December in June

Outtakes 248

December in June

By Cait Collins


I look at my June calendar and think we’ve already hit the December holiday rush. Every week is booked. I have almost no open time. Birthdays, baby showers, a wedding, critique, Vacation Bible School, a gospel meeting, doctor appointments, dinners, lunches, and car repair appointments have blacked out my calendar. Sometimes I feel as if I have no time to write.

Let’s be honest. Life happens and sometimes we must tend to life. That said, I refuse to feel guilty because my novel has not progressed as much as I want. I do have other commitments, but like so many women of my generation, the word “no” isn’t a common word in my vocabulary. Take my mom for example. She was a housewife with six daughters and a military husband. Even without a microwave, a dishwasher, and a clothes dryer, she still managed to keep house, fix three meals a day, do all the laundry, be a Girl Scout leader; chair the cookie drive, teach Bible class, knock doors for the March of Dimes, make our clothes, and still have time for a bedtime story. God bless her.

It seems her daughters have inherited her busy bee attitude. We are all hard workers, and we volunteer for other causes. We also put family in a priority position. And there are times when we should say no to a request, but we still work in one more thing. So when is there time to write? The answer is to try and schedule an hour or so everyday to work on my novel. Lunch time works best. I can take my Netbook to work and write while I’m snacking. Or I keep a legal pad in my briefcase and write in longhand. I may not get the fine points down, but I keep the story moving and am able to get to know my characters better. If I’m writing longhand, I fill in details when I enter the pages in the computer.

I won’t claim this set up is ideal. It’s not. But getting the essentials down is better than doing nothing. And if I reach a point where I can’t progress on the novel, I can switch to a memoir or a short story, or a blog. I don’t waste time.

Maybe one day, I can retire and spend all of my time writing. Until then it’s steal a few minutes whenever and wherever I can. That’s what writers do.


Why do I feel compelled to write?

Why do I feel compelled to write?

For me, it’s the past that drives me to write.

I read to know the strength and wisdom of those who have written about their past struggles, ideas and hopes for the future.

And so I write, in the hope that those who read my words and those that exist beyond my days can draw some strength and motivation for their days.

What compels you to write?



By Natalie Bright

If you have books listed for sell on, then you have an Author Page. As the author, you can access that author page and provide updated information that might be of interest to your readers.

As a reader, I like checking out the Author Page before I buy. This information is informative and much quicker than finding the website when I’m short on time. If I love that .99 cent special promo book, I can easily find more books at their Amazon Author Page.

Join at and sign in using your amazon account.

Add your books (there may be a waiting time for approval). You can post original content at any time, such as a bio picture, update your bio info, pictures of author events, videos, and blog posts or link to an RSS feed. There is even an events calendar you can utilize.

I enjoy reading other author bios. I have to admit that I’ve reworked my bio several times. I can’t decide if a long and detailed bio works better than having one that is brief, to the point. Should it be in first person or third person? Read several of your favorite authors and decide.

You can create an Amazon Author Page URL link for use in blog posts, Facebook posts, and tweets.

Have fun adding content through yet another way to connect with readers on social media. Comment to this blog and provide a link to your Author Page on Amazon. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Meet the Author – Rory C. Keel

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. An established Author and Blogger, his writing includes: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers “The Challenge,” also, multiple devotionals published in the Secret Place magazine by Judson Press.. You can find more about Rory on his website

Please welcome Rory C. Keel

When did you start writing?

Being a preacher for 30 years, I’ve written many sermons but never considered myself as a writer. However I seriously started writing around 2006. When I say seriously, I mean with a determination to do something with it like publish or sell my writing.

One day I had a strong desire to write a novel using some historical research I had collected, and was confronted with the fact that I knew nothing about writing a novel. That was the start of my writing.

Why did you choose the genre you write in?

I would have to say that I write in the genre that I read and enjoy. I love reading inspirational Christian stories that encourage the human spirit along with history and the human resolve to overcome adversity. To be able to take lessons from the past and put them into words in order to inspire others in life, drives me to write in the historical Christian, inspirational genre.

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

The best thing I’ve done to help my writing is to find a good critique group. To have a group of writers that will encourage you and give honest constructive criticism of your writing is invaluable.

What’s your writing routine like?

My writing routine usually starts with a cup of coffee at my desk in the early morning. This seems to be the best time of the day for me to write. I make a pot of coffee, sit at my desk and listen to classical symphony music while I write. I like to think of it as the soundtrack music to the movie I’m writing.

