Practice makes perfect, writing with prompts

And so I keep practicing.

If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out Describli for inspiring prompts.

Here is my latest contribution to one of their promptsSoft footsteps.brentford_street2

Shortcut

I stopped, frozen in place and waited for the sound of soft footsteps. The quiet stillness around me gave me pause. Had I’d imagined him? Dim streetlights did little to push back the night. My eyes blinked against the darkness, hoping to see something. But not even the moon ventured past the thick clouds to help me.

Next time Abe offers to drive me to my car, I’ll say yes. I eased forward on the balls of my feet and like a child tip-toed toward the corner. All I had to do was make it a little further to the bar on the corner. Safety in numbers, right? I’d worry about my car later.

The footsteps behind me grew louder, less careful. I wasn’t the only one who spotted the neon sign. Fear gripped my throat. I no longer cared about the noise of my heels against the pavement. My eyes focused on the flashing Miller Lite sign in the window. I ran.

The door to Mitch’s Bar & Grill opened. Yellow light framed a man as he stepped out onto the sidewalk. Relieved to see another person, I called out as I dashed toward the alley’s end. Strong arms wrapped around me. A gag choked off my air as a dirty glove covered smothered my scream.

Oh God, he is real. I really wish I hadn’t taken that shortcut. alley-990959_640

 

Have you practiced with any prompts lately?

I’d love to read them, leave me a link in the comments section.

To Grandmother’s House We Go

The Daily Post Prompt: Frail

Mom wrapped the warm apple pie in her best kitchen towel before she placed it in the Chiquita banana box. The smell of apples and cinnamon filled the old station wagon. My mouth watered as visions of homemade vanilla ice cream over hot pie danced in my head.

My nose plastered against the window I watched until our house faded in the distance.

“How long before we get to Grandma’s?”

“Geez Mark, we just left,” I said. God little brothers can be so annoying.

“So.”

“Don’t start kids.” Dad caught my eye in the rearview mirror.

“Mark, it’s just a short drive. It won’t take long.” Mom said.

Distance and time are different to adults. Stuck in a car with a six-year-old little brother for even a short drive can seem like an eternity. But eventually Dad turned on to an old road and as if by magic an old farmhouse appeared.

homestead-623858_640

“Oh, dear.” Mom said.

“Yeah, but she refuses to let me hire anyone to help.”

Dad cut the engine. The four of us sat in silence staring at peeling paint, and a sagging front porch. Cardboard covered one of the window panes to the right of the door.

Was this where my dad grew up? Where were the apple trees he used to climb? My head swiveled toward the barn or what was left of it, fence rails and posts lay on the ground. No cows or chickens ambled to greet us.

“Kids, be on your best behavior. Remember your grandmother is old and I expect you to be respectful. I don’t…

A loud bang interrupted Dad’s lecture. Mom jumped, her hand flew to her chest as if shot. The screen door slammed against the house as Grandma stepped through the doorway.

“You getting out or what?”

Nothing frail about the voice that boomed from the tiny gray-haired woman as she glared at us from the porch.

“Hi, Mom.” Dad waved as he stepped from the car.

Sawdust filled my mouth, no longer watering for the taste of apple pie and ice cream.

 

Prompts are fun!

It’s been a while since I posted a prompt. Hope you enjoyed this one.

Have you written any good prompts lately?

What are your favorite prompt sites?

I’d love to hear from you! Click the “write me” tab or contact me onTwitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and Amazon.com, stop by and say hey! The lights are on and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps andFacebook fans.

Do you think more tools make a better writer?

At some point I think we have to settle on one or two and just write.

What about you?

Each week it seems as if I’m finding more and more apps and programs for writers/bloggers. But downloading and using the latest and greatest can become more confusing than easier. At least for me.

At what point are we just reinventing the wheel?

Here’s my take on the 5 I found this week in a recent article on Business.com,  Posted By . These tools are supposed to help the writer/blogger write better and faster.

You be the judge.

The first one listed is an app called Help Me Write.

This is a web-based app to help you decide what to write next.

  • You write your ideas on a profile page.
  • Next, share via Twitter, Facebook, blog (or wherever) and ask your networks, which or if, they would like to read.
  • Pick the idea with the most interest and write an article, post or story, then send directly to all the voters.

