Monthly Archives: February 2013

What or Who Inspired You to Write?

A passionate Reader

A passionate Reader

I don’t mean a particular poem, song, or novel, I mean what was at the core of you realizing that you wanted needed to write?

For me it was growing up in a home where my mother was an avid reader. She really opened me up to the world of books and I remember as a kid reading every one of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books. I was actually disappointed as a child when the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew show was not as good as the books I had read. Learning early on the written word gets instilled much deeper into you than what you see on the screen.

Oh and for those of you who don’t know about the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, I am sorry you missed out. But you most likely grew up in a world of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Different generation same love and drive for reading.

Sometime in my teenage years or maybe it was after I left home, but somewhere along the way my mother quit reading. She never gave me a good answer as to why I suspect it was because my dad didn’t like her head stuck in a book all the time.

When my dad had his first Aneurysm surgery on May 8th of 2002 I talked my mom into getting a book to read so that she didn’t sit there worried the entire time my dad was in surgery. This was a tough one and he was expected to be in surgery for quite a few hours.

In that moment I opened her back up to the world of books and created a monster in my wake. She devoured books making up for all the years she lost not reading. I know this because after she passed I found her notes where she kept track of what she read. In that first year back reading my mother read 63 books between May and December.

Over the next few years it was much the same;
2003 – 54 books
2004 – 52 books
2005 – a slow year for her she only ready 26 books
2006 -45 books
2007 -36 books

And 2008 – The year before she got sick and was diagnosed with Cancer she read a whopping 81 books.

In 2009 she and my dad came to live with me and my husband. Dad was very sick in Kidney failure and would die that same year. Mom was soon to be diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer with Mets to the brain. She read 1 book in 2009 and that was the last book she ever read. She lived until September of 2012 but she was no longer able to enjoy reading.

Still her love for books always instilled in me a love for books and reading and to take it up a notch I love to create. I enjoy a story coming to life in my mind and then on the paper. It is not always perfect. We as writers know that we will always judge our own work the harshest but writing words on the page even as a teenager was I felt I was called to do.

Life got in the way.
I put my writing aside.
I let that little voice in my head that said, “Why are you wasting your time on this it is never going to happen for you,” I let that voice win.

Just like my mother put away her reading for some years I put away my writing for some years as well.
But I plan on devouring my writing just as she devoured books.

I can only hope I instill the same love for books and maybe even writing to my daughter.

So who or what inspired you? What is your story? Why do you HAVE to write?

Know What You Write


We have all heard the saying “Write what you know.” This is good advice but we all know that, especially in fiction writing, you can’t always write what you know. You often you have to write outside your comfort zone.

For this reason you should KNOW WHAT YOU WRITE.

I don’t mean that you must have complete knowledge of everything you write. What I am saying is take the time to do the research. If you are writing about a character that has an interest that you are not familiar with and you don’t do the research then shame on you.

For the book I am writing it is set in the lovely land of Key West, FL. I have been to Key West but not deep into the city as I need for my book. Luckily for all of us writers in this day and time we have an AWESOME resource. It is called……wait for it……the INTERNET! For my book I have watched a ton of You Tube videos on Key West. I have Google mapped locations and went as far in as I could to see the scenery and things that I need. If I had not done this I might have made my character live on one of the islands that was for Military personnel only. That wouldn’t have lent much credibility to my story.

I have a friend who is an avid deep-sea fisher. I talked with him in detail. My character has one small scene on a fishing boat but without his insight what I had written was shallow and downright incorrect.

In another spot I have an oyster shucking scene. I could have so easily had written something to the effect of:

“He knew how to shuck an oyster like a pro.”

