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Frank Ball

Texas Nativity Story

Weekend Fun
As It Might Have Happened in the Old West
By Frank Ball

Luke 2
  1And it came to pass back in those days that a telegram was sent from President Augustus, commanding every citizen to register to be taxed. 2This was the first registration while Quirinius was Governor of Arkansas.
  3So all went to register, everyone going back to his family homestead. 4Joseph also went up from south Texas, out of the city of San Antonio, into north Texas, unto the city of David, which is called Fort Worth, because he was a descendent of David, the famous rancher, 5 to register with his sweetheart Mary, who was as pregnant as a Hillsboro watermelon.
  6And so it was, that while they were there, her time came and she went into labor. 7She brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in a saddle blanket. She laid him in an apple crate at the back of the country store because there were no rooms above the saloon.
  8And there were in the same country some ranchers who were up late at night, branding their calves. 9And lo, the angel of the Lord showed up, and the light of the campfire shone all about them. And they were right near scared to death.
  10And the angel said to them, “Fear not. For behold I bring you good tidings for both ranchers and city slickers—news that will make you pitch your hats into the air and leap for joy. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David, which is called Fort Worth, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign unto you—a sign that even a drunken Injun could read. You will find the baby wrapped in a saddle blanket and lying in an apple crate.”
  13Suddenly there was with the angel a whole herd of angels, singing and praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
  15After the angels had done crossed over the fence and rode into heaven, the ranch hands said to one another, “Let us go now even unto Fort Worth, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the good Lord has showed us.”
  16So they left their calves half-branded and found Mary and Joseph. Sure enough, the baby was lying in an apple crate, wrapped in a saddle blanket. 17And after they saw the baby, they rode to all the ranches nearby, to tell everyone what had happened. 18All the ranchers and hired hands who heard the story could hardly believe their ears.
  19Mary treasured the experience, and pondered what kind of cowboy her son might be.
  20The ranchers returned to their branding, singing a new tune and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen, how it was all exactly as the angel had said.
  21When the day came for the baby to be christened, he was named Jesus, which was the same name the angel Gabriel gave before the baby was conceived.

Frank Ball

What Were You Thinking?

Writing Well

Dialogue should not be entirely open and honest, because people rarely tell exactly how they feel or what they are thinking. We call this concealment the “subtext,” the message hidden behind the words, which may be shown to the reader in the expressions, tone of voice, and actions.

  Here are a few simple examples:

  1. “Sure I want to go to the ballgame.” Jill glanced toward the sewing room as if someone there were calling her.
  2. “If I were you, I wouldn’t do that,” Sam said in a taunting tone.
  3. “I said I was fine.” She smiled thinly, her eyes on the verge of tears.
  4. Jason bit his lip, hesitating. “Of course I love you.”

  Give readers the clues, and they’ll love the opportunity to figure out what is going on.

Frank Ball

Six Weeks Till the Deadline

Weekend Fun
What Santa Had to Say About Writing His Book
By Frank Ball

Twas six weeks till the deadline, when all through the house,
My computer was working with help from my mouse.
The due date was taped to the screen’s top with care,
In hopes a bestseller would rise below there.

The elves were all settled down snugly in bed,
While thoughts of acceptance still danced in my head.
My words in a turmoil, my hands in my lap,
I rested my eyes for a nice little nap.

When out on the snow there arose such a clatter,
I looked from my desk to see what was the matter.
I took to the keyboard, both hands in a flash,
My fingers were wanting a super good smash.

The moon on the slopes of the new-fallen snow
Gave light to great scenes but the plot wouldn’t go.
Then what to my wondering mind should appear:
A wonderful plan for my story made clear.

Just a little suspense, oh, so lively and quick,
And I knew the right twist that would make a neat trick.
More lofty than eagles, great phrases they came,
I whistled and shouted and dreamed of my fame!

No blunders. Go writer! Now throw in the colon.
On, comma! On, period! On, em-dash and question!
To the best of the books! To the top of the wall!
Time to dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

As the leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
So the characters’ obstacles clashed and they cried.
Going on with my story, the chapters they flew,
All the kids would be pleased and the dads would be too.

But then, in a twinkling, I thought about SCOOP.
In plotting and writing I had to regroup.
Situation and Character had to be right,
The Objective and Obstacle followed by Plight.

Needing title and plot that would captivate well,
I sought expert advice that would help me excel.
The elves had no skill to say what would work best,
But help from my writer’s group calmed my unrest.

Their eyes how they twinkled. Their thoughts were so merry!
Improving my story, they made me feel cheery.
For each little book would be wrapped with a bow,
And parents and children would shout “ho-ho-ho.”

As I looked for a way to print millions of books
All the agents and editors gave me sad looks.
No printer could do the amount I was needing.
I ran out of breath while relentlessly pleading.

With his presses so fast, a right jolly old elf
Quickly claimed he could print them but not by himself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

With hardly a word, he went straight to design,
Creating a cover that looked really fine.
And laying the wording across every page,
The copy was good, every chapter a rage.

I sprang to my sleigh with my bag of bestsellers
And knew what to say as a help for all writers
“Your success won’t be easy,” I cried through the night,
“But your Christmas is best when you make time to write.”

To Read Santa’s Bestseller, Click Here.

Frank Ball



How do you reward yourself for a writing job well done?
  You may have noticed how some dieters reward themselves for reaching a weight goal. They treat themselves with a big meal or rich dessert. Isn’t that counter-productive?
  Hall-of-fame pitcher Nolan Ryan might have been advised to get more rest after a bad day on the mound. But instead, he rewarded himself with an extra hour added to his normal workout routine. That sounds productive, doesn’t it? His record speaks for itself.
  When you’ve finished a big writing project, you can reward yourself with a celebration dinner or several writing-free days to relax. You’ve earned that, no doubt.
  But here’s a question worthy of discussion:
  What rewards do you enjoy, which will also improve your abilities as a writer?