Tag Archives: reading

April Showers Bring Writing Flowers

This is your month. I don’t care if you’re a writer who makes words every single day or a reader who loves the story-telling process. If one of these ideas sparks your interest, start writing. There is no better way to express your love of a story than by writing your own.

Even if you never share it, try it out. And if you find after you’ve written your idea and it surprises you with its wit, its humor, its drama, its strong character development–send it to me at Amyoung0606@gmail.com by April 26th and I will publish it on this blog for everyone else to enjoy your hard work.

1. A young girl and her mother walk to the edge of a field, kneel down in the grass, and plant a tree.

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2. A mama cat gives birth to a litter of four gray tabbies and one little orange runt.

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3. Inspired by Jurassic Park, a biological engineer is committed to recreating dinosaurs. While researching ancient dinosaurs, the scientist stumbles into evidence that fire-breathing dragons once soared over the land and decides to recreate those instead.ZZ3DC6E0A6

4. A man who sees ghosts checks himself into a mental institute, not realizing that the facility has been closed for almost thirty years.

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Don’t waste another minute thinking these negative thoughts:
I haven’t written since high school/college-if you are inspired the writing will flow. It doesn’t matter how much technique you know/don’t know. If you are passionate and inspired it will work out in the end.

I don’t think I could make a story from an idea someone else is giving-every idea comes from someone or something else. A person you’ve met, something you’ve seen, a past experience. These prompts are just here to facilitate inspiration to get the writing going. You don’t have to do them exactly, you can just borrower the idea, twist it, change it to your own liking and make a story all your own. These prompts are just tools to help.
I read a lot, but I don’t know if I can write- you will never know if you don’t try. Again no one else has to see it. You owe it to yourself to try a part of story-telling. You may appreciate stories even more.

Just give it a shot, if you do and don’t like it. Feel free to tell me. Or suggest something else you’d want to see. Perhaps you’d benefit more from learning about plotting or talking about ways to incorporate different writing techniques. I will be happy to give my readers more than just prompts to help their writing blossom.

Happy reading and writing!

 

 

 

 

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Ode to Writing & Prompt Reminder

In honor of Valentine’s Day I’d like to post about three love-related announcements (and some delightfully adorable Deadpool-related photos because that movie blew my heart wide open).maxresdefault

97c1efd3d4e609e3e80ddea777290b261) Reminder that you can submit a story from the love/superhero themed prompts selected at the beginning of the month to me atAmyoung0606@gmail.com beginning 2/22, which will be published on this here humble blog. See HERE for this month’s prompts and HERE for my post about how I’m writing mine for this month.

 

2)I traveled all the way across the internet to one of my favorite author’s blogs in order to post what I love about writing. She was gracious enough to allow me onto her blog space in addition to putting up with my super fan antics as I continue to gush and fawn over her writing on a daily basis. Read my short post here!

3) I’ve written a poem. Not a good poem, but a poem nonetheless. This poem expresses my love of writing. Enjoy!

Ode to Writing

Every word I write, I love you more.

Every scratch of my pen, I know you more.

A plot device there, a metaphor there,

Brings me closer to who you are

Late nights with strained eyes—burned out creator,

I yearn for you to reveal your true nature.
I dream of life for you beyond these walls.

With friends, strangers, readers young and old.

You, dear creation, will be a book one day.

It is my love for you that paves the way.

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Happy Reading and writing!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Day 11: 12 Days of Blogmas

Myths and Expectations of Prompts

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I will disclose that these myths and expectations are not held by the community as a whole, but this is to explain all sides of using prompts as a writing tool and the doubts you may have. As we all know there are benefits and disadvantages to everything.  So, here are the misconceptions about prompts and their value to a writer.

1. A prompt is just a writing exercise, it can’t actually help you if you have writer’s block.

Nope. While the act of using pre-set prompts is a writing tool used both in the classroom and at home, it doesn’t negate the power of writing something without any deadlines or pressure. This is essentially what a prompt exercise provides. A guided (meaning not staring at a blank screen), guilt-free writing session solely meant to help your creativity back on the rails, so that you can write stories again. Does every prompt result in a great new story? No. But on the off chance that it does, it can be a welcomed surprise to add to your portfolio.

