ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES


Reasons to Write

     Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it, anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.

This week I will share with you the 5th reason of why I write                                                                                                                                                                                   

Reason #5 – Endless Possibilities                                                    

On a recent business trip to the west coast, I noticed something amazing. Traveling along the highway, I read the billboards. Some of them knew I was reading them and said things like, “Caught you looking!” or “You’re so good. You read me like a book!” As spots on a connect-the-dots drawing, these towering advertisements had information about the grandest hotels, motels and the cleanest restrooms. They pointed the way to the best buffets and restaurants. Some revealed the places to go for the nightlife, and what it will cost if you drink too much of the highlife and turn into a lowlife while driving.

Occasionally we pulled into roadside rest-stops for short breaks and “free coffee,” and then we would load up on all the local vacation magazines, free maps and tourist information to read along the way. One visitor’s guide said that Arizona has more boats per capita than any other state in the nation—and they’re a land locked desert!

My point is that the possibilities for writers are endless because writing is everywhere. From billboards along the American road to epic novels, behind everything you read is a writer.

Rory C. Keel

ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES


Reasons to Write

     Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it, anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.

This week I will share with you the 5th reason of why I write                                                                                                                                                                                   

Reason #5 – Endless Possibilities                                                    

On a recent business trip to the west coast, I noticed something amazing. Traveling along the highway, I read the billboards. Some of them knew I was reading them and said things like, “Caught you looking!” or “You’re so good. You read me like a book!” As spots on a connect-the-dots drawing, these towering advertisements had information about the grandest hotels, motels and the cleanest restrooms. They pointed the way to the best buffets and restaurants. Some revealed the places to go for the nightlife, and what it will cost if you drink too much of the highlife and turn into a lowlife while driving.

Occasionally we pulled into roadside rest-stops for short breaks and “free coffee,” and then we would load up on all the local vacation magazines, free maps and tourist information to read along the way. One visitor’s guide said that Arizona has more boats per capita than any other state in the nation—and they’re a land locked desert!

My point is that the possibilities for writers are endless because writing is everywhere. From billboards along the American road to epic novels, behind everything you read is a writer.

Rory C. Keel

Thinking Too Much


Outtakes 212

Thinking Too Much

by Cait Collins

I believe certain aspects of a work should be researched. Historical facts need to be checked, and laws, procedures, and medical information must be accurate. However, too much technical jargon can slow the story and frustrate the reader. Barry Eisler writes some of the best thrillers. He uses a perfect marriage of a fast action story, memorable characters and spy-speak. He relies on good story telling instead of clocking the action in technicalities. There are other very popular writers who overwhelm me with their expert knowledge.

It’s not just technical over-thinking that can hinder a project. Back story and excessive description are also enemies of good story telling. The reader does not need nor does he want to know the whole story up front. And who wants to wade through three pages describing the sunrise or fly fishing in a mountain stream.

The old KISS philosophy works well when planning a story. Keep It Simple, Stupid. (Stupid references the writer, not the reader.) By adhering to good plot, dynamic characters, and proper setting, the story can be told well. Those fascinating details will season and spice the work when they are properly and sparingly sprinkled into the mix.

 

Author. Speaker. Girl About Town.


Author. Speaker. Girl About Town.

Natalie Bright

The Amarillo Club is located on the 30th and 31st floors of the tallest building in downtown Amarillo. I was invited to join a study club for lunch and to present a program on the history of energy in the Texas Panhandle. It’s a very interesting group of ladies, mostly retired educators, several local, long-time business owners, ranchers and professional women. This group is fun. They had lots of comments and questions, which makes for lively conversation and an enjoyable experience. This is my second time to present a program for them.

The view is breathtaking from this lofty vantage point. I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook of the downtown skyline and the flat Texas Panhandle.

When I got back to my car, I checked the mirror to apply lip gloss and noticed a speck of food. In my teeth. For the entire talk? Gross! I held on to the hope that perhaps the people at the back of the room couldn’t have seen it. I half cried as I checked Facebook comments on the picture I had posted. My Uncle commented: “Eating at high altitude produced gas (Boyle’s Law). You can control it by eating slowly.” So much for hanging on to any credibility for my #authortalk.

Embarrassment and horror turned to giggles as I drove back to my office. No matter how sophisticated and worldly I might be in my own mind, I’ll never escape these redneck roots. I’ll always be a small-town Texas girl, even in pearls and high heels while dining at the top of the world.

