#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 14: If I Were Me Dancing in the Rain

Familiar by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “cat,” I wasn’t sure what to do, because my kitty friend is too cute to be scary and too independent for costumes. So I had to put extra thought into this one. I woke up in the middle of the night and the power was out. After rummaging around and finding all my flashlights, hoping it was almost dawn, the power came back on and it was only 12:30 am. I was wide awake, so I decided to write in my journal. While writing, I remembered I have a weird little cat tree ornament, so after going back to sleep and waking up again, I made a little scene in which this creepy cat is the familiar of the skeleton witches.

A Monster Rages Inside by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt “rain” has “triumph” in the word prompts which I find interesting in relation to rain. In 2018 the prompt reflected yesterday’s with “If I Were Me.” That sounds interesting. If I were me, I would be dancing in the rain. The word “authentic” was on that list.

Another Rainy Day

rain makes green
and if I were me
I would be singing
“Once you’re wet
you’re wet” while
hopping from puddle
to puddle splashing
and laughing in my
thick rubber boots
that I bought from
the feed store full
of cheeping chicks
in Buckley. If I
were me, waiting
and it started
raining, I would turn
the music up loud
doors opened wide
dance ecstatically
under the clouded sky
until soaked in exhausted
triumph, I would pry
clumps of mud off
and run to the shower
and shiver in the steam
until glowing. If I
were me I would believe
that the rain brings
clean, fresh, new
authenticity, quenches
thirst, perks rebirth,
and reciprocity, but today
these days I’d say
I’m too tired and cold
and don’t want to get wet
or shiver or splash or drip
or trip through puddles
so I may not be me
maybe I need to
head back to Buckley
and see if I’m
peeping at chicks
in the feed store.

Levi became curious, and though not cooperative with my ideas, did get into a couple photos.

Behind the Veil by Maria L. Berg 2021
Possessed Mirror Kitty by Maria L. Berg 2021


This Week’s Story

Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

Today’s excerpt:

I pulled my poor mangled elbow out slowly this time. Sitting back on my haunches, I heard the scratchy voices and got the distinct feeling that they were talking about me. In retrospect, this is the point when I should have called a plumber, but

Maria L. Berg 2021
Conjuring by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 13: Haunted Surrender

Haunted by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “ghost,” I changed the eyes on one of my ghost filters and got out the creepy children figurines. Then I thought it might be fun to try some shots from outside in to capture some ghosts on the furniture, so I hung some lights in the window and went out on the porch. Then the happy accidents began.

Ghosts on the Water by Maria L. Berg 2021

I am usually irritated by all the bright lights my neighbors burn all night. The light pollution blocks out most of the starlight in an area that should be a great place for stargazing. However, this morning before dawn, those lights across the lake created a perfect palette for ghosts and their oddly right-side-up (or upside-down) reflections on the still, glassy water.

Ghost Reflections by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt “theater” goes well with the 2018 prompt which was “If I Were You.” It was the last prompt I responded to in 2018 and I wrote a blitz poem. There are a few lines from that blitz that I like and relate to today’s prompts:

Afraid to discover/Discover yourself/Discover you were wrong

Deceive your believer/Deceive with a smile/Smile through the pain/Smile while the heart breaks/Breaks barriers

Love ripped away in a day/Love in a paper heart

Consider your options/Consider how I feel
Feel the love/Feel for another

In the 2018 prompt, she talked about feeling the need to get things off your chest, and times you wish people would see things from your point of view, but “If I Were You” has very different connotations to me. And combined with today’s prompt “theater,” it could be about an actor’s process, trying to actually become someone else.

