Here you will find everything to do with writing, whether it is my writing or what I'm learning from reading books on writing.  Reading, vocabulary, and grammar are the tools of the trade. The very best people to learn from are the ones who are seasoned writers who teach writing. You would be wise to enlist them as your mentors, as I have.

Another thorn in my side is when people refer to other people as 'that'. I can't believe how many times I hear someone talking about a person or group of people as 'that'. So here is the simple rule:

"Who" refers to people.

"That" refers to things.

Examples: "The lady that put the pie in the window was enticing me to steal it."   

or - 

"There were so many people that didn't know how to ride a bike."

Ok, here it is, once and for all, the proper use of 'it's'. 

If the sentence you are writing could be read 'it is' , then it is 'it's'. If you can't read it as 'it is', then it is 'its'. 

For example:

       "It's a beautiful day today!" You can also say, "It is a beautiful day today". 

       But you would not say, "Its a beautiful day today." 

Believe it or not 'Its" is the possessive.  Example: "The airplane won't lose its way in the dark." 

If you use an apostrophe there, 'it's' you would basically be saying,  "The airplane won't lose it is way in the dark."

At one point in my past, I believe it was when I was in college, I was somehow introduced to what became my favorite book store in Cambridge, MA. Harvard Square, to be exact. And whenever I happened to be in Harvard Square, I had to visit this store. I looked forward to it with such anticipation, like a child awaiting Christmas morning or a birthday, and never tired of what became fewer rare trips to the shop.

Sometime ago I fell in love with Russian authors like Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, and  Gorky and read several of their novels. There was a deep quality to them that I had not found in American authors. Perhaps it has something to do with the hardships that they endured daily (read Gorky's three book autobiography: My Childhood, My Apprenticeship, and My Universities) living in the oppression and poverty that is found in Russia, particularly in Dostoyevsky's time in the 1800's.  Maybe this is what is needed, to feel the pain of hunger and longing for any quality of life, to get to the core of our hearts and souls and allow that ache to show in our writing. True pain, not from a toothache or a bad cold, but from too many nights going to bed cold and hungry.

Inspiration, that is what we are all looking for when we sit at our desk or computer to write a story. I remember reading somewhere that J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for the character of Harry Potter when she was on a train and a boy in a cape walked down the aisle towards her. It seems we just need a tidbit and the imagination steps in and says, "I've got this."

Personally, many of my characters have come out of my past from people I have known either through work or some other encounter. If the personality is strong enough to leave an impression on me, they just might end up in one of my stories. For a new collection of short stories that I'm writing I dug way back into my past. There was one or two incidents that stuck out for me with each of the characters and from there I developed a story. So, besides a character I need to have a little bit of information about them that in some way, whether negatively or positively, inspires me.