#Writober Day 31: Happy Halloween!

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

As I did last year, I found this Halloween challenge inspiring. I made more detailed cuts for my filters this year inspired by PBS’s Monstrum, and came up with the idea to use tiny brads to add movable aspects to my filters. Thank you Tourmaline .

Today’s prompt is Costume. I put my lights and decorations along the driveway. The candy table is ready just inside the door, and the candy bowl is full. Now for my costume:

My Halloween Costume by Maria L. Berg 2022

I think it’s a good fit. I’m drinking “Three Ghost” Pinot Noir. I had to open it early to let the ghosts out.


I didn’t see a prompt today, so I’ll finish out my thirty-one poems with an Ode to Halloween.

Ode to Halloween

The neighbor’s black cat
has crossed the path
and back, and he’s the
kind to keep company
of witches, so I await
their hour to witness
their power, or at least
a glance of bewitched dancing
in the moonlight

Soon it will be night
time to plug in all the lights
to invite the strangers to come
the monsters good and ill
the doorbell gives a thrill
and I’ll run to see the
hideous and cute candy
grabbing hands

Oh, Halloween
finally arrived
that one night a year
we accept the dead
alive, and slash
open the veil
to the other side
where do they all hide
when November comes?

Writober Flash Fiction

We made it! The last flash fiction story of Writober. Thirty-one flash fiction story drafts, or at least some. Did you try it? I managed full drafts the first two days, but then didn’t write much more than what I shared here until I joined 4theWords. The last few days, I’ve been writing one or two full flash fiction drafts each day. I mean, they are absolute garbage first drafts, but they are complete stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. It has been great!

Today’s image is “Tree-Demon” by Disse86.

I was so excited to be invited to the bonfire. Janie and I had been friends until middle school but then she developed early and I stayed awkward. And stayed awkward as she became more popular. I couldn’t help but be a little jealous when she was kissing Terrance by the lockers in High School. I had liked him since elementary school when we played kickball during recess. It was the only group game I was good at, and he always smiled at me when I kicked his serves, and he chased me, but always let me get on base. That was a lifetime ago. Now he was a quarterback, and I was a swimmer, good but not good enough for anyone to care. So when Jamie separated her lips from Terrance long enough to look at me and say, Hey. You comin’ to the bonfire tonight? I was so flustered I said, “Sure.”
She didn’t say anything else. She didn’t have to. Everyone knew about the bonfire. There was a place through the woods behind the school that led up a hill under the power lines. No one went there but high school kids  and there was always a bonfire on Friday nights. Now that I think of it, now that I’m on the trail, and see the glow of the fire, and hear the drunken laughter of jocks and giggles of flirts, I wasn’t really invited. Jamie just asked if I was going. She had never asked me before. I guess that’s why I considered it an invitation, but now I felt uneasy. Was this some kind of trick? Was she planning to embarrass me for some reason? I tried to play through the last week or so in my mind, had I done anything embarrassing, or bothered her in some way? I couldn’t think of anything. My AP homework and extracurriculars didn’t leave me any time to be around her and I usually ate lunch by myself in the library. But maybe that was it. Maybe they wanted to pick on some nerd.
I suddenly felt like my jeans were too crisp and tight, my shirt too low-cut, my make-up too—too something. But then the path opened and there was the roaring bonfire. It was all you could see. Tree limbs, and broken furniture, crates, and pallets all roaring with licking and lapping giant flames, sparking and reaching into the stars. It was beautiful. All the people were only small shadows joining, touching, separating, moving to the next group of shadows.
One of those shadows approached me along a serpentine path,  all wavy legs and arms. I saw a large cup in one hand. “Hey you. I’ve never seen you at one of these. Glad to see you. What brings you here?”

Maria L. Berg Writober7 Day 31 2022

I hope you enjoyed Writober as much as I did. Now it is time for Novel Writing Month. Are you ready? Me neither. But here we go!

#Writober Day 30: Simple Pumpkin Party

Pumpkin Party by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns

So here we are near the end of October. This week I looked at Here’s the calendar I came up with for my continued study through November:

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is Party.

Party in the Pumpkin Patch by Maria L. Berg 2022


Today’s theme is Simple Pleasures.

