Who You Know


Outtakes 40

Who You Know

I visited a dear friend in the hospital recently. He getting on in years and experiencing undiagnosed health problems. I didn’t stay long as he was tired and in pain, but we took a moment to remember how long we have been family. On the way home I thought about my association with this wonderful family. My number three sister married the oldest son. The other two boys were active in our youth group. Over the years we’ve stood by each other in good times and bad. The Mom, Lou, accompanied our minister to the hospital to support my mother when my dad died. While my husband fought cancer, they helped keep us fed. We were together when Lou passed and when my mom died. We’ve shared births, holidays, graduations, marriages. Our bond will always be strong.

I realize how blessed I am to have good friends. My life would be so lonely without my support group. I don’t know how I would have survived without their love and encouragement. They helped me grow to become the woman I am today. I only hope I have been as much of an asset to them as they are to me.  I treasure each one of them. In some cases, life has separated us, but we’re still there for each other. An email or phone call will unite us. We talk as if we saw each other yesterday.

Friendships play an important role in the lives of our characters. In HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW, Kate Walker is estranged from her childhood friends Travis Cooper and Mike Lofton. They were her heroes as a little girl who had lost her dad and was abandoned by a careless mother. When they are reunited, Kate and Travis are able to pick up as if there had been no separation. But Mike has a more difficult time connecting with his lost love. Still, when their “sister” needs support, both men are there for her. In turn, Kate befriends Mike’s son and Travis’s wife. They build the support system necessary to sustain them when revelations threaten to destroy Harley.

The trio took their relationship for granted, but like my friendship with the Hays family, the love and respect forms a bond that cannot be broken. In the end, the Three Musketeers find their strength and realize that separately or together, they will survive. Strangely, Kate, Travis and Mike have become my friends. In developing their relationship, they helped me grow as a writer and a teacher. I am so lucky I met them.

Cait Collins

Home Stretch


Outtakes 22

Home Stretch

As a child, I could not wait for the big experiences. Christmas seemed so far away. I thought I’d never get my driver’s license. Would I ever reach sixteen and be allowed to wear makeup and get to date? Would I ever graduate high school? Marriage was a dream. Like most young people, patience was not a sterling quality. My mother and father warned me to slow down and enjoy the stages of life. Didn’t make sense at the time, but now I wish I had listened. As I get older, life seems to move at an Indy 500 pace. I feel I have missed so much because I was impatient.

It can be that way when I write. I’m so anxious to finish one project and start another that I miss out on the pleasure of creating something special. As I prepare the final pages of HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW for my critique group to review, I realize I’ve sped through Kate and Dalton’s journey. I’ve overlooked some of their special moments and maybe I’ve glossed over the intensity of their struggles; downplayed their doubts; left unsaid their most intimate thoughts. That is why the final editing process is so important to me.

At this stage, I pull out the critiques, read the notes I’ve made and the comments my friends have written. I weigh the ideas, incorporate those I like, discard the ones I don’t need, and even flag some for further consideration. I carefully rework scenes and dialogue to improve the story I already love. I do not rush through this process. Instead, I invest time in conversing with my characters. At some point, I will probably ask King Phillips if he has a redeeming quality. And, I will listen for his response. I will read aloud to be sure the dialogue flows. When I complete the final rewrite, I will do one more proof-read and put the novel to bed. I’ll let it cook for a few days and then will send the first thirty pages to a potential agent.

I’ve been asked how I know it’s finished. I don’t really know how to answer that. There’s a line between working toward perfection and over-working the novel. I’ve known authors who worry about dotting every “I” and crossing every “T”, they destroy the soul of the work. At some point, my internal editor will say, “Let go,” and then I will say it’s done. Will I ever be one hundred percent satisfied with writing? I doubt it, but I will be happy with my creation.

Cait Collins