#Writober Day 31: Happy Halloween!

Tentacles crop on side

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Finding peace. There were a couple of new-to-me forms this OctPoWriMo that I really enjoyed. On this final day and with the theme Finding Peace, I decided to revisit the Clarity Pyramid.

PEACE
at rest
no conflict

uncomplicated
not searching anymore
no need or want while writing

“Stay in the moment and find joy.”

PEACE
no pain
quiet breath

no expectations
left alone to my thoughts
Creating new images

“I imagine a playful world.”

PEACE
cool breeze
bright morning

accepting each bump
physical reaction
is but chemical exchange

“I try to be true to myself.”

As a Halloween treat, here are a couple of my favorite Halloween themed poems I’ve written during past OctPoWriMos:

T.M.I.
The Horned Flying Monkey In The Room

#Writober4

It’s our last day! Did you write a bunch of short, scary stories? I hope so. If not, you have a ton of prompts for when you do want to sit down and write a creepy story. And you still have today to catch up. What could be better than writing some creepy flash while waiting for trick-or-treaters?

As a treat, here’s my creepy contest-winning flash story The Wilson’s Old Place.

The image for Day 31 on the Pinterest board shows a lit jack-o-lantern in a glowing forest.

My take: Though at first this looks like a serene autumn scene, at closer look it is quite sinister. How did this jack-o-lantern get deep in the forest? Who lit it? What is that ominous orange glow in the distance? And why are we here, deep in a dark forest, stumbling upon a lit jack-o-lantern?

Micro-fiction: When I couldn’t run anymore, my breaths burning, my heart pounding so my head would burst, I found myself deep in the forest. I listened and only heard the small brook gurgling. I had escaped. But then I saw the lit jack-lantern and knew that there was no escape.

Writing Process and Tools

I have enjoyed that during the course of the month, through writing these stories, I’ve discovered some new tools to incorporate into my approach to drafting flash.

Emotion: excitement

Creepy verbs: slink, lurk, prowl, skitter, skulk, slither, undulate

Story Cubes Symbols: castle, clock (1:45), apple, cane, magic wand, drama masks, die, magnet, tepee

Woodland creature: cicada

Collective noun: a drunkenship of cobblers, a load of cobblers

Horror trope: Psychokinesis

Oblique Strategies: Decorate, decorate

All of these prompts and exercises are to inspire better writing and I feel like flash is a great way to sharpen our skills. There are many literary magazines that are looking for experimental writing. Flash fiction is a great place to dance along the line between prose poetry and prose, to discover new plot forms and inventive story techniques. Now that you have so many story ideas to explore, play with how you want to tell that story to readers.

If you are interested in submitting your stories to literary magazines, get your free November Daily Planner. Each day features one literary magazine to help you explore and find the best fit for your work.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 30: Who am I?

last year's costume.jpg

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Who am I?

An artist in creation

creator of tales
alchemist of thoughts and words
vivid life afire

#Writober4

The image for Day 30 on the Pinterest board is a painting I did on my friends’ house. It shows three creepy little boys. The theme of their party was strange brood.

My take: These triplets are definitely up to no goods. Are they demon babies? Were they born evil or were they possessed or cursed after birth?

Micro-fiction: At first she thought one of them had fallen and skinned his knee, but when she got close to see if she could help she saw it had been a trap to lure her in.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: amazement

Creepy verbs: distress, harass, pain, strain, stress, trouble, grieve

Story Cubes Symbols: light bulb, building, fountain, crescent moon, volcano, postcard, fish, scarab, cane

Woodland creature: bat -cauldron of bats, a cloud of bats, a colony of bats, a hanger of bats

Collective noun: a bank of circuits

Horror trope: cockroaches

Oblique Strategies: disconnect from desire

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

Planning for #NaNoWriMo? Here’s a FREE Daily Planner for November!

NaNoWriMo 2019

November is almost here and for a lot of the writing community that means it’s time for National Novel Writing Month. Since I’ve been trying to focus on revisions and actually finishing a novel, I told myself I wasn’t going to do it this year unless an exciting story that I couldn’t refuse fell in my lap. Well, the universe threw me a story idea and I’ve already come up with my characters, my setting and a story beat outline, so I guess I’m doing NaNoWriMo 2019. I’ll be working on another thriller, yet again inspired by real events.

The Planner Pages

I started the Planner Experiment at the beginning of this year to create the daily planner that will inspire writers to write, submit and get published. For me, this experiment has been about getting to know all the opportunities available to get my stories out into the world. After ten months of designing and making changes, the planner is really coming together and I think the pages I created for November can be of use for NaNo writers as well as people submitting short fiction.