2. A prompt is great practice for amateur writers who have nothing to work on, but I don’t have time if I’m working on my current novel, story, etc.

Also, not entirely true. There is a time for focus and a time for distraction. When you’re focused too much on a piece, you can end up losing your momentum, your mojo, your creativity. A prompt is a productive way to relax from your work in progress and sometimes necessary. It can remind you what it feels like to be excited about a new idea (which tends to wane in the middle of a novel length piece). Again, there’s no pressure involved in a prompt. It’s just writing a new idea to give you new inspiration and creativity.

It’s that simple. If you’ve been writing a piece for long time, you deserve, no, you need a break. And if a night out on the town, reading a book on your TBR list, or watching some TV is TOO much of a break (as it can be if you are on a deadline or trying to meet a certain goal), a prompt is a fun way to keep your mind going without thinking TOO much about the pressure.

3. Prompts are great to get good practice with writing, but all I’ll end up with are a bunch of useless scenes from stories that don’t make sense.

Bzzzzt! That is an incorrect answer. I have, in my short obsession with prompts, written three short stories (albeit still under revisions), a prologue for my novel (three separate prompts into three separate scenes), and and entire chapter of a future novel (currently on ice). How is that for successful. Could there be more success from the prompts I’ve tried? Absolutely, but just like any normal writer idea, some are not meant to come to fruition. But any prompt can give a new story life or bring new energy to one you’ve been working on.

I successfully managed to write five prompts specifically in the world of Dollhouse Daughter. Only three made the cut, but unlike anything my peers and mentor had seen, I managed to apply five completely different ideas to one world, one set of characters, one story. And that can mean the difference between writer’s block and writing a new scene you didn’t know you needed. All thanks to a writing exercise you found online.

Now, I know most of you are indifferent on the topic of prompts, not many of you are raging against the promptmachine for being unfair and useless. But their importance is far undervalued in terms of allowing you to flourish as a writer, especially in times of blockage, drought, and overall difficulty while writing.

And sometimes they’re just fun!

So, check out my prompt submission for the month of January, and give it a shot.

Also, look out for my last, if not grossly belated, Day 12 of Blogmas where I combine all of the Blogmas prompts into one story. And it’s a full story, too. Mostly. I think. Let me know what you think!

Happy Reading and Writing!

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Day 6: 12 Days of Blogmas

Today is another special post. Taking a break from rules and tips of prompts to give you a winter-themed piece to chill your bones.

This is extra special post for the Spotted Writer because this piece is written by my best friend, Megan. She is working ruthlessly to finish her first novel, and on the road to completion there is always a time where parts of the unfinished product are shared. Sometimes it’s right after you’ve written a scene and sometimes it’s only when you’ve finished the first draft. I’ve convinced her that now is the time to share some of her glorious wordsmithing with us!

Now I know my minions, as in all things, you will read and be fair when it comes to shy writers or new writers or anything posted on this page.

This is the prologue to Megan’s fantasy work in progress. If magic and wonder and intrigue and drama and life and death and good and evil appeal to you, so will this. Without further pomp and circumstance, here is the prologue to Megan’s work in progress.

Prologue

Zavos stood out on the balcony of the Castle of Veratis, looking out over the crystal blue Glass Bay. The Bay was aptly named due to the treacherous icebergs and the water, so chillingly cold it felt like being cut with tiny shards of glass. The sky above was grey and thick with fog and small black birds could be seen diving in and out of it, occasionally sweeping down and gliding just over the Bay, wetting the bottom of their feathers. Zavos wore a thick blue robe with a grey shawl to keep warm as he gripped the railing, losing himself in the endlessness of the waters below. His salt and pepper hair tumbled down around his shoulders, scraggly and unkempt, locks of hair knotted into his beard.

