Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Key Ingredient?

Cured Sopressata
What's the key ingredient to writing a good story or making cured sausage like this sopressata or a chocolate chip cookie or a hand-carved wooden bowl? Is it money? How about expensive tools? Maybe a good education? I don't think so.

The key ingredient is desire. Without desire, the task at hand becomes a chore and the end result tends to be mediocre. A carver has a desire to create a beautiful work of art and the process of carving brings that desire to fruition. A sausage maker desires the specific taste of cured sopressata and carefully mixes the ground pork with the spices and cures it gently over a cool smoke until it reaches the perfect color.
Robin Wood
As a writer, I need to use the same principle of desire when I create a story. I want to form a finished product that I enjoy reading and then can hopefully share with others. 

How do you use your desires?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reality or Dreams you ever wondered if you are in the middle of a dream instead of awake in reality? How would you know the difference? Some dreams are very vivid and can evoke sensations of pleasure, fear, terror and even pain. I know I have had dreams that frightened me so much that I can still remember them decades later. This scenario is perfect fodder for stories as you can write almost unglued from reality. Things happen in dreams that are not possible in reality but they sure feel real. 

My next story I am working on is based on this phenomenon. Unfortunately for the reader, in a book form, you have no way of knowing that the story might start out as a dream and therefore your emotions are much stronger; you assume that it is based on reality. Or is it? I love my flying dreams. Makes me wonder if I really could fly...What are your common dreams?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welcome Summer

This past week, we got slammed with incredible heat and humidity, scorching even our tropical avocado plant. I cannot imagine how people used to live without air conditioning, unless they all just sat in a cool creek. I seem to become an automatic sweat machine and quickly become demented unless I soak my head in cool water!

Anyhow, the heat wave is passed and so the weather goes on. This weekend, I published a new story called, Wrongful Accusations - the tale of a man who thinks he is doing a good thing only to have a lawsuit slapped in his face.

Here is a short clip...

I am writing this narrative as a diary of the circumstances that led up to my court case where I was charged with blackmail. I hope the information here will show that my intentions were good and helpful and not at all of a malicious nature.
June 21, 2012, 1:30 pm. Went to the Burger House Place to get a burger at 1:40 pm. I know the exact time because I kept the receipt in my truck as I tend to do with most of my purchases. The morning before my purchase was a normal one except that the weather was amazingly hot. I remember the weather forecast on the morning news called for temperatures close to one hundred degrees with humidity levels close to ninety percent. By the time lunch rolled around, I didn’t want to get out of my truck to go into the burger place, so I went up to the drive through window. I ordered my burger and fries along with a cup of water and drove away.
2:00 pm. I parked my truck at the park on Walnut Street and sat at a picnic table under some shade trees and pulled out my lunch. After two or three bites, I noticed something...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Are the "B" Students the Creative Side of Society?

I was looking over one of my children's transcripts from high school yesterday and was intrigued how her average was a solid "B" for almost every class. Knowing her talents, I was wondering if there is a correlation between other students and how they fit into society. I, too, was a "B" student and although I knew I could have gotten "A"s in some classes, I wasn't interested in how the teacher ranked me. That might sound strange or maybe even dishonest, but what I did care about was the material I learned. If I found interest in the subject, I was excited to assimilate the information, but if it was boring or seemingly useless, why bother? 

Today, I decided to see if there was a link between the "B" students and the creative part of society. I found an interesting press release from London, EA Worldwide Acquisitions: 'B' Students are the Perfect Entrepreneurs. 

Here is the quote from Ken Sundheim, President of KAS Placement, an executive search firm in NYC:  "After hiring, managing, leading and sometimes firing recent college graduates and interns, it has become evident to me that the honors student is too obedient, while the average student is mostly too complacent to be an entrepreneur or to make it at an entrepreneurial firm in this economy."
So to all those "B" students out there, realize that there is a place in the entrepreneurial market for you! Pursue those dreams and go for it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Heat Exhaustion Danger!

Think coooooool...
When my children were young, I spent a lot of time with other parents with young children. One of the pieces of advice I would give was to realize that living through uncomfortable circumstances in our lives helps us to understand and sympathize with others. This can also be applied to the simple circumstance of bad weather. This week, we are supposed to have a few days of high heat and humidity - not my idea of enjoyable! However, I can use the discomfort I feel when I write a story. It will help me to set the mood of not just the surroundings but also how the characters feel and react to each other. (Click here for more information on novel writing) With the humidity around 90 percent and the air temperature around 95 degrees, we are under a heat index of over 140! That means we are in extreme danger of heat exhaustion or stroke if we try to work in the heat.

Now I need to go and turn on the air conditioner...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Learning from Hemmingway

Chesapeake City Bridge
Everyday I look for new ways to improve my writing skills. Improve my grammar. Increase my vocabulary. Read new material. But this morning, I read, Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well, by Brian Clark. Although he is known for having just four tips, his fifth bit of advice was, “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
Thankfully, I can just hit the backspace button or the delete button repeatedly instead of wasting paper. It just goes to show you that one of the most talented writers considered even his own words to be, and I quote, "shit," most of the time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting an Audience

kindle (80K)
Kindle reading devices make reading simple.
One of the most amazing things to me is when I find that my stories are being read in other countries, sometimes hundreds of people in a week. Thanks to the convenience of the internet and Amazon's Kindle program, people can download them for free when I offer it. It's like getting free advertising but all over the world. For instance, over 100 copies of Killing Time were downloaded in the US yesterday, 15 in the UK, a few more in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Yet here I live quietly in Maryland where most of my neighbors don't even know I write!