The month-long daily planner includes:

  • A page for your weekly goals and an action plan
  • Daily writing prompts
  • Daily image prompts
  • An hourly plan for finding every minute of writing time
  • A literary journal of the day – many literary journals accept stand-alone novel excerpts. You can start a list of journals to look at when your novel is done.

Success with NaNoWriMo is all about finding time and staying inspired. The Writer’s Daily Planner isn’t just a calendar; it can help you with every aspect of daily time management and is full of original writing prompts in case you get stuck.

You can use it to:

  • create checklists for daily writing goals
  • keep track of your word count
  • remind yourself to do some journaling
  • keep track of your best story ideas for later
  • make sure to read each day
  • plan healthy, easy meals
  • make sure you exercise
  • evaluate what’s working and what isn’t
  • and more

So without further ado . . . Here it is!

Fourth Quarter 2019 Planner Pages November

I designed these pages in open office, a free use word processor, so everyone can use them for free. They are designed to be printed as a booklet, or typed in using open office, so you can manipulate the file to fit your personal needs.

All I ask is that you Follow Experience Writing (this site) and either let me know what you think in the comments, or send your thoughts and ideas about the planner to mariaberg@experiencewriting.com.

Thank you so much and enjoy.

Have a great NaNoWriMo! Let your story into the world.

#Writober Day 29: Lightness of Being

eagle in the light close up

photo by Maria L. Berg                     The eagles were out playing in the wind this morning, providing the perfect illustration for today’s theme.

 

 

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Lightness of being.

Playing in the morning light

Heady
The burden gone
No expectation, judgement
No pain

Ready
For the next adventure
Open to suggestion, surprises
No shame

Unsteady
The tethers loosened
Ground shifting, tilting
No blame

Eddy
Swirling in light
Vibrating energy, electric
Not tame

Excitement
In a moment of discovery
Defies gravity’s hold

 

#Writober4

The image for Day 11 on the Pinterest board is a watercolor painting by Indonesian artist Dinan Hadyan. It shows two people with multiple animal masks around their necks.

My take: I imagine these masks having the power to turn the wearer into the animals they represent, or at least pass on an aspect of that animal when the mask is on.

Micro-fiction: After the fire, Suho and Woojin sneaked past the crime-scene tape and sifted through the rubble by the light of their headlamps. Suho found the masks unscathed under a pile of broken sheet-rock. The depictions of the different animal heads were so realistic, he thought they might bite. Woojin grabbed the fox mask from Suho’s hand and put it on. He transformed into a small, red fox and scurried away. Suho collected all of the masks and hung them around his neck. His mind raced with possibilities.

Writing Process and Tools

Let’s look at one more Celtic Cross Plot  for our creepy flash fiction:

  1. The hanged man  2. Seven of coins 3. The Devil 4. Queen of coins   5.Knight of swords 6. The Lovers 7. The Sun 8. The Hierophant 9. Eight of cups 10. Nine of wands

Emotion: Conflicted

Creepy verbs: condemn, doom, frame, judge, reprehend

Story Cubes Symbols: cell phone, airplane, parachuting, tree, light bulb, fountain, magnet, scarab, bridge

Woodland creature: wolf – a herd of wolves, a pack of wolves, a rout of wolves

Collective noun: a mob of wombats, a wisdom of wombats

Horror trope: power-outage

Oblique Strategies: Go slowly all the way round the outside

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 28: Mending the broken places

first ghost

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Mending the broken places. The suggested form, Pantoum, looks interesting.

Mending is only temporary

Pierced, torn, unraveling forms a hole
Reunite them with needle and thread
The fabric can never again be whole
This tear requires a tight zigzag instead

Reunite them with needle and thread
When left too long the gap needs a patch
This tear requires a tight zigzag instead
I’ll have to find thread and fabric to match

When left too long the gap needs a patch
Hours spent mending can’t fight destroyer time
I’ll have to find thread and fabric to match
Wasted effort or recaptured moment sublime

Hours spent mending can’t fight destroyer time
The fabric can never again be whole
Wasted effort or recaptured moment sublime
Pierced, torn, unraveling forms a hole

#Writober4

The image for Day 28 on the Pinterest board shows a ghost I helped make for my friends’ party in New Orleans.

My take: I love how the perspective of the photo makes the ghost look taller than the buildings. How frightening would it be if a specter with glowing red eyes rose up out of your back yard and grew to gigantic heights?

Micro-fiction: Petra knew she had no business messing with Voodoo, but the lady at the shop in the quarter had said burying the gris gris in the garden would change her luck. Her luck had been so bad lately, she had assumed that meant for the better. Cowering under the glare of the red glowing eyes of the rising, giant specter, she knew better than to assume when messing with Voodoo.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: Conflicted

Creepy verbs: sluice

Story Cubes Symbols: clock (1:45), padlock, apple, arrow up, pyramid, magic wand, drama masks, key, magnifying glass

Woodland creature: snake

Collective noun: a flourish of blossoms

Horror trope: witches/warlocks

Oblique Strategies: Would anybody want it?

