What Do You Do With All Those Books?

Outtakes 245

What Do You Do With All Those Books?

By Cait Collins



Walking into Barnes and Noble or any other book store is dangerous for me. It doesn’t take long for me to fill a basket and risk a back injury carrying it to the cash wrap. It’s so easy to spend big because, bottom line, I love books. On my last visit I was asked, “What do you do with all the books after you read them?” It depends on the book.

Some books I want to keep. They are friends that comfort me and make me think. They entertain me. And no matter how many times I read them, I see or learn something new. Some books I keep not only because I enjoy them, but because they are signed by writer friends. Some offer great information and look so good on my book shelves. But then there are volumes that I enjoy, but realize I won’t read them again. So at some point, I remove them from the shelves to boxes and I share them with others.

Right now I’m in the middle of the “Great Book Shelf Clean Out”. I’ve filled about six boxes and a couple of stacks waiting for boxes. Once everything is packed, I deliver them to the public library. They are used for their book sales. Friends of the Library book sales are fund raisers for local libraries. Or in areas where there are no libraries, used books can provide a new source of reading materials. Nursing homes, shelters, rehab facilities, and possibly hospitals are also areas that could benefit from donations. And if you want to make or save a little money, take your used books to used book stores. Some offer cash, others give you credit for future purchases. No matter where you donate, others benefit from the contributions. If one person picks up a book and becomes engrossed in the adventure, then the donation has served its purpose.

If you’re like me, there’s no way you could toss a good book into the trash. There’s only so much room on the shelves, so something has to give. Yes, that’s it give your books to someone or some organization that could make good use of them. Everyone deserves the chance for an adventure.


Tags: Barnes and Noble; Libraries; Nursing Homes; Rehab Facilities; Hospitals; Autographed book; Used Book Stores; Cait Collins; Wordsmithsix.com


Write to make Diamonds

by Rory C. Keel

I recently conducted some interesting research on diamonds, how they are formed in the earth, the process used in mining these allotropes of carbon and what happens to them on the journey from mining to the market.

Dealing with diamonds the industry uses what is called the 4C’s. The first “C” is the Carat. This is a term used to reference the size of the diamond. The second is Color. This can range from colorless, the most valuable, to a yellow hue. On occasion a diamond of another color is found such as the blue Hope Diamond. These are rare. Thirdly is the Clarity. This describes the degree to which a diamond is free of blemishes and inclusions. Finally is the Cut. The cut is the jeweler’s touch. The angle at which a diamond is cut makes it attractive to the eye and gives it its shimmering brightness.

I have found that these “4C’s” are very useful in writing.

First, the carat. What size does my writing project need to be? Many contest pieces, devotionals, short stories and articles are subject to a specific word count. Publishers and agents may also require a word count in the length of some novels.

Secondly is the color. What is the genre’ of my writing? The answer to this question will not only help you in what to write, but in determining your target audience when it comes time to publish.

Third is clarity. What point of view are you writing from? Is it first person or third person, past or present? Double check your grammar usage and make it proper for the piece; and don’t forget the punctuation and spelling. These things can determine whether your story shines or is as clear as mud.

Finally the cut. The goal of this stage is to produce a faceted jewel where each angle between the facets optimizes the luster of the diamond. The jeweler cuts out weaknesses and flaws to focus attention on the beauty of the diamond. As writers, we type as fast as we can, elaborating on every little detail and sometimes find ourselves in a dark alley away from our storyline; or we add filler just to make the word count. Let’s face it; there are some things that will need to be taken out to make it shine.

At the jeweler’s a rough diamond is placed in a small vice, then carefully and strategically cut, and when it’s polished, it’s beautiful!

The diamond is your story.


What’s He Wearing?

What’s He Wearing?

By Natalie Bright

Writing Excuses podcast touched upon a subject I had never given much thought to: fashion.

In an interview with Rebecca McKinney, they talk about how clothing descriptions can add depth to characters and detail to your story.

