Writober Day 17: The Smell Of Death

bokeh skulls appear to rise from leaves

by Maria L. Berg 2017

I will never forget the smell when I returned to New Orleans after the hurricane. It permeated everything. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s a mix of rot, blood, excretion and this sickly-sweet horror that triggers the gag reflex until it is so stuck in your nostrils and pores that you realize it will always be a part of you–The smell of death.

This image makes me think of Little Shop of Horrors (1986) which I paired with the wooden jigsaw puzzle Artifact Puzzles – Garden of Death in the first October Pairings

Is this a killer plant? Is the plant haunted? Or is Death spending a day off tending the garden?

#vss very short story

They knew they had wandered into Death’s garden when a stray step released spores shaped like skulls, moaning on the wind.

#OctPoWriMo

And The Dragon Chose . . .

Though I do not understand the title of today’s challenge, it sounds inspiring and a bit ominous. Today’s challenge is a Dr. Seuss challenge to only use 50 unique words to write the poem. This is based on the bet that led to Green Eggs and Ham. I found an online rhyming dictionary the other day, so I think I’ll start there, choosing words that rhyme with scent and death.

Botrytis Battle

Brown spotted signs of death
And furry gray mold
Botrytis claims his garden
A battle to unfold

Death enters his garden
His step releases spores
In saprophytic appetite
A germ of many wars

Insects carry conidias
Fellow soldiers in arms
Spotted brown colluders
Carry mold that harms

Wounded cuticle weakens
The infection breaches the sheath
Shaking his head sadly
Death grips his snath and swings

Notes on today’s poem:

That was way harder than I thought it would be. The original poem was 74 words and I figured many of those would not be unique, but I was wrong. That took a ton of creative editing, but it was a great challenge.

These poem prompts paired with the #Writober images are helping me come up with some unique writing. This poem was also inspired by an article on cannagardening.com called Botrytis Cinerea: a highly infectious crop killer. Thank you to everyone for the inspiration.

#FlashFicHive

flashfichive day 17

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Our #Writober image prompts lend to writing horror, sci-fi and fantasy. What other genre could we add to the mix? Today’s image makes me think Gothic Horror like Edgar Allan Poe or H. P. Lovecraft, or we could try Noir Mystery or a Cozy Mystery (the Death’s day off story). It could end up a Comedy or Satire. What genre do you want to explore today?

Happy Reading and Writing!

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#Writober Day 16: Shiny, Shiny Lure

writober day 16

‘Drowning Salvation’ by Matt Dangler

I love the concept of this image, a creature that evolved to trap its prey by appealing to their impulse to help someone. Kind of like the Ted Bundy of water monsters. This image makes me think of Jaws. It also makes me think of the angler fish in Finding Nemo.

The monster looks like a jolly sort with a nice personality. Maybe he or she wants to tell his or her side of the story.

#vss very short story

The monster was having trouble finding food. No one was willing to help someone drowning in this lake anymore.

#OctPoWriMo

Losing Your Fears and Tears

Today’s prompt is perfect for #Writober and pairs well with the image prompt.

Pick one of your fears and have a conversation with it. I think I’ll contemplate what my sea monster fears, after exploring some of my own fears: like helping a drowning person who turns out to be only a lure for a hungry water monster.

Conditioned Fear

Why do you haunt me in the darkness
Make it impossible for me to sleep
Why do you linger at my pillow
Keeping me from rest that’s sound and deep
Why am I conditioned now to fear you
Images of life enjoyed before
The dreams that always bring me near you
Are a torture that my waking self abhors

Your over-active mind, it calls me
Wanting things to return to before
You hate the pain when you awaken
But in the silence you beg me for more
It is not me that you’re fearing
But whether your soul he will keep
And if your tired eyes that are seering
Will close and get stuck in the deep.

 

#FlashFicHive

flashfichive day 16

graphic by Anjela Curtis

If I do write today’s story from the perspective of the monster, how would I fill in the blanks? Let’s try a few:

Apathy was the main reason I left Lake Eerie. People just turned away from my lure like they didn’t see that hand begging for help.

Nessie was the main reason I left Loch Ness. That girl needed her space. She did not like to share.

Raw sewage was the main reason I left the waters of Victoria, B.C. I mean, who’s going to dive into that, even to save someone. It was gross.

How will you fill in that sentence?

Have a great day of reading and writing!

 

#Writober Day 15: The Hill Has An Eye

An altered photograph of an eyeball looking out of a hill.