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 27: How did I get here?

Getting here

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is How did I get here? Today was my last prompt for this OctPoWriMo and I wanted to try a new form, so I chose Ottava Rima.

Today’s theme had me pulling out my old philosophy books: Neitzche’s Beyond Good & Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, and Does the Center Hold?: An Introduction to Western Philosophy.I’m excited to see where this poem takes me.

Getting Here

In a vision of the ideal future
a clear view of an unattainable dream
I couldn’t imagine a complete fracture
or my path veering to such an extreme
I will need to retrain my embouchure
to make a sound that is not sobs or screams
Everything ripped by a force not a choice
The desire didn’t show the cost was my voice

(Note: The framing of the rhyme scheme and syllables helped me narrow my scope approaching this vast topic. Sometimes putting rules and limits on your work can have exciting results.)

#Writober4

The image for Day 27 on the Pinterest board shows a human form backed into a corner.

My take: This image, though a simple human form, is super creepy to me. It makes me think of other dimensions, time not working correctly, not being able to trust my senses. The bare mattress makes me think of torture and abuse. This could be a possession story, a Hell-Raiser type story, something psychological-torturey. It can also fit with the OctPoWriMo theme. How did the character get here?

Micro-fiction: Carl followed Jasper into the abandoned building and up the creaking stairs. He trusted Jasper, but had a sick feeling in his stomach. Jasper led him down a hall of peeling paint. He thought he heard faint scratching in the walls. He felt it on his skin and shivered. They entered a room at the end of the hall. It was empty except for a gray, stained, bare mattress on the floor. Jasper stripped off his clothes and crawled onto the mattress, pressing his squatting form into the corner of the room. Carl was embarrassed, but couldn’t look away. Then it happened. He started jerking, moving so quickly he became a blur. Carl couldn’t see the features of his face anymore. It was as if the moment and the room were bending, shimmering and waving and then . . . he was gone.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: Remorse

Creepy verbs: defame, discredit, disgrace, scandalize, scorch

Story Cubes Symbols: world, long shadow, pyramid, arrow (left), padlock, fish, tepee, bridge, clock (10:30)

Woodland creature: bob-cat

Collective Noun: a glorifying of liars

Horror trope: cults

Oblique Strategies: Be dirty

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 26: What has been unspoken

what lies beneath

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is What has been unspoken. The suggested form is Joseph’s Star.

Sitting with anger

ire
vexation
exasperation
the attempt to negate me
animosity
resentment
gall

huff
conniption
disapprobation
bubbling below the surface
infuriating
impatient
stew

sweat
physical
labor will release
a flashlight beam in the dark
let the light shine through
sleep on it
gone

#Writober4

The image for Day 26 on the Pinterest board shows an array of human forms. This Daniel Richter painting has all the creepies: a cloaked figure, a naked person squatting, vultures, a caramel figure covered in candy, a clown.

My take: This looks like a moment after a Halloween party when a group of people are beginning to make some very bad decisions.

Micro-fiction: “Hanna, thanks for giving Tad your cape, but I didn’t realize you didn’t have anything on under it. It’s raining. You’re going to catch your death. What are you doing? You can’t pop a squat right there. I think I saw a port-o-let. . . .Too late I guess. I’m not ready for this to be over. What do you say? Cemetery? We could break into a mausoleum, see if any spirits are about. Or, Chuck’s clown here is looking pretty homicidal. We could go to the woods and scare people heading home. A cemetery with woods? Perfect. Let’s go!”

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: Eagerness

Creepy verbs: punish, incarcerate, oppress, exile, blacklist, whip, scorn, brand

Story Cubes Symbols: fire, tent, tree, fish, flashlight, turtle, house, arrow (right), magic wand

Woodland creature: porcupine – a family of porcupines, a prickle of porcupines

Collective noun: a quiver of cobras

Horror trope: slasher

Oblique Strategies: Always give yourself credit for having more than personality

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 25: At the heart of it

Turns out at the heart of it I found ghosts and love 🙂

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is White. The suggested form is Musette.

Blank page

vacant
with potential
wakens

nothing
glaring light blinds
reeling

bleached bare
marks to be made
a flare

Note: I found this poem form more challenging than expected. I like it and think I’ll try some more musettes.

#Writober4

The image for Day 25 on the Pinterest board shows a red, glowing orb structure hanging in a swamp. Someone has traveled far to get to it.

My take: My first thought of this image was that the thing in the swamp had to be alien, but today I’m thinking that it’s more of a mutation, the swamp’s heart.