Here’s the link, if you want to take a listen: http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/05/08/11-19-fashion-for-writers-with-rebecca-mckinney/

Character Profiles

This opens a whole new list of possibilities in my mind. Fashion could be used as a personality flaw. Maybe quirky colors in an attempt for attention or a certain look that becomes an obsession. How about the teenager that changes clothes every time she leaves the house, and how does that reflect her personality? Perhaps a meticulous appearance might be a sign of deeper psychotic issues.

Historical Accuracy

Fashion isn’t the only thing that has changed throughout time. As an author of historical fiction, the podcast reminded me to dig deeper. Think about the materials available at the time of your story. Laborers, European aristocrats, the plantation owners, eastern business men, and the cowboys out west would have dressed very differently.

Take jeans for example; they haven’t been around forever. Levi Strauss first appeared on the scene in 1870 when he took a twill made in France and died it indigo. At first his blue denim work pants were considered for the poorer working man. Miners working in the gold fields of California were some of the first to appreciate the sturdy denim.


Since the majority of my historical stories are set in the west, I have found these books to be invaluable resources:

HOW THE WEST WAS WORN, Chris Enss, Morris Book Publishing (2006).

“Clothes and Accessories”, Chapter Six, EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE WILD WEST from 1840-1900, Candy Moulton, Writer’s Digest Books (1999).

Meet the Author – Nandy Ekle

Meet the Author


Since the creation of WordsmithSix as a critique group, we have evolved in many ways. While every member is like family and brings their own valuable insights to the group, sometimes there are changes. Some of our members have moved on in their life’s journey, however their contributions continue to influence our writing forever. Others have filled the empty chairs and have started their journey into the world of writing.

Each member of WordsmithSix is excited about our writing journey. For the next few weeks we will dedicate a Sunday blog to letting our readers know a little more about who we are. Each author will be asked a few questions to help you understand their desire to write and what motivates them. Maybe their answers will influence you in your writing.

This week we are excited to feature one of our original Wordsmithsix members. She is a multi-published author in the Psycho-thriller and horror genre.

Please welcome Nandy Ekle

When did you start writing?

I started writing in junior high. In the 8th grade I actually wrote a book (I’m talking about 80 pages) about a group of kids who found tunnels underneath the school. I really didn’t have a plot, but it was fun for them to explore the tunnels. This was in the middle 70’s. Of course, nothing happened with the story, which is lost somewhere in my childhood. But in the middle 80’s, The Goonies came out on the big screen, and it reminded me of my first writing adventure. After that I wrote a story called The Kiss That Never Was. I’m actually a little embarrassed about that story now because it was so awful, but it was something I wrote, and it had a definite plot, weak as it was. After that, I wrote part of a story about a woman and her boyfriend who were kidnapped, which was also hilariously ridiculous because my kidnapper did not even have a gun.

And I had no concept of “short answer” questions on tests. Once we were assigned to write a short essay about Christmas for English class. But mine was more of a short story about a little girl waking up and feeling the Christmas magic in the air. Needless to say, the teacher advised me to stick a little closer to the assignment instructions.

Why did you choose the genre you write in?

Well, I didn’t choose my genre, it chose me. I write the dark stories, the horrors, psychologicals, thrillers, mysteries. I’ve tried to stick to lighter stories, but there’s always a twist that heads back to the dark side. It’s as if I can’t control it.

And I think I understand where it comes from. I’ve been accused of being an adrenalin junkie, and I guess that’s true. There’s nothing I love more than reading a book, or watching a movie, and a completely unexpected life shattering twist leaves me feeling as if I’ve been punched in the gut. That, my friends, is a fantastic feeling. And I suppose that’s why I try to include that type of twist in my writing.

What’s the best thing you’ve done to help your writing?

