That Family Member . . . Prompt # 292

Let’s do some relaxation exercises before writing. Settle into your chair.  Feet flat on floor. Hands relaxed. Rotate shoulders in a circle. Reverse direction. Stretch arms out in front. Arms overhead. Arms to the side. Big deep breath in. Hold. Let go. Feel your feet connected to the floor. That connection goes down into the earth, way down, deep down, to the center of the earth. Firmly planted, deeply rooted. Take a nice deep breath in and bring your shoulders up to your ears. And then let them down with a loud hrumph sound. Another deep breath in, shoulders up and down with the outward breath. Completely supported in your chair. Feeling the connection to the earth. Feeling connected to the center . . .  the core of the earth. Your connection goes deep. We’re going to do a bit of exploration here. . . scanning memories. Sitting comfortably in…

Places to submit

Prompt Contest: A Picture is worth . . .

A picture is worth . . . you know. . .  lotsa words. Redwood Writers, a Branch of the California Writers Club, is sponsoring The 2016 Prompt Contest. Write a fictional story inspired by this “Highway through the Redwoods” photo by Tim May. The connection between the story and the photo must be apparent to the judges. The words “redwood” and “highway” must be somewhere in the story. DUE DATE:  October 16, 9:00 p.m. Fiction only. Contest submissions are open to all California Writers Club members and to non-member residents of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Marin, Lake, Humboldt and Solano counties. $8 for California Writers Club members; $12 for non-members 1,000 words or less 1st place:  $100, a certificate  suitable for framing, and a signed photo by Tim May 2nd place: $50 and a certificate suitable for framing 3rd place:  $25 and a certificate suitable for framing


Paint Colors . . . Prompt #291

Have you ever noticed the names of paint colors? They are so creative. . . they could be wonderful writing prompts. Writing Idea: Keep a file folder of phrases to inspire your writing. These could be phrases that someone else wrote. They could be snippets you wrote to be used in future writing. This folder can also contain lists like these names for  paint colors. You never know when or how you might want to use them. You might find a unique name for a character. Or a fabulous name for: a fictional town, a store, a street name, a pet. My favorite:  Amethyst reflection . .  . I can imagine using this to refer to eye color. Aqua Rapids Bubble Turquoise California Chamois China White Cloud Nine Blue Crystal Clear White Deco Red Festival Green Fiesta Rojo Fire Roasted Fitzgerald Smoke Frank Llyod White French Silver Inness Sage Innocent…


Movie Quotes . . . Prompt #290

Movies! Do you love ’em or are you meh about ’em?  Do you get “lost in books?” Can you get the same kind of Calgon-take-me-away lost in movies? Jean Hegland is a gifted writer. Her novel, Into The Forest, has been made into a movie and is now at theatres and will soon be available on DVD. I wouldn’t normally go to see this type of movie, but the opportunity came up to view Into The Forest, the movie, with Jean answering questions after the viewing. Thank you to independent bookstore Copperfield’s Books for sponsoring the viewing. And thank you to Jean for writing an amazing and memorable story. Thanks, also, to Ellen Page, who saw the possibility of the type of movie this could be. See it, if you can, even if, like me, you have to close your eyes during some scenes. The cinematography, the acting, the dialogue,…

Places to submit

Reed Magazine- Oldest literary journal west of the Mississippi River

Reed traces its heritage back to 1867, when the first issue of The Acorn was published by the students of California State Normal School, the institute that would eventually become San José State University. What began as a small publication for student work has grown into an international literary presence, receiving thousands of submissions from writers across the globe. A West Coast journal with worldwide reach, Reed, like California, is an ongoing, expanding, and wondrous mosaic of thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Reed Magazine – Submissions Open June 1 to November 1. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Art Fiction – under 5,000 words. John Steinbeck Award for Fiction – up to 5,000 words, $15 fee to enter. Winner receives a cash prize of $1,000. Non-Fiction – under 5,000 words Gabriele Rico Challenge for Nonfiction – This award is for a work of creative nonfiction up to 5,000 words and requires a reading fee…


Movies as inspiration for writing. Prompt #289

Movies can be a wonderful inspiration for writing. I recently saw the movie, Sully. Even though I knew how it ended, I was teary-eyed. I was filled with emotion at how people helped one another. Director Clint Eastwood did an amazing job of telling the right amount of backstory and the right amount of Sully’s personal life. The focus was on the people involved . . . the human interest story.  There were lines of dialogue that were exquisite. When using a movie as an inspiration for writing, you can write about the theme or mood of the story, a line of dialogue, a memorable scene, whatever interests you. Write about: A road trip. Thelma and Louise How you learned to dance. Dirty Dancing A time you were tricked, or you tricked someone. The Sting, two con men outcon a con.


I wasn’t the first . . . Prompt #288

Today’s writing prompts are inspired by author Julia Park Tracey, Alameda’s Poet Laureate. Part 1: Quotes from Veronika Layne Gets The Scoop by Julia Park Tracey. “I wasn’t the first reporter to arrive at the scene, but I wasn’t the last, either.” “A Victoria house — one of those multihued beauties with turrets, fish-scale shingles, gingerbread trim, iron railings, a weathervane, a trim of every description on widows’ walks and sun porches —a majestic painted queen from the late 1800s —burned like a marshmallow too close to the coals.” “You finally get a story, the story, and it changes before the ink is even on the page. And then it’s past, it’s history, and there’s not enough to cover for the following issue. On to the next assignment.” Note from Marlene: When you look at writing prompts, you can look at the entire quote, or take a section, or a…


Write about a favorite movie. . . OR . . . Prompt #287

Write about a favorite movie. Why do you like it? OR . . .   write about a movie you really didn’t like. Did you watch it to the end?  Why? Why didn’t you walk away? A note about freewrites:  You don’t have to write on the prompt exactly as it’s written. You can write about “Why didn’t you walk away?”  Write freely, with no attachment to the final product. Just write.

Guest Bloggers

How to start your book . . . not with the weather, not with a dream . . .

and not with “my name is.”  So . . . how could you, how should you begin your novel? Guest Blogger, Bryn Donovan, writes about: What Happens on Page One: 30 Ways to Start a Novel. Note: This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Note from Marlene:  Edited for brevity. Scroll down for link to original post. Bryn writes: Even when you have a basic idea of your story, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin it. One of the best things you can do with your first five or ten pages is to get readers to care about what happens to your main character (or one of them.) In my opinion, and in the opinion of most editors, a prologue that only serves as backstory is generally a bad idea. It makes a novel feel like it’s taking too long to really get started. You can weave…