Concrete Detail

Write like a reader, read like a writer and edit like a beast!


A Time to Breathe

By E. L. Hayes

It was a long time ago when last I felt freedom.

When days passed without care, vivid memories of a fresh cool breeze tickling my nose, trees swaying soft soothing songs, and bright happy flowers chatter in full bloom.

Breathing deeply, from time to time, standing in the warmth of the sun, a glimpse of freedom returns.

It is fleeting and leaves a hunger, a pain, a longing for the days of clean, satisfying, lung filling air.

It was a long time ago when I last felt freedom.

It was before; before I knew shame.

Time passed without knowledge, or consent for that matter. Then realization that years resemble mere days when trapped in a cell of your own design.

Sitting in the warmth of the sun and muse. Have I been lost in a fairy’s glade?  Lost in the passage of time? When was I  robbed of that precious fresh air?

It was a long time ago that I had my freedom.

Reckon it may never return.

Long years add to the weight of a life that I grieve.

It was such a long, long time ago that I could taste and be free.

It was back when in a foreign world, sheltered and safe.

It was before I knew the horror of life demanded we learn.

A long time ago indeed.


What an exciting moment.  I realized that I will have my script performed on Sunday, March 25, 2018.  While I consider myself a novelist, I took a shot at writing a drama for a stage production.  It may not be the next great musical, but it is a great feeling to share my vision with others.  The actors are amazing, and I have been lucky enough to work with them during the process.  We have tweaked, and fine-tuned it as the months have passed and I feel like it will be a fantastic experience.  I have learned a great deal about the process.

Life Begins After Coffee will be performed at 6:00pm on March 25, 2018, at Desert Christian Fellowship – 1445 W Northern Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021


A youth pastor and several of the young people from the youth group tell the story of the Resurrection over coffee with girl searching for something more. Sharing the truth of the love of Christ and a peek into the last hours of His sacrifice for all mankind.

The story behind the story.:

I shared on Monday about the loss of a dear friend.  He was the youth minister at our church.  This play was written in honor of him.  Weaving things in that reminded me of him.  It was healing. His daughter was involved in the process of writing the script and helping put the personal touches of her dad in the play.  Writing is healing and not just for the author. This play has allowed many to remember fondly a man we all loved.

In loving memory of:

Jason Fischer  1971 –  2018

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17


Epiphany: an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure. A revealing scene or moment

Deep in the trenches of writing, the words swirling around, intoxicating.  Fingers can barely keep up with the movement of the story.  Characters are both troubled and witty, they climb the arc you’ve created and the scenes are seamlessly flowing together. The bliss is real.

Then there are those times that you sit BICFOK, (butt in chair, fingers on keyboard) and nothing.  The silence even successfully eliminating the chirping of imagined crickets.  Inner critic pointing out every plot hiccup, how very flat that character seems, the arc resembles a flatline and the dialogue is dead.

That is when you need to be direct.  Writing Prompts are fantastic for getting us started and even creating new pieces but what about those times when you need to work on particular aspects of the craft?  When you are entrenched in a piece and you are desperate to complete, not move on to something new.

I am happy to say I have a few suggestions for you.

  1. The 3 am Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction
  2. The 4 am Breakthrough: Unconventional Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction.  (A companion to the 3 am Epiphany.)

Both of these books are written by Brian Kiteley and are available on Amazon.  I read about these books in the DIY MFA, also available on Amazon and am again grateful to Gabriella Pereira for introducing me to these amazing books.  What makes these two books of writing exercises effective is the manner in which it is designed.  In both of these books are writing exercises that are broken into elements of the craft.

This helps us to work on the specific issue we are struggling with inside our work.  Just picking a writing prompt at random will not help a writer work through the element that is troubling.  Some of the items elements covered in The 3 am Epiphany include: thirteen different exercises for Point of View, ten for Images, Characters and Ways of Seeing has almost twenty and many more.

I am including the topics inside The 3 am Epiphany, these can also be seen using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.

