lost Horizon.

Returning briefly to Doc Riedenschneider’s downfall, the actress who assisted his carnal demise was Helene Stanley who had a varied film and private life, modest in some regards but she was briefly married to Johnny Stompanato and also served as the model for Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

The Asphalt Jungle is singularly  blessed with an early  performance by Marilyn Monroe as a femme fatale. She is a thumb sucking fatale of course at this stage of her career but she enlivens the film, gives a sort of boudoir excellence that plays well against the dark, bleak urban setting.

                               

The plan
  Marilyn and Calhern

                    

A couple of small asides on two actors who ever so briefly appear in the film early on. The police have picked up Dix on a vagrancy charge and he and two others are in a lineup.

One of the other two felons, William Doldy, is played by an excellent character actor, Strother Martin. It was his second film, and uncredited. Martin would appear in some outstanding films later in life.

Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke

In 1969 he was in three of the great westerns, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch, and True Grit. He had a notable role as fraudulent guru in 1966’s Harper, one of two films made from the works of superior mystery writer Ross MacDonald, both starring Paul Newman.

The following year he uttered one of the great cinematic lines as the prison warden in Cool Hand Luke : “What we have here is…. failure to communicate.”

Henry Corden plays Karl Smith, the other man in the lineup. I should note here that the three fellows in the line-up are all different heights. The cops have a witness to what we know is the stick-up Dix has done. The robber was tall. Corden was 6’1”. Martin was 5’ 5”. Hayden was 6’ 41/2” but seemed much taller standing next to Martin who was in the middle of the other two.

Corden was in the early stages of his career and spent much time in television. He gained immortality as he provided the voice of Fred Flintstone, was even doing the voice months before his death at age eighty-five in 2005.

The Asphalt Jungle was based on the W.R. Burnett novel. Burnett authored a host of books, and a number were made into quality films. Little Caesar and one of my favorite films, High Sierra were products of Burnett’s vast talent.

 I should also note that there are at least three film adaptations of The Asphalt Jungle.  A western, 1958’s The Badlanders, staring Alan Ladd, Cairo, made in 1963 and starring George Sanders, and a blaxpoitation film from 1972, Cool Breeze.

Caper Noir: The Killing

Stanley Kubrick’s, The Killing, is a magnificent piece of work. Also starring the great, gruff, take no prisoners actor, Sterling Hayden, it is another ensemble crime masterpiece that unfolds with alarming alacrity.

In this film, Hayden is the linchpin, the driving force, the organizational big cheese. He is the planner and brooks little disagreement. As you will see, assuming the film is new to you, while he has or forms close relationships with a few of the participants, they are all operating independently. Within that individualistic motif, there are many separate but moving parts. Like a criminal Rube Goldberg machine, Hayden’ s character, Johnny Clay manipulates/buys/shapes his brilliant game of theft.

The femme fatale here is one of the best, Marie Windsor. Her acting is sleasy great.

Marie Windsor and Sterling Hayden

Most of all, the ensemble company is brilliant, equal in my view to the fine assemblage in The Asphalt Jungle. Two standout performances are rendered by character actors, Jay C. Flippen, and Elisha Cook Jr.

Cook had already made an indelible mark in holiday essaying two powerful role in two iconic films.

Elisha Cook Jr.

           

In The Maltese Falcon, he played a vicious yet somewhat inept foil for Bogart’s Sam Spade. In Shane, he played the doomed farmer an son of the Confederacy, Stonewall Torrey

Another great character actor was Jay C Flippen. Flippen had a long career in a range of entertainment sectors including being a song smith and sports announcer. In a host of classic post war noir and westerns (especially the films of Jimmy Stewart) he was a standout.  He spent much of the last decade of his life in a wealth of television appearances.

Jay C. Flippen

                                       

As the film unfolds, its documentary quality draws you in. The voice over keeps you and the conspirators on track and on time.

Time is the key.

And so are the players. And they are a collection of misfits. Things quickly start going awry. Each has his own foible and as they unfold, the crime, their crime, falls into disarray. So, a quality about caper films is the rise and fall of the participants.

