10-Word Story Challenges

August 30, 2017

Lately the 10-word story prompts have been really spurring on my creativity. Trying to get a story in ten words or less is pretty fun and can be challenging (for a real challenge, try the 6-word Science Fiction challenge). I was doing this with friends on Facebook with a theme to follow. I will in the future post one theme only per post, but since I was late getting this together and as one challenge had more turnout than the other, I’m listing two themes today. Most entries are written by me except where indicated. Hope you enjoy these from me and my friends.

School Experience:

One year older, new grade, new school, same old target.”

Two jobs to afford private school. He’ll appreciate it later.”

Learning would be fun if it weren’t for the people.” –Scott Will

When the day finally came for her ascension, she panicked.” –Marc Eytina

Screenwriting Bachelors. One sale kills debt. Who ordered venti frappucino?”

Birthday Party:

Robert cried at the ‘Happy birthday Roberta’ cake.”

Surprise!! Happy birthday Jim! Jim? Someone call 911.”

Blood. Placenta. Screams. Yup. Just like my birth day.” –Rod Cummings

Why are you naked? I thought it was my birthday.” –Antonio Jacobs

““Candlelight dinner. Two hours waiting. Solo birthday toast again.”

Things were fine until the piñata. Emergency rooms suck.”

Birthday wrapping without Biggie here ain’t no rap at all.” –Gregory Bruce

Cake was never the way Josh celebrated. Not after Copenhagen.” –Marc Eytina

I said I’d THINK about a puppy. I did. Enough!”

“Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to-” sigh. Click. BANG.” –Rod Cummings

Birthday shopping for someone with nothing and doesn’t want anything.” –Gregory Bruce

Make a wish. Poof! Things look different through your eyes…” –Antonio Jacobs

‘Quick! Open mine next!’ ‘No thanks, Schroedinger, I think I’ll keep it closed for now.'” –Rod Cummings

The cake. The bloody knife. Nobody singing. Bobby’ last birthday.” –Gregory Bruce

‘Surprise!’ They cried! ‘Wrong house!’ I replied” –Rod Cummings

Why does this sparkler candle say ‘dynamite’?” –Rod Cummings

Seriously, what’s a baby going to do with myrrh?”



August 7, 2017

I hate feeling stuck, especially with writing, but that’s where I am. I’m taking an older project that was supposed to be a web series and adapting for a stage play. The first act is done, but I’m stuck at Act 2, Scene 1, and it’s driving me nuts. I knew how I wanted the act to end and I got it there, and I know where the rest of the play is supposed to go, but where I a now is unsure. I don’t know where I am and how to move forward (story of my life, I guess). Part of it is I’m used to stopping and starting on a dime, moving on from the end point. Not this time. I’m going back to what I wrote and read it from the beginning, plus rereading my character bios just so I can get reacquainted with the material and get where to go. I don’t like it, but it’s necessary.

Some of the blog writing is helping me climb out of this writing rut. Plus there are a couple of inspired prompts that got some creative juices flowing again. It’s been a while and I am apparently much rustier than I thought. I need to rework some muscles and stretch out after a long absence.

Poem: Saliva

May 1, 2017

As Chuck D. once said, “I don’t freestyle much/but I write ’em like such.” A poem I wrote a while back about the written and spoken word. I read it at church for a poetry service on Sunday.


I wish I could spit.
I wish I could throw
Verses and verbs
Masses of words
Heavy hitting or honey soaked
Making their way from
Throat to mind
In slow trickles or flash floods
Cleansing thoughts
Eroding emotions
Clearing sediment and sentiment
Caught in its wake
Polishing rough ideas
Into smooth, oblong and rounded
I wish I could flow
A constant stream of
Running tributes and tributaries
Interconnecting rapids
And rapid fire monologues
Faster and faster
In waves of crashing consonants
Constantly streaming sentences
Flowing down streams of consciousness
Flooding the banks and barriers
And other internal censors
As a torrential downpour of ideas
Runs into the sea.
I wish off the top of my head
I could spew forth
Rhymes like Vesuvius
Stopping people and cities
Dead in their tracks
Or smack like Krakatoa
A pop heard ’round the world
Making my presence known
Metaphors harden when
They hit the water
Bedrock expanding outwards
From the sound of my voice.
But I don’t spit.
My words sink slowly
Into the sheet
Filling in the veins of
Pierced wounds on a page
Fangs put to parchment
Ink of mixed blood and venom
Deadly to the glance
Waiting to strike
And with a touch
Seeps into the skin
Disrupts the system
Coursing through your mind
One word at a time.

