#Writober Day 16: Father Time


Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Father Time and the suggested form is Blitz. I have enjoyed the blitz for in the past and Morgan’s right, it does have a bit of a running out of time, ticking clock feel to it. Let’s see what happens when I put some time into it. 😉

Time To Time

Time keeps on ticking
Time after time
Time in a bottle
Time for a change
Change your ways
Change your tune
Tune up
Tune out
Out of sight
Out of time
Time is precious
Time can tell
Tell a tall tale
Tell me a story
Story book life
Story time
Time enough for . . .
Time for work
Work at what you love
Work force
Force for good
Force for change
Change the channel
Change your mind
Mind over matter
Mind the time
Time keeps on slippin’
Time stood still
Still as a statue
Still doing time
Time flies when you’re . . .
Time crawled
Crawled under a desk
Crawled along with traffic
traffic of humans (how can humans be so horrible to each other?)
traffic stole your morning
morning glory
morning is coffee time
time is what you make it
time moves on without you
you space off
you stare out the window at the day
Day light
Day break
Break through the monotony
Break a habit a day at a time
Time to get to the point
Time marches on



The image for Day 16 on the Pinterest board is an illustration by Russian artist Anton Semenov. It shows a blind creature with a beak holding onto an ill looking child.

My take: The cloth that I see as binding his eyes, could be a head band. What I took as nostrils could be tiny eyes. Though, at first impression, I took the scissors to be a horrible old medical tool, they could be the tool of a tailor and that changes the narrative of the child from being ill to perhaps being an over-worked apprentice.

Micro-fiction: I don’t remember how I came to be the tailor’s apprentice. Maybe she found me in the rubble when I lost my parents. Now I follow her, walking the grimy, sticky streets until my feet bleed. The smells of death in the thick air cling. When we find them, she shows me the delicate stitches, the careful way to hold the edges together. For now, I tie the knots.

Writing Process and Tools

Read to get inspired: This morning I found this great list to links to flash fiction stories at Lit Hub: 11 Very Short Stories You Must Read Immediately. It’s a good list with links to famous flash pieces. I enjoyed it.

For further reading,Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World is an intriguing collection of stories from around the world. John Dufresne, whose books on writing are always good, wrote FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story which is full of good examples. I wrote a review of the book a while back.

Today’s emotion: Nostalgia

Creepy verbs: attack, onslaught, outbreak, raid, invasion, intrusion

Story Cubes Symbols: lightning bolt, sheep, fish, key, airplane, monster shadow, thought bubble, bridge, postcard

Woodland creature: rat – a horde of rats, a pack of rats, a rabble of rats, a swarm of rats

Collective nouns: a rumba of rattlesnakes, a lock of hair

Horror trope: zombies

Oblique Strategies: Don’t be afraid of things because they are easy to do


Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 15: Mother May I

under a sheet


Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Mother May I. And the poetry form suggested is a Ballad. “Mother May I” makes me think of a domineering, strict mother. Definitely something for a Halloween themed poem.

She Keeps Me Digging

Dig a hole, a deeper hole
Oh, Mother, Mother may I?
This time I doubt the dirt will hide
Your dark deeds though we may try

I dug until my back would break
that first time I split this earth
You hovered over with that shaming sneer
I shrunk in the shadow of your girth

I dug until my blisters split
the second time was harder
I hit some rocks and up one flew
You locked me in the larder


I dug with an aching, heavy heart
knowing love’s sweet kiss
I knew the danger, but couldn’t stop
That day you hovered in bliss

The yard is getting lumpy
I find it hard to mow
It’s strange how no one notices
as your violent temper grows


My hands are quite arthritic
I can barely hold the handle
But the truth it must come to light
Someday, I’ll hold the candle.



We’re just about half done with Writober 2019. Hard to believe. As usual, I have fallen behind, but yesterday I sent in my final story for The Writer’s Games and November’s planner pages are almost done, so this week will be a good time to catch up. How are your stories coming along? I hope you’re having a lot of creepy fun.

