The Order of Words Matters


While many successful writers of the past viewed simplicity of words as the best MO to keep their readers engaged, it should be remembered that where a word appears in a sentence is also important.

Different meanings altogether can be gleaned from words differently placed in the sentence.

From “Principles of Good Writing” — Famous Writers Course I, Famous Writers School, Westport, Connecticut, 1960:

  1. — “Only the nurse told me to take this medicine.”
  2. — “The only nurse told me to take this medicine.”
  3. — “The nurse only told me to take this medicine.”
  4. — “The nurse told only me to take this medicine.”

5. — “The nurse told me only to take this medicine.”
6. — “The nurse told me to take only this medicine.”
7. — “The nurse told me to take this only medicine.”
8. — “The nurse told me to take this medicine only.

Some things about good writing don’t change over the years, even if style and expediency come into play to alter the way we communicate via written sentences.

“I never write metropolis for seven cents,” he said, “when I can get the same price for city.”

Keep it simple and make it clear remain as important to good writing as when they first were declared basics of the art.

Long, string along sentences are one of my vices, and I think it is because my mind is always thinking ahead of my pen, which scratches furiously to catch up — as does my type-write technique — but never quite makes it, leaving a simple, solid thought tangled in wordy extras that would never, by an expert, be deemed necessary!

How does your writing garden grow?

Photo courtesy of

(NOTE: I traveled through the Famous Writers School “Fiction Writing” correspondence course from 1964 through 1968.)


Oh Brother…

Pictured above is the Brother Word Processor that introduced me to modern typing technology. It was a revelation, since my first typewriter was an old Royal pound-the-keys-hard machine that wore the fingerprints off both hands. Some writers of habit never did take up word processing, and I admit to being a hard sell myself, but somewhere along the way, I saw the benefits and took up the practices of desktop publishing and self-publishing. Of course, computers were the next game changers, and I made myself learn a little about those, too!

Producing my own short stories and novelettes and other products has occupied me (through my own established BAT Publishing) for a major portion of my life. While “Seawind” — see the blog “My Writing Life Xposed” — always was my main project, other tasty tidbits cried out from somewhere inside me to be created and fixated on paper. And I always obliged my gut instincts.

Roughcraft Art came into my creative mind as a way to include artwork and drawings in my handcrafted bookie endeavors. See Roughcraft Art for more on that!

Over the years, I found much satisfaction in producing my own work, as self-publishing allowed me to choose my own markets, work at my own deadlines, and freely share information with other writers and artists, notably across the Internet.

How does your writing garden grow?

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg


POV and NORMAL THINGS Story Revision Two

A switch in POV choices can create a positive, or a negative, ending more swiftly than a  knife slice.

The following story Normal Things (Revision No. 2) ends on a positive note as far as its viewpoint character, FBI Inspector Mariano Stonebreaker, is concerned. The original story was written from the viewpoints of Stonebreaker and of the killer he was pursing. That original story (and its first revision written from the killer’s POV only) may be viewed at my:

There you also will find more thoughts on POV switch, endings, story point, and story pace, all of which also are discussed further below this scan typed copy of Normal Things (Revision No. 2). (Please have patience with the rather large gaps in the story pages here that were created by the scanning process!)


These exercises in revision all go to show what you may accomplish by working and reworking your own material before you think about publishing it yourself in lieu of seeking traditional publishing outlets.







006It would be conceivable, also, to conclude this adventure at the end of Page Four, when Stonebreaker sees Thad is safe sitting in the police cruiser. However, it cried to me to end with Stonebreaker’s “normal things” thoughts, and before that happened, I wanted to compare his work day experience with his every day experiences by having him think about his kids’ world of normal things.

POV is a powerful tool, even in today’s fast-paced reading.

Photo and Story from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Also see chapters of the hand-written, handcrafted novelette InterlockED, at my blog:

and my Amazon Author Page at:

The Short Story Interlock and the Scary Anthology The Box Under the Bed

Commercial Publication.

