Monday Morning Writing Prompt–November

NovemberHere in the northern hemisphere, November is a peculiar month. I often think of her in tones of gray, monochromatic, uninspiring. This year, however, autumn dwaddled, could not commit to color or cold until, at last, November charms.

For today’s prompt, let’s write to a November prompt. What does she bring to mind in your corner of the world? Weather? Elections? Boredom? Thanksgiving? Cold? Warming?

Remember, you’re invited to represent November in your own way, based on your own experience, using prose or poetry. Mr. Linky is not available right now–he’s undergoing maintenance. So to share your response, copy the URL and  paste it in the comments section of this post.

I will be posting a poll later this week. Because my soon-to-be-published novel (due out in December) is demanding some re-shifting of priorities, I will be combining MMWP and Wordsmith Wednesday into one weekly event. I need your help in determining which day will work best for you…which day allows you the most time to participate.

I look forward to reading your responses to this prompt and ask you to visit one another, as time allows. Have a happy writing week.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Taste

Monastic cellarer tasting wine, from Li Livres...

Image via Wikipedia

Returning to the theme of sensory description, let’s consider the importance of the sense of taste. I think about the depth and richness that food adds to our lives…I think of it twice a day when I feed my dogs their “nutritious” dry food, wondering how it would be to eat the same thing day in and day out. I think of it when I remember my dad, as he neared the end of his life and suffered from neurological changes that affected his ability to enjoy his food. And I think of it as I savor the wonderful meals my husband prepares for me.

It’s obvious that food reporters have the knack to describe tastes: rich, pungent, sweet, tangy, bitter, and so on. I love reading wine magazines that use luscious descriptions to describe the fruitiness, the oak, the earthiness of their tastings. Consider as well, how taste can be a metaphor for personality: feisty as a hot pepper, smooth as honey, bland as Pablum.

Take some time to read some of your own writing, whatever the genre, and see if you’ve incorporated taste and how it brings life to your work. On the other hand, you might want to grab a scene or a stanza that just isn’t working and spice it up by incorporating the marvelous gift of taste.

I’m adding Mr. Linky so that you can share the results with us. Just post your poem, short story or essay to your blog, access Mr. Linky and fill in your name, paste the link to your post then take a few moments to read other submissions.

This week, I will add a short story that I wrote a few years ago. My previous post, a poem titled “a taste of earth,” might fit the bill as well.

Happy writing. Enjoy the process.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Darkness

Darkness Over Eden 2709

Image via Wikipedia

Here in the northern hemisphere, autumn is finally creeping in. The days are growing longer. It’s become harder to drag the old body out of bed early in the morning. Darkness is upon us.

For this week’s writing prompt, I invite you to consider the darkening aspects of the season. You can take it wherever you like: nighttime, moods, shortening of daylight, personalities. The door is wide open, so let’s go out into that dark night.

To participate:

  • Write your poem and post it on your blog
  • Using Mr. Linky, share your name and a link to your poem
  • Pay a visit to other participants…as many as you can

The purpose of MMWP is to help you jumpstart your writing week. I don’t want it to be stressful, so the link stays open indefinitely. However your chances of having your poem read by others increases if it’s up sooner rather than later. If you would, invite your fellow bloggers to join in!

Thanks for your participation. And don’t forget, both poetry and prose are welcome!

I’m still have problems with commenting on blogspot and blogger, so if I don’t return your visit, know that I’ve read your work and appreciate you all.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt: Writing a Feeling

Venecian Masks

While perusing poetry for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets’ Pub, I ran across the work of Esther Douek on her blog “Life in a Poem.” As she explains, Esther wrote her poem with the specific purpose of eliciting a feeling. She invites the reader to experience the feeling over the meaning of the words and to share their emotional response in comments.

For this week’s prompt, I invite you to write a poem designed to evoke feelings and to respond to other participants by sharing the reaction their poems caused you to have.

You might enjoy visiting Esther’s poem and see some of the comments her poem produced:

Here’s my effort:


in the corner of the dark

room spider spins her web,

traps a fly.

you are prone, sipping

from a straw. your smile

flickers then you wait.

why do fireflies compete

with lightning when summer

becomes indefensible?

you are prone, tugging

at fringe on your prayer

shawl. deep breath. sigh.

tomorrow they say

will be the same as today

or the day before yesterday.

you are prone. glasses

smudged with grease and

sweat. how will you see tomorrow?

today the rent was due

they picked up garbage and

the mailman delivered more junk.

you are prone, fingering

rosary beads. eyes closed.

and still we wait.

Now, it’s your turn. Write your own “feeling” poem, post the link or the poem in comments, then visit and comment on your fellow poets efforts. It’s fun! I’d enjoy reading your feeling-feedback on mine, as well.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Random Creativity

Alphabetical indentations on a dictionary

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been away and am playing catch-up so please excuse this late post–a re-post from over a year ago when I first began offering these prompts.

One of my favorite exercises to help myself emerge from a creative slump is to take a dictionary and open it to random pages. Allow yourself to choose a word that appeals to you, then repeat the process about ten times or oftener if you like. You will be surprised how a theme emerges that allows you to construct a poem or short piece of prose with some degree of cohesiveness. Here is an example of a poem I wrote some time ago.


