Fun Tidbits and Facts

September Newsletter Fun Tidbits and Facts

The very scholarly page4image1796000result of Critique Café’s

Writing for Children Workshop…

The prompt given: “An author must do many things to create a book that a child would want to read.”

The list by Anonymous

The author must…

  1. Have been a child at some point in their life.
  2. Realize that children have evolved since “Dick and Jane.”
  3. Don’t use “dick.”
  4. Characters must have some kind of superpower, and wear a cape.
  5. No romance—Yuck.
  6. Include dogs…that wear capes.
  7. Memorize everything that rhymes with “poop.”
  8. Include a fat kid tamed “Tiny.”
  9. Don’t let Harvey Weinstein do the movie.
  10. HobbitsinSpace—TryThat.

(In defense of Anonymous. “It was late. Sorry.”)

dick and jane


Things Heard at Meeting

“How do you get over brain block?”

“I’m going to Put Scott and Bailey to bed.”

“He can’t be here tonight, he’s going through puberty.”



Mission Statement – The mission of Critique Café Chatter is to spotlight the talents and writing efforts of the mem- bers of Critique Café Fort Stockton Area Writers Group. Contributing members of this newsletter hope to reach out to others within the community who enjoy creative writing and the literary arts. In the spirit of our sponsor H. Edward Petsch Arts and Music Memorial Fund, we are striving to stimulate the arts within the Fort Stockton, TX area.


September Newsletter Writers and Readers Quick Snack: Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix

Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix

4 cups honey nut Chex cereal
2 cups pretzels
16 oz. bag Caramel Bugles (Caramel Bugles)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
18 oz. bag Boo-terscotch M&M’s
1 cup harvest candy mix (candy corn, candy pump- kins)
1/2 cup Reese’s pieces

(If you can’t find butter scotch M&M’s –use your choice)

In a large mixing bowl, mix the cereal, pretzels and Bugles

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla and then pour over the dry mix. Stir to coat.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper spread out the mixture into an even layer. Bake at 275 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15
minutes. Spread on wax paper to cool. Once cool add the candy pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Submitted by Glenda Bonham


September Newsletter: Writers Are Different

Writers Are Different By Richard McGee

Writers are always trying to improve their craft. They listen differently than other people; listening to a conversation often has little to do with the subject of the conversation but noting the ebb and flow of words so they can write better and more natural dialog themselves. They like to watch people perform routine tasks so their fictional characters will behave more realistically.

Writers even watch movies and tv shows a little differently. They are watching the interaction of characters, listening to dialog, and identifying plot points. My wife and I recently watched Grantchester, a Masterpiece series on PBS. We have enjoyed this series the last two years and looked forward to watching the third season. The show is a murder mystery with a police detective and church vicar cooperating to solve crimes.

The main character of the series, a church vicar, was replaced in this latest season. In the fourth episode, the new vicar asked the detective to accompany him to visit his family. Of course, a murder occurs, and they work together to solve the case. My wife loves murder mysteries and enjoyed the episode. Watching it as a writer, I was ecstatic. The show’s writer had revealed the new character’s backstory to his partner and to the viewers. It made me more empathetic to the character and it provided the depth to him that would provide many more story ideas in the future.

A good writer must build a good backstory for his characters and often struggles with how to share it with the reader. As a writer, I watched this show, fully appreciating how it was accomplished.

Book Review

September Newsletter Book Review: The Far Pavilions

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

Submitted by Glenda Bonham

the far pavillionsM. M. Kaye (Mary Margaret Kaye) won worldwide fame for her epic novel The Far Pavilions, an international best-seller in 1978. The book was made into a movie and a Broadway show.

It took her 10 years of writing and editing before she submitted the first draft of The Far Pavilions to a publisher. The story is set in India during both national and tribal conflicts of the turn of the 20th century. It opens with the birth of a British child born during his parents touring in India. After the deaths of both his parents, he is adopted by his father’s housekeeper and lives his childhood as a poor Indian subject. In his teens he is discovered by the British and sent to England for formal studies. His story is one of conflict of cultures, faiths, and loyalties for he returns to India as an adult. Here he finds romance, danger, and a struggle for his own identity.

The Far Pavilions has been recognized as one of the finest historical fiction novels of the 20th Century, alongside such epics as Gone With the Wind. It has won acclaim in English speaking countries and translated into dozens of foreign languages.

This was followed by Shadow of the Moon and Trade Wind. She also wrote and illustrated The Ordinary Princess, a children’s book and authored a dozen detective novels, including Death in Kashmir and Death in Zanzibar.


September Newsletter Member Spotlight: Jodie Martin

Member Spotlight: Jodie Martin

Screen Shot 2019-09-18 at 2.59.03 PM

Jodie Martin writes contemporary Western fiction, and is glad to wake up in Texas every morning.

