Friday, October 18, 2013

Subterra: Go Underground: Subterra: Three Doors PG 1

Subterra: Go Underground: Subterra: Three Doors PG 1

Yes, I know it's not a writing prompt.  It's something infinitely better!  Subterra: Go Underground, a comic written by yours truly and art-ed up by Dennis Coyle III is finally LIVE.  Click on the link above to see the first page and bookmark that url, because you'll be coming back over and over each week to see the newest page. 

Join the journey into an IET (Inner Earth Tunnel) with the misfit trio of TR, Bert and Akbar.  They all have their own reasons and motives for going underground.  Wanna find out why?  Yea, you really do.

Come and get it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Writing Prompt #9: We Call Them Lies

Half-truths.  Twisted realities.  Hedges on facts.  Good old-fashioned lies.  As a truth-teller (most of the time, though if I were a liar, how would you know...) I find my writing reflecting my own personal notions of honesty when it comes to communication.  One day I would sincerely like to try writing a piece with an unreliable narrator.  Sure, I have characters that lie to other characters, but I would like to write a character that lies to himself.  As if the stream of consciousness of said character were so riddled with known falsities that it takes over the perceptive abilities of the character.

Don't you think that is the primary element of a dishonest narrator?  In order for lies to be told to others or oneself, there must be a judgment cast on the veracity of perceptions or statements.  You have to know when you're lying for it to be a lie.  Otherwise, you're just delusional or uninformed.  Delusional and ignorant characters are great, but they don't have the bite of a true pathological bender of truths. 

So the prompt is thus:  write a one to two-page short with a dishonest character.  Practice dialogue riddled with lies and inner dialogue riddled with lies.  Then, when finished, write a paragraph about how YOU felt writing a dishonest character.  Was it exhilirating or taxing or scary?  Then, if you feel up to it, share your results with me via the comments or email me your work.

To kick it all off, here's a pic of my cat.  Note the sign on the fence.  I live in a house of lies.  LIES!

Maybe the cat ate the dog.  Must beware of cat now.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Writing Prompt #8: Your Face On A Cake

Yes, I've been gone for over a year.  But I'm back.  And I'm ready to give you guys something to write about. 

And as a heads up, please note that I have my own website at You'll find info about projects I'm working on along with blog posts about my own travails with writing. Please visit the site and take a look around. 

But if you're here only for the prompts, I gotcha covered. 

Writing Prompt #8

Technology is amazing nowadays.  We can take pictures and then take those pictures and turn them into pixels of magic in the tornado of a mystical frosting machine and end up with pictures of pictures on a sheet cake.  The picture below is of a piece of cake I got to eat at a friend's birthday party the other evening.  I happen to be one of the faces in the picture.  And when I dug into the chocolate cake with the white frosting, I wondered whether I was actually okay with eating my own face and the face of my friends. 

It's just sort of weird, this Face Cake thing...

This lead to existential questions of my own visage, my own physical persona and the face I show to the world.  It also lead to questions of cocoa powder and butter-cream frosting versus a nice cream cheese frosting base.  You know, REAL questions.

So here is YOUR question:  If you could put an expression, a human one, on something edible, what expression would that be and what would be the foodstuff wearing it?  Would you paint a grimace on a plate of post-flambe Bananas Foster?

Then, once you've got it primed with a face, what do you do with it?  Eat it or preserve it?  Run away from it?  Toss it in the garbage?  What can you face?  Yeah, I turned to a pun.  I'm sorry.   

Monday, June 4, 2012

Writing Prompt #7: As It Please You

I'm not a hoarder.  Or at least I'm not anymore.  When I was young, I would collect all my Halloween candy into a plastic My Little Pony suitcase and store it under my bed.  I didn't eat any of the candy.  Instead of having bits of chocolate at the corners of my mouth or a blue tongue from some artificially-flavored sucker, I would tuck it away.  Why?  Well, it wasn't so much for me as it was for other people.  When friends would come over and ask to see "it", I would slide the bag out from it's hiding spot and undo the aluminum latches and then I'd wait for the response.  That's what it was for: to see the wide eyes, hear the pleasing "ah" fall out of my friends' mouths.  I was showing little kids the Holy Grail of Rancid Confections.  The fact that they were pleased was more pleasurable to me than tucking my cheeks full of sugar. 

