February 2016
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandChange one essential detail & rewrite
  2. “They lit a fire for us.”
  3. End of a busy project: now what?
  4. your MC driving behind a truck with a “Trump 2016” bumpersticker.
  5. “It’s just like counting by sevens…”
  6. Use these 5 words: heart, congestion, parasitic, bookish, hallucinations.
  7. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: stairs, seasons, wanted, understand, memory.
    2. Making up nicknames for other people.
    3. Write about someone your character shouldn’t admire, but does.
  8. “You assume so much about me.”
  9. If your MC could manipulate the calendar…
  10. a competitive frenzy.
  11. “Oh that. How far behind am I?”
  12. Use these 5 words: zombie, onesie, marching, neutral, destroyed.
  13. “I’m not late yet.”
  14. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: twisted, street, hid, dismantle, chair.
    2. After a very long wait, it’s finally here.
    3. Write about napping in the sun.
  15. “What do you mean, there’s no more coffee?”
  16. “Why do some people have all the luck?”
  17. “Should I worry that you just read my mind?”
  18. a message that makes your MC’s blood boil.
  19. Picking up after a flood.
  20. Use these 5 words: bakery, cocoa, sunset, inventive, screen.
  21. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: slights, windy, rest, dress, pestilence.
    2. Use the phrase, “Just last week…”
    3. Write about the fourth example of something, breaking the rule.
  22. “I haven’t woken up from the dream yet.”
  23. In the seventh week of February…
  24. deadly weather
  25. Adapting to a new disability.
  26. Use these 5 words: red carpet, performance, diversity, ensemble, couture.
  27. It’s the last weekend in Feb, and we ALL know what THAT means!
  28. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: shakes, stair, stone, alter, working.
    2. Fill in the blank: “Next year in ______[place name]”
    3. Write about that one time, at band camp.
  29. An event that happens each leap day.

Polishing Your Submissions

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Resolve to write good cover letters. You can use a template and personalize it as needed. Be brief. Refrain from writing more than a sentence or two about the piece you’re submitting. Include any publication credits. If this is your first submission, say so! Editors love discovering emerging writers. Read the “about the author” blurbs at journals to get ideas for a 50-word bio you can use in your cover letters. It’s fine to include your age, especially if you’re a teen or a senior, but don’t presume that your story or poem will be rejected due to your age (certainly don’t include that presumption in the content of your cover letter).
  2. Title every story and poem you send out. Include the title above the work. When discussing submissions, some editors refer to them by the name of the piece.
  3. Read a bit of the journal to which you’re submitting. Unless it’s part of your assignment or part of a journal’s guidelines, there’s no need to include your reason for selecting a journal in your cover letter. That said, including the title of a piece you enjoyed in the journal is a nice way to say you think your work is a good fit. It also shows that you’ve read what the journal publishes.
  4. Proofread your piece before you send. If possible, read it on a device other than the one you wrote it on (ex: Wrote on a laptop? Read it out of your cloud on your phone). Fresh eyes reading fresh screens can catch errors.

January 2016
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandWrite about leaving something behind for the new year.
  2. Use these 5 words: opens, shelter, reached, sailing, holy.
  3. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: good, every, aeroplanes, women, broken.
    2. Use the phrase, “I used to know how to do this.”
    3. Write about negotiating about food.
  4. Write about an understudy.
  5. When’s the next day off work??
  6. “It takes a lot to shock me.”
  7. Make up a perfectly cromulent word and use it.
  8. Use these 5 words: secret, festive, landmark, global, midnight.
  9. “Don’t expect it to last.”
  10. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: earth’s, language, memory, battle, secret.
    2. Use the phrase, “There’s only one left.”
    3. Write about that song that’s stuck in your character’s head.
  11. Write about living in a tiny house.
  12. Your MC time travels.
  13. Write about an annoying roommate.
  14. “…dropped a bombshell.”
  15. “Well, learn how to like it!”
  16. Use these 5 words: research, excesses, wartime, yachts, music.
  17. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: broken, private, stone, moves, lunar.
    2. Use the phrase, “Come sit with me.”
    3. Write about washing glasses.
  18. The view from the top.
  19. Write about sleeping in a doorway.
  20. “I wasn’t referring to you, was I?”
  21. Hand-me-down clothing
  22. Use these 5 words: center, creepy, comfort, charge, collaboration.
  23. Obsessively reloading a website.
  24. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: every, walls, gloves. muffled, librarian.
    2. Use the phrase, “All around the area.”
    3. Write about a surprising photograph.
  25. Looking up a fact in an actual encyclopedia.
  26. A massive storm system.
  27. Use the phrase “This space intentionally left blank.”
  28. “Naked yoga?”
  29. Thinking up a strong password.
  30. Use one of the “I saw you” messages at this link to start your story.
  31. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: scribbling, rhapsody, color, hearts, bloom.
    2. Use the phrase, “By his paw, the lion is known.”
    3. Write about a peculiar hair color.

