Monday, November 25, 2013

Writing Reviews

New York City from the car window...
One way that you can practice your writing is by penning reviews for restaurants or other businesses that you visit. Some will actually pay you for being a mystery shopper, like A Closer Look, while others, like TripAdvisor simply want you to volunteer information for the good of other citizens looking for a good time or bargain. Recently I took a trip to New York City for dinner out with relatives and a Broadway show (Newsies). Of course, we took taxis and walked a lot so each spot we stopped was an opportunity for writing. On the one hand, there was no money to be made, but I am still spreading my name on the web while I learn how to describe and express my experiences.

When you are going out for dinner or even to a unique shop, keep your eyes open and pay attention to details about the place, things like cleanliness, uniqueness, service, prices, etc. Use these observations to write up a review that will hopefully benefit the establishment. Only once in a while do I write a negative review and then I try to be very careful in choosing my words to
not voice my opinion but rather to state the facts as I saw them, and only if I think the review might benefit another traveler like myself in the decision making process.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Who knows, maybe a major outlet will ask me to write reviews for them on a regular basis...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Make Beeswax Candles

Today I am going to try something a little different by writing about something I do at home. My project over the last week or so has been to try my hand at making beeswax candles. So many times people ask me for instructions on how to do things, so since it falls within the category of writing, I will explain it here.

First of all, why beeswax instead of paraffin or soy wax? Well, once I found out that beeswax was considered the premium substance for burning in a candle, I thought, why not? There are lots of claims about problems with the smoke from paraffin and soy but I have not made the time to research them out to see if they were true.

Second, get your supplies. I searched online and found a candle supply company I liked, Candle Science. They seemed to have the best price for the wax in a granular form and plenty of information for learning. Check out their list of fragrances for inspiration, too. While you are waiting for the order to be shipped, come up with the logo for your candles (if you want to). 

Clean a work area in your kitchen and set up your supplies. You will need to have a large pot about a third full of water heated to a simmer. Place a smaller pot on top for melting the wax (creating a double boiler). Use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature of the melting wax as you don't want it to go over 160 degrees (F) or it tends to darken the color of the candle.

Cut your wicks to the right length for your container. Use a hot glue gun to glue the wick to the bottom center. Wrap the wick around a pencil or through a clothespin to hold it in place.

Warm the jars in the oven at 140 degrees. When the wax is melted, add your fragrance (if any) and stir gently.

Pour the wax into the containers, trying to stay as neat as possible since the wax is sticky and hard to clean later. Don't fill it all the way as you will do a second layer after the first is cooled. Leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch space for the second layer.

Pour the second layer over the candles after waiting about 5 or 6 hours for the wax to harden. If any cracks have formed, this is when you can fill them in.

Leave the candles overnight so they can fully harden.

That's it! You now have a nice beeswax candle that will burn longer than most other types of candles.

(Of course, use caution when working over a stove with hot wax and never leave a burning candle unattended, near children or where it might catch something on fire.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Daylight Savings Time

Although I live in a very lush area for growing vegetables, fruit trees and flowers during the spring and summer, there is something unique about fall and the rich colors everywhere.

Tonight we change our clocks back for Daylight Savings time so tomorrow will really feel like we are heading into winter. As far as today goes, it was still warm enough to get out in our kayaks and go fishing and hang out on a secluded beach accessible only by boat.

The clouds have since rolled in and the temperatures are supposed to drop down into the low 30's by tomorrow night. So tonight we will celebrate life with friends and sit around around our fire pit roasting some kielbasa over the flames.

As you can see, I am trying to live by my own motto, "Don't forget to live!" Happy Daylight Savings Time...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Get Around Someone Bigger Than Yourself

grasses, chesapeake bay, inspiration, water, wind
Bay Grasses by Heide Braley
I was just sitting in my living room looking out at a huge maple tree in my front yard and found myself inspired by its simple grandeur. The massive size of the branches stretching out and up hundreds of feet, yet still swaying in the wind. How can something so amazingly massive still be so graceful? I was inspired and realized that I need to spend more time around things and people that are larger than me. They tend to see life from a different perspective and can be less stressed about problems and challenges that always come along.

