Writing Prompts #1

Howdy, friends! I’ve been thinking a lot about writing prompts. They’re good exercise for your writing muscles, and they’re good tools to have in the shed. They can be vague or specific. If you were writing a novel and you got stuck, you can prompt your way through. These are fun to come up with, so I think I’ll do a bunch of them for a while until I get bored with the whole thing and go back to collecting wood ticks. If you write from any of these prompts, I’d be delighted to see what you came up with! Email or post in comments.

Prompt: Ceeda Red Hornets (fictioinal) deliver in their sting a hallucinogenic venom. In humans, the venom produces a state of euphoria and mild visual effects. More stings mean more euphoria and stronger hallucination. In the forest, Clyde finds himself stung by a Ceeda Red Hornet. Then another. Then another. He has stumbled upon a nest, but was it by accident or was it a trap? Someone is speaking to him as he is stung to the brink of death. What do they say? What does Clyde see?

So that one is pretty specific. Here’s a vague one that could fit in any old story you’re working on:

Prompt: On the ground not far away, Character happens to notice a thing. Character picks it up. Character used to have one just like this.

You can use things like that to round out your character or weasel your way out of a corner you’ve found yourself in. Good times. Now here’s some more, and then you can be on your way.

Prompt: That’s not your regular mailman… Why is he hand-delivering a box to your door? What’s that crazy look in his eye? What does he say before climbing into the mail truck and screeching away? What’s in that box?

Prompt: When Monica was young, she found something in the woods. She still has it, hidden away. She hasn’t visited it in a while, but today she is going to see it.

Prompt: A superhero – or villain, I guess – with heat vision is having a great morning… at first. One mishap leads to another, and the morning routine spirals out of control.

Prompt: Cousin Ricky is back in town, crazy as ever. He seems intent on helping you get a boat loan, but first he claims to know where there’s “buried treasure.” He’s leading you there now.

These are some of the things that rattle through my brain fairly constantly, so look for more of these in the future. Now I just need to find a picture of something unrelated to put at the top of this post…

Stoker Con 2017

The biggest reason I’ve been so quiet for so long is I’ve been getting ready for Stoker Con 2017. That’s behind us now. This post is going to be pretty cool.

First, however, I pause to mention that I was on the Stoker Con Video Squad with my pal Al Barrera. We video interviewed guests of honor and workshop leaders over the last several months, and those videos can be observed on the Horror Writers Association’s YouTube Channel HERE.

Okay, let’s start the trip. Tomahawk, WI to Long Beach, CA. Takes a little while to get there. To save a little money, we flew out of Eau Claire, WI and connected in Chicago. Chicago to LAX is a little over 4 hours. Piece of cake.

So we got there Tuesday night, and after a shuttle ride of some duration, we arrived at our hotel, The Queen Mary.

Before any book convention stuff, though, we had to pay a little visit to Master Cleber Luciano in Huntington Beach. I learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Jared. Jared’s school, Groundwork Grappling, is a Cleber affiliate. It was a no-brainer going out there that we’d have to stop in and see Cleber’s school. I got to train with California headhunters under the watchful eye of a BJJ legend, and that’s pretty cool in my book.


Then Master Cleber gave us the grand tour. Had to get out to the beach, right?

On to Stoker Con…

I was signed up as a volunteer for the event, and soon Keri was, too. We’re told we helped a lot, and I hope this is true. Along with Guest Liaison Elise Forier-Edie, I was the Assistant Guest Liaison. Did I mention Elise is awesome? Because she is, and I hope folks remind her of that often. She went far above and beyond. What’s an Assistant Guest Liaison? It means when a Guest of Honor Needs a pouch of Big League Chew, I go find a pouch of Big League Chew. It’s a stressful gig, but it has perks. Like this:

That’s a quick selfie I took while on a tour of the boat with Keri, new pal Andy Peloquin, Stoker Con Co-Chair Kevin Wetmore, guest of honor Bill Bridges, and guest of honor George R.R. Martin. Got to hang with George in the Churchill Suite and listen to some of his adventures. That was a pretty cool night, my friends.

So how’d I get hooked up with a sweet gig like this? It’s all who you know, chums. Me? I know Kate Jonez. She’s my editor, as well as the mastermind behind Omnium Gatherum, the small press that publishes my books. Kate was instrumental in making Stoker Con as awesome as it was, and it will be some months of steady praise before the appropriate amount of gratitude can be shown for her efforts. (That’s not me talking, that’s physics!) AND Omnium Gatherum won this year’s Specialty Press Award.

Let’s see, what else… In addition to the stuff where I got to help guests of honor, I got to make some great new friends! Bill Bridges was super cool immediately. Shared some chips with each other the first day we met. Gretchen McNeil was great. Stephen Graham Jones. Nancy Holder. Liz Hand and her daughter Calli. Eric Guignard. Rob from Mysterious Galaxy. I won a kickass book series from Gene O’Neil. Got to hang with my pal Ian Welke again. Had a long, meandering chat with Johnny Worthen as we walked around the Queen Mary’s Sports Deck, a conversation we’ll pick up again very soon. I got to do a reading with Maria Alexander, who took home the Stoker for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. So many new friends. Tons of old friends who I’d never met beyond Facebook. It all went way too fast.

These are folks who make their living writing about maniacs and monsters. And everyone was so nice and friendly and sincerely kind to each other. Kinda makes me want to go to the next one. Providence, RI next March. You going?

And now to get quiet again… I’ve much writing to catch up on, friends. HORROR writing.