Concrete Detail

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

I had an assignment in college many years ago to write a poem and I struggled.  Oh boy, did I struggle! I never considered myself a poet.  They are deep thinkers, in touch with emotions and bring us to a place of understanding.  I spoke with my professor at the time and as I was literally at a loss for words.  He said to me, think about something that has happened to you or someone you love that caused you to feel.  That thing that you couldn’t explain at the time how you felt.  Then write that.  It took me a few days of thought to realize that I had felt alone once in a sea of emotion that I didn’t understand.  As a visual learner, I looked for something to help me with this prompt.  This image painted by Mavis Sherwood touched me. I present to you The (Absolutely Not) Melodramatic Poem — clearly I use humor to express myself as well.

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Painting by Maris Sherwood


Trapped by her words,

raven hair falls, covering her face.

Head drops low,

How did she come to this place?

 

Perpetual slouch

and a quivering chin

Shaking, trembling, shivering

she discloses her sin.

Scars on her legs

her soul, her back.

Three thousand, maybe more

she has lost track.

She’s been discovered

her world now shattered.

A query so harsh,

it left her battered.

The truth revealed,

her cheeks tingled and burned.

All secrets lay bare

she is left fully spurned.

 

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You know I am hand lettering fan, and I love to make handmade cards (former life, remember?) Today, I started thinking about the beauty in handmade.  How it applies to writing.  I mean that’s what I love doing, and isn’t’ every story crafted handmade?  There was a time when gifts and most things were all handmade, and greatly appreaciated for the time and love that went into creating them.

Before the keyboard became so very commonplace it was a typewriter that was the best friend of a writer.  Prior to the typewriter, authors scribbled out their stories in a journal and on paper, they were turned over for a publisher to typeset and print.  Oh, how the world has changed.

I  began to think of the movie You’ve Got Mail.  At the beginning of the movie, Meg Ryan’s beau, a journalist, played by Greg Kinner, clings to the past even going so far as to collect his favorite typewriter, the 1980 Olympia Report Delux.  What his character understands is the world is swiftly moving toward computers.  He takes a moment in the film and describes the joy of hearing the clacking of the keys and the feel of the paper as he puts it in the machine.  The hum it makes.  Ryan smiles and placates him.  Being a lover of books surely she sympathizes with his love for this typewriter.   Ryan, Hanks and the rest the world is engaged the new technology, computers are now in every home, and while Fox Books is also trouncing over her little bookstore in the name of progress,  she embraces that part of technology yet fights the idea of the box store.  Stating it doesn’t offer expertise.

In fact, You’ve Got Mail is a remake of the movie Shop Around the Corner (1940) starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. The movie was based on a screenplay by Miklós László. The story is much the same, Stewart is corresponding with a mystery woman and as the time draws near, he discovers Sullavan is the girl. Well, you’ll need to watch the movie to see it unfold. Updated with the introduction of the internet being the mail delivery system, You’ve Got Mail tells much the same story but brings it into a modern setting.  Interestingly, Tom Hank’s grandfather played by John Randolph makes reference to the movie Shop Around the Coner when he reminisces about a better time, “Celia, lovely woman, we exchanged letters once.”

I wonder, as we move further into the modern era, will writers one day simply speak the books into existence?  Will some of us hold tightly to the index cards and sticky notes that we hold so dearly now?

I still enjoy writing on paper.  There is nothing like a fresh notebook and a good pen.  Placing each stroke with care as I dig into the words that will form a new world for my readers.  While the world zooms past looking for the better way, is it possible we’ve lost some of the charms of putting pen to page?  What happens when we type at 75wpm and are not slowing down to digest our word choice?   Are we missing the things our characters want to say?  It’s possible in a fourth even fifth pass in editing we will hear that voice.

I love my computer, in fact, when I sit down to work on my novel I often hit and surpass the goals I’ve set for that session.  It’s a good feeling to finish with a lot of words on the page.  Though I wonder, would I benefit from a little more exchanging of letters?

1319-20130312-MorePractice

There are several things one can do to love their own handwriting, the most important is to accept that it is unique and that someday, people you know and love will treasure those handwritten pieces because they will recognize your handwriting.  This is the first thing I taught in many classes on how to journal.

