Concrete Detail

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


Let me begin by saying this is a personal piece, that I wrote when struggling with some frustration in my life.  However, the person telling this story is a character.  It does touch on some of the things I think we all as perfectionist er, uh, writers struggle with.  Whether a color or a word, this can be what if feels like to be trapped inside your own mind trying to find the right word.  This post is a bit longer than usual, but it is not something I can break up.  Please enjoy.

Ailment of Hues

by: Erika L. Hayes

It is the small window at the top of the wall that begins my journey every evening.  On it, a painting, that is muddled in the taupe chipped paint on which it hangs. It is the wrong wall. This painting doesn’t belong there, and it protests.   I stare at it in the evening.

It begins as I sit on my creaky steel chair and my feet rest comfortably on the edge of the bed.  Lifting my arms and pull the stiff muscles, they resist my movement.  I decide to stand, if for no other reason but to establish sovereignty over of my body. I bend slowly at the waist and demand that my muscles obey.  I touch my toes and repeat commanding my body to yield to my demands.

The leaves from the ancient maple, or maybe it is oak, dapple the tired bland taupe. If one watches long enough the yearning to break from the sameness could burn a hole directly through their being.  The sunlight plays keep away from the shadows and dances down the wall. My eyes follow it. As I come to a defiant mountain pose, my heart flutters because the light has almost found my nemesis.  It creeps along leisurely until they meet.

The click as the numbers fall it will be one minute later today that they merge.  The light and the unique fleck on the painting on the bland taupe wall.   I long to give the color of that fleck a name.  It is trapped somewhere between emerald and as best I can describe it, malachite.  This speck is exceptional. Placed there by the artist, and I am assured to drive me mad.  No other hue like it on this canvas.  No other likeness in all this world has I seen that matches this mocking stare.  I try to not look, I force my eyes to turn away.  Yet still I seek it out, my sovereignty is being challenged.  I search for distraction, but there is none. Only the bland taupe wall the light and that damned fleck of color exist now.

Turning again to the comfort of my bed.  I use the term “comfort” loosely.  It squeaks and protests my weight.  The mammoth stone that resides within its coils forces me to lay my head where my feet would rest, and my feet where my head belongs.  It wants me to see that damned fleck.  I pull the blanket over my head and feel the scratch of the coarse fibers on my face.  I whisper “Don’t look, keep your head about you girl.”  I pull my eyes tightly closed, huff and feel the tightness in my neck and shoulders.

I can’t breathe the carbon dioxide molecules are too thick. The heat pressing against my face, my neck, my sanity.  My arms throw the gray blanket from my face. I gulp in the cool air.  I feel the relief travel into my lungs.  I turn on my side.  I cannot look.  I know it wants to take my sanity.  That indescribable fleck. “I can’t give you a name,” I shout.   Your color is known only to God I reason, alas, the fleck is not appeased.  When I am released from this room I will run far and reckless from that damned flake of paint.

I examine again, looking for a twin, perhaps something to reveal its name.  No, it is only in that one place.  The canvas is surely a foot in length and I suppose an arm’s length in height.  I have searched the length and height, and that color, it is only there, in that fleck.  I wonder what I have done to deserve this fleck. Its cursed stare and unrelenting demand.  Identify me. It reminds me of my failures. Whispers them by name into space. Why am I unable to simply name the color?  The books I search have hundreds of names of colors, pick one I demand of myself.

When I first came to this room I would settle on calling it green followed by emerald, then sea green and so many more. Then in the wee hours, the fleck would seek me out. It would invade my dreams.  These names were common, mundane and the hue, it wanted its name.  I am trapped in this hell until I find the designation that can be accepted and will appease the thing that is unnamed.  I cannot seek the creator and beg for a name, to find my reprieve. I know not his name, he failed to sign the device of torture. Creator of madness, I give him a name, this creator of this prison in my mind.

I have sought to leave this place.  I have stood, turned off the light, then on, then off, repeatedly and find that it does no good.  I can’t walk through the threshold.  Funny, the word “threshold”, it holds me.  I cannot leave. Sure I am free to walk away but I cannot. If I do surely death awaits me.  All because of that painting on its bland taupe wall.  If only that fleck did not glare, and demand I name it.

People come and in an attempt and settle my turmoil tell me it’s simply green.  If only it were that easy.  This speck is not just green, emerald, sea, kelly, hunter, pine or any of her sisters.  It is unique.  It is like you, and even me.  There is only one speck like it in all the world.  I cannot name it. I cannot define it. I cannot say its name.

