What Is Next?

Outtakes 268

What Is Next?

By Cait Collins



Having come from a journalistic background, I sometimes find it difficult to choose the right descriptive word. Or phrase. Or the right response, When writing a commercial or a news story, I’m limited by time. The type of writing I do in my current position is a formal business approach. These writing styles leave little room for the creativity I use when writing a novel or short story. Sometimes the description escapes me.

For example, the hero in my current work is suffering from amnesia following a brutal beating. When he reaches for Liz’s hand, his fingers brush the ring she is wearing. The brief contact pushes the hero into a fugue state where memories bombard his mind. As he’s coming out of the fog, he sees Liz. “Kiss me, Lizzie Lou,” he demands. So is her kiss sweet and tentative or is it wild and passionate?

I say it’s brief. More than a peck, but definitely not h passionate. What if the relationship was new? Maybe there had not been time to develop the I-need-to-be-with-you-every-minute phase of a relationship. Maybe he was still trying to figure out why she was with him. So the next question is how does he respond? And that’s where I’m stuck.

Putting a Slant on things

Putting a Slant on things

Rory C. Keel

When words are slanted to the right, they are in Italic. In writing, this can indicate several things to the reader.

Italic word are used to accent words with emphasis or importance. They can also indicate book, magazine or play titles, even words from a foreign language.

Standard practice when writing of typing a manuscript is to underline the words to be Italicized.

Writing Quote

“There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from
your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets,
screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”
― Chris Baty

Dear Muse


Dear Muse

By Nandy Ekle

Dear Muse,

 I am 54 years old. You have been with me since I was a little girl. I’ve never not known you.There have been times when you’ve had millions words for me. And there have been times when I I couldn’t get so much as a beep from you.

 I remember when I finally learned to control you. I was just coming into my teens. You brought me a novel length story, which I wrote. Looking back, we were both immature, and the story was very naive. But together we did complete a novel.

You stayed with me for all my remaining years of school. We wrote numerous short stories, and we had a blast doing it. Our friends, Ginger and her muse, wrote with us and all four of us gained tons of experience.

After I married my husband and the children came along, you went on a vacation. I couldn’t blame you for it. Raising children took so much of time that I really didn’t have much left to give you. And I just have to tell you that I wouldn’t have changed any of that. My children needed me and I needed them.

Then they suddenly were grown and flying away to start their own lives. I called for you again, and there you were, whispering to me as if you had been beside me all along. You dictated stories for me to write. And write them, I did. I won honors with them, and a few were published. But the best part of writing your stories was . . . writing them.

Occasionally I notice you’ve gone on vacation again. I realize this when I have my hands on my keyboard looking for a word to type, and no word comes. I call for you and only hear silence. This seems to have happened more and more often. In fact, the stretches of your vacations are getting longer and longer.

But then yesterday, you were back. It was as if you had never gone away. I was sitting at my desk doing my day job. Suddenly, idea after idea came flooding back into the halls of my brain. As I researched for my letter writing, a new idea would pop up. I grabbed a pencil and paper and started writing a list of these ideas for my next projects.

So, welcome back, dear muse. It’s good to see you back here where you belong.

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



by Adam Huddleston


This week’s literary term is: prologue. The prologue to a story is the opening scene (or scenes), that usually introduce the reader to the theme of the tale. They are told from a character’s point of view as opposed to that of the author. The prologue may play a key role in the plot of the story, or it may simply be used to familiarize the reader with one or more of the characters or setting.

An effective prologue should also grab the audience’s attention. Remember, this is the first thing they will encounter (sometimes as they’re standing in the book store deciding whether or not to make the purchase), and if it is dull, you run the risk of having them place the book back on the shelf and moving on.

Notable (but brief), prologues include: “Once upon a time” and “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Happy writing!

Fall Back

Outtakes 267

Fall Back

By Cait Collins


I love this time of the year. The weather is cooler, thank goodness. (I tend to melt in the summer.) But the really special thing about fall is the color and the fragrance. Imagine an apple orchard filled with red delicious apples. Or groves of McIntosh apples. Did you know each variety of apples has its own fragrance? And what if you could buy an empty bushel basket and go pick your own apples?