One example of a person that I want to learn more about is the recent Nobel prize in literature winner, Alice Munroe. Like myself, she wrote short stories when she could, thinking that it was a way to practice her talent until she was ready to write a novel - after all, that's what all good writers do, right? She wrote about life, its ups and down and the feelings that came with them. Now she is in her eighties and thinks she is finished writing, but what a wealth of feelings must be in her by that age.

I can remember sitting down to write a love story when I was twelve and I put my pencil to the paper for a few words, only to realize that I was not mature enough to write nearly enough material about the subject. Today, after twenty-seven years of marriage to an amazingly loving guy, I find myself so much more experienced in the art of love than when we first started and yet somehow know I still have so much to learn. I remind you, writer or not, as I remind myself - find people who are bigger in heart and emotion than yourself and glean from them some of the special facets of life that make them beautiful.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


One of the things that I find interesting is to watch people's faces when I tell them I am a writer. Of course, the words that come out of their mouth are usually admiration and praise, but there is this pause - sometimes just a fraction of a second long, but usually longer, before they respond. It's as though they think, "How could you?" Writers are historical titles on paper, you know - Sam Clemens, the Louisa May Alcott and lists of others as long as there is paper. How could I, a regular girl, from regular life be a writer? What do I have to write about?

People. I write about people and their reactions to life but in stories. I absolutely love people watching. In writing, I have to actually become vulnerable to the fact that readers will not like me and be okay with that. I was listening to a TED talk this morning by Brene Brown on the Power of Vulnerability. During her research she found that we as a society in the US tend to want to numb ourselves from vulnerability and thereby cover up our feelings that we might not be as acceptable to others as we would hope.We say our religion is perfect, we serve the real God, our politics are the best, our food is so healthy - all so black and white yet are they really? Can we really say that everyone else is missing the mark? Where is humility (or common sense)?

What are we afraid of? That we won't make the mark? What mark? I want to have the freedom to make mistakes and not live under the fear that I am not good enough. If you don't like me, that's fine because you know, I might not like you and that is okay too. Who says we have to all like each other? I will still be kind and polite and respect you and possible even learn from you, but I will gravitate towards people I like.

To sum up my thoughts, let loose and become vulnerable. Let us see the real side of you with freckles and chipped teeth and even better, the tears that flow when you hurt or the spontaneous laughter that comes from making a fool of yourself. We all live in naked skin in a flawed world - so why pretend that we are better than others? I am me and you are you - deal with it and let's get along and enjoy this life.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Accidents Happen

sparrow, fall, pines, birds
White Throated Sparrow
A couple of days ago, I was anticipating my husband, Eric's return home with a rush of activities so dinner prep would be ready. Only a few things were left to do, including chopping some green bell peppers for our roasted pork tacos. The combination of my haste and a slight dullness on the blade of my largest knife culminated in me chopping a good chunk off the end of one of my fingers. Now several days later, I still have difficulty using that hand.

I am amazed how such a small incident can affect my whole outlook on my day. This is not my first accident and I have actually had many surgeries, but each time I am reminded of just how frail we are.

But enough of that, I am really anxious to get back to writing stories as it has been several weeks since my last one, Payter's House. My right hand is fine and I can use a couple fingers on my left to peck away. I have been able to get in a little traveling and some new experiences to add to my bucket of ideas. September is a month of change in so many ways from school starting and summer winding down to leaves changing and the air cooling. Winter is on the edge of my horizon and plans need to start soon...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Walking Along the Ocean

beach, ocean sunrise, Chesapeake
Virginia Beach Sunrise
This morning I was able to start my day by spending over an hour walking along the beach. The water was pleasantly cool for walking barefoot. As I walked down to the water's edge, I was surprised to see a group of dolphins playing just off the shore. There is nothing so calming as the sounds of the waves, the cries of a few seagulls and then a couple of fighter jets going overhead!

I was so surprised and almost alarmed as I heard the roar of the jets before I actually saw them. Maybe the locals are used to them flying low and fast, but I was totally fascinated. Two of them flew out over the water and then straight back in in close formation as if they were somehow connected.

