Outtakes 262


By Cait Collins



Today me will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasant,

in which case me will eat a cookie.

                                                                                                Cookie Monster


One of my co-workers adds some interesting comments, words of wisdom, and off-beat holidays to her morning report (Did you know today was Chocolate Milk Day?).But her Cookie Monster quote really got me thinking.

Sometimes we have those days when nothing seems to go right. You’re late for work. A kid is sick. The car breaks down. And your boss dumps an “it has to be done by close of business” project on your desk. You rush home to work on a free-lance writing assignment that’s due the end of the week, and you stare at the screen begging it to inspire you.

I think Cookie Monster has it right. Eat a cookie. In other words, give yourself a treat. A white chocolate mocha, a really good glass of wine, thirty minutes reading that book you bought last week, or just sitting on the porch and watching the sun set can recharge your creative instincts and allow you to make progress on assignments. A break and a special treat will relax you and allow thoughts to flow.

So me thinks me will get a bowl of chocolate/vanilla ice cream and read a few pages in me new book before me gets back to work on me novel. Who would have thought you could learn something from a Muppet.

Little More Work

Little More Work

Dialogue’s realistic,

the story moves along.

The character’s are believable,

But the point of view is wrong.

The ending makes more sense,

The conflict gets resolved,

With proper punctuation

And use of perfect tense.

                 Author: Rory Keel


Set Your Creation FREE

Set Your Creation FREE

By Natalie Bright


This thing you’ve created—be it blog, picture book, or novel—becomes real. And real things, on occasion, must be set free.

By setting your words free, I don’t mean submitting your work for publication. I’m talking about letting your creation take on new forms and being open to new opportunities.

In my case perhaps a magazine article, which was rejected, can become something else. I had this great piece about a horse trainer, some photos by a professional photographer and an interesting hook about a rescue horse and second chances. The idea struck me: the story would make a great photo-illustrated picture book. One book became two, then three, and then four—that makes a series. Why didn’t I see it before?

There were some delays, a few road blocks that had to be resolved, but the Rescue Animal Series is finally real! Book 1, Lizzy and Little Bit, was released on Amazon last week. Book 2, FLASH, was launched this past weekend. To date, I have 15 possible titles in the series. It’s just a matter of work and persistence, and allowing the story to develop. It all began as a rejected magazine article.

Sometimes on the way to the dream,

You get lost

And find a better one.


The Loser


The Loser

By Nandy Ekle

Your character has a goal. This goal is something they really want. They think about it constantly. It is the theme of every decision they make, every thought they have, every moment of every day. They dream about it and this goal becomes the loftiest ambition they will ever have. And they want it so much they would give up everything in the world, including their own body, to get this thing they want.

So that’s where the adventure begins. It begins with a need that goes deeper than the ocean. The character begins to search for ways to get it.

As they search, their vows of “whatever it takes” begin to come true. They must begin to lose things they care about in order to get the one big thing they want. First they lose the small inconsequential things, like toys, grades, respect, or small change money. These are things the reader can identify with losing, but not be scarred too deeply.

But still they keep after their goal.

So then they must start losing higher stakes. The loss of more important things, like pets, jobs, good friends, vehicles, homes, loved ones, or fortunes—these things will dig deeper in the reader’s heart. They can understand the pain the character goes through, but they can still understand why he goes through it. The goal is just too great to worry about losing the things they have lost.

So then, we must be extremely cruel and take it all away. Our character should become totally alone, broken hearted, and starved. This is the point where the character will begin to wonder if their goal is really worth all the loss they have endured. Were they better off in the beginning of the story, or will they actually be better off if they reach their goal? “Happily ever after,” or “sadder but wiser”?

This is also the point where the reader’s heart is as broken as the character’s heart. The reader wanted to see the character reach his goal. They know how important this need is to him, but they also feel the pain he endures to get to the goal. The reader has become a either a cheerleader because the goal is very grand, or they want to discourage the character because the goal is not worth the losses.

