Friday, September 28, 2012


Today’s a holiday you’ve waited all year for…
Yep, it’s Ask a Stupid Question Day!

Believe it or not, this special day was created by a group of teachers in the ‘80’s… you know, back when big hair was found to have adverse effects on the brain.
Anyway, these kind-hearted, big haired teachers wanted to encourage kids to ask more questions in the classroom. Apparently they had tired of saying the same old mantra –

There are no stupid questions.

How many times did we hear that one?

Did it ever work?

That’s because we students had our own mantra, and it went like this –

There are no stupid questions –
just stupid people who ask questions.

But all of that is part of the past, and now there’s a day set aside just to let our stupid selves SHINE!
And I’m planning on making the most of it, so here goes…

If reality shows are “reality” then why do they hire writers?
How fast do hotcakes actually sell?

Why do caregiver and caretaker mean the same thing?
And while I’m at it – slim chance / fat chance, slow up / slow down? I mean, what the H?

Then there are those words of irony – abbreviation and monosyllabic. Really?
And what kind of sicko came up with the word lisp anyway?

What do Greeks say when they don’t understand?
Pluto and Goofy – both dogs. What gives?

Why is it a heck of a lot easier to get rid of brain cells than fat cells?
And if there's an exception to every rule, is there an exception to that one?

WOW, that feels good!
You MUST try this at home.

Shine on, people, shine on!

PROMPT: Do you have any stupid questions?
A stupid question would be a fabulous way to begin a brilliant story. What stupid question would your main character love to ask?


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chopping the Block


People have writer's block not because they can't write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.

~ Anna Quindlen

If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.

~ Margaret Atwood

Have you ever stubbed your toe on a block of the writerly kind?

Well, take heart for you are not alone.

Here’s a list of famous cures that may help you ease the pain…

·         Michael Crichton used paper of different colors to fill his typewriter.

·         T.S. Eliot forced himself to write… in French. 

·         Irving Stone weeded his garden. 

·         John Cheever roamed the aisles of discount stores looking for inspiration (and great bargains, I’m sure). 

·         Kurt Vonnegut went for a swim. 

·         Agatha Christie ate apples in the bathtub. 

·         E.B. White made weekly and monthly deadlines. 

·         Gail Godwin wrote in purple ink – on the back of credit card statements. 

·         And wicked Stephen King says he simply throws a big new problem at his poor unsuspecting characters… Nice.

Of course, there’s another method that’s way outside the box… er… block. 

That is, you could choose NOT to believe in it at all…

Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.

~ Steve Martin


Who’s afraid of the big, bad block?


PROMPT: What’s your writer’s block chopper?

Don’t have one? Then check out The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes.

And all you nonbelievers who don’t need one – Write ON!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Look for the Signs

Life is one big road with lots of signs.
So when you’re riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief, and jealousy.
Don't bury your thoughts; put your vision to reality.
 Wake Up and Live!

~Bob Marley

Whoa. That’s deep, Bob. 

And I love ya, Man, but I guess I’m in a shallow mood today.  

I think I can do without your road's muddy middle…

Life is one big road with lots of signs –
so put your vision to COMIC reality.

~ Barb “Marley”

Yeah, I’m looking for signs of comic reality today, and I know just where to find them –

at a motocross track a few miles from my home.

I pass by the Hannegan Speedway on my way into town nearly every day, and the gatehouse cracks me up – Every. Single. Time. I know I’m a little elbow-bent, but for me it has such Gary Larson Far Side comic potential.

It’s those dang signs…
All I can picture is a guy pulling up in his pickup. “Can I bring my anaconda?” he asks.
“Is it a fire?” asks the gatekeeper.
“Is it a dog?”
“Well, SURE! Come on in!”
Of course, the last panel would feature the gatekeeper tacking up a NO ANACONDAS sign.
Okay, maybe it’s just me.
Then again, maybe it’s the place –
Gary Larson lives less than 30 miles away.
PROMPT: Look for signs of comic reality today and create a comic of your very own. Then listen to your Marley –
Wake Up and Live!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall in Love… with Fall!

Autumn – the year's last, loveliest smile.

~William Cullen


How do I know it’s fall?

The air is scented with cinnamon.

I wake up with cats on my head (they have no cold tolerance whatsoever).

And the pear and apple trees in my little orchard are loaded with fruit.

Truth be told, I do not deserve the latter’s generosity. My lack of skills in orchard management is legendary (I know I am a person who actually gets paid to lie… um… write fiction, but you have to trust me on this one). I once had a full-grown apple tree FALL OVER because I failed to de-bud. Yeah, it was THAT top-heavy. You'd think that maybe I would have noticed.


Fear not, all you tree huggers out there – we righted her and with a bit of clever pruning she has been doing fine in the years since “the incident.”

The worst part is that everyone on my street knows that I’m an inept arborist, AND they’re never shy about letting me know that they know. Neighbors stop by all the time to give me “helpful” advice. They cluck and shake their heads. One spring day, the postman even pulled into the drive to offer a little “color commentary” regarding my pruning skills. The postman!

That’s how bad I am.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll be hearing from the Lorax soon.

But my incompetence in this area never seems to matter. Those trees forgive me (yes, even me!) each and every year by producing more fruit than I can manage.

So, it’s time to gather it all in and make something of it –

Ciders and sauces,

Butters and pies.


How can you not fall in love?

PROMPT: It’s harvest time! So grab a cup of warm cider and gather all of your story ideas on clean sheets of paper. Preserve carefully – you’re going to need them in a few months when the snow flies.