Joan Fontcuberta

This image, as my title suggests, made me think of the horror classic The Hills Have Eyes. It also makes me think of the wonderful faux documentary Troll Hunter and that super creepy mind-altering underground man-eating mushroom X-files episode Field Trip (Season Six episode 21).
How would your character or characters react to coming across a giant eye in a hill, in the ground, in the forest? Or is the hill with an eye your character?

Wanna try your hand at pairing some isms with this eye? Join me over at #pessimisticmoustache.

#vss very short story

Today was different. Today, Earth’s eye had opened and she did not enjoy her view. The ground began to quake and the oceans boiled.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Fighting The Urge To Vomit

The suggested form for this provocative prompt is a storytelling poem. I think this could probably work with our visual prompt. One might feel the urge to vomit when they encounter a disembodied eye in a hill. I really enjoyed the storytelling poem The Croft and Dalton Cats. I’ll use it as inspiration for today’s poem.

The Eye

The earth quivered with a sigh, when
From the hill emerged an eye, then
It moved to stare at me and
I stood still as a tree.

It moved slowly without sound, when
I felt a signal through the ground, then
I thought I knew its voice and
It said I had a choice.

It warned me of a comet, when
I fought the urge to vomit, then
The eye became the hill and
The wind tickled wild dill.

The choice the monster gave, when
It emerged from deep its grave, then
Showed me all life’s fate and
Sunk away to mitigate.

Was to join it in its bed, when
All life on earth was shed, then
Repopulate the earth and
Eternally give birth.

Or watch as the comet comes, when
Life’s destruction total sums, then
Be no more of eternal matter and
I clearly chose the latter.

I am so glad I’m doing #OctPoWriMo. I wasn’t sure how I was going to write a poem with Fighting the Urge to Vomit, but with my #Writober image and the inspiration of Edward the Killer Carney‘s storytelling poem, I came up with something unique and fun. Thank you everyone for all the inspiration!

#FlashFicHive

flashfichive day 15

graphic by Anjela Curtis

This is a great prompt to get some words out into the world. For those of you that have been reading these #Writober posts, you know I write a #vss very short story for each of the picture prompts. I post most of them on twitter with the hashtag #vss but there are other places to post your #microstories as well.

is posting his tweet-long stories at #vss365 with a word prompt. Today’s word appears to be “signal”.

Here are some more you can try:

#microfiction        #140novel        #tinytales        #microtales        #nanotales

I hope you’ve found some inspiration for today’s writing.

We’re already half-way to Halloween. Got your costume ready?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 14: Monsters under the microscope.

writober day 14

Now here’s a real monster from The Science Library/Getty Images.

I think if you watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and compare this guy to the storm-trooper carrying at-ats you’ll see some design similarities.

This four-eyed alien-like face, belonging to the larva of a water-dwelling beetle, can be the last thing a tadpole sees before it’s snapped up and eaten.

But what if it wasn’t microscopic, or what if you were?

#vss very short story

When the giant monsters emerged from the water, they were still in larval form. The survivors didn’t know how to prepare for the change.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Movement and Words

Words In Motion

wiggly squiggly
swirling whirling
higgledy piggledy
turning churning
shaky quaky
twisting resisting
twittery jittery
toeing flowing growing

 

#FlashFicHive

Write a “dialogue only” flash story.

flashfichive day 14

graphic by Anjela Curtis

I really like today’s #FlashFicHive prompt. One of my main tricks for getting words on the page is to put my characters in dialogue. Writing an entire story in dialogue isn’t easy, but I’ve done it before, so it looks like today’s monster, based on the water-dwelling beetle larva, can talk!

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

#Writober Day 13: A Well In The Woods

A well in the woods

photo by Maria L. Berg 2017

This is one of the wells at Longmire in Mt. Rainier National Park. This well sits directly to the left of the cabin in the woods. The well definitely makes me think of The Ring a great spooky movie for those you doing RIPXII’s Peril on the Screen.

Why is this well in the woods? What’s in the well? Is it lucky or unlucky? Should your character make a wish or run like hell? I #FlashFicHive has anything to say about it (and the fact that it’s Friday the 13th) I’d keep the coin and start running.

#vss very short story

The volcanic minerals kept them young as the forest and mountain aged around them. Their pale faces appeared rarely, deep in the well, reflecting the moonlight.