The image for Day 15 on the Pinterest board is one of my photographs. It shows a body under a sheet surrounded by evidence markers.

My take:. The story question here is: what happened to make emergency services abandon this site in the middle of processing it and the surrounding seen? Did the monster that killed the person return? Were they all abducted by aliens? Where did everybody go?

Micro-fiction: Detective Lisa Murray bent over the body. She was about to lift the sheet when she shivered with cold. She looked up. The sun still pushed through the trees. She heard a voice. “Excuse me, ma’am. I must ask you to order everyone off my property. Hurry now, please.” A man spoke clearly in her ear, but the closest person was ten feet away. “It’s me, Fred. The dead guy. I want to go to the light but I need all of you to clear the area. Now! There’s deadly gas coming up from underground. Get out of here!”

The detective stood up and ushered people out of the yard. When they were a safe distance away, she tossed a match. Fred had not been wrong. “Thanks Fred,” she said as she watched him burn. No need for forensics. She knew how he died.

Writing Process and Tools

dictionary.com’s word of the day is flagitious adj.

1. shamefully wicked, as persons, actions, or times.
2. heinous or flagrant, as a crime; infamous.
That’s a great word for our story today.
Today’s emotion: loneliness ( the story, or character)

Creepy verbs: belittle, discredit, disparage, blister, roast, squash

Story Cubes Symbols: postcard, arrow (down-left), airplane, magnifying glass, arrow (bow and arrow), shooting star, magnet, drama masks

Woodland creature: cougar

I had some fun with collective nouns yesterday. I have this great book A Compendium of Collective Nouns by Woop Studios. It’s a beautiful book full of lovely graphic art illustrations. Let’s see what it says for cougar. It didn’t have anything specific for cougar, so I went to cats. With a kitty on my legs, I would probably say there’s a comfort of cats (if there were more than one), but if there were a bunch of strays staring through my window, I might say there was a glaring of cats, or if they had recently torn up my couch and curtains, I might say I had a destruction of cats.

Collective nouns are fun. I wrote a couple posts about them if you want to read more. For our story today, I’m going to open to a random page and choose a collective noun.

Collective noun: a hotbed of quilts

Horror trope: ghosts

Oblique Strategies: Reverse



Happy Reading and Writing!

I hope you’re having a lot of fun with your flash fiction and poetry.

#Writober Day 14: Mother Earth

lillly pad#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Mother Earth.

Mother earth → Earth mother

Mother earth
Earth mother
Plentiful creator
dark and warm
deep and cool
I rock onto my heels
then back to my toes
which curl into the dirt
I feel her → squishy
I feel her → grit
I am grounded
but will I sprout


The image for Day 14 on the Pinterest board shows a giant clown with an axe coming down from an attic into a living room with a family sitting, probably watching TV.

My take: This image is so creepy. I know it’s a perspective trick, but that clown looks huge.

Micro-fiction: Samantha was having a great time watching Charlie’s Angels with her family when the screaming started.

Writing Process and Tools

Today’s emotion: Regret

Creepy verbs: abuse, corrupt, offend, misuse, pervert, wrong

Story Cubes Symbols: eye, magic wand, cane, die (dice), arrow, sheep, arrows in all directions, flashlight, question mark

Woodland creature: coyote

Horror trope: serial killers

Oblique Strategies: Tidy up



Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 13: Hugging a tree

Tree eating military gravestone

photograph by Maria L. Berg 2017


Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Hugging a tree. I took the picture above in an old military cemetery outside of Orting, WA. The giant fir has grown completely around the headstone in an eternal hug.

To get the full experience, I went out in the yard and hugged a couple trees. The first was a large fir. The second, a deciduous, I wasn’t sure of, so I did a search. I found a great tool on the Arbor Day Foundation website for Tree Identification. I think I’ll be playing with that a lot!

