Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Outtakes 173

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

By Cait Collins


Most folks in the United States joke about the local weather. In the Texas Panhandle we make comments like, “You don’t like the weather? Well, just wait five minutes and it’ll change.” Last night was a perfect example of Panhandle weather. It was a balmy 72 degrees when I walked into the grocery store. I walked out forty-five minutes later only to be confronted with 40–50 mile an hour winds an air temperature of 47 degrees. It went downhill from there. Hello winter.

The great thing about the cold weather is I have the perfect excuse to sit by the fire and read. It maybe my imagination, but the world seems quieter when it’s cold. It’s as if a sleep has descended, the imagination opens, and I can really get into the story. And there are some fantastic stories out there.

If you’re look for a good read, here are some suggestions.

Killing Patton, Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy                    Bill O’Riley

The Heroes of Olympus series (great for adults and kids)     Rick Riordan

Virtue Falls                                                                             Christina Dodd

The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy                                              Nora Roberts

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn                                       Mark Twain

The Longmire Series                                                               Craig Johnson

Son of No One                                                                        Sherrilyn Kenyon

Revival                                                                                    Stephen King


And if you feel guilty about taking a break from your writing, just remember reading is part of a writer’s job. How can we be good writers if we’re not good readers?

Happy reading.

What If?

Outtakes 171

What If?

By Cait Collins


It amazes me how little people know about history, geography, and basic civics. I watch some of these man-on-the-street interviews and cringe. How is it possible young people and adults do not recognize a picture of the Vice President of the United States? What country is the home of the Eifel Tower? I was shocked to hear answers like Rome, Africa, and Italy. Is it really imaginable that our young people cannot put the following events in chronological order: War of the Roses, the fall of Rome, the signing of the Magna Carta, the battle at Thermopile, the American Revolution? Why can folks not name the 50 states and at least half of the state capitals?

I have a couple of theories. One, video games, the Internet, and television have eclipsed homework and study. Two, so many of the text books and extra reading materials are dry and boring. So what do we do about it? What if we write history, geography, and civics better?

Bill O’Riley has hit pay dirt with his Killing series. While not excessive, the descriptions in KILLING LINCOLN put me in the action. Hour by hour events, introductions of cabinet members and military figures put a new perspective on the events. I actually enjoyed the reading. Young people like the books. So what if we take a page out of O’Riley’s play book, select an event, forget the politics and ideology, use verifiable facts, and write the story? What if we revealed the event through the eyes of an ordinary person?

I enjoyed Rick Riordan’s mythology lessens in his Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series. I began to realize how much I had forgotten and started to research the gods and goddesses. Myths and legends are a part of the culture and history of nations. They are viable influences on history. So what if we took other myths and legends and created stories?

With so many distractions, it’s a challenge to teach our children, teens, and even adults the past and how those old events affect today. If we don’t know where a city or country can be found on the map, how can we possibly understand the importance of events in that country? What if each writer chose an event, a location, or a person, and wrote a story? If we do our jobs well, we will not only teach, we will create readers.