#NaNoWriMo & #NovPAD Day 25: Thankful For

Corrupted by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s images were inspired by the happy accidents created by digital video stutters and glitches. This thanksgiving I am so thankful for digital bokeh photography. The instant images and limitless possibilities of exploration bring be so much joy.

Twisted Paths of Corruption by Maria L. Berg 2021

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a thankful poem.

The Little Things

uninterrupted time in
new combinations of light
captured and frozen
to match images pre-seen
once figments now creations
to bring elation on repeat
simple and healthy activity
free except electricity
and time, precious time
rationed commodity
of juggled priorities
I give thanks
to this place
where there is space
for creating worlds
temporary, but not
put away while still
inspiring daily

Digitally Corrupt by Maria L. Berg 2021


I’m very thankful for the inspiration NaNoWriMo is giving me on this re-write. I’ve come up with a lot of new ideas that make my characters more interesting and relatable, and connections between the characters that are fun and unexpected. None of this would have happened this month without NaNoWriMo. My most interesting ideas have come during the regional write-ins which is convincing me that I’m a more social (digitally social) human than I like to believe. Getting today’s words in might be a little tough, but there’s always tomorrow. Good luck everyone who’s trying to write around family gatherings today.

November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021 Please leave your links in the comments. I hope you will join me.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo & #NovPAD Day 5: Special Lies

And the Nose Keeps Growing by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today I was inspired to continue my ribbon and shadow experiment. I thought about how a “little white lie” can turn into a big lie. I also thought about how each time Pinocchio lied his nose grew.

Two-faced by Maria L. Berg 2021

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

The prompt is to write a special poem.

For today’s poem I revisited the mesostic method I first tried on Tuesday. I thought it would be a fun way to explore what I find special. I typed my journal pages from this morning into the Mesostic Poem Generator using SPECIAL as the spine word. I had it come up with seven mesostics hoping seven would be lucky, then selected and arranged the lines into my poem.

Today's Special

           the iSsues that will
          come uP with
               pEn to page working through gore
      i started Cold
          and whIle up there tried 
               hAven't had what   
    spine my toiLet

at random momentS common
          day caPturing
              thE have in my head 
     and pain i Could do
    when source Is my own word 
          there Are seven seasons it brings
  the garden my Lunch from the joy
Spotting the Lie by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today I’m starting a new chapter. I’m going to play with a zoom in, like the beginning of a film when the view starts really wide and flies toward a city, then into the city, then zooms in on the main character in action. I’m going to play around with doing that with words: starting with an omniscient POV, then zoom closer and closer until the reader sees what my character sees, experiences his perceptions, and then gets inside his head. It should be fun.

Spotted by Maria L. Berg 2021
November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021 Please leave your links in the comments. I hope you will join me.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo & #NovPAD Day 2: Startled! I Wasn’t Ready.

Screams in the Night by Maria L. Berg 2021

This morning’s photoshoot was fun and successful. For “startle” I thought about the way the body jerks when we’re startled, and played with camera motion with some bokeh of my neighbors’ lights across the lake. I love the color palette created by the security lights in the dark

Shudder by Maria L. Berg 2021

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today is two for Tuesday. The prompts are: Write a ready poem and/or a not ready poem. Not ready fits well with my photo prompt “Startle.”

I’m Not Ready–Wait!

It’s not that you were unexpected
or unwelcome, or unwanted
It’s that I had a few more things to do

It’s not that those things can’t get done later
or tomorrow morning, or never
It’s that I had a plan, I had seen a picture of an order of events

It’s not that the picture of events can’t be altered
painted over, gesso-ed back to blank canvas
It’s that I wanted–needed more time

But, here you are as planned
interaction already began
the shifted space from one to two
What are we waiting for?

I also took a look at week 9 of ModPo this morning and was challenged to try my hand at a Mesostic Poem. Mesostic poems are a type of acrostic structure used by John Cage with the spine word (the name of the dedicatee) down the center. He would identify words from a source text then use chance operations based on the I Ching to select which words to use and the amount of text to use on either side of the spine word. Since I’m reading Criminal Investigations for my NaNoWriMo novel, I thought the chapter I’m reading, “The Crime Scene and Its Associated Procedures” would make a fun source text. I typed some of it into the Mesostic Poem Generator program, using my character’s name.

