Lessons Learned


Outtakes 353

Lessons Learned

By Cait Collins

 

After years of writing for broadcasters, non-profits, and corporate training groups, I was finally published. Our Time on Route 66is now available..I had always longed for a chance to sign my stories. It sounds a little silly, but autographing your works is a thrill. It’s a way of acknowledging writing success.

I so enjoyed our two days in Shamrock at the Route 66 Festival. Not only did I get to sign our books, I had the chance to meet the real travelers of the road. They taught me to see the Mother Road through the eyes of those who built the new highway. I met people who had traveled the route from Chicago to Los Angeles multiple times. I learned their stories and their dreams for revitalizing the old road. One group had recently purchased the Dutch Windsor’s Painted Desert Trading Post in Arizona. They have no plans to reopen the site. The goal is to restore and maintain a piece of American history. Their shirts had the white and red “Cold Drinks” logo from the sign painted on the exterior wall of the structure..

I was flipping through their coffee table book Route 66 Sightingsand came across a picture of the Santo Domingo Indian Trading Post.  I had visited the post a number of years ago and even witnessed a trade between the proprietor and a Native American. Sadly the original structure has burned down. It has been rebuilt, but much of the history has been lost.

I met a Park Ranger who works at the Washita Battlefield near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. We talked about how the Sand Creek massacre triggered the Washita massacre. He said “If Sand Creek hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have a job.”

I was able to speak to children about rescue horses and how they have new lives because someone loved them and believed they could be rehabilitated. And Miss Route 66 spoke of her students and wanting them to learn more about writing.

It was a weekend of joy. Three of my sisters drove up to buy our books and get them signed. They will never truly understand how much their support means to me.

I photographed old cars. (I wish I owned the T-Bird.) And I relived a scene from my childhood. The Blarney Inn is an older motel built in the three-sided design from the fifties and sixties. From the outside the inn didn’t look like much. It has had a face lift, and the rooms have been updated. The place was immaculate.

I guess this is my long-winded way of saying the weekend was a success. I signed books, I made contact with others who love history and want to preserve the pieces that can be salvaged. I met with people who love to write and want to teach others to enjoy the written word. I rediscovered what I’ve always known, reaching out to new people and new ideas helps me grow not only as a writer, but also as a person.

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INDIE AUTHOR MINDSET


INDIE AUTHOR MINDSET

Natalie Bright

Several weeks ago, at a Western Writers of American conference, I pitched an idea for a book featuring pictures of a cattle ranch, an explanation of the work Texas cowboys do, and original recipes from a ranch house cook. The editor told me that bookstores will never know where to shelve it, and she is absolutely right. She raised several good points that I had never thought about. My idea doesn’t fit with cookbooks because it has picture of cowboys, not that much food. Maybe ranching related, but it’s not a coffee table book because I’m not a professional photographer and my name wouldn’t be the draw. What about regional or local history, but it has recipes.

If you publish traditionally you must have an iron clad genre, theme and target market. That question will be asked of you in the pitch appointment. By the way, my roommate and I had practiced our pitches several times. Yes, she shot down my book, but I wasn’t nervous or offended, and I really appreciated an editor’s insight on my project. Business is business.

The mindset for Independent Authors is slightly different than taking the traditionally published route. I understand retail selling and bookstore shelving labels, but on the other hand as an Indie I can turn my idea into a book anyway. My target market is the local ranching community, a group I am very familiar with. I would sell it at library and book events in my area. Will it be worth my time and expense to have a book in hand? I’ll have to do the math and give it some serious consideration.

In the Indie world of publishing, I see myself as a writer with a gazillion ideas that cross all genres and numerous markets. I want to monetize my work in every way that I can. Parts of fiction books become short stories in anthologies. The theme for my nonfiction book can be rewritten for the magazine market or as a children’s book. Related topics would make great blog posts. If you’re bound by a literary agreement, you are limited in turning those characters, themes, or ideas into something new.

The mindset of a traditionally published author is slightly different which involves a literary agent and publishing house editor. You may have heard traditionally published authors advise, “pick a lane“. It’s valid advice. I am a fan of numerous best-selling authors who write only one genre and do it extremely well, resulting in very successful careers. Write, write, write, and keep writing what you’re good at. It’s a gamble for those who stray. What if your regency romance readers hate your new young adult fantasy? Will it cause your fans to stop buying your books all together?