Below at ground level with me, pelicans flew on undisturbed, ospreys kept fishing and the sandpipers acted as if they couldn't hear a thing. I walked for about forty-five minutes to a large fishing pier at which point I decided I better head back.

With my new perspective of looking over the water, I spotted massive ocean freighters way out in the haze of the horizon. A few minutes later a power boat pulling a raft full of folks proceeded to twist and turn thrilling them, I'm sure. To round out my visual explorations, a colorful parasail lifted up into the sky contrasting nicely against the clouds of an incoming storm.

Yet, in spite of all this, I walked on in relative silence and solitude enjoying my chance to scuff my feet against the sand and feel the splash of the incoming waves. What a nice way to start my day!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Watch the Headlines

short story, bullet, crime, drama, fiction
A Bullet Does Change Things
I read this morning on CBS News' website that Near Death Experiences Aren't Figment of Imagination. The article shows in a small study they found that the minds of rats actually increased in activity just after their hearts stopped. In my story, A Bullet Does Change Things, I explain how this could actually play out after a person is shot. This is a goldmine for authors as we can
imagine what a person might be thinking about as their minds kick in just before death.
This morning, we have several thunderstorms rolling through and power outages are almost certain, so I will keep the point of this blog post short and sweet; Watch the headlines if you are looking for new ideas.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Second Book, Imagine Something, is Finished!

kindle, short stories, romance, fiction, the short story, imagination, adventureYes folks, I finally finished my second book of short stories, Imagine Something. After several rounds of editing, CreateSpace is now going through the final stages of review and my book will be available within just another day or two!

As soon as I receive the final approvals, I will post the links to getting the book, along with the Amazon descriptions.

So, stay tuned! 

Thursday, 8/8/2013 update - all links are live!

PS. In case you wondered, my first book is The Meanderings of a Pen

(Secret Discount Code)
For a 39% discount, use the code MAZFURS9 when checking out.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Listen to Your Reviewers

glass reflector sun catcher window art
My Glass Sunflower Suncatcher
One of the hardest things that any creative person has to go through is listening to another person critique their work. Usually, most people are kind and try to use pleasantries to soften the blow of their dislikes, but sometimes you get the rare bird that thinks they are smart when they let the world know just how bad you are and why. Well recently, I was reading through my author page on Amazon where I can read all of the reviews for my stories on one page. My reviews range from two stars to five stars and at first I frowned on the two stars until I read them a little more closely. Just about every slightly negative review mentioned that the story was too short.

Now most of my stories are written along the general guidelines for short stories. Wikipedia lists a short story as being under 7,500 words. So, if my length is within the boundaries, what's the problem? I think what my reviewers were saying is that they wanted more - they actually liked my stories and didn't want them to end. (Of course, I am not negating the fact that I still need to improve at my craft, but that is not my point here.)

So guess what? I am going to write more. That's all I can say for now, but stay tuned for future developments...

In the meantime, listen to your reviewers with an open mind and see if you can interpret what they are really saying.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fresh Off the Press

fiction, fantasy, short story, pine trees, oak tree hollowJust a quick note to mention that my latest story, Payter's House is now live on Amazon. You can get it for free download on this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as I introduce it to my readers.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Traveling to Write Like a Local

New England, fishing boats, coast, islands, Massachusetts
Trouants Island View
This weekend was a fun time for me as I traveled hundreds of miles north through several states up to the coast north of Cape Cod. Although the weather was extremely hot, (the car's thermometer read 105 degrees Fahrenheit) we had great air conditioning. Unfortunately our destination was almost as hot as home even though we jumped north over several degrees of latitude. In spite of feeling more than damp all the time, the trip was wonderfully refreshing.

Driving into an area where the plants are different, familiar foods are named strangely and everyone is speaking with an accent gives me a new background on which to write. I can read about other's travels, but when I experience a new location personally, there are so many more details that impress my memory. Writing about specific locations using real landmarks seems to add credibility and believability to fiction.

I was reading an article from National Geographic, Traveling like a Travel Writer where Robert Reid mentions that to really 'see' a place, sometimes it takes an outsider to look around. As a local, I see my own town in a certain way, often overlooking unique characteristics as they have become normal to me. While my husband drove, I could study the passing areas through my window - the ever driven women running in their exercise suits, homeless men that looked like they just stepped off a ship, different kinds of seagulls circling overhead, endless miles of rock walls and interesting road signs. (Why do snow plow drivers need a sign before every bridge telling them to take caution?)

