Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Writing Prompts

Everyone needs a boost every now and again.  I have decided to add a few prompts every week to encourage my friends and readers to write. It can be silly or serious, just write something and share.  Make it short or long, I promise I will read each and every one. So here are a few prompts to get you started.
1. When I was a kid, I would sit in our kitchen and....
2. Joe is a really nice guy, but...
3. I was in the park the other day and a I saw a huge...
4. Nobody knows this but I once...
5. Overalls and bare feet...

I suggest taking at least 20 minutes and just write your story, poem or thoughts.  I know you have a story inside you... let it out. 

Come back and read what people post.  You don't have to be a published author to have great stories inside you.  Let it go, and explore.  Think of it as therapy. 

I look forward to reading your work! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Here is my current read.  I think reading books like this is what causes me to feel such stress when I think about the business of books.  This is my second time through this particular book.  I have, in the second reading, learned a great deal more.  The LOCK system for example did not really stick the on my first time through.  The first time I  read it was a bit overwhelming.  I think at one point I threw it in the air and said, "I have no idea what I am doing."  That was about a year ago.  

This time as I read the book,  I realize that sense of stress I had was because I was trying to FIT all the ideas into my writing style.  BIG mistake. It is important to remember that the ideas are presented and some will resonate with some authors and some will not. What is important to remember is each chapter shares many exercises that if used will deepen your skills in both plot and structure. I have implemented several of the techniques because of the exercises that I completed.  (I must admit I did not do the exercises the first time around; and that was a mistake.)

This particular writer is probably one of my favorites on the craft of writing.  I love that Mr. Bell does give so many ideas and examples that he acknowledges that writing can be taught and that he has practical ideas to spur on creativity. I have also learned to read like a writer and write like a reader because of some of his books.  Clearly he understands the way to craft a novel.  I love his sense of humor as well.   

This is a staple book for any writer, at any level. I would suggest, as does he, that one would read it multiple times. I am finding especially with craft books that the more you read them the deeper your knowledge develops.  I am hoping that a few of my other books on writing will prove to be as helpful and a deep well that I can continue to return for more and more inspiration.

If you have any thought or comments, please add them below.

This book gets : 4.5/5


Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Business End

       The dream of authorship, it is not for the weak of heart.  I have the heart of a writer.  I love to put marks on the page that come together and create a story.  It really is just about that, for me anyway.  This may sound weird but in my head, I have all characters that literally push their way forward and demand that I share the world they live in.  I can actually hear them speaking, see them moving and feel the excitement and sadness as they show me what is happening in their lives.  

          I think the thing is that I am discouraged because of the "business" of writing.  Why can't we just write and send out our work? If it is a good story, it will sell.  It is not that easy.  There are literally THOUSANDS of books (many very good ones) on HOW to write. Books on plot, scenes, dialog, characters. Formulas on how to write that are tiresome. Let us not forget how to be in the BUSINESS of writing, agents query letters, contest that are costly and stressful.  There are not just books, but webinars, and conferences and groups all about HOW to be published! For a person like me, it is discouraging.  

I just want to write, I just want to share the amazing tales of the characters in my head.  I think you will love meeting them.  They really do have fascinating lives. I have begun a journey with a new friend.  He has a story to share.  I have agreed to write it down.  It is going to be scary, because when I am done, I have to deal with the business of writing.  It is my dream to share his story with the world we live in. Wish me luck as he and I work together to bring something to this world that will engage and bring happiness to the ones that share the story.  

On the business end, wish me luck. I am not about that end of things. I am capable of the queries and the tediousness of the business, but my heart lies in the words.  I hope I can overcome the business to bring you the stories. Know this; there are hundreds of thousands of authors out there that struggle with the business-- I guess that is why we seek agents. People that understand the contracts, the details and allow us to tell the stories.  

In hindsight, I suppose I should thank the agent that will one day see my stories and say..."OH, yes sign this girl UP!" I look forward to meeting you!  