“Two Wolves” Poster

March 29, 2016

Wolves poster small

A couple of weeks ago, I had this idea for a pro-Bernie Sanders poster based on the Cherokee legend of the “two wolves” (sometimes also known the “grandfather tells” story about two wolves). The whole Bernie (and Drumpf) dynamic seemed to lend itself to the legend in a way, as we as a nation are deciding which wolf we will feed. It kind of consumed me as I worked on it, and finally got it done–even through some computer issues.

The image above is only the small version of the poster, even though the larger one isn’t that much bigger (larger than letter sized paper but not exactly legal sized). It’s public use for anyone who wants to post it in your voting area, bring it to rallies, put in your front lawn, or whatever. I’m glad I got a chance to produce this and hope others like it as well. 🙂

For larger image download, click HERE.

Almost immediately after being inundated with everything fall being falsely equated with pumpkins (PUMPKIN SPICE BAGELS???? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?!?), now we have to endure Christmas 24/7 for the next two months. I haven’t seen decorations in the stores yet, which is unusual for East Boston this time of year, but maybe I’m not paying attention (part of that whole being in a fog thing). However I saw my first obnoxious Christmas commercial the other day. So I need to say this for me, but I’m sure there are others out there that feel the same way.


There is a war for Christmas but it’s not the kind Fox News whines about. It’s the one Charlie Brown has been talking about for 50 years since the Peanuts Christmas Special came out (yeah this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Christmas special. THAT’S cool). We don’t need to argue about taking Christ out of Christmas; it was taken out decades ago and replaced with a white tag sale and a catchy jingle (ONE THAT ISN’T SANTANA!). The war is for who will get the most shoppers in their stores as soon as possible. I will not get caught up in it. I will not shop on Black Friday or Small Store Saturday or Online Tuesday or whatever day they pick after Thanksgiving (WHICH HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED YET) to plug as a day to get people into to buy shit. For the last few years, my daughter has been most excited about the Christmas gifts that I make for her myself, and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Any of you retailers have a problem with that, talk to me after New Years.

SEH cover So my latest ebook short story collection “Starry-Eyed Hallucinations” has been out for a couple of months and is doing well. I’m still trying to push the book and it is available direct from the publishers, Book Country. A collection of short-short stories, “Starry-Eyed Hallucinations” gives a glimpse at the realities of the modern world, from the back alleys and seedy city diners to out of the way roadside motels. If you like atmospheric literary fiction with an occasional twist, this is for you. The ebook is available at Book Country for $1.99 a copy. It is still available at other retailers (Amazon and Barnes & Noble), but I needed to give the publishers a big thanks for having it out there to begin with. Please check it out and buy your copy today here.

It was an accident. At church she made a skull mask for a Day of the Dead lesson during Sunday school. I’m not sure what they were made of but they looked really nice. All white, the kids put glitter and paint on them like the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations. She did a really nice job and she had already rescued it once that day; when they were cleaning up at the church, some of the older ladies threw out a whole bunch of them that were drying because they didn’t know what to do with them. She got hers out of the garbage and wanted to save it. I had my shoulder bag with me so I put it in there to bring home. Unfortunately I left it in the bag for at least a day without realizing it. In that time the skull mask broke. I feel bad about it, especially because Sophia sulked over it before bed last night. Not sure how to make it up to her. I am glad shes learning about this stuff.

What did you think I meant by the headline?

This is day 3 of my positivity challenge. On Facebook, I spend five days listing five things you are grateful for each day and tag three people to do the same. It’s been interesting to say the least. Not grasping for straws yet, but who knows.