Was it only because the
shadows of crows’ wings
broke across winter fields?

Or because a fractured
glacier succumbed to
oblivion and thus
disappointed beauty?

In the silence of a
hermit’s breath
you can unravel
the sound of grace.

Did the journey
to the center of the
forest tear a
hole in the earth?

Or the void collapse
beneath the burden
of a ponderous
chord? Did dissonance

dissolve the barrier
between ocean and
tide pool until a
wave paused to reflect?

Do you think the light
will come back again
when clay pot shards
become whole?

Did you hear terra-

To me, this is different from working with a wordle. This technique speaks to the role of the unconscious in the creative process because you have chosen the words yourself. Mind you, the poetry is perhaps more obscure than what I usually produce. But it’s fun–try it and, if you will, post it in comments. Please feel free to adapt this exercise to prose if you prefer.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Commercial Metaphor

Chewing Gum

Image by EssjayNZ via Flickr

For our MMWP this week, let’s write a poem, essay or short fiction in which we use a commercial product as a metaphor.
1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.
2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.

I’ve chosen Trident Layers Chewing Gum–in case you haven’t had it, it comes in three layers of flavors. Here’s how I compared it to a sunset:

Trident Layers

Bite into it.
Bursts of
wild strawberry,
tangy citrus,
green apple
golden pineapple.

Yesterday evening’s
sky at dusk—
turquoise bleeding
into rose
molded into
a bronze goddess.

Savor deeply
beauty and pain.
Life tenders
her gifts—
the taste of longing

I hope you will post a link to your work in the comments section of this post!

Palm Desert-Photo: D. Slotto

Wordsmith Wednesday–Cultivating Imagination

Children play

Image via Wikipedia

Growing up when I did–a long, long time ago–I had abundant opportunities to cultivate my imagination. The games we played as children could not depend on media or even toys…with rare exceptions. Kitchen utensils and tin cans, my mom’s broom and a few cardboard boxes were all I needed to play house. I baked mud pies and used small swatches of material to make clothes for my doll. Sticks became arrows and we kicked a can. It was a wonderful childhood that provided plenty of exercise and ample opportunity for developing an active imagination.

Then along came adulthood. No more room for flights of fancy or escapes into other cultures…except perhaps in between the covers of a good book when there was time. Television took over relaxation and it was so easy to slip into modes of passive entertainment.

But for us, as writers, an active imagination is as important as pen and paper or a computer and keyboard. How often are you able to time travel to the Tudor era or the American West or hop a quick flight to Bangalore where your character may be following a lead on the tail of a criminal? Or, what if, you’re writing a scene in the middle of a blizzard while it’s 90 degrees Farenheit outside? We have to be able to mentally, emotionally, and physically transport ourselves to these times and places. We want to be able to think “outside the box.” Those of you who write Sci Fi even have to transcend dimensions.

So for this week’s post, I’m going to offer a few exercises to help flex your imagination muscles and then I want to ask you to either offer up an exercise of your own or share your response to one of the exercises that one of us posts. Or both. Go ahead and get in touch with that inner child and play!

Exercise I.
You are a small dog. How do you experience the world around you? Choose your own setting and characters.
Exercise II.
You are a reporter called upon to interview a great religious or political figure? Choose your own interviewee and describe one or two questions you would like to ask and their response to your question. Include setting and body language if you want.
Exercise III.
You live in (choose a country you have never visited). Describe the scents and tastes of the foods. This may take a bit of research.
Exercise IV.
You are dying and cannot speak. Who is with you and what is said?
Exercise V.
It is the opposite season of wherever you are now. Describe the scene you would see outside.

I’m anxious to see your response and I hope to use one of YOUR exercises to strengthen my own power of imagination. Now, go play.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–a Rant

Yelling Man

Image by Orange Steeler via Flickr

Life brings its moments of joy and it often seems easy to write about those: romance, the beauty of a moment in nature, children, pets.

It seems those experiences are highlighted when contrasted with events that are filled with frustration. You only have to open a newspaper to understand what I’m talking about.

For today’s writing prompt, I’d like you to zero in on something that you find frustrating or even anger-provoking. Write an essay if you will, a short story in which someone vents his spleen, or try this poetic form known as a rant.

A rant is usually written in free verse and so may tempt even those of you with poetic-phobia to give it a try. The topic should be kept to one (preferably exasperating) subject and explored from all angles and in excruciating detail. The writing is usually in the present tense.

I hope you will participate and invite some newcomers to join in as well. Remember that you can write poetry, essay or a short story and there is no deadline. Please post a link to your work in the comment sections of this post.

Here is my effort. Although rhyming is not part of the rant form, this is how it happened. This needs editing, so your input and suggestions are welcome.

Love Song to TSA

A Rhyming Rant


“Now, take off your shoes, jacket and hat.”

I take a deep breath, prepare for a pat-

down—here, there, all around—

(love being touched by some arrogant clown)

Keepin’ us safe, invadin’ our space.

Can’t take much more. “Hey, open that case!”