Saturday, December 5, 2015


This year a very sweet girl I know has donned a black  holiday hat that proclaims in bold white letters "Ba-Humbug".  This sweet young woman is struggling I believe with the part of the holidays that troubles me the most. 
 Her struggles are real, I know because I have them almost every year and it caused me to ponder for several days.  The last thing I want is this young woman I watched grow from just 4-years old into a blossoming college freshman to have is a spirit of bah-humbug because it doesn't get easier.  She has such a sweet spirit and it really has bothered me that she is struggling this year. So to Sweet Shyann I dedicate this thought and hope to you . I pray it helps to "De-Bug" this Christmas.
I love you kid, keep your eyes on the Savior. 

Mr. Scrooge sat, his potato a lump in his gut,
 and found himself again, in a holiday rut. 

Bah-Humbug indeed
he grumbled this Christmas Eve.  

Everyone is shopping, wrapping gifts tied with string. 
All the final holiday parties in full swing. 

Mr. Scrooge sat that lump in his gut and a cool-hearted thought. 
What if I fell asleep and never woke up. 

Who would know, or even care 
if I, Eb Scrooge was not even here. 

He reached down his hand and gave his belly a rub. 
Off to bed he went with humpf and a thud. 

He sat on the corner of his four-post bed, 
and wondered what life would be like if he were dead. 

His eyes soon burned calling for sleep, 
pulling up his covers he began to weep. 

I am alone, completely so, 
and I did it myself he whispered his woe.

Heart heavy and filled with despair
as his loneliness grew deeper each year. 

A single star hovered over his home, 
a silent reminder that you're never alone. 

His dreams soon turned to the stories of his youth,
the story of a child that is God's perfect proof.

Proof of a love for the one's He holds dear, 
The promise of a child that would forever be revered. 

No ghost of past, present and to be 
came to Mr Scrooge on that cold Christmas Eve.

The thing that was troubling our friend Scrooge that night,  
that made him feel alone and not quite right. 

It was not the packages tied with pretty string,
 even the parties or the Christmas carolings.

The thing that pierced his lonely heart
is he had missed the most important part. 

 Christmas Eve is a time to celebrate not what one longs to receive
 but the gift that was given by God that first Christmas Eve. 

A gift of a babe shivering and cold,
 in a manager he lay just hours old. 

His mother knew the truth of this gift
That soon all sin of mankind,He would lift.

Our friend Scrooge woke and from his window he did see,
 a star, a reminder to him and to me. 

This holiday season if you wish to de-bug, 
If you want to avoid the  holiday crud

Close your eyes to all the human greed,
 look to the Savior He has all you need.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


This blog has been neglected for a long time!  For good reason.  Over the last few months my focus on writing has also been neglected.  Well sort of.  I had to work, like really work.  I am more sure of this... I truly am a writer.  I did not stop writing, just had to squeeze it in during some other commitments.  I realized that if I were to give up just one thing, I could gain a greater return on my writing. I have decided it will be a priority. I write because I MUST.  If I don't write my heart feels broken.  My hands itch.  I expect and have given myself a real deadline.  I am excited to say I hope in just a few months to have my first draft completed.  The structure is in place, the rough outline is written, and the details are in place and my characters have welcomed me into their lives.  I am excited to hopefully share their story with the world soon.  

This blog I hope to keep up and use as a place to share the things I learn about the craft as I go along.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rejection. Does it really suck? Nahhhh!

Today I got another letter.  It essentially said in a lovely way, "Thanks but no thanks".  It hurt for about a minute.  However with the sting still there, inside I felt something else bubbling up.  It is joy.  I know rejection is probably the worst feeling in the world.  I've had my fair share. No matter the reason--love, work, art, social ties it doesn't matter it always hurts when you pour yourself into something only to me met with -- rejection.

I propose we take a moment to reflect on what professional rejection, really represents.  (I don't want to touch on romance as it is so individual and multifaceted.) Instead I would like to look specifically at rejection of your work. Perhaps this sharing is on a small scale, such as friends and family. It could also be on a grand scale such as submitting your work for potential publication or even a proposal that may put your job on the line.  Art, the written word, business proposals (think Shark Tank) -- your work the thing that matters to you.  The thing that you create in the center of your being and dare to share it with another human being hoping for some form of validation that you are not wasting your time/life.

