Showing posts with label writing prompts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing prompts. Show all posts

Random Writing Prompts: Winter Edition

Bored of winter? Sick of the snow? Or, in my case, completely over what counts as winter in Southern California? It's cold and rainy weather, by the way. 

You don't need to go outside to have a great adventure. Write one. Take a few minutes - take an hour - and start on a new story.

Here are three writing prompts designed to get you through the winter doldrums.

1. Spring Fling. Nothing says "change of seasons" like a party to welcome spring. Plan an elaborate "to do" from the guest list and invitations to location, food, and activities. Then, jump on in and have a ball, and then write about it. You can do this as yourself or a new character. 

2. Summer Fun. Time for a summer vacation ... in February ... on paper. If you could go anywhere, all-expenses paid, where would it be? Why? Sky's the limit, so what are you waiting for. Don't forget to tell us all about it. Write it as a letter, a fictional travel essay, or as a treatment for what could become a much more in-depth story.

3. Fall Frenzy. You didn't think these would all be good, did you? Think ahead to the end of summer/beginning of fall. You are getting set to start the new school year and something happens ... then something else ... and something else. Pile on the problems, and write your way out of it. It's fictional, so there really is no such thing as too outrageous. Besides, with all the fictional problems you create, the last thing you will be thinking about is bad weather.

There''s nothing like writing to get out of the slushy snow and on to warmer thoughts. You never know. One of these writing prompts may spark a new novel, essay, or screenplay. Have fun and see where your story takes you.

Where will you go on your fictional winter adventure? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Literary Magazines with Themes: The First Line

Image courtesy of The First Line Magazine
The First Line is a literary magazine where each issue contains stories that all start with the same first line.  

Next year will be their 20th year in print, so they're doing something a little different.  To celebrate all past issues, they're welcoming stories based on previous years' first lines.  For the spring 2019 issue (stories due Feb 1), you can choose from twenty different first lines.

If you're interested in a little inspiration or a fun challenge, take a look:  The First Line

Sample First Lines for Spring:

The rules are clearly spelled out in the brochure.
"Well, there's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back."
My father and I left on a Thursday.
I remember the radio was playing the best song.
Whitney Heather Yates knew she was in trouble from the moment she learned how to spell her name.
It sounded like she said, "Every day when I get home, I find a naked body in the bed."
The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight.
"Step this way as our tour of Earth continues."
"How did you end up with a nickname like that?"
The first thing I saw when I woke was Chris' face.
"The incident on the island is the stuff of legend, but let me tell you the real story."
Jimmy Hanson was a sallow man who enjoyed little in life save for his _________. [Fill in the blank.]

Guidelines Highlights:

-Stories must be between 300 and 5000 words and unpublished.  Poetry is also welcome. 
-Multiple submissions are fine, so if you find several of these prompts interesting, go to town!
-Pay is between $25-50.
-Submit electronically before February 1 for the spring issue.  Other submission dates and first lines are available on their website.

You can read (and listen to) Melinda Brasher's most recent short story sale at Pseudopod.  It's a tale of a man who doesn't believe in superstition...until he has to.  You can also find her fiction in Ember, Timeless Tales, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska next summer, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at

Try This for A Creative Start to Your Day

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it's good to start your day with a little creative writing practice.

It gets your juices flowing—so no matter what you spend time writing the rest of the day, the writing seems to come easier.

Plus, if you try this on a regular basis, you'll get better at writing dialogue, using sensory details, and creating dramatic tension in your work.

Here's what to do.

Get a new spiral notebook and use it just for your creative writing practice.

I say "practice" because most of what you write in this notebook won't be full-fledged stories, just snippets of stories.

Still, the longer you stick with this morning writing practice, the more creative you will get.

And, after a while, you'll find that you might be writing complete stories using the prompts.

If so, good for you.

But the main purpose of the prompts is just to give you some creative writing practice every day.

Here are some visual and written prompts to help you get started:
1. "Where are we going?" Evan asked his sister.
"You'll see," she said.

