Friday, February 27, 2009

Just Released: My First Collection of Prompts

A few years ago, I decided to include an impromptu, warm-up writing exercise at the beginning of my writing group. That’s how I got started creating prompts. I wanted people to write—to write about anything the prompt brought to mind, without worrying about grammar or spelling, without second-guessing the direction of their story or poem. The writing prompts became so popular that I added more to the end of our agenda, and then I realized prompts would be perfect for this blog. To date, I’ve received more e-mails and comments on the prompts than on any other category of post. Thus, The Doorbell at Dawn: 125 Writing Prompts to Spark Your Creativity & Summon Your Muse was born.

My little booklet is full of prompts just like the ones on Just Write. All my prompts are designed to make you write—not to test your ability to follow directions. If you read a prompt and the idea it conjures is on another subject entirely, follow your first impulse and write where the idea leads. Don’t form expectations about what will happen to the piece of writing that emerges. It might lead to something bigger, or it might not. As I say in Doorbell, “If not, you’ve just had ten minutes of good writing exercise. Think of it as sit-ups for your brain.”

In addition to 125 writing prompts, Doorbell includes a section aimed at people who are writing personal/family history or memoir. It covers the most frequently asked questions I’ve encountered in the years I’ve been working in this genre, both as a writer and a coach/editor, questions like: Where do I start? Should I change the names? How can I make sure my work is copyright protected? This section also includes twenty-five specific questions that can be used either to help a writer begin a personal history/memoir, or as a questionnaire by someone conducting an interview.

Printed copies are available for under $10 (before shipping and handling) and downloaded copies are $3.00. Just click on the Lulu link under my profile!
Photo courtesy of William Vermeulen at

Links of Interest

Putting together a good link list turned out to be more challenging than I had anticipated! Don’t get me wrong—I thoroughly enjoyed the hours I spent cruising through websites and blogs, looking for links my blog readers would enjoy and use.

In my case, the creation of a link list first required upgrading my Blogger template, which was scary all by itself. The last time I had a web page and the software was “upgraded,” my page got erased. Snap, just like that, all my work went bye-bye. So I had to drink a glass of wine and cross my fingers before I got up enough courage to press “upgrade template,” but thankfully everything went just fine and the gods of cyberspace didn’t eat my blog this time.

So, please, scroll down and check out my Links of Interest! I’ve selected a variety of blogs and sites, so please take a few minutes to browse the list. I won’t talk about every link I’ve posted, but let me tell you about just a few.

For people writing personal history or memoir, check out Sharon Lippincott's The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. I haven't found another site that covers personal writing as well as she does. If you’re a poet, I’ve listed several poetry sites; all too often, poets gets overlooked, but almost half of my writing group members are poets. Writers who need music or photographs should check out the stock music and photography sites, Stock.xchng and Purple Planet (they’re who I use). For those who enjoy my prompts, click over to one of the other prompt sites and try a different style of prompt. If you’re thinking of writing as a career, go to the Inkthinker blog and get some insight from Kristin King, a working writer and true professional. Of course, I'd like it if you checked out all the links, so please, don't stop there!
Photo courtesy of Abyla at

The Rocky Shore & Other Writing Prompts

Why is Jerry (in prompt number one) scrambling over the rocks? Who might he be pursuing--or escaping? You might discover the answer to one of those questions if you tackle the first prompt. If you're uninterested in Jerry, find another prompt that intrigues you, and use it to freewrite for ten minutes.

--The rocky shore was unwelcoming, the black boulders slippery from the pounding waves. Jerry almost fell as he clambered over the rocks, and he wondered….
--Have you ever visited a ghost town?
--Are you a “news junkie”—an avid consumer of news (print, radio, television, or all of the above)?
--When Sam found out Jenny had applied for a passport without telling him, he decided….
--Do you carry a Swiss army knife?
--The smell of pines trees in the cold mountain air reminded Tim….
Photo courtesy of Lars Sundström at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Underwater & Other Writing Prompts

Time for some freewriting! Pick a prompt and write for ten minutes without stopping, stalling, or second-guessing yourself.

--Have you ever been snorkeling or scuba diving?
--A lot of people fall off cruise ships, Darlene thought, so it was possible….
--Becky wasn’t interested in camping, but Jake loved the outdoors, so that’s why she decided….
--Do you enjoy long telephone conversations?
--“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Albert said. He sat up straighter and glared at Alice. “I most certainly did not take the last….”
--If you could watch only one television channel, what would it be?
Photo courtesy of Rick Hawkins at

A Dream Job

Have you heard about the tropical island caretaker/blogger job in Australia? The Queensland Tourism people are looking for someone for a six-month gig, and I say there’s no reason it can’t be me! I’m not sure when my video application will appear online, but I’m posting it here and on my Vegas Girl blog so people can see it.

For more information about this incredible job opportunity, visit the website:

UPDATE: My application has been accepted! You can vote for my video at:


Music in my video is by

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shy Jane & Other Writing Prompts

In prompt number one, it's up to you to decide what makes Jane overcome her shyness. If Jane doesn't stir your imagination, move on until you find a prompt that does. Take ten minutes to write without stopping, stalling, or second-guessing yourself.

--Jane was shy, but she felt she had to speak up when…
--Do you believe in gut feelings, hunches, intuition, an “inner voice”?
--The cars skidded across the black ice, slamming into….
--Are you a patient person?
--“I’m never giving up,” Sally said. “I refuse to stop until….”
--Are you afraid of public speaking? (It often rates ahead of death as a fear.)
Photo courtesy of Loleia @

Friday, February 06, 2009

Photo Prompts

See anything that intrigues you? Take ten minutes to write the story behind the picture.

Photo information: All pictures by me.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Falling & Other Writing Prompts

Today's writing prompts:

--When I saw her fall down and slide across the floor….
--Sometime after midnight, Ellen heard the front door squeak open…
--“Come outside! You can hear the coyotes howling in the distance,” Jake called to Ann. “We’re so far out in the country….”
--Right after sunset, Alex saw the man walk up to his neighbor’s door….
--Has your neighborhood been vandalized by graffiti?
--Use this quote as inspiration, or verbatim in a story/poem: “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” –Albert Einstein
Photo courtesy of Laurens Meurs at