The first time it happens, your world changes. Your family applauds you. You think of yourself as no longer just that writer who loves to wordsmith, and even self-publish, but as an accomplished author. Now, when someone asks you that writerly question: “Do you have anything published commercially?”, your answer is a proud and humble, “Yes!”


Meeting Dan Alatorre changed my writing life, but didn’t alter my love of the pen upon paper procedure I’ve carried all through my life’s journey.

The Box Under the Bed, in fact, is a self-publishing effort on Dan’s part and his 20 authors at Amazon. This week, our anthology reached Amazon’s #1 in sales in its category! So it already is a commercial success.

See my Amazon Author Page:

My contribution to The Box Under the Bed is Interlock, a short story condensed from the longer version and the novella, or my Novel In A Nutshell (NIAN.)

And get your copy of The Box Under the Bed today!

Photo of the book cover of The Box Under the Bed from the personal copies and collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

The Long and The Short of It


At my blog Fans and Gamers, you will find chapters from my handcrafted Novel In A Nutshell “FANS”. Sometimes, a novel, novella, or novelette, will, by its very writing, give birth to a chapter that in itself can become an individual short story.

Such was the case with the following short story I titled “Plastic”, which resulted from actively separating several paragraphs in two different chapters from the rest of “FANS” to express an important part of the whole story in a profound short story all its own.

Here, from the Novel In A Nutshell “FANS” is the short story:





There are 26 mini chapters to “FANS”, but this pivotal moment in Rodd’s life became its own story within a story. Such opportunities to glean more from your long story in a short version aren’t always possible, and sometimes the opportunity pops up in front of your nose!

— Note: The two originally typed pages of “Plastic” are scanned copies for use, here, at this post entry.
Also, read more chapters from my NIAN “InterlockED” at my Fans and Gamers blog. Look for “Interlocked Chapter A”.

Photos, Artwork, and the short story “Plastic” are from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg


Cry Wolf


The following — “Cry Wolf” — is one of my short story efforts that let’s animals do the talking, a method of storytelling of which I became fond at an early stage of my writing endeavors.

(For more on that method, enjoy my blog “Horses and Animals Are Talkin”.)

***** Cry Wolf:


002The End

Photo and Story from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

(Note: Scanning of two originally typed papers was used to reproduce “Cry Wolf” for this post.)

The author’s short story Roughcraft ArtWork creations can be discovered at “Short Stories and Story Art “.

Type-Write or Maple Tree

048“The Joy of Writing and How I Learned to Change”; or: “Sittting Under A Maple Tree With the Joy of Writing in My Lap”.


At one point in my life, I was surprised to find out how many published writers of fame hadn’t transitioned from typewriters to word processors.

But when I was a girl just learning about the joys of writing, I was certain that composing a story while holding a notepad on my lap and throwing words onto it with a pencil was the only way I ever would create a written story. And I filled notebooks with hand-written stories; mostly, though, these were beginnings of stories, for my ever fertile mind kept producing more ideas on which to start a story.

I never threw out those beginnings, but saved them to boxes which still sit in my office today. One’s ideas are precious and always must be preserved.

How do you like to write? Do you prefer a maple tree, or a typewriter, or a word processor? Now, we’re not talking about “tweeting”, or “posting on Facebook”. The subject here is story-writing and how we do it.

Even after discovering the convenience of my first typewriter, it was a long transition for me to actually try to type-write. I seemed to need to use pen and paper to get a story going. I went so far as to scold myself for not seriously attempting to type-write.

That maple tree and/or story “knee” writing tablet/pad won out in my stubborn writing head.

There came the day, however, when I needed to speed up my writing efforts, and to make them neater looking for serious purposes, like submitting stories to publishers.

Transitioning, then, to type-writing became an objective, and I was joyful to find that I could achieve a decent speed — 40 words-per minute — in my initial attempts to become a real type-writer. Word processor keyboards were something I feared when they became the new technology of type-writing. I put that transition off for quite some time. Then, a friend sold me her son’s old college word processor, a cumbersome Brother brand that featured a green-tinted screen with words typed in yellow. Actually, the colors were easy on the eyes.

