Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


Living Deliberately

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…” Excerpt from Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Yes, I went to live deliberately for two and a half days, and I didn’t even have to screw over an Irishman in order to do it. (if you don’t know what that means, take a closer look at Walden…)

short stories, new writer, outdoors

Raglan’s Roost!

I wish I could live out in the woods deliberately, as Thoreau so beautifully stated. I came close this week when I had the opportunity to spend time at a cute cabin, complete with a name carved on the outside, “Raglan’s Roost,” with friends. The two nights spent there were great. I felt full of energy, even with the two pounds of bacon (and who knows how many pounds of cheese…) consumed by only four people. I felt inspired the entire time. What is it about watching the bird and squirrels eat peanuts from the comfort of a rocking chair? The air smelled sweet and fresh. The sunlight woke us up.

short stories, new writer, trees

The View!!!

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.” Walden, too…

I really did feel this way. Cheerful… like Mother Nature was inviting me to have a great day with her. I like living simply. I tried not to use my phone, which was easy because we had no service. I didn’t have my Kindle, but a real book of short stories. I wrote… on PAPER!! Let me tell you, I have a love/hate relationship with that. It’s nice to get an entire paragraph out quickly by typing fast. It takes time to write and the thoughts need to come out more deliberately. I think twice before each sentence. It was a good thing to get back to, if even for only two days. I rarely think to write with a pen and paper at home. It struck me how this all of a sudden made sense. Why not write on a real sheet of paper? I’m up in the mountains, after all. It simply felt right.

This is where I did that writing!

short stories, new writer, cabin

Coffee on the Porch :)

I drank way toooo much coffee.

short stories, new writer, coffee


We took two hikes total and walked along a river bed!

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Lou and Lou standing by river drop off

I wound up with two small scratches on my left ankle. NOT BAD!!! Greg and I were both worried I’d come out with way worse.

About to Hike….

The uphill hike… WORTH IT!

Beautiful. Simply stunning.

Did I ever mention that I love cows? I do. Happy cows make my day. Unhappy cows make me cry.

When we were out by the cabin we heard a loud “mooooo!” and little did we know, the cows were just down the hill from where we were. The dog we were with chased after them and so we hiked down the small distance and saw not one, not two… but a FAMILY of cows!!!! They’re honestly a little bit intimidating. I knew they wouldn’t charge. But I still ran away from them.

Some Cows….

The whole family! This is where I got nervous. They came much closer!!!

At the end of the day we played games. Thanks to Misty and Mackenzie (who invited us to the cabin in the first place) we now have a fun game called Chicken Foot under our belt. Get some dominos and have a ball! Call us for a fun night playing this! We’ll teach you how!!

Chicken Foot

And we played some scrabble…. Which I have never won in my life. I did score a 22, though. My highest scoring word yet. We were using a dictionary from the 80’s that didn’t yet have the word “Qi” in it, so my real glory moment was dashed to smithereens. It’s okay. I got over it.

What I had to work with…

The big question is this: Does being out in the wilderness really make a big difference creatively? I think in some ways, yes. I had peace and quiet, along with plenty of time to sit and ponder life. Being there made me want to be healthy so that I could keep up with what nature had in store for us. It’s not easy to climb a mountain or keep your balance in a river. It’s so fun to do it, though! When I sat down to write I wanted to look at the birds instead of my paper, truth be told. Nature is quite distracting, but in a great way. Sometimes it’s good to be distracted. We need to let our minds clear out of work and stress. I had to focus on the pine scent that came with the breeze and the sound of a raven in the distance, which was a great break from the constant rambling in my head. “Have I written enough today? Will that agent send me something other than a rejection letter? Should I self-publish? I’m hungry.” It calmed my nerves to simply settle down and notice the simple things in life, like a huge ground squirrel being chased by a tiny squirrel half its size. I find that I live more “deliberately” when I have something to do. I think of my ideas when I’m at work!

I’d like to know if people feel their best, creatively, or otherwise, when they venture out into nature. OR is it your comfort zone, like being at home, that makes you produce your best work? Does it depend on what the goal is? Does in depend on the day? Week? Year?

Let me know! :)



Misty and Mackenzie and of course… Jenson!



Too Real For Fiction

I Can’t Make this Stuff Up…

    When Real Life Dialogue is More Cliché than Fiction…

Okay, picture me sitting at a Wildewood show at Scalo on Central and I’m all alone. I’m waiting for my older sister and her husband to show up and keep me company while we watch the band perform. I arrived early and had to wait almost thirty minutes. As I’m sitting there, twiddling my thumbs, pretending to read, and sipping on my water, I listen to people talk.

I eavesdrop.

I cannot help it.

I’m listening to these girls at the table that is so close beside me, I could reach out and accidentally grab their glass, like Jason (Topher Grace) in Valentine’s Day.

I listen to them talk. I listen to this girl’s ramblings about this guy who doesn’t treat her right, this other guy she can’t stand, and another guy who won’t call her back. Her best friend can’t get a word in and I doubt she ever does. It’s one of those friendships. I have time to kill so I keep listening, my eyes cast down on the pages of the book I’m not reading (wondering in the back of my mind if anyone has noticed that I’m not turning any pages… but I’m not about to lose my place just to keep up a facade). I don’t really mind what I’m hearing. It’s all her own story, all something that I couldn’t necessarily come up with on my own. Then she says it. And I’m not quite sure if I love her for it or hate her for it. Here is what I cannot stop thinking about. And I’m going to attempt to write this out as if it’s a clip out of a novel. I’m going to write it like it’s fiction. The dialogue is REAL LIFE, people!