The burning in my eyes makes me drowsy, but I know sleep will elude me.  Always beckoning me to find its name.  Nowhere can it be found if only the maker would whisper in my ear the cursed name of this thing that holds me so tightly oft I cannot breathe.

My bed squeaks again and I turn, the light has left the speck darkening its hue. Leaving me to my task.  I will ponder the names until the light comes again to transform the hue on the painting on the bland taupe wall, praying for the release from the assignment in lunacy.


Copywrite 2018


If you didn’t know already, I read A LOT!  Like A LOT.  I love all kinds of stories but I am a huge mystery fan.  On several occasions, I have found words that I thought meant one thing and discovered it means something other than I thought.   I admit it, I thought this word meant enormous.  Imagine my surprise when I clicked on this word on my Kindle because I thought the author used the wrong word, to discover the actual meaning of the word. (Insert little-embarrassed emoji here.)  I was officially schooled.

I am very happy to share with you that Enormity doesn’t mean enormousness, but extreme evil.  As a mystery writer, (muhahaha)  I have added understanding to this word and you know it will soon appear in its correct usage.

Have a great weekend my friends!  Keep writing, keep reading, keep being that awesome you that you are!



Funny thing about the English language, sometimes we have words that sound like they mean something and those words mean something completely different.   Today, we have another word that is commonly misused. I find myself bemused by some of the ways this word has been used incorrectly.

The most common misuse is when an individual uses it referring to being amused.  Then a second flawed usage is to ponder deeply.   In a speech, I once heard the speaker use bemused stating he was thinking deeply about something.  It was this speech that had me looking up the word.  It sounded out of place.  For good reason, it was.  I know I’m a weird person that really likes to know the meaning and origin of words.

I suppose those both of the inaccurate use of the word bemused are somewhat understandable, as one could almost hear the word amused or muse in the confines of the word itself.

What the word bemused actually means is, bewildered, puzzled or even confused.  I think this one is often used correctly, but may be surprised to discover how many people have the wrong meaning attached to this word.

The real question may be why do we care?  As a writer or non-writer, it is important to know what you’re actually saying.  Not to sound smart but to avoid offending or confusing others with the things we write and say.

Tomorrow will wrap up our week of commonly misused words and phrases.  If you have one to add please do add it to the comment section.  You all know I love my list.  I would very much enjoy adding another word/phrase.



Well now… I remember when I was perusing a book (a textbook) and this word was bold and imagine my surprise when I looked in the margin and found out the actual meaning of this word is unbiased, not uninterested.

Let me clarify, some of the dictionaries have adapted to the common understanding, of a lack of interest,  but the original word usage was defined as unbiased. I think in today’s world, that as our language is ever developing and changing to meet the needs of modern linguistic, we see words transform into what the common understanding of a word.

I hope you can enjoy the true meaning of this word disinterestedly.  *I mean that in the true sense of the word… haha see what I did there.

Have a great day friends



I was taking a class in college and the professor mentioned he was offering a class on how to read your college textbooks to maximize your study time.  Hey, guess what, I went to the class.  While I was in the class he mentioned that we didn’t need to peruse the text but could simply skim the content if we used his method.

So, as you can imagine, I was there scratching my head.  I thought to peruse meant to skim or glance over quickly.  Apparently, I was not the only person.  Being the ever inquisitive human that I am, I raised my hand and asked him to explain, as I thought peruse means to glance or skim over.  He laughed and said, I use that word to see if people are paying attention.  He went on to share there are many words that are often misused, and peruse is one of those words.   This example was also to help his students to understand that even book writers use words incorrectly, and to be careful to NOT be one of those writers.  As you can imagine, I started keeping a list of words that are often misused.  This week I will be sharing some of the words on my list.

The exciting thing about learning about words that are often misused is REGARDLESS of your past, you can always start using them correctly. (NOTE: Irregardless is not a word, thus, will not make this week’s list. I am only sharing words that are actual words.)

I’d like to offer a thank you to Dr. Diaz for teaching me to appreciate the importance of being on alert of commonly misused words.


How she sees herself!

I moved back today’s scheduled post to share this lesson I learned from my dog.  I have mentioned in a previous post, that I have a service dog.  This is her.  Her name is Dash.  She does a lot of me, but this weekend she taught me a very important lesson.