But more than that, the Brother had the capability to use disks on which one could save and make copies of one’s stories! I welcomed myself to the 20th Century and never looked back afterwards.

Developing a pattern involving writing that is simply perpetuated out of stubbornness, or worse — out of fear — is an unhealthy stop-gap to creativity.

Even if you are still charmed by handcrafted ways to create books, as I am, use of today’s technology can enhance your crafty ways.

And creativity? If you’re stalled with one method of creating, go to another one. You may find a whole new way to look at things.

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

See also: for more on my writing experiences;

and: for crafty ideas for creative books

Everyone Has A Story…

Life is a story

I may have said it before, but it bares repeating in its own story title: “Everyone has a story” >>> !

Where stories come from is people; people all around the globe have personal stories. Some stories are similar, some are outrageous, some are calm and serene with soft messages. They’re all the same and they’re all different.

Stories are of all makes and ideas, but one thing about stories holds true forever: that is, there are actually only a few stories in life, and they’ve all been told and retold. Author Willa Sibert Cather (1876-1947) shared that thought in her 1913 novel “O Pioneers!” when she said, “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

What did Cather mean?

She meant two things. The first idea she conveyed was that human beings have such similar existences that they do experience the same things in life through their emotional and environmental situations. We love, we live, we die. But how do each of us do those things? We each have a story.

Especially for storytellers and writers, musicians and artists, the second thing Cather relayed is the most important one. That is, that each person is unique of himself, and that single fact makes it possible for the same story to be told over and over again, from a single, different viewpoint. Although many people may “think alike” on a certain subject, each person has his own unique way of telling the same story. Thus, the “two or three human stories” move along, repeated, but enhanced and renewed, by each unique telling.

What is your story? And how will you tell it?

Image courtesy of VistaPrint and author Barbara Anne Helberg

Birth at Marblehead Lighthouse — Conclusion


The maple and evergreen woods is not deep. Woofer is gaunt and tired, but he easily follows the scent of his mate, Mother, hoping to find her well with at least one pup. He crunches across light snow laden with pine needles and dried maple leaves. He knows some of the litter of five pups have been captured by man, stolen from Mother’s abandoned nest tangled around the fence enclosing the lighthouse keeper museum building.

Darkness is falling. There are no lighted windows in the building. Woofer has decided there is no point in investigating the building’s enclosed entryway for an open door, or window, that might accommodate his entry to search inside for his missing pups. Woofer knows from experience that man has locked the building for the night.

With Mother’s scent strong in his nostrils, Woofer stops at the snowy thicket marking the middle of the woods growing between the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park grounds and the highway skirting Marblehead Peninsula. There is little daylight left, and he suddenly loses Mother’s scent. He scans the thick evergreens dimly lighted by the thin blanket of snow. He fears Mother is moving, unaware that it is he who seeks her. She must be called to, for she instinctively will be moving her offspring away, also, from what she may perceive to be danger.

Woofer knows calling out will be a dangerous choice that could alert any nearby humankind, but he must do so to identify himself to Mother if she is down wind of him. She easily could have heard his leaf-rustling footsteps and feared a predator.

Woofer calls softly: “Woooof.”

Glancing behind himself to be certain he is alone, Woofer hesitates and listens to distant humankind highway traffic and a soft swirl of wind that noisily disperses the brown leaves and needles over the patchy areas of snow around him.

He calls again: “Woooof.” There is no answer; neither are there any disturbing sounds near him. He raises his pitch to repeat his single-word call: “Woooof.”

Silently, Woofer surveys his surroundings: tall evergreens, bare maples, patches of pine needles, snowy dry leaves sliding and hopping across the surface of the woods at every breath of wind.

Then he hears it. A tiny, soft gift of sound floats toward him. He listens intently. Hope springs to his heart. Yes! There it is! “Woo-woo-woo.” A small voice and a giant remembrance floods Woofer’s head. “Woo-woo-woo.” It is his son! His first-born of a second litter — his first living son!

