Gobolinks and Blottentots

You may recognize these inkblots from my last post. The image on the left looked to me like two teddy bears playing with a ball from the moment I made it. The image on the right, however, originally looked like an angelic figure or winged creature (turned 180°), but when I looked at it again, I saw a canyon carved by water flow. Because the original inkblots were made with glitter-glue, the blue watercolor flowed like water and did not soak into the paper, so it even acted like mountain lakes flowing into a river in a canyon. It was very fun to make.

More Fun With Klecksography

Gobolinks and Blottentots

At the turn of the 19th to 20th century,  people expanded on Justin Kerner’s ideas of Klecksography, the art of using inkblots in illustration and created works of their own. Ruth McEnery Stuart turned the creations of inkblots and verse into a game called Gobolinks and John Prosper called the inkblot creatures he created and described in verse, Blottentots. Both of these books of inkblots and verse are now available online through Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg ebooks:

gobolinks coverGobolinks or Shadow Pictures For Young and Old by Ruth The Blottentots coverMcEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine 1896

Blottentots and How To Make Them by John Prosper Carmel 1907

Inkblots As Story Inspiration

I had a lot of fun creating a bunch of inkblots the other day. One of the great things about inkblots is they are a super-cheap, if not free (you can make them with things you already have in your house) art form and you can make them very quickly.

I did a little experimenting and found porous paper, like regular typing or printing paper works better than thicker paper. So any scrap paper you have lying about is the perfect canvas, and any drippable liquid will do. I used a cheap, hard-disc watercolor set with a lot of water. If you don’t have watercolors, you could use acrylics, or left over house paint. If you don’t have any paint, use mustard and ketchup. Use coffee or tea. Try mud. Why not? Make sure to protect your work area. I rolled out a bunch of butcher paper.

As I made more and more inkblots, my scrap paper got smaller and smaller. I found joy in the black and white blots that were about 2″ X 2″.  Many of them looked as if they could combine to become more detailed creatures, so I got out a metal board and some magnets and had some fun.

metal board and magnets play area

Looking at all these unique beauties made me ponder the stories they could tell. For those of you who have read Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, what about using inkblots to inspire or illustrate your nine boxes?

Nine Box Plot

Or how about using your inkblots to access your subconscious ideas about your hero’s journey? Perhaps in a similar way to, or along with Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot.  The hero's journey in inkblots

You could also use inkblots to inspire setting and character:

spring garden

A spring garden

mantiss gnome

A garden gnome spinning on a spike

Character development: Use your inkblots with your characters like Rorschach tests to explore their psyches.

Group dynamic/ character interaction: Have your characters play a game of Gobolinks.

Since I am having so much fun with inkblots, I hope to find ways that they will help me enjoy my editing and revision process as well. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Further Reading

Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity by Margaret Peot

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

The Inkblot Pack: Includes the 10 Classic Inkblots for you to interpret & a beautifully designed journal with thought provoking quotes

And Just For Fun

Rorschach mask

As a photographer and a costumer, I imagine many possibilities for The Original Moving Rorschach Inkblot Mask, so I bought one. I should have it in about 10 days and will definitely write a review.


Happy Reading and Writing!


The Final Days of 2017 Day 26: Fun With Klecksography (and glitter glue)!

glitter glue inkblot gold  glitter glue inkblot blue

Now that Christmas is over–and we survived; deep sigh of relief–odd ornaments no longer fit the bill for visual prompts. I woke up asking, what should guide us into the new year? My brain said, “Rorschach tests.” Why? You may ask my brain. Because inkblots stimulate creative imagery and Klecksography could enhance our poems. The true answer, I think, is I want an excuse to make a mess with art supplies.

So please have fun with them. Feel free to copy my pictures. I would love it if you would turn my glitter glue inkblots into illustrations and put links to your creations in the comments. Then we can all check back tomorrow with what we came up with.

Klecksography, pioneered by Justinus Kerner in the 1850’s, is the art of using inkblots in illustration. He used his klecksographs to illustrate his poetry.