At one point in the film, we find our selves in a chess, checkers, and scrabble club. The scene was filmed in the iconic New York City location known as the Flea House. This slight but entertaining diversion showcases another of the conspirators:  Maurice Oboukhoff, played by Kola Kwariani, also known as Nick the Wrestle who was a habitue of the Flea House

One final character actor to note here (and I am leaving out some other sparking ones) is Timothy Carey. He plays Nikki Arcane, a hired assassin. Carey was a fascinating character in his own right.  Feel free to check him out.

Timothy Carey

                                 

Final Thoughts: Each of these excellent films depict a criminal subculture that engages, reveals, and ultimately exposes their (spoiler alert) downfall. Caper films are often exciting and worth a viewer’s time. A couple of other noirish classics I would like to leave you with are Richard Fleischer’s 1950 heist film, Armored Car Robbery, and the somewhat obscure 1958 film, The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery, with Steve McQueen in an early role. There are countless others to delve into but these two offer a nice contrast. Fleischer was a master filmmaker and packs some great plot twists and location shots into Armored Car Robbery.

Charles Guggenheim, the producer/co-director of TGSLBR, went on to an excellent career as a documentary filmmaker and was nominated for a dozen Academy Awards for his work  winning in two.   TGSLBR was based on an actual crime and even utilized some of the same police officers involved. Though an interesting footnote in the caper genre, ultimately it is a lesser albeit curious project.

About The Author

Bill Engleson is a retired social worker, Pickleball aficionado, energetic novelist, poet, humorist, essayist, flash fictionista, an engaged community volunteer, and pro-vaccine fellow and is resident on Denman Island in British Columbia.  He has published one noirish social work novel, Like a Child to Home, which received an Honourable Mention at the inaugural 2016 Whistler Independent Book Awards.  In 2016, Silver Bow Publishing released his second book, a collection of humorous literary essays entitled          

Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul.

During the pandemic, his poetry appeared in five poetry anthologies, including the recent release of Word Weaving’s syllabic verse, The Moons of Autumn. His entry in the 2021 Owl Canyon Hackathon was published in the anthology, From The Corner of My Eyes.      

He has any number of writing projects in the hopper including In 200 Words or Less, a local monthly column in Denman Island’s The Flagstone, Drawn Towards the Sun, a prequel to his first novel, and a detective mystery set in the 1970’s, A Short Rope on a Nasty Night.    

A much younger Bill Engleson SFU circa 1967/68

What’s your Style of Conflict?

Conflict is necessary when writing a story. Tension is the conflict’s little brother. While conflict might be more visible through a friend’s fight, a lover’s betrayal, or a tragic accident, it will keep the reader on edge from one scene to the next as they wonder how it will all come to an end.

If omitted, readers may decide to skip your novel entirely.

The principle of conflict is that it should rise and fall at uneven intervals. Escalation and resolution should occur so that conflict has motion. As a writer, you will want your characters to respond. For example, a woman leaving her husband can not happen without reason. Here, you begin to see how certain factors in story-building affect one another. 

We have to consider the degree of conflict and how that will impact your characters. 

Eventually, as writers, we try to make peace with the characters involved in the conflict. We try to think about their personality traits, their motivations, or their goals. We try to be in our characters’ shoes by considering what they will do. How would my characters respond, or does the conflict change them? The transition could be a bumpy one. 

Similarly, when we conflict with others, we ought to learn to make a truce.

The above applies to our lives. 

A conflict in our day-to-day lives helps us stay alert and, in some cases, grateful. If nothing ever went wrong in our lives, we would never have a chance to grow stronger. On the other hand, life, all rosy, would be so dull, aimless, and bland. A rise and fall at uneven intervals can keep us on guard and allow our intellect to make decisions when we are in a puddle. It’s also a test of our intelligence, which makes us different from any other living species. 

Conflict is the vehicle for change in our society, our personal lives, and at work.

Martin Luther King, Jr., looked at conflict as a means of making positive social change. It is how we handle conflict that we need to consider.

According to the Thomas-Kilmann, Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), used by human resource (HR) professionals worldwide, there are five major styles of conflict management—collaborating, compromising, avoiding, competing, and accommodating.