Then we dug into how to make our handwriting pretty.  Below is a hand out I created for my hand lettering class.  These are some of my best tips for making your handwriting fun and different.  The one tip that is not on this sheet but is on most of the others I gave out was the number one secret to how to learn to love your handwriting.

Handout from Lettering Class

Are you ready, here it is, revealed right here on Concrete Detail, for you— the secret is, well, hang on, it actually applies to pretty much everything you will do in your life that is worth doing.  You will need to practice.  A LOT!

No matter the craft, no matter the task, if there is something you want, you must take time and practice.

This little practice sheet is simply a start on how to have fun learning to love your handwriting.

Remember, if what you want is nice handwriting, to learn to use colors, to write poetry, short stories, novels whatever you love,  no matter what you want to master you just need to practice!

 

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I have a hobby.  I love hand lettering.  While teaching a class on hand lettering this weekend, it was pointed out to me that lettering also (like writing) revolves around words!  I love words and clearly enough to have a hobby that celebrates words.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the lettering pieces I have completed.

I took up lettering as a paper artist, (yes, worked in that industry for over 18 years).  I really got into the art of lettering when I started verse mapping as a form of Bible Study. (If you want more information on verse mapping, just leave a comment letting me know.)  It didn’t take long for me to be knee deep in all kinds of beautiful pens, marker paper, practice sheets and well all kinds of fun things that allow me to celebrate the art of letters.

Here are a few lettering projects. Tomorrow I will share a few ideas on how to learn to love your own handwriting.  Learning to hand letter is not hard.  I will be sharing the TOP not so secret to hand lettering. There are a ton of resources out there. Tomorrow I will share a few things you can do to love your own writing and places you can learn all about learning to letter.

welcome home image

lettering sample 4lettering sample _0002

A short story by Erika Hayes


Continued from yesterday’s post…

The concept of business growth .He looked at his desk clock, lifted his arms and locked his fingers behind his head as he leaned back in his chair. He could not believe how strong he felt.    “Now?” Surprised at his own courage, he sat up straight again and leaned toward Erin cocked his head and took it a step further. “Or we can do dinner.”

She arched her eyebrow cupped her chin between her thumb and fingers, looked up as if she were deep in thought.  “Hummmm.”

He thought a moment that she sounded like a purring cat.  He hoped his intention was clear, he, Charles Nibbly was asking her, Erin Wu out on a date.  He could barely hear over the pounding of the blood in his ears.  “Or whatever.” He used this as a feeble attempt to let her off the hook if he had gone too far.

“How about both?” her mouth upturned as she held his gaze.

“Yeah, really?” His voice cracked again like a prepubescent boy.

She let out a soft seductive laugh. “Really,” she leaned over his desk, his eyes were drawn directly to her round ample bosom pushed up in a lacy black bra and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Maybe breakfast?” the purr in her voice left no question to her intention.

Charles felt the heat of her breath in his ear.  The hair on his arms stood erect with anticipation. He relished in the softness of her lips still fresh on his cheek.  He had spent many nights alone in his room with Erin as the center of his fantasies.  He tried to deepen his voice, “Okay, well let me just shut down my computer,” he moved his cursor, hovered over shutdown icon,  reached for his jacket, smiled up at Erin and winked, “then we can get out of here.”

“Oh, and Charles,” leaning deeper she took his hand.  Her long black hair fell from its makeshift bun cascading over her shoulders. The sweet scent of her perfumed hair coiled into his nostrils. He breathed in deeply to take in every second of this moment.

“Yeah?”

“It’s time to wake up.”

He blinked his eyes, looked up at his computer screen just as Erin Wu walked passed his desk, and cursed quietly “Damn it!”

A short story by Erika Hayes


Continued from yesterday’s post…

40bb92c74fd43ad74c9ed7004bf7f407“Thanks!” the elevation in her voice gave him hope. “I wish my boyfriend would play.” Her eyes downcast “But he said it was a stupid time sucker.”

The shot to his chest was quick and sharp. A boyfriend, of course, she has a boyfriend.

She added softly. “He’s kind of a jerk.” She looked up again and held his gaze.

Charles’ chest warmed. Hope flickered, and he smiled.  Was she coming on to him he wondered.  Stupid look at her, there is no way she is coming on to you!  “I didn’t know you had a boyfriend.” He held his breath.

“Yeah, but—well never mind.” Her eyes suddenly appeared glassy.