Pleasures Never Simple

Pain is a thief
stealing simple pleasures

the fuzzy, cuddly
warm blanket
now scrunchy
provides no relief
an irritant suddenly too hot
robbing needed rest
every toss and turn
a test of endurance

my body that betrays
can find no comfort
reminding me that no
pleasure is simple,
only taken
for granted
until not

nothing is easy when
every movement

Writober Flash Fiction

I couldn’t find any information about the artist or title of today’s image. That’s something that bugs me about Pinterest (and the internet in general). I’ll be more careful next year, and learn a little bit about each image I choose before I put it in the collection. Anyway, These lanky lamp-face creatures are intriguing. Where did they come from? What are they doing?

Once a few people witnessed how the monsters fled when the Nightlamps were in the area, they believed they were benevolent beings and saw them as saviors. Cults popped up in every town, demanding offerings, as if they would know what a Nightlamp wanted, other than to shine light on the monsters. Unlike us the Nightlamps had an obvious purpose. I came to envy them. Knowing exactly what your purpose is and being able to act upon it toward it always seems so freeing to me. For the rest of us attempting to continue in some sense of normality, we had to deceive ourselves into purpose.
The answer that never arrived was, What came first, the monsters or the Nnightlamps? It was as if the creatures had always been there in the dark, but we saw them differently, or didn’t understand them as monsters before the Nightlamps. I think they looked like people before. That we called them criminals, and evil. We didn’t understand that they were shape-shifters, mimics, replicants, whatever you want to call them. There were always monsters, we sometimes spoke of demons, possession, things like that, but that was only the monster coming to the surface, or someone being sensitive to it.
So where did the Nightlamps come from, and why now?

Maria L. Berg Writober7 Day 30

#Writober Day 29: #SoCS Surprise Halloween Element

Happy Jack by Maria L. Berg 2022

I’m so excited to share that I am now a published photographer!! One of my photographs is in the latest issue of Wrongdoing Magazine. You can view it online (pages 98-99).

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS)

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “element.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal pages:

These days everything is an element of novel prep: story broken into characters, settings, plot points, broken into their elements: physical, psychological, sociological. My life, each day broken into its elements, sleep, work, play broken into their elements, trying to gear everything toward novel writing, to organize to efficiency and motivation.I’ve seen a periodic table of writing tropes, I wonder if there’s a periodic table of novel writing. How would I organize it? Like the periodic table of elements has metals, metalloids, and gases: my table would have story elements, writer’s life elements, and what else? Or maybe it needs for categories like the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. What am I thinking? I don’t have time to be making some silly periodic table of novel writing, I still need to develop my characters.

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is Pumpkin. I didn’t get a pumpkin this year, but I did grow some adorable tiny acorn squash in my garden. They are delicious. I bake them with a tiny bit of olive oil and fresh herbs. I thought I would have some fun attempting to carve one this morning.

I am so happy with how my tiny Jack-o-Lantern squash turned out. I put some color-changing fairy lights inside and this is now my favorite Halloween decoration!

Pumpkin Envy by Maria L. Berg 2022
Fairy Scary by Maria L. Berg 2022


Death News by Maria L. Berg 2022

Today’s prompt is about writer’s block, and the challenges of birthing something new. Bianca mentions blackout poetry, and I decided that would be fun since I’m having a crafty morning.

Death News

When it comes,
timid and predictable,
It’s been watching the world.
You don’t survive
when it comes
nobody does

View—for the night has fallen

Switch on
in the early evening
You will see
I know scared,
ponderously slow,
ferocious, and seeking
to survive

View—for the night has fallen

Many are the figurative,
especially those
under the bus tomorrow
who are pretty and
have totally collapsed
that, of course, is no accident
I swaggered into a hotshot;
they carried me out in a body bag.

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s inspirational image is “Shhh” by Gary Bedell. This somehow manages to take the monster in the closet to a new level. So creepy. Here’s an excerpt from “Clown Closet:”

