Friday, November 30th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Toys in the Attic

Rocking Horse Cartoon Clip ArtToys.

It’s that time of the year, right?

(But I drafted this prompt back in April, when I contemplated the purchase of a new toy…so that time of year? Not working here.)

I never did buy that toy: not enough bang for the buck. And the new version isn’t scheduled to ship until at least January. No toys under my Christmas Tree this year.

How about yours?

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a scene from a play or novel where a toy plays an integral role. It could cause an argument between characters, be bestowed as a gift, be stolen. Anything, so long as it’s crucial to the plot.
  • Write a free-verse poem about a toy. Or, write a poem where the first word of each line starts with one letter in the name of your favorite toy. (So, if your fav toy is the xylophone, the first line of your poem starts with a word starting with X, the next line starts with a word starting with Y, etc.).
  • The little toy dog is covered with dust,
    But sturdy and stanch he stands;
    And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
    And his musket moulds in his hands.
    Time was when the little toy dog was new,
    And the soldier was passing fair;
    And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
    Kissed them and put them there.
    ~ Little Boy Blue, by Eugene Field
  • Design a toy you’d like to own. (This toy can be mechanical, electronic or old fashioned wood and springs. It’s your toy, you design it!)
  • Write an essay about your favorite childhood toy. Or, write an essay about your favorite current toy (your car, your laptop, your iPod…all these qualify).
  • Leaving the things that are real behind
    Leaving the things that you love from mind
    All of the things that you learned from fears
    Nothing is left for the years
    ~ Aerosmith, Toys in the Attic

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Hellebore and Rue Now Available Electronically

Cover of the Book Hellebore and RueIf you’ve been holding off reading Hellebore and Rue because it’s not available electronically, now’s your chance.

My story, “Sky Lit Bargains” — a tale of woman foot soldier in Brittany who goes off to battle a wyvern — is included in the volume.

From the back cover copy:

“The essence of fantasy is magic and the folklore of women has often dwelt on the innumerable powers they possess. Magic that heals, magic that destroys, magic that saves their community.

It was a winner of a Best Lesbian Science Fiction Award at the Rainbow Book Awards and is on the ALA’s Over the Rainbow list of recommended titles for 2011.

You can find it at at AllRomanceebooks, Amazon, Wizard’s Tower and other outlets where Lethe Press titles are sold. It’s still available in print as well.

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Writing Prompt – Black Friday

Did you get up at 4 a.m. for all the door busters?

I didn’t. I’m not a Black Friday shopper. (Actually, I’m not a shopper at all. You won’t catch me in a Mall or Discount Store unless I absolutely have to be there. I can’t remember the last time I was at the Mall…)

Here are some of the 2012 Newspaper and Internet News headlines for Black Friday:

‘Gang fight’ at Black Friday sale…

Man Punched in Face Pulls Gun On Line-Cutting Shopper…

Shots fired outside WALMART…

Shoppers smash through door at URBAN OUTFITTERS…

Customers run over in parking lot…

Woman busted after throwing merchandise…

Thousands storm VICTORIA’S SECRET…

VIDEO: Insane battle over phones…

Shoplifter tries to mace security guards…

Men Steal Boy’s Shopping Bag Outside BED, BATH & BEYOND…

For me, these are the most compelling reasons for not shopping on Black Friday.

Anyone reconsidering for next year?

Here’s Your Prompt

  • Write about a character who gets hurt while shopping on Black Friday. Or, write about a character who was standing next to someone who got seriously hurt (or killed!) on Black Friday. (Does this character’s feelings about shopping change? What about life in general?)
  • Write the scene of Black Friday Mayhem™ from a bystander’s point of view.
  • If you journal, write about some of your Black Friday experiences. If you don’t shop on Black Friday, write about some other memorable shopping event.

If Black Friday isn’t your cup of tea either…

  • Write a character sketch or short poem about something associated with the color black:   witches, funeral processions, black ice on the highway, black and white keys on the piano, the Black Death (Bubonic plague), black licorice, black squares on a checkerboard, etc.
  • Write about “black thoughts:” being depressed or depression in general.
  • Write about bad luck: being under a black cloud.

Good Luck!

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Photo - 1941 - from the ARS Image Gallery

Wishing everyone a wonderful day today!

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Playing with Fire

Photo of a single burning flame.We recently purchased a new wood stove at the House of Awesome™.

It’s a classy cast-iron affair with a glass window to look through while the fire burns and a fan on the back if we want to heat the place up like a sauna.