We went to Flagstaff this weekend, for a family event.  We decided to stay a few days in the RV and I was able to spend time getting some writing done and enjoying the surrounding area.  My husband, Dash and I stopped a Buffalo Park for a hike.  When we got out of the truck, there was a beautiful Great Dane (I love Danes, I have owned three) that was just coming off the trail.  Dash put it in four-wheel drive and charged this enormous male Great Dane. We all had a good laugh.  Her little self was ready to take on that big dog, she didn’t even think twice.

We took our hike and as we were coming out, I wanted to get a photo of the Buffalo at the front of the park.  I put Dash up near the statue to get a fun memory. She of course complied, she is pretty sassy when the camera comes out.

Once we were in the car, I had to laugh because the photo (above) made me take a moment and see her as she sees herself.  She sees herself as a big dog.   She is never intimidated by the giants she faces.  I realized something.  I have giants like the Great Dane sized fear of failing as a writer.  It cripples me from time to time.  I look at this photo and look at my little Dash.  She stood strong and brave today.  The threat was null, that Great Dane was as sweet and gentle as a fly.  The truth is most my fears are null as well.

I need to take this photo and put me in Dash’s place.  I need to see my little self as the giant that will conquer anything.

I see that I may be a little writer today, but if I see my self as a giant, I will be.   #howIshouldseemyself  #don’tbackdown  #lessonsfrommydog  Thanks, Dash!



I saved my favorite for last, and bring to you another word in the bottom 20% of word popularity today.  This is a word that was once used to describe me.  I love this word so very much because if I am going to be described as proudly spirited like a horse then I am in GREAT company.

When I was a kid, my parents moved us out to a 73-acre farm where we raised Arabian horses.  Let me be very clear.  I loved living there, I loved having horses, but I didn’t love caring for said horses.  In fact, my first published piece includes this loathing of horse upkeep.  I did learn a lot about what a compliment this word can be to a young girl.  We had a horse, her name was Bay Melody, now this horse was skeigh!  She was the horse that the young man compared me to when he used this word I had never heard.  I had no idea what it meant, so I looked it up (not on Google – the old fashion book dictionary).  I loved that the word origin is Scottish and the image it gave of a proud strong horse and I felt my self-esteem lift a few points as I read the explanation of this antiquated word.

I have it taped to my desk as a reminder of my spirit.  It is like that of that sassy, stunning horse we called Bay Melody was the horse that young man chose to compare me to that day.  Words stick with us, they do make-up part of who we are.  I can say with all sincerity that his choice of words that day helped me to keep my proud spirit.

#FUNWORDFRIDAY – I may need to make this a thing!  My list is too long for just a week.  I hope you have enjoyed some of the unique and mostly antiquated words I have shared this week. Keep writing, keep mindful!


I love finding new ways to describe looks.  Yesterday, I told you about using words to show and not tell.  I shamelessly plugged the Emotional Thesaurus books also, because well they show you how to do just that!  (Really you need these books.  They will make you a better writer.  I digress)

This particular word is one that I love because it does just that.  It is a wonderful way to avoid the words dull and or stupid.  I mean it gets hard sometimes to come up with ways to express common words.  While I am not a fan of calling an individual stupid, I do recognize that actions can sometimes display stupidy.  I really like this particular word because it can be used as a descriptor for actions and in the example a look.  This look can help our readers learn a new word! That is even more fun!  It is not terribly common, according to Merriam Webster its popularity is in the bottom 20% of words.  It may be a fun word to revive. Share some of your favorite less common words.


If you have read this blog very long you know I am in LOVE  with Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s collection of thesauruses for writers. I love that they help me to be a better shower and not so much a teller.  This word is one that I added to my showing list.  I love that my characters can have flair and display a fleering look.

Words are pretty magnificent, this is one reason I love writing. As a writer, my job is to dig out the perfect words to paint the mental pictures that will fill the minds of readers.  That is a big responsibility, and I take it VERY seriously.  I hope this week of fun words will encourage you to begin a list of words you can use to enrich the reader’s experience when they are reading your prose.



Yes, indeed, it’s another word fun post.   I keep a list of unique and awesome words I want to weave into my life.  I have read that one of the best things a writer, or really a human being can do is to continue to learn new words.

Today’s word is one I have had on my “Word Nerd” list for a while.  I was in a children’s lit class when I heard it the first time.  We had a speaker come and share about dealing with rejection and I remember this published author sharing this was the word that stuck in her head after a particularly rough session with her peers.  She had submitted this work and the very next day she was called because her agent had sold it.  She said, don’t let words be what halt your writing, one man’s doggerel is another man’s doggone it this is good.

The word stuck with me after that story.  As did the idea that my books may not be for everyone, but they are for someone!