Shoulda stayed home and read a good book.

“Back through the x-ray; I want a good look.”

Next time I travel I’ll fly in the nude.

Just makin’ it easy, not tryin’ to be lewd.


Monday Morning Writing Prompt–the Artist in You

Image: Kindness of Anna Cervova

One of the things that I marvel at during this time of the year is the abundance of color that adorns nature. Summer makes me want to grab my paints and portable easel and drag myself out into nature to capture the moment. It seems I rarely do, perhaps because of inconvenience or downright laziness, but I often pull out my palette of words and pen down some colorful poetry.

For today’s prompt, I’d like to you put on the mind, if not the smock of an artist and paint a word picture, lavishing color, shape, perspective, texture, mood–whatever artistic tool speaks to you.

Please link your masterpiece in the comment section of this blog and remember, I don’t believe in deadlines for these prompts, so do it whenever you can and have fun with it. And if you are a visual artist and care to share your work, have at it!

You may have already seen this poem…I think I posted it a while back:

The State of Color 

When blue ripped a hole

in gray clouds,

the trumpet vine blared

blasts of yellow

and orange poppies

from the Orient

stretched wide

thirsty maws,

to consume rainbows

of dew.


Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Exploring Opposites.

Yin and yang stones

Image via Wikipedia

A useful skill for a writer is to be able to enter into the mind of his or her point-of-view character. Empathy and imagination combine to create a richness that would be absent if we remained content to parrot our own way of seeing life.

For today’s prompt, I’d like to challenge you to write flash fiction, poetry or essay in which you “become” someone who expresses life in a way that is opposite of your own experience. For example, if you are progressive in your thinking, write from a conservative point of view. If you are religious, try to imagine life as an agnostic. If you’re male, female. And vice versa for all of these and anything else you can think of. And try not to slam that contrary way of looking at things–truly espouse it.

For my second novel, I decided it would be fun to write from a male point-of-view. I haven’t shown it to a man yet, but let me put a small excerpt out there. I truly welcome your critique…especially from you men out there.

This begins the second scene. The protagonist, Matt, has just attended his mother’s death in a nursing home. Before she died, she confessed to him that she had lied to him about his father leaving her when he was a baby. She told Matt that he had been conceived in an act of rape.

 From The Sin of His Father:

Matt leaned against the rough bark of an ancient oak tree. Employees were beginning to make their way into the building through the glass door across from where he stood. He watched them slide ID cards into the time clock then scurry down the hall to the nurses’ station for report. One woman, an aide Matt knew, heaved her bulky frame onto the park bench to sneak in a few puffs from her cigarette before heading on in to learn at report that Ellen Margaret Maxwell had died a couple of hours earlier.

 Across the lawn, large crows helped themselves to bread crumbs. Matt knew that it had been Edward Riley, a resident of the facility, who’d scattered them. One of the birds interrupted breakfast to stare at Matt—Matt would have sworn it was so—and his skin tingled at the thought of stories his mother used to tell him of dead people coming back as black birds. Beside the predator, strewn feathers told of a smaller bird that had lost its struggle to keep on living. Matt’s grief came pouring out. That it was because of a fragile creature stunned him at first before he recognized the similitude. Like the wren, his mother fought her whole life for food and survival. She’d known a dark monster, too. Not one that would destroy her suddenly, mercifully, but one that most likely haunted every moment of her adult life. One that tore her down from the inside-out and in the end defeated her

The sadness Matt felt for his mother weighed heavy in the pit of his stomach. He swallowed air then swallowed again. The taste of the bitter coffee he’d sipped a few hours earlier crept up his esophagus and caused him to gag. 

Then another notion caught his attention. Why hadn’t she ever told him? Why had she borne this pain alone? Anger had always come easily to Matt but this was different. This was an energy that blinded him like the sun that shone with full force now, burning its way into the core of his being. His rage at his mother’s deceit caused his whole body to shake. Matt took a long draught from his pipe and felt the effects of nicotine spread inside him. He tried to go with it and relax, but couldn’t avoid the sense that everything in his life was a sham, a lie. He sank into the grass at the base of the tree and leaned against the rough bark.

It wasn’t long before guilt joined the fray. His mother had left him before he had a chance to absorb the full impact of what she’d just revealed. She’d died without his absolution, without his even being able to feel forgiveness.

Matt took in another mouthful of smoke and let the flavors roll around on his tongue. He blew it out slowly and smelled the slightly nutty aroma of the Cavendish blend. The crow had flown into the branch of a near-by tree and waited, perhaps for another victim. Matt watched the bird as it sat frozen in time. When, at last, it swooped off into the horizon, Matt caught his breath in fear.

 What if he was like that crow? What if he was a predator? What if he, too, carried genes that could cause him to be violent? Or deviant, like his father?

Now his mother was dead. He hadn’t had a chance to ask the questions that pressed him for answers. Before he could even name the deception that snaked among the crevices of his existence. Before he could understand the enormity of its impact on her life and on his own. Before he could forgive her deceit.

I look forward to reading your response to this prompt. Please leave your link in the comments section of this post so we can share what you’ve written. Have a happy, productive week.