And that, friends, is what begins today's writing prompt.

Let's get our pleasure on.  

Writing Prompt #7

You can take this writing assignment two ways: go the autobiographical route or work it around a character in a story you're working on.  Or you could do neither. You could just read this prompt and flip me the middle finger.  Because honestly I have no idea what it is that you're going to do after you read this.  Unless I'm stalking you.  And I don't know if I'm stalking you because I don't know who "you" are.  But there is a good chance I'm stalking you anyway.

You can look at my bits and pieces, but you CANNOT eat them.

What activity do you engage in that gives others as much, if not more pleasure, than it gives to yourself?  And let's be realistic; the activity need only be a little ego-less on your/your character's part.  I really loved seeing other people drool over my candy.  That part was for me. 
Got it?  Now write a scene describing the action that makes other folks happy as clams or as giddy as kids looking at a rainbow-colored suitcase full of moldering Snickers Bars.    

Friday, June 1, 2012

Aware Enough to Write

It would be easier for Buddha to write if he had hands...
There is a rather entrenched belief that there is no "middle ground" to the writing life.  You either strive, strain, kill yourself over your syntax or diction or you go the way of the divinely inspired, only running to your writing desk when a sharp, clarion call to the page keeps you from eating or sleeping.  What if it's neither of these things?  What if a sustainable writing life is a mixture of the two, combined with a bit of - gasp- fun?

I was a writer that prescribed to the former way of doing things.  For years, I literally tortured myself over my writing.  There weren't any knives in my ribs or thumbscrews on my hands, but there might as well have been.  Because even though I was certain that my passion was writing, I couldn't enjoy what I was doing when I was crafting a story.  I had bought into the notion that it had to be difficult: tears shed over whether or not a paragraph was "good enough", stomach twists while watching other people reading over my words.  There was a clear lack of joy.  In fact, it wasn't even a lack of joy.  It was simply pain.

I never thought of myself as a masochist, but my actions were saying otherwise.  I was willing to write, but I was also willing to sacrifice my mental health to do so.   

So I decided to change the way I looked at writing.  Or rather, I shut out the loads of programmed bullshit I'd allowed into my brain from years of writing and English classes.  I wouldn't worry about whether or not my story about a German exchange student would be "good" enough to end up in some literary journal that five thousand people subscribe to but only five people actually read.  I wouldn't worry about artificially creating thematic elements in my work. In other words, I'd take my mind out of the Iron Maiden.  And just, whoa, write.

This new way of writing, cutting out the self-doubt and axing the nagging bitch that lives somewhere in my cerebral cortex and says rather nasty things, has allowed for a new writing experience.  My writing has gone zen, gone mindful and aware and totally present.

Here's what I do; I begin each writing session with meditation or an exercise in awareness.  I don't sweat out my plot points or worry about how I'm going to describe a murder scene.  I breathe.  I look at the grain in my desk, the way it flows, the way it looks like a bit of cartography, lighter landmasses surrounded by blue-gray water.  I touch the tip of my tongue to the roof of my mouth and smile.  I actually smile before I write.  And this makes all the difference.

Because now, when I write, I don't hate the potential product, cast doubts on it or shelve it somewhere high on a pedestal.  I am present and I am writing.

When I'm writing, I'm a writer.  When I'm not writing, I'm a person that doesn't agonize over the fact that I'm not writing.  Instead, I'm present in whatever is happening then, at that moment.  Walking in Albertson's park with a new friend, being greeted by a young doe and scores of geese dropping chocolate brown feathers.  Brushing my hair and noticing how the snags turn into shiny, flat locks.  Kissing.  Laughing.  Weeping.