Instead, by watching one simple You Tube video, “See below” I wrote:

“I had all the tools he needed to shuck the oysters but I was surprised that he knew how to use them. He grabbed the oyster knife, put on the oyster glove I gave him and pulled out a small dish-towel from the stack. He worked that oyster knife like a professional. I actually think he was better at shucking an oyster than I was. He turned the oyster with the back was facing up. Got a firm hold of it in the dish towel and used the oyster knife to slide right in the hinge part. A few pushes and wiggles of the knife and he turned it and with a solid pop the oyster was opening up. He ran his knife along the top of the oyster shell making sure not make a mistake and hit the bottom and slash the oyster itself. Then once the oyster was opened he ran the knife along the bottom and it came right out. I was thoroughly impressed. “

Ok don’t “nit pick” this excerpt. It still is the first draft.

But you get my point.

A tiny bit of research on your part and you can know what you write so you are able to write it better.

Tears of the Son


TerribleMinds Chuck Wendig has a weekly challenge for us.
Flash Fiction Challenge: Write what you know. The premise:
Take a true life event, twist it, and reimagine it in fiction with a 1,000 word limit.
Here is my attempt!

With morbid curiosity I looked.
I couldn’t stop myself from looking.
I stood on my tiptoes and peeked inside the giant white box that I was hanging onto.

What I saw before me was nearly unrecognizable. I heard them talking and saying how well she looked. She didn’t look well to me. She was so pale. They had put her in her favorite dress and one that I had always loved to see her in. It was a knee length sleeveless purple dress with a cinch waist. I could close my eyes and see her traipsing around the house in that dress the day my older sister graduated from college. She was so nervous that day it took us hours to find her shoes and they were sitting right there on the bed beside dads dress jacket. Dad stood in front of me now with that same dress jacket on. I wondered if they put shoes on mom. I couldn’t see her feet so I didn’t know why they would go to the trouble.

I had to look again.
I reached in first and placed my hand on her small arm. It was so cold. Mom was always so cold. I thought for a second that she needed a blanket but then as quickly as the thought came I was reminded that she didn’t need for anything anymore. I stood as high as I could on my tiptoes so I could see her face. We gave them a picture of what she looked like. She was always so filled with life and alive. Her eyes smiled when she looked at you. I know that sounds cliché but it is true. Her eyes were not smiling now. Her mouth looked all strange as if it was fighting gravity to stay up on her face. They didn’t know how to fix mom’s hair. It was done all fancy and laid so delicate on the pillow behind her head. Mom did not do fancy and even on that graduation day when she wore her purple dress and the infamous hiding shoes she still simply brushed her long blond hair straight back and put a small barrette on the left side. The barrette is as fancy as mom would get.

My dad turned around and asked me if I wanted him to pick me up so I could see better, that is all I wanted to add embarrassment to sorrow. No I told him and ushered him to go ahead that I would be a minute. I watched my father and handful of other mourners walk through the double doors that led out of this small room where my mother was laid out on display.

I was alone with her now.
I looked around the room and saw a small footstool at the end of one of the fancy chairs and drug it over where I could get a better look.
I could see all of her now. She didn’t look much different from what I had seen on my tiptoes but I could see her better. I put my hand back on her small cold arm and rubbed it. I tried to tell myself that she was just asleep that she would wake up at any moment and tell me to do my homework or yell up the stairs that dinner was ready. I wanted the chance to have her come to my college graduation. It wasn’t fair that she got to go to my sisters but not mine. It wasn’t fair that they told us her heart had just stopped beating. How does that happen? She was healthy, active, alive and then her heart just stopped. She didn’t have a heart attack; she just went to sleep and didn’t wake up. For no reason. For no reason at all.

I had been so good with not crying but a tear snuck through the gates and rolled down my cheek landing on the spot right above her wrist. I didn’t think anything of it first. But as I stood there with my hand on her arm rubbing her with my thumb it felt like her skin was getting warmer beneath my thumb. I knew it had to be me rubbing so much. I looked down at her arm where the tear had fell, splattered on her wrist. In that spot her skin had lost that pale color and instead had turned a light pink flesh color. When I saw this I burst out in tears and they were rolling down my face and splattering on my mom like raindrops. Everywhere a tear dropped the skin turned flesh color and began to get warm again.

