We Are Our Memories

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Breezi likes to lay on the high end of the chair !

Our lives exist because we have experiences that create memories. We remember our childhood for the better, or the worse. Elementary and high schools shape our lives in ways that we forever remember.

We marry, join the military, divorce, have children of our own, learn trades and professions. These experiences are similar to those of the people who live beside us, grow with us, and join us in various activities.

But each of us has a unique story to tell because each of us handles all those things in our own way, creating different  opportunities and memories. Each of us touch different lives in gigantic ways.

From the get-go, I knew I wanted to write, yet I had no desire to live in New York City, or Los Angeles, or Chicago. I’m not a city girl. Having grown up on a small farm, I found that small town life and country living suited me perfectly.

Different experiences I may have had in joining the city life would have created memories much different from those I now harbor. Would I be, also, a completely different person?

I think I’d be the same me, but I’d have different memories.

If I’d gone to the city, my two children and five dogs wouldn’t have ever known me. And just think: those seven beings are unique to me only in a world of billions of beings.

There, also, are the little memories we each carry.

I like this story from Rose F. Kennedy’s book Times to Remember:

“… In the front seat, with the driver, was a man with a snow shovel. Every now and then, when the drifts and the churned up snow slush had us in jeopardy, he would put on his gloves, hunch his collar up, seize the shovel, and go out and extricate us. I was so amused by the situation and preoccupied with wondering whether we would actually get to our destination that I didn’t learn his name or anything else about him. Yet in my memory he remains one of the heroes of the evening.”

The occasion was a car ride through snowy roads. Rose Kennedy was traveling to Washington D.C. to see her son, John F. Kennedy, inaugurated the next day as President of the United States.

That little memory, within that of the evening’s huge eventful destination, was hers to hold forever, which she obviously did, even after the tragic loss of her son.

As writers, we never should discount the small, unique memories we each retain. They are part of great stories to tell, and, in the end, those little memories, as well as the more obvious ones, represent us as individuals.

Story Prompts Deluxe

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The Second Time Around — Dark Visions

Dark Visions

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Relationships the second time around in the world of Amazon anthologies are just as rewarding and exciting as the first time we — over 20 authors — connected with Dan Alatorre’s editing and compiling skills last year (2017) for the production of The Box Under the Bed.

Select and Read our eerie, compelling 2018 anthology, Dark Visions:

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Dark Visions hit the best-seller list at Amazon in its first week of release this October, 2018.

Here’s an excerpt from my Dark Visions contribution, the Short Story Normal Things:

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Stonebreaker asked with force, but calm: “Are you having some difficulty? Can we come aboard?” And he reached to pull the rowboat’s sideboards next to the Starfighter’s rail. At the same time, he gestured in the general direction of Lira’s Mother, who seemed immobile on the rowboat’s rear seat, then back to Thadberry, giving his partner an eye roll.

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Trouble, I thought. He’s got it. “I’ve a better idea,” I said, leveling a sharp smile at Mariano Stonebreaker. I got up, checked the time. Nearly gone. “I’ll come to you.”

The other agent, Thadberry, grabbed the rowboat’s rim while Stonebreaker clasped my wrist to help me aboard the Starfighter. As I stretched across the boats, I showed as much distracting leg as possible — one of Mother’s old tricks I usefully remembered — to buy the last minute of time.

Mother screamed…

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Got some reading time on your hands?

Get your copy of Dark Visions today…

And when you read Dark Visions, don’t turn off the lights!

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The Short Story Racing Dilemma

Short Stories and Story Art

The date on this original Short Story, Racing Dilemma, presented BELOW, is 1967. It’s creation was a result of my passionate interest in sports, particularly in Thoroughbred horse racing. The story was one of several sports stories I wrote as I was continuing my writing studies with the Famous Writers School correspondence course out of Westport, Connecticut.

The Roughcraft Artwork presented with the story didn’t come about until much later, when I had decided to create geometric type artworks to accompany my stories.

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Twice, I revised “Racing Dilemma” into a different version; first, babying a desire to not let go of these fictional characters, with a more developed POV from Ellen, and, second, as a fantasy effort that used the POV of the racehorse.

