Seasons


Outtakes 322

Seasons

By Cait Collins

 

I love the changing seasons. Spring gives the promise of birth and renewal. Blossoming flowers and budding trees give us hope for a brighter, warmer time. Summer’s brightness and warmth bring families and friends together to celebrate by the lake or the pool. Picnics and bike rides are popular activities. Crops planted in the spring grow to maturity.

Fall is my favorite season. The turning leaves paint the world with unspeakable beauty. The golden colors of the aspen and birch trees against white trunks reaching up to a cold blue sky take my breath away. Red, gold, and brown maple leaves fall gently to the ground. Every turn of the road reveals more beauty. The air is cooler and crisp fall scents of the harvest perfume the air.

Winter snows blanket the ground and we slip and slide on icy streets and sidewalks. Frigid air chases us indoors and we gather around the fire popping popcorn and telling stories while the world sleeps preparing for rebirth in the spring.

Writing a book or story follows the pattern of the seasons. Spring is the spark or beginning of the work. The author opens his mind to possibilities. He embraces this new-born idea and nurtures it.

As spring becomes summer, the work grows under the watchful eye of the creator. Characters mature and actions lead to reactions that are both good and bad. The climax is on the cooling horizon.

The work is completed and sold. The author settles in anticipating the harvest of sales. And then the resting time comes. It is a time to restore the mind and allow the body to recharge and while the seed of a new idea takes hold. A new flower blooms.

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Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture


Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture

By Natalie Bright

Spent a Saturday morning with my Thursday night critique group researching historic Route 66, which runs through our area of the Texas Panhandle. We are working on an anthology of stories set on this iconic road.

I’ve been involved in this discussion before with a previous group of writers, and even have a 25,000 word story that never materialized into anything tangible. Sometimes you have to give a story everything you have, and then know when to move on. Maybe I can revive that someday, but in the meantime the topic of doing a group project came up again. We’ve talke about this before, and finally, we are actually to the DOING because Mr. Keel hit on a common theme that inspired us all:

Old Route 66

To set fire to our inspiration and story sparks, we planned a field trip to visit one of the most well known landmarks on Old Route 66 in our area. The U-Drop Inn is located just up the road in Shamrock. It was a great day and very inspiring. My character and her journey is definitely more clearer in my head. At some point in the story, she will make her way along Old Route 66 and stop at the U-Drop Inn diner.

Here’s the cool part; the spark from the my story came from my husband’s great-grandmother who was given to a man 31 years older then her when she was 21. Some of the family believe it was to pay off her own father’s gambling debt, others can’t say for certain. I’ve thought alot about this lady and how she must have felt. She was an interesting lady. She acquired a divorce in Washington D.C. and married a young man her own age, my husband’s great-grandfather. I have no idea if she ever traveled on Route 66 during her lifetime, but that’s where the character becomes fictional. Don’t dismiss those wonderful family stories as sparks.

Our characters  and their adventures are beginning to take shape. I am so excited about this anthology. The six stories in our new book will be in various genres and time periods, but they will all have at least one scene at the U Drop Inn. I’ll also be offering my novella as a stand alone title.

Promote You

Have you been on a research trip? Post pictures on your social media and create a little buzz about your upcoming story.

Are you looking for inspiration? Nothing like a road trip. Clear your head and just look, listen, smell, and touch. Don’t forget your pen and notebook.

More about Old Route 66

Built in 1936 at a cost of $23,000, the Tower Conoco and U-Drop Inn were featured in the 2006 Disney Pixar movie CARS.

Although the cafe does not serve food today, it is immaculately preserved. At the grand opening in April, 1936, it was considered “the swankiest of the swank eating places.” When Route 66 came through Shamrock in 1937, it was the only eating place for a hundred miles along the new roadway. Elvis ate in one of the corner booths. As an excellent example of Art Deco, the building features two flared towers with green glazed ceramic tile walls and neon light accents.

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1984 and Shamrock became one of the many towns bypassed by highway Interstate-40. Through several owners, name changes, and layers of paint, a son of one of the original owners purchased the dilapidated building in the 1980s and restored it back to the original colors and name.

Today, the U Drop Inn is owned by the city of Shamrock and houses the local tourist information center.

The Day Job


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Day Job

By Nandy Ekle

Today at my day job we moved to our third building this year. Two of those three moves were somewhat traumatic.

