Excerpt from “The Winter Wizard”

Excerpt from “The Winter Wizard”

By Adam Huddleston

This week, I simply wanted to release a few paragraphs of a fantasy story that I am currently working on. If it were to ever be published, it would actually be the beginning of the second book in a series entitled “The Sea-Wall”.

The wind and snow assaulted the small, wooden cabin. Each gust threatened to separate the old timbers that made up the walls and roof. Ben and his family snuggled deep under their bed covers seeking warmth, but only managing to frustrate their tired bodies. Just as the family patriarch was nearing sleep, a loud rap came from the front door.

Ben slowly cracked one eye open and peered into the darkness. He waited a few seconds, hoping the sound was just a rogue branch blown by the wind, or perhaps a wayward owl, lost in the blur of a night blizzard. He counted to five and was about to drift off to sleep when the knock came again.

Ben covered himself in a giant bear skin and stumbled out of bed. The icy-cold floor bit into his feet and he moaned loudly. The knocking continued, growing in intensity.

“I’m coming!” he growled at the newcomer. “It’s the middle of the night, don’t ya know?”

Ben hobbled through the modest den and grasped the brass knob, wincing as the metal stung his palm, and ripped the door open.

On the narrow stoop, covered in a thick blanket of bright snow, was something that resembled a human figure. After a few moments, a thick walking staff appeared out of the whiteness and pushed an ice-covered hat upwards. A pair of deep-blue eyes, deeper and bluer than the waters of the Sea-Wall (not that Ben had actually ever seen the Wall in person), opened. The eyes belonged to a trouble-worn face, and Ben took a step back as a bushy set of grey eyebrows furrowed over them. The man leaned forward and fixed Ben with a fierce gaze.

“It’s time to repay your debt,” he said.

Make It Work

Outtakes 330

Make It Work

Cait Collins


I was three chapters from the end of my Route 66 short story when I learned that one of the places I planned to feature was closed. I needed that site to help my heroine move forward with her life. When someone is afraid of dark places, a tour of a cavern sounded ideal. So it was time to find another route to helping the character heal.

I opened my research books and began looking for something to fill the need. I knew there were mining operations in Missouri, but were tours available? Did the company require a minimum number of people to schedule a tour? I took a while, but I have my fix. It has made it easier to allow her to realize the mistakes she has made in her life.

Roadblocks in our work are not reasons to scrap the project and move on to something else. They should be considered opportunities to make the story better and maybe more insightful. I don’t like to scrap a project until I have dug myself a hole so deep I can’t crawl out. Even then, I do not destroy the work. I keep it under the bed and revisit it occasionally. Maybe one day, I’ll discover the fix for it.


Outtakes 329


By Cait Collins


I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas and I’m not ready. I have bags of gifts to wrap, parties, family dinners, and a few more days to work before taking a few days off. My plan is to finish the last three chapters in my short story during my break. But this time of the year my writing plans are often sidelined. Instead of sweating it, I’m going to work with it. If an hour a day is all I can manage, I’ll devote all my energy to that hour. I’ll make sure I use that time wisely. At the same time, I will not sacrifice the season’s joys. I want to enjoy my family and friends. So I will find a way to balance the work and the fun.

I hope that all my fellow writers are able to find that balance for themselves. Enjoy the holidays and write well.



It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and finally a nation.

Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt highway, it has connected generations of people.

Join us as we travel through time from the early days and well into the future on the Mother Road.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 is full of stories that tell of good times and bad, love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them connected by one stop, the Tower Station, and U-Drop Inn.


Is Your Story Original?

Is Your Story Original?

by Adam Huddleston


Perusing the discussions on r/writing (a subreddit for writers), I came across a basic question one redditor asked: How do I know if my idea is original or if it’s been done before? There were several excellent responses, which is comforting since I myself have wondered the same thing before.

To summarize the best responses, I would say that you can attempt to read as much as possible in your particular genre. See what works and what doesn’t, what similarities and differences your work has with others’ work, and what changes you could make that would make your story better.

Most importantly, relax! There are really only a handful of plots that have been used throughout history. Your details are what makes your story unique! Don’t be afraid to write it!


Outtakes 328


By Cait Collins


Sometimes I have trouble getting into my characters heads. I just don’t understand why they don’t respond as I think they should. To correct the problem, I try to recall a similar incident in my own life and recall my emotions and responses. How did my reactions differ from those of the character? How did I express my feelings? How do my character traits compare to those of the character?

Here’s the situation. Cara has been dating Mark for several months. She thinks everything is fine until she sees him with her best friend, Barbie. There is nothing suggesting the encounter is casual. In fact, it’s a steamy public display of affection or lust. The lip-lock speaks volumes.

Cara is devastated. Instead of confronting the couple, she breaks into tears and runs off. Once she gets home, she calls a couple of her friends and tearfully tells the story to them. Soon Barbie is no longer welcome in the friends circle and Mark is getting the cold shoulder from everyone. It’s a pretty typical response. And boring.

What if Cara pretended she wasn’t bothered by the events? Why not do the stiff upper-lip bit and shrug it off in public. Then when she’s alone, she breaks down and cries her eyes out. No tears in public. No angry displays. No name calling. After all, no self-respecting woman wants a man to think he can’t be replaced.

Instead Cara begins to write that novel she claimed she always wanted to write. She kills Mark and Barbie off in the book. The book is picked up by a big publishing house and it becomes a best seller. Cara finds happiness in a new career and in a new relationship. She maintains her self-respect and doesn’t have to apologize for making a scene and making everyone’s lives miserable.

Have I ever used this method to get over a bad situation? Absolutely. Writing is the best therapy.