Here’s my attempt at a Rondeau:

Fresh, Calming Air

I breathe deeply, searching for the smell
of the large fir, bark sharp like broken shells
which seems to part to fit my cheek and core
but I sense not scent only cool air galore
I decide to hold on for a spell

Another tree in this yard does dwell
A canyon maple I now can tell
Bent limbs like arms of one I adore
I breathe deeply

I do not mean to undersell
for fresh, calming air no parallel
but I worry that I will want more
And there are things I must do indoors
What happens next I cannot foretell
I breathe deeply



The image for Day 13 on the Pinterest board shows a young man and woman standing in fitting coffins on either side of an empty child-size coffin. They wear bright colors, red and white but are shrouded in fog.

My take: Either some death obsessed young adults are planning to have a child, which is an odd contradiction and conflict, or this poor couple has recently lost a child and while planning  the child’s funeral, they made a murder suicide pact and organized their funerals while they were at it.

Micro-fiction: Harlan and Sarah’s neighbor made coffins that had always had an odd, morbid appeal. When they arrived to pick up their son’s coffin and saw the coffins on either side would fit them each perfectly, they silently agreed to take all three. Now, they only had to discuss how and who would be the suicide.

Writing Process and Tools

Plot and form: Yesterday, while reading more about flash fiction, I came across some form articles by Kathy Fish. This one is about Segmented Story Structure.

Today’s emotion: Depression { not you, the story 😉 }

Creepy verbs: agitate, concern, worry,  alienate, estrange

Story Cubes Symbols: house, scarab, airplane, magic wand, pyramid, question mark, volcano, drama masks, alien

Woodland creature: mouse

Horror trope: premonitions

Oblique Strategies: Be extravagant


Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 12: Shadows

cloud shadow

The colors this morning took my breath away. My world was, for a fleeting moment, this beautiful. The image above has not been altered in any way other than cropping.


Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Black.


Shocking color around the mountain
I jump to action
must capture the moment
the first time I think of
the mountain on the lake
not as reflection,
but as shadow

absence of light, shadow
black hole → being pulled in
all light absorbed into nothing

black bird gobbles like a turkey
upon a garbage can at the park
an unforgettable sound
wings talons strewn
among fir needles by my door
an unforgettable sight
a murder of crow



The image for Day 12 on the Pinterest board shows a happy conductor of bells tied to legs hanging around his head.

My take: Maybe our conductor is a murderous warlock who has finally achieved his dream of the perfect bell choir.

Micro-fiction: Gila Dummitt had finally reanimated his perfect bell choir. The severed legs, the perfectly tuned, hand-crafted bells tied to their toes, floated around him awaiting his command. He became increasingly annoyed as certain specimens proved to have two left feet.

Writing Process and Tools

Focus on one emotion: Yesterday, while reading about how to write great flash fiction, I came across a helpful tip- Focus on one emotion. This gave me an idea of how to use a tool in my tool box. I have found The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi in my efforts to show and not tell my character’s emotions. I like the idea of having a pre-chosen or randomly chosen emotion as a prompt to go with the image prompt. Then I can look the emotion up in the emotion thesaurus to find physical signals, internal sensations and mental responses to include in the story.

To execute this idea, I put the list of emotions from The Emotion Thesaurus into my character creation spreadsheat and selected an emotion using the official random number generator from Math Goodies.

Today’s story emotion is Annoyance.  If we apply that to our image, is that smile on our conductor’s face a false front, or does he start our ecstatically happy and become annoyed by the events of the story? As he becomes annoyed he may speak in short phrases in a sharp tone. He may get a headache and become increasingly sensitive to noise. That could create conflict for our conductor. He may start thinking of excuses to leave, or avoid the object annoying him.