Collaborating: 

While working in collaboration with another peer at work, an individual could create concerns and needs. Although partnership could generate creative solutions, foster respect, trust, and build relationships. But it can also lead to competition to create a win-win solution. 

Collaboration is far more powerful than competition. Your body and brain work best when you’re joyful and peaceful, not when you are pushed to the wall.

Compromising: 

People who work as compromisers are willing to sacrifice some of their goals while persuading others to give up theirs. They are ready to walk the extra mile to help maintain the relationship. Although the compromise is not necessarily intended to make all parties happy, to split the difference, game-playing can result in an outcome that is less creative and ideal.

Avoiding

People who use this conflict style deliberately ignore or withdraw from it rather than face it when in such a situation. However, they hope the problem will go away if they lay low by not taking responsibility or being involved. But then avoidance can be destructive if the opposite party perceives that you don’t care enough to engage. The result could be a loss for both parties since the argument could result in angry or hostile outbursts by not dealing with the conflict. 

Competing

People who compete come across as aggressive, confrontational, and can be intimidating. Having a competitive style is mainly to gain power while pressuring a change. However, this style could help in making difficult decisions and can harm relationships beyond repair. 

Accommodating

People who adopt this style of conflict usually keep aside their own needs because they want to keep the peace. Accommodators are cooperative and keep their egos at bay. They wouldn’t mind losing and allowing the other person to win.

Conclusion

How we respond to someone challenging our ideas or questioning our views is an essential aspect of our personality that we would be wise to recognize. At work or within the family, how we engage with others can make the difference between a positive and mutually beneficial relationship or one that is fraught with distrust and frustration.

We might consider this mode as our instinctive reaction to conflict. Knowing our mode can help assess whether we are the right person to engage in a row.

My two cents

By first gaining self-awareness, engagement with others can be more thoughtful and considerate, which is critical in improving one’s work situation and achieving professional objectives. 

Different situations demand different conflict approaches as long as we continue to heal ourselves with any process. 

So, what’s your style of conflict?

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This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Instagram: ruchira.khanna

Humor in Writing

I write contemporary fiction genre with themes that revolve around the facts of life.  

Bowled but Not Out (BbNO) revolves around second chances. Often, an individual who has been let down the first time from a dysfunctional relationship will not have the courage to stand up and look out for another opportunity. Despair and discouragement will envelop her. 

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh; otherwise, they’ll kill you.”

― George Bernard Shaw

That’s when I thought of sprinkling humor in my protagonist’s life, Saru, by using cricket as a metaphor throughout the novel. I have projected Saru to be confident, empathic, funny, and silly at times. She bats away the sarcasm and negativity in the stadium that is her life. 

Humor isn’t easy to define. While you know that comedy is a cognitive and emotional experience that often leads to laughter, you may not know why. 

Why is something funny?

No one knows how to answer that question definitively. Humor is personal, subjective, and biased.

Humor is often the result of surprise. An unexpected action or phrase can be a delightful treat when set up in the right way.

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

― Erma Bombeck

There is a thin line that separates laughter from pain. I embraced some tips to be able to make it an entertaining read.

  1. Mold a protagonist to appear silly. I portrayed her as a die-hard Bollywood fan who would love to sing and dance around trees and even get emotionally charged if someone did a favor for her. This easy-going personality came in handy when I showcased her in a dysfunctional relationship. But then I also tried to have a character support her transition during that period and not give up. 
  2. Compare two lives. One was the protagonist who had entered a dysfunctional relationship, and the other was her co-sister happily married. This contrast helps the reader get a grip on what my protagonist is going through, and it helps generate empathy for her. 
  3. Use metaphors to define her tragedies in addition to happy moments keeps the mood light. I used the terms of cricket to do the above. 

Example: “Go and hit the ball out of the park.” Saru’s dad cheered when they reached their destination. Saru realized that she had received a beamer and was quick to duck figuratively to avoid getting hurt. Her self-pride was bruised, but she continued to glare at the maid’s audacity. 

