#Writober Day 31: Happy Halloween!

Tentacles crop on side

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Finding peace. There were a couple of new-to-me forms this OctPoWriMo that I really enjoyed. On this final day and with the theme Finding Peace, I decided to revisit the Clarity Pyramid.

PEACE
at rest
no conflict

uncomplicated
not searching anymore
no need or want while writing

“Stay in the moment and find joy.”

PEACE
no pain
quiet breath

no expectations
left alone to my thoughts
Creating new images

“I imagine a playful world.”

PEACE
cool breeze
bright morning

accepting each bump
physical reaction
is but chemical exchange

“I try to be true to myself.”

As a Halloween treat, here are a couple of my favorite Halloween themed poems I’ve written during past OctPoWriMos:

T.M.I.
The Horned Flying Monkey In The Room

#Writober4

It’s our last day! Did you write a bunch of short, scary stories? I hope so. If not, you have a ton of prompts for when you do want to sit down and write a creepy story. And you still have today to catch up. What could be better than writing some creepy flash while waiting for trick-or-treaters?

As a treat, here’s my creepy contest-winning flash story The Wilson’s Old Place.

The image for Day 31 on the Pinterest board shows a lit jack-o-lantern in a glowing forest.

My take: Though at first this looks like a serene autumn scene, at closer look it is quite sinister. How did this jack-o-lantern get deep in the forest? Who lit it? What is that ominous orange glow in the distance? And why are we here, deep in a dark forest, stumbling upon a lit jack-o-lantern?

Micro-fiction: When I couldn’t run anymore, my breaths burning, my heart pounding so my head would burst, I found myself deep in the forest. I listened and only heard the small brook gurgling. I had escaped. But then I saw the lit jack-lantern and knew that there was no escape.

Writing Process and Tools

I have enjoyed that during the course of the month, through writing these stories, I’ve discovered some new tools to incorporate into my approach to drafting flash.

Emotion: excitement

Creepy verbs: slink, lurk, prowl, skitter, skulk, slither, undulate

Story Cubes Symbols: castle, clock (1:45), apple, cane, magic wand, drama masks, die, magnet, tepee

Woodland creature: cicada

Collective noun: a drunkenship of cobblers, a load of cobblers

Horror trope: Psychokinesis

Oblique Strategies: Decorate, decorate

All of these prompts and exercises are to inspire better writing and I feel like flash is a great way to sharpen our skills. There are many literary magazines that are looking for experimental writing. Flash fiction is a great place to dance along the line between prose poetry and prose, to discover new plot forms and inventive story techniques. Now that you have so many story ideas to explore, play with how you want to tell that story to readers.

If you are interested in submitting your stories to literary magazines, get your free November Daily Planner. Each day features one literary magazine to help you explore and find the best fit for your work.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 30: Who am I?

last year's costume.jpg

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Who am I?

An artist in creation

creator of tales
alchemist of thoughts and words
vivid life afire

#Writober4

The image for Day 30 on the Pinterest board is a painting I did on my friends’ house. It shows three creepy little boys. The theme of their party was strange brood.

My take: These triplets are definitely up to no goods. Are they demon babies? Were they born evil or were they possessed or cursed after birth?

Micro-fiction: At first she thought one of them had fallen and skinned his knee, but when she got close to see if she could help she saw it had been a trap to lure her in.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: amazement

Creepy verbs: distress, harass, pain, strain, stress, trouble, grieve

Story Cubes Symbols: light bulb, building, fountain, crescent moon, volcano, postcard, fish, scarab, cane

Woodland creature: bat -cauldron of bats, a cloud of bats, a colony of bats, a hanger of bats

Collective noun: a bank of circuits

Horror trope: cockroaches

Oblique Strategies: disconnect from desire

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 28: Mending the broken places

first ghost

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Mending the broken places. The suggested form, Pantoum, looks interesting.

