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Friday, October 22, 2010

Taste of Time Back When

The illustration is from "Let's Go Shopping with Peter and Penny," by Lenora Combes

For extra sensory indulgence, you are encouraged to entertain your sweet tooth on this one!

What sweets or special treats do you remember from your childhood? I remember walking with my little sister and friends to the place we called the Hill Store where our pick of candy would fill a small brown paper bag about a third of the way full. What treasures! Oh, those bright Astro-Pops! And sometimes, if we were feeling brave, we'd buy those red hot Atomic Fireballs. Slo Poke suckers were another favorite, but the most memeorable one for me was the tingly sensation of the Pop Rocks exploding in my mouth. I also fondly remember the little Pot O' Gold bags of gum, which we'd pretend was real gold, so we didn't really eat that until last.

Buying candy was a special thing we would do once in a while in the summer if we were lucky to have a few coins in our pockets. Thinking about childhood treats can bring back lots of, hopefully, happy memories.

In honor of Halloween, I'm encouraging you all to write about candy this week.


1. Write an ode to your favorite kind of candy. "Ode to Lemon Drops," "Ode to Pixie Stix," "Ode to the Milkyway," etc.

2. Write a poem where you mention three different kinds of candy.


1. Think of one of your characters from a book you are working on. What kind of candy would your character pick out at the candy store? Why? Write a little short scene about your character and the candy store.

2. Make up a character who sells candy. Why does he/she like working in the candy store? What odd behaviors does the character have?

Creative Non-fiction:

1. Have you ever made candy or fudge? Write a memory about making something sweet.

2. What kind of candy best describes your personality? Write about it.

Teaching Tip: If possible, bring a selection of vintage candy to put out just before assigning the writing prompt.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where have you been and what have you learned?

Liz Rhodebeck, an award-winning Wisconsin poet, blends the soul of the human experience with the spirit of the land in the following poem:

What I Learned in Kansas by Liz Rhodebeck

I learned to tell the difference
between the smell of alfalfa and wheat,
to note the breeds of Charolais and Hereford;
I learned the purpose of burning
the pastures to bring life again,
green and tender as any hope.
I learned how hard the wind blows,
driving the prairie grasses
into undulating oceans
of whispering songs,
to hear the swelling moans
of labor hard under
the relentless sun.
And I learned the stillness
of the vast night sky,
broad as here to here,
crammed with stars
and silent, flickering lightning
as I shivered.
I learned that my lips could
recite the words,
the secrets of the prairie's strength
and that I, too, could
swallow those truths,
feel them expand
rising and rising like the hills
to meet the clean line of horizon,
the moment of flight.
I learned in Kansas
the difference between living
and existing,
loving and emptiness,
that the heart can wander
from Olathe to Liberal
and still find its way home.

The Creative Writing Prompts for this week are:

1. Poetry: Write a poem titled, "What I Learned in (or at) ____________"

2. Creative Non-fiction: Write a short essay of 500 words or less titled, "What I Learned in _____________."

3. Fiction: Create a new character through exploring, "What (insert name of character) Learned in (insert place)." Or you can use a character you are already working with from one of you current short stories or novels, etc.

Ideas for the "What I Learned" exercise:

1. Try to focus on place and think about the five senses as you reflect about that particular place. Writing about the senses will give you automatic imagery. Notice how Liz's poem refers to the smell of "alfalfa and wheat" and ". . .burning/the pastures to bring life again," and hearing the ". . .swelling moans/of labor hard under/the relentless sun."

2. Sample ideas below:

What I learned in: the peach orchard, my sister's bedroom, my aunt's garden, California, Door County, high school, etc.

What I learned at: the Horse Power Healing Center, the Lady Gaga concert, the local gas station, the farmer's market, etc.

Liz Rhodebeck's book of poems, What I Learned in Kansas, has just been released by Port Yonder Press. You can order her book by clicking on the link below.

A huge thank you to Liz for letting me feature her poem this week! To find out more about Liz, please visit:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's Your Six-Word Memoir?

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn. - Ernest Hemingway

The link below is an National Public Radio article about the six-word memoir. There have been some books published based on this short kind of memoir.

This week, I am asking you to chunk your life into about four sections (more or less is fine, too). Start as far back as you can remember, then separate parts of your life into stages. It could be middle school, high school, getting your first car, going to colllege, just after you were married, when you were divorced, when a major life changing experience occurred, etc.

After you decide which stages you want to focus on, jot down notes from the memories that come to you about each time.

Then go through your notes and write a "six-word memoir" about each part of your life.

I hope you will enjoy the article below from NPR!

Happy short memoir writing!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


What are you grateful for?

I hope you will enjoy this link from YouTube.

Creative Writing Prompt # 14: Gratitude

Make a list of 10 simple things you are grateful for. Then pick one and write about why you are grateful for it and how it brings you pleasure or peace.