4. Place a character reader love to hate. That prevents the plot from becoming too spicy and intense.

Example: “Just remember, Saru, the whole world will be watching you.” Mom got comfortable on the dining chair with the rotary phone on her lap.

“What a smart way to encourage your daughter, Sushma!” Her dad scorned his wife then inquired, “What are you doing?”

“I have to inform our relatives, Colonel. How will they know that our Saru is going to be on TV?”

5. Make them laugh when they least expect it. Never set the expectation that you’re about to try to be funny. It’s much easier to be funny unexpectedly. Attempting to be funny is a subtle side effect; humor is a pleasant deviation from an expectation. Then create a scenario where laughter is induced skillfully. 

Example: Saru goes for a TV interview, and things don’t go as planned. But she turns out to be everybody’s favorite towards the end. 

I usually project the mental growth of my characters as they learn from their failures. And in my Bowled but Not Out novel, I project the same. This young lady knows to groom herself to be a confident achiever and strengthen the platform for her daughter and her future. 

The use of simple language, smooth transition of the story plot, humor, relatable and straightforward characters all make this book enjoyable and a must-read by one and all.

============

This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Who Left the Dang Gate Open

“If you open a gate, you close it. You’re responsible for what happens if you don’t.” These are some of the live-by words my dad instilled in me from as far back as I can remember. They still bounce around the gray matter each time I open a gate – any gate. 

The consequences of not heeding his directive meant taking the heat over a gate being left open and the possibility of animals escaping. Even worse was trying to round up the stock before anyone became aware they were not where they were supposed to be! 

Your wake-up call comes when all you see at the end of the day is one lone herd member grazing. First and foremost, you are the one responsible for making sure you take every opportunity to close the gates. Always! When you are aware of what the repercussions can be, it is up to you to be the responsible landowner.

Keeping the gates closed is a concept that should trickle down through the generations as a learning tool on how we handle our social media posts. The last thing we want is to lose visitors and possibly sales because we have been remiss in performing our due diligence.  Rotating stock in and out of feeding pastures is necessary; however, you need the knowledge to control the gate and where they go. The last thing you want is the herd breaking free before they have filled up on everything you are capable of feeding them.

Blog writing, in my opinion, has to be one of the best ways to show the importance of closing gates to keep control of the herd, a.k.a., your visitors. We have all read about the benefits of sharing links to other information that resonates with your writing, but here is where you need to be on your A-Game. Those links to outside sources can be a nemesis or a feather in your cap. 

The Nemesis—Links that open to outside information might mean your visitors leave your website and don’t come back. Why? Because the gate was not properly secured. 

The Feather—Links to outside information that is properly secured show the reader that you are willing to provide additional material. If the gate is secured correctly, the visitor will wander in the new pasture with a view of the home corral still in their sights. An example of this is the links in my Bio at the bottom of this article. Each should open as independent pages without taking you completely away from this CRCL Quiet Spirits column. 

The goal should be to allow the reader to open links without leaving the original article. As they finish reviewing the material found through the link, the linked page can be closed, and the original piece is still before them. You have not lost this visitor. 

Opening content in a new window is an easy step to keep the herd (a.k.a. visitors) corralled on your land. Platforms offering blogs, in the majority of cases, provide the option to “open in a new window” when setting up a link. If you don’t use this option, I recommend you start. It is something I also use with links within my website. Why? Because I don’t want the visiting herd to get lost on my land and not know how to find their way back. 

The long and the short of all this is: Pay attention to how you add external connections to your work. Having links open in a new window will guarantee most visitors to your website/blog will stay with you when they close the external link. Losing them through an open portal may mean lost sales and followers. 

The concept is much the same for any platform. If you forget to include opening links in new windows, you can go back and edit your work to make the change. Closing the gate after the fact isn’t the best choice, but it is a step in the right direction to keeping the herd where you want them in the future. 

I have created a free downloadable, how-to cheat sheet to help you stay on top of keeping the dang gate closed.

Ann Edall-Robson relies on her heritage to keep her grounded. Reminders of her family’s roots mentor her to where she needs to go. Gifting her with excerpts of a lifestyle she sees slipping away. Snippets shyly materialize in Ann’s writing and photography. She is a lover of life and all things that make us smile. Edall-Robson shares moments others may never get to experience at HorsesWestDAKATAMA™ Country, and Ann Edall-Robson where you can also contact her. Books written by Ann Edall-Robson are available through her website, at Amazon, and various other online locations.