Have you ever had an apple core fight? Never mind the mess, pelting your friends with crabapple cores is just plain fun. I recall one fight in Maine. We had two teams and made our garages home base. You see, we lived in military housing and two apartments shared a large double driveway and double garages. A sheetrock wall separated the garage space. Fun thing was the wall did not go all the way to the top. So we had about twelve inches of space to lob crabapples through the opening and bombard the enemy. Our parents were pretty cool about our little war. They didn’t scream at us to behave. Instead they allow us to play. And when time was called, every kid in the neighborhood pitched in to clean up the apple cores and the “applesauce” we had created.

Soon the autumn splendor began to fade and winter approached. Even with the cold and deep snows, my friends and I still managed to throw things. Snowball fights replaced apple core battles. And when the war ended, there were driveways and sidewalks to shovel.

Growing up military wasn’t so bad. The memories are inspiration for my stories and books. They are special treasures that brighten my life and bring smiles when I choose to open my memory box. As I type this blog, I see a group of children who knew how to play and also how to work. We were only together two or three years. Our fathers would receive orders and we’d move on. On nights like tonight, I wonder where they are. Are they happy? Did they reach their goals? Do they remember? I wish we could have a reunion. Or maybe we can have a long phone conversation. Or better yet, we keep the memory alive by telling our kids about our escapades. I miss those children…Paula, Randy, Mike, Wendy, Bonnie, Pat, Tommy, how are you doing?


“There is no perfect time to write. There is only now.” – Barbara Kingsolver


Natalie Bright

This year I officially registered to write a novel in the month of November. Several of my critique group members are also attempting to do this, so I’m motivated first of all by the fact that I’ll have to tell them how far along my book has come. We meet again next week.

Also I’m inspired to work by the fact that this book idea has been on my mind for several years, and it’s going to be such a relief to actually have a first draft down on paper. Staying in the chair for long periods of time with my fingers on the keyboard is the hardest thing for me. Maybe NaNoWriMo will be the motivation I need.

The progress graph on the NaNoWriMo website is fantastic. It’s encouraging to be able to update my word count, see the progress, but it’s self-defeating at the same time. Saturday, the day we were supposed to double-up on word count, was a total bust for me. I had three places to be, errands to run, plus two teenagers texting me, which resulted in zero words. There are those days when life takes over and nobody cares about your novel in progress.


Here we are seven days into writing a 50,000 word novel in a month and I am definitely not where I had planned to be. The good news is that I’ve discovered some pleasant surprises in this experience. The story really flows when you FORCE yourself to focus. It has been a struggle to block out the real word and stay at it until I have my 1500 words or more a day. If I stay at it during lunch, I can crank out 1000 words. I’ve been able to type the rest during shorter sessions here and there, whenever I could manage.

To speed things up for me, I cleaned off the white board next to my desk and wrote character names and setting details. This is book two of a series set in the Texas frontier and it totally stops my forward momentum when I have to look up the name of the trading post on main. Having those details that will be carried throughout the series at hand really saves time.

Is there anything you have done to help with the flow of words for NaNoWriMo? Please share.

I’m thankful for a new week. Carry on writers!

The Empty Room


The Empty Room

I stand here in this room listening for any sounds at all.  Nothing.  Dead silence.  I do hear echoes from past rants and raves, parties, fun, news casts, but all is quiet now.

The room is dark, but a little light comes in from the hallway where there are thousands of lesser doors.  The bit of light sneaking in behind me shows confetti, glitter, tissues, and even candy lying on the floor as a reminder of the phantom cheers and cries of the characters that are normally here.  There is a table near the podium in the corner covered with sheets of paper that contain words—happy words and lonely words, funny words and mad words, velvet words and loud words.

Where are the characters that inhabit this room?  There was someone in here not long ago, but they are all gone now and the silence is deafening.

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

Nandy Ekle



by Adam Huddleston


This week’s literary term is: hamartia. It is also referred to as a “tragic flaw.” A hamartia is an aspect of the protagonist which can hinder their progress or possibly bring about their downfall. This “tragic flaw” can be external, but more often than not, it is an internal characteristic. For example, hubris (ego or pride) is one of the more commonly seen problems with characters. This inflated sense of oneself may lead to unwise decisions.

One of the positive results of utilizing a character’s hamartia, is that they are more relatable. Readers like to see a hero that suffers from the same issues that they do. This can increase suspense for the reader because they may realize that the protagonist could ultimately fail due to their flaws.

Hopefully, the use of hamartia in your writing will help flesh out your characters and make the story more enjoyable. Happy writing!