#OctPoWriMo Day 23: A Grave Regard

Ghosts in the Witches’ Graveyard by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “grave,” I recreated the ghost forest as the witches’ graveyard.


Today’s prompt is how we honor our loved ones. The 2018 prompt was “See Me.”

A Grave Regard

praying for patience
to find forgiveness
really listening
showing interest
being interested
no trace
brave alone
uphold the ideal
while not feeling
its appeal
while praying for forgiveness
finding patience

The Witches’ Graveyard Under the Full Moon by Maria L. Berg 2021

NaNoWriMo Prep

I followed through and made my book cover yesterday. I had fun printing some of my photographs, cutting and layering them then taking photographs of my arrangements. After I made the book cover, I also made a background for my other NaNoWriMo fun.

Once I type my goals into my Bingo card, the important prep will be done and I can get back to the silly fun stuff like characters and plot points, and outlines. 😋

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 22: The Lake Betrays

Autumn Leaves by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “leaves,” I left the creating to nature and she came through. It stopped raining and the lake was still and reflective. The soft light through the clouds was beautiful.

Nature’s Paint Palette by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt is imagining the lives of previous occupants. The 2018 prompt was “Betrayed.

The Lake Betrays

Every year the leaves
betray the branches
baring them to face
the dead-cold winter
naked and shivering
in the unforgiving wind

Even the lake betrays the shore
receding, revealing the garbage
carelessly thrown from docks and boats
by the carefree warm bodies of summer

out of sight
out of mind
but some days
the lake is clear
and reveals
its secrets

When I found the watch,
I was shocked that it waited
until after he parted
to find its way to my hands

I can imagine so clearly
the satisfying plop after
he hurled it –with a might
of hurt behind it–from this balcony
in grief and anger, the union broken
a union symbolized by the clasped band
the promise of forever in the turning hands
of its face, marking a joint delusion
of shared moments, each
second named and tracked

but the band is broken
the face is clouded
orange and cracked
time flew and tumbled
drowned and dropped to the mud
in the shadow of the stones
and was gone.

The inscription, though worn
turned in the right light
still reads:
To Lenny
Love, Sharon

A Splash of Color by Maria L. Berg 2021

NaNoWriMo Prep

Last year I found putting stickers on Bingo cards and wordcount trackers very motivating. Silly, but whatever works. I used Cass Cutting’s fun blank bingo cards and typed my goals on my old typewriter. Typing them up was as fun as putting stickers on them.

Today I think I’ll have some fun and design my book-cover, then use my design as the backdrop for a bingo card and wordcount tracker. I think I’ll play with Cass’s NaNopoly game this year. I just discovered a roll of contact paper in my cupboard, so things will be getting a clear plastic coating 😁.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 20: We’re All Part of the Decor

The New Me by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “decor,” I thought it would be a great inspiration to put up my decorations early, but it’s supposed to rain for a week, so I thought I might make some decor inside instead. Decor makes me think of lamps and wallpaper and carpets, but once I got started appreciating the things my friends and I have made over the years, I was exhausted. I definitely need to appreciate my decor more.

Our Cabin in the Woods Fell on the Witch by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt is being part of a community. The 2018 prompt was “Time Stands Still.

In This Still-life

Things brought out from corners, corners created by entertainment “systems” or pianos
Things covered in dust and cobwebs gathered, brought into communion, become a community
of treasured objects, electrified, let, no longer in shadow, creating their own shadows, playing
together in foreground, in background, circling, layering, finding their place so I will see them
like I have seen them with love before and as I arrange them, the dust scatters, the webs break
the bulbs warm and they glow, wax flows, and surprises me with unexpected beauty of planned
destruction. If I had saved that candle, left it contained and whole; I would have ignored its purpose
and plan. These days of creating are expanding, building one on the next, finding ways to combine
find each other, another word inspires connections, overnight multiplying into multitudes, overlapping
concepts grow and spark searches in more dark corners.

The Witch’s Grasp by Maria L. Berg 2021 sculpture by ES3Creative

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 19: Warning! Delicious Gore Story

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “desserts,” I looked at some fun Halloween desserts and found a vegan “white chocolate” recipe. I also loved the idea of putting raspberry filling in the center of my chocolates as blood, so I gave both ideas a try with my Halloween candy mold. The photos tell a Halloween horror story.

Mr. Skeleton offers us candy.
One pumpkin has cute little eyes.
The horror!
There’s blood everywhere.
It’s a plate of cute pumpkins and skulls.
Oh no! Watch out little pumpkin!
Here’s a happy little skull.
Why, Mr. Skeleton, why?