First They moved us downtown to an older building our company wants to sell instead of renovate. No problem. The reason they did this was because they wanted to renovate the building we had been in. Great. The renovations promised to be absolutely wonderful, so we were happy to move to allow the to happen.

I was on vacation when the move actually happened, but when I got to my desk, things seemed great. However, we soon discovered the reason the downtown building was to be sold instead of renovated. The internet was overworked. This was a big problem because 100% of the work I do depends on the internet.

So they moved us back to the other campus, different building from where we started, but same campus. This went very smoothly. The internet worked much better and the work went well. But the grand scheme was that our permanent home was to be a different building in the same campus which was in the process of being renovated. So I only unpacked enough to be able to do my job, knowing that we would be moving again soon.

Today was that day. Today, the day I happened to have a doctor’s appointment. When I got to the office, I opened the email telling me it was time to move. So I packed up all the things I had had at my desk, including my computer, and moved from one building to the the other. Then I unpacked and reconnected my computer. But internet did not work. At all. So they had me pack my laptop and my rolling chair to a different building in the same campus in a training room where I set up as if I were working from home.

I did get a little work done, but then I clocked out and went to my doctors appointment.

So I will go to work in the morning wondering where I will be sitting for the day. But I am determined to get the letters written for our customers, who I really want to help.

And with my doctor’s help, I will get my muse back.

Frightening


Outtakes 321

 

Frightening

By Cait Collins

 

Blood and gore. Slasher movies. Halloween One to whatever. Some find these movies frightening. But think back to the shower scene in PSYCHO. A black and white movie instead of Technicolor. The music. A knife stabbing down. The heroine cringing in the shower. The scene was so artfully filmed the mind took over and the viewer imagined he saw the knife strike a woman’s body.

The mind is far more powerful than blatant scenes. Alfred Hitchcock had the creative talent to scare the life out of me without the blood and gore. To this day, the movie THE BIRDS still terrifies me. The swarming birds hid the damage to the humans. The teacher died from being pecked to death, but we never saw the sightless eyes and ripped face.

The point is a well-crafted paragraph that builds a villain has more impact than the blow-by-blow vision of a killer’s actions. Give me a masterful book or a brilliant movie and I can imagine so much more than what I read or see.

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.

PROMOTE YOU: Write More!


PROMOTE YOU:  Write More!

 

“As you produce more books (or more stories or content of any kind), you are likely to grow your audience or reach more readers. And this in turn naturally leads to more followers on social media.”     — JANE FRIEDMAN

No question about it, it’s up to you, the writer, to produce more of your content. Why advertise a store with nothing in it? That’s why I’m always seeking new ways to work my life around writing time. What an uphill battle!

This past week, I read: “The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3)” by Monica Leonelle  

Book Review:

For an indepth look at why you’re not producing more words like you think you should, add this book to your writer’s reference library and beware—Leonelle doesn’t care about stepping on toes. She tells it like it is and bluntly explains how to change your mindset. This book will give you several great soul-searching moments.

Here are two passages that really hit home with me:

1)            “butt-in-chair” … “this is officially the worst advice ever unleashed on poor, unsuspecting hoping-to-be writers.” Monica Leonelle

2)            “Right now, you are probably pitting your writing goals against all the other important things in your life, and writing is losing every time. The trick is to stop pitting them against each other.” Monica Leonelle

Trying to push myself to make time for “butt-in-chair” has definitely caused me to resent the reasons I can’t spend more time writing. How about you?

From two teenagers who are always hungry to day-job obligations that run into early evenings spent at the office, I’m grouchy and frustrated, wondering why bother to finish a novel that’s buzzing my head. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but what a great new thought process: can I make writing the most important part of my day instead of the feeling like everything else is keeping me from my writing? As Leonelle says, “…you have to integrate writing into your life.”

She definitely gave me some food for thought. I have so many ideas for stories and there is only 24 hours in a day, but I’m not dead yet! Maybe it’s time for a mindset change. My writing is just as important as day-job deadlines and cooking dinner. Moving onward…

REF: Leonelle, Monica. The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3) (p. 2). Spaulding House. Kindle Edition.

 

The Dog And the Leash


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Dog And the Leash

By Nandy Ekle

I took part in a survey recently—one question, intended to make you think introspectively: name one thing you wish you could bring back from your childhood. This question definitely did get my brain cells working.

