Best Friends

Outtakes 302

Best Friends

By Cait Collins


I have been accused of hoarding books. My library shelves are full, and the new bookcases hold books I have not read yet and some titles for research, as well as some old favorites. The truth is I love books. Hardcover or paperback, I enjoy their words of wisdom, the dreams, their knowledge, and the hours of entertainment. Opening a book is akin to meeting a new friend or revisiting an old, dear one.

Recently, I found myself without anything new to read. I searched the bookshelves for my copy of Nora Roberts’ THE DONOVAN LEGACY. I first read the trilogy in 1999, and periodically I reread the stories of witches who find love with mortals. Nearly 20 years later, the stories are still great reads.

I was recently told by a young furniture salesman that bookshelves are no longer necessary as everyone uses e-readers. Because they were no longer needed, the store only carried one style. Needless to say, I did not take the time to look for the new sofa I want. Why would a dinosaur need their more modern styles? I will not visit that store again.

While e-books and e-readers are popular now, nothing will replace the joy of holding a book in my hands and turning the pages as the story unfolds. E-books have their place and are great for vacations and travel, but an e-book will not replace the memories of book signings where I have met and conversed with favorite authors.

A book never judges, nor does it offer unwanted advice. The volumes I hold offer friendship and surprises with each reading. I love books and I always will.

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!

Writing Quote

Writing Quote

Natalie Bright

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

  1. Could I put it more shortly?
  2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?”

—George Orwell

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Flying like Superman

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Flying like Superman

James Barrington

Flying has always been fascinating to me. Oh, flying in an airplane was appealing, but flying (like Superman) was always so much more interesting. There are probably a million different ways that psychoanalysts would diagnose me with all kinds of social and mental abnormalities, but whatever their opinion of me, I’ve just thought the idea of defying gravity was a fun way to travel. It has been the subject of some of my short fiction daydreaming and always leads into the superhero mode.

In part, it ties back to my refusal to believe that there is an absolute physical speed limit of the speed of light. After all, for years scientists of great renown believed that the speed of sound was an absolute limit beyond which no physical object could pass. I suspect most were pretty red-faced when Chuck Yeager proved them wrong.

As a child I was thrilled with pictures of people wearing flying jet packs and predictions that average commuters would be flying to work in the far distant year of 1975. Hum… that didn’t work out, but the idea still floats around, including flying cars and other dreams of faster local transportation with less congestion. I wonder what will happen when the first flying car accidents result in crashes into home and fatalities on the ground. If we would all just fly “like Superman” we wouldn’t have to worry about those concerns.

Defying gravity, with or without wings, has long been an aspiration of humanity, but the reality of it continues to elude us. We walk and birds fly. Superman’s ability to fly seems to be destined to remain in the realm of comic books.

A Little R and R


A Little R and R

By Nandy Ekle

 It’s been more than two years. When the invitation came for a grand vacation with our closest friends, we asked no questions. Just jumped right in, credit card in one hand, telephone in the other, and joined the party.

I set the count down ticker on my count down app and watched the days tick by. I continued with my day job, I continued planning my stories, and I shopped for vacation clothes. My excitement was building higher and higher.

And then this week began. Nothing unusual, same old, same old. And finally today. I mailed/fax’d my letters, researched new letters, then mailed those. And the last few minutes of the work day.

Rest-and-Relaxation has arrived, at least for the next several days. And I must say, not one single solitary moment too soon.

I love my job, I love the company I work for, and I love the people I work with. But sometimes, you just need some R and R.

Write me a comment below and tell me about your favorite type of vacation.

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



by Adam Huddleston


This week’s literary term is: meiosis. In the field of biology, it refers to the division of one cell into gamete (sex) cells. In literature, it is defined as the use of understatement to make a specific point or highlight a situation.

For example, when the character Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet is mortally wounded, he states “ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch…” This understatement contrasts with the severity of his injury. Meiosis is often used to give an ironic effect.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to incorporate this into your written works. Happy writing!

Trash It or Fix It?

Outtakes 301

Trash It or Fix It?