Creepy verbs: disgorge, spew, erupt, invert, explode

Story Cubes Symbols: smiling with worried eyes, bridge, eye, frowny face, arrow down-left, house ,monster shadow, arrows all directions, padlock

Woodland creature: blue jay

Horror trope: haunted house

Oblique Strategies: Look at the order in which you do things



Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 11: Silence or noise

racing the angry sky

photo by Maria L. Berg


Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Silence or noise. I like today’s suggested poetry form Loop poetry.

I tried a loop poem, but didn’t like it as much as the free form poem I wrote first. It was   inspired by silence or noise, so here’s that one instead.

Writing In Silence

I write in the bright morning silence
The grass sparkles with dew
The water laps the shore
A fish leaps with a tap of a splash
A bird calls from the leaves
The radio warns the neighbor’s construction
Country music invades
The hammering begins
Bang! Bang!
Bang Bang Bang!
A motor boat roars the length of the lake
And back again
Its wake, roiling the water, pounds the shore long after
The morning’s illusion of seclusion polluted
The eagle screams, another fish jumps, an airplane splits the sky
I go inside and flip on the news.


The image for Day 11 on the Pinterest board (and above) shows a small boat in a storm.

My take: I took this picture last summer. I love the way the sky looks like it is reaching down to grab that boat. I also like how it looks like tendrils coming down from the clouds.

Micro-fiction: It fascinated her when boats came out in a storm. Today, the sky reached down and plucked the foolish from the water as if they were hors d’oeuvres at a party.

Writing Process and Tools

What makes great flash fiction?

This morning I did some reading about writing great flash fiction. I enjoyed the article Expert Tips for Writing Great Flash Fiction from the Writer. They included a great quote from Anthony Varallo, fiction editor at Crazyhorse:

“A good flash fiction leads the reader into a world already in full swing – if the story isn’t already underway by the first punctuation mark, forget it – and builds to a moment of change or transformation.”

The best way to learn about what makes great flash fiction is to read flash fiction. You can find an amazing amount of flash fiction online:

Smokelong Quarterly
Atticus Review
The Carolina Quarterly
Flash Fiction Online

Bookfox put out an interesting list of sites to find flash fiction online with traffic numbers.

Creepy verbs: damn, curse, descend, burn, cremate, deal

Story Cubes Symbols: magic wand, light bulb, world, magnifying glass, tree, drama masks, cane, question mark, volcano

Woodland creature: lizard

Horror trope:Giant squids and sharks

Oblique Strategies: Accept advice


Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober 2019 Day 6: Blue

Quintessence of the abstract


Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Blue. I liked all the different ways blue is used, especially “bluing the air.” I don’t remember hearing that before.

Blue Sidewalk

You yelled ’til you were blue in the face
while the blue clad woman just won the race
and the blues man played his bluest blues
without hitting a single blue note
which made you bluer than blue
but no one would know because your blue eyes
reflected the bluest skies.


The image for Day 6 on the Pinterest board shows a frightening head/mask floating in the corner of a kitchen.

My take: I find this image particularly disturbing. I think it’s the juxtaposition of the giant, disproportioned figure-are there shoulders there in the shadow?-to the mundane, every day, safe kitchen. Is that monster always there lurking and only showed itself in this moment. If you hadn’t looked in that split second would it have only been a chill or a shudder?

Micro-fiction: Brenda sat at her meager kitchen table, her tear dripped into her coffee. It had been their first night apart in ten years; she didn’t want to face this first day alone. But she wasn’t alone. She shivered and looked toward the stove. Through the blur of tears a distorted head floated near the ceiling. A shadowy hulk blocked her way from the room. She settled in with her tear-salted coffee. At least she was distracted from her other problems.

Writing Process and Tools

Celtic Cross Plots: How could we use yesterday’s reading for today’s plot?

What if: our character has been sick for a long time and has finally gotten out of bed and gone to the kitchen to get some tea. While she was ill, she reflected a lot on her life and has decided it’s time to quit the rat race and start a new project. Just as she is feeling like she knows what good she can do for the world and how to get others involved, she sees the haunting figure staring at her from the corner. She feels it judging her. It frightens her. She wonders if it will see the her of her past or the her of now, but mostly she fears not knowing what it wants. The creature won’t say anything, so she has to come up with a plan.

