#OctPoWriMo Day 31 & #NaNoWriMo Eve: Happy Halloween!

Welcome by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s last Halloween Challenge this year, costume, I used every one of my lights and “costumed” my driveway.

The Driveway in Fancy Dress by Maria L. Berg 2021

I really enjoyed starting each day jumping out of bed and grabbing my camera, so I made this November prompt calendar to keep myself inspired. I hope you will join me and leave links to your prompt-inspired posts in the comments.

November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021


Here it is, the last day of OctPoWriMo and NaNoWriMo eve.

Today’s prompt, “Goodbye train,” is an interesting prompt. I’ve ridden many, many trains in Europe and the United States throughout my life. Reflecting on each of these train rides may lead to some interesting poems. However, today only evokes the strange, ghostly train whistle I hear sometimes in the house. I assume it’s the freight train along the tracks at the bottom of the hill, but that is so far away and it creeps in randomly, sounding so close. A moaning siren traveling like fog over the lake, seeping through the windows in the dark.

The 2018 prompt, “Endless,” is apropos as my daily poetry journey is not ending, only changing to the November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Anyone else participating this year?

This Isn’t Goodbye

Or is it?
It could be
It has been
so many times
but usually a good-
bye means I’ll see you
later in a time or place
I haven’t imagined yet, but you
know better, whether you will wish
to see me again, or speak to me when you need
as if I was always there, sitting next to you on the train
while I read and pretended not to feel me next to you
an entire world of unknowns that you might accidentally
fall into if you said hello and wanted to.

Rhododendron Dressed Up as Ghosts by Maria L. Berg 2021


Whose staying up until midnight to write their first sentences? I’m going to see where the day takes me. My regional group has a Halloween movie watch and then a countdown virtual party, so I might join in. Hopefully, I can get my mind around Discord better this year. It hasn’t been a great platform for me in the past. I’ll keep trying since that’s how my region does events.

So are you all prepped up and excited to get started? Last year I was so prepared and it paid off. This year, doing a re-write, I feel less prepared, but I think I’m over-thinking. I’ve done some important prep and I’m still really excited by the idea, so let the craziness begin!

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!

#OctPoWriMo Day 24: Winter Blossoming

The Canopy by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, forest, I got up early and went out to see what the forest had to offer.

The Floor by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt is “millstone.” The 2018 prompt was “opening.

She opens in winter

as the darkness heavies
like a weighted blanket
comforting her in calm
settling solace sought
swirling silence surrounds
the thick gray cloud cover
weeping upon her window
panes placate the wanderer’s
physical will and climbs instead
into her moss-roofed
shed of imagination
like the magic wardrobe
she secrets through
thick firs into fantastical
worlds of danger and
adventure where good
and evil collide and
she must fight to survive
with quick wit
and fire she faces
each failure hungry
to open
the doorway

Communing by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#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!