Mending is only temporary

Pierced, torn, unraveling forms a hole
Reunite them with needle and thread
The fabric can never again be whole
This tear requires a tight zigzag instead

Reunite them with needle and thread
When left too long the gap needs a patch
This tear requires a tight zigzag instead
I’ll have to find thread and fabric to match

When left too long the gap needs a patch
Hours spent mending can’t fight destroyer time
I’ll have to find thread and fabric to match
Wasted effort or recaptured moment sublime

Hours spent mending can’t fight destroyer time
The fabric can never again be whole
Wasted effort or recaptured moment sublime
Pierced, torn, unraveling forms a hole

#Writober4

The image for Day 28 on the Pinterest board shows a ghost I helped make for my friends’ party in New Orleans.

My take: I love how the perspective of the photo makes the ghost look taller than the buildings. How frightening would it be if a specter with glowing red eyes rose up out of your back yard and grew to gigantic heights?

Micro-fiction: Petra knew she had no business messing with Voodoo, but the lady at the shop in the quarter had said burying the gris gris in the garden would change her luck. Her luck had been so bad lately, she had assumed that meant for the better. Cowering under the glare of the red glowing eyes of the rising, giant specter, she knew better than to assume when messing with Voodoo.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: Conflicted

Creepy verbs: sluice

Story Cubes Symbols: clock (1:45), padlock, apple, arrow up, pyramid, magic wand, drama masks, key, magnifying glass

Woodland creature: snake

Collective noun: a flourish of blossoms

Horror trope: witches/warlocks

Oblique Strategies: Would anybody want it?

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 25: At the heart of it

Turns out at the heart of it I found ghosts and love 🙂

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is White. The suggested form is Musette.

Blank page

vacant
with potential
wakens

nothing
glaring light blinds
reeling

bleached bare
marks to be made
a flare

Note: I found this poem form more challenging than expected. I like it and think I’ll try some more musettes.

#Writober4

The image for Day 25 on the Pinterest board shows a red, glowing orb structure hanging in a swamp. Someone has traveled far to get to it.

My take: My first thought of this image was that the thing in the swamp had to be alien, but today I’m thinking that it’s more of a mutation, the swamp’s heart.

Micro-fiction: The throbbing became deafening and as I watched in awe the mound lifted from the swamp as if the cypress were a unified body drawing up their roots. There, before me, was a huge heart that glowed red with each beat. I felt that this was an ancient truth that only now wanted to be known.

Writing Process and Tools

How to Write Flash Fiction from Wiki How

Emotion: shame

Creepy verbs: malign, befoul, bespatter, vilify, villainize, revile

Story Cubes Symbols: rook/castle, die (dice), all directions, arrow, cell phone, lamb, fountain, worried smile, book

Woodland creature: skunk

Collective noun: a raffle of turkeys, a rafter of turkeys

Horror trope: werewolf

Oblique Strategies: Is there something missing?

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 23: Parasites

critter

This is my new pet (he may think the same of me). He doesn’t have fur yet (give him a couple weeks), but he does cheer me and fill me with a warm glow every time I see him. He also looks at me with hungry eyes, like a pet, which could soon be a problem. He reminds me of one of the aliens from those Critters movies, so I named him Critter.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Fur Babies. I really liked Jane Dougherty’s Serpent’s Tail form from yesterday, so I thought I would give it a try. I love my neighbor’s cat who has taken to hanging out with me while I work, but he makes me think of fleas and other parasites. Thus, I changed my theme to parasites.

The Visit

He comes here to clear
appears with vocal demands
lands and begins to scratch
detaching pricks and brambles
ambles off leaving the sticky bits
habits for me to find
behind when least expected
projected reciprocal belief
thief of time and attention
distraction from my desires
tires of me on an untimely whim
grim our time has come to an end
pretend it is worth protecting

 

#Writober4

The image for Day 23 on the Pinterest board shows a simple, but eerie human head.

My take: This image makes me think that something inhuman is doing a poor job of painting on a human face.

Micro-fiction: After discovering youtube, the parasitic worm was sure it could apply a face that would disguise it among the humans.

Writing Process and Tools

Looking for more creepy image prompts? Head over to Danse Macabre for more Halloween writing inspiration.