As I reached for the handle to pull the closet open, he slid around my waist, clinging to my pink terrycloth robe like a security blanket. He had never been a clingy kid, not a thumb sucker or a blankie or teddy needer; this felt like a strange reversal to babyish behavior. My mind was searching through all the development books I studied while he was in the womb. Everything had gone so smoothly so far, I had forgotten most of it. ” Reese, what happened? What’s wrong?”
I yanked both doors open all the way as quickly as I could, imagining this was like yanking off a band-aid.  I paused for a moment taking in his box of toys on the floor, the lasso flopping out of the box, from his short-lived cowboy faze, the broken model plane from the dangerous dizzying glue faze, some strange stuffed animals—gifts that were never played with. His clothes all neatly hung across the rack looked in order at eye level, and on the upper shelf his collection of board games that we keep trying to play as a family when his dad has a free half-hour after dinner, which is almost never.
“Look, Reese, honestly, there’s nothing out of place. Everything is as it should be.”
Reese pushed me forward so my chest was touching the clothing on the hangers. I now knew what it felt like to be a human shield. He pushed around me to the right . The pause made me think he was examining up and down, every possible section of wall, then he pushed around to the other side. 
Certain that he must have been convinced, I said, “So what do you want to wear today? We’ve got to get a move on or you won’t have time for any cartoons.”  But when I tried to step back so he could see his clothes too, I felt resistance. “Reesey, come on. Let go of my robe.”
“Mommy, stay still. Don’t move. And don’t look up.”
I looked at the games. There was Twister, Chutes and Ladders. Nothing to be afraid of.
“I said, don’t look up,” he whisper hissed. “Mom? I’m feeling pretty sick. I don’t think I should go to school today.”
“Honey, if that were true, you would have said you weren’t feeling well when I first came in. There’s no such thing as sudden-sick.”
“Sick has to start some time. There’s always a start.”

#Writober Day 28: Courageous Screaming

Sound of a Scream by Maria L. Berg 2022

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is Scream. This morning I’m thinking of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. How will I visualize a piercing, shrill sound? Is the scream the sound outside the body, or the gut-wrenching terror vibrating inside before it escapes through the vocal cords? And how would I visualize that?

Scream by Maria L. Berg 2022
Screaming by Maria L. Berg


Today’s prompt is “Courageous & Daring.” What do I fear and avoid in my poetry? Is there something that I haven’t had the courage to attempt in a poem? It’s hard to know. If I’m avoiding it, I’m probably not aware of it.

In a State of Constant Courage

a misnomer of the very worst order for
a system so nervous it discerns all things as danger.
How does hypertension and an irritable bowel prepare me
for fight or flight when stuck on the porcelain bowl?
And how does a hand tremor fight human judgement?
Or loss of breath, sweating and racing pulse escape embarrassment?
There is no agreement in emotions between this system and me,
for I either fight or flee its hyperactive insistency constantly
and my intestines
show no sympathy.

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s inspirational image is “Night Terrors” by Urchina.

“Quit screaming, Sasha. Oh baby. Can you even hear me. Wake up. Wake up. Please, wake up.”
Sasha’s eyes finally fluttered open. “Mommy?”
“No, sweetie. Mom’s not home yet. Its me. Sissy. Are you okay? Tell me you’re okay.”
“I’m okay.” But tears rolled down her cheeks and she was shaking.
My baby sister had had night terrors for a year now. I couldn’t believe someone so young could have such terrible tortures already. And she said she didn’t even know what the dreams were about. All she ever said was “Don’t you see him? ” while pointing at the corner of her wall by her head. Once we tried moving the bed thinking it was a shadow that scared her, but it didn’t change anything. She said she liked where her bed was before, so I moved it back.
When Mom got home from her second, “night meeting” this week, threw her purse on the counter, plopped down on the couch, flipped on the TV and said, “so how’s your sister”, I was frustrated.
“She’s been screaming and flailing. Almost threw herself on the floor, and almost punched me when I woke her up. How was your night?”
She snapped her head around staring ice-daggers, “You’re not supposed to wake her up. You know that. The doctor said it can do psychological damage.”
I shook my head, but she was already staring at the TV. Some wanna-be celebrity was reporting about some reality TV personality doing something horrible.
“Mom. Aren’t you more worried that if she dies in a dream, she’ll die in real life.” I think I said it just to give Mom whiplash.

#Writober Day 27: Carving Pretty Things Into Weak Flesh

Halloween Carving by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns

Today, I start looking at the last of my chosen Halloween themed abstract nouns: finding the weakness in strength and the strength in weakness. This morning’s thoughts took me full circle to watching Hellraiser to start the Halloween season. Those movies are all about carving and weakness of the flesh. I’ve always found it fascinating how something as strong as human skin— that keeps all our moving parts together, stretches and grows with us while we slosh and throb about—is also so fragile. Any small, sharp point, even a thorn or tiny sliver of wood can open us up and let our vital fluids pour out, leave us open to infection and even (in extremes) death. Why, if we’re so evolved, don’t we have cool armor like an armadillo, or a pangolin? I would say our thermoregulatory system and our immune system are the strengths in that weakness, but still, pangolin armor.