All these things are just as good as the writing.  And the more aware I become of my actions, the less I care about the labels.  Am I a writer?  Yes.  But when I'm kissing, I'm a kisser.  And when I'm crying, I'm a crier. 

But am I any of these things always?  Permanently?

Hell no.

I won't always be a writer in action.  I may take on the moniker as a way to self-identify but there are many other descriptors to play with as well.  For now, writer suits the me of today.  And the writer of today, well, she's going to have a ball getting those words out and down and put to task.

She'll reveal in it, even.  She is revealing in it, now.     

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writing Prompt #6: For Tomorrow We Die

You may be asking yourself where my writing prompts have been these past few weeks.  Or you may not.  Because you probably don't care.  But if you do, then let me explain.  I've been stuck in a well.  I know.  It sounds unlikely.  But seriously.  Wells are super slippery and and once you fall in one, it's hard to get out.  Especially when Lassie isn't around.  And there are no more buckets on ropes.  And that scary brunette girl with the wet nightgown won't have any of you leaving.

But I'm back.  And only slightly damp from the entire thing.

Writing Prompt #6: For Tomorrow We Die

Don't panic.  We aren't literally going to die tomorrow.  Well, some of us might.  I hope not.  But that's life for you.

So, in a semi-famous work known as THE BIBLE, Paul says, "Let's eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die."  Killer line.  Pithy and appropriate on so many levels...

Let's all do a "fill-in-the-blank," shall we?  The task is to come up with our own dialogue excusing our wild excesses and wanton actions, followed up by the latter part of the line, "...for tomorrow we die".  I suppose it could be something tame, like, "I think we better put on clean underwear, for tomorrow we die."  Apparently dying in dirty undies is a major point of anxiety for some people.  Not me.  But I've heard of it being worrisome.

Come up with something that needs to be done before biting the dust on the morrow.  Once you've got that, come up with a character that would speak this line in a story.  For example, the character that says, "I think we better put on clean underwear, for tomorrow we die," is a woman in her mid-fifties that wears curlers to bed, feeds her cats raw ground beef and touches her chest every time she talks to a man younger than her.  Her name is Linda.  She is a Cancerian.

Okay, got the line and the character?  Do you like them?  Do you really like them?  Well then give them a world to play in.  Maybe even let them live past tomorrow.  Or not.  But get the story done today, for tomorrow WE DIE.

And all come back as zombies.    

Monday, April 9, 2012

Writing Prompt #5: Body Parts Like Something Something

And away we gooooooooooo!!!

Writing Prompt #5

No matter who or what our characters are, no matter if they're alien or human or little shiny toasters, we have to give our readers some descriptors on what our heroes and villains look like. Thing is, a lot of writers (and I'm counting myself in this group as well) fall back on the typical physical targets for our cliche metaphors and similes. We tend to talk about the hair, the mouth, the eyes. I'm just going to go ahead and say that if we never again read about eyes described as pools of water we'll all probably have better lives. And live longer. And have awesome sex.

Seriously. Let's stretch that descriptor muscle (Um, this could be one of the physical body parts worthy of describing...). What about the earlobes? What about the shape of the moles up your heroine's inner wrist? What about the strange, stunted nub on the Tractyl Minister from Alpha-574?

Here's the deal: Dream up a character and write a paragraph describing their physical condition without resorting to the boring standbys of lips as red as blood or biceps bulging out of a ringer tee. Characters have more body parts than that. I swear I've seen more than eyes, noses and lips on people (though those might be the only parts of a Tractyl. I can't readily say.). Pick some of the other body parts and work on describing them with substance and attention to physical detail. It's sure to make your writing more dynamic and unique. Or at the very least, it'll wake up readers when you wax poetic about webbed toes and goiters.