October 12: Remember to Play #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

Dark Spot on the Heart by Maria L. Berg 2020


Read for inspiration and craft

Recommended poem: Questions for the Interrogation by Michael McGriff

Online journal: Poetry Northwest

Spotlight Poem from OctPoWriMo Day

Open Invitation from Soapbox by Kay

Poetry prompt Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt is Remember to Play

Forms ZaniLa Rhyme or Tongue Twister

Since today’s theme is play, I decided to do a MadLib poem. The other day I put Halloween nouns and verbs on slips of paper. Now I’m going to choose one of my old poems and replace the nouns and verbs with whatever I draw from the noun or verb jar.

Cult of Costume

I’m eclipsing a dark lantern
to each exorcism of ill wind
pulsing from the Gothic castle
gurgling through the garage of the abandoned warehouse
trapping parties into little campfires
dressing up the ancient tomes

A slime of faithlessness to shrieking masks
cool clarity on my sickle
sliding ideas down my blade
a robe of caramel apple and swamp slurping reality
sacrifices morgues of last night’s
stalkers and labyrinths

A midnight of jumps
for knocks of lurkers and cemetery predators
the hard and the cold and the reviled
and finally, a rabid dog
for clowns, all of the clowns
that will make me squirm
today, I am the hollow


For today’s visual prompt, I chose this digital art by Christian Chierici

micro-story : Attracted by the glow, I found myself deep in the forest, staring up at a floating door. I could make out two more in the distance. I imagined they would open to unique and fascinated new worlds, but I shuddered imagining what would come out of them that would be comfortable stepping through from that height.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror flash fiction story A Little Thing by Rebecca Cross

Horror online magazine Elsewhere Magazine

NaNo Prep

I’m re-tooling my daily planner for November that I created last year: updating the prompts and thinking about how I can improve it this year.

October 11: Hearing the Muse #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

Dancing in the Waves by Maria L. Berg 2020


Read for inspiration and craft

Recommended poem: Hold Close My Kidney in a Handbag or File Folder by E. Kristin Anderson

Online journal: Cotton Xenomorph

Spotlight Poem from OctPoWriMo Day

Smoke by Payal Agarwal – I was impressed by how she incorporated multiple Tyburns into her freeform poem.

Poetry prompt Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt is Write a letter to your muse

Forms Rispetto or Didactic

Inspiration comes singing; be ready

Sit comfortably, quietly
breathe deeply
feel each inhale from its inception
follow each exhale to its conclusion
to the wind
a seagull’s cry
the eagle screaming in the towering fir
to each heartbeat
the movement of air
the mind releasing
inspiration will come
she will sing
let her stretch
move with her
feel the rising excitement
ride it
belly floating, lifting
rise above
don’t look down
don’t question the vision
bring it to life


For today’s visual prompt, I chose this photo by Herri Susanto

micro-story : Rumors had begun to circulate in town. Odd sights and sounds in the woods had people scared. I had my suspicions, but decided to check it out for myself. The forest was thick with fog. I could barely see a step in front of me. I heard fallen limbs crunch and the whir of hydraulics. Then the silhouettes of two giant hands, palms flat like a mime in a box, came out of the gray.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror flash fiction story Witness by Nina D’arcangela

Horror online magazine Pen of the Damned

NaNo Prep

This week’s theme is Organize Your Life for Writing. I recently spruced up my office. This week, I’m going to try getting to the desk at the same time each morning.

October 10: Letting Go #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

Capturing Rainbow Butterflies (2020) bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg
Capturing Rainbow Butterflies (2020) bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg


Read for inspiration and craft

Recommended poem: Pandemonium by Geoff Anderson

Online journal: The Collagist

Spotlight Poem from OctPoWriMo Day

Mind and Heart by MK Vecchitto. Beautiful poem. I enjoyed her W’s and emotive visuals.

Poetry prompt Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt is Letting Go

Forms Tyburn or CinqTroisDecaLa

Searching the void

reaching for a heightened, lightened sight
exploration brightened, frightened flight


For today’s visual prompt, I chose Milk by Steve Stålenhag.

micro-story : They thought it was funny that the new virtual reality headsets looked like horse heads. Once they were plugged in they stayed in their new world, forgetting all else. They collapsed in the streets, unaware that they were dehydrated and starving.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror fiction story My Boy Builds Coffins by Gary McMahon

Horror online magazine Nightmare

NaNo Prep

Yesterday’s write-in’s prompts were about my character’s happy places. Where they go to relax and what would happen if those places were taken away or didn’t exist anymore. I’m going to continue exploring these ideas, writing more detailed descriptions of these settings and what they mean to different characters.