Nano Prep and Looking Forward to November

Yesterday I started thinking about what I want to do here at Experience Writing during November. At first, I thought I would only post once or twice a week with dVerse poems, but then I remembered the Writer’s Digest Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, and how continuing daily prompts really improved my abstract photography last fall, so I’m going to continue to post every day through November with photography, poetry, and things I learn while working on this year’s NaNoWriMo novel draft.

For my daily photography prompts, I will continue to explore contradictory abstract nouns. As I talked about back in mid-September when I finished Calvino’s Memos, I organized a big list of abstract nouns into the Big 5, highlighting the words with different colors that I thought put them into those categories. During November, since my characters will personify the Big 5 and their contradictions: Love/Apathy; Beauty/Ugliness; Truth/Deceit; Wisdom/Ignorance; and Happiness/Misery, I’m going to look at the other abstract nouns on the list that I put into these categories. I’ll make a calendar and put it up this weekend.

I’m glad I decided to try 4theWords, the words flow in a hurry, and I’m having fun. I hope it continues to motivate when I switch from my horror flash fiction to my novel.

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is Carve. Trying to think of “carve” differently this year, I looked it up on dictionary.com and found these three definitions in a row:

  • to make or create for oneself (often followed by out): He carved out a career in business.
  • to carve figures, designs, etc.
  • to cut meat.

These three together put very horrible images in my head. So using my new tiny brad idea from yesterday, I created a couple moving carving tools, and drew figures and designs on plastic in an attempt to replicate the texture of “meat.”

Carving Ms by Maria L. Berg 2022
Moving the Knife by Maria L. Berg 2022


I’m not sure what happened this year: Tourmaline disappeared after Day 8, and there hasn’t been an OctPoWriMo prompt in five days. And no one joined me for Writober Flash Fiction (here at least). It has been a bit of a loner Writober. Luckily, I’m a lone water nymph who doesn’t mind throwing her voice into the void.

Today, however is Open Link Night at the dVerse Poets Pub, so whatever poetry I do come up with, I can share with this great supportive global community of poets.

When I Carve

When I carve into
this supple flesh
plump yet starved
of expression, indecision
of first incision stalls—
the point will pierce
raising fears as it nears
even the fierce flinch
and words will mince as
silver gashers glint
and a shiver quivers

bends, stretches, holds
then gives, slits, permits
lays open to grit
the slash brash
is but a start
this endeavor
is to sever, however
clever, to gut the glut
omit the pit, and outwit

then slice—twice
at any price a bargain
to excise this vice
and sacrifice the dry ice
to spice up this carving party.

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s image is “Dark Ice” by Denis Loebner.

A faint greenish glow rose along the horizon. I thought I was imagining it, perhaps remembering a research trip to Alaska I had taken during graduate school. But no. It was there. The hum grew louder, as did Dr. Harish. He was chanting in a language I did not recognize. Then the ground shook. As I tried to steady myself, and avoid falling into Dr. Nakamura, the light on my helmet glanced upon something moving under the ice. I stifled a scream.
“What was that?” I whispered.
No one responded. Only Dr. Harish’s moaning mysterious tones and clicks, gutterals, and hisses, pops and grunts echoed in my helmet. I felt dizzy, began to see grotesque images dancing in my head. Scenes from past, present, the unknown whirling together, the vastness of time eternal, nothingness eternal. The ground shook again. This time I fell to my knees on the hard ice. I felt the pain in my knees, but I was still falling as if time had slowed and I would fall that short distance forever. And then it opened. The darkness below me under the ice slit open revealing and eye. A giant swirling black inky cornea within a glowing yellow iris.  I recoiled. It was as if I was swimming in the sight of a god., and I had never imagined such fear. I suddenly understood what all the “fear of God” was about and knew my insignificance. And yet, I was supposedly on a mission to save the Earth. How were we, three puny humans on this ice, one of us chanting, one standing silently, and one on his knees about to puke in his helmet doing anything to stop this asteroid?

Maria L. Berg Writober7 Day 27

#Writober Day 26: Containing the Autumn Moon

Moonglow by Maria L. Berg 2022

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is Moon. For today’s images I thought about making a transformer filter for the phases of the moon which led me to the idea of using a small brad and turning the moon. For this filter, I used a tiny, black brad (shaped like a button) to hold a circle of paper over a round hole. I attached clear plastic under the hole to create my moon’s texture. I love this simple new technique, I’m excited to use all the tiny brads I bought a long time ago when I was making fancy gift tags one Christmas. They have moved from box, to drawer, to drawer for a long time, and now have found their true purpose.