Emotion: Disgust

Creepy verbs: scorn

Story Cubes Symbols: magic wand, magnifying glass, volcano/eruption, cane, question mark, arrow, apple, parachuting, rainbow

Woodland creature: moth – a whisper of moths, a universe of moths, a flutter of moths

Collective noun: a troubling of goldfish

Horror trope: Vacant motel

Oblique Strategies: Give the game away

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 21: Screaming into the wind

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Screaming into the wind.

A Voice in the Leaves

air
pushed
blown with
force and speed
I felt them even saw
them in the movement
of the trees’ branches and leaves
listen to them whisper and rustle
they scream their truths in the wind
holding my weight against the storm
debris tossed and twirling
susurrous echo fades
without the
w
i
n
d

 

#Writober4

The image for Day 21 on the Pinterest board shows a small boy with a stick. The boy appears to have abused a large stone monster with horns and command a group of others.

My take: Last year’s Halloween party theme was “strange brood.” There’s something about evil children in films and stories that is so creepy, and this guy looks like the leader of the pack. Did he turn the tables on the monster in his closet and under his bed? Or is he really a monster that has taken human form?

Micro-fiction: Gerald was darkly frustrated. What good was having the command of an army of monsters when they only wanted to scare for fun? He was going to have to trick them into doing his bidding. They would scare his sister to death, one of these days.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: Rage

Creepy verbs: offend, befoul, sicken, repulse, foment

Story Cubes Symbols: fish, hand, tree, clock (10:30), alien, flash light, question mark, sheep, book

Woodland creature:hawk – a cast of hawks, a kettle of hawks, a leash of hawks, a molting of hawks, a schizophrenia of hawks, a screw of hawks, a stream of hawks
Again, from all of the collective nouns, one would think hawks hung out in bunches at all times, but every time I see a hawk, he’s hanging out by himself, usually in a dead branch overlooking the freeway.

Collective noun: an ooze of amoebas (I just said, “Nice” out loud to no one).

Horror trope: mutants

Oblique Strategies: What are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving

 

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 20: Mountains or Oceans

mountain panorama

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Mountains or Oceans. This was the second prompt I wrote for OctPoWriMo and I chose Haibun for the form.

The call of the seagull

The gull, a dark speck on the white mountain backdrop, reminds me how close I am to the ocean by wing. If I could rise above, I could see it from here, the crashing waves filling the tide pools, rocking the sea stars and hermit crabs, mussels, and barnacles. But I am not a gull and it seams so far away and so long ago.

gasping with wonder
inside a rising falling
turning of the tides

 

sea star attack

#Writober4

The image for Day 20 on the Pinterest board shows a man with small octopi all over his face. He looks scared.

My take: To go with today’s theme, this guy could have just gotten out of the ocean, but I think it’s much more creepy if these little guys fell from the sky, or jumped him, or grew out of pustules on his skin, ew.

Micro-fiction: Perry had an annoying itch. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he had been itchy since the last time he went to the beach about a month ago. He couldn’t help but scratch at the bumps and now he had scabs all over his face, neck, and shoulders. He couldn’t go out. People thought he was on drugs or unclean. Then the first tentacle poked out of a scab on his face. He couldn’t believe it. He watched it wriggle further as if testing the air, or scouting for danger. Then all the scabs burst to life.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion:  Happiness – this is an interesting contrast to the image. I wonder how this story could be about happiness

Creepy verbs: repulse, gross out, sicken, fill with loathing, turn one’s stomach

Story Cubes Symbols: world, light bulb, shooting star, die, cane, rook, arrow all directions, magnet, magic wand

Woodland creature: raccoon – a gaze of raccoons, a mask of raccoons, a nursery of raccoons

Collective nouns: a handful of palm readers

Horror trope: evil wizards

Oblique Strategies: Humanize something free of error

 

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

It’s Writober! Time for some creepy flash fiction and poetry

across the street sI had pretty much spaced #Writober3 until this morning. Because I’m in New Orleans and my schedule is out of my hands, I won’t be as on top of my daily writing as I have been the last couple of years, but I’m going to try to do the daily poems for OctPoWriMo and I started adding pictures to a #Writober3 Pinterest board to inspire Halloween themed flash fiction.