15 for Fifteen

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

This month we’re celebrating 15 years of Toasted Cheese. As we look back on some of our proudest moments from the past decade and a half, we invite you to do the same.

Day to day, progress can sometimes be so slow, it feels like you’re not moving forward at all. Pausing and reflecting from time to time is a good way to not lose sight of the big picture.

Make a list of 15 things you’ve accomplished writing-wise since January 2001. Big or small, anything you’re proud of can go on this list. If you have a writing buddy or group, this would be a great exercise for all of you to do and then share with each other.

Celebrate your accomplishments. Write a blog post or share on social media. (When you hit a low point you can look back on your list to give yourself a boost.) Invest in your writing life. Get yourself some new writing supplies or that software you’ve been meaning to purchase (if you don’t have it yet, Scrivener is well worth the investment). Do something fun! Freshen up your writing space, go to dinner with your writing buddy and toast your successes, throw a party for yourself and your writing group.

What’s next? Set 15 new short- or long-term writing goals. Tuck it away somewhere safe and revisit it in a decade or so to see how you did. Happy writing!

December 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about what you would do if you were unafraid.
  2. Write about unseasonable weather
  3. “I wish I knew how to use emojis.”
  4. Imitate auto-corrected drunken typing
  5. Use these 5 words: caucus, commit, refugees, challenge, executive.
  6. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: beyond, lunar, sailors, crooked, seasons.
    2. Write about a distraction at a critical moment.
    3. Use the phrase, “You lost your shoe.”
  7. A distressing Facebook status.
  8. A reunion where the locals stay home
  9. “We’ve got to get the old guard out.”
  10. Your character has memory loss
  11. Use these 5 words: reboot, sabotage, record-smashing, sequel, dream.
  12. “It’s different where I come from.”
  13. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: crooked, looking, degradations, together, bark.
    2. A character rapidly summarizes the situation.
    3. Use the phrase, “Today answers the question.”
  14. Look what the cat dragged in.
  15. Add a character who wears a leather vest and a fanny pack.
  16. Sorting someone else’s bookshelf
  17. “Violence is not inevitable, but…”
  18. Everyone else is leaving town.
  19. Use these 5 words: anthem, valuable, referee, collectors, legend.
  20. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: depends, author’s, strength, o’clock, ready.
    2. A character gets tangled up in words or syntax.
    3. Use the phrase, “How nice for you.”
  21. A fake relationship.
  22. Thinking up new holiday traditions
  23. “He lied about being a scientist!”
  24. “All through the house…”
  25. Use these 5 words: intertwined, nostalgia, snowing, ocean, train.
  26. “It’s all over but the shouting.”
  27. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: would, shore, forever, corner, clings.
    2. Use the phrase, “It’s a dangerous game.”
    3. Write about something so lifelike it’s uncanny.
  28. “There’s more than one way to do it.”
  29. Tell a story using only found pictures.
  30. Realizing that good posture actually is a good thing.
  31. Your MC gives a speech and… *drops mic*

What Do You Recommend?

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Recommend on social media at least one thing you’ve read this year. If you don’t use social media, recommend in person. Independent authors are particularly grateful for recommendations.
  2. Create some recommendation business cards and leave them with your favorite works in the bookstore. You can print them at home. They could be as simple as the word “recommended” with a thumbs-up or a shelf card that lists why you recommend the book. Don’t put stickers on or in the books.
  3. Ask for recommendations at a used book store and/or independent bookstore. If you’re lucky, your local chain bookstore will have fellow book lovers who are well-versed enough to recommend as well.
  4. Recommend a book to a friend on Goodreads.
  5. While you’re there, write a recommendation of a book. If you’re stuck for one, think of a book you discovered on your own and write the review as though you’re speaking to your younger self.

