Writer’s Block Remedy


Outtake 355

Writer’s Block Remedy

By Cait Collins

 

Robert J. Ray, author of The Weekend Novelist and The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery (Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick) had some excellent ideas for working through the rough spots in your story or novel. My favorite is free writing.  It’s a simple concept.

Write a sentence.

Set a timer for three minutes.

Ready. Set.  Go.

For the next three minutes write whatever comes to mind based on the sentence. Do not think. Just write.

Do not edit.  Just write.

Do not lift your pen or pencil off the paper.

When the timer sounds, stop.

Put down your pencil and review your work.

You’ will be surprised with the results when you allow your subconscious to control your pencil.

Another exercise is to write a sentence.  The next sentence begins with the last word in the previous sentence. The last word in the previous sentence is the first word in the nest sentence.  For example:

Winter arrives bringing the sailors home.

Home from the sea.

Sea waves crash against the shore…

Set the timer for three minutes.

Allowing your subconscious to momentarily control your writing frees you from worrying about the best word, proper punctuation, and is this going to work. Once you get the ideas down, you can make the corrections and enhancements in editing.  The point is to just write.

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Historic Buildings


Outtakes 354

Historic Buildings

By Cait Collins

I’m considering using a building on historic Route 66 in Amarillo in a new story. Sixth Street has a number of buildings that would fit the story, but just how far should I go in reinventing the building.  I considered turning the Nat Ballroom into my heroin’s place of business.  But that would mean totaling redoing the building into an artist’s studio.  The old ballroom has a great history.  Big names performed there in the early years.  Soldiers would attend Saturday evening dances at the Nat.  So would destroying the bandstand be a bit too much?

Perhaps it would be better to renovate an old house.  Some of the two-storey homes could be remodeled to house a gallery, plus artist studios, a potter’s studio and display cases. Question is how much red tape would be involved in getting the Historical Society and the Route 66 Association to sign off on the revisions.  What  information is required to petition the various agencies for approval to alter historic places?  I’m not sure I really want to know. Besides I’m only remodeling the place in a story. I’m not taking a sledge hammer to it.

I realize how much study I need to do before I can even start to select a location.  About all I’ve figured out is I need a lot more information than I have right now in order to select a location and repurpose it.  If I make a mistake, the folks who know the area would be quick to correct me.  And do I really want to risk alienating a reader?

Lessons Learned


Outtakes 353

Lessons Learned

By Cait Collins

 

After years of writing for broadcasters, non-profits, and corporate training groups, I was finally published. Our Time on Route 66is now available..I had always longed for a chance to sign my stories. It sounds a little silly, but autographing your works is a thrill. It’s a way of acknowledging writing success.

I so enjoyed our two days in Shamrock at the Route 66 Festival. Not only did I get to sign our books, I had the chance to meet the real travelers of the road. They taught me to see the Mother Road through the eyes of those who built the new highway. I met people who had traveled the route from Chicago to Los Angeles multiple times. I learned their stories and their dreams for revitalizing the old road. One group had recently purchased the Dutch Windsor’s Painted Desert Trading Post in Arizona. They have no plans to reopen the site. The goal is to restore and maintain a piece of American history. Their shirts had the white and red “Cold Drinks” logo from the sign painted on the exterior wall of the structure..

I was flipping through their coffee table book Route 66 Sightingsand came across a picture of the Santo Domingo Indian Trading Post.  I had visited the post a number of years ago and even witnessed a trade between the proprietor and a Native American. Sadly the original structure has burned down. It has been rebuilt, but much of the history has been lost.

I met a Park Ranger who works at the Washita Battlefield near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. We talked about how the Sand Creek massacre triggered the Washita massacre. He said “If Sand Creek hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have a job.”

I was able to speak to children about rescue horses and how they have new lives because someone loved them and believed they could be rehabilitated. And Miss Route 66 spoke of her students and wanting them to learn more about writing.

It was a weekend of joy. Three of my sisters drove up to buy our books and get them signed. They will never truly understand how much their support means to me.

I photographed old cars. (I wish I owned the T-Bird.) And I relived a scene from my childhood. The Blarney Inn is an older motel built in the three-sided design from the fifties and sixties. From the outside the inn didn’t look like much. It has had a face lift, and the rooms have been updated. The place was immaculate.

I guess this is my long-winded way of saying the weekend was a success. I signed books, I made contact with others who love history and want to preserve the pieces that can be salvaged. I met with people who love to write and want to teach others to enjoy the written word. I rediscovered what I’ve always known, reaching out to new people and new ideas helps me grow not only as a writer, but also as a person.

Mother Road


Outtakes 352

Mother Road

By Cait Collins

 

Our Time On Route 66 is a reality. Wordsmith Six has worked hard to create our stories about Route 66. The tales span the Depression Era to about five years in to the future. The stories trace the beginnings of the Mother Road to its replacement by the super highways. Different stories. Different points of view. One destination…the Tower Station and the U-Drop Inn located in Shamrock, Texas.

Now we look forward to July 12-15 and the annual Route 66 Festival held this year in Shamrock, Texas. We will be selling and signing the book on Friday and Saturday. I’m looking forward to greeting visitors from around the world who love the Mother Road.

I have vague memories of Route 66 from my childhood. When Dad was transferred to St. John’s, Newfoundland, we traveled parts of the road. Dad was later transferred to Bangor, Maine, and we drove parts of Route 66. My most vivid memory is Burma Shave signs. I would love to make the trip again. I think it’s something I need to see with adult eyes. But for this weekend, I will see the road through the eyes of visitors.

 

 

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66


OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas:

  • A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright
  • A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel
  • A down-on-his luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols
  • A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins
  • Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

 

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

Read it now!