Here are some great articles about Klecksography:

Atlas Obscura



#vss very short story

Herman became obsessed with inkblots. He dripped ink on, then folded, everything. He was always covered in ink, no matter how many times a day his mother scrubbed him. His cat had an inkblot that looked like a moth. His dog had an inkblot that his father thought was suggestive. His father didn’t know it, but while he was napping, Herman had made an inkblot on the back of his leg. Herman thought it looked like crossed swords through a heart dripping blood.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today we have a visual prompt: Antony Gormley’s sculpture “Quantum Cloud VIII” (1999) from SF MOMA’s Fisher Collection. Write a poem using this sculpture as your inspiration. https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/FC.688


Extending beyond form

          Mostly empty space

Perceived construction                                                                                       of the familiar
The body radiates

E             x            p                a                   n                       d                         s

                    p                     d

E                               l                      e

          x                o                         s

Editing Focus

This week, I’m taking a little mini-vacation. I have a bunch of books I want to read and I don’t want to feel rushed. While I read, however, I will keep a notebook at my side and look for things I would like to emulate. I’ll pay attention to:

  • plot structures,
  • character development,
  • character arc,
  • metaphor and simile,
  • sentence structure and variety,
  • dialogue,
  • word selection
  • and every other great thing that I like about what I read.



graphic by Anjela Curtis

Now that the holidays are over, I think I want to start a new flash story. I haven’t hit the Plot-o-Matic in a while. Let’s see what we get.

plot-o-matic flash

As you can see, I’ve added more than one option to each card. I may want to redo my cards so that each card only has one option. Some days, like today, choices aren’t a great tool. I’m going to go with:

A helicopter pilot wants to hide out for a while so he puts 10,000 dollars in a church plate.

And from the Writer Emergency Pack Talk it out

and let’s add an oblique strategy:

Twist the spine

I’m guessing my antagonist is whoever my helicopter pilot took the money from. Perhaps he puts the 10,000 dollars in the church plate because he came to meet and talk to the antagonist at the church and the money is a sign of good faith.

For today’s #FlashFicHive challenge, I’ll need to write a backstory for my helicopter pilot.

As for our oblique strategy, I could take it literally–one of my characters could have a twisted spine–or figuratively–throw a twist into the story. Maybe the real antagonist is the preacher, or maybe the 10,000 dollars wasn’t stolen at all. Now, how to condense all of these ideas into a flash fiction story.

Don’t Forget To Read!

I have a couple of books to recommend today. I finished Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams and The Best of Talebones edited by Patrick Swenson.

Tunnels cover I gave Tunnels and the sequel Deeper to my niece. I would recommend this book for pre-teens to early teens (the main character is 14) who are fascinated by archaeology, underground cities, and caves. Kids who liked City of Ember will most likely enjoy this book.  4 out of 5 (a little heavy on the doom and gloom).talebones book cover

I gave The Best of Talebones to my sweetie’s brother. These stories, selected from years of Talebones Magazine, are great reads. Though the magazine was specifically focused on science fiction, there is a lot of variety of style and subject matter between the stories. I highly recommend this book.  5 out of 5 stars.5 stars


Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days of 2017 Day 22: Skeletons In The Christmas Tree

Dead Fairy's Christmas

During #StoryDam chat on Twitter last night, Tui Snider (@TuiSnider) mentioned having a black Xmas tree with skeletons on it. She inspired me to pull this beauty out of her box and let her fly. Thank you Tui. And she’s posable!

#vss very short story

When Horace hiked through the snowy forest and chopped down the perfect fir, he had no idea it had grown on the bloody lands of the fairy wars. The tree had grown so full and desirable feeding on the rotting fairy corpses.

The next morning, when he saw the tree lit up and covered in decorations, he thought Janice had gotten up in the night to surprise him. Upon closer inspection, the decorations were quite morbid. They looked like little human skeletons dressed up like fairies. He also discovered there were no lights on the tree, the lights came from their eyes.

He backed up in fear as the room filled with the sound of fluttering wings. The awakened fairy spirits flew from the tree, hungry for revenge.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

For some reason, I really like today’s prompt:

Write a poem including three modes of transportation and a bird.

Mr. Screamy and I

Majestic eagle in the tree above my room.
Alerts me that the day in all its gloom
Has arrived and he is in it.

The jets rumble overhead
Computer-coordinated flight-paths
Overwhelmed with Christmas travelers.

Mr. Screamy and I celebrate not being among them
Encompassed in our cloud, today I won’t join
The screaming masses in car traffic and parking lots.

Today, Mr. Screamy and I are content to be
Big, bold, loud and not stranded far from home.
I’ll use imagination transportation while he takes flight.

Editing Focus

Back to The Story Grid Spreadsheet. Today I’m adding the last six columns that concern story continuity. They are:

Point of View – the vantage point from which the reader sees the fictional world.