These were experiments and a challenge at the same time to rewrite and explore other story possibilities from a main theme. The fantasy version got high marks from my instructor as a submission for an assignment in my Writer’s Digest School class in “Writing and Selling Short Stories”, 2002.

It all was a simple lesson in expanding one’s writing imagination when tackling short story production.

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The Short Story FALL and Story Awards

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The Newfoundland Ebony, one of my many canine life partners

There always has been a dog in my life — a canine, I mean…

So, it seems a natural thing for my writing to include dog stories. However, I took that to a new level after my kids were grown and gone and I was single again, with a new life partner — a Newfoundland I named Ebony — to help brainstorm my ideas of a dog fantasy.

At the time I began to think in terms of creating a dog fantasy type of novelette, I was working in local factories and feeling like that saying “working like a dog”. Canines and machines slowly but steadily became entwined in my thinking and some of the result was Fall, a short story I submitted to a Writers Digest Short Story contest in 2003. The story was part of a larger work I was continuing to sort out during factory lunch hours.

Fall became my first fiction award-winner.

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The short story Fall follows:

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Fall/helberg/13

The following Monday, Goliath received his final warning. It was for “scrambling in a work area.” He was dismissed, and he left The Big Blackie in tears.

Tuesday, Harold suffered a fatal accident. He was crushed to death in the T-Bone Press, where he had nurtured so many youth.

The End

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(F+W Publications, Inc., 4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45236)

 

 

Two story awards have come my way in the last few months, thanks to a generous and encouraging author and editor named Dan Alatorre. He is an award-winning and best-selling author at Amazon.

His anthology The Box Under the Bed, produced in October of 2017, contains my short story Interlock, by his invitation.

This week, Dan informed me that my short story Normal Things was awarded 4th Place, in a tie with two other authors, in his March 2018 Word Weaver’s Writing Contest.

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The Maverick POV Pace

Throughout my writing life, I’ve been a maverick with POV, character point of view. The real problem for me on POV is the fact that I really enjoy using multiple POVs, and that can easily lead to story confusion.

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A maverick’s way to photograph a flower box?

If you consider the following two endings, used in different versions of the same story, you can understand how POV can change things. The first paragraph is the ending from an FBI agent’s third person POV, and the second ending gives the first person POV of a killer.

(FBI agent): “He thought of Julia and Trey, whom he’d had to raise singly following their mother’s fatal cancer, and was warmed by the vista of dirty dishes, scattered rock cassettes, rooms untidy with clothing in need of laundry service, and one, or two, of their teen friends draped across his favorite recliner. Normal things.”

(Killer): “My mind throbbed with those ‘normal things of the day’. The FBI twins had known my name. They hadn’t been thrown off at all. Didn’t matter. It was all done. I smiled.”

The two endings themselves convey a completely different mindset — one positive, one negative — using the prop of ‘normal things’ connected to their different POVs. The agent’s job is crime, but the heart of his life is his home. The killer is happy only to have accomplished his despicable deed.

Now, imagine the story written and completed with both POVs and both voices. And that would be the story I wrote! I understand the importance of not confusing my readers, and sometimes, certainly, I fall short on that with my enthusiasm for writing in my own maverick way, etc.

However, in multiple viewpoint stories, I normally use stars and double spacing to indicate a POV shift, and I stick with that character’s POV throughout one scene before making a switch. Even published wonders Danielle S. and Barbara Taylor B. don’t do that. Their reads include POV switches from paragraph to paragraph, even from sentence to sentence. And yet I love their stories! And that makes me think my way is less maverick-ish than theirs, and so maybe my way isn’t too bad a way, after all.

Now we come to POV with story Pace and story Point. It’s all about the “P” triplets. I understand total, non-stop pace in today’s reading world. Get in, get it, get out. But I needn’t like it, and I don’t. What I don’t understand is not taking the time to browse over a story, to absorb it, to catch its little ironies and corners of thought.

