Writing Prompts and Resources

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Writing prompts. Where do they come from? I once read a tweet by Benjamin Dreyer who I defer to in almost all matters of grammar and copyediting, but there are two things I disagree with:

1. an historic is correct, and

2. He is incorrect when he says that not everything is a writing prompt.

In fact, EVERYTHING is a writing prompt.

That bird nestling in the tree outside your garage. Writing Prompt.

That car that went through the stop sign. Writing Prompt.

A sink full of dirty dishes. Writing Prompt.

Your child’s laughter. Writing Prompt.

Everything around you is a writing prompt.

Take for example this week’s Target ad. Advertisers tell you what you should be focusing on in the new year and encourage you to better yourself whether you need to or not. The first couple of weeks of ads focus on that new year, new you spirit, and of course they want you to buy things. If you follow the seasonal editorial/advertising schedule you’ll also see what people are interested in and looking for.

Going through the Target ad there are easily ten separate things that can be written as features, blog posts, listicles, and whatever else you might think of. Just like “Low Prices!” Target copywriters can offer titles or sub-titles to a longer piece: “Home Refresh” and “Clean Every Surface“.

The subjects include, but of course are not limited to: laundry, cleaning, restocking essentials, baby stuff – diapers, formula, furniture, vitamins, exercise equipment, office and stationary organization and “essential items” now with taxes right around the corner, and at the end of the ad is the reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming soon so get those blog posts written and those pictures taken.

Personally, I’ve already made my list from the ad of most of the things we’ve run out of over the holidays while we were preparing and celebrating Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s. We made do with what we had, but now it’s time to restock.

I’ve also started writing in my new calendar/planner so I need to begin writing with some of the prompts I’ve been collecting.

These are some of my go-to resources:

Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer

Thesaurus dot com

The Writer magazine

Merriam-Webster dictionary

Evernote app

Business Calendar 2 app (I use the free one, but I plan on getting the pro version sometime in 2022)

Election Connection 2022

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There are exactly forty-three (43) weeks until the next Election Day. This is the mid-terms and we need to keep the House AND the Senate. We have slim majorities in both, and we are already seeing how Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell has been abusing his power. We need to make Joe Manchin one of one hundred instead of THE ONE who can capsize what the majority of us want for this country and our families.

Yes, this is a mid-term election, but regardless, there are NO OFF YEARS. We need to get in it and STAY in it.

Check out the links below to see what you can do NOW!

NOTE: In the Pennsylvania Senate race, I am not endorsing either candidate, but giving you information and the websites of both candidates who I am familiar with. Both have government experience in local and state positions.

Vote Save America

Vote Save America: No Off Years

Democracy Docket

Fair Fight

Beto O’Rourke for Governor of Texas

Stacey Abrams for Governor of Georgia

Ohio Senate Candidate: Tim Ryan, currently Representative in the House of Representatives

PA Senate Candidate: John Fetterman, currently Lt. Governor of PA

PA Senate Candidate: Malcolm Kenyatta, currently Representative in the PA General Assembly

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Native American Heritage Month (3)

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Many people question why we need to focus on the diversity of our nation and celebrate heritage days and months; why can’t we simply celebrate our sameness as Americans.Also questioned is why we look back on the way we treated the indigenous peoples who were already here at our country’s very beginnings.

People want to forget the bad parts of our history.

The racist parts. The genocide. The meanness and the bigotry.

We can’t let those memories fade. They are a part of our history, and as we saw earlier in the year in British Columbia, Canada, it is part of the collective history of this continent.

While we were on vacation in August, we couldn’t help but notice the signs, the memorials for the two hundred fifteen First Nations children found in unmarked graves in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The articles read and linked below, as well as others were difficult enough to accept and they are still being processed emotionally by Native and non-Native peoples alike. However, happening upon one such memorial in Kanawake, the Mohawk tribal lands in southern Quebec tugged at emotions I was unaware of. The sight of the small shoes, representing the dead and unremembered 215 children, some as young as 3 was a lot to take in. It left me with a profound sadness, but also an emptiness that even the sadness couldn’t fill.

I leave you with links to read and photos to meditate on.

Horrible History: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada

Canada Mourns as Remains of 215 chiildren found at indigenous school

A Burial Site for Indigenous Children was Found in Canada. Could it happen in the United States?