An Actor At Heart

This theater, repeat defeater, creeps
into everything, thespian terminator
of tastier chemistry, detonates the latch
that was holding me back, biting my tongue
biding my time to tame forgiveness wild
behind the clear fragile pane in its frame

And now, used as a mirror, a lover, afraid
to discover, discover myself in you, through you,
seen by you, discover I was wrong all along
that you deceive your believer, that I am
the believer deceived, deceived by a smile, the smile you
smile through, through the pain, through the
stuck loop-brain, mirrored smile as my heart breaks
finally breaking through the faux-mirror barrier,
the reflective shards splatter then scatter,
tatters of face laced lateral flattery lacks
fact staged as false safety now lost

And now, stage left alive while I writhe sleepless
again, rage kept aside childhood nights
of boogeymen, and man monsters in the closet
I posit I had no options frozen in loss
I tossed to any comfort familiar, known
clung to as home, though full of ghosts
haunted, roaming unwanted by most, I
became host to a diaspora of spirits

And now, I consider my options, plethora
of options to consider, one of those considerations
could be how you feel, how I would feel
if I were you, empathic fanatic actor
collector of others, crawl into your skin
shoes and eyes, see your lies and whys,
the trauma that creates drama in response
to the symmetry of leaves in trees

Studying the Beat Poets & My Exploration of Sonic Surrender

This week, week 6 of ModPo, we’re studying the beat poets. The section starts by reading and discussing Howl by Allen Ginsberg. As I read it I remembered a tape a friend gave me of Steven “Jesse” Bernstein. I heard the music behind Steven as he spoke his poems while reading Howl. I hadn’t noticed how close their rhythms are before.

Then I read some of “Old Angel Midnight” by Kerouac and watched Anne Waldman perform “Rogue State” and started to wonder about my concept of sonic surrender vs. “babble flow” vs. nonsense. I like the sound collecting I’ve been doing and connections I’ve been finding, but I’m not completely surrendering to only the sound of the words. I’m not even repeating words and phrases very much. I’m stuck in a constraint of creating meaning, wanting to create shared understanding, and I think I like that better than babbling sounds.

Last night I watched the movie Howl for the first time. It wasn’t what I expected. I liked how they included a dramatization of the obscenity trial against the publisher. But mostly it was a beautifully animated reading of the poem. One of the important things I took away from the film was Ginsberg’s belief that a poet had to bring the voice they use to talk to their friends to their poetry.

In the Light by Maria L. Berg 2021


This Week’s Story

Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

I’m having fun taking my time with this draft. Sharing my progress here is great accountability to keep me working on it. Today another fun idea came while I was writing. Here’s an excerpt:

I loosened my tie and pulled it over my head. I had the clever idea of lowering the tie down there, like a colorful silk claw-lure. After letting it dangle limply for a few minutes, I gave it a few quick jerks to make it dance, grab attention, but no takers. When I pulled it out it was splotched with black ooze. Ruined. Stupid.

Maria L. Berg 2021
Ghost by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 12: An Ode to Tortured Love & Frogs

Light Frog by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, is “frog.” My nephew told me that my next bokeh filter should be a frog a while ago. I’m glad I finally made it. I like how it turned out.


Today’s prompt is “ode.” The 2018 prompt was “Tortured.” I like the contrast of writing a tortured poem of praise. It really captures the chaotic loss of control of love.

The Tuesday Writing Prompt at Go Dog Go Café is to write a poem without using the words “the” and “and.” I think this constraint could work well with sonic surrender, so I’m going to give it a try.

Today’s Poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub: to write my way out of a place of pain, fits so perfectly with my thoughts of an ode to tortured love, it’s as if Ingrid was in my head this morning.

Oh, my Torture, this Love

When pain reigns, thrilling
heightened awareness glaring
nerves sparking with life
firing toward limitations
creating tense-muscled suspense
extremes of what I can stand

Is it fear that brings me here?
Does my flesh believe it will tear?
Warning of peril from unlimited pleasure
chaotic behavior when overwhelming
pre-frontal processes, living uninhibited

In dizzying free-fall, Contusia
dazed in a haze, purples
sensitive to touch, crazed
obsessive worries in separation
so unstable wobbles, topples hobbled
drained faint–that in-between pain

like frogs hopping perilously
across back roads in thick morning fog
brought on by a pond squashed in grills every year
I am drawn to danger, red cayenne heat of danger,
frying-pan-to-fire danger, tightrope-no-net danger,
thin lines connecting cliffs over synaptic canyons
too far to cross, between gains
lost, ends too soon

Lake Frogs by Maria L. Berg 2021


Go Dog Go Café also has a Halloween-themed Prompt Challenge looking for Halloween inspired original pieces of writing / and or art. Submissions are open until October 25th.