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

For me, reaching that place where writing flows happens when I put my self into the story. For a reader to be drawn into a story while reading, the writer has to go there first. When I see the setting, and know the character’s good traits and flaws, when I feel their emotions, that’s the point when the writing flows. That place becomes very personal because, by putting myself in the story I must reveal pieces of myself, both good and bad.

Are you an outliner?

Yes, I like outlining. Most of the time I have a beginning point and know where the story ends, so outlining is easy for me, especially if it is a historical writing. I think of my outline as a skeleton and the story is meat on the bones.

What has been your biggest writing challenge?

My biggest writing challenge is feeling guilty when I take the time to write. When I’m writing, it’s hard not to think about all the other things I need to get done. That might be easier to overcome if I thought of writing as work instead of a pleasure.

What are you working on currently, future?

Currently I’m working on a Christian fiction novel about a man with misguided determination and his conversion to the truth. It is the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to Christianity from his viewpoint as a Jew. Future works will include a sequel with the main character of Timothy, a student of Paul, and a completion of an inspirational story of one family’s struggle to improve their life over the Oregon trail. Along with these works a series of short devotionals for publication keeps the writing juices flowing.

What advice would give to new writers?

Keep going, that’s what I would tell new writers. After you’ve started your journey of writing you will hit roadblocks—keep going. When others tell you that you can’t, you can – keep going. When the mountain seems too high to climb, take small steps and keep going. Every writer, from beginner to bestseller, must start and finish so keep going.

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

If you really want to, you can!

Empty Bubbles


Empty Bubbles

By Nandy Ekle

  It’s like reading a cartoon with no speech balloons. It’s like losing a hand or a foot, or an arm or a leg. It’s like not having the ability to speak. It’s like opening your eyes to a dark room. It’s like holding your breath under water. It’s like sitting in a chair all night and staring at the wall. It’s like being hungry but your pantry is empty. It’s like having a pile of laundry but your washer is broken. It’s like opening the front door and seeing dark emptiness.

It’s like all the words you’ve ever held, stacked together, rearranged, played with, followed you around, jumped around inside your head have packed up and moved away.

It’s like not being able to write.

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

And Now for Something Completely Different

And Now for Something Completely Different

by Adam Huddleston


For the past several weeks, my blogs have focused on defining literary terms and giving examples of such. This week, I would like to begin something a little different. I don’t know if this is going to work or not, but I’d like to give it a try.

Each week I will be posting a bit more of a short story that I will be working on. Due to time and space constraints, I may be unable to submit an entire scene. The passages will be rough, with very little editing. When the story is finally finished (however far down the road that is), I may even attempt to publish it. Feel free to contact me with any constructive criticisms you might have.

Oh, and FYI, it’s probably considered a horror story. So, be forewarned…



Sit down friend.

I guess you’re wanting to know about that stadium collapsing. So sad. All those folks getting crushed like they was in a soda can. The news mentioned a “structural defect”. I don’t know about that, but I do know how (or better yet, why) that tragedy happened.

For as long as there have been sports, athletes have clung to a variety of superstitions and traditions. They think it’ll either improve their play or maintain their win streak. And no other game can boast of as many superstitions as baseball. It was superstition that brought down that building.

That and a whole bunch of dirty greed.

Bad Start to a Good Day

Outtakes 247

Bad Start to a Good Day

By Cait Collins


Long weekends don’t always translate to a good start on the first day back to work. I have a bad habit of putting my keys on a dresser, in a coat pocket, or on a table instead of putting them in the Jadeite bowl on the counter by the front door. My carelessness results in a mad search for keys when it’s time to leave the house. This morning the keys were in their proper place, but when I parked my car at the office, I dropped the keys in my purse and got out of the car. The beautiful morning was shattered when I rounded the front of my vehicle and attempted to get my purse and computer from the passenger side.

I had no keys to unlock the door.

My Disney cast member key ring was safely tucked inside my purse and my purse was sitting on the front seat of my KIA. Thank goodness I remembered to grab my badge and display my parking pass before I got stupid.

God bless our security team. They could not unlock my doors, but they did provide me with a few numbers for locksmiths. Their recommendation was a company called Pop-a-lock. I called and was told a locksmith would be at my location in 20 minutes. While I was making arrangements for someone to come help me, the security guards kept an eye on my vehicle.