The emtpy shoes representing the 215 Indigenous children found in Kamloops. My presumption is that the ashes are from a First Nations religious ceremony in memory of the children. (c)2021
The above shoes can be seen at the St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kanawake, Quebec. This is also the site of the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine where her body was brought. She is the first Native American Catholic saint. (c)2021
Signs we saw at various places across Quebec and Ontario, Canada. (c)2021

Native American Heritage Month

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I want to acknowledge that my family and I live on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee. I grew up knowing them as the Iroquois, which is the French name. Haudenosaunee means People of the Longhouse and they have a rich history in New York State. The map below shows the other tribes traditional to New York. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is the oldest, participatory Democracy and our US Constitution is said to be modeled on theirs.

Credit: Aaron Carapella (c)2021

Some links to check out about Native American Heritage Month:

Beyond Each November from First Nations

Native American Heritage Month Information and Activities


I’ve mentioned my affinity for our local saint, Saint Kateri Tekawitha (pronounced “gaderi dega-gwita”). She is the first Native American saint to be canonized. Her official elevation was in 2012 and her most recent miracle was in 2006. St. Kateri was Algonquin on her mother’s side and Mohawk on her father’s.

Since I was going to visit her shrine in Quebec, I wanted to have her chaplet to pray with while I was there. I wasn’t able to acquire it until after so I drew one and used that for my prayer. Here is a photo of both of them:

Chaplet of St. Kateri Tekawitha.
(c)2021

Our Lady of the Rosary

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Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is commemorated each year on October 7th and many churches have special rosary events. Many of these happen all through the year but they have a special significance during October and May.

I personally find great comfort in praying the rosary. I participate in a weekly recitation every Monday with my Cursillo group and I’ve been part of a Living Rosary at my church for a few years now. They’re starting it again post-pandemic this month.

Since today is Thursday, the mysteries of the Holy Rosary recited are the LUMINOUS MYSTERIES.

1. The Baptism of the Lord

2. The Wedding at Cana

3. Proclamation of the Kingdom

4. The Transfiguration

5. Institution of the Eucharist

Visit How to Pray the Rosary on the Vatican’s website for prayers and directions if you’re not familiar with praying the rosary.

Pictures below cut.

Continue reading

Writing Resources

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We all have those things, those tools that keep us on task or inspire us or help us in the mundane, every day editing and revision process. And of course, there’s the writing.

As I was writing the Back to School Resource Guide last week, I realized that many of those same items can be used as resources for our writing process.

Currently, my first go-to is a Thesaurus. I use the online one in the previous link. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it has all the words.

Next is a new addition to anyone’s resource list: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. I also have his Day-by-Day Calendar which gives you hints and copyediting advice all through the year that you didn’t know you needed until you read it. Both are excellent resources. He is coming out with a children’s version and a second edition is on the way.

My go-to online dictionary is Merriam-Webster, partly because of their longevity and willingness to modernize, but also their sense of humor. Follow them on Twitter.

Need to know what day someone was born on in 1873? Sunrise or sunset? Time and Date is for you.

Need a quotation? BrainyQuote.

When is National Crepe Day? Well, National Crepe Suzette Day is May 6th! Today, in fact is National Noodle Day! How do I know this? National Day Archives.

Need help jump starting your novel? Nanowrimo is for you! It runs November 1st through November 30th and gives you the resources and motivation to write 50,000 words in thirty days.

The only magazine I subscribe to is The Writer. I’ve been getting it for at least two decades, although I have more recently switched to digital only. Saves trees and space in my house.

Drawing Interior Scenes. Even as a young writer, I always drew the apartments where my characters lived. I found it a useful way to assist in the descriptive prose. This manga artist takes it to a whole new level: Manga artist [Haru Amake] shares a genius-level trick to take the headache out of drawing interior scenes

Chromebook Shortcuts

Two of my very favorite organizing tools are Evernote and Business Calendar 2. My links go to the Amazon store since I use my Kindle more than anything else, but both are available in the Google Store and if you have i-products you can check the Apple Store. Both come in a free and a paid version.

Evernote lets you keep information organized in separate “books”. A few of mine are: Quotations, Writing Prompts, A Book of Days (to track holidays), and Travel Notes for on the go.

Business Calendar 2 is the best calendar app I have ever used, and I have used more than a few. I’ve been using it for about two weeks, and it took me a couple of days to see how beneficial this calendar app is to my life!

