Short Stories and Essays · Writing Help

Writing Through The Joys of Summer

Let’s play a word game…

What do these words have in common? Weddings, birthday parties, vacations, school’s out, lighter and brighter clothing, assorted melons, peaches, plums, berries, clam bakes, beach fun and squishing ocean sand between your toes. They all conjure celebrations, vacations, relaxation, the joys of Summer and the end of winter blues.

If you are anything like me, a few lazy days of summer work like magic in fixing the winter blues quickly. There is something wonderful about the feel of sun rays on a breezy day that magnifies euphoria and inspires effortless writing. Aside from the buzzing of a few bees, swatting a few flies and repelling ants with one foot against the other writing life is good during the summertime.

Do allow your imagination to run free and write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes this is the best writing – freestyle at its best! It is used to get the creative juices flowing. Try this exercise – chose 5 unrelated words and write for 15 minutes without stopping or making any corrections. After 15 minutes, stop and read your story. You will undoubtedly have a rough short story or an idea for a novel.

Be careful of the sun rays and the buzzing bees but enjoy writing during the lazy days of summer. I know I will.

Writing Help

Uses for Creative Writing Tools

Writing requires reading, especially books and other good sources that are written in the genre that you’re interested in writing. Exploring tools and software is also useful and sometimes necessary to propel you to new heights. I recently purchased a text software that allows me to write directly onto a picture (Text & Photo – Picture Text Editor). I’m interested in using this style picture to do a quick FB post, add to my blog and add some zing to a few other writing projects.

Have you learned a new skill to aid your writing career? Please share.

Short Stories and Essays · Writing Help

Writing Inspiration: Summer Garden

If you are a gardener, the harvest you get throughout the growing season is a pleasant measurement of gardening success. My summer’s small garden planting was a smashing success! I’ve enjoyed adding fresh peppers and okra to my breakfast sage sausage, and with a little extra Thyme and Cumin Seed, the aroma and flavor-filled stir-fry is a real palate pleaser. In addition to the delicious vegetables featured in these pictures, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to grow eggplants, tomatoes, and onions. One vegetable that didn’t do so well was yellow squash. The plants did well, but the squirrels and other furry creatures loved the roots so needless to say, summer squash will not make the planting list for the 2019 summer garden.

There is a story in all the good vegetables pictured in this post. I will begin a story outline as soon as I finish some of the other writing projects at hand. For now, enjoy the pictures, and maybe you’re being inspired, just as I am in developing an end of summer themed story.

Picture #1 Okra, Pictures  #2 and #3 Purple and Green Bell Peppers

Writing Help

Beauty of Fall


Fall is a beautiful and calming time of year. The bugs are beginning to settle into their winter underground nests which means I can finally spend time outdoors and not be bothered by the likes of them! One of my favorite time of the day is early morning. I enjoy watching the sun as it peeks through the morning sky and finally burst into a surprising shade of blue. Often the North Georgia mountains offer a bone-chilling effect that only a hot cup of steaming coffee can fix. Today ushered in a perfect morning to relax and read while the bugs were at bay and the drone of the grandfather clock tempered at 7 a.m.

Combining reading and writing is an exercise that I enjoy and as I so often do, I reviewed some of my blog post stories and my attention immediately fell upon Book Drive This short story describes an aging challenge but the main character persevered in finding the perfect solution that got her back into relaxing with a story or two.

If you’ve haven’t read “Book Drive” before, please do so.  A comment or two are greatly appreciated. Follow the link above and enjoy the read, along with your favorite morning beverage.

Writing Help

The Writing Process: Writing Tips

Happy New Year!

Perhaps you have writing projects that you didn’t finish in 2018 and you need a bit of inspiration to send them to your publisher. Reset your schedule and prepare for 2019. Start by reading this post from 2018 to jump-start your writing.

Let resolve to get our writing projects done in 2019!

The writing process has five main areas of focus: (1) Prewriting, (2) Writing, (3) Revising, (4) Editing and (5) Publishing.

Prewriting lays the groundwork for your writing project. It is at this time that you write all your thoughts and ideas down so that you can flush out your ideas and layout your characters. You can use a character description sheet to develop profiles. Suggestion: Search Google using the name Character Description Worksheets. You can begin to build your character list (at least a great many of them if you are writing a novel) in this part of the process

Writing is the making or development of your story. Make a daily writing schedule for yourself, and you will not fall behind on your project, get frustrated in your progress or lose sight of the overall writing project.

Revising is vital to the success of your writing project. You’ll want to include time in your production schedule to carefully read, proof and rewrite any parts of your story. Get someone else’s opinion on your work. When you ask for someone else’s comments, prepare yourself for questions and suggestions on rewriting any parts that are unclear or confusing. Be open-minded enough to see beyond “being right.” After all, you want your readers pleased with your story and anxiously await your next installment.

