Category Archives: Prompts

Happy Mother’s Day from Alabama… Oh, and an Update

WRITING PROGRESS REPORT:  For my May 9 Minimum GOAL: 3 hours.

YES! I DID IT! I spent my first hour sorting out things I no longer needed in my story and getting things lined up correctly. Then I spent most of the final two hours fussing with character names . . . FINALLY got my 30+ characters with appropriate names both from the standpoint of the national origin, AND with meanings appropriate in SOME way to each of the characters. All of that also helps me to give an added level of meaning to the characters and therefore to the story itself. I had a little time on my hands this afternoon, and spent it reading another story from the book Grim, mentioned here previously. This was probably my favorite so far in the volume. It had the real feel and value of the old-timey fairy tales I read as a kid and drew memes and ideas for multiple old tales. Besides, it was just flat – out a fun read!

TITLE ~ AUTHOR REACTION/IDEAS

The Raven Princess ~ Jon Skovron

A queen with a crying baby girl is unprepared to care for the child, and wishes she could fly away with the nearby ravens. The wish comes true and the princess can only assume human shape for an hour at midnight. At age 18, she comes across a hunter in the forest who cannot bring himself to kill. She makes a bargain with him that could free her if he can wait until midnight, sans any food or drink. He promises to do so, but is tricked by an old hag (her sorry mother) into eating or drinking anyway. How he finds the Princess again, and whether she’ll have him or not after three betrayals . . . well, you’ll have to read it yourself. Memes from many old tales, with a feel of the real and old tales I read as a child. Cleverly done, even squeezing in a hint of the Princess on the Glass Hill.

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Update from BB in Alabama: May 8

Note from Herb: We’re visiting family in Birmingham, AL. The Internet connection at the motel is flaky at best. Bear with us as we try to get these updates out in a timely manner. Thank for your patience.

WRITING PROGRESS REPORT:

For my May 7 Minimum GOAL: 3 hours.

YES! I DID IT! Organized some notes (and took down some new ones) to help with my WIP, re-vamped some of the goals. Did some new writing for the WIP.

Every writer needs to be a reader as well. I’ve always known this, always believed this. I’ve also noted that some of my BEST ideas for writing have come while reading. As I am currently writing a fairy-tale type story, I’m also reading old fairy tales I’ve loved forever, new ones that are mock-ups of old tales in modern garb, and some which are just written as a “new” fairy tale. All of that is to explain why PART of my daily “writing” (3 hours) is actually reading: currently a book named GRIM (edited by Christine Johnson) containing short stories from “some of the best voices in young adult literature today.”

Stories Read:

TITLE ~ AUTHOR REACTION/IDEAS

The Key ~ Rachel Hawkins

1st person: Lana, teen & runner whose Momma acts as fortune teller out of their trailer home with some heads-up help from Lana who actually has some real psychic ability. Lana’s crush on Skye comes to a dangerous point when she “sees” him as a . . . Oops! don’t want to give too much away. Definitely a fun and somewhat twisted story, but too little “fantasy” element for me.

Figment ~ Jeri Smith-Ready

1st person from a non-sentient creature’s POV, whose “thoughts” can be heard by the “right” person, left to Eli by his now-deceased father, a former one-hit wonder musician. Interesting novelty to the POV! How could I make that work in my WIP? The “creature” can bring Eli fame AND fortune, if only he’ll respect the “creature’s” abilities. He names the 0creature “Fig” for Figment (of his imagination). Eli’s band becomes a success, but Fig knows Eli should go solo. The band breaks up at . . . There I go again, almost spoiling the story. . . but it’s a good one!

For my May 8 Minimum GOAL: 3 hours

YES! I DID IT! Double-checked that my COMBO file for Twisted Oaks Hollow had everything in it that it needed. Spent some time reading while visiting HA’s sister, Vickie. Wrote some notes on the reading and ideas that came up; will go back to reading to complete the last of my third hour, and hope to stay the full 3 hours in the motel tomorrow morning, working on Twisted Oaks Hollow, while HA visits family again. Will go with him in the afternoon for family time. Today’s reading covered:

TITLE ~ AUTHOR REACTION/IDEAS

The Twelfth Girl ~ Malinda Lo

Creepy, modern interpretation of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. LOVED the forests of silver and gold trees in the original. In this case, the girls are in college together with an elite group living in The Castle. Only 12 at a time, though three,including the sister of the girls’ leader, Haley, have “disappeared.” Liv, a new girl, is invited to take the sister’s place. They go down through Haley’s closet and/or hole in the floor beneath her bed, enter what seems to be a night club at midnight, dance until 3 am., then return to the Castle “dorms.” A dark, unspecified, probably male, character lurks in the shadows. Eventually Liv looks for help to break the “curse” on the girls and . . . that’s enough! WOW! The best match to the original was the night club’s rooms of crystal, silver and gold leaf décor of three rooms. The old story is turned on its head. Would love to write my own version which would be as non-threatening (at the end) and magical as the original was for me.