“Oh! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pry.” He handed her a Kleenex from his desk. “I—I just never heard you talk about him.”

“It’s okay.” She accepted the tissue and flashed him a quick smile. “I think one of the reasons I want to play is well, sometimes I just need to get away.” She looked up then back down again.  “I knew you played and I thought—“

She was confiding in him.  He knew that was a good sign.  She needed someone, and he could offer his small but strong shoulder.  “I just want to—I don’t know I wanted to…” Her large almond eyes flickered as she tried to hold back the inevitable tear.

“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it.” He fought the urge to stand and embrace her. “We can stick to the game. Sorry.” He clenched his fist and struggled against the instinct to punish himself.  “I didn’t mean to make you upset.”

“No, it’s okay, really.” She dabbed at the tears that made her already long dark lashes appear even darker. “I—I could use a friend right now.” she took in a large breath and exhaled hard.  “Can we maybe talk later?”

Friend, of course, friend.  I am always their friend. Damn it!  He was lamenting when he realized she was staring at him waiting for an answer.  “Sorry—I just— I mean, you…”

She forced a smile. “I understand, work and all.” She looked down at her shiny black stilettoes.  “Maybe later?” the small smear of makeup under her eye drawn his attention.

“Oh no, I was listening it’s just that you have a little smear,” he reached up and wiped the smudge away. “right here.” He pushed back in his chair and crossed his foot over his knee. “I have time right now, I mean if you wanna talk.”

His reward was another big smile. She tilted her head down and touched her cheek where his hand had rested.  A warm glow flushed her cheeks. She looked up and her eyes had changed. No longer were they sweet and innocent but a sultry look held him mesmerized. Her voice had soft hum, “I would love that.”

Charles attempted to clear his head with a slight shake.  He wasn’t sure what had just happened. He knew that today he was tired of being nobody. No real woman had ever looked at him that way. His pulse quickened. He shifted in his chair. A bead of sweat trickled down his chest. He caught his breath. “Hey, you wanna grab some lunch?”

Many times, he had dreamt of asking her out. He never believed the opportunity or possibility would arise. He had practiced repeatedly at home in his bathroom mirror. It would be romantic and memorable.

His palms were moist. He licked his dry lips. I’m so stupid, ‘wanna grab lunch?’ really? How frickin’ romantic was that?  His thoughts bounced but time seemed to stop as he watched her for the inevitable sign of rejection. The sounds of the office melted into nothing. He tried not to hold his breath but found himself becoming dizzy at the lack of oxygen.

Erin looked around and gave him that coveted sexy half grin, “Yeah that would be nice. What time?”

A short story by Erika Hayes


Continued from yesterday’s post…

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A digital trumpeter signaled that his new quest had begun.  His cubical dissipated.  Time loses its hold in Second World and soon his fifty-minute quest was nearly over.  The reward would be the accolades of Xenra a lovely curvaceous computer-generated warrior princess. She would promise a great reward when they entered the platinum member’s private Master’s Room.  Her high-quality graphics gave her a realism that enticed him to complete the quest.  Her program gave her all the right words and sounds. He knew she was produced to make him feel good, and for now, he was satisfied with her fawning. It was worth the $14.99 a month.

His fantasy world shattered when the smooth voice of Erin Wu cooed, “Hi Charles.” He slipped smoothly into this world when he looked up and saw her noteworthy jade eyes.

His eyes shifted to his computer screen. Xenra stood nearly bare outside the Master’s Room waiting for his command to enter.  He quickly clicked the lower left edge of his computer desktop to hide the evidence of his conquest. “Oh!” His voice squeaked. “Hi, Erin.” He cleared his throat. “How was your weekend?”

“The usual.” Her long French manicured fingers rest on the ledge of his cubicle. “You know, nothing too great.”

“Sorry to hear that,” he pushed his hands over the top of his thighs to smooth out the wrinkles in his khakis. “So, what can I do for you?” He was trying to play it cool while his mind was absorbing every movement, sound, sight of her. Her floral perfume wound into his space, tentacles of femininity. It held him; he longed to wrap himself in it, in her.

Leaning around the corner of his space to afford more privacy Erin almost whispered, “I was wondering,” she paused, “do you play Second World?”