I’m still looking for players for #pessimisticmoustache. Please join me on twitter.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Art in the wayward mind

Today’s prompts at OctPoWriMo.com paired with my well image made me think of “filling the well” from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition
So I grabbed my copy of The Complete Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice and found the section called Finding Water. I opened to a random page from that section and copied it. Not finding words I liked, I flipped through until I found a page with the Title The Abyss. I copied that and cut it up to play with the words from the page. Here’s what I came up with:

The Abyss - a cut out word poem using a page from The Artist's Way

Now that was fun!! The poem I cut out worked well with a page in my art book. YAY! I like that the monster looks like he’s smiling up at you from the bottom of a dark well and the colors look like the mineral stains from today’s #Writober inspiration photo. I may want to add some detail like bricks from the well, but for now I don’t want to touch it.

What’s fun about the poem fitting in this section of my art book is I made windows in other pages, so it changes multiple images. Here’s a picture of the open spread and what the monster looks like with the left page folded over:

So much fun. I love how these pages are going to evolve over time. I’m so glad that #OctPoWriMo is working with my art book.

#FlashFicHive

Post “unlucky” lines at a hashtag and quote-RT

flashfichive day 13

graphic by Anjela Curtis

As I mentioned before, @writingevents is a typo. It will take you to the twitter page of Alex and Jude in Bath, England. Mica Scott’s Free Writing Events is @writevent

Today’s hashtag games and themes are:

NEIGHBOR   LOVE/HATE   JINX   EYES

FEELINGS ABT TIME PASSING    5TH LINE ANY PG

friday writing events

micascottikole.com/events/ from @writeevent

I think #FridayKiss might be seeing some unlucky lines from yesterday’s story.

#Writober

Yesterday, I did some wandering about the internet and found some other people doing Writober in different ways.

@NestHaron’s Writober 2017

If you visit #Writober on twitter, you’ll find a graphic of word prompts by @NestHaron who is Zsolt Fazekas from Romania. His bio says he was born in Transylvania. I’m enjoying that some of the people doing #Writober are writing in French. My French is rustier than I thought.

writober2017

Xero Reynolds

Searching my wordpress reader I found Xero Reynolds. He’s writing from Colorado and is attempting the daily writing to create one story like I mentioned in my #Writober update. He shares his stories on his website.

I hope you’re have a great #Writober and finding tons of fun, spooky inspiration for your writing and reading.

#Writober Day 12: Locked Inside

writober day twelve
The human form inside the eye makes me think of Human Centipede for some reason.

Oh so creepy. What if we all live inside one huge being? What if it’s a monstrous humanoid with yellow eyes?

A writing prompt from #MagicMon on Monday further inspired today’s flash fiction by adding a Ouija board to my story.  I like #MagicMon chats because they include writing sprints and prompts.

 

Don’t forget #pessimisticmoustache. I bet there are lots of descriptive isms for that creepy eye.

#vss very short story

What she thought was a warm light at the end of the tunnel, was the concave lens at the end of her world.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Imagination stands in the road
I like the idea of  the anthropomorphism of imagination.Today’s post on OctPoWriMo.com also talks about imaginary friends.

Today’s prompt includes a poetry form called a sestina. It’s long and complicated, but I’m going to give it a try.

a poem by Maria L. Berg called Voices in Yellow

Wow. That was an adventure. I found it challenging, but I like how it fit with my visual prompt and story idea. I recommend giving the sestina a try, if you are up for a challenge.

 

#FlashFicHive

Develop a story inspired by a GIF.

I went over to #FlashFicHive this morning expecting a GIF to write about, but it looks like I get to find my own, so let’s see what inspires over at GIPHY.

I found a few that I think go well with today’s visual prompt.

I hope this inspires some fun #Writober stories.

Happy Writing and Reading!

#Writober Day 11: Shoeless into the storm

writober day eleven

To and Fro by Teun Hocks

This is such a great story image. I have so many questions. Why did this man rush out of the house in the night with only a candle. Why didn’t he put on shoes? How is that candle staying lit?

You can see more of Teun Hocks‘s work in his books.

#vss: very short story

Fred always left his shoes on the porch. He never imagined the wind stealing them, forcing him to chase them through the storm.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Motion And Transfomation

I love that today’s alternate prompt is to use poetry magnets or words from a newspaper. I have an art book, actually it’s a copy of Mary Joe Frug’s Women and the Law (University Casebook) (Univerisity Casebook) that I found at a garage sale. I’ve been wanting to use some of the pages for black-out poems. I’ll try my first one for today’s poem.
Interesting side note: Women and the Law (University Casebook) (Univerisity Casebook) was published posthumously. Mary Joe’s murder has never been solved.