The best thing I’ve ever done to help my writing is join a writing group. I had been the person who, even though I’ve been a writer for most of my life, I’ve always felt self-conscious about it. I mean, I’m a grown woman, a grandmother, and I see other worlds and hear characters talking in my head all the time. So the first time I walked in the group and people came up to me and said, “So, what do you write,” I was completely floored. I had never felt that open about it before, and it was absolutely . . . liberating. Then I found the critique group. Not only was I accepted as a writer, I was encouraged, even expected to write more and more words, in more and more creative ways. And that has made all the difference.

What’s your writing routine like?

I’m ashamed to say I really don’t have a set writing routine. As a “pantser,” I write when the whim strikes me. And that means that sometimes there are huge chunks of times between writing sessions. This creates guilt feelings, and that makes me try to force words on a page that have no business being there.

How do you reach that personal place that allows the writing to flow?

Getting myself in “the zone” sometimes is harder than others. One thing is to have a character be real to me. I have to do that by getting deep in their heads. One way I do that is to write in first person.

Another thing that helps is listening to music, especially if what I’m writing was inspired by a specific song. I once wrote a story about a wife who suspects her husband is seeing another woman, so she goes to a fortune teller. An old 70’s song by Cher was my inspiration, and I had to listen to the song over and over while I was writing it. To this day, when I hear it, I hear the characters arguing with each other.

Movies and books also inspire me. Also pictures of old houses and true crime stories. Also, an interesting situation or character.

Are you an outliner?

As I mentioned before, I am a “pantser,” which means I write “by the seat of my pants.” I usually have an idea of where I want the story to go and the twist, which is very important to me, but when I do get into “the zone,” anything can happen, and it’s usually better than what I had originally planned. While the rest of my life is very organized, I suppose writing is where I’m actually able to let it go and let it happen. But it’s finding that zone . . .

What has been your biggest writing challenge?

Well, definitely, keeping a writing routine is a challenge. I know the masters say, “the more you write, the more you want to write,” but if I force myself to write, it reads, at least to me, like it was forced. In my case, spontaneity is definitely the best.

What are you working on currently, future?

Currently, I have more than ten short stories going, at least I think they’re going to be short. I have several more started that will be longer than than a short story, but I really don’t plan to make them into a novel. I have two novels completely written in my head, but only about one fourth of the way on a page. And I have countless rewrites and completions to get done. And no number for the ones in my head that have not floated to the top of my story soup and screamed for attention. Besides these are the situations and characters, or even just a glimmer of a twist, and I know there’s a full-blown story there, but just have not been able to put my finger on exactly what it is.

What advice would give to new writers?

Writers write. That’s all I know. Writers write.

Oh, and let go and let it flow.

What’s the most positive thing you could tell writers today?

The most positive thing advice I can tell writers today is don’t ever let anyone make you feel silly because you like to make up worlds and characters. And find a master to emulate.

The List


The List

By Nandy Ekle

 The best place in the world to find inspiration to write is from those who have proven themselves to be brilliant geniuses, masters in the field. Here is a list of those authors who, when I read their work, I forget to breathe.

Stephen King

JK Rowling

Neil Gaiman

Nora Roberts

James Patterson

Diane Setterfield

Terry Brooks

Piers Anthony

Anne Rule

Janet Evanovich

Mary Stewart

Dr Seuss

Moe Willems

JA Applegate

RL Stein

Ray Bradbury

Gillian Flynn

This is by no means exhaustive as I’ve had 50 years experience as a reader. And I’m always looking for new masters and stories to get lost in.

Tell me whose work gives you goosebumps, thrills, and makes you swoon with joy?

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



by Adam Huddleston


The next literary term in my blog series is: foreshadowing. I assume most people understand what it is, but it is important for writers to know how to use it well. For completeness sake, foreshadowing is defined as an indication or hint of future events. This can be blatant or very subtle. I would guess that most readers prefer a more sly approach to foreshadowing than being “hit over the head” with it.

