Who Knew?

There’s a “legend” about freelance writer, Chuck Ross, who in 1982 re-wrote the film classic CASABLANCA, titling it EVERYBODY COMES TO RICK’S. (By the way, that’s the original title of the play written by Murray Bennett and Joan Alison.) Ross changed a few names, but essentially left the work exactly as it was. He then submitted the screenplay to over 200 agencies.

Shockingly few recognized it. Only three agencies thought the work was marketable. Many criticized the screenplay for having too much dialogue, not enough action. One agency suggested Ross try turning it into a novel.

Some aspiring writers might hear this tale and feel discouraged. “Jeez, if they don’t even like a classic such as CASABLANCA what chance do I have?” Yet I find the story funny and inspiring. To me its proof no one gets it right every time, even agents. The trick to success is to keep writing and submitting, believing in yourself and that someone out there knows a good story when they read it.

All Things New

As everyone knows Thomas Edison was an inventor. However, at one point in his career, there was a fire where he worked. While watching years of his work go up in flames, he calmly stated all his mistakes were gone. Now he could begin anew. He was actually happy!

Three weeks later he invented the phonograph. Prior attempts at building said phonograph had (literally) gone up in smoke. With that, he forgot all the mistakes he’d made and started totally fresh.

We can all apply this philosophy…just get rid of the errors and begin all over again.

If you’re working on a story but seem to have hit a brick wall and can’t find a way around it, set that story aside. Start something totally new. It might be a story that’s been bugging you for a while, but you wouldn’t drop the other one to work on. It’ll be interesting to see how fast it all comes together.

I can’t say this has happened to me. No, I’m so stubborn I keep plugging away when I should quit and move on to the next project. Forget my mistakes and start with a clean slate. I’m willing to bet I’d be a lot happier with the end result. Kinda like Mr. Edison and the phonograph.

Hmm. Perhaps I should take my own advice. Since I just finished a project, and it’s a new year, think I’ll start a brand new story and see where it takes me. 🙂

(For those out there who don’t know what a phonograph is – Google it! You might be surprised how it has influenced your lives.)

Linda Trout

Writing Goaled

RWI has a goal setting loop. I came up with the idea, and we started the loop the year I sold my first book. It’s called BOLD AND SOLD. The loop has been in existence for several years now.

As of this writing, only one person has posted her goals in the last few months–and it ain’t me!

(Yay, Jean! You go, girl.)

The loop is made up of a great group of very supportive women. I wonder why we (me included) don’t use it?

I’ve heard a few good reasons, and can think of a few more.

  • When I set goals, I make them too high.

One of the purposes of the loop should be to learn how to set good goals.

  • When I don’t reach my goals, it makes me feel bad.

Since we only give praise (and we can be so good at that!) and never boo anyone, the only reason a person feels bad is a conscience thing. We can train those puppies!

  • When I set goals, things happen and the week is over before I can write.

Maybe we should set monthly goals. Or . . . I have another idea I’ll tell you about later.

  • When I set goals, it seems the last thing I want to do is write.

I have that problem with Weight Watchers. When I’m on WW, it seems all I want to do is eat. (Could be all I want to do it eat all the time anyway. LOL.)

Remember the Do-Do verses (my preacher calls them that) in the Bible?  Romans 7:15-16

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

Paul wasn’t even talking about goal setting, per se, but he’s got it pegged. We don’t do what we want to do and we do what we don’t want to do.

So why should we set goals?

The easy answer is so we’ll know when we’ve reached them. I’m the last person in the world to lecture on being regimented when it comes to anything, but I find that setting my own true goals makes me want to reach them. (My way is kind of, “Oh, yes, I can, too! Don’t tell me I can’t.”)

But that’s only my goals, not ones that are forced on me by someone else either telling me I should do this or that or expecting/assuming I’ll do whatever.

I took a goal setting workshop once that suggested that we take a test to see how committed we are to our goals. Set one goal of something you want to do every day.

Write it down on 10 pieces of paper or index cards.

Put one everywhere you are. At your desk, in your purse, by the coffee maker, on the fridge, on your computer screen at work. All the places you go regularly.

Now take another index card and write the date for the next week and next to it yes or no.

1/21    YES    NO

1/22    YES    NO

1/23   YES     NO

1/24   YES     NO

1/24   YES     NO

1/25   YES     NO

1/26    YES     NO

1/27    YES     NO

Leave no room for excuses. Each day, circle whether you met that goal.

At the end of the week, you should be able to tell something about your commitment to that goal.

Of course, being that regimented would make me nuts, and I can almost assure you I’d flunk. Instead, I have to go with another idea I read about this morning. (This is what earlier I told you I’d tell about later.)

It’s called Row 80.

That stands for ROUND OF WORDS IN EIGHTY DAYS. I think someone came up with it so there was something like NaNoWriMo that works for real people.

From what I’ve read, you set your goals for the next eighty days. Real goals for people with real lives. People who work. People who have families. And then you report in weekly to tell how you’ve done.

If your goals change because, after all, life changes things, you simply tell about the change. For instance, if you’re writing on a book and plan to write thirty minutes a day (or x amount of words) and suddenly you sell another book, you simply announce your goal has changed. Now you must work 30 minutes a day–or whatever–on revisions.

Is this a call to RWI members to get them to join the Bold and Sold loop? Yes. If they’re interested. Is it a call to get members to join ROW80? Not necessarily, but sure, if you’re interested.

It is a great place to get inspired, and they have a wonderful badge you can put on your blog. Check it out:

ROW 80

Even if you aren’t interested in setting goals or aren’t able to join the B&S loop because you aren’t a member of RWI, it could get you to writing.

And that’s what this has been about.