Editing requires both patience and grammar acuity. If you’re deficient in these areas, seek outside help in the way of a proof-reader, editor or friends who are proficient in the editing process.

Publishing Although there is a myriad of ways to satisfy meet your publication goals here is a short list of accomplished using some of the following mediums: blogging, e-books and publishing houses which includes magazines.

Additional Source:

Ali Hale’s writing tips:

Short Stories and Essays

Treasure Drawer Secrets

Treasure hunt, Melanie called it. Right there in the bottom of Rose’s chest of drawers. Curiosity and childhood memories often pulled her into a world of comfort like a freshly brewed pot of coffee. She’d wandered out in the backyard and made her way to a shed – the chest’s new home. The second-hand piece of furniture was older than Rose, and she’d wanted a new bedroom set but refused to part with the old chest. “I want a complete set,” she’d said. Not the salvage yard pieces I bought long before Bill, and I got married 40 years ago.”

Melanie surprised herself on being disappointed with the replacement. The chest had been her lifelong comforter and friend. Fond memories of spending rainy days pressing her back up against the smooth solid wood finish and devouring pages of Nancy Drew novels. All those after school visits while she waited for Mom or Dad to pick her up from school, and she could never forget Valentines Day evenings. That was when her parents left her for a few hours at Uncle Bill and Aunt Rose’s to spend a few special hours alone, she supposed.

Even at age 25, plundering through the bottom junk drawer in Rose’s chest was mesmerizing and relaxing. Her long well-manicured fingers raked across the loose button collection some of which dated back to the late 1800’s. With Rose’s care, cleaning, and polishing some of the buttons looked as if they’d just fallen from someone’s ripped pocket. She smiled as she spotted the seed pearl buttons. As she continued to troll through the collection she counted a dozen of the little gems. Just the number she needed to replace buttons on a gown she wanted to wear to an upcoming fundraiser. Perfect! Maybe Rose will be willing to part with them she thought as she put the find inside her jean pocket.

Mostly the drawer shared space with hair combs or barrettes some of which presented missing teeth and holes once filled with fresh glue which held tiny pearls, pretend diamonds or some other pretend precious stone. Who wore these pretty adornments and for what occasion? Certainly, they completed an upswept hairstyle perfectly suited to a debutante ball, a wedding, a first date or some other grand occasion that happened in the life of a well-heeled, farm girl. Perhaps they were once worn by Rose or some of the other Smith women like her mother, grandmother, aunts or cousins.

What’s this? A Meniere of tattered World War I shoulder patches carefully sealed in a once clear plastic bag saved in honor of the soldier long ago dead but perhaps the deed not forgotten. “I’ll have to ask Rose about these,” she mused. Rose was her Mama’s oldest sister. A proud retired teacher who no doubt had forgotten most of the events resting behind the treasured trinkets or very possibly never knew their stories. None of that mattered. Trolling through the treasures always brought on a sense of calming wonderment. Sometimes that was all Melanie needed. Breaking the silence, she heard labored breathing accompanied by softly padded footsteps. “Whatcha got there Melanie?” The familiar soft voice questioned.

“What’s this?” Melanie asked as she held up a blue floral box. “Auntie, I’ve been pushing this old junk around nearly all my life, and it never ceases to amaze me that I find something new each time I pursue my treasure hunt.”

“I know.”

“How so?”

“I put it there, and I suppose Bill threw in a few buttons and such here and there.” She struggled to get the words out of her high-pitched musical laughter. “And you thought it was the same collection each time you opened the drawer. Not so.”

Rose reached for the box Melanie held all the while placing her remaining hand on a nearby chair to rest her ample bottom. Once seated Rose carefully lifted the lid off the box with ease.

Melanie stood so close to her that she could smell Rose’s liniment that she dutifully rubbed on her feet each morning. “Helps the circulation.” She often reminded Melanie.

These are all letters from family members. You know people use to write letters, put a stamp on them and place them in the mailbox and off they would go. Snail mail I think it’s called now.”

“You got it! Auntie.”

“I’m not going to go through this entire stack of mail today, my dear. This is something you’re welcome to do on your own from time-to-time but here is something I think you might enjoy. A valentines card from your grandmother to me when I was in college.”

“To a darling daughter on Valentines Day. Wishing you were here to enjoy the delicious dinner I cooked for your father. Roast beef with carrots with a few other vegetables, creamed potatoes, greens from the garden and a red velvet cake the recipe was in this month’s Southern Living Magazine. I surprised him with a nice bottle of red wine which he only drank a glass. You know your dad – not much for strong spirits. Well, the car finally broke down but not to worry we’ll send bus fare for your trip home. Study hard, and we’ll see you in the spring. Love Mother.”