Exercises include:

Point of View, Images, Characters and Ways of Seeing, Women and Men, Children and Childhood, Conversations, Thought and Emotion, Biography and Autobiography, Time, History, Description, Sentences–Butting Up Against Eachother, Other People’s Sentences, Play and Games, Sports, Work, Humor, Travel, Internal Structure, Exercises for Stories in Progress.

I believe all writers can benefit from these two books.  I suggest that you take time to read the introduction as it better explains different ways to utilize the books.  There are several other focus-driven writing prompt books that I am sure I will discuss another day.  I have been editing and inside that process, I have found these exercises continue to help build my writing muscles in areas that were weak in my manuscript.


I offer you a piece written after the loss of a dear friend. He went home to be with Jesus on January 11, 2018.  I thought if my heart is this broken, surely his amazing family was shattered.  I thought how can I support them and love them in a way that could display how this man shared his life and love with many.

These words were penned moments after the news of his passing. I thought of my loss, then realized how very much I love and care for him and his family.  I pray I can be a support to them.  I know words heal, but still, the pain is new in my heart.  I have waited to share because I am still deep in the struggle of the void left by his death.


I thought to share, then thought again.

The sentiment clinging to loss is as unique as your fingerprint to mine.

Dreaming of a way to console or offer a wisdom that would right your broken heart but alas, I thought again.

Pain will not disappear by words spoken.

I will mold my heart, I will reach out a hand, I will attempt to sooth this thing you and I do not understand.

A tragic thing, loss. Uniquely, and alone we will one day learn to compensate the void.

I thought to share, then thought again.  My words, empty in your ears.

My broken heart cannot compare.

I thought to share, then thought again.


When the text generation exploded, people found shortening phrases much easier than spelling out complete words, and soon things like LOL, THX, BRB, and JK became commonplace “words” in everyday language. In fact, for a short time, some people I know spoke using these acronyms.  Real life example of a man I worked with for a short time, “I heard that LOL, JK can you say that again.”  I just shook my head. With this new structure of speech, there were times things got a bit confusing.

Funny story. One day, I text my daughter after she had posted a photo on Instagram this is how it went:

Me: WTF on Instagram?

Daughter:  do you know what WTF means, mom?

Me: Yes

Daughter: are you sure?

Me: maybe not, what does it mean?

Daughter: Uhhh, what do you think it means?

Me: Why the Frown? 😦

Daughter: LOL no, mom, that is NOT what it means.

After she stopped laughing she told me what it means and I was very happy she did because I would have been horrified if I used it in the wrong way on a more public media.

It is common for different industries to have abbreviations and acronyms and become common knowledge to people that work in that industry.   If you are new to the world of writing, you will soon discover that there are a lot of acronyms thrown around.  For me, when I decided to get serious about my writing, I jumped in and found myself struggling from time to time when more seasoned writers would put responses that included acronyms.  I learned a lesson from my texting story, know what it means before you use it.  I’ve put together some common acronyms for you. Please feel free to add any I missed in the comments.

Story and Character

WIP = Work in Progress

POV = Point of View

MPOV = Main Character Point of View

SC = Secondary Character/Supporting Character

MC – Main Character  you may see FMC (female MC) or MMC (male MC)

VPC = Viewpoint Character

ANT = Antagonist

PRO = Protagonist

BG = Bad Guy

LI/RI = Love Interest/Romantic Interest

BR- Beta Reader (I’ve only seen this one on a few sites but I had to figure it out)

CP = Critique Partner


Editing and Critiquing

MS = Manuscript

SPAG (SPaG) – Spelling and Grammar

NP- New Paragraph (editing mostly)

BIC – Butt in Chair  (sometimes seen as BICFOK – Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keyboard)

RUE – Resist the Urge to Explain

OTN – On the Nose (writing that is narrative in nature and unneeded)