Nina took another sip of wine, rolling her eyes again, because what she was about to tell her best friend was what she had been contemplating all day long. She thought long and hard about how to describe her life at that moment. What would fully capture the heartache and confusion she was experiencing? Well, Nina had finally figured it out.

“Ohmygod, Jen. It’s like, I’m one of those little tiny brown things that Ursula has trapped under the ocean with her. I’m just stuck there, withering away and unable to get out.”

Then Nina told her friend something even more personal. Even more emotionally heart wrenching, in her own opinion. Her eyes teared up before she spoke. Jen leaned forward with eyes wide and her mouth slightly open. Nina’s hand landed on her chest as she took a deep breath and said, “Only, am I Ursula? Am I holding myself back? WHO IS URSULA?”

Jen, the poor best friend who had spent the last five years listening to Nina’s inner monologue, gasped, and shook her head.


Yes. Scenes from The Little Mermaid are creeping back into your head. They crept back into mine, too. And although I get it, the analogy that we are our own “Ursulas” and are keeping ourselves trapped in a dark place, I had a hard time not laughing out loud. I agree with “Nina” to some extent, even. What I can’t get past is the fact that if I were to actually write that into a short story or novel, I have a very strong reason to believe that the people closest to me in this world would probably laugh and advise me to “make my dialogue a little bit more realistic… a little less dramatic.”

Wouldn’t you???

Writers spend quite a bit of time trying to come up with “the perfect dialogue,” as if there were such a thing. Honestly. I think writing dialogue is fun. Yes, I re-write, edit, and try to re-work anything I do. But at the end of the day, if I can see the words spoken in the little scene playing in my head, I’ll most likely go ahead and write it. Greg has called me out on dialogue he didn’t like, and then a friend who read the same thing said that part felt real to them. And vice versa!

This whole phenomenon lead me to another thought: WE SAY A LOT OF CLICHE THINGS!!! We do! As humans, our language is filled with common phrases and words. It’s normal, I think. It’s not a bad thing. But next time you read something and it’s the dialogue that seems off, ask yourself… is it really?

So I suppose writers need to stick to their guns a little bit. Unless a super-duper ninja agent is telling you to change something, stick to your gut! (I’m a big proponent of going with first instincts…)

I always do.

Have you heard (or caught yourself saying) any ridiculous, but real, dialogue lately?


Bringing Characters to Life: Habits, Quirks & Key Phrases

I absolutely adored the way Oskar Schnell, in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, said “Anyway” every time he felt uncomfortable or uncertain. I loved it so much I started saying it all the time.

My husband, Greg, would say, “Lou, you can’t just leave your underwear on the bathroom floor as if you disappeared into thin air.” (The fact that he calls me Lou is another story – you can read about it here.)

I would say, “Anyway.” And then possibly walk down the hallway, picking up the underwear later. Or if I spaced out and went on a tangent about whatever happened that day, I’d eventually realize what I was doing and say, “Anyway,” before changing the subject and coming back to Earth.

I loved this habit of Oskar’s. This catch phrase of his, if you will.

And there are moments when you realize that someone you’re reading about or writing about has something they often do. Perhaps it is why we can relate to what we read. Maybe it’s why we wish we were more like a certain character, or even relieved that we are nothing like them. Reading can be so personal and it’s often because of a character quirk. Is it a nervous habit? A word he or she often says? A way they glare or roll their eyes when spoken to? (think teenage years)

Think of quirks we have as humans. And don’t even think about saying that some people are quirk-less. That is impossible.

I have too many quirks to count. Call it OCD, call it spazzy, call it whatever you want, but I have plenty. (Ask Greg, he could tell you all of them!) Here are a FEW:

-I hate it when anything goes counter-close wise. I’m all about the clockwise.

-I don’t step on cracks with my left foot.

-I never, under ANY circumstance, open my eyes after turning out the light for bed. It’s way too scary. I know… I’m a wimp. (I made the huge mistake of watching Darkness Falls in high school. Now you know I’m even more of a wimp than you thought just seconds ago.)

In each manuscript I’ve written the main character always has some very interesting qualities. Some are subtle. Some are obvious. I wrote a girl named Virginia who can’t keep her hands still and runs five miles a day just to remain calm (Don’t you wish that was YOUR habit? Me, too…) I wrote a futuristic guy named Mason who never gets worked up about anything (believe me, this is a quirk) and a “tough” guy named Dane who is moody and keeps secrets… even ones that might not be necessary. Then there’s Ezra with the ultra potty mouth (F**K!) and cigarette addiction he claims is something he can control (F**K again). The list goes on, but someday you’ll just have to read all my stories in order to meet EVERYONE.

What is your quirk? Comment and tell me about it!! Be warned, however, that it may spark an idea for me to write a character with that same habit ;) I will change the name ;) ;)


After reading take time to listen to the songs that inspired this story. #8 and #9, especially!!