If you find yourself unable to find inspiration from your local area, try a little traveling. When you come home, you will see things a little differently and might be able to write more effectively as a 'local' but through the lens of a traveler.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Keep Up To Date

foggy morning, Chesapeake Bay, lighthouse, Heide Braley, Maryland
North East Park Lighthouse Pavilion
One of the things that authors and anyone else with an online presence needs to do is to actively keep their pages up to date. In the business of everyday, I forget that people who only see me through an online page, only see the last picture I posted or the last link I left. If there are no changes within a lapsed window of time, the page seems static and out of date.

Today, I took my own advice from last week,  and made the time to update my Amazon Author Page with my newest information. It really didn't take me much effort, but for the possible reader in the deep recesses of the jungles of Brazil, my page might seem like it came back to life!

Obviously, everything that happens in my personal life will not show up online, but choosing events that apply to my life as a writer add interest and variation to my online presence. So, check it out today, Amazon Author Page/Heide Braley and then come back in a while and see if I am keeping to my goal of staying up to date.

Meanwhile, my second book is almost ready to go to print! Stay tuned.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Becoming Popular Online

short story, fiction, mystery, romance, fun, exciting, Chesapeake Bay
On Amazon now
One of the things that I never even thought about when I wrote my first book was that I had to sell the book. Don’t ask me why, but my only focus was getting the book written. I was more than surprised when somehow my handiwork didn’t sell immediately and people asked me how I planned to sell the book. I now realize that I wasn’t the only writer that thought this way.

Marketing your book so that you achieve the goals you have set takes time and effort. Thankfully, we live in a time when using the internet reaches people from all over the globe. On the site, The BookDesigner, the author mentions that creating a social platform where folks can read about you, the author, as well as your review of your work will help "level the playing field." In essence, you have every chance of becoming popular online if you take the time to get your name out there.

I found the site, CreateSpace, for my second book, The Meanderings of A Pen, and publishing became easier than I ever imagined. Amazon created the site to provide inventory freedom, free tools, professional services and support as you work through the publishing and marketing process. Then, I used their Kindle publishing site, Kindle Direct Publishing to publish in a Kindle format for easier viewing.

Link your social platform with others in the same field as your book marketing audience. I used Google Blogger for their free blogger pages. This will help them see your name and hopefully get them to read your writing. Another popular term used for this is networking. When you read someone's blog or an article written that peaks your interest, make a comment and have your signature link back to your personal page (your platform). For instance, Carolyn McCray has a great article, Best Practices for Amazon Ebook Sales, where she gives practical advice about setting up your author page on Amazon. Lots of people will read that article and even the comments so it only makes sense to go where the interest is.

There are so many ways of becoming popular online and these are just a couple of tidbits that should help move the sales of your book. Just don't sit back and wait or you might end up stacking unsold books in your garage.

Have fun!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Short Story Critique

short story romantic fiction love companionship accident
My latest story on Amazon
Last weekend I had the privilege of having Morgen Bailey read through one of my very short stories, Elenor Margaret Delaney. This was a story I actually wrote for a competition elsewhere, but it was rejected. After reading the story, Morgen took the time to jot down her corrections and thoughts on the piece. You can read it here: Short Story for Critique 015; Elenor Margaret Delaney by Heide Braley. I enjoy hearing from other writers who are more experienced in the craft than myself. They tend to pick up on common errors in grammar, voice and practical problems that I often overlook when I proof my work myself. So again, Thanks Morgen!

Today, I finished a story that I started almost two weeks ago, All In A Day's Drive. It is a romantic short story of about 6500 words centered on a couple together on the road. The story starts innocuously enough as their conversation concerns mostly pet peeves that they just need to take the time to discuss. As the story progresses, we find out they have been friends since they were kids at summer camp and have a special bond together. A car accident does happen and the results are not anything that they expected.

