Outtakes 359


By Cait Collins


Our Director sent an email the other day that really made me think.  It went something like this.  “Patience is not the ability to wait.  It’s the ability to keep a good attitude while you wait.”

I’ll admit patience is not one of my stronger characteristics.  I’m better than I used to be, but I’m still not where I want to be.  As a writer, I’ve tried to develop my patience.  But this can be a frustrating business.  I’d submit a novel or a story and get these really nice rejections.

“We’re sorry, but your story, while interesting, does not meet our needs at this time.”

Or, “You have potential, but may I suggest…”

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the constructive ideas, but sometimes I just wanted to know what I was doing right.  And then a friend would get a first publication and I’d wonder why him or her and not me.

I finally found an answer that helps me.  It’s just not my time yet.  So what do I do to keep from shooting my computer?  I’ve thought about papering my walls with rejection letters and pages from rejected manuscripts.  Unfortunately, my apartment complex does not approve of my decorating idea.

I rewrote a novel and realized the second version was a vast improvement over the original.

I killed off a major distraction in a blog.

I edited a finished work.

I read.  Not just romance, but mysteries, and selected non-fiction.

I meet with my critique group.  They can pick me up when I’m down.

I tell myself that I’m a good writer and someday I’ll have that book contract. Someday.

I really try not to be discouraged.  I try not to let the disappointment make me impossible to be around.



Catch Up

Outtakes 357

Catch Up

By Cait Collins

Ten days of vacation really put me behind.  I’m behind at work and with my writing. While I was relaxing on the beach, I started my next Route 66 story.  I like the idea, and I’m bringing back Ian Thornton from Showdown at U Drop Inn.  I figured he deserved his own story, but will he get the girl in the end? I really don’t know as he hasn’t told me yet.

Yes, I’m one of those people who have conversations with my characters.  It’s really unnerving to feel “the Presence” looking over my shoulder and saying, “Cait, I wouldn’t do that.  And just so you know, I hate broccoli. “

Ian’s a pain when I’m at work.  I have a list of letters to review before mailing and suddenly this magnificent Irishman starts telling me I need to be researching vintage pottery and china. “And by the way, you need to visit a potter’s workroom.  Your’ description of the process is a little weak.”

I start arguing.  “Really, Ian? When do I have time?  I’m working overtime.  I have commitments.  Give me a break and let me catch-up.”

Good heavens.  I’m arguing with a figment of my imagination!  Maybe I should go back to the beach.

Favorite Authors

Outtakes 356

Favorite Authors

By Cait Collins


I have a stack of books waiting to be read.  Problem is I’m limited on reading time. It’s really a case of too many books and not enough time.  As I prepare for my vacation, I find myself checking the shelves in my “\unread books” bookcase and choosing titles I want to take with me.  I’ve narrowed the list to four.

Sherrilyn Kenyon       Styguin

Craig Johnson             Western Star

Craig Johnson             Death of Winter

Susan Wiggs                Between You and Me

There’s nothing like having new reads from favorite authors to take on vacation…

Other ideas include:

Nora Roberts              Shelter in Place  (I couldn’t put this one down.)

Sharon Sala                  In Shadows  (The FBI needs more heroes like Jack.)

Diana Palmer               Unbridled  (200thbook)

Carla Neggers              Imposter Lures  (I’m looking forward to this release)

Jodi Thomas               Mistletoe Miracles  (A new Ransom Canyon novel out 9/25/2018.)  Jodi has mentored many aspiring writers in the Texas Panhandle and the surrounding area.  Many of us have taken her creative writing classes.  She recently retired from her position as Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University. She will be missed.

If you like stories from new authors, I would suggest Our Time on Route 66.  Five authors from Wordsmith Six have released this anthology about the Mother Road from different time periods (Depression Era up to a few years into the future), different genres, and different points of view. The only rule was each story had to touch the U Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas.  My story is “Showdown at the U Drop Inn” follows photojournalist, Moira O’Hara as she travels Route 66 in an attempt to rebuild her life after a natural disaster.

If you’re into politics, there are new books almost every week from your favorite news personality or political analyst.

New titles from all genres are released weekly so there’s no shortage of really good reads.  Take a few moments and visit your local book store.  The staff will be happy to help you locate a truly good book.

Vacation Time

Outtakes 35


Vacation Time

By Cait Collins


Two more weeks and I’m off for ten days. And I am taking off, getting away from it all, and shutting down both the business side and the creative sides of my brain. I need these few days to recharge and regroup. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, my friends and family. But sometimes I just need some thought-free days.

When you write for business at the office and creative writing in your off hours, sometimes the two worlds collide and both types of writing suffer. Stepping back and ridding yourself of the computer, internet, and the cell phone can clear the cobwebs and allow the business side and the creative side to stop competing and allow you to do both of your jobs better.

So for a few days, I will not open my computer. I will not access my email from my phone. I will not attempt to work on any writing project. I will sightsee and gather memories with my camera. I might make a few notes in my journal, but I will not try to edit my memoir or my next story. It’s free the mind time and I’m going to take full advantage of

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.

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.





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.