Write to Inspire Yourself

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes, I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can escape the madness, melancholia, and panic fear inherent in a human situation. ~Graham Greene.

I am a classic example of this statement. When arthritis struck me in every joint of my body, the plus side was that I became aware of all the joints that exist. Each step would be as laborious as a chain smoker trying to breathe. The pain was excruciating, and to date, I get the chills. The negative side was I was forced to go into hibernation mode.

However, my infant was being taken care of by my mom, who had traveled from India. At the same time, I had to make an effort to move to nourish myself, in short, to come out of hibernation. 

Weeks turned into months, and I finally decided to quit my corporate job since I had no hope of going back. It was a tough decision, but I decided to take charge of myself. No more blaming fate over it; thus, slowly, but with steady steps, I decided to fight this inflammation off my body while keeping a keen eye on my infant’s milestones in the background. 

This autoimmune disease was my turning point in my life. While the doctors had prescribed me pills to ingest every other hour, I decided to fill myself up with affirmative messages to get my limbs moving. 

 I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. ~Anne Frank

I started to pen down words since we all know that the society that we live in is filled with negativity. Dialogues from a distance such as, “Oh! How do you manage?” “Gosh! I feel for you.” “You are so young to get this?” 

The above conversations would put me in the ‘Why me?’ stage, and I would get into the loop of never-ending pity. That would incur all sorts of negative emotions and make me take a back step.

Some of the writing:

Life has many phases bestowed upon us. There will be happy while there will be challenges to overcome. Don’t become serious when there are challenges ahead in life; continue to do your part to solve the issue by being sincere. You being diligent, honest will take you miles. But by becoming serious and losing sleep on it will make matters worse. Since the saying goes, “All work and no play make a man all dull and lame.”

You can do it!! This is the mantra we should always be chanting. Man is born to have ups and downs in his life. In this period of life, we go through ups and downs, and we can stay motivated during our down period by chanting the above mantra. Positive thinking helps.

The power of a touch, a small act of caring, can blossom a plant. Life is like a plant. Just as the plant needs water, fertilizer, sunshine, and fresh air, we need to experience the power of a touch, a smile, have a listener beside us, or hear a compliment to keep us blossoming and going every day in our lives. 

Develop a challenge during a crisis. Keeping that attitude will make you confident; to try to overcome the problem, and you will be able to see through the smoky tunnel for light.

 Life is a grindstone, and it will grind us down. We can choose to get polished by the grinding and shine like a jewel, or we could get crushed by the grinding. 

Every minute our body creates a new cell. The cell divides, and a new cell is formed based on the type of energy we have. If we are bickering or complaining, the new cells formed are deformed and can have a derogatory effect on our health in the long run. No matter what the situation is, think positively. No problem can be as big as the kind of cell being produced in your body, which will reward us in the long run with good health. 

=======

The topic for the write-up would vary on my mood each day. But writing helped; I would go back to it; when fear, anger, pity would encircle me. These words would be gold then and would ground me and help me find light in the dark tunnel. 

Eventually, this kind of pattern became a habit, and today I cannot live without it. My body is quick to retaliate if anything negative encircles around, making me conscious of my breath and thoughts.

Amidst all the chaos and the turmoil of inflammation, I could sense the negative and positive vibes. That also made me recognize that universal energy is supreme; thus, I learned about Reiki and other modalities.

I eventually started penning stories and novels and entered the self-publishing world in 2013. Also, I blog at Abracabadra, which has inspired many because of the mantras attached to each feature. 

My 2 cents

Life is all about twists and turns. This detour in my life made me recognize the passion within, and I am living a fulfilled life.

Mantra for today: Man plans for his future, but only 1% of it gets executed. 99% is what destiny has in store for him. But the choice is yours to either drive it or let it drive you! 