Writing Through Criminal Investigation
~after John Cage

                                     individuAl confesses to
                                           wrOng the contributions
                                       are diMinished
                                           prImarily by
                                  unwillingneSs or
                                        suspeCted of
                                             Having committed
                                improper concLusions from
                                             Its analysis also
                               evidence cannoT speak for
                                         propEr value
                                     can alteRed incomplete
                              eyewitness or tHe innocent
                                          locAtion at 
                                      the seaRch
                                          of The crime

Disembodied by Maria L. Berg 2021


How was your first day? I hope you had fun with your opening scene. I was not at the top of my game (bad tummy, distracted), but I still wrote 2,000 words. I think I’ll dive back into the scene today and add all that description and sensory information I said I was going to write, but didn’t. I want to create a visceral wrongness given off my this abandoned property, the moment my character gets there, from the moment she sees the turn onto the driveway. I think I’ll really dive into that this morning. I kind of skipped over it yesterday as I attempted to create a new journalist character and bring the assistant coroner into the opening scene as well. There’s a lot to set up in this opening scene. I did manage to get the deputy sheriff to state the theme (or something close, I haven’t quite worded it the way I want to yet) which felt good when it happened organically.

November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 30 & #SoCS: The Sun Came Out and the World is a Party

November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021

Here’s the November daily prompts calendar I mentioned on Thursday. These words are much more abstract than the Halloween Challenge, but I’m hoping they will challenge me to create photographs that represent and inspire the feeling of these words while I work on my novel. I hope you will join me and post your links in the comments each day. I look forward to seeing how you interpret these prompts.

Everyone Came to the Party by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, party, I made two different balloon filters. Then I made a vampire face on my single balloon. My world is a party because the sun came out, and my decorations get to go outside!

Party Ghosts by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt, “Diary,” is a great prompt for a Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s #SoCS prompt is “boo.” The prompt says to choose a work with boo in it and of course my mind screamed “BOOK!” which also brings me back to diary. These days I don’t keep a “diary,” I do morning pages in a journal. I once had the horrible experience of someone I loved and trusted, reading my diary and becoming angry at me–judging my personal, emotional, private thoughts–from what they read there. I tore out the pages and burned them on the back stairs. I never kept a diary again. My morning pages are about writing process and random mind clearing. I doubt they would make much sense to prying eyes.

The 2018 prompt, “Dancing on the Moon,” goes well with today’s prompt party.

Homecoming Party

Boo! Did I surprise you?
I would laugh that you shook
but you’re looking at my book
which you must have mistook for
anything other than my diary because
I know you wouldn’t do that to me.

But my eyes don’t mislead: I’ve been
forsook, or you took me for a rube
or a boob. I am no newb to a rude goon
rooting through my room for loot.
You took so much more than my words
you broke my trust. I am mute.

Like a kick with a steel-toed boot
my stomach fills with doom as you
hoot like a baboon, head a hot-air
balloon. I feel a swoon but red
heat is a boon. I grab my book
from your grasp and get to task.

As I tear the pages, your anger
is moot, its root in forbidden fruit
A taboo you zoomed past without booze.
As a lit fuse I set each page aflame,
and dance in my moonlit release.
I won’t make this mistake again.

Vampire Balloons in the Grass by Maria L. Berg 2021
The Sun Comes Out and the World is a Party by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 29: Warning! Nature’s Gory Horror Made Me Scream!

Bokeh Screams by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, scream, I made a new filter to visually symbolize the horrible screams my skeleton candles made all night. I’m afraid they were traumatized by yesterday’s photoshoot. But then I went out to get the mail, and nature really made me scream. This is a real warning, I will be sharing a very very gross horror of nature I screamed at this morning. After taking pictures, and going back to my bokeh, I was reminded why fake horror is so much better than the real thing.

“Scream” also made me think of the great sound at the beginning of Purple People Eater. I have the original 45. It was my mom’s. While finding this video, I saw that Neil Patrick Harris was in a Purple People Eater Movie when he was a kid (and Screech was in it too),so my day has changed. Today is full of all sorts of surprises and twists and turns.

and the Wilhelm scream:

The first Wilhelm scream was recorded during an alligator attack in the film Distant Drums in 1951. So my alligator will be expected at today’s photoshoot.

He Bit a Witch and Made Her Scream by Maria L. Berg 2021

Yesterday, I had Toy Story (affiliate link) playing in the background, but did not notice the Wilhelm scream. I have it on again now to see if I hear it this time. And here’s the gross discovery nature used to make me scream:

Nature is a Horror Show by Maria L. Berg 2021
Invasion of the Slimy Fungus by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt, “Paris,” made me think of cathedrals and stained glass rose windows. Which made me think of one of my fabric glass pieces. A long time ago, I was inspired by the cover on the box of The Old Dark House (1932). I used fabric dyes to paint the face on treated spandex and created a series. My bather in her vintage swim-cap always looks so spooked. She’s still one of my favorite creations. I’m actually wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt with her on it right now. However, she also looks spooky as Medusa.