I think I like it this way.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I published another story, Killing Time, this afternoon on Amazon. It will be available for downloading some time this afternoon and free this weekend. It is a short story about two six-year old boys who lived in Indiana. They are hot and bored one summer day and decide to have a little picnic just like the hobos, but in a boxcar from a freight train parked on the tracks behind their home. They steal some whiskey from their dad's stash, thinking it is beer and of course, get drunk. When they finally wake up, it is nighttime and they are hundreds of miles from home.I can't imagine being their parents and finding out from the police where their kids are, and then only to hear that they have run away again.

If you want to know more, you have to read the story!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

People Watching
Baltimore Inner Harbor
This morning, I am off to the city of Baltimore. One of the things that I like to do in cities is to find a spot where I can sit and watch people. Although most of them will fit into general categories, there are a few that stand out as individuals. I find it surprising to see how many people copy others in how they dress and accessorize. Best friends seem to do it the most, even wearing the same kind of jewelry or even tatoos.

Watching people and how they react with each other is a great way to learn about characters that I write about. If I don't expose myself to other people, everyone will act like I do in my stories! That would get pretty boring very quickly. You should try it, if you haven't already. It's quite fun.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fires, Floods and Scandals

Florida Floods
That about sums up this morning's headlines. I read the news stories in about five minutes and go on with my day, but in reality, there are hundreds of people if not thousands, whose lives have been seriously disrupted by these events. Parts of Florida received over thirteen inches of rain in one day - that's crazy! I live in an area that easily floods with just five inches of rain. This is graduation and wedding time and I am sure that a lot of celebrations had to be postponed or cancelled. Then there are the wildfires in New Mexico and Wyoming - I cannot imagine what it is like to have to leave my home knowing it will probably be burned to the ground when I come back. 

When dire circumstances like these affect people, stories are formed and the end, there will be both tragedy and victory. I am interested in hearing what's behind the headlines - who are these people and what happened? I wish the best for them.

I am off to finish my current story - two little boys, alone on a boxcar, hundreds of miles from home...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Killing Time

Well, I did it. I came up with a story line last night for my new story. It's about two boys that find themselves bored one summer and decide to disobey their parents and check out the box cars on the tracks behind their home. They thought they were just killing time during the hot summer months when time seems to drag on forever. One things leads to another and they find themselves in a trouble far greater than they had ever imagined...

My last story, The Old Brown Book will be free this weekend for downloads. If you have a second, drop me a review on Amazon - it's the best kind of advertising I could ask for.

It's Friday so that means we will finish our work and then clean off the patio for a nice evening around the fire with some tasty bits of grilled meat, watching our dogs fall asleep to the sound of owls, a few cardinals, a couple of mourning doves, the ever present Canada geese and maybe an osprey or two on a late hunt as the sun dips below the horizon. A nice ending to a work week.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Making Money Story

The Old Brown Book
So last night I published a story on Amazon, The Old Brown Book. It is the story of a boy who inherits an old brown book from his grandfather. The book teaches him how to use money to his advantage and hopefully become wealthy. Life still catches up with him but the lessons learned put him in a good position to be able to help others. After writing it, I almost feel like it is a true story that happened because I lived through it as I wrote it. 

Today I am looking forward to starting my next story. Not sure what direction to take just yet but that's half the fun, too - just coming up with the idea.

Here is a short excerpt from The Old Brown Book:

“If you are wondering how to make money, just read this book,” I remember my grandfather telling me when I was a little boy. He would pat the old brown book with the gold lettering on the cloth cover and shake his head as if he was agreeing with himself.
I always thought my grandfather was the smartest and wealthiest man in the world when I was a child. He had a large old farmhouse filled with treasures collected from his years of traveling for the government. His yards were fields and extended for as far as I could see and he seemed to know the name of every tree and plant growing on his property. He built ponds to fish in and made a bow for me to hunt with.
One afternoon, during a rainy June day when I was forced to stay inside, I asked him if I could read the money book. I will never forget the look of his face as his eyes crinkled and his chin went up in a big laugh. He looked at me for a second and then stood up and pulled the old brown book out of the bookcase...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back Online

I feel like I have not written for weeks. even though it hasn't been that long. Now I am ready to get back online. After days of cooking and cleaning and parties later, I am ready for some quiet time. Don't get me wrong, I was very excited to be able to host parties for my graduating daughters but I also enjoy when they are over and I can get back to a simpler routine. For me to write, I need to put my full concentration into producing a story and that is impossible if I also have a list of things I am waiting to do. 

I was able to stop in a small gift shop, Kathy's Corner Shop, in our little town of North East and the owner said I could place my book, The Meanderings of a Pen on her shelves for sale to the public, so that was encouraging.

The weather is cool, only about 70 degrees today, so I am refreshed and ready to work!