Micro-fiction: The throbbing became deafening and as I watched in awe the mound lifted from the swamp as if the cypress were a unified body drawing up their roots. There, before me, was a huge heart that glowed red with each beat. I felt that this was an ancient truth that only now wanted to be known.

Writing Process and Tools

How to Write Flash Fiction from Wiki How

Emotion: shame

Creepy verbs: malign, befoul, bespatter, vilify, villainize, revile

Story Cubes Symbols: rook/castle, die (dice), all directions, arrow, cell phone, lamb, fountain, worried smile, book

Woodland creature: skunk

Collective noun: a raffle of turkeys, a rafter of turkeys

Horror trope: werewolf

Oblique Strategies: Is there something missing?

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 24: Breathing

Today’s theme inspired more bokeh photography. My little skull candle woke up with dragon breath, sang a haunting tune, then did some fire breathing. I find shape bokeh with objects and people challenging, but so rewarding and fun.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Breathing.

Breathing

The inhale smells like lilacs and gardenia / The exhales are either coffee or beer
In rush memories of lust and longing / Out pour vile words then pangs of guilt
Spirits rise to exhilaration / The fall, time will exact
Hope fills the empty spaces / Which empties the full ego
Each delicate touch renews / and darkness soon replaces
Every smile replenishes / The strength to fight depletes
Opportunities to dance increase / while self-control decreases
Voice to song now automatic / There is nothing left but focus
To act exhausts and rejuvenates / No passion to reject
Give positive word / in exchange for the negative
profit from the cleansing and face the loss
let pleasure be the antidote for pain
Breathe yourself alive

#Writober4

The image for Day 24 on the Pinterest board is a picture I took of my friends’ Halloween decorations.

My take: Dolls can be very creepy, especially the abandoned, the found, the out of place dolls in the world. Symbolic representatives of innocent human life and yet dead-eyed plastic gender-role training tools. These dolls gathering in a festively lit tree bring up so many questions.

Micro-fiction: Myrna sat down at the table in her back yard. She took a sip of her wine, looked up at the tree, and sighed. This was usually the only peaceful moment of her hectic day, but last week she had noticed the first doll. Every day there were more odd, old, filthy and broken dolls in her magnolia. Today’s additions appeared to include conjoined twins. Who would make a doll with two heads? Nothing made sense. She had given up wondering who would sneak into her yard to put dolls in her tree and she didn’t want to get close enough to see how they were attached. She took a deep breath then gulped down her beverage. The leaves rustled and giggled.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: Frustration

Creepy verbs: avenge, revenge, deserve, return, balance, serve

Story Cubes Symbols: hand, parachuting, worried smile, alien, bee, pyramid, house, question mark, foot print

Woodland creature: humming bird – a bouquet of hummingbirds, a charm of hummingbirds, a glittering of hummingbirds, a hover of hummingbirds, a shimmer of hummingbirds

Collective noun: a cog of robots

Horror trope: bio-chemical attack

Oblique Strategies: How would you have done it?

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 23: Parasites

critter

This is my new pet (he may think the same of me). He doesn’t have fur yet (give him a couple weeks), but he does cheer me and fill me with a warm glow every time I see him. He also looks at me with hungry eyes, like a pet, which could soon be a problem. He reminds me of one of the aliens from those Critters movies, so I named him Critter.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Fur Babies. I really liked Jane Dougherty’s Serpent’s Tail form from yesterday, so I thought I would give it a try. I love my neighbor’s cat who has taken to hanging out with me while I work, but he makes me think of fleas and other parasites. Thus, I changed my theme to parasites.

The Visit

He comes here to clear
appears with vocal demands
lands and begins to scratch
detaching pricks and brambles
ambles off leaving the sticky bits
habits for me to find
behind when least expected
projected reciprocal belief
thief of time and attention
distraction from my desires
tires of me on an untimely whim
grim our time has come to an end
pretend it is worth protecting

 

#Writober4

The image for Day 23 on the Pinterest board shows a simple, but eerie human head.

My take: This image makes me think that something inhuman is doing a poor job of painting on a human face.

Micro-fiction: After discovering youtube, the parasitic worm was sure it could apply a face that would disguise it among the humans.

Writing Process and Tools

Looking for more creepy image prompts? Head over to Danse Macabre for more Halloween writing inspiration.

Emotion: Disgust

Creepy verbs: scorn

Story Cubes Symbols: magic wand, magnifying glass, volcano/eruption, cane, question mark, arrow, apple, parachuting, rainbow

Woodland creature: moth – a whisper of moths, a universe of moths, a flutter of moths

Collective noun: a troubling of goldfish

Horror trope: Vacant motel

Oblique Strategies: Give the game away

 

Happy Reading and Writing!