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/30/15

The End‑of‑April Last DAILY Prompt (at least for a while- See the last note): Think of three quite different emotions. Imagine which one of your characters might feel all three of those emotions within a fairly short time period. Write a scene which shows the character flipping from one emotion to another, and possibly even back again. Does s/he then come across as a person who has “flipped out,” or one who is displaying expected and rational feelings? Which of those ways would you most like your reader to think of your character? Just have fun with it!

YES! I DID IT! Disgust, Desire, Fear — I’ll take these three. My MC, an early 30‑something male, wakes up at mid‑day from a nightmare and looks around his habitation: it is cluttered and filthy, and it’s all his fault, as he lives alone. He walks outside and takes a short break from his filth, as well as a drag on his last remaining cigarette, and slips psychologically back into a dream‑state, only to see a luscious, though imaginary, woman — with wings! She’s teased him with her presence before. He wants her — too bad she’s doesn’t seem to be real. He dismisses the idea of trying to find a “real” woman like that. In the next moment, a screeching and mewling, as if of a hundred cats, assaults his ears. And the sound all seems to emanate from his upstairs window. In spite of his terror, he runs back into the house, to find the reality: his pathetic and dilapidated apartment is full of cats — some of them hurt or mutilated. And they blame him and begin to attack, wave upon wave.

He moved from disgust with his life style, to desire for a phantom woman, to fear of the cats. I think most readers would believe him to be a rather reprehensible person, but not one who has “flipped out”. Women readers, in particular, might find his life style disgusting and lazy, and might be disgusted at his interest in the “desirable” winged creature, but his fear of the cats would certainly be understandable. I think male readers could more easily imagine themselves in a position such as his, and might feel a trickle of fear (at least FOR him) as the cats attack. They might sympathize to some extent.

OOooo! I liked the idea of combining several emotions, and writing a scene where a character had logical reason to feel one the other without seeming crazy or out of touch with his reality . . . Okay, it’s a given that HIS “reality” is NOT Reality. But the EVENTS themselves seem even crazier than he does.

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )


WRITING PROGRESS REPORT:

And for my April 30 Minimum GOAL: 1 hour (this should have been a “clear” day, and therefore a 2‑hour goal day, but family circumstances dictated otherwise, sometimes that happens) so — YES! I DID IT! I worked on finding “order” among the events of this very convoluted story I’m writing. Part of that is in re‑doing parts of it, more or less like the Prompt I gave some time ago about creating a SITUATION, and then coming up with COMPLICATIONS within the situation. In fact, I think I’ll do even more of that with the rest of the story as well.

Note from Herb: As many of you know (and some may not) I do not write the blogs. I just post them. Brenda (BB) is the main engine on this enterprise. I have written a few in the past, but this month has been all her.

We’re getting ready to go on vacation, but we will be posting periodically while we’re gone. There isn’t a set schedule at this time or even a set format. We’re open to suggestions. How about a Throw Back Thursday where we republish one of the more popular blogs from the past two years? A weekly or every other weekly book review? Let us know what you’d like to read about.

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/29/15

From Cheryl: Look at the politics of your world. J.K. Rowling: civil rights to executive actions during war time. Hunger Games, more political than romantic. What goes on behind the scene? Abortion? Gun control? Freedom of Religion? Free Speech? Universal Healthcare? AND WHY do they feel this way? Write it down, but don’t reveal it — and watch characters take on new life. So here’s a writing prompt you don’t need ‑‑‑ in fact, should NOT — to share with your “readers.”

YES! I DID IT! Just a few samples of my thoughts on the politics of my world in Twisted Oaks Hollow: I scarcely think about politics in MY life, let alone in the lives of my characters, so how do I do that? These are good ideas, but how to approach them? Roles of women vs. roles of men might be a way to start. Lackley, for instance, has no property rights, but then her father was an over‑seer more than a land owner. He acted as though he owned the land, but in reality, it would have belonged to the Ultimate Leader, whether King, President, or whatever (I won’t say which here) — and how would I portray that in the story? What if Lackley had been a boy? Would he have inherited his father’s title? Could be. So is it time for Lackley, perhaps on her return, to take over for her father? So far, and I am really at the beginning of this look at their world, she seems to have no siblings, so that might be one way to approach it. What would happen to her father’s “legacy,” if he should die? Or abdicate, or whatever? Since Lackley will have a “sort of” happily ever after at the end — but will have learned much getting there — it only seems natural that she would share the burdens of leadership with her “significant other.” But HE will already have decided to . . . . .

I’ll leave it there, though there’s more. That’s just the beginning of my “secret thoughts” on the politics of Lackley’s world.

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )


WRITING PROGRESS REPORT:

I made a “happy mistake” on April 28’s report, so here’s the update: I wasn’t supposed to start my 3 hour minimum goal days until May 6, where I wrote it supposing my 2 hours was not enough. So, by doing 2 yesterday, YES! I REALLY DID DO IT!