============

This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Truth or Fiction

I am rural raised, my writing is contemporary laced with injections of western culture, heritage and tradition. And like working with cattle, sorting stories into their respective corrals can have its advantages. My favourite round-pens to hold words in is the one that is fit for sharing around a campfire and the one where the story did happen. 

As a young person, I found it annoyingly and funny how people reacted to stories they heard. While listening with the usual deer in the headlight look, their comments would range from “Really?” or “Did that happen?” to any form of disbelief that dribbled from their lips. Yes, it sometimes made me sassy, and I might counter with, “What do you think?” or “You know, you really can’t make this shit up.” But, as any storyteller knows, you can make it up. 

I learned uncouth, unprofessional, and inappropriate responses do not educate readers about your passion. I have matured, which I might add is questioned by some; however, it has guided me to make a point to take time to explain the stories. I have found when I add a back story or insider memento while at personal appearances, the aha moments come to life.

In preparing for this column, I took liberties with my ‘chore’ time and revisited several pieces I’d like to share with you. I am interested in your thoughts. Are these true stories, or are they campfire worthy – a product of my imagination? 

Throughout February, I will add some back story notes and personal thoughts for each of these stories. The link to their truth or fiction verdict will be on my Facebook Author Page



Cowhide Race

The rodeo always had something for everyone: Rough stock, roping events, calf riding for the kids, barrel and stake racing, and for added enjoyment during intermission, the cowhide race. 

At the last minute, her brother said she would be his partner, and since he was a lot older than her, she knew it wasn’t up for discussion. Besides, she had wanted to ride in the cowhide race for as long as her eleven-year-old mind could remember. 

The bonus was—well there were a few— but the one that she was most excited about was being able to ride her brother’s sorrel horse. She had ridden him before, but she was fairly sure her brother did not know about those times. Maybe this would show him she could handle the animal and be given permission to ride him whenever she wanted rather than on the sly.

At the starting line, a strong arm around her waist tossed her up onto the saddle. She looked down at the stirrups dangling a good foot below her boots. 

“You don’t need them,” he said, handing her the reins. He jogged back to the cowhide, sliding his hand down the lariat which he’d tied hard to the saddle horn. Keeping the gelding standing in line with the other teams, she watched over her shoulder as her brother got settled on the hide. He grabbed hold of a jagged, dried edge with one hand and the knotted rope with the other. 

When the klaxon blew announcing the start of the race, the sorrel catapulted forward. Leaning over the saddle horn, reaching along his neck to give the gelding his head, she felt the slack rope snap tight across her leg. 

They were at the other end of the arena in seconds. Her brother raced from his place on the hide, took hold of the reins, drug her off the horse, and swung into the saddle in one motion. She ran as hard as she could towards the hide. Stumbling, she somehow landed where she was supposed to before finding the end of the rope to hang onto. The gelding was already at a dead run when the rope tightened, swinging the cowhide with the little girl on it through the air in the direction of finish the line. 



Grizzly

It was a good day to check the fence line damage. He loaded the tools and supplies into the side by side and slid his rifle into the scabbard. A few hours into his day, he noticed something dark lying on the other side of the fence not that far from where he was working. Thinking it might be the neighbours’ missing bull, he started down the fence line to check. 

It happened faster than he could think. The roar. The screeching sound of barbed wire stretching to the max before it snapped. The grizzly bear charging. One shot from the hip, the bear dropped. The second shot was lost in the trees. Six feet from the toe of his boot to the nose of the old boar was the distance between life and death. Why he had decided to take his rifle to check on the possible bull sighting, he will never know



Man of the House

She busied herself stoking the fire, topping up the water reservoir, and filling the kettle and large canning pot with water to get them heated and boiling. She had already put the extra bedding, scissors, and thread on the chair beside the bed. 

The pains had started through the night. It wasn’t the first time she had birthed a child, and it wasn’t the first time her husband had been away when it was time. She would get everything prepared before sending the boy across the frozen lake to their nearest neighbours. The neighbour lady had experience in helping in these situations. It was the way of life.

When his dad was home, the little boy spent all his time shadowing the man he looked up to. His young mind knew more about surviving, hunting, and horses than some of the men his dad knew. His dad was proud of him and the man he would become. 

