A Creative Writing Challenge for You

Winslow wakes up, lying on a cement floor. He blinks, not sure where he is. The room he’s in is round, about twelve feet in diameter. The cement walls are white, and the light seems to be coming from a circular disc slightly lower than the nine foot ceiling.. He finds that he’s wearing black sweat pants and sweat shirt, white socks, and running shoes. A plastic bottle of water rests next to him, unopened, no label. His last memory is of going to bed in his own room, in his Denver apartment, after a full day working as a coder for a website company.

The only feature in the room, other than a hole the size of a pop can in the middle of the mildly slanting floor, is a five inch long, two inch tall slot about knee high on the curving wall. He sticks his finger in the slot, but cannot feel anything. It’s black inside.

What will Winslow do next?

Writing Colleagues!

I am in the process of taking my now-defunct Ed2Go course, Beginning Writers Workshop, and turning it into a Beginning Writers WorkBOOK. I hope to upload it onto Amazon this fall. Before then, I was wondering if any of you (if any of you are still out there!) would mind writing me a blurb of one or two sentences that I can include on an inside page or the back cover, mentioning that you found my course helpful. I would want to use your name and short description, such as “Well-known blogger from Moosejaw, Alaska” or “Intrepid writer/librarian from Appleton, Wisconsin.” You get the drift.

The workbook will be sold at a very low price (I don’t really need the money; I just like to teach and write) so, as always, consider this a chance to have fun, be creative, and appear once more, in writing.

I hope you will post your ideas here. Multiple submissions are fine!

Miss you guys.


What Do You Think of This Idea? [please read and comment on this new section from my proposed Beginning Writers Workbook]

Motivation is a mysterious subject. You may have wondered why some days you can’t wait to dive into the writing while other days you simply don’t want to get your butt into the chair and do the work. What’s going on?

We’re raised with a lot of “shoulds” and “should nots.”  You should wash your hands before meals. You should play fair. You should change your oil every 3000 miles. You shouldn’t cheat on your spouse. You shouldn’t take things without paying. You shouldn’t kick dogs.

Now you’re facing the challenge of writing. A good many “shoulds” and “should nots” lurk in this endeavor as well. You should write every day even if you don’t feel like it. You should take writing classes. You should learn the rules of punctuation. You shouldn’t avoid the piece you’re working on. You shouldn’t stop writing after only half an hour. You shouldn’t pretend that the rules don’t apply to you.

But what if we turn those “shoulds” and “should nots” on their heads. Consider these options:

  • Write when you feel like it.
  • Take writing classes, but only if you want to.
  • Learn correct punctuation as you go, using reference books.
  • Skip the piece you’re working on and write something else.
  • Stop writing after half an hour and do something that pleases you.
  • Pretend the rules don’t apply to you.

Hmmm. Now I’ve really mixed you up. Haven’t I repeatedly talked about habits, routines, and good time management?  All along I’ve been encouraging you to “keep going!” 

But what if part of the secret of getting some meaningful writing done is for you to find a path to wanting to do the work?  Could it be that giving yourself the freedom to listen to your own urges and desires might be the most reliable guide to getting yourself into the chair and finding yourself eagerly struggling to get the words right?

My unprovable theory here is that forcing yourself to write may be exactly the wrong way to get the work done. Yesterday I didn’t write at all. I didn’t want to.  Instead I ran errands, took care of some emails, weeded my garden, and made pork chops. Today I’m sitting in my desk chair, typing on my keyboard, thinking of ideas to put in this workbook because I want to. I enjoy doing it. Sitting in the chair and wrestling with the words pleases me. And I love it.

We’re not typically raised to listen to and honor that voice inside ourselves that says, “Today I want to….”  And of course, each of us has numerous constraints on our choices and our time. We have jobs, children, parents, spouses, school, money issues, and health limitations. Each of these important considerations plays a part in how we operate.

But I urge you to add your wishes to your daily To Do list. What do you want to do?  Over time I believe you will find that there is a rhythm, an ebb and flow to your writing.  What doesn’t appeal one day can often lead to a heightened eagerness the next.

In this workbook you’ve learned to listen to your thoughts, to spend time in your head, searching for and capturing the words, characters, and scenes to put on the page that will mean something. All that effort looking inward is not wasted. Use those same skills to attend to your own thoughts, feelings, and wishes. Instead of doing only to what you should do, what you have to do, what you must do, consider what you want to do today.

The opposite of forcing yourself to do something may be to open you up to doing what you enjoy. I hope you can let writing be your joy.


I just listened to Miranda Lambert’s song, “Tin Man” and it reminded me how powerful it can be to take a cultural icon and use it to build a personal narrative or poem around. Some years back I heard Kathy Griffin’s song about Peter Pan and used that icon to craft my own poem about the flying young man who refused to grow up. (It’s here on my blog somewhere.)

Now it’s your turn. Icons are all around us—from the 1957 Chevy to Marilyn Monroe to Indian Summer. Let one speak to you. Close your eyes and write.

Hello Old Friends!