I was impressed when the locksmith arrived when promised. He opened the door in no time and presented me with a very reasonable bill for his services. One of our security guards patrolled the parking lot until I had paid the bill and was on my way to the building. I felt like I was really special because of all the kindness shown to me. Best of all, no one lectured me on being careless. I guess they realized I felt stupid enough.

This story really has nothing to do with writing except to introduce the possibility of a character. Imagine the heroine having an off day. Her car will not start. It’s getting dark and she’s waiting for a mechanic to try and start her very uncooperative vehicle. She’s alone and a little uneasy even though she’s inside her automobile with the doors locked. The parking garage is almost empty; her level is deserted.

A shadow falls across the rear window. She reaches for the canister of pepper spray on her key ring. The sound of a knuckle tapping on the driver’s window startles her. “Ms. Carson?”

She turns toward the voice and heaves a sigh of relief. “Are you okay? I got a call from Mr. Griffin saying there was a woman alone on this level.”

Our heroine cracks the window. “I’m fine, Mr. Porter. My mechanic should be here any minute.”

“Glad to hear help’s on the way. I’ll wait here until you’re on the road.”

“Not necessary, Mr. Porter. I’ll be fine.”

“I know that. But let’s not take chances.”

What if there’s a stranger lurking in the shadows? What if the heroine is truly alone? What if no one is concerned for her safety? And what if no one is aware she has a stalker?

Sometimes in the process of writing a work we overlook a character that only makes an appearance. But that presence has profound impact the story.

Basic Social Media for Writers

Basic Social Media for Writers 

By Rory C. Keel


After mountains of research, hours of keeping my rear end in the chair and wearing out the keyboard, they expect me to do what?

Yes, that’s right, as a writer you need to have an internet presence on social media.

Recently, I was asked to present some basic materials about social media, to the Ranch House writers, a group of writers who occasionally gather for a meal and encouragement from others in the writing community.

This blog will be the first in a series of four, dealing with the basics of social media for writers.

What is Social Media

Simply put, social media is a varied group of internet based applications that allow YOU to create and share content.

Early in the development of the internet, most websites were static. In other words, much like a billboard on the highway, it was costly to change and no had ability to interact with consumers.

Today, social media platforms give writers the ability to create, share, discuss ideas, and publish user-generated materials.

These applications are often categorized into groups such as networking sites, blog sites, video Sharing sites and even photo sharing sites. There are hundreds of applications and Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube and Flickr are just a few examples.

Will Social Media benefit me as a writer?

While there are many reasons an individual might use social media, for the writer it’s as simple as Business 101.

Writing is a business

Have you ever read the reviews of a restaurant before going out to dinner? Have you ever researched someone on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN, before meeting for an appointment?

It is estimated that in 2015, 93 percent of all businesses will use some form of social media. For both consumers and businesses it has become the norm and is expected.

Using Social Media

Using social media as a writer allows easy communication between you and your readers. It is a medium that allows the ability to develop relationships by having accessibility to groups where individual time is not possible.

And finally, social media allows you multiple mediums to develop your brand as a writer. By blogging, posting, tweeting, google plus-ing, you can establish yourself as a writer and build a large readership.

Next Tuesday we will discuss which social media platform to use. See ya’ then!


Book Authors and Sales Tax

Book Authors and Sales Tax

By Natalie Bright

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Members of the Texas High Plains Writers enjoyed an informative talk by accountant Dan Brown with ———at the May meeting in Amarillo.

One of the questions that we talked about, which we didn’t have time to fully discuss, involved collecting and paying sales tax for your book sales. Below I’ve listed a few blogs and websites with great information which will help clarify this very confusing issue.


Ø Note that if you’re selling your self-published book through a dealer at a trade show, or an Internet retail entity such as or or a publishing service acting as a retail entity (such as Blurb or, the retail entity making the sale is responsible for collecting sales tax. “Sales Tax Facts for Book Authors” at

Ø You may think that you are paying the appropriate sales tax because you pay the tax to the printing company when you purchase the book. But that tax is only for your purchase price, not the actual selling price. So unless you sell the book at your cost, you will have a sales tax obligation. “Sales Tax Responsibility for Authors” at

Ø Reimbursement for books sold through Amazon is considered a royalty and is not subject to sales tax. However, if you sell books through your website, at a book signing, or after a public speaking engagement, sales tax should be included if those books are sold within your state. “Sales Tax Responsibility for Authors” at

Ø There are exceptions: 1. selling to someone other than the end user. Generally, states only tax sales on the final user, so if you are selling your books to a bookstore or retail store for resale, you do not charge them sales tax. [NOTE: Most retail outlets expect the ability to add a 50-60% markup above your price. If you quote them a price too high, they may not be able to carry your book in their store.]