So whatever the case, your main character must become a loser to become a winner.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Author Intrusion

Author Intrusion

by Adam Huddleston


This week’s literary term is: author intrusion. Another similar phrase you may have heard is: breaking the fourth wall. It is a device where the author/narrator speaks directly to the reader/audience. This can be used to give the reader extra information that might be difficult or time-consuming to acquire. For example, in a stage-play, a character may step aside and speak to the viewers about what other characters in the story are thinking or doing.


Outtakes 261


By Cait Collins


Sometimes fate steps in and deals a painful blow. Last Wednesday I was putting the finishing touches on the chapter I planned to read at Thursday’s critique meeting. Suddenly, the entire chapter was gone. I tried “undo”, but nothing. I tried “do not save changes” when closing the file, but nothing appeared when I reopened the file. I’m sure the chapter is somewhere out in Cyberspace, but I don’t have the address.

So what should I do? Midnight Thursday morning is too late to recreate the chapter, so I decided to punt. Occasionally I will write out of sequence. And knowing I had a key scene coming up, I decided to play with it. I had a 30-minute lunch break and wrote about a page and a half, printed it and took the pages to critique. It wasn’t my best effort but it gave me a start on the reunion of my hero and his nephew.

Writing under pressure isn’t ideal. You might get away with it once or twice, but it’s not recommended for every project. While I write by the “seat of my pants”, I do take time to research and plan. Face it, not everything can be spontaneous.

Be successful

Be successful

Rory C. Keel

The word “Successful” is an adjective that is defined as accomplishing an aim or purpose.

As writers, success is accomplished when you start. With every step from learning how to write, doing research for materials, to putting letters on a page, each action is success.

Others reach success when they complete a piece or when they market a published work.

Being successful is not static or a finite level that a writer achieves, but success is a description of someone moving forward step-by-step accomplishing their goals.

Start writing today and be successful with every step.

Now is as Good a Time as Any: Writing Your Family

Now is as Good a Time as Any: Writing Your Family

Natalie Bright

I spoke at my hometown library this last week. The Dimmitt Book Club meets at the Rhoades Memorial Library every month. We talked about the changing tide of books for writers and readers, and hopefully, inspired a few people to write their family. I heard several wonderful stories about the people from my hometown.

After a show of hands, about three indicated that they owned eReaders. (As I shared with the group, the two things that sold me on an eReader is that I can make the words bigger and I can read in the dark while my hubby sleeps.)

According to a recent Pew Research Center stats, half of American adults either own a tablet or an e-Reader. In 2014, 12 million devices were sold. It’s no surprise that Amazon Kindle has the largest share of the market, with 75% of all eBooks sold in the US. Other countries are close behind the eBook craze with markets opening up in India, Germany, Indonesia, and Brazil.

For people who love stories, like Book Clubs, this is an amazing time for readers. Original material is in high demand, which makes this an amazing time for writers as well. The irony of our time is that while eBooks continue to gain a solid hold, it’s never been easier for anyone to create a book for print.

Family Stories

Many of you have thought about writing the stories you heard from your childhood, or putting your family genealogy research to paper. I think today, more and more people are interested in family stories and the history of their communities. Family historians and genealogist can bring community and family members to life through the written word, and reveal them as real flesh and blood souls. With the ease of self-publishing options, you can write it and have something in hand you’d be proud to hand out at the next family reunion (or sell it to your cousins to cover your costs).

A Million Ways

Whatever you think a family memoir or collection of stories might be, forget those preconceived notions. Through the ease of self-publishing options, you can create whatever you want. I shared several of my favorite examples of family memoirs and personal reflections that have been turned into published works. I’ve listed them below:

PATCHWORK PRINCIPLES by Jerry and Martha McClenagan. A heartwarming collection of life lessons featuring original quilt designs hand made by Martha. (Infinity Publishing)

TEN SISTERS by Doris Wenzel. Unique POV from ten sisters who each wrote a chapter about the day they were taken from their mother and adopted out to different families. (Mayhaven Press)

TAKE TWO & BUTTER ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE HOT, by Barbara Sewell. Heirloom Recipes & Kitchen wisdom from her grandmother. “If you want some hot bread and free advice, step into my grandmother’s kitchen.” I love this collection of recipes and wisdom.