Even untidy and growing older, you could tell by looking at his hooked nose and icy-grey eyes, he had been handsome once. He often came out to clear his head, he couldn’t help finding the beauty in something so dangerously calm. He twitched his fingers together, nervous about the calm in Azia, wondering if it would last or if it would only progress into a terrible storm of war. These things often occupied his mind, after living for four hundred and thirteen years you tend to see history repeat itself.

Maybe this time will be different, the Beks have been laid to rest, the boggarts have retreated underground but is it enough? Magic always seems to corrupt those not strong enough to wield it.

“Brother! Are you still out here? It’s freezing.” Arivan swept through the patio door out to the balcony with his typical exuberance, in a burgundy robe embroidered with gold swirling designs. He had thick, curly blonde hair, peppered with grey and a shorter beard that mixed red, blonde, and grey. He held a tiny white teacup, which was billowing steam and handed it to Zavos. Zavos accepted the cup graciously and gave thanks. He pushed his beard back and held the cup just below his chin for a moment, letting the steam warm it before raising the cup to his lips to take a careful sip, droplets of tea hugging the ends of his mustache.

“Thank you, brother.” Zavos acknowledged again gratefully.

“You’ve missed dinner…again. Alaya is growing concerned, caring for your Neri has been trying for her, he’s grown rebellious in his teenage years.”

“And you think teaching him magic is the answer? Do you think it’s helping in any way?”

“Oh, Zavos not this again. He has the gift, he is the son of a creator. We are the only two that remain in this world with this powerful of magic. He has to be taught, we will not live forever and he will be left to rule Azia.”

“What if I don’t want that for him?” Zavos snapped.

“Who else? The humans? The gifted ones can barely perform the most simple spells. The elves are too unfocused and self-absorbed. The keepers serve their purpose already, and don’t even get me started on the Octarians, those stubborn high elf bastards have been itching to rise to power since the dawn of Azia.”

“Well, what of Odrin? He holds great magic.”

“Odrin is a shell of what he was. You know Neri is the only option, why do you fight it so? Please tell me it’s not jealousy over his learning from me. I know for a fact he’d be thrilled if you taught him.”

“Jealousy? Don’t be foolish. No, magic corrupts, look what it’s done to you, you’ve become obsessed. You say I’m distracted? Where are you at night? Holed away in your library doing God knows what till all hours of the night and whispering secrets with Neri. I don’t want to watch the world we built burn down to ash and rubble.”

“You worry too much, brother. Magic is beautiful. Without it our world wouldn’t exist. Azia is as quiet as it’s ever been. Be content with that and come inside and see your family, soothe their worry. Magic is never going away, not as long as I have breath.”

Arivan threw his arm around Zavos, causing his tea to dribble down the cup and singe his finger. He led him inside and Zavos joined him reluctantly, glancing back longingly at the icy water.

****

Arivan began the climb up the spiral steps to the keep, that just about reached the clouds. He could just barely make out the lighthouse style tower up at the top. After reaching his third circle around, he reached his black painted wooden staff, with a ruby in the center of enclosed branches, up towards the sky and shut his eyes, envisioning the top of the steps until his body tickled with pricks of electricity. Every pore was on fire and every hair shook as he felt himself enveloped in a shroud of magic.

When he opened his eyes he was at the top of the winding stairs, standing beside a rickety old railing that when he looked over, saw nothing but a blur of green, brown, and blue, swirled together like a watercolor. The height made his belly flip flop a bit so he pulled himself away from the railing and faced the entrance to the keeper’s tower. He looked up at the great cobblestone structure that appeared to be on it’s last legs, arching to the right as if falling. Arivan felt the magic here, weaving into the air and keeping the building sturdy. He felt for the brass knob on the curved circular door and pulled it open.