I enjoy interspersing my writing efforts with actual passages of thought. I call it thought-absorption, a tool used to let a reader catch his breath from exciting, break-neck pacing. And I believe that can be used in a short story, as well as in a novel, where, I believe, it actually is recommended. Let the reader breathe now and then between heart-stopping action scenes.

In my own book of writing enjoyment, total pace is just too breathless, and it doesn’t speak of real life, in which we slow down between splashes of action. As in life, I need relief, humor, and thoughtfulness in my reads.

Of course, suspension of disbelief and not droning on and on with scenes of less action are both essential ingredients to good writing. That’s where controlling the pace comes into play. That’s art.

Stories and books are my life-long buddies. I want to enjoy them, take them all in and remember them for the experiences they offer.

It’s difficult for me to relate to a young reader of today who never held a good, hard-back book in his own hands, nor enjoyed the ramifications of leisurely reading, who never even learned to write cursive when he attended grade school, who learned early on that his thumbs should rule his world.

Give me some truth, some beauty, a hard-back book in my hands, some artful thinking and flow. I’ll try to give the same. I want my readers to think, not just settle for periods of swift entertainment.

And at the age of 72, I don’t want my writing world rocked too much.

A maverick can adjust, can learn, but she can’t tolerate complete reversal of everything writing she’s already accepted and applied in her own way, with her own voice of reason.

My writing life continues unshaken. I love American freedom, baseball, hot dogs, and spice cake, and Charles Dickens’ sentences.

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A Christmastide Happy Ending

BAT Publishing Stories

I still like the following short story, one I wrote many years ago when my children were small, because I was able to give it a happy ending, something I have not always lived, nor sought to achieve in my writerly wonderings. Happy endings don’t always happen in real life, and many writers seem to go out of their way to point that out in their work. But there are happy endings in real life, and I, for one, think writing one now and then represents a healthy portion of society as well as the darker conclusions remind us of the world’s strife.

This short story was conceived after a military bombing occurred against American troops overseas. It’s short term focus is on one man’s struggle to accept the life-long repercussions of such an event.

Got a relationship to fix? ‘Tis the season!

Enjoy… Night Dreams, Day Dreams. It is presented here in an abridged edition as first  published at Helium.com in 2010 as a “Nightmares” assignment submission and scanned from its original typed form, with a reduced copy of a piece of my Roughcraft Artwork.

Night Dreams, Day Dreams
By Barbara Anne Helberg

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Snowflakes fell softly on their bare heads as Merrick and Thelma, arm in arm, walked on to Crescent Beach. The Atlantic wind was still. The afternoon air was pleasantly brisk and the snowflakes large and wet. Merrick reached to brush one off Thelma’s nose even as he felt several others find their way through his sparse, graying black hair and dampen his scalp

“Tell me more about your personal situation, Merrick,” Thelma said easily.

No tone of reprimand, Merrick noted with a smile. “It’s strange,” he said. “Here I am with seven children and none of them were under my roof long enough for me to get to know them.”

“What happened?”

He hadn’t searched for a real answer to his separation from his children, but now there seemed a need, with Thelma, to not only explore it, but to solve it, if the two of them were to have a future. “I don’t know if it will make any sense, but after the bomb incident, I stayed in the military too long, I guess. It swallowed everything else.”

“I know how hard it is to come to terms with things we don’t want to face, Merrick.”

A missing son, he thought.

“Do you have their numbers?”

He nodded. “I think we could find them.”

Merrick’s night passed, and his nightmare didn’t arrive. When he arose, on Christmas Day, he thought first of Thelma, then the successful conversations the evening before with three of his children, and he knew his daydreams were going to be different, too.

My Amazon Author’s Page:
https://www.amazon.com/author/bahelberg3-sp-a_17

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Flying High

It’s at Amazon books!

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Scary stuff, as in Stephen King scary, makes up our anthology edited by bestselling Amazon author Dan Alatorre. It’s available at Amazon via paperback, or Kindle edition, and as an audible book.

See my Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/author/bahelberg3-sp-a_17

 

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My first commercially published story, Interlock, appears in this volume!

Our sales hit #1 on Amazon’s list for our category!

Get your copy today!

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