It’s in the Rocks

Outtakes 259

It’s in the Rocks

by Cait Collins


My current novel’s hero is a gemologist and jewelry designer. Like most of us, he has favorite stones. While many people are attracted to high quality gem stones, Sean enjoys what used to be called semi-precious gems. He is drawn to garnets, the quartz colors, topaz, carnelian, and agates. Question is does he believe stones have magic properties?

Throughout the ages, powers and properties have been assigned to gem stones and rocks. A simple example is the wearing of green gems to aid in the search for wealth. So if I were headed to a job interview or a casino, I’d be sure to wear an emerald, green tourmaline, chrome diopside, Helenite, or green jade. I own all but the chrome diopside, and am still a working girl. So should I believe the believers in magic? I don’t know, but I will be wearing a tourmaline ring and bracelet next time I go to the casino. I also keep a bowl of multi-colored tumble stones in an antique jadeite bowl, not because I believe they have ritual powers. I keep them because their varied colors are beautiful and peaceful.

Here are some other examples of gems’ magical properties.

Alexandrite      Love and Luck

Amber             Luck, Healing, Strength, Protection, Beauty, Love

Amethyst        Dreams, Healing, Psychism, Peace, Love, Protection against thieves; Courage, Happiness

Aquamarine     Peace, Courage, Purification

Azurite                        Dreams, Divinations, Healing

Beryl               Love, Healing, Energy, Anti-Gossip

Carnelian         Peace, Protection, Eloquence, Healing, Courage, Sexual Energy

Chalcedony     Peace, Anti-Nightmare, Travel

Citrine             Anti-nightmare, Protection

Coral               Wisdom

Quartz             Protection, Healing, Power

Diamond         Spirituality, Protection, Courage, Peace, Reconciliation, Strength

Emerald           Love, Money, Mental powers, Exorcism, Eyesight

Garnet             Healing, Strength

Jade                 Longevity, Wisdom, Prosperity

Lapis Lazuli    Joy, Fidelity

Moonstone     Sleep, Youth, Dieting

Onyx               Protection, Defensive Magic

Opal                Beauty, Money, Luck

Ruby               Wealth, Power, Joy

Sapphire          Meditation, Peace, Power, Money

Tiger’s-Eye     Energy, Luck

Topaz             Weight-loss, Money

Tourmaline      Friendship, Health, Courage

These are a few of the stones suggested to have magical powers. Powers and properties can be enhanced or changed depending on the color of the stone.

So let’s say your character is fixated on health and longevity. Which gems would he carry on his person? What about wealth and power? Or wisdom? Do believers carry their talismans openly or are they hidden beneath layers of clothing?

Are there stones that have negative energies? The Hope Diamond comes to mind. The beautiful blue diamond is reported to be bad luck as some of its owners have died while the gem was in their possession. And opals are said to be bad luck for those who dare to wear opals if it is not their birthstone. A treasure of Columbian emeralds brought wealth to the Atocha divers, but treasure came with a price.

Based on this limited information, imagine the possibilities of having a gem as a character in one of your stories. You can even give the jewel a name. It might make the stone more powerful and energized.

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!



By Natalie Bright

Think of all the ways you can say BUY MY BOOK without typing BUY MY BOOK. Here are a few examples:

ü Are you signed up for my Newsletter? (link to website)
ü Are you following me on Amazon? (link to Amazon Author page)
ü I’ve posted a new picture on Facebook! (link to Author Public Page)
ü Quotes about reading, books, authors, writing. You don’t have to have a link in every post.
ü Quotes from your books with a direct link to your website. Make it easy for Followers to find you and your books.
ü Major brags or awards that can be retweeted over the course of several months at different times, just said in different ways. Remember, it’s estimated that about 10% of your followers are actively online at any one given time.
ü ReTweets from local news items of interest and area businesses.
ü Facts and interesting tidbits about your town or state. If you want to keep a low profile and keep your local area private, tweet about the settings in your books.
ü Add links to your books and generate new followers who are interested in your work.
o Make specific comments about cover art and give kudos to your design team with link to your book.
o Comment about the look or personality of your characters with link to your book.
o Comment about specifics on the covers with link to you book.
o “Cover Reveal” for new books with link to your book.
o Research notes and pictures of research pics with link to your book.
o Comment about events and booksignings as “going to” or “been there” with link to your book.
ü Exchange Pleasantries
o Happy Monday. Have a great week everybody.
o TGIF Have a great weekend.
o Personal glimpses: Baked cookies with granddaughters this weekend. What did you do?
o Comments about meals, dinner parties, and special outings.
o Pay it Forward: Time for coffee and a great book, with link to one of your favorite authors.
o Pic of your patio flowers
o Pic of the view from your office window
o Pic of your pets