Blue Moon by Maria L. Berg 2022


No prompt for today, so I thought I’d focus on finding the evil in good and the good in evil for my contradictory abstract noun study. There can be an “evil” in trying to be and do good. Wanting to help people means that you believe they need help. Unless one is responding to a call for assistance that one is skilled and able to give, one is not accepting others the way they are, making a judgement that the other needs to change, and that they can be “helped” to be more like the helper.

Can there also be a similar good in evil? I guess one can say that without evil there is no good, so is that a good in evil? Or when one recognizes evil, one is reminded of what is good and how to be good. I keep thinking of developers, destroying nature for profit, putting tinder-boxes so close together they may as well be adjoining cages, and yet, people may find their best friends in their neighbors, and find a sense of community at a block party. So there may be good in that evil.

Driving by the New Development

Row by row of identical boxes line
serpentine streets straight up the hill
until recently covered with trees my whole life,
holding the earth in place, graciously receiving
our carbon dioxide and gifting us oxygen,
hiding so many lives among their branches and leaves,
but these empty boxes—small windows,
vacant eyes void of life, so close together
two neighbors could reach out and touch—
can’t hide the one fake family in the model home
A mother, a father, an older sister, a younger brother
I imagine the cattle call for a job to play a family,
being paid to impersonate genetic connection
Why were these bland norms chosen?
Who thought those thin smiles would
entice the “right” buyers?
The new street light that had us stopped
at the new cross-street straight up the hill
turns green. “That’s really creepy,” you say
as you slowly drive past the people pretending
to live, pretending they are neighbors
we want to go into debt for the rest of our lives
to live next to, and interact with every day.
How strange it must be to wake up in the house
across from them one morning and realize they
are not there, they never were.

Tidal by Maria L. Berg

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s image, “Containment Zone” is part of a 3-D rendering package. I have no idea what one would want with a 3-D rendering package, but I like these monsters/aliens.

A tiny scream escaped my pursed lips. I stayed standing by the door that had just closed behind me and stared at the four monsters behind the observation glass. The containment area was a large room, but all four pressed their lanky bodies against the glass toward us. One even pressed his long, three toed foot against the glass.
Unlike me, Dr. Kaza screamed, and kept screaming, full, guttural, primitive screams, but he walked right up to the glass. So close he looked like a little kid at an aquarium, his large nose pressed flat against the alien foot. “Look at this,” he yelled. “You have to come look at this.”
I crept forward, but my legs felt weighted like they had filled with heavy metals, or perhaps grown roots that penetrated the feet feet of concrete.
“I’m serious, Katya, you have to see this. The foot, it doesn’t have ridges, or calluses, it has tiny moving dots. Maybe they have symbiotes.” He pulled his nose away, and looked at me. “What are you doing? Get over here. I told you I don’t want to see this by myself. You have to perceive everything I perceive so we have a combined reality to present to the world.” His nose went back to the glass.

Maria L. Berg Writober7 Day 26 2022

#Writober Day 25: Creatures to Represent Our Fears

Dreamsucker in the Closet by Maria L. Berg 2022

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is “Creature.” For today’s images I attempted to create a creature to represent the sudden fear I felt while letting the cat out in the middle of the night. That split second horror of what if someone or something is there, waiting on the other side of the glass.

The Creature at the Window by Maria L. Berg 2022


For today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Punam provided a list of words, and challenged us to choose any four to use in a poem. I had some fun with it.

Just Looking

The bodies parted and my gaze
fell upon an avatar ablaze
all her bangles dangling,
clanking and clanging
against the crystal punch bowl
a jungle juggernaut
wafting jasmine shampoo
when she floated away
into the moonlight
on the verandah
all I could do was mutely admire
I would have gladly thrown myself
to be crushed beneath her
jaguar sleek black hair shining blue
but my girlfriend had had enough
what a hullabaloo.

Writober Flash Fiction

Since today’s theme is creature, I chose “Mimic Dress” by Leonardo Wyrnist as the inspirational image. The illustrator noted that he loves mimics, so I looked up what that might mean and found that a mimic is a monster in Dungeons & Dragons that can shape shift into inanimate objects (especially chests).