This Week’s Story

Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

This morning I started the draft and it already surprised me. I’ll keep writing to about 1,000 words today and then let it simmer again until tomorrow. Here’s a little excerpt from my protagonist’s childhood trauma flashback:

I’m not sure what I did to convince it to stop playing dead, but when it did it was all claws and teeth. Its feet pierced my neck and shoulders trying to hold purchase while its teeth and front claws went for my head and face. I dropped the wood and flailed, but couldn’t scream for fear that parts of it would get in my mouth. So no one came to my aide.

I fell hard to the concrete on top of the wood I dropped, bruising my ribs, and played dead myself. It didn’t take long for it to lose interest and scurry into the shadows. I crawled up the steps and cried for my mom. She covered my cuts in stinging alcohol. I filled the house with screams, outmatching the wind until it died, and she took me to the hospital.

Maria L. Berg 2021
Frog on Her Head by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 11: A Darkness Falls

Night Dancing by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge,”night,” I had some fun creating my own starry night in the daylight.


Today’s prompt, “horses,” took me by surprise. I have odd, mixed feelings about horses. I’ve been to horse camp, a dude ranch; my sister trained a horse in the field I walked through on the way to elementary school every day, but I don’t have much of a fondness for horses. A girl fell during a ride and broke her leg at horse camp, and the horse my sister was training gave her an awful kick. I almost got bucked off during a ride. I guess I see them as unpredictable.

I like the 2018 prompt “Falling through the cracks.” I really like the picture I took of the broken sidewalk in the warm sun of New Orleans, but my poem about watching ants isn’t very exciting. There are a couple of things I like from the poem :

“The alluring scent guides you ever after.” I like the idea of scent and human pheromones, how we fight our natural smells that might be our animal pheromones and yet created an entire industry of scents to attract. This makes me want to re-read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins again.

“Forever in need . . . Famine or greed?” Though I put a line between these two, this is a question that defines everyone’s life: philosophy, religion, politics, everything is need, but the question is why do we need and how do we fulfill those needs. Needs and choices for need fulfillment define every story.

Will my feelings about horses, and falling through the cracks combine in a night of needs and greed?

The Cascade form has a fun repetition that should work well with sonic surrender.

A Darkness Falls

tonight’s moonlight falls
falls through the cracks
the cracks in the panes

shadows gallop through starlight
like wild horses across the walls
tonight’s moonlight falls

rushing like waterfalls
spreading darkness heavy falls
falls through the cracks

blindly crawling over tacks
tracks bleed familiar paths
tracking the cracks in the pain.

A Twinkling of Stars by Maria L. Berg 2021


Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

Today I’m going to attempt to let the story grow in my subconscious by ignoring it today. Like saying “Don’t think about an elephant,” makes you picture an elephant, don’t think about my story, think about anything but my story, should get ideas rumbling around for drafting tomorrow.

When the Stars Come Out by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 10: Walking on Air with a Wisdom of Owls

Nutty Owls on the Brain by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge “owl,” I woke up with owls on the brain. Then I ate them, so I had to look for more owls. I found a parliament in the bedroom closet.

Parliament by Maria L. Berg 2021

With all the birds and little bats in the area, I thought there would be owls about, but I haven’t seen any. Now that I made an owl filter, I can put owls in the trees and all over the lake. I’ll fill this place with owls when the rain stops. For now, I’ll play with my wisdom of indoor owls.

A Colorful Sagacity by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt is “End-Stopping.” I find this constraint intriguing in combination with sonic surrender, since sonic surrender has been all about flow. How will it feel to put stops in that flow, like large stones in a river? It also asks about stops and endings. What do I want to stop, to end? And when it stops, what will begin?

The 2018 prompt was “Walking on Air.” I tried the Con-Verse form and wrote a poem called “She Knows They’re Watching.” I think end-stopping each line could work well with the Con-Verse form.

Stop: I Want to Get Off!

I dance on air without care.
My face aches joy, smiles to spare.

I spin, dizzy and sick with love.
Stop the ride! I want to get off.

Is an end but a bend in the road?
A pause in my perceptual code?

Suspense lies between feeling and action.
My gut lost to the free-fall of passion.

That’s not the same ecstasy I yearn for now.
The burn in my mind combines rich words I’ve found.