The same holds true for my writing.

No matter how hard I wish it, the stories in my brain are not mainstream. Honestly, I had big plans of being a romance novelist. I’d love to write the next zombie mega hit. Or even better, why can’t my muse ignite me with an earthshattering future world adventure that breaks all records as a New York Times Bestseller? Yes please, I want to write that.

Reality check. More than likely, it’s not going to be my book with, “Now a Major Motion Picture” printed on the cover.

The stories in my head are set in the past. My characters are thundering across the wide open prairie on a paint pony, or storming through a clump of Redcoats. In my mind’s eye, I see wagons and horses and Comanche braves. I have no idea why.

The why is a mystery.

The where and who are moving picture shows in my head.

The doing is the hardest work I’ve ever done.

Follow your characters, no matter where they may take you….

 

Why Write a Memoir?


Outtakes 184

Why Write a Memoir?

By Cait Collins

 

The quick answer to the question is, why not? We all have something to say about our lives or periods of our lives. That said, a memoir can be an effective communication tool. Sometimes we might want to just tell a story, but some memoirs have a distinct purpose. The reasons to write a memoir include: to inspire, to inform, and to persuade.

Everyone has experienced tragedy or challenges. How did you overcome the problem?

Did you fall into a deep depression? What made you decide to work your way back? Have you ever watched a child struggle to excel despite learning disabilities? What made the effort so memorable and what affect did it have on you? Mapping the journey from tragedy to triumph may inspire someone else to find a path to recovery. Your words may be the spark for one person to determine to overcome the problems in his life. We all need inspiration to smooth out the rough edges of our experiences. I wrote First Love; Forever Love as a means to let others know there is hope.

“What kind of computer games did you play when you were a kid?” This question came from a student in my Sunday morning Bible class. “My childhood was long before the computer age. I didn’t touch a computer until I was in my 30’s.” His eyes bulged. “No computers? What did you do for fun?”Obviously my young friend did not know it was possible to enjoy life without staring at a computer screen. Tables, a work in progress, tells of growing up a military brat in the 50’s and 60’s. We had a blast back then. Kids today don’t know what they missed, but I hope they will learn from the stories.

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, uses reminences of growing up in the South to portray life in the heartland or the “fly-over zone.” His commentary offers a contrast in the culture between the .east and west coasts and Middle America. God, Guns, Grits and Gravy explains how and why we are so different. Sweetened with humor, spiced with down-home sayings, and peppered with sarcasm, Governor Huckabee makes a strong case for the simpler way of life. He has convinced me my momma and daddy and his parents must have known each other well, because my folks didn’t tolerate disrespect and disobedience any more the Governor’s did. I normally speed read a book, but I’m slowing down so that I can savor the narrative. It is a good read and very persuasive.

Memoirs should not be relegated to the lives of the rich and famous. History is not just the deeds of great men and women; it is also the stories of everyday folks who lived their lives quietly, doing their best to make a living, raise their children, and get along with their fellow man. The stories of all races, nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds weave the fabric of the human experience. All stories are necessary to complete the pattern of history. So why write a memoir?

Why not write a memoir?

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.

ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES


 Endless Possibilities

By Rory C. Keel

Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it, anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.                                                                                                                                                                                   

Endless Possibilities                                                    

On a recent business trip to the west coast, I noticed something amazing. Traveling along the highway, I read the billboards. Some of them knew I was reading them and said things like, “Caught you looking!” or “You’re so good. You read me like a book!” As spots on a connect-the-dots drawing, these towering advertisements had information about the grandest hotels, motels and the cleanest restrooms. They pointed the way to the best buffets and restaurants. Some revealed the places to go for the nightlife, and what it will cost if you drink too much of the highlife and turn into a lowlife while driving.

Occasionally we pulled into roadside rest-stops for short breaks and “free coffee,” and then we would load up on all the local vacation magazines, free maps and tourist information to read along the way. One visitor’s guide said that Arizona has more boats per capita than any other state in the nation—and they’re a land locked desert!