Period/Time –  Be specific. Know exactly when, time/day, the scene takes place in the story.

Duration – The approximate length of time it took for the scene to take place. Was it two minutes of action or did it last a few days or years?

Location – Where does the scene take place? Be specific.

Onstage Characters – list the names of the characters present in the scene

Offstage Characters – characters referred to by the active characters, but not part of the scene.

While I work on finishing up the spreadsheet, I’ll also look at another section of The Ultimate Revision Checklist from Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell.

Since I’ll be listing all the onstage and offstage characters for every scene, this will be a good time to make a Character Web. Mr. Bell shows the web as a page with the Lead Character in the center and the other characters in a circle around, I think I would do it a little differently. I would put the lead in the center, the secondary characters around the lead and the tertiary in an outside circle, like this:

Throwing Stones Character Web

I made this in Adobe Illustrator, so it will be easy to add or delete characters and change where they fit in the relationships.

Then draw lines to show the connections between the different characters.

Throwing Stones Character Connections

I took it a step farther and created a color-code for my MC’s Mentors, Allies and Enemies. I also color-coded the connections as whether they were positive or negative relationships.

This was a great exercise! In a short time, I got a deeper feel for all of my characters and their importance to my MC’s character arc and the story development. I already found  characters that need more development and could strengthen the plot.

Mr. Scott recommends using this diagram to see if I can combine two or more characters to fulfill the same function. So far, I see Hanya and Mr. Graves as perhaps having the same purpose, and Seba may not be necessary as he only introduces Tshepo to The Shark, though he may be a character that needs further development.



graphic by Anjela Curtis

Today’s writing hashtag themes:


Don’t Forget To Read!

The skeletons theme made me think of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, so I thought it would be fun if there were any books based on the movie. And wowie were there. Here’s a fun selection of what I found:nbc picturebook

The Nightmare Before Christmas: 20th Anniversary Edition

nbc comic

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Cinestory Comic: Collector’s Edition


Nightmare Before Christmas: The 13 Days of Christmas (Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas)coloringnbc

Art of Coloring: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 31: Words magically open doors

writober 31

photo by Christopher McKenney

This image is full of story potential. It makes me think of magical worlds like Narnia and Oz,but it also makes me think of all those great stories where the story an author is writing becomes real like Stranger than Fiction, Secret Window and In the Mouth of Madness.

What story do you see? Is he going on a fantastic journey or returning home? Are those his pages swirling, or is he the character created by the words? So many possibilities.

#vss very short story

As the pages of his manuscript swirled on the warm breeze, he took a deep breath, turned the doorknob and stepped into his new story.


I survived

The words I chose from the random word generator:

metallic      harvest      accomplice     elongation        anyplace
timeless      gritty         horrors            exhibition          burden
The First Frost
A metallic shimmer covers the harvest
Winter’s accomplice spurs dark shadows’ elongation
Covering anyplace in darkness, frozen and timeless
Nourishment resting in gritty horrors
The exhibition of this year’s creation, now a belated burden



graphic by Anjela Curtis

Here it is. The final day of #Writober. How did you do? I hope you were inspired and wrote a bunch of flash fiction. Don’t forget to share your successes over at #FlashFicHive.


National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow. Are you ready? I am very excited to get started on my new novel. I have so many fun ideas to stay motivated and inspired every day of November. I’ll be writing more about it later today. I hope you’ll join me. Would like to be my NaNo buddy? You can find me in NaNoWriMoland as marialberg.

Happy Halloween!

Update to #Writober Day 26: Anagrams led to Occult Chemists – I kid you not

circumlocution anagrams

I was going to update my post from earlier with my collage inspired by today’s #FlashFicHive prompt, but then something amazing happened.

If you haven’t read today’s #Writober writing inspiration yet, today’s #FlashFicHive prompt is to create anagrams from the word Circumlocution. I started with “I color mic uncut” and “MC IC Outrun coil” which made me think how funny it would be if Ichabod Crane was and MC being warned about a coiled snake. This inspired the idea for the collage.

As I was trying to make one of my anagrams work, I searched my dictionary and saw loco which, of course, inspired “Cici loco rum nut!” I continued with my joyous anagramming and came up with a new word, uni-micro-occult. This made me think of a minuscule occultist in MC Ichabod’s crowd.

At this point, I felt I was ready to begin my collage and started searching for images. It took a while to find the right stage from the crowds POV from which MC Ichabod could sling his rhymes. Then I went with the least sexy Ichabod for a little humor. I wanted the coil to be a snake and found one with a little sparkle and finally it was time for my uni-micro-occult idea.

