Ray’s Honeymoon – short fiction

short fiction, fiction, storyAmerican Short Fiction Magazine passed out a bunch of photographs at the AWP conference in Boston earlier this year and asked people to write a short fiction story about each. Having not written any fiction before, I figured it would be good practice. Although I wasn’t one of the finalists, I still liked it. Enjoy!

 

“Thelma, I keep photo albums of all of my children.”

“Bless your heart, Margaret.”

“It’s for my grandchildren. Since my four boys looked so much alike, I want their kids to be able to tell them apart…to know who their daddy’s were.”

“Makes sense. I even have a hard time keeping their names straight. They were all so handsome.”

“When they were little, they were so wild. I’d get all worked up and confused sometimes and I would just yell all of their names off in a row––John, Paul, William, Raymond––get-in-the-house-this-very-instant! I remember it like it was yesterday, Thelma.”

“Well maybe now that Suzie and Ray are married you’ll eventually have a few more little ones running around the house.”

“We’ll see. Suzie is a sweet girl, but I’m not so sure Ray wants to have any kids.”

“Oh Margaret…give them some time.”

“Thelma, I’m not sure you’ve been watching the television, but Truman was on talking about some conflict in Korea.”

“Where’s Korea?”

“Somewhere in the Pacific, I think.”

“What did Ray say?”

“He isn’t saying anything. Thelma…I just can’t have another one of my boys at war. I refuse to bury another one of my children. I know Ray thinks about his brothers a lot and what they left behind. Why did he have to pick The Navy? Why Thelma, why?”

“Margaret, I know this is hard on you. We can’t fault him for wanting to protect his country and be like his older brothers. That’s what our boys do.”

“I’m sorry that I brought it up.”

“It’s quite alright Margaret. Let’s look at William’s album. Remember when he took Betty to the prom? My Betty loved driving in his Chevrolet. She said it was cherry.”

John Adams from Massachusetts

john adams, president, united states, boston, quincy, braintree, massachusetts, portrait, painting“I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
~ John Adams.
(Letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780)

I read this quote on a plaque inside the State House in Boston, Mass. last week when my wife and I were doing some research during our staycation.

As we see, John loved the artist.  He wrote and was well read, as was Abigail.  Out of the clear blue sky last week, I decided to start a fiction book based on John Adams. I visited the Boston Public Library where the John Adams Library is kept in-tact, Faneuil Hall, Kings Chapel, The Granary Burying Ground, The Boston Athenaeum and finally The State House. I suspect that I’ll be making many trips to these locations over the next year.

There is trouble brewing in the old families. That’s your teaser for now.

10 Rules for Fiction Writers

So I went out to get a burrito, and came home with an idea for a fiction book.  I ran the idea past my wife, and she wanted to know where I came up with such an idea.  It just came to me, I said.  I’m already working on a book of essays about photography and those are all non-fiction, fact-based stories from my personal experiences.  This new idea has nothing to do with me or photography––it is a historical fiction story with roots to Boston, especially the Back Bay/Beacon Hill neighborhoods.10 rules for writing fiction, writer, fiction, stories, books, tips

Since fiction writing isn’t my forte, I plan to do a little research before I get too engrossed in this thing.  The Guardian ran this story about the 10 Rules for Fiction Writers.  I need all the help I can get.

I know writers like Dan Brown and William Martin have a specific style where each chapter goes back and forth from adventures between the protagonists point of view to the antagonists point of view, or present day to to past. I don’t know if that is a specific style of writing––I guess I’ll have to figure that out. Right now this is just me being excited.  I hope it pans out.

10 Steps to a Kickass Essay – Writing Tips

Greetings Writers!

I just returned from a rejuvenating and inspiring 3-days at Grub Street‘s The Muse and The Marketplace literary conference in Boston.  I live in Boston so it wasn’t to much of a hike.  The sessions were all fantastic and the panelists gave me so much information that it’ll probably take a good week to digest it all.  I even got to meet and listen to Amanda Palmer give a very touching Keynote address.