You can get the story on Amazon here, All In A Day's Drive. after it gets published sometime on Friday, June 28th, 2013.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Bullet, safe, photograph, book cover,
One of my popular stories...
Thanks to all the folks out there from across the globe that downloaded my stories. Over 560 downloads in just two days from the US, India, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan! I realize this is nothing compared to some writers' distribution, but I am very grateful.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing has a great platform for writers like myself and it has been a successful venture for me. I liked that I didn't have to take the risk of a financial investment with traditional publishers or simply the rejection of my work. As I learn more about the craft, I expect that my audience will increase as the stories improve and my name exposure spreads.

So that's it for today. I am simply saying thanks! :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's time to get back to work!

roses garden pink photograph safe image high quality Maryland
Roses in my garden
I am finally ready to get back to the job of writing short stories again. I can't really say it's work because it's story telling - and that is pretty fun. The work is around the story - all the editing, the publishing, the editing, the marketing, the editing, and finally the re-editing! As you can see the editing is the hardest part for me, but in my opinion it is also almost as important as telling the story.

To kick start things, I am offering all of my stories for free for the next two days, Sunday June 9 and Monday June 10. So grab your copies and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Not Going Away...

For those of you who may have noticed, I have been pretty quiet lately. I have not given up writing - just getting ready for my son's wedding. Yes, my oldest son is getting married this weekend and the reception is in my backyard! It is such a wonderful time and I was grateful to be able to take the time to work on improving our yard for them. However, I miss writing. So many stories are wafting through my brain - none complete, just ideas that come up from shows I watch or ideas I get while talking to folks or something I have read. So, please be patient with me, more stories are coming...and I can't wait!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stepping Outside of My Footprint

Photograph yellow gold respberries fruit safe high definition
I grow golden raspberries instead of the normal red or black.
This morning I woke up to a house filled with streams of sunlight and the sweet and fruity smell of last year's grapes fermenting in the kitchen (I harvest them and keep them in the deep freeze until I am ready to work with them). I must seem like a strange person to someone who doesn't know me. I just don't fit the mold of a normal girl for this time period. I love growing things and always have experiments going in some part of my house or yard. I don't like wearing much makeup or high heels but do like pretty clothes. I don't like coloring my hair and never have but I don't mind when others do. I like making foods from scratch and rarely eat pre-made food but I love going out to a great restaurant. I don't like the cheapness of most items manufactured today but do love my smartphone and laptop and browsing on the web with all of its information. I love all my old friends and cherish the great memories I have of them but enjoy being alone more than once in a while. I love being feminine and but enjoy hanging out with guys more than a group of girls. I enjoy science and learning the intricacies of biology and botany but also enjoy watching television shows simply for entertainment. And after listing all this, I have found that my likes change over time so who knows what I will be like in a few more years.

So, I guess I might not fit in a regular mold, but I like myself and my life. I don't mind when folks don't understand me but I seem to be likeable. When I write, I tend to think that my lead characters take on parts of my personality. Developing characters takes thought and most of the time I restrict their actions to who I am. It is a challenge to step outside of my personality and face the fears that my readers might not like the characters but I think it will enhance my stories. So, here goes, I am stretching my brain...

Friday, April 19, 2013

What's Stronger, Words or Your Tone?

Photograph, grasses, Chesapeake Bay, Wind, Stormy, safe, Large, Peaceful
Bay Grasses

As I spend time watching television, I realize that a lot of producers for commercials create ads that prove that what we see in the tone is stronger than what we are hearing as words. Years ago, I watched the movie, Three Men and a Baby, and was so amused when the actor was singing a lullaby to the baby but using words that had nothing to do with the lullaby. Similarly, if you watch a prescription drug commercial today on television, they use the same concept. The calm music is playing and the actors are happy beautiful people enjoying their life in a wholesome and inspiring atmosphere while the words being spoken are terrible. How can you sell anything while you have to state that the
side effects are possible death, blindness, deafness and so on? It seems mind boggling, but thousands of Americans still buy the drugs! They are listening to the tone of the commercial and not so much the words.

Anyhow, how does that relate to me and my writing? Well thankfully, I can write what I mean and there is no backdrop of scenery but I do have to think about the tone of what I write. An author conveys his feelings through his tone so he has to place himself in the scenario and let the feelings take over reality. In the online article, Examples of Tone in a Story,  the author explains the use of tone nicely as a combination of word use and narration by the author.