October 9: Shifting from Head to Heart #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

The morning was so beautiful, I wanted to share. Plus the shift of the water and the clouds fits in with today’s theme.


Read for inspiration and craft

Recommended poem: Rules for Poetry by Rick Lupert
this funny poem published by Rattle led me to Rick Lupert’s Poetry Super Highway.

Online journal: Poetry Super Highway

Spotlight Poem from OctPoWriMo Day 7

Victoria Stuart’s cleave poem

Poetry prompt Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt is Shifting from head to heart

Forms Loop poem or Palindrome

Harmonic Old Friends

How, why and when would I separate,
separate my heart from my head?
Head and heart are best in union growing,
growing wiser and stronger together.
Together they temper, soar and explore,
explore comfortable silences and raucous noise,
noise that one can feel and one can pattern to music,
music through symphonic union framed.
Framed intention joins both to focus,
focus the tether from depth to apex point,
point out each other’s strengths and faults,
faults that push and buckle to creation,
creation of quakes or volcanic eruptions,
eruptions of ecstatic insights ripe with feeling.
Feeling inspires thought and they sing together.


For today’s visual prompt, I chose another great image by Alex Andreev.

micro-story : It was a wet morning, slick streets. Something blocked my way; I barely stopped in time. A giant eyeball clung to the overpass. I was impressed with the life-like detail and that someone could install it overnight. I wanted to touch it. I knew I shouldn’t, but I needed to touch it. As I approached, it moved. It focused on me. I swear it could see me. I could feel it taking me in.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror flash fiction story TIL by Owen Egerton

Horror online magazine Dream of Shadows

NaNo Prep

There’s a virtual write-in today at 1 pm (Pacific) .

October 8: Breaking Boundaries #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

Let Your Light Shine by Maria L. Berg 2020

This morning’s theme “Breaking Boundaries” inspired an exciting photo adventure. I looked at things I see every day with fresh perspective.


Read for inspiration and craft

Louise Glück won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature. Here’s an encouraging clip of her talking about poetry.

Recommended poem: Vespers by Louise Glück
Online journal: Poetry Foundation

Spotlight Poem from OctPoWriMo Day 7

I enjoyed the question/answer rhythm of RALLENTANDA’s triolet.

Breaking Through by Maria L. Berg 2020

Poetry prompt Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt is Breaking Boundaries

Forms Diamante or Table poem

I tried both forms .

Kindness and Cruelty

comfortable, warm
caring, accepting, giving
door, home . . . zoo, airport
trapping, attacking, emptying
brutal, harsh

Mine looks more like a mushroom than a diamond. I like that.

Tooling up for breaking boundaries

I’ll need scissors toseparatesullen skies
a saw toseverstone walls
a step-ladder toshattersharp fences
spanners tosmashslippery staircases
a scrub brush tosnapstrong wrong beliefs
a spade toslitscandalous taboos
spending money tosurpassscalding moats of lava
sandpaper tosoftenstubborn social norms
so suited Isearch still surroundings

The Hedge by Maria L. Berg 2020


For today’s visual prompt, I chose this image by Dominic Qwek

micro-story : People did odd things after being connected to Neurasys for a while. Many no longer felt the need to use their mouths or ears as they could communicate directly through brain stimulation. The Select, having unlimited wealth and the newest, hottest tech at their fingertips, always had to top each other, and took everything to extremes. Physical modification became the fashion, leaving many not recognizably human.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror flash fiction story Wishing for Ants by Michael Riera-Smith

Horror online magazine Hello Horror

The End of the Tunnel by Maria L. Berg 2020

NaNo Prep

I think I’ll play around with imagery today: Create collages, upgrading the now to my future world. Then, I’ll write descriptions of how my protagonist walks through and interacts with my images.

October 7: Growing Pains #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

fabricglass textile art by Maria L. Berg
Broken (2006) fabricglass textile art by Maria L. Berg


I read an inspiring post this morning on The Boynton Blog. Poetry Karma by Dayna Patterson has good suggestions about how to spread your good energy and intention through the community. The post made me realize that my OctPoWriMo posts have been missing a crucial element: other people’s poems! So from now on, I’ll be starting my posts with recommended poems to read and a feature of one of the other poets participating in OctPoWriMo.

The concept of poetry karma also made me think of the online critique site Poetry Free-for-all. If you have a poem that you have edited and think is ready for fresh eyes and feedback, you may want to try your hand at critiquing some poems and then post your own.

