Friday, November 2, 2012

Yep, We’re Raisin Heck!

I hope that you are well on your way to a successful Day 2 in your quest for YESvember awesomeness!

And while you’re pounding away at the keyboard, remember to fuel up with the food of writing champions.

Yes, I am talking about raisin bread.

And it just so happens that November (AKA YESvember) is National Raisin Bread Month.

Now you may be wondering why this fare of fruity goodness is the best fuel for writers. Well, if you choose to believe in the capital “T” Truth of Wikipedia, you’ll learn that Henry David Thoreau was its inventor.

But alas, sometimes Wiki is wrongy. While Thoreau did indeed bake and “Thoreauly” enjoy raisin bread, recipes from the 1700’s actually mention the use of dried grapes in baked goods.

I’m pretty sure the whole misunderstanding started with this famous and inspiring quote from the man himself –
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.
~Henry David Thoreau

You see, most folks fail to mention that this was indeed the edited version. Originally, the quote went like this –
 Go confidently in the direction of your dreams with raisin bread.
Live the life you have imagined with raisin bread.

The guy liked raisin bread.

And I’m pretty sure it was his top-secret, good-writing tool.

Now, it’s yours.

Write on!

PROMPT: Grab a slab of the El Camino of breads (is it a nutritious side or a dessert?), and then make some delicious progress on your YESvember goal.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


This is it – the start of 2012’s most creative month!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an intro to NaNoWriMo. If you missed it, you can find it here.

If you’re considering the novel-writing challenge and want to make it “official,” you can sign in at the NaNoWriMo website. There you can log your daily word totals, graph your progress, and participate in forums for support.

But what if a novel sounds too, well, wordy? Maybe the bunny eat bunny world of picture books is more your bag. Check out author Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). She calls it a 30-picture-book-ideas-in-30-days challenge, and it sounds like delicious fun!

And if you find that words, any words, just get in your way, then make it a kick-butt Kevan Atteberry month à la Monster-a-Day.

Face it, there’s no end to the ways you can make it a November to remember –

30 poems

30 sculptures

30 raps

30 recipes

30 sock puppets

30 lost homework excuse letters

But for this challenge – you have no excuse.

Look, the weather is lousy anyway, so you might as well do something!

And it’s only 30 days.

Thirty days that could change your life.

So stand with me, Elbow Benders –

and help take the NO out of November.

YESvember, here we come!

PROMPT: it’s time to get out there and get all Nike – JUST DO IT!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012


For a good part of my childhood, I lived in a haunted house.

At least, that’s what some people might say (and yes, I’m aware that this explains a LOT about me).

But really, there wasn’t any sort of showy paranormal activity there – like plates flying across the room or spinning heads or green barf – the kind of stuff that makes great made-for-TV movies. There were just a few, shall we say, oddities about the place…

Like the fact that my parents would occasionally hear someone in the house calling for “Kyle.”

And that every so often the only neighbor in sight of our home would telephone to ask the identity of the guy sitting on the front porch step.

Um, Kyle would be a good guess.

As children, all my brother, sister, and I knew was that if you slept in the “little room” you were guaranteed to have a nightmare. So, we usually piled into a great big bedroom that my mom had decorated with friendly-looking circus prints.

I really wasn’t all too keen on those pictures – particularly the ones with the clown-faced children.

You see, whenever I awoke in the middle of the night, it always looked to me like their lips were moving. And I swear I could hear a bunch of incoherent whispering, too. So, I would clamp my hands over my ears, squeeze my eyes tightly shut, think happy thoughts, and go back to sleep…

But I never told a soul about those pictures.

I mean, come on – even at the age of eight, I knew that blabbing about talking pictures in my bedroom would brand me as a complete nutcase. And I was a highly imaginative child, so I chalked it all up to my own overactive brain.

Then, when I was 9 years old, my family moved to a brand-new house with the bonus features of no “little rooms” and super-groovy shag carpeting.

On the day of the big move, my mom helped my sister and me set up our new bedroom. As we were arranging the beds and unpacking the boxes, Mom pulled out those pictures of the clown-faced children.

“NOOOOOOO!” my sister and I said in unison.

“Whoa,” said Mom. “What’s wrong with these?”

And that’s when my kid sister piped up –

“They TALK!

PROMPT: What’s your creepy story? Everybody’s either got one, or knows someone who does. Put it on the page for a fun and frightful Halloween treat, then delight your friends with the result... Because one out of every two pumpkins knows that good stories are way better than candy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Want My Mummy

As soon as my crew stepped through the doors of the British Museum last summer, we grabbed a map and made a beeline for the cat mummies.

Because, you know, if you take a deep look into anybody’s bucket list you’ll find…

#99. See a cat mummy.



CheckMARK on #99!

After that big mission accomplishment, I had some spare time to pepper my teens with “What if” questions.

It’s what I do…

And eventually they’ll grow up, join an “Adult Children of ‘What if’ Peppering Parents” and recover.

Anyway, as I stood there reading about the cat mummification process, I hit upon my best “what if” questions of the day…

What if the ancient Egyptians were right about the afterlife?

What if you really do get to take all of your stuff with you?

Do you have any idea what this means?!

“We have no idea,” responded the teens, “but we’re pretty sure you’re going to tell us.”

It means that somebody just woke up and said, “Holy sarcophagus, WHERE is my CAT?!”
Think about it – there you are living large and Egyptian in the afterlife and stuff just starts disappearing with each archeological dig – the pottery, the jewelry, your pets…

The teens laughed to humor me, but probably wanted me to give it a rest as I began calling out each new artifact.

Whoa, there goes my scarab!

And my flail!

Dang it, where did I put my canopic jar?!

And then my son snapped this picture –


Yeah, an orb showed up – plain as day, there on his little camera screen.

And oh, how I reveled in all of my delicious parental rightness!

Because everyone agreed –

Without a doubt, that ghostly globe had come back…

to get his cat.


PROMPT: Write like an Egyptian! How’s that afterlife treating him or her? Hieroglyphics are optional.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Scary Things

With Halloween just a couple of days away, it’s a good time to talk about scary things…
In particular – scary words.

And let me warn you right now that if you have a heart condition, you might want to read this with a friend who is CPR-certified.

Just sayin’…

Because the following are some of the most frightening phrases ever uttered by human beings.

Are you ready?

Okay, brace yourselves. Here goes –

“I can’t.” (Shudder)

“That’s impossible.” (Gulp)

“I’m not good enough.” (Gasp!)

“I’ll never succeed.” (Ack!)

“I give up.” (NOOOOOOOooooooooooooo!)

Okay, okay, I’ll stop. I'm too creeped out to go any further anyway, and I want us all to be able to sleep tonight.

So, I’ll leave you with this –

“When you are going through hell, keep on going.

Never never never give up.”

~Winston Churchill


PROMPT: Set your writing/art goals this week. And for goodness sake, they do not need to be HUGE, LIFE-CHANGING GOALS in ALL CAPS and an extra-BIG G! Even just 5 minutes of work, one sentence of writing, or one dab of color is progress in the right direction. And trust me, any direction is the right direction for getting out of “The Hot Place.”