Women and Work

women and work poem

#FlashFicHive

Create a storyboard of images/words for a story.

day 11 fic hive

graphic by Anjela Curtis

This should be fun. I can do a pinterest board with the image prompt, poem, mind map, very short story and other images. Since I’ve already written today’s story, I’ll choose one of the previous images I haven’t written a longer story for yet.

Hmm, I think I’ll do a storyboard for Day 7 since today’s #OctPoWriMo prompt is about dancing and my very short story from Day 7 is about dancing.

Sorry this didn’t get out earlier. I have a cold and everything took forever today. I hope you find some inspiration here.

Happy Reading and Writing!

October Pairings (#OctPairs): Halloween Candy and Books

When I was young, one of my favorite things to do on a cool, usually rainy, Fall day was grab a big bag of M&M’s(click on that and check out the weird M&M options on amazon. Coffee and nut, what?), a nice warm blanket and a good book. So for our second installment of October Pairings, I’m going to pair up Halloween candy with great Halloween-ish books.

This should be helpful for any of you still looking for books to read for #RIPXII Peril the First, Second or Third.

cover of Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard ChizmarThe first book I read for the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge was Gwendy’s Button Box Halloween chocolates from Hotel Chocolatby Stephen King and Richard Chizmar.
In the story, the button box gives Gwendy small detailed chocolate animals. I think these chocolates from Hotel Chocolat look like what the button box might spit out for Halloween. But if I were to choose a Halloween candy from my local drugstore, I would go with some special holiday M&Ms let’s see the offerings for this year:

fall mnmfall mnm2fall mnm3fall mnm5Okay, I wish I had nfall mnm4ever seen any of these. I thought I would find a nice bag of regular M&M’s with leaves, ghosts and jack-o-lanterns. These days you can go to  mymms.com and design your own. That’s looking like a good option.

The next book I’m reading for #RIPXII’s Peril of the group read.

slade house Slade House by David Mitchell is a series of stories related to the house, so I think it calls for a candy assortment. I will pair it with MARS Chocolate Fall Harvest Minis Size Candy Bars Variety Mix 45.8-Ounce Bag or this cute  HERSHEY’S Halloween Hershey's Halloween assortment bowl shaped like a pumpkinAssortment Pumpkin Bowl (50.2-Ounce)

Let’s turn to a classic ghost story, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Written in 1859, Cover of Wilkie Collin's gothic horror novelit is considered to be one of the first mystery novels and also a gothic horror. I absolutely loved reading it and enjoyed what I thought was the modern film adaptation The Lady in White by MGM (Video & DVD) when it came out in 1988. Imdb says the writer based it on an urban legend. An urban legend based on the book from the 1800’s. I say yes.
The 1997 TV movie The Woman in White included one Andrew Lincoln. That’s right! Mr. Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes himself.
After you read the book you may want to watch the movies for RIPXII’s Peril on the Screen.

I like white chocolate, so I would pair it with REESE’S White Peanut Butter Snack Size Ghostsreese's ghosts
If you’re not into white chocolate or looking for a “healthier” treat, how about Yogurt Covered Raisins ?

yogurt-covered-raisins-1-pound-bag-3

Another great candy to enjoy while reading is Lifesavers I especially enjoy Wintogreen and Butter Rum.
What books would make good pairs with those?

I think I’ll pair Butter Rum with Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. One of my very favorite books. I’m thinking the butter on popcorn one might snack on at their mutant freak-show. geek love

I would pair the Wintogreen Lifesavers with Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. This book is on my to read list. Goodreads says “Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.” Sounds like a great pairing with Wintogreen Lifesavers to me.     Snow Crash

This was really fun. I’m enjoying October Pairings. I hope you’ll join me on Twitter at #OctPairs and share your favorite October Pairings.

 

Happy Reading and Snacking!

#Writober Day 10: Voyeuristic

writober day ten

by Gregory Crewdson

There is so much story in this image. Why is Dad outside, in a crazy patio garden, looking in on his exhausted family? Is that even Dad?

This image makes me think of the dysfunctional family in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind when Dad is throwing the plants into the kitchen to make his model.

Don’t forget #pessimisticmoustache. The title of this post might give you an idea for an ism you could use in your description.

#vss: very short story

The veil between the heavenly garden and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror. They never saw him. (edited to fit 140 char. limit)

(Original) The veil between the heavenly garden of the afterlife and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror in an interrogation room. His wife and daughter never saw or heard him.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Power And Control

Today’s prompt recommends using a mind map which is fun for me because last month I created a mind map graphic (feel free to print it and use it) for Geoffrey Calhoun’s guest post Power through Act 2: Tricks and Tips for finishing your story. 