When he stepped inside he was blown away, as he was on every occasion he had been to the tower, staring at the full shelves of books that lined each wall. The circular room had the tallest walls that seemed to lean slightly, and yet every book was in it’s proper place. Ladders lined every other group of shelves and inside was drafty and smelled of mildew and dust. he saw the keepers, in brown robes huddled around a circular table covered in giant books with a map spread across the center. Zavos was already there and was the first to look up and meet Arivan’s gaze. His eyes looked hollow, he was nothing but a shell of a man hunched over, his hair grayed and fingers trembling over the pages of a book he was holding. Arivan walked in confidently towards his brother, pushing back the curly blond locks from his face.

“Hello brother, you haven’t aged a day, still playing your magic tricks I see.” Zavos said.

Arivan tried to brush off the jab.

“I was quite sorry to hear about Alaya.”

Zavos winced at the mention of her name and Arivan reached out a hand to touch Zavos’ shoulder but he shrugged it away.

“I did notice you weren’t at the funeral.”

“I didn’t think I’d be welcome…I should have listened to you.”

“I don’t want to discuss this brother, let’s get to the matter at hand. We know why we’re here, the magic in Azia has corrupted you and everything here, just as I said it would.”

“Brother, you are grieving, it’s not so bad, sure there are a few violent uprisings, but it’s nothing that can’t be resolved. Magic is what created this place, OUR magic, surely that can’t be bad?”

“I disagree. You taught Neri dark magic against my wishes and now him and my wife are both gone. Everywhere I turn I see corruption and greed, it disgusts me and it’s time something was done.”

Arivan sighed and looked down from his brother’s cold gaze back to the table, taking a closer look at the maps which depicted what looked like a venn diagram. Two circles filled with land markings, mountains, and vast blue waters with an overlap in the middle. Zavos watched as Arivan studied the maps for a few minutes before speaking.

“Are we in agreement?”

“It doesn’t seem that I have much say in the matter, what if I don’t agree to aid in this plan?”

“Then I’ll be forced to strike you down.”

Arivan felt the sting of his brother’s biting remark and sadness swirled up in his stomach, making him nauseated. He tried to process the gravity of the decision before him but his head was clouded with emotion, he dropped his head and almost whispered

“Fine, I don’t want to cause you any more pain.”

Arivan looked across at the keepers with a serious, but numb expression. “Let’s begin”.

Happy Reading/writing!

Be sure to check out the link to Megan’s blog, which has a few tidbits of her non-novel writing: https://foxyintronerd.wordpress.com/

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Day 4: 12 Days of Blogmas

Welcome to Day 4 of  Blogmas minions!

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Today I want to share the first of a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of a writing prompt.

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It is difficult enough for a writer to decide on a story’s beginning, its main conflict, or its content without outside influence. It can be even worse with the wrong kind of prompt.

In terms of origin, I believe the prompt was developed as a form of guided free-writing. That seems like an oxymoron, but when a writer is operating at lower creative speeds or at a full stop (writer’s block to those who believe in its existence) a guided free-write, in the form of an idea or beginning phrase to help inspire a new, unusual, or wacky story.

 

While this may seem like a cute, quirky little exercise to help young writers to learn how to develop character or the importance of place, it’s grounded in a lesson every writer can learn from.

Sometimes creativity needs a little help. It can come in the form of a suggestion from a beta reader, a new character or inspiration, or thinking of a story from a different angle. And this is where the prompt comes in. A good prompt can be used one of two ways: as the inception of a new idea or to help open your mind on your current work in progress.

And the quality of the prompt is how you optimize your use of the prompt. Take for example my first prompt: Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird swooped down…

It’s the beginning to a new story or simply a new scene. Depending on your style and content it could fit into a current work in progress or begin a whole new set of characters for you to fall in love with.

So, back to the prompt. It’s specific in its imagery, the descriptions of the snow and the moon, setting up a place, a tone, and even a character. It also brings you into a bit of action moving the blackbird in the second sentence. And at the same time it’s not too specific. It could be the beginning of a typical winter for Massachusetts  or a fantastical alternate universe where global warming causes snowfall in the Amazon at the time of the harvest moon. How ever you interpret the prompt, it should allow you enough information that you’re not staring at a blank page, but not confining you to someone else’s idea.