Today’s suggested form, Rhopalic Verse, a poem in which each line increases by one syllable, also fits well with the 2018 prompt, “By the Numbers” which me think of The Count. I checked my Sesame Street Fever record and that happy little vampire counting and laughing is featured on the song Sesame Street Fever. “I’m counting in disco. I love it. Get down! That’s one get down. Ah Ha Ha!”

So how does all of that become a poem? Let’s find out. Should be a scream!

Silent Screams

in dreams
silent a
threat approaching
horror of no sound
light through the colored glass
at a slant casts blood red hues
against long shadows contrasting
expanding along the floors and walls
like fingers or tentacles or vines crawl
closer as I breathe out and begin to count:
my heart beats pounding my breaths fluttering the hairs
on my arms standing upon the goosebumps on my skin
the danger comes closer, I can’t count it away so I
scream and scream again but nothing comes out: no sound, no release
I curl up tight like the cat and think of the poor nested squirrel
tossed in the storm, left with an empty orbital socket for me to see
and scream at nature’s horror, unaccountable cruelty, and I scream
silently to no one, no one hears me as if I’m facing fear in a dream

Screaming Skulls by Maria L. Berg 2021
Screaming by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 28: Carving Into the Gooey Bits

Mr. Skeleton on a Rampage by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, carve, I went to grab a carving knife from the knife block, but it was missing. Mr. Skeleton had gotten to it first and had gone on a skeleton candle murder spree.

Unlike yesterday, I had a lot of fun this morning, and everything worked the way I wanted it to. My photo shoot was inspired by the original Halloween movie (affiliate link) poster.

I have really enjoyed this photography challenge this month. Not only does it get me up and active first thing, with creative production before breakfast, it involves crafting and engineering. I’ve enjoyed how the different prompts have worked together, so the graves I didn’t finish one morning, filled out the graveyard on another morning. There’s been a nice balance of creating scenes inside, outside, and bringing the outside in. I’ve tried so many new things and feel like I’m mastering some new techniques. I’ve also explored my space in new ways and appreciate all of my Halloween decorations for their versatility.

I found these one-word daily prompts so inspiring, I plan to continue during November. For NaNoWriMo I’m working on a thriller novel called “Abandoned Property,” so I’m creating prompts to go with that theme. I’m working to come up with prompts that will be as inspiring as Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge has been.

Killer Shadow
Killer Shadow by Maria L. Berg 2021
Halloween Slasher by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt, “Tea,” took some thought, but then I thought of charming elderly ladies which led me to Arsenic and Old Lace and I thought of the practice of reading tea leaves for divination, and decided tea would fit in nicely as spooky inspiration.

The 2018 prompt was “Split in two” which goes well with that carving knife.

Today is Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub, so let’s see if I can carve out a poem to share at the pub.

My Halloween movie poster with bokeh jack-o-lantern face.

Seen in the Tea Leaves

Finally split in two
I’ve broken through
to the gooey bits
where dualities splash
and clash in banality
a mystery of flesh
starving to carve

the protective coating
cracked, gives and crashes
around the periphery
as sharp edges
glitter in steel
in jittery fists from shivery
spinal nerve trickery

contradictory cleavage
poking at pains hoping
for gains by slicing
and dicing then displaying
the gore as horror torn
and shorn from its
safest hiding places

the conditionality of
sanity sliced by a
skeleton’s carving knife
in the morning light
dazzles momentarily
before it scares me
and I put it away.

The Other Slasher Comes to Play by Maria L. Berg 2021
Slasher Protege by Maria L. Berg 2021

And after I thought I was done taking pictures, kitty went to learn at the feet of the master slasher. Of course, this was meant to be a secret transaction, so he ran off the moment he saw I was taking pictures.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 27: So Many Moon Songs

The Graveyard under a Full Moon by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, moon, I returned to the full moon created in my hearth scene the other day and played with some color gels and bokeh creatures I didn’t get to yesterday.

The Graveyard under a Blood Moon by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt, “Expecting,” ties in well with this morning’s efforts: nothing went as expected, reminding me that expectations lead to disappointments.

The 2018 prompt was “What color is it?” This got me thinking about all of the colors of the moon, which got me thinking about different songs about the moon.

