Guest Bloggers

Ellen Sussman likes her world shaken.

Guest Blogger Ellen Sussman writes about the novelty of new places and how this opens interesting problems and possibilities for fictional characters. When I travel abroad I expect to be surprised. Life shouldn’t be the same in a foreign country. I want to shake up my world, to expose myself to new tastes and sounds and smells and voices. I want to see things that are so novel, so startling, that my eyes open wider. That experience – of expanding my horizons while traipsing across a new horizon – should not only transform me while I’m gone, but it should deliver me home again in some new, improved way. High demands for a little vacation. My sister travels to the same resort in Florida every year. She doesn’t want what I’m looking for. She wants food she’s familiar with, experiences that don’t challenge her, sheets with the same thread count…


Yard Sale Find, But . . . Prompt #260

What kind of writing prompts do you like? Let me know and I’ll see if I can create prompts to meet your desires. Today’s writing prompt is inspired by one of my all-time favorite authors, Hal Zina Bennett. What if . . . During a long car trip, you stop at a yard sale in a strange town and find an interesting picture frame. It holds the photo of a familiar face —your fiancé’s or fiancée’s! There’s a passionate inscription to a stranger, dated three weeks ago.  Write about what happens next. From “40 Prompts To Get You Writing,” The Writer Magazine, February 2012. Hal Zina Bennett is the author of more than 30 books including: Write From the Heart: Unleashing the Power of Your Creativity; Write Starts: Prompts, Quotes & Exercise to Jumpstart Your Creativity; and Writing Spiritual Books: A Bestselling Writer’s Guide to Successful Publication. Hal has helped…

Just Write

Weave journal discoveries into stories

If you “keep a journal,” you can weave some entries into stories. Give your fictional characters  personality traits, attitudes or habits discovered in journal writing. Each day write about what surprised you, what moved you, what inspired you. Even if you think you have nothing to say, sit down and start writing. Write about the worst thing that happened to you and the best thing that happened to you each day. Just write! Inspired from an article in the December 2000 issue of Good Housekeeping, “The Question Journal,” by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., author of My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging.

Places to submit

Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest 2016

  The 12th Annual Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest has five categories: Things My Parents Taught Me The Best Gift I Ever Received It Happened One Night If I Were Rich And Famous You Can Count On Me You may submit a maximum of three poems, no more than one in each of three of the five contest categories. Poems may be in rhyme, free verse, Haiku or other accepted poetry forms and of any length, up to a maximum of 60 lines. You do not have to live in Lincoln, CA to be eligible. Young Poets, 18-years of age or under, are encouraged to submit poems and will compete in a special “Young Poets” category. Entry Forms and Contest Rules Entry Forms must be received no later than Saturday, July 23, 2016.  Early submissions are appreciated. If you have questions, please contact Alan Lowe, Contest Coordinator, at


Someone Who Is Always There For You Prompt #259

Write about someone who is always there for you. Or someone who needs you.   I thought of this prompt when reading the quote from To Kill a Mockingbird:  “I was to think of these days many times. Of Jem, and Dill…and Attticus. He would be in Jem’s room all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” Let me (Marlene) know if you have a favorite quote. . . I can use quotes for writing prompts and for Tuesdays – Quote Day on The Write Spot Blog.

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Margie Lawson: Give the reader a visual.

If you have written with me (Marlene), or if we have worked together on a writer/editor collaboration, you have heard me say “give the reader a visual.”  I’m so excited to discover Margie Lawson and her thoughts about visuals. The following is an excerpt from her May 20, 2016 guest blog post on Writers In The Storm. Margie Lawson – Guest Blogger: Most writers know Show Don’t Tell, but sometimes they think they’re showing when they are telling. Here’s my oh-so-easy check. Read the sentence that you think SHOWS the reader something. Ask yourself —- What’s the Visual? You may be surprised that the sentence doesn’t provide a visual. Wondering why I care? Wondering why I think you should care? Most readers have a video playing in their mind of the scene they are reading. If a writer TELLS instead of SHOWS, the reader’s screen goes blank. No imagery. No power. When…


Stumped for writing ideas? First lines . . . Prompt #258

First lines from books can make good writing prompts. “There was death at its beginning as there would be death again at its end.” The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans “Whenever my mother talks to me, she begins the conversation as if we were already in the middle of an argument.”   The Kitchen’s God’s Wife  by Amy Tan “I woke up to find the message in my left hand.”  Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox   “I drove up to the restaurant and parked, then leaned back in my seat to think for a moment.” The Celestine Prophecy  by James Redfield “We used to stay in bed most of the weekend”  My Dream of You  by Nuala O’Faolain “Take care to chop the onion fine.”    Like Water For Chocolate  by Laura Esquivel Click here for more first lines for writing prompts.