My point is that the possibilities for writers are endless because writing is everywhere. From billboards along the American road to epic novels, behind everything you read is a writer.

roryckeel.com

ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES


Reasons to Write

By Rory C. Keel

Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it, anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.                                                                                                                                                                                   

Endless Possibilities                                                    

On a recent business trip to the west coast, I noticed something amazing. Traveling along the highway, I read the billboards. Some of them knew I was reading them and said things like, “Caught you looking!” or “You’re so good. You read me like a book!” As spots on a connect-the-dots drawing, these towering advertisements had information about the grandest hotels, motels and the cleanest restrooms. They pointed the way to the best buffets and restaurants. Some revealed the places to go for the nightlife, and what it will cost if you drink too much of the highlife and turn into a lowlife while driving.

Occasionally we pulled into roadside rest-stops for short breaks and “free coffee,” and then we would load up on all the local vacation magazines, free maps and tourist information to read along the way. One visitor’s guide said that Arizona has more boats per capita than any other state in the nation—and they’re a land locked desert!

My point is that the possibilities for writers are endless because writing is everywhere. From billboards along the American road to epic novels, behind everything you read is a writer.

roryckeel.com

ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES


Reasons to Write

     Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it, anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.

This week I will share with you the 5th reason of why I write                                                                                                                                                                                   

Reason #5 – Endless Possibilities                                                    

On a recent business trip to the west coast, I noticed something amazing. Traveling along the highway, I read the billboards. Some of them knew I was reading them and said things like, “Caught you looking!” or “You’re so good. You read me like a book!” As spots on a connect-the-dots drawing, these towering advertisements had information about the grandest hotels, motels and the cleanest restrooms. They pointed the way to the best buffets and restaurants. Some revealed the places to go for the nightlife, and what it will cost if you drink too much of the highlife and turn into a lowlife while driving.

Occasionally we pulled into roadside rest-stops for short breaks and “free coffee,” and then we would load up on all the local vacation magazines, free maps and tourist information to read along the way. One visitor’s guide said that Arizona has more boats per capita than any other state in the nation—and they’re a land locked desert!

My point is that the possibilities for writers are endless because writing is everywhere. From billboards along the American road to epic novels, behind everything you read is a writer.

Rory C. Keel

For the Love of History


Middle Grade Mondays

 For the Love of History

by Natalie Bright

If you love history, a fictional story in an historical setting might be something you’d like to tackle. Historical fiction is a time-consuming, massive undertaking. Not only do you need the common elements of story craft, you also need a basic knowledge of the time period. Your details must be accurate or you will get snippy feedback from passionate readers (ask any historical author about the letters and emails they’ve received).

Research-Write Process

Authors confront the research portion of their stories in several different ways. Based on questions to some of my favorite historical writers, here are a few of the processes I’ve learned about.

1) Research the heck out of it first, then power through and write the first draft. Do. Not. Stop. Verification of facts, sensory building, characterization, etc., is done during the editing process.

2) Start with minimal research, character profiles, and develop a basic plot outline. Write, stopping to inquire about specific details as you write. This would be akin to one step forward, three steps back form of world building. By the time you get to the end, you have a fairly polished novel.

3) Total and complete emersion into the time period. You consciously and subconsciously step back into that era.. While you write, you’re developing character profiles, plot elements, intricate details about life, and researching the time period. In your spare time, if not writing, you can rent movies on that time period and read nonfiction books.

Its In the Details

It’s the subtle details about everyday life that brings historical fiction alive for me.  Everything must be true to that time period. For example, in my middle grade western, the heroine’s mother told the town’s sheriff to “give me a call.” When I heard those words as I read them out loud to my critique group, I felt like such an idiot. The only way the Sheriff could have “called” in 1885 is through a mega phone.  Oh wait, were mega phones even invented by 1885? (See what I mean. As if writers aren’t already crazy enough.)

Beware of those every day, subtle details. They’ll sneak up on you. I believe people who lived in other centuries had the same desires, dreams, aggravations that people do today, but their day-to-day realities are not the same as ours.

Timeline

One element that is critical when writing historical fiction regardless of the process you use, is a timeline.  This can be developed on your computer in a spreadsheet fashion, they can be found online on numerous history sites, or you can make your own with dry eraser board or butcher paper to be taped to your wall for easy reference.

1) Time of day and days of the week specific to your characters as your plot progresses.

2) Print a timeline from a credible website with major events. You might want to thread these events through your plot line. Is your character directly a part of that event?

3) A timeline specific to your setting and a plat or map. What’s going on in the fictional town where your character lives and how is it affected by actual events of the time?

Have you discovered a process that I haven’t mentioned?

What process works best for you?

www.nataliebright.com