On the last day of the conference I attended the session called: 10 Steps to a Kickass Essay, hosted by Ann Hood.  You can find her on Twitter: @annhood56. These writing tips were so insightful that I wanted to share what I learned with everyone.  Here are my notes.  Feel free to steal and share as needed.

1.  Write like an orphan.
Hold back emotionally.
If your motive is revenge, no one will want to read it.  Those type of essays lack depth.
If your writing about someone who was died, don’t mythologize the person.

2.  A personal essay is about just one thing.  Only one topic.

3.  Every personal essay is really two things:  what’s on the surface, and what bubbles underneath.
External thing + Internal thing.
Make sure there is a concrete story.

4.  Make sense of the events.  You don’t report them, you make sense of them.
Open the essay with event.  Don’t trick the reader or leave it until the end.
When writing about a hot topic, write it cold.
You report, then you reflect

5.  Push past the ending that makes sense.
Add a line or two after the closing sentence.
Go beyond the Norman Rockwell ending.

6.  “What do you know now that you did not know then.”
Force yourself to come to a realization.

7.  Power of Once.  The use of flashback.  Don’t top load the essay in flashback.  If you start with a flashback, the whole essay will be in the flashback.

8.  Objective Correlative:  The author uses an event or an object to stand in for an emotion.

9.  You need to write well!  A personal essay is not a  bundle of emotions.  It’s not a journal entry.

10.  Don’t write what you know, write what you don’t know about yet.

 

 

Grants for Writers

Today I did not put pencil to pager or finger to keyboard.  However, I did do a little research about grants for writers. Besides the current memoir that I am working on, I have two to three other book projects that I’m thinking about.  Like I said in an earlier post, I’m not a fan of putting all of my eggs in one basket, I’d rather have a carton full of various eggs, preferably PAAS colored Easter Eggs that are tie-dyed and trippy like Jerry Garcia might’ve made them––kidding.

If you are a writer looking for grants, here is one website that I have been combing through.  It’s called Funds For Writers.

And here’s another called, Grant Space.

Now, I’ve only applied for one writing-related grant.  Grants take time to fill out.  Also make sure to check the deadlines.  Those are very important!

You’re welcome!

Flash Fiction in 99 Words: Dog Thoughts

Dog Thoughts

“We’ll be back in a little while.  You be good.”

That’s my owner.  He says that every day before leaving the house to go to work.  If I could talk, I’d tell him, “Okay, you do know that I’m a teenager, right?  I’m going back to sleep now.”

I spend a lot of time curled up under his desk.  It’s my private sleeping quarters.  My scent is embedded in the plush carpet, among other things.  At least I don’t have to sleep directly on the wood floors.  I got a splinter one time in my paw.  Oh, that hurt.

Writing: Finding That New Outlet To Plug In To

jason landry, portrait, photographer, paris, artistWriting: Finding That New Outlet To Plug In To

Once upon a time I was a photographer.  I would photograph people, places and things.  I would go on trips all around the world making photographs and that was my artistic outlet.  Before that, it was drawing and playing the guitar.  I enjoyed drawing and sketching things and I also liked strumming along to my favorite tunes.  Now that I own a gallery, I’m not sketching, playing the guitar or photographing as much anymore.  I needed to find a new artistic outlet––something that would give me an opportunity to express myself.

Writing and reading were never two of my favorite things.  If you gave me a choice between reading a book, writing a story, listening to music or going out to eat, I would opt for the two latter.  I’m not sure what happened, other than to say that writing and reading have become my two new favorite artistic outlets and they have opened me up to a world of possibilities.  I’ve regained a new appreciation for the art of writing and have embraced it wholeheartedly.

I was asked recently, are you a writer? My answer of course, Why yes…yes I am.  What do you like to write? (that’s usually the follow-up question.) My answer: everything.  Right now, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself in one genre of writing.  Although I am writing a memoir, I have found writing poetry and short fiction equally as enjoyable.  I also have a few ideas on how I can incorporate some writing with a photographic project that I’ve been kicking around in my head.

When investing in a new art form, diversify your portfolio.  If it’s writing, you never know what will be on the next page until you turn it.