Yes, I’m here.  Life has gotten complicated (my husband is ill), forcing me to drop the online course, Beginning Writers Workshop.  The main reason for this was that it was getting too successful.  My enrollments kept going up, and, well, you can imagine responding to 60 candle descriptions every day for two weeks.  Part of this is my own fault.  I really liked working with everyone.  I kept trying to limit responses, cut back on the scope of assignments, and hire help.  But none of this worked.  I couldn’t keep up.  So I have kept the two other online courses–Effective Business Writing and Writing Essentials (a back-to-basics review).  They’re easier to keep up with.  I’m hanging in, still working.

Ed2go offered to buy the content of Beginning Writers Workshop, and the offer was a good one.  But I said no.  (You don’t sell your children!)  Instead, I am revising the course into a workbook.  It needs at least two more revisions and then we’ll see how publishing goes.  Amazon is the easy option, and I may go that way.  If I do, I will email everyone to let you know it’s available.  I thank you ALL for how you helped me revise that material until it was as helpful as I could make it.

To answer Gullible’s question, yes I got tired of John and Martha, but only to the extent that John’s name is now Bert.  Martha is still her feisty self.  If you’ve taken Writing Essentials, you will have found that she shot John in the toe and had to serve time.  (He was having an affair.)  She trained in jail to be a firefighter.  She just keeps on going.

Other news:  I put my other novel (prequel to The Glory Rites) up on Amazon.  It’s called The Old Powers.  It’s a good read (paperback or Kindle), and since I’m stubborn, there are no dragons or magical creatures in either.  (Okay, there is a sorcerer or two.)  The good guys are flawed, and the bad guys at least have understandable motivation.  Between the two novels, it gave me a chance to examine the fuzzy lines between magic and religion and also humanism and the urge to power.

I miss you all!  We’ve had a lot of fun.  We even had roller skating parties with famous literary figures!  Here’s hoping I can climb out of my many ruts and keep this blog alive.

Let me hear from you!

Where the Blip am I?

My heartfelt apologies to all who love to write and visit this site.  Let me set aside excuses: life traumas, experiences of the dull mind, the attraction of pouting, and all the usual reasons for not writing.  Ugh.  It gets tiresome, and we ALL have been there.

The struggle continues.  I’m here, not at my best surely, but still kicking.  Learning does not fade.  I CAN, and I need to DO.

I hope to post more challenges for you, but only when I’m sure they are worthy of the many stellar writers you have shown up online in past.  I wish I could mention you all by name.  My imagination conjures all of you.

We shall keep going.

The Blanks are Calling You!

Just before I _______, the __________ and my ________ arrived to deliver a large __________.  I couldn’t believe the way it ____________ my _______________.  My neighbor, ______________heard me ______________ and came over to give me a hand ________________.  Little did I know that s/he secretly _____________ my ______________.  What a _____________!  The only  thing I could think to do was ______________ the _____________.


The Window, the Widow, the Wig, and the Wolf

The widow, Althea, put her false teeth in a glass of Mosel wine, wondering if the alcohol might burn off the yellow stains.  Althea refused to use Polident, preferring to eschew all symbols of old age.  Except the wig (horrible hair was her inheritance from her late father’s side), which she stubbornly wore in shades of hot pink champagne.  At 86 she no longer cared what people thought, in fact, she enjoyed the whispered comments–it was her way of socializing.

Most times she sat at her first floor bedroom window, in her favorite comfy chair, covered with her white chennelle throw, waiting to see if any animals emerged from the woods that edged her lot.  She tossed leftovers up close to the woods, but while the raccoons, squirrels, and birds liked most of it, none of them would eat her lasagna.  It sat there, rejected, refused, and rotting.  Hopeless.

The momma wolf took pity on Althea, knowing the many ways the old were stuck coping with the crummy outlook of their last days.  The momma wolf had recently been shoved aside by a younger female plus that pink wig in the window was rather intriguing.  Momma took a dainty bite of old lasagna and gagged.  She walked up to Althea’s window and shook her head. Althea toasted the wolf with a glass of white wine, wondering if she invite the wolf in.

Althea opened the window and set out a bowl of wine for the wolf.  Momma moved closer and took a sniff.  Fruit?  She lapped up the whole bowl, giggled, ran in a circle, and burped.  Althea put her pink wig on the momma’s head and poured more wine for both.


A New Book

Quick note:  My novel, The Old Powers, is available on Amazon in Kindle or paperback format.  The Old Powers is the prequel to Rites of Glory, so if you’re curious about the histories of the characters, it will fill out your understanding.

These are fantasy novels, but I refused to let myself be stuck in the notion that there are good guys with evil to overcome.  It was much more fun to explore what motivates someone who ends up committing evil deeds, but who isn’t “bad.”

The good guys are flawed as well.  Aren’t we all?

Stanley’s Adventure

Stanley Berpsmog spent a lot of time in his room to escape his mean older sister, seven year old Bertha.  Not that his room was all that interesting. She had already broken all his toys she could get her hands on.

He lay on his stomach on his bottom sheet, having kicked all of the rest of his bedding to the floor. Now he threw his pillow on the floor too.  He would have liked to punch someone.

But hmmm.  His bottom sheet had an interesting hole in it about the size of red grape.  He stuck his finger in the hole. It was warm. No, it was hot!