• Judge's gavel
    Mini Mind Hike

    How TV Shows Help Writers Develop Characters.

    The Fall television season is a little over a month old. Soon, some of the freshmen shows will hit the chopping block. Identifying why a show is given a full season run or renewed for a new season can help writers create powerful stories. Intriguing protagonists and a dynamic ensemble cast Dynamic characters are the fuel that powers a show towards success. It’s impossible to imagine Jon Snow, of Game of Thrones, without his Stark brothers and sisters, his friend Samwell, and the men fighting with the Night’s Watch against the Night King and the White Walkers. Cersci Lannister and brothers Jamie and Tyrion, along with the Small Counsel of…

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    Mini Mind Hike


              Sniff Hits the Road    Theory or Thought Without Action Leaves You in Your Head or Heart   Those can be good places. Comfortable and Safe. Until you realize how long you’ve been lounging on that comfy couch.   Action takes us to new places. Action gets the blood and brain excited. Action can feel risky.   I enjoy doing, but I tend to be an observer. At the party, I’m the one sitting in the corner people watching. That’s if you can get me to the party at all. I tend to be a homebody. Happy in my cave. I need friends that poke and prod me to go…

  • Mini Mind Hike

    Finding Your Writer Grit

    FINDING YOUR WRITER GRIT As my online Story Structure Safari class comes to a close, I’m grateful for the hard work, enthusiasm, and guts my students displayed as they wrestled with the assignments and gave new vision to their stories. I love the idea of a Safari because my class opens up new vistas of story that some writers have never seen and allows other students to revisit story elements with a different mindset. Being open to new ideas and new processes can be a challenge. Like our heroes and heroines, we have to face adversity and be willing to fight through the fear and discomfort.  How can we, successfully…

  • Mini Mind Hike

    Football Can Help You Create Better Characters in Your Novels

    I watched a documentary on HBO recently: State of Play: Happiness I would recommend every writer watch it. There is so much to learn here about Point of View and Motivation. This can apply to all protagonists but yes, particularly if you have a main character who is/was an athlete or in the military.  It was AWESOME. It is about the science of happiness and came from the viewpoint of retired NFL football players and their journey to find happiness after leaving the NFL. I am a major student of Positive Psychology and this spoke to me. I worked with angry teens that always needed ways to find a different,…

  • Mini Mind Hike

    Two Conflicting Needs

    I’ve discovered a new voice that I loved reading all weekend. Victoria Mixon, she’s an editor and her new book The Art and Craft of Story is wonderful. Much of it is essays about writing rather than a traditional how-to format. Boy, does this gal have a voice. And strong opinions. I appreciate both. The thing that’s smacked me upside the head is her discussion of Two Conflicting Needs. Mixon says on page 71 that Internal Conflict comes from dual, opposing needs. “No matter what happens in a story, our protagonist’s fundamental conflicting needs keep them from achieving the aim they’ve set themselves to achieve and, even worse, force them…

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    Mini Mind Hike

    Talking the Talk: Balance It With Walking The Walk

    Sniff shows us balance               Talking to the Wall   I teach school. Some days, a better way to describe it might be doing battle with teenagers. My school is an alternative school. When the kiddos get in trouble at their home school, they get assigned to us for 20, 30, or 90 days. This means they are often only with me for a short part of the year.   Part of my job is to process how to make healthier, more productive choices in the future. When I talk with them about changing behavior, I cringe when they use the words “I’ll try.” Translation: Heard this a million times. Yeah,…

  • Mini Mind Hike

    Bigger Than Life

    I listened to a book on cd, Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls these past two weeks. Walls calls it a True Life Novel about her grandmother Lily Casey Smith. If you like bigger than life characters, well Lily is one. The story takes place mostly in West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in the early 1900’s up through the 50’s. This is a period when ranch life in the Wild West crashed into the 20th century. This book is a story of hard work, persistence, bull-headedness, and creating opportunities for yourself. It is a story of dreams. Wow, that sounds like characteristics a writer has to have or adopt…

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    A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

    I’m here world. I have a website. I feel like Julie Andrews twirling on that mountain top in The Sound of Music or arms stretched out, steaming forward on the bow of the Titanic, like Leo and Kate. Wait, nix that last part. The ship sank. Being here and anxious to continue building my online home is fabulous. This website becoming a place you enjoy coming to and can’t wait to revisit—that is the goal. Time is our most precious resource, so I want to give you plenty of bang for your visit. In the next couple of weeks, you will see big time changes as outstanding web designer Lisa…

  • Mini Mind Hike

    Building A Tribe

    Wanting and needing others is part of human nature. I talk to myself every now and then, so it’s not like I need others to always have a conversation. Still there is a craving to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to be a part of a group, a tribe. Being a Texan, the idea of belonging to a tribe is not so unusual. It feels a bit like being a part of a Wild West adventure. My hubby and the kiddos are card carrying Choctaws. Though you couldn’t guess it by dear daughter’s blond hair and blue eyes.  We have our family and friend tribes. Our school tribes. We have a mixed marriage and family. My daughter and I bleed burnt orange.…