Category: Friday Fuel

Friday Fuel: Donuts and didgeridoos

Friday Fuel September 14, 2012

It’s been a crazy week around here. So many things have been happening since the school year started again and I’m trying to get back into a routine. The hardest part is the 5:45AM alarm, I swear. I wake up every morning and glare at my alarm clock.

So here are some prompts to get you moving (creatively)…

Boston cream. Close enough.

1. Today is National Cream Filled Donut Day! There’s your breakfast. Actually, it’s not a good breakfast. What kind of junk food is your favorite? Write a scene in which your protagonist eats too much of something he enjoys.

2. On this day in 1984, Joe Kittinger became the first person to fly a gas balloon alone across the Atlantic Ocean. Would your protagonist fly in a balloon?

3. Write a short story about a character who loses one sense; hearing, sight, touch, taste or smell.

4. Write a short passage describing the sound of a didgeridoo.

5. Speaking of didgeridoos, did you know the name is actually just an onomatopoetic word? What is your favorite onomatopoetic expression?

Have a great, productive weekend!

Friday Fuel: Wherein we discuss obscure myths, extinction, and a big set of teeth.

Friday Fuel, research September 7, 2012

Sometimes the best stories can come out of the most basic prompts. My short story, “Black Bird,” will appear in Dark Moon Books’ anthology Mistresses of the Macabre later this year. “Black Bird” was inspired by a prompt in a college class. The instructor told the class to find an obscure myth or folk tale from another culture. By obscure, he meant no vampires, no werewolves, no mermaids. He even nixed banshees and the tir-na-n-og.

The research was great fun and the myth I came up with, although I found out later had been used by other writers, was the Middle Eastern ifrit. I put my own spin on the creature of vengeance, and “Black Bird” was born.

Don’t discount the little seemingly meaningless prompts. Sometimes the most unexpected stories can be born.

1.    Does your family come from an interesting culture? Find a story from your ancestral heritage and spin it to suit your favorite genre.
2.    Did your grandmother ever tell interesting stories about her childhood or stories that she’d been told as a child? Retell the story from the first person, taking creative liberty.
3.    On this day in 1936, the last surviving member of the thylacine species, or Tasmanian tiger, died in a Tasmanian zoo. These animals are beautiful and can open their jaws an impressive (and frightening) 120 degrees. Write a story in which this creature (or something like it) is spotted in the wild.

Imagine meeting that set of teeth in a dark alley.

4.   Would the protagonist of your latest work ride a motorcycle? Why or why not?
5.    What is your protagonist’s favorite weekend activity? Is he or she a night owl?

Whatever your own favorite weekend activity might be, enjoy it!

Friday Fuel: Hair cuts, summer camp, and anxiety

Friday Fuel, writing life August 3, 2012

Happy Friday!

I know I need to get a bit of writing done over the weekend. I’ll struggle to fit it in between martial arts promotions (my husband) and birthdays (my older son), but I need it for reasons more than work.

I feel better when I write. Not only in the sense that I feel productive, which is lovely, but in the sense that it allows me to step outside myself for a little while and forget the things that might be bothering me. If I’m more concerned about my characters’ problems than my own, even for just a few hours, I come away rejuvenated. Writing is essential for me. It is my outlet.

So I hope you get some writing time this weekend as well. Mine will be spent in my office, most likely with a cat or a corgi snoring beside me.

Here’s your Friday Fuel:

1.    Your protagonist is alone in his home, watching TV and eating ice cream on the first floor. Noises on the second floor grab his attention. Does he investigate? What does he find?
2.    Write a short story in which a woman gets a hair cut and hates it. Better yet, it’s a week before she starts a new job.
3.    On this day in 1963, Allan Sherman released the song “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.” Did you go to summer camp? Write a short story about a fictional child at summer camp. Any genre.
4.    Write a short scene or story using these words for prompt: death, auction room, red, and anxious.
5.    Some say to leave no stone unturned. What would that look like in a short story?

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget to check out Hazard Yet Forward, available at Amazon on August 7. Seven hundred pages of multi-genre goodness!

Friday Fuel: Life, air conditioning, and the Olympics

Friday Fuel, Uncategorized, writing life, writing parent July 27, 2012

I always have the best of intentions. I really do. I *think* about posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

But somehow something gets in the way.

I have decided that my daily fiction word count must come before blogging. After all, if I’m not writing, what’s the point of a writing blog? I refuse to feel bad about missing a blog post because I’m getting my word count in for the day.

So, what’s been going on?

Well, I finished up a couple new short stories and have been submitting them. I submitted my novel to two publishers and received one really nice non-form rejection (seriously, this publisher told me she loved the character, but the book itself didn’t fit into their line… I actually expected it) and am still waiting on the other. I’m still tossing around the idea of what to do with my thesis novel. I’ve had a couple suggestions for some revisions, but it comes down to me deciding how I want to market it and making it fit my vision for the book.