I tried to scream for my father but it was stuck in my throat.
I swallowed again and again trying to get the scream out. Finally it escaped and it was the loudest most deafening scream I have ever yelled. My father and everyone came running into the room, rushing to my side. I stood over mom allowing the tears to flow freely now. I saw his eyes when he looked and saw that where my tears had fell her skin was pink and warm. How could this be happening? I didn’t know how and I didn’t care.

All I knew was that my tears were brining my mother back to life, one drop at a time.

(c) Feb 2013 Shelly Tennyson Taylor

The Opposite of a Bucket List!


Puddles 002

I was talking with a high school friend on Facebook about the Carnival Cruise ship that is floating around out in The Gulf of Mexico and she got me thinking.

My comment on Facebook was “You could probably get a good deal on a Carnival Cruise right now!”
Now personally I love to cruise and this incident will not stop me.
However, she proceeded to tell me that cruising was one of the things her husband would never do.
That he actually had a list of things he would never do.

Started me thinking on the topic of an opposite bucket list.

I have a bucket list (see here).

What would you call this list?
Since I can’t come up with an opposite for bucket I am going to call it my puddle list, because without a bucket you just have a puddle right?

What is on my puddle list?

1. Jump out of an Airplane (I have no desire to jump out of a completely fine airplane). However if I was ever in an airplane that was crashing I would totally move this to my bucket list instead!

2. Learn French – nope, no desire.

3. Go on Survivor – I would starve to death in about 4 hours. There is no way I would eat bugs and to be even more truthful. If I didn’t starve to death in a few hours someone else would kill me because I would be whining so much!

4. Be a snake handler. The only good snake is a dead snake! (Ok all you snake lovers don’t give me any grief here – just keep your slimy serpents to yourself.)

5. Run with the bulls. Really being flattened by a bunch of crazy people and million pound animals is not my idea of fun. –Yes I exaggerated the weight of the bulls… sue me….

I guess for now this concludes my puddle list.
I may have to come back and add to it later.

What is on your Puddle List?

How do you write?


Let me start by saying there is no right or wrong way to write. It is really all about your personality and how that influences your writing.

I am the type of writer that normally lets inspiration lead me and my story.

However, right now as I am bearing down on this new story I am writing I am finding ideas for scenes coming from all over the place. But I am not quite ready to write that part of the story yet.

So against my better judgment I am considering an outline.

For me personally starting off a story with an outline usually crushes my creativity. I feel boxed in like I have to go step by step and follow the rules (outline) I have created.

This time seems to be different. I feel like I need an outline to keep me reigned in. To keep the story flowing where it should and to not lose those essential ideas and scenes which are popping in my mind but are happening much later in the story.

Plus as the story is growing and I am adding a character here and a character there I am losing control. It is not a good feeling when you feel like you are losing control of your story. It is as if it has created a mind of its own!

While I appreciate the creativity, scenes, and ideas that I am seeing for this story, it is getting hard to stay focused and just enjoy the writing. I am trying to force a certain scene that is happing right now while something that is going to happen close to the end is taking up precious space in my mind.

So that is why I am creating the outline. I can write down the scenes that are coming to the surface for the future and clear up my mind so that I can focus on the scene at hand.

What works for you guys?
Do you outline or not?

Goodbye Grandmother, You Will Be Missed!


It is eerily strange. The last 2 lines I wrote yesterday. “Hug your family close. You never know when you are creating your very last memory.”  Not long after I wrote that yesterday those came true, as we lost my grandmother.
Her heart simply stopped beating. She was tired and heartbroken from my mother’s passing last September. She was battling with Cancer herself and she was going to turn 90 years old this year.

4 Generations at my daughters 1st birthday.

4 Generations at my daughters 1st birthday.

I got the call yesterday of her collapsing and rushed to the hospital. As I was leaving our neighborhood a small deer ran across the road in front of me.

It was at that moment that I felt that my grandmother was saying goodbye to me.
It probably sounds strange but my grandmother hit at least 3 deer with her car in her lifetime. It may have been more than 3 even. Seeing that deer made me think of her and I knew at that moment she was running free.