The boy knew there was something not right with his mother but didn’t ask. His dad had taught him that was women’s stuff and not to worry. But today, he was worried. She was doing things he’d never seen her do before. His mind told him something was going to happen, and since his dad was away, he was the man of the house and would look after her. 

It had started to snow by the time the boy finished his chores. At his young age, his daily responsibility was to gather the eggs, feed the chickens and dogs, and make his bed. Arriving at the house, his mother met him at the door. Taking the basket of eggs from him, she leaned on the counter, rubbing her back. 

“I need you to go get Mrs. Brant. Catch one of the workhorses and bridle him. Come back to the house and bring the horse with you. Before leaving, I’ll help you put on extra socks and gloves and your dad’s scarf.”

The boy nodded, leaving the house without saying a word. He pulled his wool hat down over his ears. He would take the big roan horse called Ginger.

His mother gave him last minute words of encouragement, a sandwich she had made, and asked him to do his best to hurry. He had been across the lake to the Brant homestead in the sleigh with his dad. Going by horseback wouldn’t be any different in his mind.  His mother reminded him he needed to go out to the point, on the lake past the beach, and turn toward where the sun would set. 

It was still snowing when he left, but every so often, the clouds would brighten, showing him the direction of the sun and his way. He wrapped the rein around a hand and hung onto the main, urging Ginger into a ground-covering trot across the snow-covered ice. The sound of horses whinnying welcomed them before the shoreline came into view, letting the boy and his trusty stead know they were close to their destination. 

Ginger needed no guidance. He seemed to know the importance of their mission. He didn’t go to the corrals. He went to the house and stood still while the little boy slid off his back, dropping the rein to remind him not to go anywhere. 

Mr. Brant hooked up his team to the sleigh, tying Ginger to the back while the youngster warmed up and ate his sandwich before the return trip. Wrapped in a quilt, sitting between Mr. and Mrs. Brant, they started back across the frozen lake in the fading afternoon light.



Gin in the Jockey Box

It was New Year’s Eve and forty below outside. Still, it was a given that the party at the lodge would not, and could not be missed. In this weather, any kind of travel required a certain amount of planning. In the long run, it was unanimously decided the trip would be worth it. 

After I had finished the morning chores, the Mrs. had coals from the wood stove put into two buckets for me. I put them under the motor of the car to keep a small fire burning all day. We always had a stock of shaving sticks we used to start the fires in the house. These, along with sawdust, were used to fuel the coals throughout the day to get the oil warmed and the motor primed to turn over when it was time for us to leave. 

Now the Mrs., she had things to do as well. The women supplied the midnight supper and My Mrs. was always asked to bring a few of her desserts and her pickled beets. We took the beets from our supply in the cold room, and she had spent a few days baking up a storm. Just because there was a bunch of women cooking didn’t mean we only needed to take a little bit of food. Each woman had to make enough to help feed about sixty people. 

I loaded the car with extra quilts and blankets. In this weather, you never know what you’ll be faced with. The Mrs. wrapped the beets in towels to help keep them from freezing, and layered her baked goods in a box. She’ll put the her baking in the warming oven to take any cold off of it when we get to the lodge.

Now you’re probably thinking, why go to so much trouble when we can turn on the heater? And I bet you think we didn’t have far to go either. That isn’t quite how it works in our part of the world. Driving to the lodge is not a ten-minute jaunt down the street. It takes us the better part of two hours in the winter, sometimes longer if we are the ones breaking trail in a fresh fall of snow.

The car we had is a good one. She’s reliable. I do all my own mechanic work, so I know her sweet spots and what has to be teased and tickled to make her hum. We had a little trouble convincing her that the heater should work all the time and not just when she felt like it. But we’re used to that. 

The Mrs., she wore her big, fir coat and wrapped a quilt around her legs. I chose a less ritzy look with coveralls and a winter parka. Most important was that we stay warm. 