Now that you have a list of ideas to work with, make a social media plan and rotate these posts between all of your social media sites. With useful tools like Hootsuite, you can schedule posts in advance. Don’t flood them all with the same stuff. Think about how YOU engage. At lunch, I usually glance at Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If you do a blanket post to everything at the same time, my feeds are flooded with that same message from you and I’m very annoyed, which means I’ll probably order dessert. It’s your fault.

Hoorary for Us, because now more than ever before, authors can connect directly with readers. It’s a great time to be a writer.

Be nice. Have fun!


Echoes of the Day


 Echoes of the Day

“I saw her again today.” You hear this uttered between friends.  You’re not part of the conversation, but the phrase works its way into your ears as if it was aimed there. The rest of the day you walk around repeating it over and over. You have no idea who “she” is or when the last time “she” was seen. But the words echo through your imagination until you develop some sort of picture and story.

Sometimes just a simple phrase will catch your attention and stay bouncing around your brain. You listen to it whisper inside your head over and over and marvel at the sounds and meanings of the words.  You consider all the different things it could have meant. Eventually you realize that there are as many stories as there are meanings of the phrase.

As writers, our job is to find the story that best fits the meaning of the day’s magic phrase.  When such a story is discovered, use the provocative phrase as your starting sentence and watch the rest of the story appear on your page.

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

Nandy Ekle



by Adam Huddleston


The literary term we are discussing this week is: doppelganger. It is derived from a German word which literally means “double walker”. A doppelganger refers to an almost exact replica of a character. This copy may look and act identically to their twin, but they often have very different motives. For example: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Although both characters resided in the same individual, they were polar opposites of one another. The use of doppelgangers can definitely add suspense and tension in a work of fiction.

Happy writing!

Singing and Dancing in the Rain

Outtakes 258

Singing and Dancing in the Rain

by Cait Collins


The Texas Panhandle is flat as far as the eye can see, but about 25 or 30 miles south of Amarillo, the grassy Plains drop off into Palo Duro Canyon. It’s amazing the abrupt change in the landscape.

Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon system in the United States, second only to the Grand Canyon. Much of the canyon is privately owned and not open to the public. But Palo Duro Canyon State Park is operated by the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It’s a beautiful place to camp, hike, and enjoy nature. It is also the home of the Pioneer Amphitheatre and the musical drama T*E*X*A*S.

I don’t go every year, but I do attend a performance every few years. Last Friday evening, my nephew, his three kids, and I braved threatening weather to see the play. We were about half way to the canyon when rain drops began splashing against the windshield. The shower was brief, so we had hopes everything would be great. No such luck. It misted, sprinkled, or rained from the middle of the first act to the end of the show. We were wet and chilled, but the show was still stunning. The thunder and lightning only added to the spectacle.

I am always impressed with the talent and professionalism of the cast and crew. No matter the weather or the adversities, these gifted men, women, and children adhere to the old adage, “The show must go on”. They were as wet and cold as the members of the audience, but they smiled and thanked the theater-goers for attending.

My question is how do we as writers maintain our professionalism when faced with rejection, criticism, and lack of support? Do we write nasty blogs about the agent or editor who rejected a query? Do we toss the manuscript into the trash? Or refuse to work on another piece for months because no one understands our artistic musings?

I won’t say writing is easy or always fun, but if we choose to be writers, then shouldn’t we also choose to be professional? Do we want an agent to remember that we accepted his rejection graciously? Of course we do. But if we storm off we will be remembered but not in a positive way.