Today’s prompt is storytelling. The 2018 prompt was “What Do You Want?” I think the suggested form Palindrome Poetry will be fun with sonic surrender.


flickering fire gathering
filling our mouths with sweets
after dinner treats while
dark encroaches and dreamtime
closes firelight fading
stages for frightening storytelling
fiction milling, smoke smelling manipulator
spinning lore, remaking before, and later,
savor thrills and chills from tales of killing
shivering because we fear taboos
breaking rules even nightmares beware

in the dark

beware nightmares
even rules breaking
taboos fear we because
shivering killing of tales
from chills and thrills
savor later and before remaking lore
spinning manipulator smelling fear
milling fiction storytelling
frightening for stages
fading firelight closes dreamtime
and encroaches dark while treats
dinner after sweets
with mouths our filling
gathering fire flickering

Zombie Kitty Eats Dessert Maria L. Berg 2021
Tasty Brain by Maria L. Berg 2021

NaNo Prep

Yesterday’s obligatory scenes brainstorm was fun. It led me to starting the exercises in The Breakout Novel Workbook (affiliate link) by Donald Maass. I took a look at the novel’s public stakes and making them worse.

Then I took a look at the worksheets from Writing &Selling your Mystery Novel (affiliate link) by Hallie Ephron. Today I’m going to make a second copy of the protagonist worksheets and fill them out for both my detective and my MC. Once I’ve done that deep-dive into my main characters, I’m going to explore their internal and external conflicts as I continue through the Plotting chapters of The Breakout Novel Workbook.

I just remembered that I bought a copy of The Emotional Craft of Fiction (affiliate link) by Donald Maass this summer. I turned to chapter 5: The Emotional Plot and read:

Many authors motivate their characters with external circumstances. I must do this, because if I don’t, that will happen. The stakes in such stories are also external. Things need to come out right or, gosh, life will be terrible for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with what I call public stakes; they just don’t have automatic emotional effect. Personal stakes are the more reliable way to make a story matter to readers. Personal stakes are why protagonists must act for themselves. It’s the drive that comes from inner need and yearning. It’s what would propel a protagonist toward change, even if the events of the novel weren’t happening.

Maass, Donald. The Emotional Craft of Fiction (pp. 82-83). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And just last night I started plotting in my workbook with exploring public stakes. 😉 So today, I’ll be adding personal stakes to my plot brainstorming.

Happy Reading and Writing!

I Always Thought He Was Planning to Eat Me by Maria L. Berg 2021

#OctPoWriMo Day 18:Once Upon a Bloodsucker

Monsters in the Closet by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “vampire,” I created a fang filter and found the monsters in my world.

Coffee Vampire by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt is an empty pot. The suggested form is Double Exposure. I like this type of poem-within-a-poem form. It provides the opportunity for more than one speaker, or combining two different related images (like vampires and empty pots 😉). The 2018 prompt was “Once Upon a Time.”

A Bite Out of Life

I wake before the dawn this once and make   
              looks sharp like stakes that pierce upon the lake
some fangs to bite the day and suck its ache
                   the thirsty smiles of dreamlike life to take
I wander filtered searching out my foes
            blue blood filled veins that pulse my presence known
and find them lurking everywhere I go
                           I am but juice a lifeforce to consume
there was a time I had a foggy view
                           Nocturnal beasts eternal feast infer-
no light to guide this urge of daybreak to-
                                nal damned immortal aortal portal

Monster House Across the Lake by Maria L. Berg 2021
Blue-head is a Vampire! by Maria L. Berg 2021

NaNo Prep

Today I’m going to have some fun exploring possible plot points. First, I’ll skim through the scenes from the 2019 draft. If I find any scenes that I want to keep and re-write in the new draft, I’ll fill in a scene card for that scene. Then I’ll look at the Story Grid obligatory scenes for a thriller:

  • Inciting Crime indicative of a master Villain
  • Point of no return
  • Protagonist’s initial strategy to outmaneuver the antagonist fails
  • Protagonist discovers and understands the antagonist’s external object of desire
  • Protagonist becomes the victim
  • Hero is at the Mercy of the Villain / All is lost
  • False Ending

For each scene, I’ll quickly list 25 possible ideas then choose my favorites. Then I’ll fill in scene cards for each of my chosen plot points.

