Picture This by SJ

Sue profile_pp This Post by S. J. Brown

Recently I was asked to give a talk about using photographs when writing. As a wildlife photographer photographs are an intimate part of my writing. I begin with the image, then write the words. With the aid of the internet you can literally have any type of image at your fingertips. Images can be part of anyone’s process. 

All Writers strive to create an image in the minds of the reader. By using photographs your description can help the reader visualize the subject, the setting, or set the mood.

1 Scenic

By noting the bareness of the trees and the ice on the water in this image you can add to your description and not use the word cold.

Having an image in front of you helps add subtle details to round out the surroundings in your story. A butterfly can convey a peaceful scene, or a warm day.  

2 Butterfly

Viewing photos can produce a chuckle, and calm you down so you can get in the mood to write.

3 Lemur

It doesn’t matter what genre you write images can play an important part in your process.

If you are writing a memoir Family photos are important.

4 Family

If you are working on a historical piece or western having an image can help tell the reader about the personality of a character. Weather the horse is well feed or groomed says a lot about it’s owner.

5 Horse

Suppose your story might benefit from the addition of a vulture, but you have never been close to one. A photograph could give you a close up view.

6 Vulture

The most important image to any author is their book cover. Don’t just gloss over this part of your book. It is important!

Cover 3-26-23

This cover grabs peoples attention, It says look at me. The fact that it my case it is a photograph and not an illustration says something too. This is the readers first impression of your work. It has to say take me home.

Back Cover 4-24-2013

S. J. Brown’s book Close Ups & Close encounters contains over 50 images along with the stories behind getting those images.  It is available at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Her children’s picture books are available through her website at http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

All the Birds I See CoverCover

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367


propic11_1_1This Post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Bookmarks come in many different shapes and sizes.  They are used for everything from marking a place in a book where you left off reading or highlighting a passage on a Kindle that you might want to refer to later.  I am from the old school and have a craving for books in print.  I love the smell of the library when you walk in to check some out – a mixture of new paper and musty archives.  I enjoy looking at all the covers and titles.  I pick up several and read the jackets but if they don’t tease me to read them I put them back.  It’s only this summer that I realized just how much I really love books you hold in your hand.  When I was ill the Kindle seemed to give me a headache so I’d go to the library each week and check out seven or eight books and return them the next week for more.  Each visit to the librarylibrary also resulted in a handful of bookmarks making their way home with me, but still I can’t find one when I need one!

My mother made sure I respected books.  No writing or coloring in them, and no turning the end of the page over to mark where you ended off.  Mom always made me take off the dust jacket so the book would stay in good biblecondition and put it back on after we’d finished reading.  I should mention, however, that I could highlight passages in my Bible and make notes if I needed to.  To this day it really irritates me to check out a book and find the corners turned.  It just seems so sacrilegious!

I have many cute and interesting bookmarks.  My very favorite is one with a Martin guitar (just like my own) that my daughter gave me for Christmas one year.  I have several with affirmative words on them and others with funny faces and jokes.  I have crocheted crosses for my Bible and cross-stitched ones with lovely flowers and my name on them.  I pick a different bookmark for every book I read.


On my Kindle I love the feature that allows you to highlight and bookmark passages and pages for later reference.  After I got my first Kindle a few years ago that’s all I read.  Originally I pretty much relied on my Kindle and took it everywhere with me.  I still like to read on the Kindle and it’s definitely my choice when we’re traveling because I have a whole library of books with me.  But, I haven’t picked up my Kindle all summer until a couple of weeks ago when I had to review a first draft for a friend.  Instead I have beenkindle reveling in the smell, the feel, the book jacket and the touch of hardbound and paperback books.  It is exhilarating and comfortable all at the same time returning to something for which I have such passion.  The change has also renewed my creative thinking and the urge to get back to my writing.

As for the bookmarks, I hope they don’t go the way of handkerchiefs.  I have a whole tote full of antique handkerchiefs that I’ve collected over the years.  I’ve started a quilt with some of them and I love taking them out and just looking at them.  Some were my grandmother’s and others were given to me by my Stepmother, whose own mother brought them over from Germany.  I can hardly bear the thought of leaving them to languish in a drawer or get thrown away because someone has no use for them.

I can only hope bookmarks are treasured and will last.  I still make bookmarks for special gifts and I put good thoughts and prayers in them as I create.  I’m sure they’ll someday become obsolete, but I enjoy giving them and the recipients seem to like them.

What about you?  Do you use bookmarks?  Do you collect them?  Do you read hardcover or paperback books or solely on a reader?  I’d like to know!

Books by L.Leander:

Where Does a Story Start?

Aletheaby Alethea Williams

Most of us who write have had the experience of someone wanting to tell us their story so that we can write it down and make lots of money.  The two things I have trouble conveying to people who don’t write are:

1) I have enough story ideas of my own.
2) If they dream the story from beginning, to middle, to end, with a little discipline they can write their own story.

So where does your story start?

Characters: Do you see your characters first? What do they look like? What are they doing? Are they talking to you? (If you’re hearing an imaginary conversation between characters you know you made up, you’re not losing your mind. You’re a writer.)

Loving Handsome Couple Relaxing by photostock at freedigitalphotos.net
Loving Handsome Couple Relaxing by photostock at freedigitalphotos.net
Stylish Lady Standing With Trunk by sattva at freedigitalphotos.net
Stylish Lady Standing With Trunk by sattva at freedigitalphotos.net

Setting: Do you visualize a situation first? What’s happening? Where is this action taking place? Is it day or night? What’s the weather like?  Can you smell anything?

Sunrise by dan at freedigitalphotos.net

Sunrise by dan at freedigitalphotos.net

Plot: Does the story occur to you beginning to end? Or does the middle slump so you have to scramble to come up with what comes next? Do you outline? If so, do you stick to your outline or does the story insist on taking off in its own direction? (When the muse is visiting, I find the plot unrolling like a movie in my head and myself typing as fast as I can to keep up.)

My Spring Garden Notes by Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net
My Spring Garden Notes by Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net

Theme: Perhaps you have a message you want to convey through your story and build the entire story around your theme. Is there a lesson in what you have written? Do you mean for readers to take a moral to heart from your writing? (Readers have said that they were hesitant to start reading Willow Vale because it seems like a sad book. It’s actually a very hopeful book, so I am grateful so many have stuck with it and finished Francesca’s story!)

Writing is half hard work – the willingness to sit butt in chair and persist until it’s done. The other half is magic – watching the story unfold as our characters and start talking, with us writing as fast as we can to keep up!

The author of historical novel Willow Vale, available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Jargon Media, Alethea Williams blogs on Actually Alethea about writing, writers, and Wyoming history.  Follow on Twitter @actuallyalethea, or visit Alethea Williams: author on Facebook.  Comments and honest feedback always welcome!