A good story is a good story. That will never change for readers. Today’s readers don’t care if you’re traditional or self-published, and probably don’t really understand the difference. They just want to be entertained.

Indie Authors are free spirits in many ways. We don’t write to any pre-set list of rules. Indie Authors can define our own story elements such as word counts, settings, characters, and plot lines regardless of publishing trends set by acquiring publishers. We acknowledge the characters that wake us up at night. We set our stories in the places that call to us. We write the stories of our heart, and that can make for a very satisfying work day.

www.nataliebright.com

The Em Dash


The Em Dash

By Adam Huddleston

This week, I wanted to provide a quick reminder on how to appropriately use the em dash when writing dialogue.  The em dash is typically utilized when spoken dialogue is interrupted.  It can be used inside the quotation marks or outside, depending upon the circumstances.

For example, when dialogue interrupts dialogue:

“I don’t know what you’re talking-“

“Of course, you know what I’m talking about!”

 

For an example when action interrupts dialogue:

“I’ve had this truck for over ten years”-he ran his hand along the hood”-and I don’t plan on selling it now.”

 

I hope this helps in your writing!

Mother Road


Outtakes 352

Mother Road

By Cait Collins

 

Our Time On Route 66 is a reality. Wordsmith Six has worked hard to create our stories about Route 66. The tales span the Depression Era to about five years in to the future. The stories trace the beginnings of the Mother Road to its replacement by the super highways. Different stories. Different points of view. One destination…the Tower Station and the U-Drop Inn located in Shamrock, Texas.

Now we look forward to July 12-15 and the annual Route 66 Festival held this year in Shamrock, Texas. We will be selling and signing the book on Friday and Saturday. I’m looking forward to greeting visitors from around the world who love the Mother Road.

I have vague memories of Route 66 from my childhood. When Dad was transferred to St. John’s, Newfoundland, we traveled parts of the road. Dad was later transferred to Bangor, Maine, and we drove parts of Route 66. My most vivid memory is Burma Shave signs. I would love to make the trip again. I think it’s something I need to see with adult eyes. But for this weekend, I will see the road through the eyes of visitors.

 

 

Traditional vs. Indie: What Should You Do?


Traditional vs. Indie: What Should You Do?

Natalie Bright

The topic always comes up at our meetings. Reach for the stars and snag a literary agent who will negotiate a deal with a Big House publishing company? Or go it alone and join the throng of independent authors who self-publish? What should you do? I know, it’s a lot of information to absorb. Here are a few main points to consider as you move closer to publication in 2018.

Option 1:

If you have a high concept book theme or genre, the urgency of publication is not an issue, and you are willing to relinquish the rights to said work, then Traditional Publishing is your best option. This will require you to sign with a literary agent who will “shop” your manuscript to the five publishing houses which are closed to un-agented submissions. This process takes years. Dollars are well spent in attending conferences to network with agents and editors. Practice your pitch.

Option 2:

If you have a polished manuscript ready to go, a clear idea of your genre and target market, and a Type A personality that likes the control, then becoming an Indie Author and self-publishing your work is the perfect fit. In this option, you can do as much or as little of the process that you want. Dollars are well spent in hiring the professionals to do the work that you don’t want to learn. Become proficient on social media.

Choices

The point is, don’t get discouraged and don’t stress. Take one step at a time. Honestly, both options will sometimes move at a snail’s pace.

My body of work languished with a NYC literary agent who I met at a conference in Oklahoma City. The hardest part was not knowing the status. I got a report as to which houses had my book, but had any editor like it? How could I make it better? Maybe I should revamp my website? I should send an email to my agent, or maybe just call him? My husband finally told me, “Leave the man alone and let him do his job.”

The entire process stretched over six years and then I decided to make a change and become an Indie Author. I like knowing the exact status of my manuscripts. Although it is hard work and long hours, I am able to juggle writing and marketing around the day job. Prioritizing is key. Formatting for wide distribution in Mobi, ePub and PDF blows my mind, so a reasonably priced professional does that job. I also pay for a professional editor who checks grammar, but not plot or structure which costs more.