I started thinking about what kind of child I was. And then a story bubbled which gave me my answer.

Once upon a time, a girl had a dog. This dog was very energetic and very powerful, and the girl had to learn to control it. She clipped a leash to its collar and they went for a walk. The dog wanted to run and play, and he wanted the girl to run and play with him. But he was big and strong and the girl usually ended up huddled in a corner with a skinned elbow or a tear in her jeans.

But she couldn’t get rid of the dog because he was her constant companion. He went everywhere she went. He slept next to her at night, got up and went to school with her in the morning, came home and ate dinner with her, took baths with her, and then went to bed with her every single night.

And every day she took him for a walk on the leash. She learned to tell him no, that she didn’t want to run. She pulled on the leash to slow him down when he went too fast. And she yanked the leash if he tried to run after a bird or a rabbit.

But she also gave him treats. She bought tasty things for him to chew on. She gave him his favorite snacks. She scratched him behind the ears and made sure he had plenty of healthy food and water.

One day she took her dog out for a walk. She took hold of his collar with one hand and held the leash in the other. She rubbed the metal clip of the leash on the metal loop of his collar, but she didn’t really attach them. Instead she hung the leash around her neck, held her arm out as if she actually was holding the leash, and they began their walk. And an incredible thing happened. Her dog walked as if he really was attached to the leash. He didn’t run away from her, or drag her, or jump around. He walked calmly by her side and obeyed her when she talked to him.

After a while she remembered how much fun it was when he was running and jumping, and she wanted him to do that again. So she pretended to take the leash off his collar, but he still stayed calmly by her side. It wasn’t until she began to run that the dog started running as well.

So, I’ve gone through all this to say, I’m the girl and my imagination is the dog. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning to control it, and now when I want it to run wild, it looks at me as if I still have it leashed. If I could bring one thing back from my childhood, it would be my wild and free imagination.

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

Dracula (1931) Film Review


Dracula (1931) Film Review

by Adam Huddleston

 

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted (the craziness of Fall as arrived) but this week I’d like to make a few comments regarding the 1931 film “Dracula”. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is going to be showing different classic horror movies throughout the month of October, and while my dream would be to watch all of them and review them, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be a possibility. However, I will blog about a few when I can.

I really enjoyed watching “Dracula” last night. Now, realize that it may not be quite as scary now as it was when it was released, but it still stands as a classic of horror. The performances by Bela Lugosi as the Count, Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing, and Dwight Frye as Renfield were engaging and the script was adequate.

In my opinion, the strongest part of the show was the staging. Every scene was dripping with dark, foreboding dreariness. The special effects, though outdated, were still clever enough to portray the on-screen horror of the world’s most famous vampire. Although it may be a little tame by today’s standards, I still recommend watching “Dracula” due to it being a classic of the genre.

Happy viewing

Bump in the Night


Outtakes 320

Bump in the Night

By Cait Collins

 

 

It’s that time of the year when the ghosts and goblins are center stage. Witches, zombies, vampires, boogey men roam the streets. Television stations air scary movies and horror books are front and center in the books stores. I’m not a fan of the horror stuff. I don’t like being scared. And I don’t enjoy books and movies that keep me awake.

While I can take vampires and mummies, I have a real problem with living, breathing bad guys. I will never understand why I bought a copy of Helter Skelter by Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi. Bugliosi was the prosecutor for the Manson trial and he knew the story of Manson’s family and crimes. That book terrified me. I couldn’t read it but I didn’t want to put it down. That doesn’t make much sense, but I’d read it until I was afraid to close my eyes. But the more Manson’s insanity was revealed, the more frightened I became. I finally shoved the book under the bed and never finished it.

This real killer was scarier than Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, and a zombie apocalypse could ever be simply because he is real. True monsters are more horrifying than fictional characters just because they are real and breathing. They can be the stranger you pass on the sidewalk or in the grocery store. Maybe the monster could be a teacher, a doctor, or a cop. This kind of knowledge is enough to make me keep a baseball bat under my couch. I don’t like guns but I have no problems bashing skulls, breaking knees, or wrists. I just pray I never have to face my fear. I may talk big, but I don’t really know if I could take him or her out. It’s something I really don’t want to know.