Monday, December 31, 2012

Taking Stock

No, not this kind of stock.
 Nor this.
 And definitely not this.

I'm talking about the kind of stock that’s inventory… as in, your creative inventory of 2012.

As we say goodbye to the old year, it’s a good time to reflect on all the awesomeness you’ve achieved.

What creative projects did you begin?

What did you finish?

What activities did you enjoy most?

What are you most proud of?

What did you learn?

Did you participate in NanoWriMo or PiBoIdMo?

And listen, Cupcake –

This is NOT the time of year to reflect on what you didn’t do, finish, or learn.

Toss those thoughts out with the trash.

It’s time to celebrate!

‘Cause you rocked that 2012.

That’s right.


PROMPT: Reflect and React… with a smile.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Ponder the Possibilities

The last weekend of December is one of my favorites.


Because I’m a complete sucker for the New Year.

It’s so chock-full of sunshiny New Possibilities – the perfect antidote for this cold, dark, and dreary time of the year.

But before I sit down to write resolutions or goals, I spend a couple of days just dreaming.

Here are some of the mind openers I like to use –

If I could create anything, I’d write, paint, sculpt, compose…

If I could go anywhere, I’d go…

If I had a billion dollars, I would…

If I could fully fund any charity, I’d fund…

If I could meet anyone, I’d love to fist bump…

If I could be the BEST at something, I’d choose…

Wouldn’t it be cool if…?

By the way, I believe that last one is a little magical. Once upon a time, I asked that question during a meeting. Two years later, following some wild, crazy, and completely unexpected circumstances, I ended up here –


Yes, my friends, it was cool.

PROMPT: Today’s a great day to use that beautiful, bendable mind’s elbow of yours to start creating a wonderful life.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oh No

It is National Fruitcake Day.

I am not making this up. Go ahead – Google away.

What did I tell you?

Unlike other National Holidays, however, this is not a day set aside for celebration.

It’s a day set aside so folks can box up those 10-pound nasties they’ve received…

for re-gifting next year.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

PROMPT: Have you ever re-gifted? Been re-gifted? Today’s a great day for one of those re-gifting-gone-totally-wrong tales.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day

When I was a kid, I assumed that this was the day that random fistfights broke out among disappointed gift recipients.


It seemed perfectly logical at the time.

PROMPT: Have you ever experienced a colossal misinterpretation or misunderstanding? Sounds like the start of a great plot to me.

By the way, if you’re out celebrating Boxing Day –

go with the jab and grab.
Works every time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours...

first-rate pens, a whole lot of plot, primo paints,

and plenty of peace, joy, and love.

PROMPT: Have a glorious day!

Monday, December 24, 2012

‘Twas the Day Before Christmas…

And all through the house,

not a PC was stirring…

not even the mouse.

(Sounds like a day off here at the Writing Ranch – WaHOOOoooo!)

PROMPT: Yeah, that old Clement Clarke Moore classic could probably use an update.

By the way, I actually ate a piece of fruitcake this weekend…

I did not die.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Are We Here Yet?

Yes, I believe we are.

And so, according to the Mayans, we are beginning a New Age. And what a grand age it will be!

How do I know this?

Because together we will make is so!

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about…

Your kitchen calendar will end… (Gulp!)…

in ten days!

PROMPT: Hey, it’s a whole new world this weekend – so Rejoice! What will you do with your new age? And remember, anything’s possible… any wondrous and wonderful thing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Toot Uncommon

Yep, they’re belting out yesterday’s “special” ode, I’m sure.
Right after I posted yesterday, I opened my local paper and was blindsided by a story about some Trappist monks who are making a mint from their “heavenly” fruitcake.


Now God is on their side.

Look, I don’t care how many times you bless it, fruitcake still stinks.

But that’s not what today’s post is about.

Today’s post is really about this –


Let’s forget about those Mayans for a minute and walk like an Egyptian…

Because I’m heading to Seattle to see Steve Martin’s favorite honky.

Yep, King Tut.

I know I should be more respectful –

He is the Boy King after all.

But Mr. Martin completely ruined that possibility for me back in 1978. Anyone who lived through the Carter administration knows that Tut was positively funky and buried with a donkey.

There are just some things you can’t unremember.

So, of course, I simply have to share.

Enjoy it here.

PROMPT: The Tut-meister became king at the age of 9. Sounds like a very interesting predicament for your next main character. Imagine a world with National Wii Day or mandatory potty humor. Makes the Hunger Games look like a cakewalk, eh?


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I’m pretty sure that one will be arriving any day now.

They always do this time of year.

And I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but I am not a fruitcake fan.

Neither is my husband…

Or my son.

My daughter, however, is a different story.

The girl loves fruitcake.

And I’m pretty sure this scientifically proves that fruitcake-loving is a recessive gene.