The free version lets me do everything I absolutely need to do with a calendar/organizer with a minimum of ads. There are a few advanced features that I would like, and I plan to eventually purchase the paid version. In addition to no ads, it will let me multi-pick for deleting agenda items at the end of the day. But realistically, that’s only for my preference. It is completely usable and useful with just the free download.

Is This the End of Writing in Cafés? by Emily Temple. Full Disclosure: I’m writing this right now in a cafe, so I think you know my answer to that question.

I leave you with some inspiring words from Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner, Lin-Manuel Miranda:

Then chase a moment, not a plot.

If a moment’s too big, chase a sentence.

You just need an inch to start. GO WRITE.

Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, circa 2016 (when you can’t find the words)

Inspire. October.

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Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

St. Francis of Assisi

I was happy to find the above quotation in my collection for today since today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. He is well known for his love of animals; in fact, many churches do blessings of animals during this weekend of his feast including my own parish. He is the patron of animals, merchants, and ecology and is known to have set up the first live nativity scene around the year 1220.

I would recommend reading the English translation of Canticle of the Sun, which Francis composed and by the same token I’d highly recommend reading Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, Laudato Si as well as the book based on that encyclical, Our Common Home by my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath.

In devotion to our common home and its care as well as his concern for the poor, Pope Francis took that name as his Papal name in 2013. It is the first time a Pope has been called Francis, and truly speaks to the heart of our current pope and brings on much inspiration to do for others in many ways.


Labyrinth at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Public Library.
(c)2021

The above photo is of my most recent labyrinth walk. Located behind the library in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, it is placed in serene, pastoral setting, surrounded by grass, trees, and a farm in the distance. There was the opportunity to walk it, pray the walk, and then to sit just taking in the space around me. There was a vegetable garden, a gazebo, and a court for lawn bowling. If my family wasn’t waiting for me in the car, I could have stayed there at least an additonal hour. I may plan on them dropping me off for a bit longer the next time we’re in the area.

It was a very hot day, but once I settled onto the marble bench after my walk, I was able to feel the breeze, letting it cool me off while I contemplated the bucolic area. Despite sitting relatively still, I felt energized and inspired, and all I wanted to do was to sit and write for a bit. That is one of the reasons that I always carry pen and paper, although in this case, I left it in the car bringing only my mask and my phone camera.

When I first saw the shape of this labyrinth online about two years ago it seemed an unusual shape. Upon seeing it in person, I realized that the shape itself wasn’t unusual or the design, but the way the turns were so sharp with acute angles. For me, it created the feeling of looking inside a keyhole or walking through the inside of a keyhole like a miniature person, Elves and the Shoemaker style.

As I said in yesterday’s reflection, I like falling headfirst into the photos and letting myself be inspired as if I had returned to the original place of the photo.


What inspires you?


Library Gardens. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Public Library.
(c)2021
I could have sat all day here, writing and looking out of the window.
(c)2021

A Writing Reflection

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A short rainstorm and now the sun is streaming through the windows of the new coffee shop I’ve brought my computer to. I don’t drink coffee, but I love coffee shops and this one is really perfect. It is the exact replica of what I would design if I were to open my own coffee shop, although perhaps not exact. It is very much themed in art: Botticelli, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe. I think I would theme mine with writing, but the walls, the delicate filigree on some chairs, the bright sofa under the window and the paper flower hanging lamp all exude ingenuity and initiates creativity; all creativity including my writing. It is very easy to get lost in thought and conceive of a vision that works.

This is my second time sitting here, at this same table. As I write this, I have a memoir workshop in about ninety minutes, and I’ve been here since 7:30. It’s now 8:44. My daughter “forced me” to drive her here to pick up an iced chai latte before school which is only up the road. Her incentive for me was that I could sit here and write or “whatever it is that I do” until the class, which is also up the road in a different direction. Her plan was that I sit here with my computer for almost three hours! What was she thinking?!

Well, her begging convinced me, although I’m not sure what the two folks behind the counter think of me nursing my drink until it’s time to pack up for class. I did buy (what I consider) an expensive breakfast – they have the most amazing crepes and worth every penny, although I’m not supposed to tell anyone about it. It’s being kept a secret so that it doesn’t attract the wrong crowd, by which she means people taking up space that are not her and her friends. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know about the place had she not needed a ride to and from.