He thrust his chin back and cocked his head. “Uh—yeah.” he was genuinely taken back by her question. “Why?”

“Can you friend me? I don’t have anyone to quest with. I just got started and well,” she smiled, and his heart pounded against his chest, “it’s just—I need someone to show me around.” Her deep red lipstick broke into a perfect white smile then ending with her nibbling on the side of her mouth, “you know, right?”

Charles felt a bead of sweat on his forehead.  His mind reeling, Erin Wu, plays Second World, he found himself stumbling for the right words, and blurted, “Right.”

He assumed that most the people that played Second World were more like him.  While Charles preferred NPC (Non-Player Characters) because the computer-generated companions were always willing to go to the Master’s Room if Erin Wu wanted to quest he was happy to show her the ropes. He could skip the Master’s Room for real-time with Erin.

He realized she was staring at him, “Oh uh, sure. What’s your tag?”  Her face contorted in confusion. “Your username” He clarified and smiled up at her while grabbing a sticky note and a pen.

“Vixen342634” her lips pouted, “it’s stupid, but it was all I could think of when I signed up.”

He looked up from his scribbled note. “Oh, it’s not stupid.” He placed the note with her username to his computer screen, “Do the numbers mean anything?”

Her cheeks flushed a bright red. “Yeah, I uh—it’s my measurements.”

He couldn’t stop himself. His eyes traveled up and down her body, “Oh, I should have realized that.” His eye widened when he reached her smile he looked down quickly. “I mean—uh well—never mind.” His face burned. The blood in his body was struggling to determine which route to take, northern or southern.  He shifted in his chair.  “Oh well, yeah—”   His leg was jiggling up and down like a sewing machine. “I will find you and we can maybe quest today.”

A short story by Erika Hayes

boring-office


Charles Nibbly sat in his blue-grey cubicle drumming his fingers on his tidy desk annoyed with his mundane life. In the reflection of his computer screen, he saw the wily cowlick had successfully fought off his attempts to tame it with gel and hairspray.  Expelling a long sigh, he switched to Facebook to break the monotony of his day.

His intentional trolling on political posts didn’t take long to lite a fire and he sat back watching the angry responses flood into his jabs.  Shaking his head at the people that took the bait. Simpletons he muttered under his breath. He grew bored of the illogical, emotionally driven replies from bestmum27. Leaving a final GIF jab he stifled a laugh at her attempts to woo the public opinion with a plea for compassion. Time for something worth his time and energy.  He clicked off the social media, the sense of satisfaction waning, tilted his screen, and rubbed his shoulder.  He tried to focus his attention on the work that filled his inbox. An overview of the emails and actual unfinished work may occupy twenty minutes of his time.

Occasionally he looked up, feigned frustration and tapped furiously on his calculator giving the appearance of diligent work.  He lifted his long lanky limbs in the space above him to stretch his tense muscles. He longed for a life with some adventure.    His postgraduate degree in predictive analytics proved useless and the economy kept him locked to his desk.

His thoughts wandered to his epic battle earlier this morning.  Charles the mighty warrior defended his scantily clad bosomy computer-generated dream girl from an evil magician and his fleet of fire-breathing dragons.  It passed the hours and helped to keep his overqualified mind busy waiting for the next routine assignment thrown at him by his underqualified supervisor.  He felt no guilt for using the company time for his internet indulgence.  His job was dull and simple. Charles cringed every time his boss stopped at his cubicle to yak about nothing.

Inspired by his morning achievement, a decision was made that today would be different.  He would do something that was truly brave. He didn’t know what, but he knew something had to change.  He pushed his thick black rimmed glasses back to the proper resting place on the bridge of his nose.  The familiar chime of a Facebook notification drew his attention. Or maybe nothing will ever change he thought.  He loosened his favorite blue Dr. Who bowtie and threw it in his desk drawer.  He clicked back to the opening screen of his Second World game where a beautiful companion stood in the same spot waiting for him. Her legs and breast severely exposed. He liked that feeling. A woman waiting for him.

Workdays were drudgery for Charles he longed to return to the weekend activity of questing the lands of Second World with his cyber friends uninterrupted for hours.  It struck him odd on several occasions that he had a stronger bond with strangers than his own parents.