Did the tarot plot inspire or change today’s story idea inspired by the image? It brought up the idea that the character had been ill for a long time which I think goes well with the image and brings new meaning to the scene.

Creepy verbs: startle, jump, burst, jerk, seize, shiver, revive, resurrect

Story Cubes Symbols: bridge, arrow(bow&arrow), earth, keyhole, magnifying glass, rainbow, balance, question mark, fire

Woodland creature: frog

Horror trope: cabin in the woods

Oblique Strategy: Emphasize the flaws


Happy Reading and Writing!


#Writober 2019 Day 5: Doorways

conjoined twins


Today’s theme is doorway- open or closed. Bop poetic form

Crossing the threshold

Flannel pajamas
covered in blankets
heating pad on my belly
alone in thoughtful silence
imagining a better world
Need a push to cross the threshold

People, places, things
aspirations and collaborations,
beauty, love fresh and new
expectations, disappointments,
together in thoughtful silence
peppered with communication
that can be misunderstood
Need a push to cross the threshold

Inside Out
Comfort or  adventure
alone together
creating more existence
forming bonds
entering or exiting
Need a push to cross the threshold


The image for Day 5 on the Pinterest board two women in masks, sitting at an upright piano, pointing guns at each other. A man’s head sits on top of the piano between two bottles.

My take: Two women are in a deadly stand-off. Will they continue to play duets, or can only one pianist survive?

Micro-fiction: Azealia couldn’t practice the duet with her sister anymore. She would rather die. She should have known her twin would pull her gun at the same time.

Writing Process and Tools

Celtic Cross Plots:

  1. Four of Swords 2. Ten of coins 3. Nine of cups 4. The magician 5. The Hierophant 6. Seven of coins 7. The Chariot 8. King of swords 9. Ace of swords 10. Three of wands

Today I’m using The Tarot Revealed: A Beginner’s Guide by Paul Fenton-Smith to interpret the cards for our plot.

A person in physical or mental retreat is in conflict with material success. S/he reflects on success earned, but it is time for a new project. S/he believes others will follow. S/he is at a crossroads pondering long-term needs of hopes. Others see him/her as clear-thinking, practical and honest. S/he puts these plans into action.

How would this plot work with a scary story? I’m thinking one member of a business partnership gets a conscience and wants to dissolve the business, maybe come clean about bad business practices. The other partner needs to stop him putting them at deadly odds.

Creepy verbs: awe, reverence, wonder, scorn, frighten

Story Cubes Symbols: cane, bridge, apple, light bulb, keyhole, rainbow, scarab, magnet, key

Woodland creature: snail

Horror trope: omens of death

Oblique Strategy: Use filters

Oblique strategies are creativity cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. I often like to draw a random card for inspiration. Today’s card “Use Filters” is an interesting one for me. I like to use filters in my photography: color filters and handmade bokeh filters. What kind of filters could we create for writing?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober 2019 Day 4: Escaping the Cage

Escaping the Cage

Burning sculpture by Spencer Matthews photo by Maria L. Berg


Today’s theme “Cage – Pewter, Silver, or Gold” has to do with feeling caged, even in a beautiful, shiny cage. The poetry form Tetractys looks like fun. It is a form of counting syllables that can be used forward and backward.

Hem No More

Not this time: without respect: I want more
Friendship isn’t a one way street today
I don’t serve you
I want some


The image for Day 4 on the Pinterest board is a painting by Berlin artist Daniel Richter. The painting shows two electrified looking silhouettes with frightened eyes.

My take: This image works well with the idea of escaping the cage. For some people, their whole world is a cage. If a portal to a new world opened up, that could be an escape from a cage. The figures appear to be running through an alien, unknown land that is unstable, perhaps erupting, crumbling, deconstructing. They appear frightened and look to be carrying weapons.