             GROWING UP IN THE BRADFORD OIL FIELDS by Jim Messer. (Xlibris) Written for his children, Mr. Messer reflects on memories growing up with a father who was an oil field shooter. A fascinating look at how they stored, transported, and ignited nitroglycerin during the completion process of fracing wells in the 1930s.

             A WOMAN TENDERFOOT by Grace Gallatin Seton Thompson. Published in 1900, this Rocky Mountain adventure is written by a Victorian woman who did the unthinkable: she accompanied her husband into the wilderness of U.S. and Canada. What I wouldn’t give to have some of this detail about clothing, food prep, adventure, and life from my own grandmother.

             LETTERS FOR COACH by Libby Cleveland. Author Coop Action Printing, Lubbock Texas. A collection of letters from players to their favorite coach.

SO GREAT A HERITAGE by Kathie Jackson. A collection of letters by her father who was an army Chaplain. She sprinkled this book with details of the war in between letters to home.

OIL PEOPLE by Natalie Bright. Nonfiction targeted to upper middle grades about the varied workforce used in the discovery, production and refining of oil. Lists the many products we use every day. Self-published 2010 based on my husband’s work as a petroleum geologist, and now available on Amazon as an eBook.

           “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing” WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS STORIES. Based on an old ranch hand on a college friend’s ranch, I wrote the story as an exercise for a writing class, and years later it was selected for this anthology published by TCU Press. Never delete those story ideas. You never where they might find a home in the future. This great collection contains both fiction and nonfiction about West Texas.

Writer’s Secrets for Non-Writers: You CAN do This!

  • Your writing is not going to win a Pulitzer Prize. If you’ve ever wanted to record your family history, write it down now. It’s not going to be perfect the first time. Writers call it the vomit draft.
  • On the next pass through your work, narrow the focus: smells, sounds, fear, taste, grit on your face. Add the details that brings the reader into your story.
  • Write to one person in particular. Don’t worry about who will be reading your work. Just write.
  • I’m not talking about literary writing. Write in a Conversational tone. Don’t worry about grammar or complete sentences. Just write. You can go back and fix it later. You can’t fix a blank page.
  • Read your story out loud. Every author I know does this final step before submitting their work for publication. This helps you find awkward sentences, typos, and determine the flow of your story. Again, it’s not a literary piece. It’s you telling a family story.
  • Have someone else read your work for an honest critique.

Libraries of Tomorrow

The library in my hometown continues to thrive. I used to spend every Saturday there while my mother did the weeks laundry around the corner. I’m glad to know that the folks in Dimmitt continue to use the facility.

In addition to several groups using the meeting room and a Tuesday reading program for children, the Dimmitt library features a lighted glass case of collections from local patrons. This month were porcelain tea pots from England. The previous month featured Elvis memorabilia. Librarians are thinking outside the box to keep their facilities vibrant even in today’s eBook revolution.

Now, Take a Deep Breath. Whether you’re a multi-published author or first-time writer, be open to the possibilities of your creation and WRITE. Don’t forget to schedule a talk at your hometown library after you get that book finished.

The Gift


The Gift

By Nandy Ekle


I’ve got the characters. I can hear their voices and see their faces. She throws roses into the arena. The bright sunshine glints off the sequins on his suit making him look like a glowing god. He bends down, scoops up one of her roses, and makes a big gesture of smelling it. In the background, the opponent beats against the toril, the gate to the arena. She sucks in a deep breath as the crashing of the monster’s body gets louder.

I have the situation. The female character and the male character are unable to deny their attraction to each other. Their love causes the conflict, and the monster behind the gate raises the stakes, as does the third character, her husband.

I’ve been researching my heart out. I’ve had to learn some history, some new words, a very different culture, and even different names. I’ve had to look up facts, rules, and definitions. And just when I’m ready to start writing, a new question comes up and I go back to Google.

I’ve worked so hard gathering information that I’ve gotten myself extremely excited to get this going. So I open the computer, put my fingers on the keyboard, and . . . . . . . sit there. You see, reality has happened. Overtime on the day job. Laundry piled up. Empty refrigerator. And then, the top of the list, a big time illness pops up.

So I’ve promised myself a gift. This weekend I will take my computer to a quiet little coffee shop and not allow myself to leave until I write the words “The End.”

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.