Some examples of foreshadowing in movies and literature include:

  1. The farmhands, Professor Marvel, and Ms. Gulch in Kansas in “The Wizard of Oz” acting similar to their counterparts in Oz.
  2. In “The Empire Strikes Back”, Luke sees a vision of his face in Darth Vader’s mask, foreshadowing the revelation of their relationship.
  3. Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet” states that he’d rather die than live without Juliet’s love.
  4. The witches in “Macbeth” are an evil omen of future events.

As a writer, it may help to work backwards when creating foreshadowing. Add little clues in earlier parts of your story, but be sure to have those hints blend in with the plot, otherwise the reader will see it ahead of time.

Happy writing!

Stockpile People

Stockpile People

By Rory C. Keel


A writer needs to have a stockpile of people. No, not like in the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but a file full of descriptions, characteristics and quirks of real people.

The truth is that all characters are based somehow on actual people. Think about it, even the characters you invent are based on elements taken from real people. The people you place on the page come from someone that you, as the writer, have seen or come in contact with, either personally or by hearsay.

The Gathering

To place these characters on your page, you must own them, every part of them the good, the bad, and the ugly. To do this you need to try and understand real people. Interact with them, watch them and observe their condition in life. When you finally know them, they are yours. Gather them up and stockpile them by writing them in a file. They will be glad to repeat their behaviors on the pages of your writing.



Don’t Be Fooled: Writing is HARD Work

Don’t Be Fooled: Writing is HARD Work

By Natalie Bright

Without a doubt, writing is the hardest work I’ve ever done. I was remembering the other day about the other jobs I’ve held in my lifetime. Waitressing comes in at a close second, but physical labor doesn’t exhaust me the way an intensive brain workout does.
Writing a story forces you to dig deep emotionally. You can’t hold back for your character’s sake. They deserve all that you have, and so do your readers. The roller coaster ride of emotion in finding the right words can leave us drained.  We’re writing straight from the heart.

On the other hand, there is the practical side of writing which involves marketing, promotion and selling your novels. This is a totally different mindset.  The WordsmithSix Critique Group has been meeting together for almost six years, and I completely trust their wisdom and suggestions in regards to my work. As much as I love them however, there are times that I may not choose to do anything that they say. This side of writing is ruled by my head. As the creator, you alone, must know what’s best for your writing career.

From your heart, you create stories that feed your soul.
From your head, business must be business.
Two completely different notions that now more than ever, today’s authors must embrace and understand if they want to be successful. How crazy is that? Writing is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

Write onward!

Meet the Author – Adam Huddleston

Meet the Author


Since the creation of WordsmithSix as a critique group, we have evolved in many ways. While every member is like family and brings their own valuable insights to the group, sometimes there are changes. Some of our members have moved on in their life’s journey, however their contributions continue to influence our writing forever. Others have filled the empty chairs and have started their journey into the world of writing.

Each member of WordsmithSix is excited about our writing journey. For the next few weeks we will dedicate a Sunday blog to letting our readers know a little more about who we are. Each author will be asked a few questions to help you understand their desire to write and what motivates them. Maybe their answers will influence you in your writing.

This week we are excited to introduce our newest member of the WordsmithSix Critique group. His writing style is impressive with the ability to draw the reader into the creative worlds he creates.

Please welcome Adam Huddleston

When did you start writing?

I started writing (in earnest) about six years ago.  On a whim, I bought the book “Writing Fiction for Dummies”.  I devoured it cover to cover.

Why did you choose the Genre’ you write in?

I chose the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genre because that’s what I grew up reading.  My favs were Stephen King and Michael Crichton.

What’s the best thing you’ve done to help your writing?

The best thing I’ve done for my writing career is joining our critique group.  Having honest feedback on my work helps out tremendously.

What’s your writing routine like?

The best time I find for writing is actually at work.  I often have a Word document pulled up on my computer desktop in the background and I work on it from time to time.

How do you reach that personal place that allows the writing to flow?