“Woof! Woof!” Woofer shouts joyously.

“Woofer? Is it really you? I’m here!” calls out Mother.

Woofer’s heart swells within his chest as he hears his mate’s cry. “Mother! Yes! It’s me! Where are you?”

“Here!” crys Mother, leaping from the underbrush yards off to Woofer’s right. From behind her, peeks a tiny head, then another.

Two! Woofer rejoices with a yelp. Two pups safe!

“Woo-w00-woo,” calls his wide-eyed, first-born son.



+++++Credit: Photos and Short Story from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg



Birth At Marblehead Lighthouse — Part II

Giftless, with no food found to share with his waiting family, Woofer returns weeks later to the birthing nest at the Lake Erie Marblehead Lighthouse State Park fencing that surrounds the lighthouse keeper’s museum building to find his mate — Mother — and his five pups missing. Alarmed, he twirls in panic. Not again!

Of German Shepherd and Terrier mixed descent, Woofer is instinctively driven to search for his lost family. Circling rapidly, Woofer sniffs at the empty nest and immediately picks up the scent of man. He glances in every direction, fearing interruption from unknown and dangerous sources that usually arise with the smell of a humankind. Sensing no instant disaster, Woofer cautiously returns to his intimate investigation of the flattened, tall brown grass that had served as Mother’s birthing nest beneath a dense lilac bush entangled in the fence.

He stops suddenly and pokes his nose through one of the squares of the chain-link fence, flaring his nostrils into the gusts of cold Winter wind that sweep above and past him toward the museum building. The smell of his newborns and of man flows toward the museum.

Woofer knows of the dangers of man. His hair bristles along his back as he lingers to absorb the scents. His pups have been captured, he is certain. But there is another scent to consider: that of his mate. Mother’s scent is not among those that flow beyond the fence.


Carefully pulling himself away from the fence, Woofer glances around once more, pausing to listen to the loud slapping of waves pummeling the flat and mounded rocks surrounding the base of Marblehead Lighthouse that stands only yards from the frothy surf licking its rocky base.

Woofer’s brief concentration on the waves is born of senses other than that of curiosity.

A year earlier, the same white-capped Winter surf took the lives of his first litter, washing the tiny, blind and helpless pups out into its treachery to mercilessly drown them. Six promising lives were lost while Woofer could do nothing to retrieve them from the water’s cruel work.

Ill from the whelping, Mother hadn’t moved from the side of the low rock base that extended westerly away from the lighthouse. The spot where she’d begun to give birth was unprotected. The birthing had begun suddenly, and Mother was bound to it without getting an opportunity to seek better accommodations.

The Winter storm had risen quickly that day, roaring and surging over the rock wall where the six small lives were vulnerable, and Mother was too sick to help. It was all Woofer could do to keep Mother from washing away, too.

Grabbing her by the scruff of the neck as the water raged, Woofer pulled his sick mate from the pounding surf and back-pedaled to shore. Determinedly, he plunged back into the water, calling to the pups, but it was too late. Their small rubbery bodies were no match for the surging, giant waves. Blind and silent, they were tossed and pitched and soon disappeared in the enormous swirls. Woofer gulped water himself and gasped for strength and breath.

Mother whined to him from the rock face, a plaintive squeak for help. He fought the high, slashing waves to return to her, grabbed her up once more by the ruff, and skirted the rocks, dragging her to safety by slipping and stumbling to a grassy retreat.

For days, they mourned. Mother weakly whined out across the stilled waters, as though the lost pups would answer her pitiful plea and happily bound back to her.

They searched the rocky shores for any signs of the little bodies. But their precious first litter were gone forever, destroyed and buried by the governing Mistress Power of Lake Erie.

Woofer shakes away the daytime nightmare. Encouraged by the strong scent of his mate the wind brings him, he trots toward the woods to find her. A strong, untainted scent means life. He hopes against hope for the lives of his second born litter and his beloved mate.

(Concluded in next post above…)


+++++Credit: Story and Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg