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.”

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.

Andrew Stanton: Storytelling – A TED Talk

On the TED website, I typed in the topic: writing.  This sent me to a page: How to tell a story (6 talks).

This TED talk was filmed at TED 2012. You may want to go back and watch the other ones.

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “WALL-E”) shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning. (via ted.com)

ted, tedtalks, ted talks, ideas worth spreading,  technology, entertainment, design





11 Good Quotes for Writers

quote, fortune cookie, literary, writing, trees, writer, grub street, quotesAre you writing a memoir or a non-fiction book project?  I went back over my notes from last weekend’s AWP Writing Conference in Boston.  Here are some great quotes that I wrote down from two separate sessions: The Art of the Non-Fiction Idea and The Urge Toward Memoir.

Since I’m learning just as much as the next person, I was too busy feverishly writing notes to remember who actually said these great one-liners.  If you know who said it, feel free to send me a note.  Wouldn’t some of these quotes look good inside fortune cookies?  This images is from a fortune cookie that I was given at the Grub Street booth.  You guys rock!

Here’s 11 Good Quotes for Writers to Think About.

“Date around before you marry an idea.”

“Will your idea pass the cocktail party test?”

“You need to be able to sell your idea in two minutes.”

“Tell the stories that only you can tell.” ~ Ethan Gilsdorf

“Test out your ideas in short form first.”

“Build up your authority in your niche.”

“Virality = will your writing piece circulate and go viral online?”

“Your project is a balance between you and your voice and the topic.”

“You have to have control of your story just like your novel.  Your readers are dying to know what’s next.”

“All of life is a cover story.”

“Your family will not see things from your point of view.”

Claim Your Moment: An Inspirational Message

stephen sheffield, ladder, ascent, water, self portrait, panopticon gallery, inspire, inspirational

Stephen Sheffield, Ascent (Ladder #34), 2009

Each person on this planet has a message to deliver…a story to tell.  I recognize this more and more when I watch TED talks.  If you haven’t watched any, do yourself a favor and find a topic that you relate to and sit back and watch one.  Their videos are inspiring and motivating, and their tag line rings true.  They do have ‘ideas worth spreading’.  I post some of the videos on this blog once in a while when I feel the story is relevant or particularly interesting.

This might come off sounding a bit strange, but have you ever asked yourself, or thought to yourself, what message will I deliver in this lifetime?  What story will I tell?  I never imagined that I’d be writing a book, and here I am, knee deep in one.

I believe most people go through various stages of training––events in their lives that show up as barriers that are meant to be conquered before getting to that next level, you know…finding their true calling. These barriers are like chapters or stages in a video game, the more you master the game, the closer you are to the prize––or finishing the conquest.  Each step, each stage, each chapter is a test that you must pass before you find your true path, true goal, true purpose in life.  I’m not saying that playing video games will show you the way to enlightenment or even help you make an informed decision on what your goal is in life.  It’s only meant to be a metaphor.

Like a chick pushing through an egg and taking its first step into the world, chip away at the small stuff around the edges until your moment is there, right in front of you, like a beam of light penetrating through a tiny hole in the shell just waiting for you to come out and explore its warm pulse.  Experiment with what captures your attention.  Try different things.  Sometimes your ‘thing’ won’t be the first thing that you are good at…it often times will sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Claim your moment.  As Anonymous once said: There is no better time than right now.

Go Get Your Nails

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Jason Landry, Reflected Hands, Paris, 2007

Photographer Jane Tuckerman stopped by the gallery today to witness yet another crazy installation day.  Our next exhibition opens in two days.  Before she left she said, “Jason…go get your nails.”  The way that she said it, and my assistant thought the same thing, sounded like the word ‘done‘ was going to come at the end of her sentence, as in “Jason…go get your nails done.”  But no, she was just reminding me that I needed to buy some nails to finish hanging a few of the pieces in the show.  It would have been funny if the latter sentence was uttered.  I needed a good laugh today.  Regardless, when I think of nails, I think of my wife.

There’s Anne’s hands, reflected in a closet mirror in Paris. Her gel manicure that she got a few days earlier still looked good.  For those that are wondering, the color is Lincoln Park After Dark.  That’s how the ladies at the nail salon know my wife, not by her name, but by her nail polish color.

This photograph is a few years old and one of my favorites.  Her hands are raised in a way that looks rather religious in nature, however, not intended.  When you ask your model to get into the closet and shut the door like so and then stick their hands out so that you can photograph their reflection, you have only so many seconds to direct the scene before your model, my wife, gets aggravated and the opportunity is over.  Luckily on this day, her jet lag had passed.

She’s always been my best hand model, among other things.