Micro-fiction: Dr. Haviaras pulled the plug and smashed the crystal of Havmillarium. She knew there might not be another speck left, so her life’s work could never be repeated. The glimpse of that world and the figures running toward her was enough to quash her ambitions.As she yanked the cord and raised the hammer, one of the attackers put a hand on the other’s chest as if to restrain their flight into her dimension, but she didn’t have time to ponder what that could mean. She had to stop them. She was the only one who could.

Writing Process and Tools

Celtic Cross Plots: Here’s another celtic cross plot

Writober plotting with tarot 2

  1. Four of Swords 2. Ten of coins 3. Nine of cups 4. The magician 5. The Hierophant 6. Seven of coins 7. The Chariot 8. King of swords 9. Ace of swords 10. Three of wands

Creepy verbs: slash, gash, pierce, slice, hack, flay, blister

Story Cubes Symbols: pyramid, flashlight, magnet, arrow (down, left), clock (four o’clock), crescent moon, question mark, flower, scarab

Woodland creature: hedgehog

Horror trope: monsters

 Using the October Planner Pages

Planner exterior

Last night, I posted the Fourth quarter opening pages and the pages for October. I started working with the pages this morning and found that the prompt for October 14th somehow moved up to the middle of the previous page. Sorry about that.

I typed in the names of my stories and poems that need homes. I needed to add text boxes to type inside the boxes. I highly recommend starting with this exercise. I found it inspiring to see all of the work I have done that is ready to be sent out into the world listed on one page like that. Fun and exciting!

Planner interior

Then I printed the planner. Make sure, when you select duplex printing, that you select staple on short side left. I took my little chisel (couldn’t find my awl) and quickly pierced the pages along the fold. I sewed them together into a book. I am really liking the look of things now.

Self-critique: At this size, I think the boarders around the sections are a little too thick now. The writing prompts need to come down a bit from the top edge on some of the pages and the fonts within the daily boxes can now be smaller. Next month I’ll definitely try a different color scheme which I plan to do each month anyway. Overall, I think it’s almost there.

This month, I hope to fill in every box on every page, so I get the full experience. I hope to try every prompt and hope you will tell me which prompts (written and visual) you like the best. Thank you for playing along. I hope you find inspiration in these pages.


Happy Reading and Writing!


#Writober 2019 Day 3: Inside Out



Today’s theme is Womb. I once went to a festival that had a “womb room.” You had to walk through stuffed fabric labia to enter.

My Womb

The lake is a womb I return to each summer
I am reborn


The image for Day 3 on the Pinterest board shows a yard flamingo that has not only lost its feathers, it lost its skin. It makes me think it might have irritated the witch it stands next to.

My take: Maybe our witch tried to raise the dead, but made a mistake and all the dead animals came to life. That would be terrifying: flocks of skeletal flamingos. My theme “Inside Out” made me think of the movie The Fog and of course Inside Out (Theatrical) the Disney movie. I think I’ll put on The Fog while I work to get in the mood.

Micro-fiction: Anjali watched as the live deer frolicked among the recently risen. Her longing for her lost love, the inspiration for this mistake, still consumed her, but she was also filled with wonder by this lone creature unaware or unafraid of those defying death while the other living cowered and hid.

Writing Process and Tools

Creepy verbs: alarm, worry, unhinge, forewarn, appall, carillon, toll

Story Cubes Symbols: crescent moon, erupting volcano, sleeping person snoring, rainbow, cell phone, parachute jumper, worried face, monster shadow, tall building

Woodland creature: deer

Horror trope: past lives

Other People’s Writober Prompts

I found these lists of daily prompts on twitter, in case you are looking for even more inspiration:

Inktober promptsWritober Writing Prompts

Happy Reading and Writing! I’ll see you tomorrow.