For a regular blogger this is supposed to get readers more engaged with your brand and writing process. For example, you could write a weekly post “ask the audience” post, or get readers to vote on a special project.

Me- I’ll pass. I don’t need another platform to keep up with.

Second on his list was MyBlogU.

This appears to be a brainstorming, community gathering, idea and information generating platform. Whew! That was a mouthful. Here, a writer/blogger can gather information from experts and other writers, enabling you to learn as you go.

MyBLogU concept

Me- I’ll pass on MyBlogU. Once again this crowdsourcing platform seems as if it would take more time than I’ve got to give.

The Hemingway App was #Three.

This is a desktop app I’ve used and like.

Mainly for the readability feature. I can see in a second the readability level of my writing. It will also highlight which sentences are hard to read, complex or simple. Hemingway Editor doesn’t take a lot of time and is super easy to use.

Hemingway

Me- I’ll continue to use Hemingway Editor.

RobotDon is number four.

This web driven app has a lot of useful tools and is simple to use. However, I think the Plagiarism check in Grammarly works better than RobotDon. If you already have a program that helps you with all of these items you might want to pass.

Robotdon

Me- I’ll pass on RobotDon and continue to use Grammarly. In this instance, “you get what you pay for” is true.

Twords was number five and last in the article.

This is an online app that nudges you to write. You list goals and the app community will remind you if you are falling behind. It provides stats, timed writing and prompts should you get stuck.twords

Me- I’ll pass on Twords. This looks fun but distracting. I use Scrivener for stats and my progress details.

If you want to read the entire article By  and his take is on these 5 writing tools click on the link below at the bottom of this post.

Okay, tell me– Do you have enough writing apps?

Do you think they are all becoming redundant?

I’d love to hear from you! Click the “write me” tab or contact me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and Amazon.com, stop by and say hey! The lights are on and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

Creating Killer Content: 5 Easy to Use Tools for Better Writing in Less Time

How to find a good idea for your story

Write, write and write some more.

Write about what? Everything.

Today’s letter in the A-Z Challenge I. 

I= Ideas

Everyone wants to know where writers find their ideas.

idea-1289871_640

For me, the good ideas come few and far between. They appear with a flash or spark, and if I fail to latch on to them, they are gone just as fast.

Many of my stories come from word-play or prompts. There are lots of writing prompts available and believe it or not they work.

The idea for my first children’s book, Tryouts for Ben, came about because of a comment. Kids do say the darndest things.

And the idea for my second book due out soon came about the same way. As a mother of two amazing girls, we encouraged them to be all they could be. One day I overheard my daughter, telling her daughter she could be anything she wanted.

As a result of that conversation, A Most Reluctant Princess was born.

What have I learned from y’all about finding writing ideas?

Story ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere!

  • News story
  • Daydreaming
  • Passing comment
  • Book or movie
  • Memory
  • Prayer
  • Picture, photo, or painting
  • Writing prompt
  • Contest or challenge
  • Dream
  • Sunset or breathtaking view

The list could go on and on, but the trick is to recognize an idea. Often my ideas come in tiny seedlings and requires a lot of nurturing for it to grow. 

The more you write, the more ideas you will find. 

So, you grab an idea but what comes next? 

You add a character, a place, and a theme. Then like playing with Legos, begin to build your idea into a story.

The hard part is taking this tiny idea and enlarging it to appeal to someone other than myself. Not everyone gets my sense of humor or sarcasm. So, if I want others to read what I’ve written, I must broaden the story to reach my target audience.

Remember-

There is nothing new under the sun. No new ideas. But, you can put a new spin on an old idea. Make it yours.

Where did you find your last idea?

Did that idea turn into a story?

Talk to me, the lights on and comments are now open.

You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdelland Amazon.com, stop by and say hey! Please remember to click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.

Want to read more on where other writers find their idea? Click the links below.

The Joy Is In the Struggle of Making: How Writers Get Their Ideas by AARON GILBREATH
Where Do You Get Your Ideas…? by Michael A. Banks
Where Do Successful Authors Get Their Most Brilliant Writing Ideas? by
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? by Neil Gaiman
31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing By Leo Babauta