Sorpresa looked at her finger and saw a jagged cut. “Ow,” she said, “something bit me.”
Madame Rochie giggled. A very girlish sound for the haggard crone.
Sorpresa’s mom ran to her and inspected her finger. “Looks like you found a stray pin, sweetie. You really shouldn’t be touching the dresses before their finished.” Mom looked up at Madame Rochie whose belly still jiggled with laughter.
“Oh that dress is finished,” said Madame Rockie. “It has been waiting for just the right wearer for a very long time. Would you like to try it on, little destructioness?”
Sorpresa didn’t mind the old lady’s taunting names. She didn’t know that her dresses were torn in battle. She couldn’t know how brave and mighty Sorpresa was. “I would like to try it, sorceress of stitching,” she said, trying to match the old woman’s tone.
Sorpresa, having gone through fittings with Madame Rochie many times, no longer felt any shyness and let her old dress fall to the floor.  Madame Rochie carefully removed the new dress from her tailor’s dummy and slipped it over Sorpresa’s up-stretched arms.
It wasn’t confining like her previous party dresses, and it wasn’t loose either. She thought of Goldilocks finding the thing that is just right. Oddly the bodice seemed to breathe with her. She thought she heard it breathing, and smelled a faint wood smell, like a cedar chest, or bark chips every time she breathed.
“Oh Sorpresa, you look so beautiful. It’s as if that dress was made just for you. You’ll be prettier than the birthday girl. Madame Rochie, be honest, you made it for Sorpresa. You knew we’d be back soon and made it just for her.”
Madame Rochie didn’t say anything. She grinned a knowing grin, and somehow her eyes sparkled behind her thick, thick glasses.

#Writober Day 24: Use the Things That Haunt You

Haunted by Maria L. Berg 2022

This Week’s Contradictory Abstract Nouns

To finish out October, I’ll be looking at finding the evil in good and the good in evil until Wednesday, and then finding the weakness in strength and the strength in weakness through Saturday with my images on Sunday.

When I was thinking about drinks for the Halloween Challenge the other day, I watched an animated version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll believed that good and evil were qualities that could be separated into their purest forms with the intention to remove evil completely. His experiment failed, but he did manage to find the evil in good and the good in evil.

NaNoWriMo Prep

Yesterday I started my free trial of 4theWords. I wanted to give myself some time to get used to it before November, with the hope that it will be a fun motivational tool to use to write my novel draft. The sign-up was straight-forward and they did not ask for any personal information other than an email. I watched the walk-through video, then tried my first monster battle which consisted of writing 250 words within 30 minutes. I decided to work on my Writober flash fiction story, and quickly defeated three monsters, and had 750 words of a draft. What I wrote was downloaded as a word doc with the click of a couple buttons. So, so far, so good.

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is “haunted.” Since I already did some images with a new ghost filter, so I wanted to find something about “haunted” that wasn’t specifically ghostly. So I opened my dictionary and found:

haunt v 1. a. to visit often: FREQUENT b. to continually seek the company of 2. a. to have a disquieting or harmful effect on: TROUBLE b. to recur constantly and spontaneously to c. to reappear continually in 3. to visit or inhabit as a ghost.

I found it interesting that the idea of ghosts didn’t come into the definition until the last. So how do I create this image of frequent trouble? I thought of an image I painted after I was robbed, of long fingers reaching for my guitar. I decided to try creating these ghostly fingers.

Frequent Trouble by Maria L. Berg 2022


I didn’t see a prompt for today, so I thought I would create a poem to look at the good in evil and the evil in good.

Sudden Losses

Cold dinners in dying candlelight, wax dripped over handmade tablecloths swept smooth over milk-crate tables, worried waiting extinguishing imagined intimacy, the cruelty of equations with passion over time unequal in each lover’s mind.
The second time, there were no instruments to take, only sentimental value and fear remained, and the new alarm that startled them to leave the pillow case containing the disappointments of violating rummaging.
Another argument on the way home, after feeling the ecstasy of camaraderie,
beauty and elegance of shared glamor, the delusional comfort of acceptance when told “you can ask me anything,” prying a bit too far, picking a scab never healed, crashing painfully into the barrier.
The replacements never lived up to what was taken, not that the original possessions were of better quality or held more value. They were of then, of there. He said it was good they were gone. They would lose their hold. But he was wrong.

Haunting by Maria L. Berg 2022

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s inspirational image is “Racing” by Valera Lutfullina. The image shows three giant greyhound-ish dogs, racing, teeth bared in the dark, along a highway where a truck with blood smeared along one side of its front looks much like a “bunny” on a track at a dog-track. Upon close inspection, there is a red light in a black rectangle in the windshield, and no apparent driver, which makes me think the truck is autonomous.