Some days Charles felt he should be embarrassed to be twenty-six years old and still living with his parents, but he had no reason to find a place of his own. He had a job and no bills. No girlfriend or life either he whispered deep in a quiet place of his core.  Running an earbud under the untucked blue collared shirt and securing it in his ear, hiding the black cord in his shaggy hair he entered Second World.

TBC….

Origin-Story.pngI was asked, “When did you realize you were a writer?”  I decided to make it a writing prompt.  Here is my Origin Story as a writer.


A normal woman looks like any average mother but what you don’t know is, well, let me tell you from the beginning.

After years of waiting for her time, she did it.  She went returned to college.   Language always was her siren song, having spent hours reading and piddling with words in a quiet hidden place in her heart.  The semesters passed, finally deciding to take the leap.  She found herself perusing the CRW section of the spring courses, quickly she slammed it shut.  Doubt crept like a spider over her hope.  I can’t do this she whispered what luck that at that moment when she was so weak and unsure, a knight, a man she loved, happened to be there.  He took her chin and lifted it high and told her at least, my love, try.

The classes gave her such delight and soon wisp of smoke began to rise a fire smoldered below the surface of her being.  Still, she chose to keep her hope tight and hidden, only the one knew.  She spent hours studying and reading looking for the method that would explain how to weave the words to be good enough. That day eluded her, she feared never would the words escape, and the pressure almost broke her heart.

Then one day, her knight, sat her down and said: “write, just write.” She sat her fingers on her keyboard and the words began to trickle then soon the trickle became a gush of words that formed the stories. She penned the words into plots and characters that arced from lost to found. Her stories from all the ones she told those little being she loved so dear and tales from before that had been fashioned in her core.  She realized she was indeed a writer and it had always been, she just didn’t know, until, she did.

RD_plcs_855_513_48It is #finishstrongFriday, and I want to finish this week-long review of the Jerry Jenkin’s Writers Guild strong!  There is really so much information on this site that I could do several more posts, but I think the idea of how valuable a resource it is will be firmly established with all the information I have given you over the last five days.

I would be doing a great disservice if I didn’t share a few more things from the guild that are available to members. The final three things I want to share are

  • Manuscript Repair and Rewrite
  • Jumpstart Courses
  • Bonus Material
  • Community (Forums)

I absolutely love the Manuscript Repair and Rewrite.  In these sessions, Jerry takes the time to repair and help with the rewrite of the first pages of guild member submissions.  YES! I just said that.  Usually, there are three chosen and Jerry turns on his camera and shares his thoughts on what can help the manuscript be tightened and made better.  He walks members through his thought process in editing.  It will blow you away how much you learn as he talks through the rewrite.  This alone has taught me how to recognize things I do all the time.  Isn’t it always easier to see it in someone else’s work? Simply put, this makes you a better self-editor.

Jumpstart course break up into two categories, fiction, and non-fiction.  Jerry understands not everyone is writing fiction and he has expertise in both.  The courses are a self-study course with assignments and reading.  Fantastic place to discover the big elements of a story.  In the fiction course, there are sections to ensure you hit all these craft elements.

  • Understanding the Plot
  • Memorable Characters
  • Writing Scenes
  • Understanding POV (Point of View)
  • Understanding Dialogue

Non-Fiction elements include:

  • Becoming an Author
  • Power Tools of Non-Fiction
  • Using Fiction Techniques in Non-Fiction
  • Writing Personal Stories
  • Writing Articles that Sell
  • Marketing Non-Fiction

The Bonus Material is just that. More classes that are specific to writers and filled with goodness that may not fit perfectly into the other places on the site.

The forum, while I am not a BIG forum user I do find that there are many that use it as a place to connect with like-minded people, critique partners and just networking. It is also where you can find answers from Jerry after Office Hours has completed.  I don’t use it as much as I would like but that’s on me.

Okay, so you now have the basic goodness of what is happening over at Jerry’s Guild and I really hope you can find time to check it out before the membership closes.  I would love to see you in the guild and participating in the live classes and webinars.

Check it out here Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild.

Please note:  I have not received anything for the endorsement of this site.  I just love it and want to share it! I pay for it just like everyone else. I also do not get anything for referring you to the site, except the knowledge that I have done something nice for my fellow writers! 

The open membership closes at midnight Central time on Friday, April 6, 2018. (That’s tonight!! Seriously, it is a tool you need in your writer’s toolbox!