One of my short stories will be available in a charity anthology due out soon, titled Hazard Yet Forward. I will be sure to provide a link to purchase the anthology when it comes out. It will be a major tome– with short stories from many of my SHU colleagues. The proofing copy I saw today comes in over 600 pages. The proceeds from the sale will go to aid a colleague of mine who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. You can see more at the Hazard Yet Forward blog.

My sprogs are home from school for the summer… well, they’ve been attending a summer day camp, but school’s out, and today is the last day of camp. My husband and I are taking motorcycle classes and should have our licenses next week. Oh yeah… now I can add “biker chick” to my tattooed label.

I also recently discovered that someone I greatly admire is a genuinely good person. I will be sharing this experience in greater detail through the month of August and into the first week of September. Keep an eye out here.

So here’s today’s Friday Fuel:

1. Write a letter to your favorite author and tell him or her how much you appreciate his or her work. Send it.

2. Your protagonist is moving into a semi-furnished apartment and finds a handgun in a dresser drawer. What does he do?

3. On this day in 1940, Bugs Bunny made his debut. Write a short story from the POV of someone seeing your favorite cartoon character for the first time.

4. Your character’s air conditioning broke and the weather forecast is for record high temps. Does this make your character happy or irate?

5. The Olympics opening ceremonies are tonight. If you could compete in an Olympic sport, which would it be?

Have a great weekend everyone! The Pittsburgh Symphony is performing the music from the video game Zelda this weekend, so I’m going and getting my geek on.

Friday Fuel: Darwin and Dali’s ocelot

Friday Fuel May 11, 2012

What a crazy week! In fact, it’s been a crazy month so far, and we’re only eleven days in. By the end of May, I’ll either be cursing or crying.

I’m still working on the new piece, which I think will be a short story, plus getting a few completed pieces ready for submission. What are your writing plans for the rest of the month?

If you’re thinking about tackling something new, here are some prompts to get you started:

1. On May 11, 1820 the HMS Beagle, the ship that took Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage, launched. Write a scene or short story in which a ship begins a similar voyage… on another planet. What might they find?

2. Write a scene that includes a ghost, an elderly woman, and a box of chocolates.

3. Consider a story in which the protagonist is an antiques dealer. Why would he or she have to suddenly leave town?

4. On May 11, 1904, the artist Salvador Dali was born. He traveled with his pet ocelot, Babou. If your protagonist had an exotic pet, what would it be?

5. In honor of teacher appreciation week, I’d like to thank my English teachers, especially Mrs. Friedman and Mr. Gearhart, for instilling a love of the language and literature. I’d also like to thank Mr. Freeman, my creative writing teacher for encouraging my behavior. Who do you appreciate?

Friday Fuel: Matriarchs and AA for toys

Friday Fuel, writing life May 4, 2012

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here. I actually set my latest completed manuscript aside and started a new project! It’s both exciting and a little scary to start something new after spending so much time with one manuscript. It’s a little like leaving a group of old friends for a new set– out of my comfort zone.

I took a class on monsters in graduate school and had to find a foreign myth dealing with a monster. This mythological beast has been in the back of my mind since, so I finally gave in and started writing about it. It’s fun so far.

In other news, Scott Johnson’s third Stanley Cooper novel, Ectostorm, released this week. Next week I will feature an interview with Scott and a review of Ectostorm! Go to Scott’s website to learn more about the Stanley Cooper Chronicles and a link to buy the books.

Here’s your Friday Fuel:

1. On this day in 1974, the first women to climb an 8000 meter peak reached the summit of Manaslu. On this day in 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom. Write a short story in which the society is matriarchal rather than patriarchal.

2. What was your favorite toy as a child? Write a scene in which that favorite toy comes back for your help to deal with an alcohol problem.

3. Write a ten-word sentence that sums up your yesterday.

4. Change the gender of your protagonist and write a scene that shows his/her personality as the opposite gender.

5. Write a scene in which your protagonist realizes the person beside him on a bus is actually the bully that made his life miserable as a kid. What does he do?

Have a great weekend and tune in next week for my interview with Scott Johnson and a review of Ectostorm!

Friday Fuel: Sprogs and space flights

Friday Fuel, writing parent March 23, 2012

My heathens…. uh, sprogs… are on spring break. Why elementary and middle school kids deserve a two week spring break is utterly beyond me, but I know by the end of their break, I’m in desperate need of one. Yesterday I told them to get out and walk to a little park about two blocks from our house, desperate for a minute or two of peace.

I told my older son he could not take his bicycle, because the younger doesn’t ride well enough to keep up, and I don’t trust Elder to not abandon his little brother somewhere. I also told them to take a cell phone. My bad.

Not five minutes after they left, the texts began…

See the expression on her face? I saw it in the mirror.