And for my April 29 Minimum GOAL: 1 hour — YES! I DID IT! and made my one hour by thinking through and writing about the politics of my Twisted Oaks Hollow’s politics. As it turns out, it will particularly have impact on the eventual denouement! Yay, Me!

Tomorrow’s report (for April 30) will be the last of the “daily” blogs which we’ve posted through this entire month. Check in then, to see our announcement of our “What Comes Next” plans!

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/28/15

Last year, with Christmas looming, Carol commented in “Throwing Up Words” that we should write a scene “from your character’s POV about their favorite holiday.” For years, my favorite was Christmas. Then I grew up. My mother passed away the day before Valentine’s Day, so that became a “favorite,” and a time to remember. I got a divorce — a second time — and Halloween became my favorite, where I had every opportunity to be “witchy” and no one judged me. What’s your favorite? Write a scene about your character’s favorite.

YES, I DID IT! I wrote about preparing for “All Saints Eve.” Managed to work in a little magic, a lot of superstition, and it was perfect for something in the neighborhood of the 16th Century. The atmosphere of the heath at that time of year, the various preparations of food, drink, the celebratory drinking and entertainment, the crowd atmosphere, superstitious antics, charms and curses are all becoming a colorful part of the story.

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )


WRITING PROGRESS REPORT:

April 28 Minimum GOAL: 3 hours — only made 2 of them, but finished cutting “garbage” out of my WIP. Good thing I got 6 hours in the last 2 days when I only expected to do 1 hour each.

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/27/15

I was sick all last night — throwing up (and worse) every two hours . . . my Garmin Vivofit bracelet informs me I got 1 hour and 27 minutes of sleep last night. It made me think about my characters — well, by LATE today, I thought about them. Do any of your characters get sick? I mean, probably with some characters that’s what the story is about. But what about the average Joe (or Jolene) who’s just going about his/her day and then gets really, REALLY sick? How does it interrupt the story? (I know this has knocked me out so far for two full days, and still counting). Who helps take care of him/her? How does s/he deal with the illness? Is it lasting? Or just a blip on the map?

Your prompt: give one (or more) of your characters an illness, short‑lived or long, you decide. What is its impact on the character? The story? The other characters? The flow of what’s happening next?

YES! I DID IT! It has delayed my character’s planned trip into the “outside world,” She is frustrated, angry at herself, unmotivated (at first) to stop and deal with it. But it’s bad enough she has to find a way. It’s effects are NOT lasting, except that it makes her more sympathetic to other characters who’ve had interruptions within their lives — whether long or short — because she “gets” it. Fortunately for her (and for me), there don’t seem to be lasting effects. Hmmmmnnnnnn!

(Feel free to re-use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications — I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . .)

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/26/15

When I was 10 years old, we moved away from Hawaii and returned to Utah. As we drove over the Pali on Oahu (you couldn’t drive THROUGH the Pali in those days ‑‑‑ the tunnel came much later), my mother said, “Brenda, look back, down the mountain. You may never see this again. You should remember it.”

“But why?” I said. “It’s just all green.”

Then Utah. Deserts. REALLY big mountains. Autumn leaves. Snow. That was some change! I guess I’ve never been big on “looking” at the real world. Would I rather read about it in a well‑written book?

So the Prompt for today is to take something of nature, be it what you can see right now out your window, or a scene remembered ‑‑‑ maybe as far back as childhood. How can you write that (for those of us who are less observant individuals) and bring it alive for a reader. What difference can it make to your manuscript, your story, your MC, the “bad guy”?

YES! I DID IT! I remembered a time, early morning, when the sky outside my bedroom window made the cream‑colored shutters glow in gold. I jumped out of bed, pulled on some clothes and went running outside to see what was going on.

A small excerpt of what I’ve written about that morning:

For days, the fog had made this December more dreary than ever — yet here it was, almost Christmas. Something new must be happening for this much gold to invade. Knowing “nothing gold can stay,” I rushed by the alcove, giving my favorite statue a tiny, finger‑tip kiss as I passed, pulled on my jacket, stuck my feet in the running shoes which lay by the door, raced down the hall and out the front.

The air itself was golden!

Fog and dew had frozen on the trees, which lifted their whitened limbs into the radiant air. From my front step, I could see only as far as the second house west on the circle. But, for a moment, the fog — not the dreary, depressing gray which had haunted us for so long — cocooned itself and everything else in a lustrous, golden mantle. . . .

I ran down as far as the corner, seeing one house, then another, slowly take form ahead of me in the shimmering air. Bushes, trees held out white‑tipped limbs and fronds, yet presented their stolid, black trunks and interiors as a sign of stability in this fantasia world. . . .

Now, tell us what you’ve seen and been able to slip into your writing.

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . .


WRITING PROGRESS REPORT:

April 25 Minimum: 1 hr   2-3 hours’ worth of planning the new writing schedule – WooHoo!

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