But here’s another thing I’ve noticed about fruitcake lovers –

They’re pretty passionate about that cement-textured fruity goodness.

In fact, I’ve found that most of them become highly offended by fruitcake criticism.

It’s strange isn’t it?

I mean, if you think chocolate absolutely, totally stinks, you won’t see me getting my knickers in a twist. No way. I’d be too busy thinking – Great! More for me!

Not so with the fruitcake fancier. Even as I type this, I can sense them rearing up – ready to impale me with comment darts below.

I’m thinking it’s a good bet that the recessive fruitcake-loving gene is somehow linked with the gene for culinary defensiveness.

But I do digress.

At any rate, I am thrilled by my daughter’s fervor for fruitcake. I will be delighted by her delight when I lob that weighty little package her way.

Maybe I’ll even dig up some of the others for her.

You know, the ones I used to make book shelves…

Steady the filing cabinet…

Anchor the tarps on the woodpile…

PROMPT: On what side of the fruitcake gene pool does your main character swim? Painters – wouldn’t fruitcake be the perfect still life subject? Think of it, you could work on this masterpiece for years without refrigeration. Poets and musicians – how ‘bout a carol? Get some inspiration from Barbara Rittenhouse and Leigh Anna Reichenbach who wrote this lovely ode to an old familiar tune –
In the bleak midwinter
Sitting all alone
In a breadbox on the shelf
Fruitcake hard as stone.
No one dares to taste it –
Or remove the bow
For we know that it was made
Oh so long ago…
Find the rest in the book Santa’s Pants are Falling Down and Other Silly Songs of the Season… sure to bring a smile to your face, even if you’re one of those serious fruitcake fans.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Better Way

On Saturday I picked up The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher.

And there it was on page 16 –

An artist speaking to the main character, who is recently widowed...

“You’ve got to get back to creating,” he says. “There’s no better way to mourn.”

Thank you, thank you, Mr. Artist Man –

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

PROMPT: What will you create this week? I think I’m seeing one seriously imaginative gingerbread house in my very near future.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Today is a Good Day…

To decide

to LOVE.

PROMPT: Love is a verb… the only verb you’ll need today. Love children, love grown-ups, love the in-between, love words, love art, love family, love friends, love dogs, love windows, love cats, love trees, love rocks, love foes, love frogs, love birds…love…love…love…

Friday, December 14, 2012

‘Tis the Season

Yes, it is the time of year when you may experience…

Latke lethargy

Sugar cookie comas

Relatives from the nut-bearing side of the tree

Office parties for which the boss has decided that home-cooked favorites would be so much nicer than catering.

Parking lot roulette

Music recitals that enlighten you to the striking similarities between Away in a Manger and elephants in heat.

Travel by plane, train, automobile, sleigh, subway, and/or camel to visit the third line item above

Three-hour pageants just to witness your child’s 30-second acting debut as a donkey’s rear end.

Fat cells who invite all of their friends, family, and acquaintances to the party on your rear end.


With all this holiday merriment, it's no surprise that we get a bit stressed by how little time we have to create our art of choice...

That’s when we need a friendly reminder that we’re really here to create A LIFE.

PROMPT: Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, this is your friendly reminder… And hey, chin up! It’s ALL material, after all.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Seventh Day…


In a recent news item, it was reported that the 12 Days of Christmas kit and caboodle will set you back over $107,000.

And the most expensive items?

Seven swans, Baby!

So I traipsed out to a nearby field and snapped the above photo as a special gift for loyal Mind’s Elbow Benders.

Yes, I even threw in an extra –

Who loves ya?

PROMPT: If you happen to be a Christmas reveler, note that there are only 12 shopping days left. I think it’s the perfect time for a 12 Days of Christmas rewrite. I mean, who really wants all those leaping lords, anyway? Enjoy Bob and Doug Mckenzie’s inspiration here, eh?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Walk This Way

Yesterday I found this gem in Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade

“He had a unique stride: it looked as though his body were being dragged forward and his legs had to flail around underneath it, landing wherever they could find room. It wasn’t so much a walk as a collapse, indefinitely postponed.”

Now I cannot get the image out of my head…

So I decided to share.

You can thank me later.

PROMPT: Does your main character lumber, saunter, amble, or galumph? Whatever his or her method of movement, take a walk on the wild side and “Pratchettize” it today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who’s Here?

I can’t let this day get away without acknowledging a place I called home for six years of my life.

It was on this date back in 1816 that Indiana became the 19th U.S. state.
Soon after, a whole posse of people there voted to officially label themselves as “Hoosiers” rather than Indianans or Indianites.

While the origin of this word is still debated, the most common explanation goes something like this –

Back in the old Midwest, frontier strangers used to shout “Hello, the cabin!” to avoid being shot. Apparently Indiana folk were known for their loaded weaponry, hair triggers, and paranoid flavor. In response to the shout, the cabin residents would holler, “Who’s here?” But sadly, they tended to slur, so it sounded less like a question and more like a questionable “Hoosier.”