Three minutes later (and I verified this on my phone)…





Six minutes later…






And then the phone rang. I could hear them screaming at each other from two streets away. I answered the phone and tried to speak calmly to my younger son as he ranted about something his brother did, but when the conversation devolved into my elder son screaming at the phone that he hadn’t done whatever it was he was being accused of, I hung up. About thirty seconds later I saw them come around a corner, maybe 100 feet from where I was sitting on our patio. I heard this:


So I yelled from the patio, “You can’t hear me because I hung up on you!” which, of course, led to shrieking and tears.

At least I get to end this spring break in Utah, just me and my husband. The World Horror Convention is in Salt Lake City from March 29 through April 1.

So here’s Friday’s slightly frazzled fuel:

1.    Consider the setting of your current work in progress. Where would be the best location to hide a body?
2.    On this day in 1965, NASA launched our first two-man space flight crew with Gus Grissom and John Young. Write a short story about this event from the POV of someone in a space colony looking back on the historic occasion.
3.    Choose a genre that you do not normally write in and write a flash fiction piece about a pen.
4.    Your protagonist gets an email from an old friend, someone they haven’t seen in years, asking for financial help. Does he or she do it?
5.    What would your protagonist’s favorite board game be?

Have a great weekend everyone! My mom will be coming out to stay with the sprogs for the tail end of their spring break. Pray for her.

Friday Fuel: Leprechauns and Californium

Friday Fuel March 16, 2012

Spring is springing out here. The irises in the backyard are emerging beside the tulips. I’ve seen daffodils up already, too, and wonder if the plants are as confused by this weather as we are. I’m not complaining! The warmer temps make life with the dogs nicer and I’m definitely ready to shed a few clothing layers.

Here’s today’s Friday Fuel:

Oh no, those pesky snakes.


1. Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. Patrick is credited with converting the Irish to Christianity. He used the shamrock to explain the Christian Holy Trinity. A popular tale has Patrick driving the “snakes” from Ireland (clearly a metaphor for ridding Ireland of the pagans). Write a short story in which your protagonist tries to convert another character to the religion of your choice.


2. Sixty-two years ago today, Researchers at the University of California Berkeley announce the creation of element 98, which they name “Californium.” If you created a new element, what would you call it?

3. If your protagonist had the chance to go to a concert and meet the musicians, what kind of concert would it be? Symphony? Rock? What band would they want to see?

4. Your protagonist is buying a new sweater. What color and material is it? Is your protag the cashmere type or more a cotton-wearer?

5. Write a short story in which a character dreams that a flight crashes. She is scheduled to get on a plane later that day. Does she go?

Have a great weekend!

Friday Fuel: Umbrellas and fire extinguishers

Friday Fuel February 10, 2012

A reader inquired about my meeting with Dr. Wecht. It was wonderful! He talked about many interesting high-profile cases including the Kennedy assassinations, Anna Nicole Smith and her son Daniel, and JonBenet Ramsey. He’s a dynamic speaker, and it’s obvious when he’s on a subject he’s passionate about. I had a great time. I did not trip, nor make an idiot of myself, at least not in any obvious way.

I don’t think I did.

Here’s a bit of creative fodder for the upcoming weekend…

1.    On this day in 1863, the fire extinguisher was patented. Put your protagonist in a situation that they must use one.
2.    Today is also Umbrella Day. We used umbrellas to discuss superstitions, so now just consider what kind of umbrella your protagonist might carry. Is it the standard black one or something with flair? What would he do if he grabbed one on his way out for the day, thinking it was a plain umbrella, but after opening it realizes it’s covered with with cartoon pictures of dogs and cats? Does he just go with it or does he put it away and risk getting soaked?
3.    After you figure out what kind of umbrella he carries, put him in a position to need it but not have it. Does he keep moving through a downpour or does he find shelter and wait it out? If the rain is really bad (and I’ve seen some serious storms), is she the kind of driver to keep moving or pull over and wait for the worst to pass?
4.    Use the following words in an opening paragraph: disc, brother, earthquake and stigma.
5.    Write a poem about the view from the closest window.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Fuel: Friggatriskaidekaphobia and the hamsa

Friday Fuel January 13, 2012

After a holiday hiatus I’m ready to get back on track.

Here’s today’s Friday Fuel:

1. On January 13, 1910, the first radio broadcast was aired. It was a live performance of the opera Cavalleria Rusticana from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Write a short story in which your protagonist witnesses this event. How does she feel about radio?

2. Today is Friday the 13th. Besides referring to a fabulous movie franchise, today is considered unlucky to many superstitious people. The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia. Does something bad happen to your protagonist on Friday the 13th? Is he superstitious at all?

The hamsa protects from harm.

…coincidentally, 13 is a lucky number for me.

3. Speaking of superstitions, many people get nervous if you open an umbrella indoors. Did you know another name for umbrella is “bumbershoot?” Write a short story in which your protagonist brings a bumbershoot into a crowded restaurant… open.

4. Your protagonist is walking down the street when a black cat crosses her path. Does she react?

5. Before entering a home, your protagonist notes the hamsa hanging beside the door. How does this change the way he views the home’s occupants?



Have a great weekend!