When my children talked to their peers in their early teen years, they would use phrases like, "I hate you," but they did not mean what I thought. The whole tone of their conversation was playful and jesting with laughter and fun. At first, it bothered me, but then I realized it was how they talked and the tone behind it was still kind.

So my conclusion? Words are only as powerful as the tone behind them.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Finding Reviewers

Scotland, Edinburg Castle, book cover, safe
Tell Me A Story
One of the important parts of promoting anything online is accumulating reviews. I personally read them and will even base my decisions on buying goods or selling items on the quality of reviews a person or an item might have. This is unfortunate for newbies like myself who have few reviews posted. The lack of reviews simply is just that, a lack; it does not have to mean that a person or their work is inferior. Finding folks to take the time to type in a few of their own words is a challenge.

I have another story, Tell Me A Story, published on Amazon and free this weekend. If you have the chance to read it, I am asking that you jot down your thoughts about the story in a review. I don't mind if you think it needs help or if you think my writing style is superb. Each review helps me to learn and hone my craft while at the same time other readers can read what kind of a writer I am.

I have fun writing, but know that I can become much better with the help of reviewers like you. For those of you who have taken the time to write a review for me, thanks very much!

Friday, March 15, 2013

What Grabs Your Attention?

photograph, closet door, scary, dark, curious
What's Behind the Closet Door?
Whenever I read a good story, I immediately wonder where the author got the idea. What was it that led them to craft fiction around a topic? Was it a personal experience or did someone else plant the idea in their brain? Can you imagine if you were a friend of Samuel Clemens and he took a conversation you might have had together to write a story? You would have been thrilled and bragged that you helped bring it to life.

However, no writer is well known when they just start writing, at least usually. I read a short story recently called "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. It was a dark tale that dealt with the ugly side of what could have been a small New England town. The reaction was severe mostly because the New Yorker published it. So many people were offended that she would cast a dark shadow on pretty New England towns. Jackson wrote it well and the story draws you in even as you realize something is not right. Hundreds of people protested in writing and even cancelled their subscription to the newspaper while the story was banned in the Union of South Africa. The notoriety of the tale made her famous even though she had already been writing for years. Later, schools adapted it as part of their writing curriculum.

It seems the dark skeletons in our closets attract a certain amount of curiosity.  It's the happenings of stuff under the cloak of respectability that peak attention, especially when it is under the seeming whiteness of religion or important institutions. It's the "How Could You?" attitude. Look at the news hubbub around Oscar Pistorius - an Olympic athlete, triumphant survivor and ...murderer?

Personally, I tend to stay away from darker humors even going to far as refusing to read the works of Poe as a child. Then I found him depressing but now realize that he actually was an amazing writer. I like writers that found ways to escape from the darker side of society - tales of Tom Sawyer living free from the tyranny and unreasonableness of his religious aunt. I loved Two Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the freedom Captain Nemo had to explore away from the political war scene at the time.

One of my ongoing lessons in life is learning that we as humans are actually flawed and in spite of the fact that we all do shameful things, most people are still very kind and understanding.

Enough of my rambling. What do you find interesting?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Adjectives are a Splurge

Breakfast, photograph, descriptive, clear, hungry,
Okonomiyaki Pancakes
I have been told many times by editors not to overuse adjectives. Why? Adjectives are used to embellish nouns so why would using them be wrong? Well, if writers would use them like pepper so that they just accent the content, that would be one thing, but we don't. Today, I was watching a cooking show on the Food Network and realized that so many of the cooks describe their finished product with exaggerated adjectives, just because we can't taste or smell what they just finished. Can it be that everything is, "Oh My God, soooooo delish," as they stuff it into their mouths? I think not. I can just imagine the cooks spitting out the food as soon as the camera is off because it was too salty, or sweet.

I have an idea. Stop using so many adjectives and instead try leaving some of the nouns alone and let us imagine. If I say, fried egg - you can imagine it as maybe your mother made it instead of "incredible", or "unbelievable." Even if I just said, "eggs for breakfast," you would still imagine a certain kind of eggs that probably you like. I am sure we understand that lettuce is crunchy and that avocados are creamy, and so on...