Spotlight Feature Article by Jodie Martin

Clyde lifted his head up from the sun baked earth. As he did so, he could feel something clinging to his cheek and temple area of his head. He felt an empty hole in the recent past and wondered what had happened to him. With his right hand, he gingerly stroked his face to feel all the debris which seemed to have attached itself there.

Sensing what felt like open wounds, he traced the edge of the areas with his fingertips. In doing so, he realized that he must have been on the ground for quite some time as the blood from the open wounds aside his head had dried, and blended with the earth and small pebbles where he had just found himself. His head throbbed like a bass drum, being beaten by an over exuberant high school band member.

He checked his essentials. He could still see, so he still had his eyes. His arms and legs still worked, as best he could tell, and he could still hear the hot summer breeze whisper out of his left ear. He checked, sure enough, his right ear was full of dried blood and dirt. He’d live, he finally decided, as long as he got his wounds cleaned out and bandaged up. Out here, a feller was more than likely to die from an infection, than a snake bite, truck wreck, or falling into a gultch. Though some had died that way. Clyde knew he just needed to get back to his truck and clean up, then maybe he’d figure out what that hole in time should be filled up with.

Stumbling to his feet, Clyde scanned the horizon to find the sun, and get his bearings. Seeing the evening sun, he started walking in the opposite direction, only guessing that he’d find his truck somewhere in the distance. Luckily, the cab of his old Chevy soon loomed into his vison. Salvation was his if he could get to it before whatever had attacked him caught up. As he stumbled his way forward over greasewood, prickly-pear, and all sorts of desert flora, the “boom, sboom” throbbing in his head was, thankfully, lessening. The thought of that cold water in the can in the bed of his truck began to call out to him more and more as he trudged along. He felt as though someone had taken a dry cotton rag and used it to wipe out every ounce of spittle out of his mouth. Even the sweat that he should be drenched in was completely missing. He instinctively knew that was a bad sign; he needed water, and badly. He’d lost much water in the bleeding he’d obviously done, and the heat of the day had not done him any favors.

Reaching up from the draw he was now walking down, he grabbed the root of a wild persimmon tree to pull himself up and out of the draw. His arms screamed out in protest, as he was not a young man. In his youth, he’d have already been at the truck, enjoying a cool drink, but instead he strained against pain in his body as he pulled himself up the steep bank. Just as he cleared the edge of the draw, a couple of voices pierced the hot evening silence, and Clyde froze, hoping he hadn’t been seen and wanting to hear whatever he could from the mystery persons.

“You think he’s dead?”

“I don’t know, why don’t you go back and check see?”

“I don’t think so! What if he ain’t? I may have to hit him again. Don’t think I’ll be able to sneak up on him again, if he ain’t dead.”

“Well, if he’s dead, you should be able to sneak up real easy.”

“If he’s dead, I won’t need to whack him again, you big dummy!”

“Just shut-up and get in the truck!”

“Dang it; he took the keys!”

“Who in the Sam Hell takes their keys outta their truck when they’re out in the brush?”

“I don’t know, but one of us has to hot-foot it back and fish them out of his pocket.”

“And I guess you want me to do it?”

“It was your idea to steal the truck in the first place, so get to it!”

“This is more trouble than getting a job and just buying a truck!”

“Maybe you shoulda thought of that before now.”

Clyde lay under a cedar bush in the shade, listening to the two would be bandits, argue. He tried desperately to identify their voices. His thirst was growing, but he knew they’d not go anywhere, as his hand patted the keys in his pocket. He knew either one or both of them would return to the scene of the crime, to find him gone. If only one returned, he’d have to fight the other for his truck, and that cool, cool water.

As he thought it over, he was a little surprised to find that he was sharing the evening shade with a Chicken snake; a black non venomous snake known all over the southwest United States. An idea occurred to Clyde as he thought out his dilemma, and an impish grin spread across his bloodied, crusty face. His idea almost made him laugh out loud. With surprising speed, Clyde grabbed the chicken snake just below the head and allowed the snake to wind around his arm. Knowing the snake was non-venomous made him somewhat braver.

Now Clyde couldn’t wait to get either one of these desperados alone. Soon, the loser of the straw draw headed back to get the keys. Just as he got out of earshot, Clyde leapt from his hiding place, screaming about rattlesnakes and flung the chicken snake at the remaining thief. It hit his chest, and wrapped around his neck, like a clinging vine. The young man passed out, and fell to the ground. Clyde now slowly walked up to his truck and got a piece of rope out of the bed and tied the young feller’s feet and hands. After a nice cool drink of water, he loaded him in the bed and started back to town. It was coffee time, and the sheriff would be there. No use wasting time hunting down the other desperado. The sheriff loved that type of thing; besides, Clyde was all out of snakes.