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)