What I am getting at is that when we write, I think that we should assume that the reader is intelligent and imaginative. It does take more work to make words interesting but I accept the challenge. The Guide to Grammar and Writing states, "Adjectives are frail; don't ask them to do more work than they should. Let your broad-shouldered verbs and nouns do the hard work of description."

Just my thinking on the subject....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Planning for the Future

Cape May Lewes Ferry Sunset cruise photograph, water Delaware Bay
Sunset from the Lewes Cape May Ferry on the Delaware River
As a writer, I find myself usually concentrating on the moment, wondering what will happen next in my story or what the next plot should be. Since this blog is about how to make money as a writer, I thought I would mention that one thing that I think writers should do is invest their money.

Yes, that is what I said, invest. So often all the royalties go into expenses and the 'general fund' of daily living, but why not set aside a certain percentage to go towards your future? Investing my money to me means that I am making it work for me. No, I am not an authority on the subject, but there is plenty of free information out there for educating yourself. With a little practice using small amounts of money, I have found that investing doesn't have to be terribly risky and my money can grow while I continue to write.

Think about it and do a little research. Here are a couple of online sites that offer huge amounts of information on the subject, OptionsExpress, Fidelity, Scottrade, and OptionsHouse. Each has their pros and cons and some offer virtual trading so you can play around until you understand more about the process if you need it.

So, check it out if you like, see if you can't start making your money work for you as you work for your money.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life is About Creating Yourself...

The full quote from George Bernard Shaw is, ""Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." In the writing world this is so true. For many years, I thought that good writers were born with the talent and found it very discouraging when I would read the work of really good writers, thinking that I had no chance of success. As time has passed and I continue to write, I find that writing is more a reflection of a voice than the use of fancy words, although they can both work together. 

short story book cover photograph museum art
Available on Amazon here.

As I live, I realize that I need to be proactive in how I portray myself, especially online. This is a difficult concept for many of my friends as most of us were brought up not to talk to strangers, to keep all of our information private and even be frightened by unsolicited communications. By taking the creative approach, I strive to manage who I am and how I want the public to see me. For them to enjoy me as a writer, they really need to have access to the personal side of my life. This blog is one way I use to show you the readers how I think and how my stories come about.

Today I published a short story, The Painting, about a young couple, who like so many people in today's environment, have come upon financial hardship that forces them to sell their home and move to a small home in Maine. Unfortunately, just as they think they are starting to get a hand on their lives, tragedy strikes and their plans have to change again. In the midst of their struggles, a strange and almost ugly painting makes its way into their home and becomes a catalyst for their later success. Yes, it's a rags to riches story and is based loosely on a real bit of news.

Here is a short excerpt:

I was almost finished with unpacking all our boxes when I came across the painting I bought just before we moved. Unwrapped of the packing paper, I set it on the couch and stepped back to study it a little. It was different but I liked the vibrant colors and the blurred images. The frame was a dark, almost black wood with fine but elaborate carvings. There was a small scribbled signature on the bottom right corner, but I couldn’t tell what it was. If I squinted my eyes, I could make out that it was a room with sunlight streaming in and a girl sitting on a couch facing a man standing at her feet. The smell of the painting was a little musty and although the canvas was dirty, I could still imagine it hanging in a fine mansion somewhere. You can’t blame me for fantasizing, it was fun, but I decided that I would hang the picture in the hallway that lead to the back door, keeping it out of sight mostly, but adding a touch of color to the space.
Life was different between Michael and me, now. With our new mortgage only a third of what it had been in Connecticut, the tension of never having enough money in our bank account was fading away, even though it had only been a little over two weeks. The depressing amount of debt on our credit cards was still there but now we felt like we had a chance to make our life together work. Away from the scrutiny of his family and our affluent friends, I felt like we had the freedom to reinvent our lives to what we wanted. The stillness of the frozen world around us was healing and our nights in front of the fire were the best we had experienced since we started dating. Michael was actually looking at me with admiration instead of irritation and I found him more interesting as he donned work gloves to scrape and paint the walls of our home instead of just being the smart bank manager.  
          I smelled something and ran into the living room... (continued here)