June 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each Hand“Try to get it right this time.”
  2. Use these 5 words: thunderstorm, scared, anniversary, party, cloud.
  3. Rapidly falling temperature
  4. Start with: If he had the chance…
  5. Watching advertisements with the sound off
  6. Use this line: “It’s time for me to reflect on my choices.”
  7. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: wheelbarrow, fading, secret, began, poetry. If you don’t like those, try these: song, screams, crepe, librarian, eating.
    2. Write about fabric (literal or figurative).
    3. Fill in the blanks: ______ is okay if ______ is unavailable.
  8. Use these 5 words: zipline, teen, twisted, diploma, promise.
  9. A stilted reading of lines that should be spontaneous
  10. Start with: A small part of me fears…
  11. “I can give you three minutes.”
  12. Use this phrase: “how the universe works”
  13. It’s easier if you’re left handed.
  14. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: silence, inside, which, women, stamp.
    2. Fill in the blank: “I’d like to take advantage of this awkward situation to _____”.
    3. It’s not time for dinner yet.
  15. Dinner is popcorn tonight.
  16. Open any social media app, scroll to the 7th post & use it as inspiration.
  17. Was it a Tuesday or a Wednesday?
  18. Use these 5 words: protests, club, flame, elected, panel.
  19. “You can see where the foundations were.”
  20. Start with: The seven stages of ____ are…
  21. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: shall, roads, said, marry, prevent.
    2. Fill in the blank: “I never promised you _______.”
    3. “We’ll be back tomorrow.”
  22. Use this line: “He stayed remarkably composed, all things considered.”
  23. First holiday without a loved one.
  24. Use these 5 words: altruism, performing, prison, sane, library.
  25. A little of every spice in the cabinet.
  26. Start with: Another thing I’ve been doing is…
  27. He/she’s coming unraveled.
  28. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: alter, broken, beside, blues, ourselves.
    2. A cultural reference goes over someone’s head.
    3. Write about a consistently mispronounced word.
  29. Living situation violates zoning rules.
  30. Use this phrase: “a risky and record-breaking journey”

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

 

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

Toasted Cheese 15:2

The June 2015 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Carl Boon, Wayne F. Burke, Natasha S. Garnett, Lowell Jaeger, Erren Geraud Kelly & Kristina Spear; flash by Gretchen L. Dietz, Windy Lynn Harris, Jenny Irizary, Dorothy Mahoney & Roger McKnight; fiction by Rebecca T. Florisson, Louisa Adjoa Parker, Nancy Nau Sullivan & Bonnie Thompson; and creative nonfiction by Ron Riekki.

TC 15:2 also includes the Spring Three Cheers and a Tiger Writing Contest winning stories by Sarah R. Clayville, Urvashi Bohra & Tara Kenway.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews The Scholar,The Sphinx, and the Fang of Fenrir by A.R. Cook, A.R. Cook reviews Thirty Seconds by Heather MacPherson and Salvatore Marici reviews Temporary Champions by Darren C. Demaree.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Stephanie “Baker” Lenz.

The cover image is by Kimberly Appels, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

 

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

 

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

May 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. MAYDAY! MAYDAY!
  2. Use these 5 words: athlete, sinuous, restless, science, breathing.
  3. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: machine, prefer, dotted, coffee, sideways.
    2. A character runs out of something at an inopportune time.
    3. Someone repeats something they’ve said before.
  4. Perhaps he will learn.
  5. Start with: “Whoops, I didn’t mean to do that.”
  6. Apparently I can’t count.
  7. Marching in [city].
  8. A supersaturated solution
  9. Use these 5 words: zillions, getaway, mint, foundation, organized.
  10. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: street, o’clock, author’s, skeleton, convulsive.
    2. Write about a difference of a few degrees.
    3. “Is that what you really want?”
  11. First one through makes the rules.
  12. Start with: “None of you think I’m cool anyway.”
  13. Besides that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?
  14. Resisting temptation.
  15. Trying to make everything fit, with a few extra pieces.
  16. Use these 5 words: digital, releases, podcast, iconic, graphic.
  17. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: bone, mother, gone, synthesis, white.
    2. Write about a physical blunder.
    3. Write about interrupting somebody who’s busy.
  18. The rocks remember.
  19. Start with: “Wait. What?!”
  20. Picking gravel from a wound
  21. Revealing private details.
  22. Where’s the odd job person?
  23. Use these 5 words: crucial, stark, madness, embryos, analysis.
  24. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: repeat, notebook, throw, least, quickly
    2. Write about a spurious correlation.
    3. Refer to someone’s horoscope, fortune cookie fortune, or tarot reading.
  25. But that never happened.
  26. Start with: “Just wanted to get outta there.”
  27. Drop everything and write a haiku.
  28. A spark of danger.
  29. There’s a story behind this…
  30. Something money can’t buy.
  31. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

