Finishing Touches

Outtakes 341

Finishing Touches

By Cait Collins


The story is written. My characters are people I would be proud to call friends. I love the twists. And I like the surprises. But it’s not done yet. I still have to review every chapter for spelling and grammar errors, tense shifts, and discrepancies. (My hero can’t have blue eyes in chapter one and brown eyes when he finally gets the girl.) And I have to make sure every sentence moves the plot and that every word counts.

Once I’m sure the mechanics are good, I will reread with an eye to the story. Is there a true beginning, middle, and a satisfying ending? Will the readers be able to visualize the characters and settings? Have I tied up all the plot twists? Can I put “The End” on the last page or do I need to edit or complete storylines?

When I have made the needed edits, I will email pdf copies to my critique group and beta readers. Before submitting the final version to the publisher, I will review the changes suggested by the critique group and beta readers and make appropriate changes, proof read the story, and send it to the publisher. Now that the product is completed, I can focus on marketing and the next story.


Better Blogging

Better Blogging

Rory C. Keel

Tonight I have worked on my blogs. I’m trying to be a better blogger.

Here are some tips i’ve been trying to follow. Try them yourself


Here are ten tips that help me with my blog writing.

  1. Make your opinion known
  2. Link like crazy
  3. Write less
  4. 250 Words is enough
  5. Make Headlines snappy
  6. Write with passion
  7. Include Bullet point lists
  8. Edit your post
  9. Make your posts easy to scan
  10. Be consistent with your style
  11. Litter the post with keywords


Natalie Bright

The writing life is a solitary endeavor, and routinely interrupted by
everybody! Life happens.

Seriously, at times writers have to put aside the world within their heads
and face reality. Somebody’s always hungry (at least at my house), something
needs cleaning, bills past due, and laundry piles grow as I write this. I’ve
been hit with reality for several weeks now and I can’t seem to dig out from
under it. Sometimes I really miss my fictional world.

Many experts suggest that you have to live a real life in order to find
material for your stories. New York Times Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas,
says that writers live two lives with one foot in reality and the other in
the fictional realm. Overheard conversations, experiences, and research can
add richness to your writing. That may be true. During the break my creative
mind may be taking a pause, but my self-editor and self-doubt is partying

Thank goodness part of the real world includes a writer’s meeting this past
weekend.  Kim Hunt Harris talked about adding humor to your writing and K.
J. Waters enlightened us on the business side of becoming an Indie Author.
Once again I am reminded how sitting in a room full of creative people can
motivate you to keep going and inspire you to fill pages with words.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other odd month on the third Saturday
at the Chase Tower in downtown Amarillo.

Our next event is co-sponsored with Canadian Arts Alliance, to be held in
beautiful Canadian, Texas April 13-15. Follow us on Facebook to keep updated
on all the details: Texas High Plains Writers based in Amarillo, Texas.

A Bit of Rough Work

A Bit of Rough Work

by Adam Huddleston


This week I wanted to share a small portion of a suspense/thriller/drama I had tucked away from awhile back. Enjoy (if you want), or don’t, whatever.

Lucas pulled his car into the garage and killed the engine. His thoughts were on the last email he had received before leaving the office; a not-so-lighthearted scolding regarding sales vs. purchases. He never noticed the light that usually filtered through the bedroom window blinds was absent.

He popped the radio button and slid his thin frame out of the sedan. The door leading from the garage to his family’s laundry room was locked.

Great. I always leave it unlocked for her…

Lucas turned his key, wincing as the tumblers gave a tiny shriek. He rolled his eyes at the new project his wife would be laying on his shoulders that weekend.

He opened the door leading to the kitchen and stopped. No lights were on. The house was almost completely dark. The only light he could see was the digital green glow coming from the clock on the microwave above the stove.

“Babe!” he yelled. “Ya’ll already in bed?”


He flipped the switch on in the kitchen and moved from room to room, turning on lights as he went. His house was empty. No children. No wife.

Lucas thought back to when he pulled into the garage and remembered seeing the family SUV in its usual spot.

Well, where was everybody?

He pulled out his phone and hit his wife’s number under the “Favorites” list. Five rings later, her voicemail informed him that she wasn’t available and to leave his message after the beep.

He sat down on the soft leather sofa in the den and grabbed the remote lying beside him. His palm pressed into something moist and sticky.

“What the-“

He pulled up his right hand to reveal a dark red substance smeared across its surface. He swallowed hard and heard an audible click in his throat. His stomach seemed to twist on itself and he feared he might vomit the fast food burrito he’d scarfed down in the car all over the den’s tan carpet.

Lucas leaped up and took a long look at the remote control that had fallen to the ground. It sat there staring up at him with its numerous eyes. The top was covered in what looked like raspberry jam.

Without another thought, he spun on his heels and ran out the front door. He went straight to the Waldon’s house across the street, absently rubbing his stained hand against his slacks. It never occurred to him that this would be the worst decision of his life.


Outtakes 340


By Cait Collins



Have you ever watched a cop show when the detectives are questioning witnesses? Do the descriptions vary widely from one witness to another? One witness sees a short, round man around 50 or 60 years old while another remembers young man who is not short, but not really tall. Neither fat nor skinny. Nothing really distinguishing. He’s just average.

Chances are the officers could ask fifty people about the suspect and there would be thirty or forty different descriptions. We all have a viewpoint. So here’s the challenge.

Describe a sunrise from the following viewpoints:

A drunk following an all nighter.