Since listening to my childhood records inspired yesterday, I tried listening to “moon” songs for inspiration today.

The Maddening Moon

Walk with me
along the banks of Moon River
by the light of the silvery moon
I’ll sing you a moonlight serenade
while we’re followed
by a moon shadow

In other words I thought
a walk in the moonlight
would be romantic
In other words I’m feeling
paranoid and I think
we’re being followed

Fly me to the moon
to the moon and back
I’ve been talking to the moon
the moon and the sky and
the blue moon says
there’s a bad moon rising

In other words I was expecting
you to glow in the moonlight
In other words I think I made
some mistakes tonight
What was that sound?
Did you hear that?

You begin to hum a song
about the moon, shame
on the moon for not singing along
I remember there will be
a new moon on Monday and fear
it will be the Killing Moon

In other words you’re oblivious
to the dangers that surround you
In other words the moon shadow
is coming for your hands, eyes and legs
and I’m not sticking around
to watch.

The Blue Fairy in a Blue Moon by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 26: Playing with the Upside-down

Alien Encounter by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, creature, I experimented with an effect I noticed when I started to play with bokeh in the mirror: it’s possible to take a photo of a filter both right side up and upside down. These are my first experiments with the effect, but I got some fun results.

Tentacles by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt, “Speaking and Listening,” reminded me of all of my children’s story records my parents brought me a couple weeks ago. I think I’ll spend some time with them as I write today. The headless rider has some funny lines.

The 2018 prompt was “Inside Out.” Listening to my old story records brought out my inner child.

For Today’s Poetics challenge at dVerse Poets Pub, Lisa requested Halloween themed poems about irritating human attributes. That seems to fit well with today’s creatures. I don’t think I’ve tried the Duodora form before.


Human creature
I’ve never come down so
far with you before
and heard. Don’t forget
those roars in the night!

Every hypocritical word a trap

Human creature
where monsters did last rise
you have to believe
in them to see them
Pull off its disguise!
This is a headless monster you can’t nab!

Creature in the Deep by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 25: Fueling the Spirits

An Apparition on the Lake by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, haunted, I took my single ghost filter to see what’s haunted in my world.

Toward the Light by Maria L. Berg 2021


Here we are starting our last week. I’ve decided to continue my daily poem practice through November by participating in Writer’s Digest’s November PAD Chapbook Challenge. After I finished my poem revision series last spring, my next goal was to create my first collection. I started exploring my themes and writing and submitting poems with that intention. Creating a chapbook this November, exploring my themes through the prompts will be a good way to continue in that direction.

Today’s prompt, “cup,” is a good one for me right now because I’m weary of burn-out, especially as we approach NaNoWriMo. I need to be rejuvenating, getting excited to write even more, and yet, the excitement I felt at the beginning of the month has waned. I need to refill that well in a big way. The 2018 prompt was “the door goes both ways.” I’m going to interpret that in terms of energy flow.

Distract the Ghosts

My cup seems to empty
before I drink
my ghosts are gluttons
but spirits sink
having trouble refilling
on never enough
like the torrent
spilling from the rupture
in the rubber bag in the well
never full after so many
pulls and yet thrown down
to spill again

This abrupt cut of current
is but the wrong song
skipping, repeating, leaving
the needle too long
on the same boring line
Changing the channel
breathing into the
haunting hues will
excite juices again
to fill my cup with
torrential thoughts
like hot honey
Quick! Distract the ghosts

Haunting Hues by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

Pathways: a video, music, and poetry project

Update 9/2/2021: After enjoying all the oral poetry for the Poetics prompt this week, I thought the poets of dVerse Poets Pub might enjoy this for Open Link Night. I hope you will check out today’s special guest post from Jacob M. Appel on revision as well.

Here it is! My response to wRightingMyLife’s Changing Focus monthly blogging challenge. The theme was Pathways.

I’ve wanted to try something that combines music, photography, and writing for a while, so this was a great inspiration to give it a try. This first effort was a bit rushed ( I happened upon the challenge halfway through the month), but I had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot.

While putting together the video, I learned how to do some animations with my photographs (haven’t figured out how to use them with my video editing software yet), and learned some techniques for combining motion and still photography.

Recording myself reading my poems was great practice. While practicing, some revisions and edits became obvious.

Writing music to go with the visuals and poetry was very challenging. Many of my ideas just wouldn’t work. I went through days of discarding recordings, but finally came up with the feel of pathways I was going for.

September’s theme is Reflections. I have a lot of reflection to do about my Pathways project. 😉