The point is that writers have so many choices and options for running their business these days. Either option requires a lot of patience and perseverance. It is a great time to be a creator of new and original content.

Below are links to two podcasts that have provided a wealth of information for me in my understanding of the publishing environment of today. There are several years of back logs covering a variety of topics.

The Creative Penn https://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/ with Joanna Penn

Self-Publishing Formula https://selfpublishingformula.com/category/podcast/

Mark Dawson has done it all himself and is now negotiating a movie deal.

Save the Date: July 21 in Amarillo

Wordsmith Six blogger Rory C. Keel and I will be on a panel with other Indies in July to talk about Indie Authors, small presses, and self-publishing. Hosted by the Texas High Plains Writers group, we’ll be meeting in downtown Amarillo at the Amarillo Tower on the 9th Floor.

I’ll be asking the panel questions which will cover the entire process from spark to book-in-hand. We’ll find out why they went Indie, what’s so great about having control, and what they hate about their decision.

No RSVP required, nonmembers are welcome. Our meetings are open to the public and guests may attend for a small $10 fee. It all starts at 10:00 AM and you’re invited! Hope to see you in July in Amarillo.  www.texashighplainswriters.com

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66


OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas:

  • A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright
  • A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel
  • A down-on-his luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols
  • A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins
  • Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

 

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

Read it now!

Amazon       Apple iBooks        Barnes and Noble

Carpe Diem Publishers

Another Excerpt


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Another Excerpt

By Nandy Ekle

Sighing, I looked at him in the eyes. “David, I have a ghost.” I made it up, just off the top of my head. I was usually careful about not using my ability in front anyone, but this had been a knee-jerk reaction as I pictured the blood red liquid smashing on my carpet. The scientific world called what I did telekinesis, but I called it Alfred, after Batman’s butler.

“You’ve seen other things happen?”

“From time to time, just little stuff.” Might as well make it good, I thought. “Normally, just helpful little things like stopping a falling glass or picking up the laundry. I just say ‘Thanks, ghost.’ Nothing sinister has ever happened.”

“Wow! Why didn’t you say something? When was the first time you saw something?”

“Now how can I know that? It’s not like I marked on the calendar, ‘Today an apparition appeared,’ you know? You’re way more interested than I am.” I began to flounder, but he would not let it rest.

“I would have remembered the first time, Dora. I mean, a ball of wine moving from thin air back into the glass? That’s pretty memorable.”

“Well, it’s not something I took the time to write down; it just happened one day. I told it ‘thank you’ and went on with my business.

He walked toward the door rattling his keys. “I can’t believe you never said anything about it. Holy cow! This is BIG!”

“See how you’re acting? Why would I want you to know if you’re going to freak out like this?”

He put his hand on the door knob and his eyes looked into the air behind my right shoulder. “I think the temperature in here dropped. I have to go.” And he drove away before I could think of anything else to say.

I turned to the empty room and giggled a little. My giggle turned into a full-out laugh and I sat on the couch in front of the wine glasses. My brother, the scaredy cat, always nervous of things that are a little out of the ordinary. Exactly why I felt the need to keep Alfred a secret.

But if I knew David, he would not stay quiet.

Pantser or Plotter?


Pantser or Plotter?

Adam Huddleston

     So the questions come up when new writers look to begin their first work:

How do you write a story?  Do you begin at the first and then just plug away?  Do you organize all of your scenes first and then write it?  What’s the best way?

Guess what folks.  It really depends on the writer and their preferences.  I will say that there are pros and cons to each.  Let’s examine the two prevailing methods.

  • The “pantser” writes by the seat of his/her pants.They start from word one and let it fly. The plot unfolds as they write.  This can be a very exciting and creative method, but it can also lead to quite a bit of editing later on.
  • The “plotter” plans out each scene and plot twist before they begin to write anything. This allows the process to be more streamlined and decreases editing.

Most writers probably use a little of both and what works best for you is simply that; what works best for you.  I prefer to write and edit the “major” scenes that I know I want in the story then piece them together with “minor” scenes.

Try out both methods and see which you prefer.  Happy writing!