November 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandGet today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: rhapsody, understand, light, misused, ranklings.
    2. Write about an unwelcome comment on clothing.
    3. Write about a sudden change of attitude.
  2. Are you nanoing this year? It’s not too late to get started!
  3. Write about the slant of sunlight in the morning.
  4. Use these 5 words: Netflix, tragic, critics, flights, whale.
  5. “I wish I had a backup copy.”
  6. Use this phrase: a spooky story
  7. Multitasking one too many thing.
  8. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
  9. “You always have to work on date night.”
  10. Start with: “It doesn’t get more traditional than this.”
  11. It’s important to tell the truth, except…
  12. Use these 5 words: Lego, divided, calm, schizophrenia, economy.
  13. When everything has to work at the same time.
  14. Start with: “Psst… hey, kid…”
  15. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
  16. Use this phrase: kick start the week!
  17. “There’s just one more little detail…”
  18. Use these 5 words: apolitical, connection, risks, arrest, conspiracy.
  19. Intentionally misunderstanding instructions
  20. Use this phrase: atrocities of the past
  21. “Did you get the message?”
  22. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: Silence, destination, world, white, dead.
    2. Write about overcoming resentment.
    3. Use the phrase, “Repeat after me…”
  23. “Seven Twenty-Three and All’s Well”
  24. Start with: “Look at this craftsmanship!”
  25. Cold snap makes the pets want to cuddle
  26. Use these 5 words: libraries, evil, trolling, delight, trust.
  27. Write about a formal introduction.
  28. Use this phrase: a tentative deal
  29. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: language, crepe, barking, gloves, switch.
    2. Write about something that’s not done any more.
    3. Write about ignoring a request.
  30. Start with: “ok, you guys, we’re back in action.”

Mashup

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

  1. Pull any four novels off your shelves.
  2. Flip through the first book randomly. Write down the first name you see. This will be your main character‘s name. Repeat at least one more time (so you have a minimum of two characters) but as many times as you like. (Remember you’ll have to incorporate them into your story, though, so don’t get too carried away.)
  3. Open the second book randomly. The first place name or description you see (e.g. London, bedroom, mountains) will be your primary setting.
  4. Flip through the third book randomly. Write down the first five events you see. These will form the backbone of your plot.
  5. Open the fourth book randomly. Base the theme of your story on the first emotion you see (envy, fear, guilt, grief, happiness, jealousy, love, pride, shame, trust, etc.).
  6. Make the story your own by using your own style to combine these elements.

 

October 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. “We’re even now.”
  2. Use these 5 words: drought, blueberry, ginger, heavily, mournful.
  3. Major party foul
  4. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: memory, torture, gloves, looking, color.
    2. It’s St Francis day. Write about blessing an animal.
    3. Watching someone else learn to use a tool.
  5. “What are you looking for?”
  6. Use this phrase: my disturbed friend
  7. “And now, a word from our _____”
  8. Start with: “While I’m waiting for this novocaine fo wear off…”
  9. “It’s a really small town.”
  10. Use these 5 words: humanity, engage, conversations, destination, wanderlust.
  11. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: doves, begin, walls, librarian, weep.
    2. Use the phrase “I used to know how to do this.”
    3. Write about not quite finishing.
  12. Use this phrase: precipice of disaster
  13. Something you used to fret about.
  14. Start with: “The community is in shock…”
  15. Biting the hand that feeds.
  16. Use these 5 words: disparity, violent, diagnosed, escorted, eerie.
  17. Ten years ago today…
  18. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: found, done, meanness, floors, muffled.
    2. Comment on a song in a language that’s not understood.
    3. Fill in the blank: “Can’t live with ______, and can’t live without [it].”
  19. A sudden change in the weather.
  20. Use this phrase: afternoon tea
  21. What’s in the bottle?
  22. Start with: “Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”
  23. “You are not wearing that.”
  24. Use these 5 words: drones, DNA, sex, shuffled, double-cross.
  25. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: broken, madman, whose, language, eating.
    2. Today is St. Crispin’s day + 600 yrs. Misquote Shakespeare.
    3. Someone overslept.
  26. Use this phrase: a love letter to fans
  27. “… got every single one of them right.”
  28. Start with: “It may be unhealthy, but I feel that without…”
  29. “That’s not what we expected.”
  30. Write a dating app bio for one of your characters.
  31. A character changes his/her name

Mix & Match

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

  1. Go to random.org and use the Random Calendar Date Generator to pick five dates between January 2002 and the present (leave the Sunday box unchecked).
  2. Go to the Calendar and find the prompts that fell on the dates generated in step one.
  3. Use all 5 prompts in the same story.

Example (5 random dates and their corresponding prompts):

  1. February 5, 2002: Write about a surprise meeting.
  2. July 2, 2003: Write about a remedy.
  3. April 30, 2004: Write about magic.
  4. February 16, 2008: They had a way of walking together.
  5. December 23, 2015: “He lied about being a scientist!”