Thank You

Outtakes 69

 Thank You

By Cait Collins

It’s that time when we begin looking back over the events of the year, assessing the good and the bad, the successes and the disappointments. No matter how tough the year may have been, it’s important to realize that writers have much for which to be thankful. It’s been a good year for me. I have completed HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW and am working on the final edits. I have started a contemporary western short story. I’m working on a short work entitled Borrowed Uncles. There have been disappointments, but the good far outweighs the bad. I sat down and made a list of some things for which I am truly grateful.

  1. I’m thankful for parents who taught me to love books and stories. Even before my sisters and I were old enough to read on our own, Mom and Dad took turns reading to us. They made sure there were books in the house. No matter where we were stationed, they found the public library and took us to get library cards. They encouraged my story writing.
  2. I have five sisters who are a major part of my support group. They want me to succeed. They have encouraged me to investigate publishing my novels as E-Books. (It’s on the agenda.) The great thing is they don’t gloss over my mistakes. When something is not right, they tell me.
  3. I have a great critique group and a reader. Natalie, Dee, Craig, Sharon, and Joe give good advice. They temper the problems with positive comments. Cynthia takes the completed work and gives it a final read. Their support and friendship means more than they will ever know.
  4. I’ve been blessed with good mentors. Successful writers tend to give back. They’ve been through the early struggles, have been given support by their peers, and now they reach out to newer writers who are finding their footing. Michael Cunningham told me to write my story. Author/actor Bruce Campbell showed me how to treat fans, Michael Blake spoke of keeping on in the face of rejection. Nicholas Sparks honestly told a group of writers at a book signing that being successful doesn’t make the job easier. It means you have to do it better next time. Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, Linda Broday, Kim Campbell, Jenny Archer, Gail Dayton, Terry Burns, Candace Havens, and the late Rhonda Thompson guided my early efforts and told me never to give up. I could fill this page with other writer friends and mentors. There are so many who have been part of my growth.
  5. I’m grateful there are a limitless number of stories to tell. Okay, were told there are only about seven stories. That may be true, but there are so many ways to tell them. The challenge is to create a unique version of the theme.

This is just a sample of a writer’s list of blessings. Each of us can add more and more to the list. Recognizing the endless blessings and expressing our gratitude helps us through the dark times when we stare at the screen and nothing comes. It makes the rejections easier and the critics less upsetting. Thank you to all of you who read and follow this site. I appreciate every one of you.

Writers’ Resources

Outtakes 29

Writers’ Resources

My published works are associated with broadcasting. I do have a few fiction pieces out there, but overall, the various television and radio stations I worked with own the rights to my commercials, documentaries, and news reports. Switching to fiction put me back in the newbie ranks. I never enjoyed being a beginner and not knowing all the ropes. I believed there were instructions out there, but where do you start looking for help? I must admit I got lucky when I attended my first conference. I found the direction I needed and met some great people along the way.

Kim Campbell helped me avoid mistakes with my first agent/editor pitch. No one mentioned the agent didn’t want my manuscript. I’d been toting that 400 page book for a day and a half. My shoulders ached from the extra weight. Kim let me know all I needed was my business card and a great pitch. I met with the agent; she requested a synopsis and the first thirty pages. It didn’t lead to a contract, but I did receive valuable information and encouragement from her. Kim began a screenwriting class on-line. She taught me how to format a screenplay, focus the action, and keep the story visual and moving. I’ve had some interest in that first screenplay, but no sale. The truth is that without Kim’s lessons and encouragement, RHYMES would not have been written.

FIW lead me to another wonderful organization. Amarillo College has an excellent continuing education program. The instructor for my first creative writing class was New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author, Jodi Thomas. We had a great group of writers in that class. We all wrote different genres, had different perspectives, and varying experiences. I truly enjoyed that class. Jodi was a fantastic instructor. A former high school, teacher, she knew how to instruct and encourage us. She was able to bring out the very best in each student. Jodi was the inspiration for the short story RHYMES. The assignment was to write a story about a lone shoe on the side of the road. I was the last to read my story. I sat and listened to hilarious pieces, thought provoking stories, and some sweet romances. Mine was different and I feared my audience would not like the offering. The room was deadly quiet as I read. When I finished, Jodi looked at me and stated, “I would not want to go to your house tonight. I’d be afraid of finding where the bodies were buried.” Wow! That felt great. I still look to Jodi as a mentor. She has befriended many a struggling writer as an honorary member of Panhandle Professional Writers and as the current Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University.

That brings us to writers’ organizations. Panhandle Professional Writers is one of the oldest, continuing writers’ groups in the country. I’ve made good friends through this organization. I treasure their support and encouragement. Through PPW, I joined my first critique group; attended writers’ retreats in Taos, NM. My association with this organization has allowed me to test my abilities and receive correction and instruction. I’d be lost without PPW.

Bottom line is we have resources. Go on line and do a search of writers groups, contests, and conferences. You are sure to find a group or conference in your area. Try entering contests. The critiques are so valuable. Check out your local community college or university for continuing education classes. Read blogs. Attend book signings. As you can see the resources are unlimited.

Cait Collins