VSL = Vary Sentence Length

TL;DR = Too Long; Didn’t Read

TMI = Too Much Information

DRAT = Desperate Race Against Time

ACT = Action Changes Things

WC- Word Count/ Word Choice (or in England Water Closet AKA toilet)

HEA – Happily Ever After

GMC = Goal, Motivation, Conflict

HFN = Happy For Now ending

ARC – Advanced Review Copy

COG = Character Obstacle Goal

AGO = Aims Goals Objectives

AIDA = Attention Interest Desire Action

BS = Back Story

PH = Plot Hole

R&R = Revise and Resubmit

LTP = Lost The Plot

SPIN = Situation Problem Implication Need-Payoff

SDT = Show, Don’t Tell

USV = Use Strong Verbs

MFA = Masters of Fine Arts


FF = Flash Fiction

F&SF = Fantasy & Science Fiction

JUV = Juvenile genre

FN/Fant = Fantasy genre

HR = Horror genre

NA = New Adult genre

RO = Romance genre

TH = Thriller genre

SF = Science Fiction

SFR = Science Fiction Romance

PNR = Paranormal Romance genre

MG = Middle Grade genre

UF = Urban Fantasy genre

XO = Crossover genre (I just learned this one a few months ago, not sure how popular it is yet)

YA = Young Adult

SP = Speculative Fiction

SUSP = Suspense genre


NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month (November)

ASAP = As Soon As Possible

AU = Alternate Universe

DOA = Dead On Arrival

IMHO = In My Humble Opinion

KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid

RP = Role Play

TED = Tell Explain Describe

ToC = Table of Contents

TOTB = Think Outside The Box

WD – Writers Digest







This is an amazing TedxTalk it will encourage you as a writer!  When I first saw this, it sure did get me to make some very clear and specific goals. It has helped me to be prepared to fail and it helped me to see those failures as simply set-backs.  Take a look at this and enjoy!


As a writer, I have an obligation to pay attention to the world.  I have a duty to report the findings to my readers in my written words.  To weave the results into a piece of work that can shed light on the tragic and magnificent events that abound around us. I was inspired by this quote many moons ago and found it an inspiration.

I write my musings into journals, (I have so many journals)  and sometimes I revisit them when I need a reminder of my “why”.  I am currently struggling with a particular piece, I simply cannot get the depth from my character that I want.  She is refusing to give up her secrets.  It is the details I need. This quote popped into my head.  I remembered writing this down the day I first read the quote and thought it may inspire you to keep track of the details around you.  Details are what keep writers writing.


A writer, I think, is someone that pays attention to the world.” –Sontag

It’s peculiar how when one pays attention to the world that the awe of what is common can appall.

The man filthy rags draped over a thin frame, a cardboard sign in his hand requesting nothing but the change I have casually tossed in the bottom of my purse.  I miss seeing the man that served this country. When I look closer, he is standing prouder, his hand lifted in salute and not from need but in service.  Do I miss the beauty of his smile because it may have dimmed in the harshness of PTSD?  My observation of this man, do not make up the man but are circumstances of the man.

The weary woman struggling to negotiate the awkward furniture to a moving van?  Did I even notice when she lost this house because her husband was no longer there?  I missed the pain in her eyes as she consoles her child at the loss of not only her father but everything she has ever known? I missed the detail of a wounded soul.

The elderly woman, she steps carefully around the gas pump.  She reads the instructions and is bewildered.  How could a woman of these many years not know the workings of such a simple machine?  Last week, her husband came here and filled her tank, like he had done since the first week they were married.  He rests now, in a bed, miles away as she struggles to ensure a reunion.

I will write your stories.  I will keep them safe.  I will not let you be unseen.  I will pay attention to my world.

I would like you to know, that just the exercise of typing out this little memory has helped me remember my promise and duty to my readers.  I will put the stories on the page and share them and the details.

vision sans tête 1 le faux trou

Let’s dive into something fun, shall we?   The topic, writing introspection. The only thing that can kill your story faster than too much character introspection is a data dump.  Introspection tends to have a lack of immediacy and can lead to your reader losing interest.  It simply doesn’t matter what happened in the past unless it directly relates to the present/future of your story.