The first pins I added are pictures I took from my immediate surroundings and a crow claw that I had on my camera from late July.  I decided not to number the images this year. Just choose the image on the day it speaks to you. I am going to start with this one:

painting of a girl s

The theme for this year’s Halloween party  is “Strange Brood” and this little lady definitely came from one. I think writing her story will  set the tone for a great #Writober.

The OctPoWriMo theme for today is Surrender. Here’s the poem I came up with:

Callistemon

Callistemon, the bottle brush tree
releases her red tassels
as I surrender to the moment
From elation as the light shines
through the erect, lush hibiscus
to the frustration of a burning throat
and muddy head of acclimation
I focus on the detailed lines of a glistening dragonfly’s wing
She extends
tail to the sun
on the tip of a twig
fully splayed

Like a kite escaping its tether
on a fitful wind, I surrender
to each fleeting change
Revelations bombard by the hour
The days pass too quickly
Each stuffed full of muti-days of meaning
I swirl in the dance of confusing splendor,
facing my first regret of ever catching your eye while I recognize the truth of my bliss
The white flag
wavers
I yield
to whatever comes

 

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.

#OctPoWriMo

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

#FlashFicHive

flashfichivefinal

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.

#NaNoWriMo

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!

#Writober Day 30: The skeletons are out of the closets!

writober 30

from kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com

An invasion of skeletons. Are they only after you because you accidentally summoned them with a spell book or an ancient amulet? Have all of the science class skeletons risen up to take over the world?

This image makes me think of the attack skeletons from Jason And The Argonauts but it also brings up the scene from Signs when the alien is on the roof.

I hear a lot of strange noises in this house. For the last couple of weeks, my neighbor across the street has been banging away at something with machinery and the banging sounds like it’s in the house. I’m going to try hard NOT to imagine that it’s the sound of an army of skeletons trying to get in.

#vss very short story

Suxie-Q wished she hadn’t motivated all of her listeners to air their dirty laundry. Now the skeletons were out of the closets and they were coming for her.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Forbidden

This theme fits great with the idea of letting the skeletons out of the closets. What forbidden secrets do they represent and why were they hidden away?

Today, I’m trying the abecedarian since I skipped it on Day 21, opting to use the theme from Day 19. The theme from day 21 – Nothing Remains the Same also goes well with the skeletons coming out of the closets.

T.M.I.

Agatha’s atrocious artifice is avarice
Bob’s bloodthirsty brutal beatings bruise
Chester is a callous cold-blooded cheat
Diana deludes depraved degenerates
Elmer engages elaborate evil edifice
Francine forces fools into fake fascism
Gunther is gross with gluttony and guile
Harold howls hateful heartless hubris
Irene invents inhuman injurious infections
Keith kills
Leonard’s lips lust for lies
Mike makes up murders maliciously
Nancy’s nefarious narcissism needles
Opal obfuscates obloquy
Quinton quakes in a quagmire of qualmish quaaludes
Ramona rigs a rotten ruse
Sandra’s sinful subterfuge stinks of scandal
Ted’s terribly twisted trick turns table
Uma’s unnatural ululating to a ubiquitous underworld causes umbrage
Victor vituperates vile violence
Wally walked off with your wallet
Xena is xenophobic
Yolanda yowls yarns of yearning
Zeus zigzags zany for zaftig

Note: That was super fun! I recommend reading it aloud for extra pleasure. It reminds me of The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey or the The Sesame Street Library stories that would focus on only one letter. I especially remember a dragon story for the letter D.

#FlashFicHive

flash fic hive 30

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Sadly, #Writober is coming to a close. Not today though!!! We still have today and tomorrow to write awesome stories. If you get a chance today, pick your two favorite images from #Writober2 and write anything and everything that comes to mind. Have fun with it.

Looking back through all the great visual inspiration, the two images I choose to focus on today are the great Gregory Crewdson scenes from Day 9 and Day 10. I hope you’ll join me and finish strong.

Happy Reading and Writing!