I climb to new heights as I fight gravity’s pull.
Where my rhyme-rhythms collide with clouds, I stay fueled.

So I turn and I twirl, as in flight, round every bend.
My perceptions connect spaces and make shapes again.

Perched by Maria L. Berg 2021


Since this weeks twitter chats were both chatting about NaNoWriMo, and I’m looking at plotting today, I thought I’d look back at my detailed NaNoWriMo posts from 2017 for inspiration. Those posts are filled with great prompts, exercises and links.

Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

Plot Points

  1. Opening image/MC’s world: Is the entire story in the bathroom, or do I open with my professor gossiping in class? Maybe the opening scene is him entering the bathroom on his cellphone gossiping about his students or other teachers. Who is he speaking to? Is it the dean with a complaint?
  2. Inciting incident: hears noises in the shower
  3. Refusal: thinks something is stuck in the drain
  4. Meeting the mentor: watches favorite DIY guru video on phone
  5. Point of no return: there is no drain, no pipe, nothing
  6. Tests, Allies & Enemies : I may have a little fun with my setting. Is the toilet a friend or foe? Is the bathtub complaining or offering Sage advice? 🤔
  7. Approach to the inmost cave: false achievement – cuts hole in floor
  8. The ordeal: Has to face childhood trauma of animal attack–an opossum or a skunk, those would both be scary. Then, while he’s freaking out, the animal gossips about him in familiar voices?
  9. Reward: finally sees the harm of his fault, but that’s only the beginning.
  10. The road back: I think the complaint from the dean at the beginning will become a physical threat.
  11. The resurrection: He jumps through the hole he made into the terrifying space under the bathroom floor to hide from the victim of his loose lips and thoughtlessness.
  12. Return with the elixir: he tells the student/other teacher something terrible about himself to save his own life, but then the gossip makes his life unlivable.


Making progress. I like the turn this took at the end, bringing one of his gossip victims in as his judgement. I have my theme: loose lips have consequences. And my turn: when he has to face his childhood trauma. I’ll work on a chiastic outline and share what I come up with tomorrow.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 9: #SoCS My Skin is a Lid Twisted Tight

Blood on the Horizon by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge “blood,” I played with some fun color filters. For the image above, I used a red lens that screws onto my camera lens. When I put on the red lens, I forgot I was also using a color filter built into my camera that captures everything in black and white except for the color red. Somehow, that turned a small portion of the sky gray ( I think that’s a little mountain peeking through the clouds) .

Bloodletting by Maria L. Berg 2021

It’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and the theme is “lid.” Here’s a section of unedited stream of consciousness from my journal this morning:

This morning as I thought about lids, I kept coming to put a lid on it, put a lid on me, but the first post I read went to blow the lid off. Do I feel I have already twisted the lid off the jar, escaped confines and would be contained, silenced, quieted, tamed, while she sees enclosures, full of pressures building, fermenting, fomenting that without poked air-holes must explode? And upon removing the lid what truth does she expect to reveal? Something both sweet and sour, bubbling and gassing, I assume. . . I keep thinking of jars, twisting lids, but boxes have lids, bins have lids, tupperware lids seal freshness in, treasure chests have lids on hinges, a lid can also be a cover, close something up/away, also good for stacking, flattening, a lid contains a collection, defining as finished, meant to stop the growth, slow additions, unwanted admissions.

Maria L. Berg 2021

Sanguine, Though Brain’s on Wrong by Maria L. Berg 2021

I found the brain lid and red goo of my zombie candy from the other day as a perfect symbol for today’s prompts.


Today’s prompt is to explore what we do to relax and recharge. The 2018 prompt was “Love,” not only passionate but all forms of love: “platonic, familial, charitable (think compassion; love for strangers/animals/etc), and self-love (think self-esteem and confidence).” So some self-love for relaxation and rejuvenation while I think about blood and lids.

Today’s suggested form is a Loop poem.