Here are few examples from my gratitude list:



Fresh coffee

A walk on a cool day with someone I love

Pictures of my loved ones


May this exercise bring you happiness. Focusing on gratitude is known to raise spirits. Happy Writing!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Mermaid and the Quote Machine

This beautiful mermaid picture is by Toni Pawlowsky. Many years ago, I fell in love with Red Oak Cards, and this image is from their collection.

Ellis Felker, poet and owner of the company, has an awesome website for Red Oak Cards with a quote machine. Here are some creative writing exercises for you to do this week!

1. I want you to visit Red Oak Cards and look at the "Quote-O-Matic" on your right. You will see a quote by Ellis Felker. Your assignment is to write a response to the quote.

Do you agree or disagree? Why?

What does the quote make you think about?

Note: If you don't like the quote, click on the HOME button and a new one should appear.

Here is the link:

2. If you had to put a couple of original quotes into a "Quot-O-Matic," what would they be?

3. Write from the picture above. It is called "Mermaid's Boudoir." Go where your thoughts take you!

Good News of the Day: You can send an e-card for FREE from Red Oak Cards!

Thank you to Ellis Felker at Red Oak Cards for granting permission to utilize his "Quote-O-Matic" and to showcase the beautiful artwork by Toni Pawlowsky.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fortune Telling for Writers

Ellen Bass is an excellent poet. I particularly love how she writes about family. Today she is featured on Poetry Daily with a poem called "Relax."

Here is a small excerpt from her poem:

No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you'll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn't plug her heart
into every live socket she passes. . .

You can read the entire poem by clicking on the following link:


Here are your creative writing prompt choices for today:

1. Poetry: Write a poem that tells a fortune. Look at the poem by Ellen Bass if you are able, but write yours in your own style.

2. Fiction: Create a dialogue between a character and a male fortune teller.

3. Creative non-fiction: Have you ever had your fortune told, your tarot cards read, etc.? Write about that experience. Did it change your perspective? If so, how?

To learn more about Ellen Bass, you can link to her website below.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Blessings

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson's pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!

---from the poem "Blueberries" by Robert Frost

Fresh summer berries are one of God's greatest gifts. Some of my poet friends have written amazing poems about picking berries and cherries.


1. Do you have any memories of picking fruit in the summer? Write about one.

2. What kind of summer fruit would you pick to describe yourself? Why?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Relax - Buddhist Meditation Music - Zen Garden - Kokin Gumi

There are numerous benefits to meditation. Here are just a few:

1. It can increase serotonin which can decrease depression.

2. It can slow your heart rate down.

3. It can decrease muscle tension.

Today's Prompt is to meditate to the music and enjoy the images if you would like. (Some of the cloud photos are amazing!) Then write for 5 minutes after you relax. Go where the music takes you!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Life Gives Us Choices

Eleanor Lerman's poem "Starfish" talks about how life lets us choose how we want "our eggs and coffee," then goes on to say:

Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who says, Last night
the channel was full of starfish.
And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

And of course, there is much more to the poem. You can read it on The Writer's Almanac by clicking the link below this entry.

Prompt for the day: Reflect on life's choices. Start with the small choices of THIS day, then reflect on something bigger if your thoughts lead into that. I hope you'll read Lerman's poem.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Where Frida's Dress Hangs

Google's feature this morning spiked my interest in Frida. Above is her painting, "My Dress Hangs There."

Here are two prompts from this:

1. If you were to hang your dress, your hat, etc.---in a manner similar to Frida's---what would your painting look like?

2. Free-write from Frida's painting. After a 5 minute free-write, go and research this very political painting and then free-write again. Then make a combo of the two free-writes into a poem of 30 lines or less.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I am posting Picasso's Dove of Peace because there are those out there that need peace and more, but all I can do in this moment is offer a prayer.

Prompt: What is peace to you?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rainy Day Summer Solstice

Here is a link to a song by Jimmy Buffett called "Barefoot Children in the Rain."
Happy Summer Solstice! Happy Rainy Day! Thank you to Eric4ever for creating this awesome video. Enjoy!

Prompt: Write about a childhood memory of rain.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My New Garden Bench

Prompt: Write about a woman who has influenced your life in a positive way.

Monday, March 22, 2010

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Today, I'm thankful for beautiful things. I love the tanquility and colors in this painting. They give me hope.
Prompt: What beautiful things inspire you?
(painting is by Paul Cezanne)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Spring!

What a beautiful week we've had. Just about this time last year, I was planning the most important day of life. Pictures as memories make me happy. Today I express my gratitude to our photographer, Jody Mack, for making the engagement photo shoot special. Thank you, Jody!

Prompt: What's the story?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gravity Pulls You In

For anybody touched by someone on the autism spectrum, I recommend this book. Not because my poem is in it, but because it is full of multi-views of what it is like to live day by day with this condition. Hats off to the editors, the publishers and all the writers for giving the world an intimate look of how challenging and beautiful autism can be.

Prompt: What are the three things (not people!) in life that are most important to you?