“That’s all?”

“Mother sent me cards and letters quite often. Her words were sparse but ever so meaningful. It was a good day when I opened my mailbox and saw a letter from home. Usually, she’d enclose a few dollars.” We were not rich but shared generously.

“That’s nice, Auntie.”

“Oh, now there’s plenty of heartbreak and bad deeds expressed in a few of these letters. Like this faded white envelope. The letter inside this one shares the death of your father’s dad. Your mom and dad were unable to attend the funeral, but they were not able to see him before he died. That was a painful experience for your dad, to say the least.”

“Hey! I hate to break up your time in the shed ladies, said Uncle Bill, but I thought you’d like some food and drink. I made sandwiches and coffee.”

“Sounds good Uncle Bill. Why don’t you go ahead Auntie and I’ll lock up the shed. We can resume our trip down memory lane at a later date.”

As she was leaving the shed, Melanie wondered what secrets the letters and cards held. Sometimes she caught her mother looking at her, and she felt a sense of for longing in her stare. She would just have to wait. Perhaps on some rainy day, she would again press her back up against the old chest and allow it to reveal more secrets.

Short Stories and Essays

Essie’s Sewing Machine


Essie’s sewing machine needed retrieving. She’d gained weight during the winter months and wanted to make herself a dress. Gathering the super bright flashlight and pulling the stairs down from the ceiling for the second time in two days was as much as she could do to remedy her problem. There was a light up there, but she could never find it quickly enough to ease her skittish feelings. Going up into the black space was not a happy thing for Essie to do.

Instead of stressing or fussing about it, she decided to ask her husband, Matthew, to bring it down from the attic. Essie wanted to inspect it and begin working on a new Spring project. On most days, he came home for lunch, so she didn’t feel the need to phone him at the shop. The urge to have the machine brought down was overwhelming, but she convinced herself that she could wait. It was already nearing the end of February, and so the deliberate aim was to finish her sewing before the March winds gave way to the spirited, warm Spring weather.

She and Matthew owned a resale shop and were once featured in their local small business magazine showcasing the store and their expert bargain hunting prowess status. They were always on the lookout for free or nearly free things to add to their inventory. They skipped no possibilities for priced items including items from family, friends, neighbors and on occasion their cast-off.

Pulling focus away from the attic Essie started preparing a light meal for their lunch which was not a tiring chore. It gave her a chance to glance at an occasional playful squirrel or a low flying bird. She could see Spring budding throughout the backyard. The view from her kitchen window was beautiful. March was a calming and peaceful time of year. It ushered in the blooming daffodils quite nicely, and the spectacular view even gave her the idea to shake up her otherwise drab closet and insert an eye-catching infusion of bright colors. Pondering the idea that maybe a yellow and orange girlish outfit would urge her to lose some of the unwanted pounds.

Memories of her last sewing project gave her pause, but she shook off the negative feelings and resolved to overcome the dreadful try. It had taken her a long while to finish the design, and she vowed never again to tackle a dressmaking task. So the sewing machine remained in the attic for well over ten years.

Suddenly the front door opened. It was Matthew. “Why are you home so early, Dear? It’s only 10:30.”

He could hardly wait to tell her about their good fortune. “We’re not rich Essie, but we just made a great sell!”

“Oh? So early this morning?”

“A gentleman came into the shop and saw your old sewing machine and made me an offer that I just couldn’t refuse.”

“What old sewing machine? ”

“You know. The one that’s been sitting in the attic all these year gathering dust.”

She now had to sit down on the nearby sofa. Taking a sip of coffee, she finally exhaled. “You mean my Aunt Tresa’s old Singer machine; the one that’s been in the family for three generations? The one that my Mother used to make my wedding dress?”

Matthew sat next to her and put his thick arms around her heaving shoulders.
“I’ll get you another one, Essie. Besides the newer ones are programmable, lightweight, faster and can stitch market quality stitches. All the ones you like, Honey. ”

“Yes and they break easily, cost a fortune, and they’re made everywhere except in American.”

Moments had passed before Essie spoke again. “My Mother made me promise that I would never sell the machine or get rid of it for any reason. It was the most prized possession of her Mother. Now it’s gone and I will never see again.”

Matthew wiped the moisture from his eyes. His heart now weighed several pounds more than it did when he arrived home. He thought his news would go right along with the bright, sunshiny day.

“Why didn’t you ask me if I wanted the machine?”

“It was just up there. So that told me everything that I needed to know.”

Essie shook her head in disbelief while deafening silence competed with the low tones of a nearby grandfather clock and a whistling tea kettle.