I choose to be a writer; therefore, I must also choose to act in a manner that makes a positive impression on those I meet. The bottom line is attitude and actions can make or break a career.

I wonder how they used to do it?

I wonder how they used to do it?

Rory C. Keel

I thought I would write a few observations. We are surrounded by such a diverse assortment of super technology. For example, we have smart phones that are so powerful they can interrupt a personal, face-to-face conversation with an individual, and allow us to talk, text and send pictures simultaneously around the globe to multiple unseen individuals.

Computers are now a way of life. They check our spelling and grammar and make learning the many beautiful loops of cursive penmanship once taught in schools obsolete. And what is a pen anyway?

We sit in dark rooms like hermits, wearing our pajamas,  tangled hair and unshaven, and faces with no makeup, and with the push of a button circle the globe. We gather information on places we would love to go, and things we want to do–if we ever got dressed and left our home.

The sun is no longer needed to determine which direction is north, south, east or west. Grown men who stubbornly refuse to listen to their zealous wives give them directions will react, without hesitation, to the soft and sultry female voice of a GPS system, accepting every command without question.

With vehicles that can automatically parallel park, the useful skills needed in backing automobiles are forgotten, and the rearview mirror that automatically adjusts to the lighting, is relegated to review our hair, lipstick, or to check for pimples.

The aeronautics industry is also awe-inspiring. The kid down the block that used to chase the other children, dive-bombing them with his remote control airplane, is still in his backyard chasing the Taliban on the other side of the world with remote war drones.

Speed has not always been a friend to avionics. The world’s fastest commercial passenger jet, the Concord, is now retired. The expense of chasing itself around the world was too high. Crossing the International Date Line, it could arrive at its destination tomorrow, and come back yesterday.

The truly amazing thing about all the technology that we experience today is that it causes us to ask questions. But the most frequent question I hear today is not, “How will we do things in the future?” but, “I wonder how they used to do it?”

As an exercise, write about a few things in your past that have changed.



By Natalie Bright

Let’s switch hats for a minute and be a reader. Let’s think like a fan of books.

Do you follow your favorite authors on social media? Do you enjoy learning more about them and their books through Instagram or Facebook interactions? Do you appreciate glimpses into their daily lives and their writing process? I follow the people and the topics that are of a personal interest to me.

As Facebook evolves into a “Pay to Play”, I am being gutted with ads. And then there are ads on Twitter too. The good thing is that I’m having ongoing info overloads on topics of my choosing, like bestselling authors, book publishing, genealogists, historians, and parents of teenagers. On a regular basis I receive email notification from Twitter on posts labeled “Popular in Your Network”. This week’s included several tweets from a favorite author which annoyed me greatly. It read: “Make sure to buy my book on Amazon.”

Pushy. Intrusive. Down right rude. I’ve been a life-long reader of this person’s work, and yes, I am well aware that there are books for sale.


Your followers have probably purchased a book or two. Maybe even read it, told a friend, and perhaps posted a review. They know you have books for sale. Or perhaps they haven’t made a purchase yet, and just want to learn more about you. If there’s a connection, they may become interested enough to read your work.

I want to buy YOUR book. I want to discover great stories by new-to-me authors. Perhaps it’s the beautiful cover that entices me, or a brilliant tagline. It’s NOT going to be a pushy, condescending ‘call to act’ that makes me want your book.


If you don’t enjoy social media, do not pretend to be engaged with your fans by posting mundane, meaningless posts because someone told you to. It’s not sincere, you’re only irritating us, and you’re most certainly not attracting new follows, which should be your goal. If a new follower visits your twitter page and your feed is full of self-promotion, they’re not going to follow you. Would you follow you? Either be your true self because you sincerely want to engage with people, or stop it. Don’t post meaningless garbage. Just don’t. If you’re not interested in it, more than likely your fans won’t be either. I’m not naïve enough to think that big name authors do all of their posting, but the savvy ones have assistants who can be authentic and work hard at reflecting the personality of their clients.