I tend to write better when it is as quiet as possible and I can just vomit the words onto the paper (or screen).  Once I get about a paragraph done, I go back and fix things.

Are you an outliner?

I’m not really an outliner, but I feel that if I strengthened those skills, my writing would improve.

What has been your biggest writing challenge?

My biggest writing challenge is trying to complete an entire plot without losing interest and jumping to another project.

What are you working on currently, future?

I am currently working on a middle-grade or YA fantasy story involving an orphan who discovers a “special” door in her bedroom.

What advice would you give to new writers?

My advice to new writers is what I suspect is usually given; write, write, write!  You won’t get a feeling for your literary voice until you really start churning out words.

What’s the most positive thing you could tell writers today?

The most positive thing I could tell writers today is that they should never be discouraged by the enormity of the writing world, but rather encouraged by it.  With e-books, blogging, self-publishing, traditional publishing, and the like, there are plenty of options available.

A New World


A New World

By Nandy Ekle

J.K. Rowling. What more can I say? This author invented an entire culture that captured the hearts of children, young and old, all over the world. Of course, she is best known for the Harry Potter books, which has effected every person on the face of the earth for the past 20 years. Whether you’re a fan of Potter World or not, you’ve heard of them and the lingo created and used by those who do adore them.

Having just gone through all seven books again, for the umpteenth time, I was once again amazed by the brilliance of Ms. Rowing’s story-telling abilities. Her style in these books, having been written for children, is easy and comfortable. And the stories meld together perfectly. The first two books are really more about background, but nowhere like an information dump. The real story actually starts in book three. This is where the story gets a little darker, more serious, down to the nitty gritty, you might say.

By the time you get to the seventh book, Ms. Rowling’s genius really shines. The first half of that book is Harry, Ron, and Hermione wandering around England trying to solve the mystery of what comes next and why. This half of the book is actually a very clever review of the first six books. Every place they go, every person they meet, every situation they encounter is due to something that happened before. Re-reading this just a couple of weeks ago, the absolute brilliance of how she accomplished this took my breath away.

In the middle of the book, after the characters are captured, a tragedy occurs which brings all the events from the past together and awakens the hero. Ms. Rowling once again hits her readers straight in the heart as Harry embraces his destiny and becomes proactive. Instead of hiding and avoiding the world, he stands up to become the leader he’s been told for the past seven years he is meant to be.

The war begins. In a last burst of sheer nerve, Ms. Rowling pulls no punches as she subjects her young readers to a tragedy which hits very close to home, which leads to the most shocking fact we all forgot the whole time we were following the entire tale. It is this one tiny forgotten piece of the story that comes into play in the final confrontation which makes us look up from the page in total amazement and say, “Oh, yeah! That makes perfect sense!”

Now, J.K. Rowling is known for the Harry Potter books, as well she should be because they are incredible. However, she has authored several other books which are also excellent reads, though not intended for younger readers. A Casual Vacancy is the story of what happens to a town after the sudden but natural death of a councilman. Imagine laying a bed sheet on the ground and placing several stuffed animals around on the sheet. Now you and three of your friends each take a corner of the sheet, raise it up in the air and shake it. Then let go of the sheet and see what happens when it floats back to the ground, and where do the stuffed animals end up? This is what reading the book is like.

Another thing about Ms. Rowing is she has a pseudonym. She has written a series of three detective stories under the name Robert Gilbraith. If you like mystery stories, you should read these. The first is Cuckoo’s Calling; then comes The Silkworm; and then Career of Evil.

 So, if you love the cleverness of a story set in a world that charms the universe, or if you love the epic thrill of the hero’s journey, or if you just want to know what all the hype is about, read the Harry Potter books. If you want something more mature, try Casual Vacancy and the three mystery books (hopefully a fourth will follow as she left us hanging off a cliff).

Tag Words: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter, A Casual Vacancy, Robert Galbraith, Nandy Elke, nandyekle.com, wordsmithsix.com