Amazon       Apple iBooks        Barnes and Noble

Carpe Diem Publishers

You’ve Got To Pay the Bills


Outtakes 351

You’ve Got To Pay the Bills

By Cait Collins

 

When my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told him I wanted to be an actress.  He told me that acting jobs were hard to get.  There might be times when the money wasn’t coming in, so how would I pay the bills?

I didn’t have an answer, but I continued to study acting. I did okay. I won a “Best Actress” award for playing an insane woman, Type casting according to my sister. I was also inducted into Delta Psi Omega, a national acting fraternity. While I enjoyed acting, I realized I didn’t have the discipline or drive to act all the time. It’s fun for a while, but I wasn’t in love with the job.

So again my Dad asked what do you want to be? This time I told him I wanted to be a writer. I got the even good writers don’t always make it speech. And he followed the warning by saying, “You have to be able to pay your bills.”

My father died before I could show him how I could be a writer and pay the bills without having a book on the shelf in a book store. I have made a living writing for most of my adult life. I have three television documentaries to my credit and a local 13-week TV series. I’ve written commercial copy, news stories, training materials, sales handouts, two children’s plays, and served as the publicity chairperson for non-profits. I still make my living writing while I work toward my big break.

I may not have written the great American novel or even had a novel published. The point is I am a writer and I pay my bills by writing.

Improvement


Outtakes 350

Improvement

By Cait Collins

I’ve been reviewing some of my under-the-bed and box-in the-closet manuscripts.  I thought I had written some really great stories.  But when I compare these earlier offerings with my more recent works, I realize how much better the new stories are.  Over the years I’ve learned more about characterization, plots and turning points, and dialogue. With new tools, I do a better job of crafting a story.

I’ve also learned that honest criticism is not a bad thing.  I can trust my friends with WordsmithSix to be honest in their critiques.  I can listen to their ideas and thoughts but still feel comfortable in choosing what to incorporate in my story and what to discard or hold for future use.  They encourage me to be just me.

While I see major improvement in my writing, I am well aware I’m not where I want to be and could be.  I have to keep looking for better ways to say things, practice getting into my characters’ heads and figuring out how they will respond to the milestones of life. More importantly, I cannot base my characters actions on how I see things or how I would handle the situation. I must step outside the box and allow the character to map his or her future without my interference.

So what am I going to do with those old manuscripts?  I’m keeping them.  Some of the stories have good bones.  They just need a little reshaping and restructuring.  And maybe the passing years have allowed some good characters to grow up and provide a new perspective on an old plot.

What’s Next?


Outtakes 349

What’s Next?

By Cait Collins

 

I’ve always had more than one writing project going at a time. Sometimes I put one aside because the muse is working for another.  When the ideas dry up, I move to another one.  Right now I have four projects in the works.  First Love Forever Love is a memoir about my life-long love affair with the sea.  I’m working the edits on this book.  I’ve received the feedback from my beta readers, so it’s a matter of reviewing and implementing the necessary changes.

The second project is Tables, a memoir about growing up as a military brat in the fifties and sixties.  Much of the book is written, but there are stories I want to add.  I’m considering a chapter on seeing President Kennedy just weeks before he was assassinated and how my parents handled our questions and concerns.

The third project is the editing of my novel How Do You Like Me Now.  Kate Walker shows the town elite how to get even…legally.  It’s too long so I have to decide what can be taken out without impacting the story.

The fourth work is my short story for Wordsmith Six’s second Route 66 anthology Holiday’s on Route 66.  I have some ideas but I must do substantial research before I even consider writing the work.

My goal is to have at least two of the projects completed by the end of this year. Now that Our Time On Route 66 is available as an eBook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I’m excited about getting more books out and in the hands of readers.  I never really understood the thrill of seeing my name on a book jacket.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66


OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas:

  • A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright
  • A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel
  • A down-on-his luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols
  • A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins
  • Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

 

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

Read it now!

Amazon       Apple iBooks        Barnes and Noble

Carpe Diem Publishers

A Good Read


Outtakes 348

A Good Read

By Cait Collins

 

I have a list of favorite authors and look forward to the announcements of new releases.  Nora Roberts is on that list.  Her most recent release, Shelter in Place, is a great read. We hear about mass shootings almost daily.  Too often, the focus seems to be on the shooter and less on the victims and survivors.

In her new book, Ms. Roberts focuses on the lives of the victims and survivors. While the mastermind of the shooting lives and tries to pick off her select set of survivors, the main characters are those who lived and found a purpose for their lives and peace for the loss of those they loved.  The Mastermind contributes to the novel without becoming the prime character. Her presence in the story is to elicit responses from the other characters and contribute to their decisions and to their fears.  It is the strength, vulnerability, and the determination of the living that move the plot.

Roberts’ dialogue is, as always, spot on, allowing the characters to express their doubts and dreams.  The inner thought reveals so much about CiCi, Simone, and Reed.  It moves each person toward climatic revelations.  I learned about them as they discovered themselves. I could not put the book down.

Settings are another selling point of her work.  She picks interesting places: Ireland, the horse racing and breeding farms of Kentucky, the haunted regions of Louisiana, Chesapeake Bay, and the rocky coastline of Maine.  The reader can picture himself or herself in the locations.  And if it’s a new place to the reader, they create a desire to experience first-hand, the settings.

Does this mean I have enjoyed every Nora Roberts novel that I’ve read?  The answer is a simple no.  While there are titles I have not enjoyed as much as others, I’ve always found good, even brilliant, passages or characters, and I’ve always found new approaches for difficult situations.  She has taught me much about the craft of writing.  I always look forward to her releases because I know they will be good reads.