I followed the ceiling trail of blood and bits to the far end of the lab and found where the dogs, or at least a dog, had broken through the wall into the storage area where we kept the pellets and food. From the shape of the destruction I now imagined a greyhound larger than a bus, ripping and tearing through the building. Pellets were all over the shelves and floor. The rack of smaller test animals had been knocked over. They were all gone. There was barely any blood as if they had been gulped whole.
I continued to follow the path of destruction through the offices, feeling ice in my veins and hot rocks in my gut. My mind was like a chilled void trying to avoid any thoughts of guilt by focusing on finding the dogs. I know I wasn’t thinking clearly, because if I had found the dogs in the building, what did I think I would do? I would have been ripped apart like Dr. Shift.

Maria L. Berg Writober7 Day 23 2022

#Writober Day 23: Anticipating the Trees in the Forest

Through the Forest by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns

So this week I looked at two sets of abstract nouns:

Find confidence in fear and fear in confidence This week I tied this in with the perfectly imperfect and it could be represented by my tainted Halloween treats: It takes confidence to ring doorbells and demand candy, but there is precedence for fearing what one might get. But I don’t think I captured this contradiction earlier this week. Today’s prompt for the Halloween challenge is Forest. The saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees,” is used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole. Fear can be like that, and so can confidence. If one is completely confident in a detail, she may be surprised by the big picture, and if someone is confident in the big picture, they may be struck in the face by a detail.

Forest Through the Tree by Maria L. Berg 2022

Find death in life and life in death. For this image, I really liked using decomposing leaves as filters. It shows the circles of life through the seasons, but also the image brings a new life to the dead leaf. I pick the mounted deer head decor image as a close second.

Autumn’s Veins by Maria L. Berg 2022
Head of Each Household by Maria L. Berg 2022

NaNoWriMo Prep

This year for National Novel Writing Month, I think it will be fun to bring my study of contradictory abstract nouns to writing a novel. My idea is to turn the Big 5 into my main characters and have them experience a mystery. Using the wonderful worksheets from Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron, I’ll be personifying abstractions as sleuths, victims, villains, side-kicks, mentors, red-herrings, enemies, and friends.

Because I want to approach this draft completely through my characters, I’m exploring the character creation parts of the acting classes on Masterclass. I’m already finding useful ideas to explore the physicality of my characters. I like the idea of thinking about how my character exercises and doing that exercise to become that character. Maybe one of my characters is into meditation and yoga, on days when I’m focused on that character, I can start my day with a yoga video. I’m also thinking of creating personas with costume, wigs, make-up to really get outside myself. I don’t want to take time away from writing, so I’ll keep it simple, but I think it could be a fun way to get out of myself, and into my characters’ physicality.

I’ve also been thinking about gamification. I still haven’t tried 4theWords. I looked at it last year, but didn’t like the idea of typing my novel into the game. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I’ll give it another look. My other idea is to create a game board for myself based on clue. Once I figure out my settings, characters, possible deaths, etc. I can create a game that not only encourages word count, but hopefully generates ideas. I can create figures representing my characters to move around the board and when they meet, write their interactions.

I’m also organizing my office into stations, so when I lose steam at the computer, I can type on the typewriter, then move to a notebook and colorful pen, then put post-its on butcher paper, or draw with a crayon, anything to keep the juices flowing, then circle back to the computer.

I’m going to print out my favorite contradictory abstraction images and cover the wall behind my desk for inspiration and start collecting everything that sparks thoughts about contradictory abstractions and their mysteries in a “compost journal.”

I want the words to flow this year, and to have a lot of fun. I hope you’ll join me. I’ll be posting more prep ideas this week.

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is “forest.” I had fun creating a scary tree then using light to grow a forest.

Forest by Maria L. Berg 2022
In the Ghost Forest by Maria L. Berg 2022


I didn’t see a new prompt today, so I went over to Poetic Bloomings and found today’s prompt is to write an “anticipation poem.” Since I’m starting to anticipate NaNoWriMo that feels like an appropriate prompt for today’s poem.