Did I mention that southern Indiana was quite famous for its moonshine?

Anywho, all that slurring led to a good bit of giggling and “Hoosier” name-calling.

But in a brash display of puffed up Indiana pride, the frontier cabin folks declared (with a hefty slur, I’m sure), “You cannot be vexin’ us with youin’s name-callin’ dadgummit, ‘cause that’s what we be callin’ our own selves from here on out!”

Unfortunately however, it didn’t really matter how much pride they conveyed…
or how much cash they poured into their PR campaigns.
The rest of the world held fast to the notion that Hoosier was a mighty good synonym for a whole heap of H words...
like hick, hayseed, and hillbilly.

Even in the late 20th century, my husband ran headlong into this harsh reality.

After college he was hired by a firm in Wisconsin, so he took a trip to Madison to look for his first apartment.

His first phone call went like this:

Potential Landlady: Where ya from?


PL: Well, I’ll be darned…a Hoosier!

Um, yes.

PL: You know the thing about Hoosiers, don’t ya?


PL: They’re SOOOO adaptable! Why, if a Hoosier didn’t have a bathtub, he’d bring in a horse trough!


PL: Vice-a versa!

Did I mention that folks from Wisconsin proudly refer to themselves as Cheeseheads?

PROMPT: What’s special about a place you’ve called home? Write up something delicious about that local flavor. But if you’ve had the misfortune of residing where it’s more Wonder Bread than wonder – no worries! Simply take a walk on the hayseed side instead. Grab yourself a little inspiration from Pixar’s Tow Mater, get happier than a tornado in a trailer park, and go to town!


Monday, December 10, 2012

What’s Your Why?

Why does action-thriller writer David Morrell write?

Well, he claims he’s got an “inner ferret.”

Apparently this weaselly thing gnaws at his organs...
And unless Mr. Morrell cares to lose a spleen, liver, or some such, he must write to make it stop.


Well, I am happy to report that I do not have an inner ferret (or outer ferret either, for that matter).

But I do have a flock of birds.

Every morning I can feel their wings beating against my little cage of rib.

On some days it’s a murder of crows…

or lamentation of swans.

Most of the time, I’m pretty sure it’s a lubberly parcel of penguins.

But the make or model never really matters, because the directive is always the same –

Take up a pen or paintbrush.

Pick the lock.

Set them free.

PROMPT: Why do you create? What inner animal moves your muse? Grizzly? Platypus? Um…termite?

Friday, December 7, 2012

R & R Week: Day 5

I have laid aside business and gone a-fishing.
~Izaak Walton

PROMPT: Go Fish.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

R & R Week: Day 4

Nobody ever says “piano around.”


PROMPT: The roof is a great place to be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

R & R Week: Day 3







PROMPT: So many D words, so little time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

R & R Week: Day 2

A great place to hang out


They are slo-mo specialists.

In fact, they move soooooo slowly that algae form on their fur.

They also know how to put some serious POWER into power naps…

like, 20 hours a day.

They are sloths…

this week’s Mind’s Elbow mascot.

PROMPT: Embrace your inner sloth. How slooooooow can you go?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Letting Go

YESvember was awesome!



But now it’s time for a different kind of R & R.

Yeah… the REST and RELAXING kind.

Without a doubt, you’ve earned it.

And guess what –

Kicking back is as key to the creative process as all that kicking butt.

“NOOOOoooooooo!” you might be saying. “I can’t stop now! I got so much done in November – I think I can do even MORE in December!”

Trust me, Cupcake, MORE is the first three ingredients in a recipe called Burnout.

So chill out, hang loose, and let go of all the stuff you did last month.

It’s officially R & R week here at the good ship Elbow.

Let it go.
Let it roll right off your shoulders.
Don’t you know,
The hardest part is over…
~ Rob Thomas

PROMPT: Kick back and sing along. Here’s your Little Wonders link.

Friday, November 30, 2012


“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.”
~ Richard Bach

It’s the LAST day of YESvember!

It’s the LAST day to kick some tail on that YESvember goal!

Finish strong –

I’m talking Super Friends STRONG.

Then focus ONLY on what you’ve accomplished this month.

I do not want to hear a pip or a peep about what you didn’t get done.

I’m serious.

If you’ve only written ONE word, revel in it.

Because, Dude, that is one heck of a word.

And if you’ve written MORE than ONE word –


You are a WINNER!

So go take a good look in the mirror…

YOU are what AWESOME looks like!

PROMPT: Celebrate! And, what the heck, invite Brad to the party –

“I love any and all situations where you celebrate creativity.”
~ Brad Paisley

Me too, Brad. Me too. ROCK…oops, I mean... COUNTRY ON!