By Cait Collins


I tried a new approach to writing my current novel. Instead of start at the beginning and progress to the end, I’m writing scenes. I’m trying to put them in order and then see what works and what doesn’t. The problem is that I really like some of the scenes that I’m unable to use.

Right now I’m working on two scenes. In the first scene, the heroine must come to terms with a disastrous relationship. In the other scene, Tyler, must confess a dark secret. So tell me, how does a man who has always been Uncle Tyler tell a shy eight-year old girl that he is her daddy?

I think I have my work cut out for me on this one.

The Servant Is The Greatest

The Servant Is The Greatest

Rory C. Keel

Tired after a long hard day of driving, I stood on the opposite side of the hotel check-in desk across from a woman who greeted me with a large smile and a “we’re glad you chose our hotel.” This preceded the grueling procedure of producing identification, filling out forms requesting my vehicles make, model, and tag number and finally paying what seemed to me like an excessive sum of money for one night. The well-dressed lady with a nametag behind the counter then smiled again and said, “We hope your stay is comfortable.”

Entering my room I flipped on the lights and immediately caught a fresh scent that assured me of the rooms cleanliness. In the bathroom, I noticed a flash from the chrome faucet reflected in the spotless mirror. Towels and washcloths hung and folded to meet any military standard. The porcelain surfaces sparkled as if they had never been used. Sitting on the bedside, the smell of fresh sheets filled my nose. And on the nightstand beside the bed, lay a card with the name of the individual who had cleaned the room along with the statement “We hope your stay is comfortable.”

At that moment the wisdom in the Lord’s Words came to mind, without the servant who truly made my stay comfortable, the person at the check-in wouldn’t have a job. The servant is truly the greatest.

A Scene Defined

A Scene Defined

Natalie Bright

The scene is the unit of story, and in a book usually starts with a character arriving and ends when something has changed. A scene propels the story forward.

  1. Scenes in a book are anchored in a certain place and certain time.
  2. A narrative summary can describe the specifics of your scene.
  3. Scenes usually contain some type of visible action, not just internal thinking from the character.
  4. Do not use italics for internal dialogue, or what your character is “thinking”. Once the standard norm, the point of digging deep is writing inside your character’s head.
  5. Keep the scene and action moving. No backstory in the first chapter (maybe two). Hook the reader, and save the backstory for later.
  6. Skillfully weave your backstory into the story, these can be tension filled scenes into itself.
  7. End scenes (chapters) with a hook—a punchy, pithy statement.

Does your scene play like a movie in your head?

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Days of summer

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Days of summer

James Barrington

When I was a child I looked forward to summer with a special kind of longing. I enjoyed school, but breaking the routine of “time to get up” and “bedtime” was a treat. My dad was much too rigid from his farm life during the Depression to his Army days during World War II, but when I could “sleep in” it was a tiny taste of Heaven.

Summer days brought opportunities to swim or picnic. I would spend hours reading library books. I enjoyed exploring the town on my bicycle. Back in the early 60’s, small town America was still a safe place to live – or at least pre-teens and their parents seemed to think so. The big cities were where crime occurred and small towns were “where everybody knows your name.”

I remember being attacked by two German Shepherd dogs the summer I was 17. I stormed into the house and pulled my dad’s .22 rifle out of the closet and was starting out the door to dispatch those two dogs when my mom stopped me, noticing the blood flowing from the torn leg on my blue jeans where the dogs’ teeth had found flesh. She stopped me and called the local town marshal. He impounded the dogs and I never saw them again.

I don’t remember fishing much as a child. I played little league baseball a couple of years – not very well. Some of my best memories of childhood summers were hunting on my grandparents’ farm outside Nacogdoches. I became proficient with my dad’s .22 rife and my granddad’s 410 gauge shotgun. I shot a good share of armadillos and rabbits. I shot a few squirrels and a few snakes. I even used the .22 to “thin the herd” of roosters when they started outnumbering the “laying hens.”

This summer I’m looking forward to some time to visit our daughter and grandsons in Maine. The younger one is on a little league team. His skill, by all accounts, far exceed what I was able to do at his age. As summer approaches, I’m looking forward to some cooler days that the Texas summers when we visit “Down East” Maine and enjoy a lobster dinner and some little league baseball.