Here is where things got awesome!!! I hadn’t started out thinking of a tiny Aleister Crowley. I searched occultist and didn’t see exactly what I was thinking of. So then, just for fun, I searched my new word, that I made up, because it used all the letters in circumlocution and . . . images of diagrams of occult atoms!! I am not making this up.

uni-micro-occult atom

In 1895 there was a group of “Occult Chemists” who “exercised clairvoyant powers” to directly observe atoms. I found a paper from webspace.yale.edu called

Serious Scientific Lessons from Direct Observation of Atoms through Clairvoyance

that lays out the “science”. Too good.

First, my mom is a chemist, who won’t even acknowledge anything occult, hates when I even say the word ghost, and wants all my stories to be sunshine and rainbows. Second, the last time I talked to her, she called me on Mole Day. A mole is the unit defined as the amount of a chemical substance that contains as many representative particles, e.g., atoms, molecules, ions, electrons, or photons, as there are atoms in 12 grams of carbon-12 (12C), the isotope of carbon with standard atomic weight 12 by definition. This number is expressed by the Avogadro constant, which has a value of approximately 6.022140857×1023 mol−1, which is just over 602 sextillion (thousand million million million). The mole is one of the base units of the SI, and has the unit symbol mol (from wikipedia). So are these occult atoms? Is Mole day an occultist holiday? Is she manipulating space/time with her mind? I need to know.

I’m seeing her tomorrow at my sister’s Halloween party and I might carve my Jack-o-lantern into the shape of an Occult Atom or one of the lovely occult chemists.

How did I not know about this before? So many years of teasing and needling out the window. But tomorrow night, a new age has begun. I wonder if she already knows all about Occult Chemists and will just shut me down? The woman knows her chemistry, but weird occult history? I think I’ll have the upper hand.

Happy Halloween to all the Occult Chemists drawing the psychic anatomy of atoms!


#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.”


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:


Looking back or back looking: a poem in palindromes

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

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.



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.


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!

Great Summer Reads: Summer Book Bingo

book bingo

I had a lot of fun with Seattle Summer Book Bingo last year, so I kept an eye out for it this year to get an earlier start. Are any of you enjoying a reading challenge this summer? I’ve chosen some of the books I’ll be reading and have already enjoyed a couple, but look forward to your suggestions as well. I have typed an exclamation point (!) before the square topics that I need suggestions for. I hope you’ll share your book knowledge and also join me in a summer reading challenge.

The first square (top left) is Recomended by a librarian. I thought about calling out to librarians here and/ or twitter, but then I noticed the link on the Seattle Summer Book Bingo page to Your Next Five Books which turned out to be a form you fill out to get personalized recommendations from a librarian at the Seattle Public Library.

Because I tend to haunt the King County Library System I checked to see if they have something similar, and they do!! Your Perfect BOOKMATCH. I filled out their form and sent it in. It said I will receive recommendations in five to seven business days. I look forward to letting you know what my local librarians pick for me. Have you used any book recommendation forms/services with your local library?

Choose a book by it’s cover – Some of these categories I see as catch-alls. They leave a little wiggle-room for line-up changes. I would also include Fiction, You’ve been meaning to read and Finish in a day as catch-all categories. A few books I have already started could fit here:

The Lake House: A Novel
The Exterminators (Assassin Bug Thrillers)
Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence)
Park City: New and Selected Stories

You’ve been meaning to read – This book has been staring me in the face every time I open my online library account as the only book on my wishlist for a very long time. I’m not sure how or why it was there, but I’m excited to finally read Seeing Red by Lina Meruane.

! Young adult – Here I would appreciate suggestions. I have found my personalYoung adult selections to be very hit or miss. I would love to know some of your favorites.

Biography or memoir – Here I think I’ll give another attempt to Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. I received it as a gift from a friend and keep putting it on to-read lists. Hopefully, this time, I’ll actually read it.

Adapted into a movie – This category inspired me to add three books to my Goodreads to-read shelf. I like to read a book before I see the movie and there are two films based on books by Cormac McCarthy that I have not seen for that reason: The Road and No Country for Old Men (Vintage International)
Then I saw that Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch: A Novel became Jackie Brown(1997) by director Quentin Tarantino and that piqued my interest as well.