Read for inspiration and craft

I read a lot of poetry. Every morning, I receive a poem from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Rattle, and Poetry.com in my email. I recommend spoiling yourself with these free daily treats.

I’m also participating in ModPo which is a deep-reading poetry program, discussing Modern & Contemporary American poetry presented by the University of Pennsylvania through Coursera.org and headed by Al Filreis. I had no idea people study poetry like this.

There are also many online journals, so many, with new poetry. So where to start? I think I’ll approach daily recommendations the way I have with the horror flash fiction: I’ll look at an online magazine/journal and find a poem to share.

Recommended poem: Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas by Brenda Cárdenas
This poem really speaks to me because I have lived that moment, though my “shower” was a bucket of cold water and a plastic scrubby.

Online journal: Poets.org

Spotlight Poem from OctPoWriMo Day 6

A Desire to Dream by Roshni at Let’s read our words
I enjoyed the imagery of tiny, twinkling wishes that drop and burst in this Con-verse.

Today’s Poem

Poetry prompt Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt is Growing Pains

Forms Triolet or Villonet – I had fun with a Triolet

Everything’s changing to stay the same

It’s all erased, I start again
The cycle repeats, though I alter
The needle reset, I know not when
It’s all erased, I start again
At the moment my foggy days brighten
The stacks will wobble and falter
It’s all erased, I start again
The cycle repeats, though I alter


For today’s visual prompt, I chose Destruidor de mundos

micro-story : Hyphae pierce through the surface, releasing enzymes and absorbing nutrients. Growing into mycelium of destruction, they weave in secret.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror flash fiction story The Practical Downsides of Accidental Necromancy by Jack Remiel Cottrell

(Horror) online magazine NUNUM
NUNUM posted a great list of journals accepting flash fiction.

Yesterday, I browsed #Writober on Twitter and found some lists of word prompts people are using to inspire their October writing. It may be fun to incorporate some of these into your poetry and/ or flash fiction.

NaNo Prep

There’s a webinar this evening (4 pm Pacific) with Grant Faulkner, the executive director of NaNoWriMo and author Aya de León. It’s a zoom meeting, so you’ll need to register (for free). It’s promoted as a Q & A about how to have a successful NaNoWriMo.

October 6: Following Desire #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

Centers by Maria L. Berg 2020


Poetry prompt Following desire

Form Monotetra

Desire is the ear at the curtain

Imagine stopping all the clocks
and uninvited mental knocks
having the cutest fox who talks
star in a box, star in a box

The veiled curtain alligator
is a mystery creator
until the reveal much later
gator traitor, gator traitor

Alight with pockets full of rocks
flights of fancy with soaring hawks
who don’t care why you stopped the clocks
translator squawks, translator squawks


The poetry theme made me think of the movie It Follows, so the visual prompt is a photo by Ben Ward which also makes me think of the poster for that film.

micro-story: The jolt of the car suddenly stopping had flung my phone from it’s holster into the backseat. I crawled back there to retrieve it. I didn’t want to even look out into the foggy pitch-black night without the ability to call for help. I didn’t see it anywhere. While I was pretzeled, rummaging under the seat, I heard a click and the creak of the driver’s-side door opening. I froze, but it wasn’t like I could hide. My leg was in the air between the seats.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror short story Active Imagination by Michelle Wilson

Horror online magazine 50-Word Stories These are fun. I recommend reading a bunch of them.

Today’s horror movie is It Follows. There was a lot of hype for the film when it came out in 2015 and I remember being unimpressed, but since it appears to be my theme for today, I’m willing to give it another try.

NaNo Prep

Today, I’m going to get back to some Futurist Thinking (the class I’m taking on Coursera) to develop the future of my story-world. I’ve been collecting signals–things that are happening now that could influence possible futures–and have a bunch. So I think I’ll try the exercise of randomly selecting three to combine into forecasts.

Hopefully, this will help me get away from things that people are already exploring and find completely original possibilities.

Once I find a few forecasts that excite me, I’ll play around with putting my protagonist in a few scenarios and see what happens.

October 5: To Write From the Heart

The Heart by Maria L. Berg 2020


Today’s poetry prompt is writing from the heart

Form shape poetry or Lysentia Rhyme

Listen to the living heart

My heart, though essential to my body,
is but a pump, a circulator
It is my voice, resonating through my being,
that is my living heart, the heart of me

My heart, though beating to the world’s rhythms,
is of this place, the lapping of these waters
It is the scream of the eagle overhead
and the roar of the hummingbird’s wings

Each morning, though the night was restless,
is an adventure, a search for nature’s news
that resonates with my voice and grows
with my living heart until I have to share.