I recently did an exercise to help me better understand a character in my novel.  I wrote a short story about her emotional wound.  Once I finished the work I realized it may greatly benefit my reader and would certainly deepen the emotional connection to her if I include the scene of the tragedy in my novel.  The problem is introspection and flashbacks for the most part leave readers yawning.  Why? Readers read in the present of the story the author is telling.  When the introspection and flashbacks are given in big chunks the readers are pushed back in time and have no way of escape.  Well, they can escape by closing the cover!

Using introspection is useful when you apply it to what may happen in the present or future. In most writing, the past can’t be changed, however, the future is something that can only be guessed.  Using those concepts, you may share as introspection to build tension, hook your reader, bring up the feelings of dread, hope, fear, anticipation.  We do this by connecting the thing in the past to something in the future.

A great example is J.D. Robb’s wildly successful In Death Series.  While the main protagonist shares the horrors of her past, she applies the energy for the pain to the cases she solves.  There are many times she finds herself facing the past by projecting a need to right the wrongs for the victims she is investigating.  The protagonist tells the story of her past as it applies to the present case.  This occurs over the entire series, the author develops a deep connection with the protagonist as well as uses the nightmare introspection to build tension.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing the ever-important characters depth memories/introspection:

  1. Always look to the future or at least the now – try to make your character’s introspective moments apply to what is happening now or in the near future of your story.
  2. Make it interesting – You need a reason for introspection! It will need to bring something new to the story. It can be something as simple as the dread of an upcoming event because of something previously experienced, and something that could unravel the perfect world that they currently have.
    • Here is an example: 

Mary Lou sat in her room brooding.  She didn’t want to go to the prom.  She has the guy, the guy every girl wants.  She thought about last year when she slithered in and stole Jake from Beth.  This year Sierra has a plan to rob her of the night of her dreams.  The night held no promise of blooming love, only of secrets and lies coming into the light.

Let’s look deeper at the example:  First, we see character development in the now of our story.  You learned a lot about Mary Lou, didn’t you?  Introspection is shown by using the setting and use of “brooding alone.” These words show she is in thought.  I didn’t dump the details of her stealing Jake away, you’re welcome, but there is clearly history there.  Additionally, the use of the word “slithering” shows the protag revealing something about her character.  The final sentence in her thoughts helps the reader to understand that the stakes are high. All that in only five sentences.

  1. Make sure it adds value to the current story – If you are just trying to add emotional connection through introspection with your reader, STOP. You can use it to reveal things about motives of your characters but don’t dump that backstory on me to make me feel sorry for your character. It may work in some ways, but how does it relate to the story at hand.  If it doesn’t leave it on the cutting room floor, put it in the word graveyard, until you can write THAT story.
  2. Beware repetition – The biggest problem with introspective writing is that it tends to bring a lot of repetition. (see this post) which is boring!
  3. Have your character’s musings be limited to the thematic issues in your story – the ethical issues, the intellectual issues that may be the same questions your reader is asking themselves while reading your piece.
  4. Trust your readers – they should have an idea of what your characters voice already. In the case of introspective writing, less is usually more!

Use the tool of introspection, but do so wisely.  It can be a cover closer if you overuse or misuse it.


Hey there, I hope your weekend was fantastic! Earlier this week someone asked an interesting question that left me mulling it over, and asking how I would answer it.  The question is, of course, writing related.  They asked:

Can you over edit?

Huh, well then,  I never really thought about that.  Can one over edit?  On one hand, I thought, of course not.  I mean all you are doing is tweeking your piece to make it better.  There is always room for improvement, right?

On the other hand, I thought at some point you need to be satisfied with your work and call it complete.

I think as writers, we can always spend time fixing stuff in our work.  Let’s be real, I could spend days changing words and structures of my sentences.  I can always go deeper into a character’s psyche to expose a little more.  The question really made me think.