  1. Born and raised Unitarian Universalist: My parents—Father, Catholic; Mother, Jewish—were married in a UU church, and I started attending with my parents when I was four or five. It’s the one religion I’ve known all my life, but through it have learned about most other world religions. Our religion isn’t marked by creed or dogma, but in how we treat each other and others in our community—however large that community may be. There are no set beliefs for the religion but it’s NOT “you can do whatever you want” (if your spiritual beliefs are about hurting others, we’re going to have a problem with you. There’s a great article about it here). Our seven principles (you can read those here) guide us but they are not the end all and be all of who we are. I came up through UU Sunday school that gave me a basis to believe in what I do; youth groups and youth retreats that served as an oasis from the torture and pain of everyday life at school and home, and still is an aspiration to me for how to be together in community; and various traditional congregations that helped me to become a lay leader within the communities and supported me in times of crisis. Without this religious background I could not be the person I am today.
  2. Elementary and High Schools: In addition to Unitarian Sunday classes, I spent first through eighth grades in a Quaker school. I tell people that I was a burned out activist at the age of 9; people who know the Unitarians and Quakers say they’re amazed I made it to 9. But the level of education there was phenomenal and prepared me more for college than high school. They treated us as older than we were and we needed to rise to that level of learning, and we did. Art and dance was treated with equal weight as science and English, and it allowed for kids to find what they wanted to excel in. That combined with the social justice aspect of Quaker teachings made for an incredibly well rounded education. While I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock that was high school (Quaker schools are predominately upper middle class and—at that time in the ’70s—white majority), I went to an art high school to try and pursue a cartooning career. That kind of fell by the wayside when I was able to study film/video. Almost all my closest friends to this day I met in ninth or tenth graded at the High School of Art & Design, and we have stayed in touch all these years. Reconnecting with my graduating class after our 20 year reunion has been surprising in the best possible ways. I was one of the nerds and outcasts all through my schooling until college and had to lose my own self esteem in order to be less of a target (which didn’t really help), but the good that came out of it outweighs all the bad that I had to endure.
  3. Having money in the bank: I don’t have a lot and it’s dwindling from its peak when I got my federal refund, but there’s still some in there. I’m not going to be able to save for retirement with what I’m making or have, but I can pay for food and clothes, rent and a book for Sophia once in a while. I also realize that if I have two dollars in my pocket, I have more money available than about 70% of the world’s population. It’s hard to be poor in the US, but there are other countries where being poor can mean much worse than choosing between medicine or rent and food. I’m grateful I have what I have—at least until my next bill.
  4. Adaptability: A friend of mine told me once that I was a survivor; whatever the hardship confronted, I can eventually manage it. A lot of times I don’t feel like I manage or survive things, but I do. Part of that is being able to adapt to various things. When I was making a living as a desktop publisher, a lot of time went into teaching myself various software programs on the fly to get the job done. I’ve made $5 last a week where three square meals would consist of ramen noodles or Lil’ Debbie cakes, because I had to. The emotional learning curve might be difficult, but I do manage to learn the skills needed when I need to depending on the obstacle and/or goal. I might not always in the best shape right after the fact, but I will survive what is thrown at me because I can find a way to deal with the mess while being in the mess.
  5. Creativity: I wrote, directed and performed in plays for my birthdays from ages five through 9. I wrote and drew my own comic books and an occasional comic strip as well. I was writing movie scripts since the age of 8. I learned how to play guitar at age ten, learned animation through eighth grade, learned photography in tenth grade, and taught myself how to draw portraits, still life, and desktop design. On any given day my head is spinning with ideas that I have to do eventually in numerous different mediums. While sometimes it can halt me in my tracks because I have too many ways to go that I don’t go anywhere, I’d rather be drowning in my own creative juices than live through a drought. Only recently I had to be reminded that being creative means I don’t fit into any one hole perfectly, so I need to forge my own way. It’s hard to do but going with that idea is much easier than killing off any creative impulse I have. Arts have defined me in one way or another all my life and that won’t change.