But even when the heater did decide to work, we were faced with the problem of keeping the window clear so I can see if we are still on the road. It is sometimes hard for me to tell when the ground flattens out and trees have been logged off. That’s where the Mrs. comes in. She keeps a mickey of gin and some pieces of an old flannel sheet in the jockey box. Before we leave, she wets a rag with gin and gives the inside of the windshield a good wipe down in front of where I need to see out. It keeps the glass crystal clear for a little while, and when it starts to freeze up again, my Mrs. works her magic once more.  

When we get to the lodge, the men’ll help us carry in the food and drink. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that we bring our own liquor. We put it on a big table sharing with anyone who wanted some. There was always a good variety of homemade and store-bought. I like the potato champagne the Mrs. always makes. We usually take extra for anyone who wants to take a bottle home. 

I’ll put the bucket of coals we brought along under the car and check on it every so often to make sure it keeps things warm and ready for our return trip home. Sometimes we stay for breakfast before heading out, but that’s a story for another time. 

It’s good to see our friends and neighbours again. Happy New Year.

Writing for the Brand

My mind became a state of turmoil when I heard the term writer’s brand.  When you are raised in ranch country, the word ‘brand’ is common. It’s the mark put on livestock to identify who they belong to, and now I was being asked to come up with a ‘mark’ to put on me as a writer. 

I wondered if our family’s brand, Bar K Reverse K, could be used, or if I would have to invent another branding iron that would be mine and mine alone. You should see the file filled with scrap papers, covered with all the brand drawings I concocted to represent what I assumed this new brand should be.

Bar K Reverse K – Edall family brand for over 100 years.

During my time of no-brand limbo, it was decided a logo, a picture, or something, needed to appear on my work to identify it as mine. This would not be my decision alone, as my husband was also my business partner. Whatever we were going to use was not only expected to be my identifier, it also needed to be incorporated as our company’s logo.

I would be several years into what I call the ‘serious writing thing’ before I fully understood what having a writer’s brand meant. It fell into my lap one day while I was explaining why I write what I do and why I take the pictures that I do. Diversity and growth often lead to a need to make other changes. These might be a major overhaul of everything involved or baby steps to make sure the new landscape feels right under your feet. 

February’s Full Snow Moon

For years, the picture of the full moon rising over the ridge has been synonymous with everything we did from my writing, photography, and our company. However, it was evident that the talks of rebranding should become more than dinner table discussions. With the addition of books in various genres, taking on the role of book publisher, and incorporating other projects, this growth to our corporate interests resonated with the need to have an updated look: a look that was a recognizable presence representing the company as a whole. It was time for a transformation, but here again, it had to fit with what I had discovered was my writing brand.

Branding Day

Like rewriting a chapter in a book, change starts with an idea. It can be one thought or the vision of an end result. Either way, it took quite some time to find the right look for the new branding iron. Thinking it would happen in a short time frame proved to be a mistake on our part; however, listening to the people we contacted was found to be invaluable. They may not have provided all the answers or the direction we were looking for, but their artistic concepts added depth to the final result, providing food for what we thought we wanted. Simultaneously, it was a stark reminder that wants and need is two totally different things.

And now I return to the original dilemma of going on the hunt for a writer’s brand. Through my search to locate what I thought was needed as a writing branding iron, I discovered I had been writing under our home brand all along. It is the passion for what I believe in. It is from where I come that guides me to where I go. 

Still Rides for the Brand

Quietly, a cowboy would make a statement, “I ride for the brand.” These five words speak volumes to the dedication and respect we follow in creating our own brands. The values we place on the top rail keeps us true to what we believe in. True to our brand.

Oh! And the company…In the spring of 2020, we were presented with a rough concept that encompassed our vision. It did not compromise the want to include the trees silhouetted against the full moon or the important need of adding a feather. In the end, we got what we were looking for. It’s obvious there, too; we are still riding and writing for the same brand. 

The Quiet Spirits

How did you discover the brand you ride for, I mean write for?

I rely on my heritage to keep me grounded. Reminders of where I come from, mentoring me to where I need to go. Gifting me excerpts of a lifestyle I see slipping away. Snippets shyly materializing in my writing and photography. I am a lover of life and all things that make us smile. Sharing moments others may never get to experience at HorsesWest, DAKATAMA™ Country, and Ann Edall-Robson where you can also contact me.