This, in a nutshell, is what makes a prompt well-written and useful. When it can guide your creativity towards a single focus (maybe not on your current work in progress), but something new and fresh to get your mind going. And if you’re lucky, it can turn into something helpful for your work in progress. For some it’s just in terms of getting the creativity working. For others, it can be just the medicine they needed in order to get their mind back to their work in progress.

For me, prompts have been most effective at bringing me new sides of a story I’m struggling with. Dollhouse Daughter (my Master’s manuscript)  has several scenes that would not be in there if not for writing prompts. The entire prologue is the prime example. The last part of the prologue was written with a prompt (courtesy of my beloved mentor Janice Eidus) that had to use the word animal, bones, and one other word (that eludes me). It was the perfect opportunity to showcase a vodou ritual that begged to be written into my story.

Each prompt may not yield such great results or end up in the final draft, but it will do this: give you something to think and to write about.

So, next time you’re stuck or in need of something new to do. Pick a prompt. Pick a friend and write one together.  And then share it with me I’d love to read your prompts.

Happy reading and writing!

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Day 3: 12 Days of Blogmas

There’s been a slight change to my 12 Days of Blogmas my delightful minions.

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I regret to inform you all that the contest will no longer continue. There was an unfortunate shortage of submissions.

However, I am not going to dwell on the sad, but I will rejoice with you in my fortune that two wonderful submissions came across my screen and I was able to share them. What will hopefully happen for the rest of Blogmas are some insightful, maybe funny posts about writing with prompts, a recollection of my Master’s journey, and a finale of my own writing prompt as promised.

I hope that you will continue to join me on this Blogmas trip. Tonight is a rest, but tomorrow I will return with many more words and hopefully interesting topics to discuss.

Happy Reading/Writing!!

 

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Day 1: 12 Days of Blogmas Writing Contest

e540cf5ce3cb720b224eb522429dbef6Hello my gorgeous minions. The day has finally arrived when I can begin my 12 Days of Blogmas writing contest.

The first submission received was from Rona Rosian Boley who chose the first prompt: Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird swooped down…. Below is a little about Rona and even further below that is her submission titled: “The Letter.”  Enjoy!

About Rona: Lover of books, cheesecake and pop music. Independent and amusing. I read most anything, but must admit I am partial to the bodice ripping romance novels because I am a sap. I know, I know. I should be more selective. *hangs head in shame*  I believe in happily ever afters for everyone but myself. I have always loved writing but tend to limit it to amusing postings on Facebook and the occasional blog type piece. I wanted to major in English in college but was afraid I couldn’t be creative on demand. So I chose psychology. I figured the degree was cheaper than therapy. I don’t work in the field, but use it frequently to advise friends, family and the occasional stranger in the mall who happens to sit on my bench and unfailingly finds me so easy to talk to, they tell me their life story. I’ve been told I could get a mute to speak. Trying to move out of my comfort zone and actually put into practice what I’ve always wanted to do…..write actual stories.
“The Letter”

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Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird swooped down and the shadows on the ground gave the illusion that there might be something edible to peck at. Success was found with several rotting apples lying under a nearby tree. The feast was suddenly interrupted by a booming bark and the bird gave a startled squawk as it flew high up to the safety of the branches above. From its perch, it peered around to find the source of what was now a continuous series of excited barks.

Golden panes of light shown onto the yard from the living room bay window of the small Victorian home in the evening darkness, and as the bird could now see, a large German Shepherd was standing on its hind legs, face pressed against the glass.

Inside the home, a female voice called out, “Asher! ENOUGH!” Asher gave two more short barks and then trotted over to the owner of the voice.

Heather Collins came out of her bedroom, sweatpants and T-shirt replacing her daily school dress attire. She was in her third year of teaching first grade, and while she loved shaping young minds, by Friday she was in dire need of decompressing from dealing with 30 little individual personalities all week.