(I can tell you about joining RWI, too, if you’re interested. Even long distance members are welcome. Just let me know.)


I know I’m late, but in this particular case, it was a blessing.  Last night, when I sat down to blog, I had no clue as what to write.  I started flipping through my TV channels, desperate for inspiration and stumbled on one of my favorite movies just starting.  The movie is APOCALYPTO, directed by Mel Gibson and all the dialogue was in a language that few people speak today, Mayan. Despite having seen it before and having the DVD, I still stayed up until 5:00AM watching it…again.

When I got up this morning, I was still thinking about it, wondering why I loved the movie so much.  It’s gory beyond gory.  It doesn’t have an actors that are anywhere familiar to me.  And what dialogue there is, I have to read the subtitles.  (Not a big deal for us hearing impaired who are already using the caption capture on the TV!)  This film is similar to another one I love, QUEST FOR FIRE. Only QFF has NO dialogue at all.  That’s when it hit me that when the writing and acting come together to make two such movies as these, we’ve got us a perfect marriage.

Now, I understand, that to the majority of audiences, the author of the script isn’t why they go to the movie.  I do have friends who base their television watching on the quality of the writing. As an author, I won’t watch even my favorite actors if the stories are lame.  That’s why actors depend on good writers.  But when that final script is filmed, it’s more than the written words that make the great movie.

You also have to have a director who can “see” the story the writer has on paper.  You need a cinematographer who can film the scenes for maximum impact.  And without a skilled actor who can emote, even without dialogue, to give life to the words, the film won’t work.  There is no doubt that the movie team is an example of a perfect polygamous marriage. And nothing leads to a “divorce” like a film that doesn’t live up to the promise of the written words.

But I have to admit, as far as I’m concerned, the writer is the Senior Wife as the Chinese would say.  Without the words, the story doesn’t attract an actor or director to go for the film rights.  Without the words, the story doesn’t attract an audience. Without the words, the actors don’t have a good idea of how they should portray the character.

Yeah, that works for me.  I like being the Senior Wife.

Welcome to Alcatraz!

“A secret agency must catch inmates who are reappearing after going missing 50 years earlier.”

The minute I read that promo, I knew I’d have to tune in to the new series, Alcatraz, that aired on Fox last night. During our seminar on Saturday, multi-published author Chuck Sasser spoke about jump starting fiction with intrigue, mystery, action, and raw emotion. And man, the writers of Alcatraz nailed them all. I love the premise: “The worst criminals this country’s ever seen are coming back…and no one’s going to be able to find them because they don’t exist.”

In 1963, The Rock was closed, the prisoners all moved to other prisons. Yet as, FBI Agent Emerson Hauser says, “That’s not what really happened.” It’s the present day and the “’63s”, as Agent Hauser refers to them, are coming back.  Teamed with Hauser, SFD Detective Rebecca Madsen and comic book writer/Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto, track the first Alcatraz re-appearee, Jack Sylvane, who’s gone on a vengeful killing spree. As if finding all the reappearing criminals wasn’t enough Hauser, Madsen, and Soto must learn who moved them off Alcatraz in the first place. Where have these criminals been the last 50 years? And oh yeah, why haven’t these prisoners aged a day?

I don’t watch that much TV. I don’t have time. But I’m hooked. I’ll travel back to Alcatraz every week! If you didn’t see the pilot episode, read it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcatraz_(TV_series)

Traditions and Inspirations

I thought I’d share a little about the last trip my husband and I took. We celebrated a milestone anniversary and instead of going to Branson, MO, our usual destination, we went to Estes Park, CO.

Why there, you ask? There aren’t any ski slopes, although the town is on the outskirts of a national forest. No, besides being tucked into a beautiful valley, the big draw to Estes Park is the Stanley Hotel. Never heard of it? Hmm. Ever heard of Stephen Kings’ book, THE SHINING? Yep. It was his stay at said hotel, in room 217 that inspired that story. In case you’re wondering, yes, the hotel is possessed by Spirits.

Here’s a picture taken of the front of the hotel the night before we left.

While the Stanley’s were alive, the ladies gathered in the Music Room to plan their days’ activities while the men went out hunting or whatever. (Remember, it was a different era back in the 1920’s and ‘30’s.) Mrs. Stanley loved to play the piano, and sometimes late at night people can still hear her playing.

We didn’t happen to encounter any spirits during our stay. Doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Of course, we weren’t in room 217 – the most haunted room in the hotel – or on the 4th floor where guest can still hear children running up and down the halls.

Completely refurbished, the Stanley is a beautiful hotel. (Check out the lobby, complete with a Stanley Steamer automobile.)

If I wrote paranormal, I would definitely go back for more ‘ghostly’ inspiration. Want to go with me?


Linda Trout


Today is our first RWI meeting of the year, and I have to tell you, I’m so excited I could pop.

Wanna know why?

  • We have two new members I haven’t met. Can you believe it? I *hope* I’ll get to meet them today.
  • We haven’t had a meeting since last year! That’s such a long time ago.
  • We have a long time member who has sold her first book, and it’s so much fun to get to live that process through her.
  • We have baby members who are as thrilled when they discover something new about writing as I was when I discovered it.
  • We have a speaker I’m really looking forward to hearing.
  • I love being with friends who love the same thing I do. We talk the same language, have the same joys and disappointments and know just how to encourage one another. It’s kind of like when you go home, put on a warm robe and snuggle on the couch. It just feels right.

Our meeting is today, 1:00 at OSU-Tulsa. If you’re interested in writing, come on by. Even if you aren’t interested in writing romance, but want to write, we’d love to have you drop by and say hi.

Maybe we can help you get pointed in the right direction.

The Secret to Success