In my plotting post from NaNo Prep last year, #NaNoPrep 101 Week Three – Construct a Detailed Plot, I laid out a lot of plotting resources and tools. This year I’m adding the great worksheets from Writing &Selling your Mystery Novel (affiliate link) by Hallie Ephron. This week should be a lot of fun.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Sabertoothed Kitty by Maria L. Berg 2021

#OctPoWriMo Day 16 & #SoCS: If Caught When I Fall

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “spider,” all I had to do was step outside to find plenty of spiders. There was I giant wolf spider on the ceiling in the shop too. But I wanted to do something more creative. Though I really like creating scenes in the space in my bookshelf, I found there isn’t enough space to also do the bokeh the way I want, so today I cleaned off the area in front of the fireplace and began exploring its potential. Inspired by Tourmaline .’s witch fingers yesterday, I pulled out my witch fingers and some other craft supplies and made this little beauty.

Creation by Maria L. Berg 2021

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Today’s stream of consciousness is to start with “If.” I like that it’s “if” and not “what if.” “If” gets me thinking about action, “if/then” instead of maybes. Here’s an excerpt from my journal:

. . . if they actually cared not to disturb the fine wonder of the perfect beauty of this day: A hummingbird zooming to blow the pink trumpet flower then off again, the bee spider sprinting to bat at the air to my left then back to the shadows. If I filmed it all, and could produce the light, warmth, smells, sounds, taste of the vodka-lemonade everything the same, somehow immerse myself in the depth, trick myself to believe, would I be able to relive this whenever I wanted? Would I want to? Very often? Or is it really the unexpected surprise of it when it as equally could have snowed? Isn’t it the unexpected chance of this warm, sunny, quiet, joy of alone yet shared moment that makes it so wonderfilled?

Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt is Sonnet which made me think of John Peale Bishop’s modernist sonnet “A Recollection” that we studied in the fourth week of ModPo (hint: it’s an acrostic 😁). The 2018 prompt was “Catch Me When I Fall.” The suggested form was the Terzanelle which has some interesting repetition.


When I fall, remember
not if, then the catch me
When I fall, remember

we are a spinning species
despite gravity’s writer releases
not if, then the catch me

describer I tell you these teases
because a rebel’s treble has legs
despite gravity’s writer releases

enough web will hold the dregs
but not catch me when I fall
because a rebel’s treble has legs

let my catcher quiver tall
with a finely spackled spine
but not catch me when I fall

the rind lined and intertwined
with a finely spackled spine
when I fall, remember
when I fall, remember

Screen in the Screen by Maria L. Berg 2021

NaNo Prep

Last night I got through my first skimming of the draft and listing all the characters. Wow that was a shitty first draft! Good for me, but I’m also glad I’m coming at this work as a complete re-write. Today I discovered the one thing I do not do enough in my work: sitting still with my eyes closed in the sun. I needed and wanted new names for my characters. I wanted to see what they look like and get to know them. It only took trying to sit still in a chair on a surprisingly warm sunny day to come up with all sorts of ideas and have to get up and write them down. I have always been bad at sun bathing. If the sun stays out, I might have my new writing technique: force myself to sit in a lounge chair and try to relax!

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 15: If Umbrage Were an Umbrella

The Spooky Forest by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “spooky,” I created a spooky forest for my skeleton witches to lurk in. I had fun bringing the outside in to create this little world.

An Eerie Glow by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt is “leaves.” The 2018 prompt was “If __________ Were an Umbrella.”

If Umbrage Were an Umbrella

over a dark wood
spooky, haunting
look there, be aware
near fear’s edge
jump scares come–
banging cupboards
footsteps creek
floorboards weeping
moaning whispers
stale cigars linger
something scrapes the panes
incomprehensible sound
movement unfounded
unseen forces pushing
and pulling the ethereal–
even when expected make
shudder quiver shiver
spine tingling
gut clenching
skin-jumping scares
eerie dreary swampy
fear clings wavering
on wheezy breezes
leaves leave
dried and dreary
bleary and weary
tree-cast shadow
cover me, from
feelings of hostility
vague doubts
bouts of suspicion
of foliage affording
shade, colors vainly
display a crisp
mockery of time

Ghosts on the Wind by Maria L. Berg 2021

NaNo Prep

I think I’m done with Writober for this year. I’m going to focus in NaNoWriMo prep instead. I started reading through my 2019 draft yesterday and I’m getting excited for my complete re-write. I’m already planning big changes including the names of the main characters and the POV of the opening scene.

I’m looking forward to joining my first NaNoWriMo write-in of this year this afternoon. I usually enjoy them and get some good work done.

Happy Reading and Writing!