Loose Lids

Keep your mouth shut
shut mouth, eyes open
open eyelids stay put
put a lid on it
it being knowledge
the ledge you know
know your container
tamer of motion
the motion of notions
potions from mouth to ears
ears to fears can’t roam
roaming fears cause panic
panicked people lash
lash out and run amok
amok-running is not ideal
ideals have boundaries
boundaries lined and ruled
rules measured building pressure
pressure from every side
sides provide surfaces
surfaces to bounce off and collide
colliding with others feeling trapped
trapped and bombarded by projectiles
projections of expectations
expectations and rejections hurt
and hurt feelings grow
grow under the sealed lid
the lid now visibly bowed
bowed out, expanding, from pressure
pressure from gasses unable to escape
escape here, escape now, how
how to blow the lid off
off-gas the soreness
the sore, tight tension
and retain some gains
gain clarity and sincerity
while letting loose
losing the lid but not the liquid
liquidity of fluidity intact
intact in the flow the vessel emptied
emptied anticipating filling
or filled with happy nothingness now
now in this lid-less moment
this moment of free ions
ionic charges attract things
attracting opposites

Blood Splatter After Brain Replacement by Maria L. Berg 2021


I think this is going to be a very close, closed story of guilt and obsession. A first-person POV with only one character in one setting, a small bathroom. So, I thought I would start with character development this time.

My protagonist is Sage Manos, a chemistry professor who looks like a giant starfish with obsessive elbows. He has odd speech patterns because he’s always saying “but, anyway” and never finishing what he is saying. His destructive flaw is arrogance. His constant gossiping and only thinking of himself have made it hard for him to keep a job. He’s hoping this fixer-upper in a new town will be a fresh start.

His epiphany “once you learn the truth, there’s no going back” combined with his suspicious behavior of spying on people could be interesting for the plot. The trauma of an animal attack when young and his secret money stash could both tie in with the image.

I still need to figure out his story want, the dramatic question, theme and turn, but I think I’ll be ready to brainstorm plot points and play with an outline tomorrow.

Any scary loglines you want to share?

River of Blood by Maria L. Berg
In My Blood by Maria L. Berg 2021

Thinking About #Writober

It might already be a zombie vampire. Watch Out!

I got in the Halloween spirit a little early this year. Yesterday, I was tweeting about Readers Imbibing Peril. It starts the first of September, but I always forget until October. So in one way I’m early by only starting a couple weeks late. This year’s group book is The Sundial by Shirley Jackson. I started reading it just after watching the first episode of the new season of Slasher and something was oddly familiar. I think I’ll finish the book and then see if Slasher really is mangling it. I haven’t picked any other scary books to read this season yet, but I do have a bunch of thrillers on my kindle. Readers Imbibing Peril also has a fun photo challenge this year and a BINGO card. Oh, so much Halloween fun!

I also went through a list of the top 200 horror movies of all time on Rotten Tomatoes and made lists of movies I haven’t seen yet that looked interesting, or at least were famous, and movies I want to watch again. I would have to watch two or three a day (don’t have time for that). But at least I won’t have to search for something to watch for a while.

Usually for #Writober, I create a collection of images on Pinterest and challenge myself, and you who want to join me, to write a piece of flash fiction inspired by the image each day of October. The first and second years I actually came away with some finished flash fiction. The last few years I haven’t gotten much past a one or two sentence microfiction each day. This year, since my focus is revision, I thought I might choose about six of my favorite microfictions from previous years and expand them into flash and or short stories. I think Ray Bradbury’s schedule of a story a week is much more doable than a story a day, especially when I’m doing OctPoWriMo as well and writing a poem a day.

So that was the working plan for #Writober, but then I saw A. M. Moscoso’s Halloween Prompt Challenge over at MY ENDURING BONES and those all look like fun. So now, the working plan is to go through the last five #Writobers and pick my favorites to revise and turn into stories, and to pick some prompts from the Halloween Prompt Challenge to write new stories to, too.

When I went to Pinterest to link to last year’s images, I noticed I had been collecting images for this year, so I filled up a folder for #Writober6 in no particular order for you to pick and choose from when you’re in need of inspiration. Since I’ll be going back through all the #Writobers to find my favorites, here are links to each of the collections:

  1. #Writober
  2. #Writober2
  3. #Writober3
  4. #Writober4
  5. #Writober5

I hope all of that creepy, scary goodness gets you in the Halloween spirit, too. Or you can bookmark it, and come back when you’re ready 👻