Social media is a powerful tool. Marie Force, bestselling Hybrid Author, engages regularly with her fans and recommends that authors spend as much time on Facebook as possible. Nora Roberts is posting this week from Italy, with breathtaking views, delicious food, and tales of her shopping exploits. Eloisa James posts tidbits and pictures from all over Europe on her many travels. Indi author, Joanna Penn, of the Creative Penn, credits her success to Twitter. These are just three examples from a few of my favorite authors who use social media in extraordinary ways. There are many more.

Happy Tweeting!




By Nandy Ekle
We are now in the middle of August. In my part of the world we are still in the throws of a huge barbecue under the sun, temperatures soaring into the hundreds daily. However, there is a slight change in the air reminding us that summer is coming to a close. I may be because of the ads and the themes the stores and malls are spreading to remind parents to get their kids ready for school to start. Or it may be the calendar, hanging so proudly on my wall announcing that we have indeed entered the eighth month of the year. Or it could be that we are all so tired of being roasted daily like marshmallows that we are dreaming of those cooler days.

Most assuredly, the approach of autumn is felt with much excitement to those like me because all of the above reasons, and a few more: colors, weather, adventure, smells . . . I guess the only thing I do not like about the fall season is the fact that where I live, we only have about two weeks of true fallish type weather before the deep freezer door hangs open letting in all the ice and snow we can stand. And then, by late April, we will be praying for the heat of summer to come back.

Autumn holidays are practically non-existent. Of course, the biggest day of autumn is Thanksgiving, which opens the Christmas season and starts the holly jolly madness of the winter holiday. There are also a couple of smaller holidays between Indepenced Day and Christmas: Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Halloween. And then, Of course, Thanksgiving. 

There is another thing about autumn that is very exciting. NaNoWriMo. This is a group of authors who have gotten together and sent November as Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a novel of 50,000 words, at least, in the 30 days of November. The first couple of times I participated in this, my attitude was, piece of cake. I could write anything any time. But I have learned what a pompous attitude that is. It is a challenge, and the challenge is big.

Beginning midnight, November 1, through midnight November 30, 50,000 words will be put on paper. The only rule is you cannot have written any of the story before midnight, November 1. On that night, you may type “Once upon a time,” or “It was a dark and stormy night,” and kick off your story. The story does not have to make sense, it does not have to to be one long story. And it may be one that goes on further than 50,000, or stops short. As long as you have 50,000 words by midnight November 30, you will be able to say, “I beat NaNoWriMo.” And being able to say this is worth the prize, which is more of a prize than than the other NaNoWriMoers could ever give you.

So the time is right. November is still a little ways away, It may still be blisteringly hot outside, but it’s not too early tho begin thinking about November.

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

Waiting for the Phone To Ring

Outtakes 257

Waiting for the Phone To Ring

by Cait Collins

 How often do you pick up the phone and will it to ring? Maybe it’s not so bad these days as most of us carry a cell phone, but we still find ourselves checking to see if we missed a call. I can tell you that patience is not one of my virtues and I loathe waiting. So what can I do while I wait? I can see how many scenarios I can create on waiting for the telephone to ring.

A teenage girl has a crush on the captain of the football team. She’s convinced he’s going to ask her to be his date for the homecoming dance. She sits by the phone planning what she will wear. Her dress will be the shade of blue in the school colors. It will be cocktail length so that she can show off her legs. She’ll have her four-inch heel sandals dyed to match the dress and her toe nails will be painted the same shade of gray in the cheerleaders’ uniforms. The phone rings and it’s her best friend calling to tell the girl that the captain of the football team has asked her to the homecoming dance and she’s accepted. What happens to the friendship?

The minister sits at his desk dreading the telephone’s ring. A member of the congregation is seriously ill. The test results should be in at any moment. He plans to give the family some time to deal with the news before he meets them at the hospital. The phone rings, a police officer is calling to tell him his son has been injured in an automobile accident. Who will the minister call?

Two candidates for the same job, a quiet young man and an attractive girl, are sitting at different tables in a coffee shop. Her phone rings and he can see the disappointment in her face. She ends the call and his phone rings. He’s offered the job. What does he say to the girl?

I keep thinking of other situations, but I must ask you to excuse me. My phone is ringing.