A child waking up at his regular time, but it’s a school holiday.

A person who does not have many weeks left to live.

A man who has been blind from birth.


Happy writing.

Granting Rights to Your Work

Granting Rights to Your Work

Natalie Bright

One of my nonfiction books gained the attention of a small press, and a standard publishing contract arrived in my inbox. “Excited” hardly describes the feeling of realizing that somebody wants your work. You dare to dream about all of the possibilities for your book and your writing career. And then I read the Rights Granted section.

Keep in mind that each and every one of these rights listed below can be negotiated separately. This is exact verbatim from the contract with some of the legal ease edited out for easier reading.

1. Rights Granted. The author hereby grants, transfers, and assigns to the Publisher for the full term of copyright the exclusive right to publish the Work in hardback and paperback editions and to sell throughout the world in all languages. …all electronic rights to the Work, with exclusive authority to license said rights throughout the world in all languages. …subsidiary rights as specified in paragraph 9.

Paragraph 9. The Author hereby grants, transfers and assigns to the Publisher for the full term of copyright the exclusive right to license, sell, or otherwise dispose of the following rights in the Work in all languages and throughout the world: publication or sale by book clubs; reprint rights; foreign rights; translation rights…; publication in anthologies, compilations, digests, condensations; serial rights … ; dramatic, motion picture, multimedia and televisions rights;  broadcast for radio; recordings; electronic rights …e-books, Kindle, Nook and other … ; audio, mechanical, and visual reproduction; computer programs; microprint, microfiche, and microfilm editions; syndication rights; permission rights (quotations, excerpts, illustrations, etc.); merchandising rights and in any media now known or hereafter created; and otherwise utilize the Work and material based on the Work.

I’m giving up all of this in return for Royalties of Ten Percent of sales. The smarter author works with a trusted literary agent or intellectual property attorney to help with negotiations

There is another option. Keep ALL of your rights, be your own boss, set your own deadlines, and publish as an Indie Author. If you like control of your career and you’re not afraid of learning new things and steering your own ship, self-publishing might be for you. It’s easier now than ever before.

If you live in or near the Amarillo, Texas Panhandle area, I’d like to invite you to an Indie Author Workshop in July. SAVE THE DATE: July 21, 2018. I’ll be moderating a panel of Indie Authors and small press owners to discuss the step-by-step process of self-publishing. Let’s get real. We’ll include the bad and the good, and answer all your questions. Rory C. Keel, one my WordsmithSix critique partners will be on the panel too. Sponsored by Texas High Plains Writers, meeting starts at 10:00 AM, Amarillo (Chase) Tower, 600 South Tyler Street, in downtown Amarillo, Texas. We’ll be on the 9th Floor in the Ed Davis Room.  Bring your questions and be prepared to leave inspired!


Words From the Masters


Words From the Masters


A writer is a world trapped in a person. —Victor Hugo

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. —William Wordsworth

Quiet people have the loudest minds. —Stephen King

Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little. —Holley Gerth

Don’t be a writer. Be writing. —William Faulkner

Take your character to the edge of who he is. —

You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say. —Truman Capote

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. —Franz Kafka

A writer is someone who has taught their mind to misbehave. —Oscar Wilde

Forget the rules. Rules are for editors. Just write. —THEINVISIBLEAUTHOR.



by Adam Huddleston

This week I wanted to introduce another literary term: anagnorisis. It is derived from a Greek word meaning “recognition” and refers to the moment in a story when a character (often the protagonist) discovers the underlying truth behind something. It could be the realization of an inner-strength or ability, the true nature of an antagonist, or a deeper understanding of the situation they are in.

Depending on when this change in knowledge takes place, it may lead to a change in the plot of the story. The character alters their course of action based on the new information. So, when writing your story, if is often effective to emphasize this to the reader. Just be cautious that you don’t smack them over the head with it.

Happy writing!

Spring Cleaning

Outtakes 339

Spring Cleaning

By Cait Collins


I always hated to see my mom bring out the buckets, mops, brooms, and garbage bags. I knew it must be spring and mom was going to do the spring cleaning. My sisters and I had a part in the ritual. It was a time when we were supposed to dump the trash and really clean our rooms. When mom deemed the house clean, we could step back; inhale the scents of cleaners, furniture polish and sun-dried linens. (We didn’t have a dryer, so all the laundry was hung on the clothes line in the backyard.)

Writers need to do some spring cleaning. W need to take time to assess our accomplishments and our failures, toss out expired ideas and rejected pages, and clear the clutter from our minds. Here’s where I plan to start.

Go through the boxes of old manuscripts and unfinished projects. Keep the pieces that have potential and toss the dead-weight.

Clean out the office supplies. Yes, there’s a lot of junk there. Donate or trash electronics that I no longer use.

Clean up my attitude. If I’m not writing, it’s my fault. I can’t blame it on others or on circumstances.

Make time to write. No more “I work long hours at the office and just can’t look at the computer one more minute.” This is an excuse not a reason.

Understand that others are having difficult times and be encouraging instead of dismissing their importance in the grand scheme of things.

Remember this is a business and not a hobby. Reject my “It’s okay if I never publish. Just finishing a project is an accomplishment.” Really?

Dump negative thoughts. I can do this.

Once the trash is tossed out, commit to keeping my writer’s life clutter-free. Junk and trash are not conducive to success. Besides, I hate spring cleaning.




Look for our new Wordsmith Six Book release.

This fantastic book, is a collection of stories that will take you on a journey on Route 66.

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.