She grabbed her mail off the dining room table where she had set it down earlier and headed to the living room with Asher quietly trotting behind her. Sitting down on her favorite spot, a seat tucked under the window, she sorted through the small pile of ad sheets and envelopes that had come that day. As she came to the last envelope, her breath left her in a gasp. She paid no attention to the now cascading mail as it slid from her lap onto the hardwood floor or the soft whimper that came from Asher.

Her eyes stared at the return address on the envelope, unbelieving of what they saw. After all this time, was it really him? The name reached up to her, like a hand out of the past. Her mind began to whirl as memories came flooding back, and with them a multitude of emotions. Suddenly, it was as if the room faded around her and she was transported back in time to that first moment.

 

It was 11th grade English and she was staring out the window, bored with Mr. Pagano’s droning voice. The classroom door opened, and there HE was. She was vaguely aware that there were others in the room, but like every cheesy romantic cliché she had ever read about, everyone seemed to fade into a hazy periphery. Had a heavenly choir of angels broken out in song or a unicorn pranced slowly by the classroom door, it would have somehow been believable and not out of place.

Mr. Pagano took the note handed to him, glanced at it and then announced, “We have a new student joining us. Please welcome Rick Anderson, coming by way of Michigan.”

Before she knew what was happening, Mr. Rick Anderson was walking directly towards her. Apparently in her distracted state, she failed to hear Mr. Pagano instruct him to sit in the empty seat beside her.

“Heather, you can share your book for the rest of class until I can get one from the supply area for tomorrow.”

Share? Share what? Her mind failed to grasp the concept of the word, her brain cells having taken a momentary leave of absence. With a disgusted mental snort at herself, she came to her senses at the sound of the desk chair scraping along the floor and found herself staring directly into the face of her new classmate.

His eyes were brown. No, not just any brown. Heather tried to decide exactly how to describe the shade and the best she could come up with to herself was root beer. Root beer? Heather was not one given to flights of fancy. She was serious, studious, honor roll ever since middle school. The fact that she could become so completely flummoxed by the sight of one guy was incredibly disturbing to her. Horrified by the realization that she had been mindlessly staring at him without uttering a peep, she cleared her throat and said, “Hi, I’m Heather.”

His answering smile and response of, “Yeah, I know,” confused her.

“You know my name?”

He gestured his head towards the teacher, “He told me to sit here, remember?”

“Oh! Yeah. Right.”

Good grief, could she embarrass herself anymore today? Believing that silence was her safest course of action, she took that route and the rest of the class period passed without incident. When the bell rang, she quickly stood up, ready to flee the scene of her humiliating loss of common sense.

Before she could move though, Rick spoke to her and asked, “Hey, mind if I hang with you at lunch? It sucks being new and the cafeteria is always the worst part when you don’t know anyone.”

Heather thought of the mine field of verbal snafus that awaited her if she agreed, but he looked so eager and appealing, that she found herself answering, “Sure.”

And that, as the saying goes, was the beginning of it all. Her trip down memory lane was swiftly brought back to the present with the resuming of Asher’s excited barks.

“Asher, what are you barking at,” she snapped.

She looked through the frosted window to see why he was so wound up. The sudden flapping and swoosh of a blackbird past the window caused her to issue a small shriek and yank the curtains shut.

Heart pounding from both the letter still in her hand and the unexpected close up view of wildlife, she went into the kitchen to make herself a calming cup of tea. As she waited for the water to boil, she looked down again at the envelope, wanting to make sure it truly was his name on the return address. She tried not to think of the last time they spoke. Even now, after all this time, the pain still welled up inside of her, like a hot poker to her heart every time she remembered it. With trembling hands, she turned the envelope over and opened it. Taking a deep breath, she began to read.

 

 

Let us know what you thought of the first submission. What appealed to you about the use of the prompt and the story in general.
As always Happy Reading and Writing!

 

Blogmas Day 1-COMPLETE!

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