My grandmother lived a full life, 89 years of life; up until this past December when she was diagnosed with Lung Cancer she had hardly ever been sick a day in her life. She still drove her own car and lived alone. She took care of herself, went to church every Sunday and truly enjoyed life. When people met her they couldn’t believe she was 89 maybe 75 but that was about it.

She was a God fearing woman who loved to write, sing, draw, and paint. She was very creative and the prayer warrior in our family.

She will be truly missed.

Happy Birthday In Heaven Daddy!

My Daddy!

My Daddy!

My daddy would have turned 66 years old today.

I miss him. I wish he would have gotten the chance to meet my beautiful daughter.

I wish she would have gotten the chance to meet him. To understand just how much her Papa loved her.

I am comforted in knowing that my daddy knew I was pregnant. I was actually 13 weeks pregnant with my daughter when daddy died. At the time I was convinced that I was having a boy. But not daddy, he told me one day while sitting in my living room. “Honey, you are having a girl. I know because I have seen her and she is beautiful.” He died only a few days later.

I wonder sometimes if God showed him my daughter so that daddy knew it would be ok to go on. My daddy had been sick and in pain for a very long time. But like the fighter he was he held on as long as he could.

My life was not rainbows and unicorns growing up. My daddy was hard and downright mean at times. But he was my daddy and I loved him so much. I was a definite daddy’s girl when I was young.

One of my most favorite things I remember as a child has to be our spur of the moment vacations. Daddy was like that. All of the sudden he would just decide he needed to get away and we would pack up the car and head to the mountains or the beach. Those were our 2 go-to places. It is funny, I don’t remember the vacations themselves very well but I remember the all of the sudden decisions and the traveling. We did a lot of traveling.

I am missing my daddy and my mommy today. Hug your family close. You never know when you are creating your very last memory.

Gotcha! Grab your reader with your first line.


Hooking your reader in the first sentence. I am doing a lot of reading about writing these days. And as you might expect one of the golden rules of writing is to grab your reader with the first line. Sometimes that is the only chance you get.

Lillie is walking through the bookstore (yes a few real brick and mortar stores do still exist) skimming first lines of stories to find the one that resonates with her and makes her want to read more. As a writer you want to make sure that the one she chooses is yours.

So with that in mind I decided to go to my bookshelf, randomly grab a few books and read the first line. To find out if that was my only insight into the book would I choose to read it? Actually I am ready for a new book to read so this is how I will decide.

Ok so I have 4 paperbacks that I pulled from my shelf:

• Tess Gerritsen: The Bone Garden – Ok on this one I am skipping the first 2 pages because it is a letter. So chapter one begins. “So this is how a marriage ends, thought Julia Hamill as she rammed the shovel into the soil.” Pretty good, especially since the name of the book is The Bone Garden. It makes you wonder if she is burying her husband right off the bat.

• Gregg Olsen: Closer than Blood – The first line in this book is part of the Prologue. “If Kitsap County’s road engineers had wanted to seek careers as Disney Imagineers, they might have served up Banner Road as proof positive that their designs could deliver the requisite thrill.” Ok so I will read this book one day but for today’s exercise the first line does nothing to capture me here.

• Russell Andrews: Gideon – Again the first line is a part of a Prologue. “Once again he woke up screaming.” Now see, I want to know why.

• L. Christian Balling: Revelation – No prologue at least here. “John Reese sat astride his black BMW motorcycle in the midst of Baxter Academy’s pitch-dark playing fields.” Its ok it makes you wonder what he is doing out here in the dark. But it is enough for this exercise?

Going through this process the choice to me is clear. I want to know what the character in Russell Andrews novel Gideon is waking up screaming about.

So keeping all that in mind I thought does the first line of my story want to make people want to keep reading? Does it need tweaked?

The name of my book is The Oyster King and it has a Prologue too. The first line of that Prologue is:

“I was born blind and deaf to a mother who wasn’t ready to have children in the first place.”

What do you think? Would this sentence make you want to know more about the character?
Go ahead and give me the real truth! I can handle it.