Writing Prompts 3

Howdy again, chums! Here I am again with a new set of writing prompts that were given to me in a hallucination caused by a near-blackout at jiu-jitsu tonight. But first, I want to say a little about the value of these kinds of things. Let me just get to a new paragraph and…

Okay, so many of the writing prompts I’m coming up with are silly one-off things. Write a paragraph about Cousin Ricky? Sure, but who cares? Your brain does. It’s not about Ricky. It’s about exercising your brain and conditioning it to work more efficiently in a certain area. It’s the same reason you learn algebra and trigonometry in high school. No, you probably aren’t going to use the quadratic formula much, but teaching your brain to reason mathematically IS something you’ll use beyond high school (so quit your bitchin’!). Same with writing prompts. And as much as I like reading what you come up with, you’ll find it even more useful to come up with prompts of your own that apply more directly to your own projects. But by all means, keep sending me the stuff you come up with for these! (bmkATchuggieDOTnet)

Here are this week’s:

Prompt: Jack Handey famously wrote: “One way I think you can tell if you have a curse on you is if you open a box of toothpicks and they all fly up and stick in your face.” What are some other ways to tell if you’ve been cursed?

Prompt: Camping out with some friends at Lake Percy, you’re almost asleep when you hear a commotion outside your tent. You think it’s a bear until the ruckus stops and a raspy voice says…

Prompt: The toaster pops up and sets in motion a chain reaction that ends four blocks away. Please describe this series of events. DO IT!

Prompt: Bastion is afraid of the wind, which goes back to one experience he had as a child. But things didn’t happen exactly how he remembers… What does he think happened, and what REALLY happened?


Prompt: Cousin Ricky just got back from Texas with a pick-up truck full of rattle snakes. He has a plan to make a lot of money with them, and that plan is…

Prompt: (this one’s for your novel or work in progress) If your character could walk away from everything and go anywhere they wanted, where would they go, and what would they do there?

Okay, that’s plenty for now. Look for more next week, because I’m still not bored with these. Now to come up with a strange image for the top… Oh! I know! As I type this, it’s Elise Forier Edie’s birthday! I’ll use the image I posted on her FB timeline when I told her happy birthday earlier. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELISE!


Writing Prompts 2

So here’s the second batch of writing prompts. I have fun creating these, so you’re likely to see more here in the coming weeks. Until I get bored with them. Which will be never.  As always, if you do any of these and you want to share, please do. You can leave them in the comments or email them to me. If I get a sizable collection, I’d think about posting them.

Prompt: To summon Bloody Mary, we chant her name as we stare into a mirror in a dimly lit room. Many years from now, how will they summon YOU?

Prompt: Sam is about to be roasted and eaten by cannibals. Sam lists some rational reasons why the cannibals shouldn’t eat him (or her). The leader of the cannibals responds with some rational reasons why they SHOULD eat sam. They turn to the old shaman for the verdict.

Prompt: The pig, being the smartest animal in the barnyard, wishes to escape. Firs the pig plans to test the waters by convince a very dumb sheep to try the escape first. How does the crafty pig convince the dumb sheep to bo through with it? What is the result?

Prompt: We’ve got to get past those cops without being spotted! Not to worry, Cousin Ricky has a plan… a CRAZY plan.

Prompt: Whoa! That’s Kevin’s truck! It is unmistakable, and Kevin would NEVER let anyone else drive it. So who is that creepy guy behind the wheel? You follow…

Prompt: (Here’s one that could really be useful in just about any story you might be working on) You character needs to be somewhere NOW. They are being constantly delayed on the way, however, as though the local community (or perhaps the cosmos itself!) has aligned against them. Describe their much delayed journey.


Okay, that’s plenty for now. All that’s left is to find a picture of something weird to put at the very top of this prompt page. Have a good one, and I look forward to reading your exercises!

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.

A Quick March Update

Howdy, gang! Ain’t heard from ME in a while, eh? Well, that changes right NOW! So here’s the update. I started a new job recently. I quite like it, and I think I hope they keep me around. I work in a real estate office doing graphic design and providing entertainment. I haven’t showed them my interpretive dance sequence yet, but hopefully soon. The problem is that the sequence is now over 41 minutes long and I still have a couple details to work out and because there’s no smooth transition from C+C Music Factory to Led Zeppelin. At least not with the songs I’m using.

Anyway, I’m still around and I’m still clacking at the keyboards occasionally. I’ve actually got a thing coming up where I go back to my old high school and talk to kids about writing. Super looking forward to that!

The main project for the last few months has been the Stoker Con 17 YouTube Page. Click right here and check it out. I’ve been video interviewing a whole bunch of awesome authors, and some of those very interviews can be seen on that YouTube page!

As for the writing… It’s been a little slow. Chuggie #4 and Cruce Roosters. Chuggie #4 is going to be bloody and gutsy and sweary. But Cruce Roosters is going to be rough. Ugly. If you’re my Mom, please don’t read it. To balance that out, I have an idea for an adventure series for young readers that I’ve already said too much about! Your letters of encouragement are, of course, always welcome. Or letters of discouragement. I’m usually just happy to have something to read that’s written just for me.

Last but not least! I made this rockin’ pirate ship with my son. Well, it’s not quite done. It’s a work in progress, and we have fun working on it. Look upon it and weep that you don’t have one!

It Was September

Last September was an exciting time. I was training and trying to lose a little weight for my first ever Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament. I was also going through final edits on Keep Away From Psycho Joe with my editor, Kate Jonez.

A bunch of folks have taken a look at Keep Away From Psycho Joe. A bunch more are reading it now. The feedback has been better than I’d hoped, and I can’t tell you how awesome that is.

But there’s something you don’t know about this book. The editing sessions were many. They typically went for two or three hours. But the FINAL editing session… It was September. At least, I’m pretty sure it was. It’s a blur now. Wanna know why? Then read the next paragraph!

I knew it was going to be a late night. We started editing shortly after I got home from work.  Video conferencing, of course. (SCIENCE!) I had a coffee and two Rock Star energy swigs on standby.  We edited furiously. It’s not easy – at least, not for me. Next to marketing, editing is the least fun part of the process. From favorite to least favorite, it  goes like this: 1) Ideation  2)Writing  3) Re-writing  4)Chasing bears out of my yard with a plastic shovel at night  5)Editing  6)Marketing.

We burned the midnight oil that night. And then we burned the next night’s ration of midnight oil, too. Then some more. Keep Away From Psycho Joe is a humor/horror novel for young adults, but the real scary stuff wouldn’t come until after. When I finally laid down in the very early hours of the morning, I’d gotten my body into some kind of crisis mode. Heart thudding so hard the whole bed shook, I went looking for sleep and found none. I shouldn’t say none… I might have gotten my eyes to stay shut for an hour or so before the sun came up. You get a little time to think when you’re laying there waiting for your heart to explode. You get time to revisit every awful thing you’ve done, to explore all your darkest fears. Falling asleep? Not for long! Here’s some terror for no reason and a layer of icy sweat!

Can’t complain, though. That’s what I signed up for. Thanks to Kate and those sessions, the book turned out better than I’d hoped. It was well worth the price, I’ll tell you that much. I’m pretty sure that was September.

And I can’t wait to do it again.