What I finally decided was over editing is impossible, but how do I know when to stop now becomes the question.  Learning when to stop is probably one of the hardest things we need as writers must do.  When we stop editing is when we are just making our piece different.  If your edits will improve the piece deepen it or correct errors in plot, structure, grammar etc. it is time to edit.  If we are simply saying it differently or resculpting a perfectly good scene we will never be done.  If your edits are only making the piece slightly different and not correcting an error in one of the major categories of editing please, dear friend, put down your pen and be happy.

Writers are known to lean a bit toward the perfectionist nature. We may need to learn that changing the text is not editing, it is seeking something you will never find.  I don’t want to imply you should settle for a story or piece, but be sure to ask are these edits just changing the words not the story and not bettering what I have on the page?  If so, you have my permission to call it done. Not that you need my permission, but if you need someone’s permission, you have it!




Well, we made it through another week friends! Our final hashtag for this week #finishstrongfriday.  Let’s take a look at ways to finish strong.  Writing can be fickle but after we took time yesterday to examine the whys of our To-Do’s I wanted to present a few ideas on how to carve out the time to complete our To-Dos from Thursday and #finishstrongfriday

  • Track your writing

    Take a week and keep track of your writing, not just your word count but your

  • 865e678bb4b4f9602ab94953a5ece744writing.  Discover the times you are most productive.  Keep track of the time of day and the situation you are writing.  For me, I pump out the words like a madwoman in the midmorning while at my favorite breakfast place. Seriously, I can get done twice as many words when I am there than when I am sitting at home in my “writing space”.  I found that out thanks to DIY MFA. Best book ever on the craft of writing seriously 10 of 10 Highly recommend, would read again!
  • Make it a priority

    Don’t give me that attitude, I know you are busy.  If something matters you need to give it a priority standing.  Of course, my family comes first, but let’s be real. I can find ten minutes to sit down at the computer and type out something, anything.  This also means you must be consistent!  The thing is the more you make it a priority the more your family and loved ones will see it that way too.   Make a sign Here is mine. IMG_20180308_212328It is that simple.  The people you love want you to be happy.  Let them know you love them for it, and you are busy doing that thing they want for you.  DO this every single day Sunday through Saturday.  Do a writing exercise, a prompt, a journal entry it doesn’t matter what it is but if you don’t write you are not a writer.

IMG_20170818_171516A sign like this can work with younger children. If you explain when they see this paper up they will get cookies, or other forms of bribery, if they wait until you take it down to express themselves.  It can be a game.  Soon they will come to realize you will not engage with them while the sign is up, and hopefully, learn to leave you alone when they see the sign. (This works with chatty spouses as well.)

A Special Note:

Even though this picture may make it look like she can read or be reasoned with Dash, like most dogs and cats, cannot because she is a dog. She really doesn’t care what I want as long as her needs are met immediately. Let’s face it she’s pretty cute and distracts me easily. Speaking of distractions…


  • Turn off Social Media and your phone

    If you just said “Do what?!?” perhaps even followed by something like, “dis chick is cray”,  then perhaps you need to really follow my advice to #finishstrongfriday.  I believe the number one time wasters is social media – Yes, I am saying that and still hoping the entire world reads my blog.  We all know it is true, so do yourself a favor. put up your sign and turn off your media.  I know there are lots of apps out there that you can use to shut off social media for a time, but you don’t need to spend time looking for an app be an ADULT!  #adulting #adult #reallifeproblems.  Put your phone in the other room and don’t click the shortcut to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Gmail or whatever else thing you can avoid.  When you are writing write.  We need to have access to our computers so turning them off is not an option, be a grown up.  Weapons-of-mass-distraction

Finally, as the word count is climbing on this post, I want to encourage you to really finish strong.  This is not an easy profession and if you want to be taken seriously, then start by taking yourself seriously, then others will as well.