IF it comes from your heart. It is NEVER something that is unworthy.  Why you ask? Because you are worthy.  It is not something that another can place a value on, it is YOU, and you are priceless.  The truth is professional rejection makes us stronger as artist, writers, business persons.  It often pushes us to try harder, stretch our thinking, to learn more, dig deeper.  It betters us.

If you are considering giving up because someone/thing has turned down your work. Perhaps it was not your heart at all that you  poured into that thing.  When your heart belongs to your work, you can't put it down because another person simply said, "Thanks, but not this time."

In many ways, putting your work out there for another to judge or critic makes you a winner.  Many artist, writers, business persons never take that leap.  They sit in the corner hoping one day that someone will walk by and notice their work. They call it humility, what it really is -- fear (of rejection).  It is okay to be strong enough to say I want people to see what I have done here.  It's okay really.

Think if the greats never shared their work, but instead waited for someone to hopefully notice. Which more than likely would never happen.  That would mean never a piece by Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King-- think where the world would be.. fewer movies that's for sure. Benjamin Button would be but a lost tale, as the Great Gastby.  Never would just the single word "It" have sent shivers up my spine. Never would I have an image clearly in my mind when a person says "Cugo" or "Carrie". Single word titles that strike fear into the hearts of many.  English teachers everywhere at a loss on how to explore the Gothic writings, the poor Tell Tale Heart still beating yet not a soul would know. The Conquer Worm never explored.. the horror of it all.

I learned a long time ago when I was so desperate to be a published artist that many times, it is not the work that is not worthy, but the circumstances.  Perhaps your piece did not work in that "issue" or that time.  That does not mean it never will. My first layout was published many months after I had submitted it. In fact I forgot that I had submitted it!  I now have over forty layouts published in every major magazine in the industry. Why am I telling you this?  It means you must keep trying. Don't give up!
Rejection is not a reflection of YOU instead it means-- that at this time-- in this place, right now it doesn't fit.  That doesn't mean it wont EVER fit.

NEXT I would like to address the concept of  "You don't do it to be published."

POPPYCOCK!   I am going to turn my gear toward writing for a moment but this applies in many places. If you don't write to share your stories, then why are you writing?  Keep your personal journal and it doesn't matter if the structure is solid, or the characters are developed.  IT IS OKAY TO SEEK OUT PUBLICATION FOR YOUR WORK. It doesn't make you prideful, or any less the artist because you  have a longing to share your stories/work.

 It makes you a writer/artist. I am so tired of others saying... "I don't write to get published." I call you out!  IF you are not writing/creating to be published then why are you sharing?  Is it that fear that you will forever be rejected by the publishing houses?  YES that is what it is.  The fear that others may not find value in your work?  YES that is what it is. I say to that... RUBBISH... keep submitting don't be a coward.  It only makes you stronger when you are rejected.  You re-read that piece or as an artist  you may reconsider your color scheme/and design or even reconsider the proposal and how to make it stronger.  Rejection changes your thinking. It makes you LOOK at your work.  If you submit your work and it is rejected, use that to build your craft not tear yourself down.
Learn from rejection , don't be hurt by it. Yes the sting will always come, but when you feel that sting, when it hurts and you begin to question yourself, smack yourself in the face and say, "OKAY how can I make this better?" Then try again! and again! and again!

Be strong and don't EVER let anyone/thing make you feel small or less valuable. You are still learning and trying a work in progress until your last breath is taken.

I have a final quote that I want to share...

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." Richard Bach (Freedom with Writing)

That says it all. Never give up-- not on the things that matter.

Oh and this is good too!

UPDATE: I have submitted to two more magazines after writing this post today. Fingers crossed but if it's not to be, that's okay. See makes us stronger ;)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Poetry-- Why not give it a shot.

“Unnoticed Bits of Commonality”
By: Erika Hayes

A pen,
A cup,
A sin
 Existing in the everyday
What is the significance of
These that haunt mankind.
Always the unnoticed
laboring the daily grind.
These that intrude on our life,
“I need a pen!”
“Where is my cup?”
“I hide my sin.”
The tidbits of humanity
 the words,
the lies,
the stories

of our unnoticed bits of commonality.