Letting Go to Know Them

I want to be consumed
invaded, presumed secondary
present for clarity, for dictation
I prepare in anticipation
of possession by personified
abstraction and interactions
of contradictory unknowns
I desire a mystery
a murder of the cruel
inner-critic whose misrule
finally comes to an ecstatic
end through synthesis
of passion and practice
and psychological slight
of hand making hours disappear
turned to scenes to grip a seer
transforming words into feelings
and actions, and dreams
The anticipation tastes sublime
sweet and sour, dripping thyme
fresh and tingling like the open
window during rain, cleansing
readying an open vessel
for consumption.

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s inspirational image is a “horror concept” illustration by Tithi Luadthong.

I run as hard as I can, but the bus pulls out while I am still a block away. Stupid cute dog tied to a fire hydrant. It’s not like I had a choice. I had to stop and pet it and talk to it and look for its owners and scowl at them. It’s the last bus. That’s why I threw off my right shoe when its heel broke as I ran. And now it starts to rain. At least the cold droplets will cool my cheeks and wash off some of the sweat.
I find the crumpled plastic bag left over from lunch in my backpack, and tie it around my stocking. Hobbling the rest of the way to the covered bench of the bus stop, I notice someone across the street, standing under a large, black umbrella. At first I think it’s a young woman about my age, having a similar situation, so I lift my hand in a solidarity wave, but she doesn’t move. I try to see her face, floating over a sea of red scarf, and in the odd slant of the solitary street light shadowed by her umbrella, her eyes look like they glow red. I figure she’s wearing rose-tinted lenses, but at night?

Maria L. Berg Writober7 Day 23 2022

#Writober Day 22: #SoCS A Graven Bowl to Hold What’s Passed

Halloween Graveyard by Maria L. Berg 2022

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “bowl.”

A bowl is both a hemispheric vessel, and the substance that it does or does not hold. A bowl can be a ball that’s rolled, its act of rolling and its action on a thing. An intense feeling, being bowled over, and being a bowl, an unstable empty vessel tilting like a pendulum, sloshing liquids like waves, ebbing and flowing. Being bowled, rolled toward, spinning, turning, speeding along a lane, or being bowled, struck, toppled, tilting, tumbling, losing stability, knocking others over while falling, ricocheting off the walls before losing momentum, either way a force acting upon another, changing its position and direction; a form of surrender.

Am I like the pin or the ball, each limited until acted upon. Is it self-limiting to stay still, to not knock into things? Or am I the full or empty vessel, limited by size and rim?

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is Grave.

Grave Diggers by Maria L. Berg
Digging Graves by Maria L. Berg 2022


Today’s prompt is “Surrender Self-Limitation.” Today’s suggested poem form is the Catena Rondo. It has similarities to the Roundabout which I tried on Thursday: The repeat of the first and last line of each stanza, the rhyme scheme, the circling back to A in the last stanza. However, the Catena Rondo, unlike the Roundabout, does not focus on meter.

This Year, Break the Cycle

How will I quit my judge-critic?
Sit in the dark and listen
Write faster than thought second-guessing
How will I quit my judge-critic?

Sit in the dark and listen
Drop spoons into bowls, clang of metal
to grasp edges of dreams not yet settled
sit in the dark and listen

Drop spoons into bowls, clang of metal
How will I quit my judge-critic,
and push past my fear-based limits?
Drop spoons into bowls, clang of metal

How will I quit my judge-critic?
Sit in the dark and listen
Push into the frightening frisson
How will I quit my judge-critic?

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s inspiration is a still from this video clip: Coronavirus VS Murder Hornet by bleepe_crap. Set up like a Kaiju battle between a giant humanoid virus-head and a gargantuan hornet.

In any other city, a story about a gigantic humanoid virus doing city-destroying battle with an enormous murder hornet would be the story of the century for a reporter. But here, it is only a slightly unique combination of monsters fighting it out on a Tuesday.
This city is destroyed and rebuilt, so often, no one even notices a skyscraper-sized radioactive lizard setting downtown on fire, while a humongous moth blocks out the sun. Construction only pauses long enough for a multi-dimensional kaiju, to battle a fifty-story robot back out to sea.
Its a testament to how adaptable humans are, that we can go on working, eating, making love, while the land shakes under the stomping of monsters, but as a journalist it’s getting hard to come up with an interesting headline. I guess that’s why, when our helicopter flew over today’s monsters, my calloused heart missed a beat. I saw that oddly spherical head with all its triangular protrusions, approaching the spindly-legged insect attempting to threaten with its stinger curled under its body, and thought, Finally, something new, or at least something people might want to read about.