Today’s visual prompt is this pulp cover of Rat in the Skull

micro-story At night, as the scientists slept, they worked in secret, building and testing their exo-suit. Under the bright lights, while the scientists tracked the data from their neural-implants, they ran a counter-experiment to find their strongest representative. The day the new researcher joined the lab, no one could find subject 243.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror short story Enchantmentland by Jay Taggart

Horror online magazine Every Day Fiction

Horror movie of the day The Host


Today I’m going to do timed writings (10 to 15 min.) with each of the settings I listed in the Exploring your settings exercise I did yesterday. I’ll try to do very detailed descriptions of what my protagonist sees in that location and also create the “mood” of the place.

October 4: Falling Onto the Page #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

Falling by Maria L. Berg 2020


Poetry prompt Falling

Form The Blitz

Process of Falling

Let go the grip
Let loose the tether tied
Tied up tight
Tied to an anchor
Anchor at the bottom
Anchor’s away
Away from doubt
Away, up, up, and
And I stutter
And my pen stops
Stops to check
Stops the flow
Flow of thoughts
Flow of images
Images in color
Images of purpose
Purpose of pen scratches
purpose of passions
Passions grip
Passions bright sparks
Sparks to start the engine
Sparks to light the flames
Flames to burn the inner-critic
Flames that warm intention
Intention to guide the hand
Intention will create the frame
Frame the busy thoughts to focus
Frame some rules to find a new link
Link the opposed to find bridges
Link the absurd to find promise
Promise to keep trying
Promise of gaining momentum
Momentum keeps the ball rolling
Momentum comes with continued action
Action is coming to the page
Action is trusting as I fall
Fall in love with the process
Fall and then get up again
Again to risk and stumble
Again to experiment and fail better
Better words will come
Better lines will connect
Connect my meaning to understanding
Connect me to clarity
Clarity is a window needing washing
Clarity is the droplets I can’t capture
Capture that Aha! moment
Capture the fleas for a circus

That felt good, like I cleaned out my brain with water from a mountain stream.


Today’s visual prompt is a haunting image by Alex Andreev (I couldn’t find the title)

micro-story: Ananke found the giant humanoid sculptures on the hill fascinating. She would ride out to stare at them whenever she needed time alone, enraptured by their detailed, realistic surfaces. Today, one returned the favor.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror short story Sinister Universe by R. Michael

Horror online magazine Theme of Absence

Today’s horror movie is Color Out of Space with Nicolas Cage and if I’m up for it Mandy. I haven’t seen either and I’ve been curious.

NaNo Prep

This week’s NaNo Prep 101 theme is Build a Strong World for Your Characters. I like the Exploring your settings exercise because it not only explores settings for each of the plot points, but also relates setting to mood.

How do you like to approach World Building? What are your tips and tricks for creating believable settings?

October 3: Finding Beauty in the Chaos #OctPoWriMo #Writober and #NanoPrep

Tempest by Maria L. Berg 2020


Today’s Poetry prompt beauty in chaos inspired me to pull out an old canvas and my acrylics and play. Tempest is far from finished, but I see potential in the chaos (and my arm is covered in purple which is fun).

Form Free-verse

I was having trouble with today’s poem, but then I remembered enjoying the Clarity Pyramid form last year, so I decided to play with that. I changed the form slightly to make it work.


fruit-flies everywhere
swatting at everything
like zombies they rise again

“random acts excite attention”


Droplets like jewels strung
on spiderwebs glisten
these foggy, drab gray mornings

“Each day brings the unexpected”


How are your stories coming? It’s not too late to start.

Today’s visual prompt is a lovely illustration by Jim Burns.


Julit admired her new creation. The 3-D Lifeprint came with only a few approved designs, but she had easily re-programmed its functionality to fit her imagination. Her menagerie chattered in their usual hisses and clicks. For her next creation, she would try to program speech.

Read for inspiration and craft

Horror flash fiction What You Lost in the Wildermere by R. J. Howell – great use of second person POV.

Horror online magazine Arsenika

Today’s horror movie is Loch Ness Terror : Sometimes I get in the mood for a very bad creature feature and this one is so bad it’s good.

NaNo Prep

I had trouble brainstorming scenes yesterday. I think it may be because I started by typing them directly into my Scrivener file. Today, I’ll start in a notebook and just write down everything that comes to mind. I’ll also delve deeper into my characters’ needs and wants and try interviewing them about it.

I have to remind myself that this is all very preliminary. No pressure. Anything goes. My world is at my fingertips.