Graphic novel -This inspired me to read The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (New Edition) by Neil Gaiman. I liked it, but I found each page to be incredibly busy. I ended up reading through and not savoring. It wasn’t what I expected from the hype.

By an author of colorThe Turner House by Angela Flournoy. I was on a long waiting list for this book at my local library, but when I returned a book the other day, it was right in the front on the recommended shelves. I guess the paperback had recently come out and I was waiting for the hardback. I snagged it and cancelled my hold.

! Recommended by an independent bookseller – for this one I’m planning on going to this great little bookstore in Sumner, Wa. called A Good Book. I went to one NaNoWriMo write-in (so far) and it was there. The proprietor was very nice; I look forward to seeing what she recommends. However, if you are an independent bookseller, I would really appreciate your recommendations as well.

Set in another countryThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I have been looking forward to this one for a while. It is set in Barcelona, Spain, though more specifically, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

! Genre that is new to you – Okay. This one’s tough. I believe I have read books from every genre. If anyone has suggestions, I will keep an open mind.

! Banned – I really enjoyed my choice for this category last year. I read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This year I found The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M. Appel. I picked it because Wikipedia reported that it was banned preemptively in Malaysia for blasphemy. However he has another book banned in Qatar for its portrayal on Islam, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up Anyone read either of these? Which one do you think I should read? Other banned book suggestions?

Collection of essays or short stories – I have a few collections that I am reading at the moment:
Park City: New and Selected Stories
Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond
The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin and a non-fiction book of talks and essays The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin.
I’m not sure how all of them will fit into the BINGO card, but that’s why it’s nice there is a little wiggle-room.

Published the year one of your parents was born – This category yielded an interesting result. Turns out Jorge Luis Borges published a surreal/fantasy collection called Ficciones the year my mother was born. I’m excited to “journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm”(Goodreads description).

Fiction – I’ll be using this as a free space for something I read that doesn’t fit the other categories. Probably Lawrence Block’s Small Town: A Novel

! About art or an artist – I haven’t chosen anything for this yet. Suggestions?

A SAL speaker (past or upcoming) – I started this summer’s BINGO with The Emperor of Water Clocks: Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa. He was a Seattle Arts and Lectures speaker on March 26th, 2009 (More at my poetry selection).

! Reread a book you read in school – I wasn’t too happy with this square. After talking it out with a friend, I came up with The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. I think this re-read might be good for me as a writer in that it might bring back some childhood memories, but I’m not fixed on this one. What would you re-read that you read in school?

Finish in a day – I am known to finish more than one book in a day, so this is definitely a square I like for a book I read that doesn’t fit in a category.

Washington state author – In April, I finally got around to reading Maria Semple:Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel and Today Will Be Different but, they don’t count because Bingo didn’t start until May 17th. Luckily, I had some other Washington authors on my to read list. I plan to read Truth Like the Sun (Vintage Contemporaries) by Jim Lynch. I also put another Jim Lynch The Highest Tide: A Novel on my to-read list. Anyone have an opinion on which to read first? Which is better?

Poetry – my poetry and my SAL speaker selections ended up being the same author, Yusef Komunyakaa. I randomly picked up The Emperor of Water Clocks: Poems from my local library because I liked the title and the cover. I enjoyed it, so I looked further into Yusef Komunyakaa. That is how I learned that he had been a Seattle Arts and Lectures speaker and that his book Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series) had won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1994. I am reading it as my Poetry selection.

Science non-fiction or science-fiction – At the moment I am reading a fiction short story collection The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin and a non-fiction book of talks and essays The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin. One of these will most likely fill this square.

LGBTQIA author or character – For this square of my Bingo card I found a book by E. Annie Proulx, the author of The Shipping News which won both the Pulitzer prize and The National Book Award (US). I enjoyed The Shipping News, so I have high hopes for this year’s selection, Accordion Crimes which explores the lives of immigrants through the changing ownership of a small green accordion.

! Recommended by a young person – I don’t have this one yet. I will probably ask my niece or my neighbor, but to any young persons reading this, please leave a recommendation in the comments. What constitutes a young person to the Seattle Public Library? I’m not sure, but since this Adult Summer Reading BINGO is for people over 15, I would guess people under 15 are considered young persons.


There are so many great books on this list already and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my selections and your suggestions to fill out my BINGO card.  Keep checking in for updates when I get recommendations from my local librarian and independent bookstore owner.


Happy Summer Reading and Writing!