 

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

Organize Your Story Online

Absolute BlankBy Stephanie Lenz (Baker)

This time last year I was writing a story for Wicked Women Writers, a horror fiction contest sponsored by Horror Addicts. In addition to time parameters, which translate to word count) and the need to record my story for the podcast, I had to make use of elements that were assigned to me: setting, a beast (from the Chinese zodiac), a blessing, and a curse. I was lucky enough to have a story set in New Orleans, complete with a voodoo potion and a gris-gris bag, during Mardi Gras. I wasn’t so sure about the goat.

ab_15-05_pinterest

I began working through ideas without writing much. In a paper notebook, I jotted ideas for the plot but nothing was coming together except for character sketches. I made a playlist of old Southern spirituals, live Dixieland performances, and early blues recordings and played it while I learned more about voodoo and studied maps of the French Quarter. I spoke to friends who’d lived in New Orleans; the only time I’ve spent in Louisiana was a childhood visit to family in Baton Rouge.

As I browsed online, I was inspired by Chagall paintings that featured goats, the architecture of New Orleans (including the tombs in St. Louis cemetery #1 and Metairie Cemetery), and stories of the community following Hurricane Katrina. I bookmarked the links I found but many of my inspirations were just images so I hit upon the idea of creating a private Pinterest board for what I’d found so far. The board helped me organize, picture my setting, and narrow my many ideas into a workable story. After the story came up for voting, I made the Pinterest board public and included a link to it.

Stephanie’s “The Gray Girl” Pinboard

Creating a Pinterest board as a modern “idea book” worked so well for me that I’ve done it again and am currently gathering ideas for a new project. If you’re a visual person, if you like to organize online, or if you get a story idea on the go and you’d like to have an app for that, you might like to create boards like these.

What’s all this Pinterest stuff?

I think of Pinterest as a big corkboard. Some people think of it like a scrapbook or notebook. Early adopters used Pinterest to gather and save recipes, knitting patterns, or ideas for weddings. It’s basically a visual blog that lets you link to content via images. Whereas platforms like Tumblr allow you to use text only, you must use images or videos on Pinterest. If the page you want to pin to doesn’t have an image, you can add an image of your choosing and then link it as you choose.

Creating pins is simple. If there’s an image or video on a page, you can almost always pin it (even gifs). You can create your own images and upload them to your board. Don’t be surprised to see your own created image come back to you (mine did).

If you want to pin a page and there’s no image, you can upload any image and put the URL of the page you want to pin into the link box (use your computer to do this instead of the Pinterest app).

How can I use it?

There are a lot of ways, none being right or wrong. Your board(s) may be public or private, maintained by individuals or groups. You can have one board or many (sub-boards aren’t yet available).

The question becomes: “What do I pin?” Here are some basic ideas for writing-specific boards, which could be used generally or for a specific project:

  •         Story (plot ideas, research)
  •         Character (inspiring images, clothing, traits)
  •         Setting (architecture, landscapes, rooms)
  •         Theme
  •         How-to graphics (plotting, character creation)
  •         Prompts (these are one of the most prolific types of pin)
  •         Favorite books and journals
  •         Writing advice
  •         Exercises
  •         Worksheets
  •         Generators (character names, traits, prompts)
  •         Articles
  •         Challenges
  •         Quotations & sayings (writing. books, character, jokes)

Does this look familiar? It should if you have a “writing” folder among your bookmarks. Clearing out your bookmarks is a great way to get started using Pinterest as your central writing resource.

