Holiday Thoughts

Outtakes 265

Holiday Thoughts

By Cait Collins


My new work Three by Three is coming along. I discovered a relationship I had not originally intended, and it opens up new possibilities. But as the holidays approach, I turn my thoughts to family, friends, and Christmas shopping. Books, real books, are always on my list.

This is a sampling of recent and upcoming releases.

Barry Eisler                            Livia Lone (also check out his John Rain series)

Carla Neggers                       A Knights Bridge Christmas and Liar’s Key

Sharon Sala                           Family Sins

Lindsay McKenna                  Wind River Wrangler

Lee Child                               Jack Reacher Night School

Anne Perry                             Murder on the Serpentine

Craig Johnson                        An Obvious Fact

Robyn Carr                             The Life She Wants

Rick Riordan                           Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard The Hammer of Thor

Debbie Macomber                  Twelve Days of Christmas

Jodi Thomas                           Lone Heart Pass and Sunrise Crossing

Charles M. Schulz                  Snoopy to the Rescue A Peanuts Collection

Happy reading and gift giving.


Summer Reading

Outtakes 246

Summer Reading

By Cait Collins


Summer is upon us and it’s time to think about vacations and hours by the pool. Question is, what do you plan to read during the down time? Here are some suggestions.

Good For The Money                                                            Bob Benmosche

The Obsession                                                            Nora Roberts

The Highway Man                                                     Craig Johnson

What We Find                                                             Robyn Carr

The Trials of Apollo The Hidden Oracle                   Rick Riordan

Dark Hearts                                                                Sharon Sala

Lone Heart Pass                                                          Jodi Thomas

God’s Eye View                                                         Barry Eisler

Legends & Lies: The Patriots                                    Bill O’Reilly

15TH Affair (Women’s Murder Club)                         James Patterson

Coming Soon

Bay of Sighs Book Two of the Guardian’s Trilogy   Nora Roberts              June 14, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child                             J. K. Rowling             July 31, 2016

DragonMark                                                               Sherrilyn Kenyon       August 2, 2016 (Original Pub. Date)

Grab a book and enjoy your summer.


Good Reads

Outtakes 157

Release 7-9-2014


Good Reads

By Cait Collins


Some authors have a unique ability to create a series of books based on a core group of characters in magical locations. The characters are something very special. They are people who have made their mistakes, dealt with the fallout, and moved on with renewed strength and purpose. In some instances, they are the people who have been given a bad hand and turned the nightmares into good productive lives. The skilled hand of the writer keeps these people from becoming cardboard characters.

Robyn Carr, Sharon Sala, Jodi Thomas, Carla Neggers, Julie Garwood, and Nora Roberts are among my favorite series creators. These women write women’s fiction or romance, but the style and genre are different.

For example, Robyn Carr writes contemporary stores set in small towns. Her Virgin River series is comprised of 18 novels set in Virgin River in the mountains of northern California. The people are what my grandmother would have called the salt-of-the-earth. Even the poorest lend a hand in times of crisis. Everyone pulls together. The stories move seamlessly from beginning to end. Her newer series set in Thunder Point on the Oregon coast, begins with a visitor to Virgin River who travels to Thunder Point to check up on an old friend. Again there is an easy flow from one setting to the next. I recommend both series.

Sharon Sala’s work takes a darker turn into the romantic suspense side. While there is a love story, the romance never overshadows the search for the criminal element terrorizing the town. Her stories are set in the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky. After reading the first novel in Rebel Ridge series, the Searchers and Storm Front, I anticipated the release of the next book. Her novels are great reads.

Jodi Thomas is not only a favorite author; she is a teacher and a mentor. She’s been a friend to many writers in the Texas Panhandle. Jodi writes both historical and contemporary novels. Her historical works are based on the settling of Texas. The Whispering Mountain series was my introduction to her writing. Then she released her first mainstream novel THE WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY. The story of a group of women whose husbands were killed in an oil field accident was so well researched and told. Jodi keeps a tight hold on the identity of the lone survivor of the accident. This is one novel I would love to see on the big screen.

In future Outtakes we will explore Carla Neggers, Julie Garwood, and Nora Roberts. But if you are looking for good summer reads, may I recommend Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point Series, Sharon Sala’s The Searchers Series, and the Whispering Mountain Series by Jodi Thomas.

Animal Characters

Outtakes 102

Animal Characters

By Cait Collins


I just finished reading Sharon Sala’s romantic suspense novel DON’T CRY FOR ME. I enjoy her novels as she creates believable characters and places them around the Daniel Boone National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. The terrain is rugged and life can be hard, but the residents eke out a living. Despite the hardships, the mountains are home and the landowners, for the most part, would not choose to leave.

In this story the veteran novelist introduces a non-human secondary character–a wounded black bear. The animal’s character is skillfully developed. Early in the story, we learn the bear carries a broken arrow in its hip. The infected wound alters the bruin’s normal survivor instincts. His fever ravaged body requires the cold waters of the mountain streams. He preys on easy targets as his strength fails. He has killed and feasted on one human and gravely wounded another. The constant need for food forces the animal out of the woods and into a populated area.

The plot-line alone keeps the reader riveted to the action. However, the real attraction is the story as seen through the eyes of the wounded bear. I admire Ms. Sala’s technique. She gets into the animal’s mind just as she does with her human characters. We don’t need a Ranger to tell us how the bear suffered, the creature shows us. We feel his pain, and his fear. When the bear is taken down, I felt relieved because the tortured creature was out of his misery. Yes, I identified with this character.

Accomplishing this feat is not accidental. Ms. Sala is intimately familiar with the geography of the mountains. She knows the terrain, the distances between the preserves and the populated areas. She is aware of the mines and the caves. The vegetation is as much a friend as the flowers in a garden. She researches the wildlife, learns their habits and habitats. In other words, she does her homework.

Even when a writer is familiar with the subject matter, additional background may be necessary. While the Internet gives us easy access to information, developing expert contacts is essential. Invest in the work by visiting the locale and interviewing residents. If panning for gold or mining gems is part of the story, visit a panning site or one of the mines that offers visitors a chance to experience the rigors of mining. Take geography and history classes at your local community college. Use every tool at your disposal to get a handle on the story setting and the backgrounds of the founding families. Yes there is a financial investment, but this should be part of your writing budget. Remember every successful business relies on research and development.