I digress, though.

I’ve been trying to write this (in my head, at least) for the past two weeks. For the last nine years – I can’t believe it’s been that long! – I’ve attended a memoir workshop class twice a year – six weeks (although it started out at eight weeks) in the fall and then the spring. Two blissful hours of writing, reading what we’ve written, and learning new techniques, and getting writing tips. We come from all walks of life and it is equally entertaining and educational.

With the pandemic, the last three sessions were cancelled. It’s been difficult to keep up on some of my writing since the class is such an inspiration and motivator. We finally received the email from our teacher that we were on for this fall. I was so excited! I put the registration date on my calendar so I wouldn’t get shut out, and I began to prepare by buying a new notebook to write in for this semester. New, clean pages that will optimistically take me through several sessions.

Then the covid numbers began rising and kept rising. The library made the decision that they wouldn’t have people meeting inside the library building but they also didn’t want to cancel the session again.

They arranged with the next town over to use a pavilion in one of their parks to accomodate us. We’d be going until the middle of October, but we’re hardy upstaters, and half of us had been meeting in a different park for the last year through three seasons, and all the way into November. The pavilion had a roof to keep out the rain, and picnic tables and a dirt floor, and I did not care. We were meeting and connecting and writing.

On the first day, the library provided clipboards to lean on and the teacher brought a pile of cushions for the hard picnic table benches. I brought my own chair which I found more comfortable, but honestly, I may borrow one of the cushions next time.

The park was the perfect atmosphere for writing. A field of green grass, a cool breeze, an empty jungle gym, and a bridge we had to cross over a brook to get to the pavilion. It felt more like a retreat than a class. I took pictures – I always take pictures of places to share and to relive the moments. Sometimes falling headfirst into those photos and reliving those moments help to inspire a new series of writing prompts and ideas to plan for in the future. (I did the same at the coffee shop too. My family is a little tired of my Instagram life, photographing everything, getting the best angles, retakes – what can I say?)

There is also the added advantage that comes with fall. Fall is Back to School which is Back to Writing, and does sort of force me into the chair. I’ve got my writing (school) supplies, I’ve got some new prompts, some new plans for my website, some new angles for my book, and off I go. Out in the world, everything is a writing prompt. How could it not be, especially in fall. Leaves changing, pumpkins on porches, the smell of apples in the orchard, the countdown to Halloween and Thanksgiving and All Saints Day and Advent. And don’t forget the mums!

Everything is crammed into so little time, and we’re still postponing things because of covid.

Nanowrimo is just around the corner.

Election Day is in thirty days. No, it’s not an off year. There are no more off years.

Christmas shopping is short by one weekend.

What will the new year bring?

I just answered the question about my writing plans for winter, which was the first assignment from class. I’m not actually sure I answered the question as much as I skirted around it.

At the end of the WandaVision series on Disney + (spoilers), there was a meme based on Vision’s statement to Wanda: “What is grief but love persevering.” Online was a wave of substitutions for grief and love. The other day, because there is nothing I love more than a good meme, I thought:

What is writing but words persevering.

And I think that sums up writing for me. Taking a jumble of words and making them make sense. Form coherence. Form passion and inspire something, someone. The words keep persevering and the writing pushes on. And as I keep doing that – persevering, pushing on, plotting, and publishing – all that keeps me writing and titles me a writer.

Election Connection – Election Day 2022

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Election Day is in 49 Days!

Make a plan to vote.

RIGHT NOW!

We need to ensure that we get every seat we can in order to accomplish the American people’s agenda. Voting Rights. Reproductive Rights. End gerrymandering. Equal Justice. a non-partisan Supreme Court.

We can do it together. Let’s go.

Some places to get you started:

Vote Save America

Vote Save America: No Off Years

Democracy Docket

Fair Fight

Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene

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I fully intended to write a reflection today on Mary Magdalene. In the past she’s gotten a bad rap, mostly from historical inaccuracies, misogyny, and bad faith takes, and in more recent years is re-emerging as an inspirational saint for girls and women alike.

As I searched for previous links to share at the end today, I discovered something I wrote in 2019 that really contained all that I wanted to say and I decided to share that link instead.

Mary Magdalene.

Enjoy this feast day of the Apostle to the Apostles, and follow the links at the end of that original reflection to read more on Mary as well as women’s roles in the church.