Stephanie’s Writing Pinboard

I’m not into Pinterest but I read this far

You can use other apps in the same way, taking advantage of their particular features. Tumblr might be less visual (depending on the template you use) but if you like searching your own collection via tags or recycling and repurposing ideas from other users, it might be more to your taste. Whereas Pinterest limits you to 500 characters on a pin, Tumblr will let you write and post an entire story (without the need for images). You’re not going to find explicit adult content at Pinterest. Meanwhile it’s plentiful at Tumblr, which can be useful if you’re writing erotica or using other adult inspiration for your story. Tumblr has settings that can keep adult content off your dashboard if you choose.

I keep Evernote on my devices because I never know when I’ll overhear a conversation I want to save or a name I want to use. It’s replaced the old memo pad I carried since high school, as well as the “I’ll jot this on my arm” method of notetaking.

I like Pinterest because I’m visual and I like having everything on a single page with small images that catch my eye differently every time I visit said page. Someone else might have an established system for story creation but needs help with organizing writing time.

Give me some options other than Pinterest

Other platforms you can use to create your online idea book include:

  • Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, and other traditional blogging applications
  • Evernote and OneNote (these are similar programs. Like Pinterest, Evernote clips online content and works best as an app. OneNote is better on PC and is an organizational junkie’s dream)
  • Instapaper (syncs across devices; use with friends)
  • Thoughtboxes (think Post-Its in folders)
  • Licorize (you can transfer your Delicious links; has an “add” button for browsers)
  • Bundlr (has a paid “ad-free” version)

Check these out and see which works for your purposes. When browsing apps like these, think of how, when, and where you’ll use them. Many are listed as “productivity” apps, designed for balancing work and personal life. As a creative person, you’ll discover new ways to use them to organize not just your writing life but also your writing projects.

 

Writing Inspiration Boards

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Create a “writing” Pinterest board (a.k.a. “pinboard”). Use it for inspiring/funny quotes, links to favorite books or authors, jokes, comics, prompts, worksheets, and articles (like our May 2015 AB).
    1. Instead of Pinterest, try Tumblr or one of the other platforms suggested in the article
  2. Create a Pinterest board for a project you’re working on or one you have an idea for. If the idea is all you have, find an image to represent your idea and work from there. If someone else has previously pinned your image, you’ll get a notice about it when you pin. Follow the links and find further inspiration.
  3. Begin to create a character by imagining her pinboard and making it. What do her pins say about her? What do her pins reveal that she doesn’t want people to know? What does she try to say with the things that she pins? Make notes right in the description of the pin.
  4. Pinterest prompt: in the search bar, type something you ate or drank as part of last night’s meal. Click on the name of the pinner of the first result; doing that will take you to the pinboard where you can find the pin. From that pinboard, click on the board owner to see her other boards. Use her board titles as a basis to create a character, story, or poem. If there aren’t enough boards to work with, go back to the recipe results and try a different pinner.

Stephanie’s Writing Pinboard

 

April 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandUse these 5 words: adopting, giggly, crochet, beets, early-bird
  2. Character makes younger sibling’s name into a verb.
  3. Use this phrase: where language fails
  4. Something silly happens due to sleep deprivation
  5. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
  6. Condolences gone wrong
  7. looking for car keys
  8. The weather is never like this.
  9. Use these 5 words: security, beats, feeling, dirt, stronger
  10. Answer “yes and no” to an either/or question
  11. Use this phrase: afternoon bliss
  12. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: message, light, blues, nothing, slide.
    2. Someone calculates probability badly.
    3. Use the phrase, “I have no idea what that is.”
  13. keeping an eye out for…
  14. The cat wants something.
  15. Use these 5 words: retirement, ban, intern, popcorn, nerd
  16. Otherwise sensible character coos at a baby
  17. Use this phrase: an exact replica
  18. One more joke will do you.
  19. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: bitter, breaks, finally, count, watching.
    2. Write about delusions of adequacy.
    3. Something happens a week off schedule.
  20. “My wrist doesn’t bend that way.”
  21. hurting another’s feelings
  22. Trying to finish before lunch
  23. Use these 5 words: umbrella, empire, powerful, trains, crazy
  24. “Don’t try to fix it.”
  25. Use this phrase: a dangerous new phase
  26. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
  27. teaching girls to “be nice”
  28. “Why does this have to be so hard?”
  29. Use this phrase: the voices in my head
  30. “Can I just have a nap in the sun?”