Needless to say, we’ve been playing with fire for the last week or so. Lots of fun.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Free write about the following, “My mother always told me to play with fire…” (Nope, not a typo there. We’re turning this old chestnut on its head.)
  • What would the world be like if Prometheus had never stolen fire from the Gods? What would your world be like?
  • “Out of the fire, Came a man sunken, To less than cinders, A tea-cup of ashes or so…” – Pool, by Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems.
  • As part of a character sketch for your latest short story or novel: Your protagonist’s house is on fire. What are the one or two items he grabs on the way out the door? What important item does he leave behind without a glance? Why? Same for your antagonist: what is she certain to take? What does she leave behind. What’s her rationale?
  • “Fire obtained by friction. It has been supposed to defeat sorcery, and cure diseases assigned to witchcraft.” – Needfire, by E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
  • The word fire turns up in several English-language idioms. Try one or more of these phrases fir a story or poetry starter:
    • trial by fire, or, baptism by fire
    • come under fire, draw fire, or on fire
    • add fuel to the fire, or, fueling the flames
    • fire in the belly, or, a fire in the loins
    • fire blanks, fire away, or fire a shot across the bow
    • fire is a good servant, but a bad master
    • fire up, hang fire, or light a fire under something
    • no smoke without fire

    (For more such idioms, check out the Free Online Dictionary.

Good luck!

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Thank You, Veterans…Thank You Current Service Men and Women

Re-posted from a few years ago on my blog. Still, a heart-felt thanks to all men and women, past and present, who have served in the U.S. Military.

Walter J. Rakowski

Your hard work, service, and dedication are neither forgotten, nor overlooked.

My family has a strong history of military service: grandfathers on both my mother’s and father’s side of the family and more uncles than I can count have served. Some have given their lives in service, some have dedicated their lives to serving.

Pictured is my great-uncle, Walter J. Rakowski. He held the rank of Staff Sergeant and served as an Ordnance Officer (ammunition) up until the time he died in service. He served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

I often wonder, not just on days of remembrance, what life would have been like had they not made the choice to enlist. I know it wouldn’t be as good as it is.

To all U.S. Military personnel: Thank You.


From the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Web site, History of Veteran’s Day:

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

Military Tombstone: SSG Walter J. Rakowski
Rest In Peace, Uncle Walter.
Rest In Peace all who have served our country and are no longer with us.
Friday, November 9th, 2012

Writing Prompt – When the Wall Came Down

Photo of the Berlin Wall Being Built in 1961On November 9, 1989 the Berlin wall came down – figuratively. Officials opened it and allowed citizens to travel from East Berlin to West Berlin.

It wasn’t until a day later when citizens rushed to the wall and started breaking it down and chipping off pieces for souvenirs. In the weeks that followed — though the walls were still guarded in many places — it finally toppled.

During its existence, officials did permit some travel from East to West — with the necessary permits — and usually to anyone but those trapped behind the wall. Some families were cut off from contact for decades. East Germans who worked in West Germany immediately lost the jobs they could no longer travel to. The erected wall cut railway stations in half, closing stations and orphaning lines. Economic outcome grew dim.

Here’s Your Prompt

  1. Imagine your local government erects a wall in the middle of your home town, separating you from friends, family and employment. What happens? Write a journal entry, poem or essay about the event.
  2. As above, only interview friends and family for their reaction. Write a fictitious news story detailing the event.
  3. The same scenario as the first item, only the event happens to a character in one of your short stories or novels. Write the scene for your main character when all these liberties have been taken away. Or, write the scene for the villain who made the decision to build the wall.
  4. Walls are often used as metaphors for something else. What walls are you surrounded by? What wall is your character surrounded by? Write about these walls.
  5. Along the same line, why do people build walls around themselves? What can this lead to? Imagine how a the main character in your book has built a wall around himself. How can this back story cause conflict in the story you’re writing? Write a scene where the character acknowledges those walls. Does she tear them down, or keep them up? How does this move your story? Write it.
  6. Write a poem about a metaphoric wall.

Good Luck!

Photo Credit: The National Archives

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Writing Prompt – 3 Random Words

I finished a novel Tuesday night (yes, during Hurricane Sandy, in the dark, by candlelight)!

I’m in a funny place because I don’t have anything else I’m working on. Usually, I’ve got two or three projects working at one time, but for once, I don’t.

I have a bunch of story ideas, but they’re big projects, and I want to write a few short stories right now.

What do I do when I just want the juices to flow and I haven’t given it any major thought?

I choose three random words and see what falls out of my brain.

Here’s Your Prompt

Find three random words, write them at the top of your page, and recite them over and over in your head for a few moments. Once an idea forms, free-write for 10 or fifteen minutes. Don’t worry about plot, structure or character. If you’re a poet, don’t worry about choosing the right words: just let the ideas flow. If you journal, don’t worry about the details, just the broad strokes.

You can worry about editing, plotting and details when you sit down to edit. This is just about finding some ideas.

Can’t find three random words?

  • Take the first word printed on three even-numbered pages of a magazine or newspaper.
  • Got some junk mail? Choose the first, last and middle words of a sales flyer.
  • Use a tried and true method: randomly open a dictionary and drop a finger down on three separate pages.

Still can’t come up with words?

Here are some lists of three:

  • shoes, pink, television
  • church, merit, knife
  • pub, baboon, strip
  • squeaky, holly, brush
  • orange, wink, mountain
  • mustang, flirt, buy
  • cardboard, fresh, Phoenix
  • impulse, daily, bear
  • key, object, room
  • worry, open, ate

Want an online generator? Try this random word generator at Creativity Games.Net. It will generate up to eight random words.

Good luck!