Thursday Writing Prompt No. 150

One hundred and fifty prompts! That should be enough for a book … wait for it. Yes, I’m going to be publishing books of writing prompts. The first one is in the works and I’m aiming for an early June release, just in time for the summer. They’ll be all new prompts, though, not recycled prompts from past blog posts, so you’ll get new content when you buy the book. I’ll keep the status posted, but for now, let’s turn to this week’s writing prompt.

You haven’t been to the grocery store lately, and it’s raining outside so you don’t feel like leaving the house. You open the pantry and stare at the few can of remaining edibles on the shelves. But way in the back corner of the cabinet is something that isn’t a can of soup. You pull the small package out. It’s a cardboard mailing box but you can’t read the address label. Inside the box are five items: a thermometer, a spark plug, one faded credit card receipt, a small paring knife, and a napkin with a mysterious red stain. Now, write a few paragraphs plotting out a murder mystery based on these items.

Thursday Writing Prompt no. 149

Hello there, fellow writers! It’s time for a Thursday Writing Prompt to help stir up those creative juices. For this week’s prompt, imagine yourself investigating an old, abandoned house. Rumors have it that the house is haunted, but you don’t believe it. You’re a collector of figurines and memorabilia, so you enter the house wondering if there might be something interesting there for your collection.

As you approach the house you notice that the windows were once boarded up, but a few of the wooden slats have been pulled loose. That isn’t a good sign, because it means other people have been here since the owners left the property. You stop for a moment, concerned that there might be someone in the house who could do you harm, but then you take a deep breath and continue walking.

You ease into the house, avoiding splintered wood and rusty nails, and enter the foyer. It’s empty. You tour the ground floor and find nothing in any of the rooms, so you go upstairs and check the bedrooms. Still nothing. Then you head to the attic. It’s pretty bare, but there is one small box shoved against the wall at the back of the house. You knock a silverfish off the box as you drag it out into the light coming in from the attic window.

Inside the box are five items: a small scrap of knit fabric printed with a kitten pattern, a plastic gold-colored button, one dried-out fountain pen, a white coffee mug with a blue interior, and an envelope containing old movie theater tickets.

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to write a short story that uses the house as a setting and the contents of the box to inspire your plot. Happy writing!

Happy Holidays

This holiday cactus brightens up a downtown office window on a dreary day.

There’s a ton of winter holidays coming up in the northern hemisphere, so whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate, stay warm and cozy. And for the southern hemisphere folks, stay cool!

This week I’m busy finishing up an article on the Pearl Street Power Station for a forthcoming encyclopedia and doing additional research for several textbook articles. I hope to finish the year strong and get back in the groove of writing daily, although bouts of insomnia are still messing with my schedule.

I decided to mix things up a bit by rearranging my home office and clearing space for a small sofa. I often edit on paper instead of onscreen (or do a mix of both), so having a place to sit that is not at my desk is a nice break, even if I’m in the same room. In the hurricane of furniture moving, I’ve collected a nice set of bruises from carting two bookcases and a cubicle storage thing downstairs by myself. The office remains a mess for the moment, as this is definitely a process that takes time. I’m sorting papers, adding new furniture, and deciding what to get rid of or move elsewhere.

Coming up in the new year: a return to the Thursday Writing Prompts series and some articles on writing and editing. In the meantime, enjoy the holidays!

A Little Light Reading


I’m researching topics on the history of electricity and electromagnetism for several encyclopedia and textbook articles that I’m writing. You might say that I’m doing a little light reading (insert groan here). Okay, it’s a bad pun, but it’s 12:42 a.m., so what do you expect? The summer and fall have been marginally successful for me as a writer, but this year I opted to skip NaNoWriMo because I needed to focus on some nonfiction projects and get my research mojo back.

On the other hand, workouts have been good: I’ve managed to get myself into a fairly regular exercise routine as far as cardio goes, although November I sort of slacked off. Going to the regular gym for weight workouts has been a bust, and I blame having to drive up there. The reality is that I don’t have a routine or really know what I should be doing, so I go and do a few things and accomplish very little. The cardio I get from fitness studio classes, and I’ve been taking spin and belly dance classes that are lots of fun. I’m also working on season one of Zombies, Run! after finishing a virtual 5K race early last month (that means I ran on my treadmill, using a running app to keep my race time).

For this month, I want to finish at least two of my articles. I’d love to finish three, but the holidays and work commitments are already shaping up to make this a short month and I find my available writing time being gobbled up. And maybe, just maybe, I can find some time for fiction.