Apr
30

Last Words

Earlier in the month, someone asked if I experience self-doubt as a writer. The short answer is “Yes.” The long answer is “Frequently.” Usually, self-doubt is something I do to myself. But there are times I have a bit of help. We’re pretty polite in Midwest America. Criticism rarely takes the form of, “Lovely day, […]

30 Comments

Apr
26

Watermark

No matter the story, my lead character always goes by the same name. Setting. Setting is the sun. It’s the star that draws plot and character and conflict into orbit around it. As a writer, my job is to hang that star in the sky. Sometimes I peg it in the first draft. Sometimes not. […]

14 Comments

Apr
25

Voices from the Past

Journal Entry–August 9, 1856 She is my sixth runaway in as many weeks. I tell myself she is unlike the rest. She is the first to look so tired, so young, and so great with child. In days past I have offered food and water and shelter here, and left them in the hands of […]

12 Comments

Apr

24

U-turns

I’d thought to tell you about the Underground Railroad today. It was a network of men and women who smuggled slaves north to freedom in the years before the American Civil War. I’ve a lovely photo of a friend making a rubbing of Civil War prison ruins by lamplight that I’d prepped to illustrate. My […]

34 Comments

Apr
22

Time Lines

Stave I: Wherein I Unwrap a Christmas Gift Most people would tell you this image came from an issue of Scientific American magazine dated a century ago. They’d be wrong. Had you asked me a couple years back, I’d have told you it was a gift from a friend I never met. I’d have been […]

13 Comments

Apr
22

Snowshoes

Snowfall last night. What comes next is up to you. Do you shovel it? Curse it? Shuffle through and get on with your day? Or do you leave footprints? From afar, familiar landscapes bend into new and fantastic shapes. Things dull and broken yesterday are now crisp, fresh, whole. Step closer. Search for tracks, whorls, […]

15 Comments

Apr
19

Quarter ’til midnight

Quarter ’til midnight by my watch, Christmas Eve on the Square seven years ago.   Town nestled but my eyes open, No fear of forfeit now my gift drifts soft and low.   Bottle midnight light and press the blessing, the first few minutes of Christmas born in snow.   Just a still and silent […]

7 Comments

Apr
19

Printing Press:
Epitaph in Iron

There’s a newspaper office overlooking a river near my home. In the lobby of the paper stands a memorial. At the heart of the memorial are the metal remains of a printing press that on November 7, 1837, cost a man his life. In my eyes, Elijah Parish Lovejoy didn’t die defending a press. He […]

9 Comments

Apr
18

One riddle, one writer, one answer

“How many books does the world need?” It was a good question–a valid question–that I couldn’t answer. A few days earlier, I’d left the first chapters of my manuscript with a friend. He handed them back with comments, asked a few questions, and listened to me prattle on about agent queries, e-books and target marketing. […]

13 Comments

Apr
16

Night at the Museum

Early in the alphabet, we looked at lodge initiation devices in the DeMoulin Museum. Prior to the museum’s opening in March 2010, curator John Goldsmith asked me to write a brief script for the entrance. Our objective was to set the scene and establish the mindset of a fraternal lodge initiate as he climbs darkened […]

9 Comments

Apr
15

Maine Event

This is a story about photographing Portland Head Light, and being locked on the grounds of Fort Williams Park at Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and maybe waiting out a gathering storm in a rental car while the dregs of a hurricane rake the coast. Except it isn’t about that at all, really. It’s about instinct. And […]

10 Comments

Apr
14

Your Library:
A Tale Not Told in Books

Looking back, I suppose it was the shelves and spines and bindings that did it. It’s clear to me now, but as a child, I harbored the world’s most wrongheaded notion about libraries. I thought they were built for books. It took a librarian to teach me otherwise. The autumn of my eighth grade year, […]

10 Comments

Apr
13

Keystone & K1000

Photography isn’t about the thing being pictured. It isn’t about craft or composition. It isn’t about cameras or lenses or film. Nor is it about light—chasing it and catching it—though others will tell you different. Photography is about learning to look, and learning to see. I’m showing you the Keystone 27G because the body and […]

12 Comments

Apr
11

Ill-gotten images

The museum curator was chatting up a patron when I dropped by. I’d expected as much. Banked on it, actually. They in one corner, me in another, just eyeing an old band instrument, casual as you please. The display case came apart easily enough, and then I was down the alley and behind the building, […]

11 Comments

Apr
09

Here & Hereafter: Written in Stone

To finish out this week’s A to Z blog challenge, I’ve written a three-piece post about first drafts. Each bit reads fine as a standalone, but I think they offer more as a family. Part I, First & Final, finished with my striking the first scene of my first draft. Part II finds a Gideon […]

9 Comments

Apr
08

Gideon in the Graveyard:
In the beginning was the end

To finish out the week, I’ve written a three-piece post about first drafts. Each post reads dandy as a standalone, but I suspect they offer more as a family. Part I, First & Final, ended with my striking scene one of my first draft. Today’s g entry is Part II. *** Gideon’s Inn is a […]

6 Comments