I printed out my graphic and used the starting words from OctPoWriMo.com. I set my timer for 10 minutes. Here’s how my brainstorming session turned out:

A mind map around the word "power"

Maria L. Berg’s Mind Map of Power

Ha Ha! I can barely read my own handwriting. I liked using my Mind Map graphic. It’s fun how the mind goes in unexpected directions. I think I’ll print a bunch more of those and do them for the #Writober flash fiction stories, and random words, and . . . I’m going to need more printer ink.

I thought the #Writober image and #OctPoWriMo prompt paired well today. Here’s my poem:

The Voyeur

He held her

Controlling her with his eyes

He saw everything she did

Power soared with his every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

She would recognize

The violation

His eyes held her

Pronouns – power and gender rolls

This theme and my poem made me think about the problems with power and gender-inequality, so I decided to change the pronouns in my poem.

Voyeur

She held him

Controlling him with her eyes

She saw everything he did

Power soared with her every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

He would recognize

The violation

Her eyes held him

Contrast and Compare

What do you think? Does the meaning change? Or is equal representation, equally creepy?

#FlashFicHive

Where do you post your flash stories?

I have been posting my #Writober microstories on twitter at #vss. I hope you’ll join me.

flash fic day 10

graphic by Anjela Curtis

This last spring I wrote about the great online magazines I found a good fit with in #LitMag+ and LitMag+ the sequel. They even published some of last year’s flash from #Writober. I’m always looking for more flash fiction magazines. Which ones are your favorites? Please leave links in the comments.

I am finding these prompts very inspiring and I hope you have too. It’s never too late to join in all the fun #Writober challenges.

Any words on the page are words that weren’t there before.

Happy Writing and Reading!

 

 

#Writober Day 9: Mastering Destruction

writober day ning

by Gregory Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson’s photographs are set up like movie scenes and meant to tell a story. If you would like to learn more about his work and techniques, there’s a great documentary Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters. What story do you see in this scene?

Don’t forget #pessimisticmoustache! What isms would you use to describe the room and/or the man in it?

#vss: very short story

Frank was running out of time and floorboards. He wished he hadn’t put their prenup “somewhere very safe.”

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Tapping The Ash Of Her Cigarette – This theme could go well with today’s photograph. She may have walked in on this destruction and lit a cigarette while contemplating what happened. Tapping the ash of her cigarette may cause an explosion, or the smell of tobacco may break him out of his trance and start a conversation.

For the poetry form today, the suggestion was palindrome. And though the explanation of the form at Shadow Poetry gave some nice examples, I came at it a little differently. I found a list of palindromic words and phrases and chose my favorites. Then I printed them, cut them out and arranged them. If it’s not the masterpiece I aimed for I blame–tons o’ snot–Here’s what I came up with:

Nostalgia

Looking back or back looking: a poem in palindromes

Bob
Borrow or rob
Liam’s mail

Dee saw a seed
Drawn onward
Dennis sinned

He did, eh?
Won’t lovers revolt now?

Evil Olive
Live not on evil
Evil did I dwell, lewd I did live

Hannah
Lived on decaf; faced no devil
Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!

Was it a rat I saw?
Won’t I panic in a pit now?

Dumb mud
Doom mood
Too far, Edna, we wander afoot

Dr. Awkward
Maps DNA and spam
Mad as Adam

Was it a car or a cat I saw?
Revered now, I live on. O did I do no evil, I wonder, ever?

Name not one man
Never odd or even
Todd erases a red dot

We sew
We few
No, tie it on

Naomi, did I moan?
I did, did I?

Sh…Tom sees moths
Nemo’s omen
No, it is opposition

Desserts I desire not, so long no lost one rise distressed
Drawn, I sit; serene rest is inward
In words, alas, drown I
Now I won.

 

#FlashFicHive

Finish the sentence with a story.

flash dic day 9

graphic by Anjela Curtis

After Marjorie left, Frank had a problem with handling her final words, “home wrecker!” They echoed in his mind and became an obsession, a mission, a quest. He got to work.

#JustCreateChallenge

April Taylor has posted the prompts for the week. This week is all about character building. The three words I would choose for today’s character are:

  1. bully, cruel, messy OR
  2. bland, coiled, meek

I hope you’re now motivated for a great week of creating!

Happy Reading and Writing!