2. Selling to a nonprofit organization. In some states, nonprofit organizations are able to obtain sales tax exemption. These organizations should provide you a copy of their sales tax exemption certificate from their state.
3. Selling to out-of-state customers. Usually, you must collect sales tax from customers that live in your state.
Ø The best thing about publishing your own book through Amazon Author Central is that you are not the seller of record. This means you are not responsible for collecting the sales tax on the books you publish.

Ø Nexus is having a presence in the state which indicates which state you should be submitting sales tax to. Your “nexus” is the state in which you reside and do your business, however every state is different.

Ø Let’s say you’re selling your own book and you spend the summer selling your book at festivals across five states. Some states consider making a single sale in the state to create sales tax “nexus”, while others do not. Many festivals, book stores, etc. will have a bookseller on hand to sell your books for you. This generally includes collecting the sales tax. In that case, you would be off the hook for collecting sales tax.


Being an indie book author these days can be daunting, but take a deep breath and consider the big picture. The opportunities for reaching readers today is truly amazing. Take off your creative cap and slip into your owner/entrepreneur mode.

Here’s a few more things to consider:

  • · If there is a hosting retail store at the book festival you have a booth at, absolutely take advantage of their ability to handle your books for sale. Be aware that they probably have a zillion things to do for the event. You can be persistent yet professional, but make absolutely sure your books have been ordered. I know of authors who have shown up to events to find they have no books to sign because the order was never placed. Do you leave or should you stay and hand out swag? It’s a horrible situation.
  • · Every state is different. In Oklahoma for example, a representative of the Oklahoma state taxing authority might collect tax there at the book festival. A form will be provided for you to complete and sign.
  • · I sell books at my cost to clubs and organizations because I figure it’s the least I can do after they’ve fed me, paid a speakers fee, and then sat through my talk. I consider the invitation to be a great opportunity to build connections with readers. This kind of networking is invaluable, plus I don’t have to collect sales tax.
  • · Seek out sponsorships for your books. There might be nonprofit organizations that will purchase a case of books for special events. Suggest that your book would make a great table decoration with one at each place setting. Ask for a copy of their tax exemption certificate and attach it to the invoice that you’ve prepared for them.

I hope this helps you. Business is done. Go write now, y’all!

Meet the Author – Natalie Bright

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. An established Author and Blogger, her writing includes: Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschoolers Soul “The Race”, Books – Oil People, Gone never Forgotten and West Texas Christmas Stories. You can find more about Natalie on her website

Please welcome Natalie Bright

When did you start writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been scribbling in diaries or writing silly poems, and then I began to write novels in high school.

Why did you choose the Genre you write in?
The stories choose me. My vision was to be a romance novelist because I’m been a lifelong fan of the genre, but the stories inside my head tend to be more for young readers. I honestly do not have any control over the characters that wake me at night.

What’s the best thing you’ve done to help your writing?
Found a great critique group (thank you WordsmithSix!). I read a gazillion kid lit books, and reread my childhood favorites with a critical eye. Why have those classics stood the test of time? Write every day. Stop questioning the why. Joined writing organizations directly related to the genre I write.

What’s your writing routine like?
There is no routine. I have two teenagers, a day job, community volunteer work; I write whenever, wherever I can.

How do you reach that personal place that allows the writing to flow?
Butt in chair, focus and do your job. Writers must practice intense self-discipline. No one is hovering over your shoulder telling you to work. I think this is what separates the successful writers from the ones that always struggle to reach THE END. It’s an endless internal battle.

Are you an outliner?
Sometimes. Every book is different.

What has been your biggest writing challenge?
Finishing one novel before the next spark takes over.

What advice would you give to new writers?
Just like any professional in any career, learn as much as you can about story craft and the publishing business.

What’s the most positive thing you could tell writers today?
I believe it’s an amazing time to be a writer. If you have respect for the craft and can find joy in the writing, then your work will be authentic. When writers view their craft like a business and they see themselves as a professional, both traditional and indie published authors can achieve great success. We have just begun to tap the potential of eBooks and the ability to reach worldwide markets. There are readers out there waiting for your stories.