Another First: McKenzie’s New Boyfriend

bokeh photography experiment with a wide angle attachment on a zoom lens

Galactic Unions                                                                                                    photo by Maria L. Berg

McKenzie’s New Boyfriend is my second story published by Fictional Pairings. They paired my story with a song called Recover by Second Still. I’m listening to it while I write this. It feels perfect for my story–spacey road trip–and on Second Still’s site it says the album was released on my birthday this year (coincidence?).

This is another first in my writer’s journey because this is the first time I have published twice in the same magazine.

When building a publication history, why the same magazine?

When I first submitted to Fictional Pairings, I had two stories that I thought might work. I chose the shorter and more obviously sci-fi because I thought it was a best fit. The moment I received my acceptance letter from Fictional Pairings for BAM-AG Home, I shot off an email saying that I thought I had another piece that would be a good fit. I asked if they might be interested and how long I should wait before submitting again.

Why did I do this? Because I love the musical pairings with flash fiction. It is a great fit for me and I think it will grow. It also shows a growing readership that your first piece was so good that the magazine wanted another.

Like I said in New #LitMag+, finding the right place for your stories can feel elusive, so once you find a good match, I recommend submitting more than one best fit.

New Book! BEWILDERMENT by Michael Onofrey

Cover of Bewilderment A Novel by Michael OnofreyLast September we had a special guest post from Michael Onofrey, an author I met through the Five On The Fifth Magazine‘s authors group. His post, About Writing, let us peek into his writing life. Today, I am happy to announce his novel Bewilderment is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be officially released on April 17th and I was given a digital copy to review.

MICHAEL ONOFREY was born and raised in Los Angeles. Currently he lives in Japan. Over seventy of his short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, in print and online, in such places as Cottonwood, The Evansville Review, Natural Bridge, Snowy Egret, Terrain.org, Weber–The Contemporary West, and The Williamauthor Michael Onofrey bio pic and Mary Review. Among anthologized work, his stories have appeared in Creativity & Constraint (Wising Up Press, 2014), In New Light (Northern Initiative for Social Action, 2013), Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), and Imagination & Place: An Anthology (Imagination & Place Press, 2009). He is the author of “Bewilderment,” Tailwinds Press.


By Michael Onofrey

four stars


Reading Bewilderment took me on a true adventure. From an uncomfortable homecoming in Los Angeles to a sweat-soaked bicycle tour of India; from an artist’s studio in Los Angeles to a voyeur’s job in Pakistan; I followed Wade’s life from the most mundane to the most unusual with an even, honest, matter-of-fact account in Wade’s refreshingly open world view.

The feel of the book brings you into the life of a longtime traveler with focus on the most basic human needs: the danger of unclean water; gathering sustenance; finding shelter; a life spent relying on strangers and not building sustained relationships. Mr. Onofrey’s use of these detailed daily needs highlights the contrasts of Wade’s life as a traveler and the life he tries to create back home.

I enjoyed how the structure of the novel also lends to the telling. In the beginning, the chapters alternate between Wade’s life after returning home to care for his sick mother and events during his previous bike tour of India. As the story progresses, the format changes and Wade’s travels become stories he tells to his lover in the present. By the end of the novel the past and present appear to intertwine.

Though I found the detail, format, and crisp conversational language engaging, I often felt kicked out of the story by the present-tense telling. I felt like the story slipped from past tense to present tense in a jarring way. I also noticed a couple of moments when the story head-hops to Wade’s girlfriend which took me from the story, but only for a moment. I think it was part of the honesty of the telling and Wade’s world view, but there were a few times I thought, “That was interesting, but he just dropped it.” However, none of this stopped me from hungrily turning the pages.

Bewilderment is a unique read with a skillfully developed protagonist that pulls you into the life of a traveler and leaves you pondering your own life experiences.

* I received a digital copy of Bewilderment in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Did you like this book review? Any tips to make it better? Would you like to see more book reviews on Experience Writing? Please let me know in the comments.

The Turn

I was excited to wake up to the news that The Drabble published my story “The Turn” today. Then I was doubly happy when I saw the great image they paired with it.


By Maria L. Berg

She couldn’t help but blame herself for “the turn”: the inevitable moment when everything that was going right went wrong; when everything wrong became her fault; when the most recent person she dared call friend plunged the knife in her back. She felt stupid every time: stupid for opening her heart; stupid for letting herself forget; stupid for letting the walls she meticulously rebuilt deliquesce.
Bio: Maria L. Berg’s flash fiction has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Waking Writer and Fictional Pairings.

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