2. Nathan frowned. "You never told me you had a cat," he said to Martha. "I'm allergic to cats."
3. Logan had waited all day for Lacy to text him. But there was still nothing from her. What's going on with her, he wondered.
4. Maggie sat looking out at the water. Her dog, Max, sat next to her. Her boyfriend, Richard, had dumped her this morning when they met for breakfast.
"At least you'll never leave me," she said to Max.
5. Casey wanted to keep running forever. But she knew she'd eventually have to stop running and go back home and face everyone.

First thing every morning, choose one or more writing prompts and spend just 15-20 minutes writing in response to the prompt(s).

Make a commitment to do this for one week and see what happens.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books and a writing coach. Visit her website at for more articles and resources about writing. And, for daily tips about writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

5 Things to Write During a Power Outage

I don't know about your part of the world, but it is super-hot in sunny Southern California. There have been power outages throughout the city, and last night it was my neighborhood's turn. 

This got me thinking ... what can you do during a power outage ... aside from hoping your food doesn't spoil or you don't melt.

As I was waiting for my lights - and air conditioner - to come back on, I came up with this list. I wanted to save the battery on my computer, so I grabbed pen, paper, and my Huglight flashlight.

Here are 5 things you can work on when the power goes out.

1. Draft an Article. Whether you're on a deadline or there's a story or essay you've been meaning to write, draft it out on a piece of paper. You can do an extra edit when you transfer it to your computer later on.

2. List Ideas. Let your mind run wild. Brainstorm ideas for upcoming articles, stories, books, screenplays, poems, etc. Or start writing them.

3. Outline a Story. Did you just come up with a fabulous idea for a plot? Write it out in as little or much detail as your want. 

4. Work on Character Development. I think the most fun part about writing fiction is creating new characters. Spend some time and really get to know them.

5. Journal. My favorite go-to writing activity is journaling. Get everything - good, bad, fiction, non, ideas, issues, etc. - out of your head and onto the page. Then you can reboot and revisit, or not, at a later date.

There are plenty of creative things you can do when you waiting, whether it's for an appointment, standing in line, or for your electricity to come back on. Besides the time passes much more quickly when you are being productive.

What do you do when your power goes out? Do you spend it being creative? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

5 Creative Writing Prompts for Summer

Summer time is the perfect opportunity to experiment some creative writing. Want to make it even more fun? Involve your family.

I wrote Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages  as a way to get kids excited about writing. My recommended way to use this book is to get families writing together. 

Have a family writing night every week, have everyone spend a half hour or so writing a fun short story, and then go around the room, reading them out loud. Some of the activities require actual adventures, which you can also do as a family before writing time comes around.

No kids? No problem. You can also play with these on your own. I am actually working on the last one for a new writing project.

Below are five fun and creative prompts from my book.

* Share a Hobby. What are your hobbies? Do you enjoy crafts, play a sport, dance, read, cook? Make a list of all the fun activities you do. Then pick one to write about. Describe how you discovered this particular hobby. Did someone introduce you to it? Or teach you how to do it?

Then, go into detail about what is involved in doing this hobby. If you knit, how do you decide on your next project? If you dance, do you take a class? What kind? Where? Who are the friends who dance with you? If you read, how do you discover good books?

Write about what you enjoy about the hobby, and explain why someone unfamiliar with it should give it a try.

For extra credit take up a new hobby and write about it.

* Read and Write About a Book. What books are you reading this summer? Here’s a fun twist on a book review: write a report or summary of a book you have not yet read. Use the title and back cover copy as a starting point. And then write what you think the book is about and why you did or did not like it. Be as detailed as you want – you can even include character descriptions.

When you have finished reading the book, write another report. Then, read them both, one after the other to see how accurate you were.

* Create a Game. You have probably made up games in the past, whether they are outdoor games, swimming pool games, board games, or make believe. If not, here’s your chance.

Make up a game. Write out at least five rules. How many players? How is it played? How does someone win? If it’s a board game, describe what the box looks like, what the game itself looks like, and what pieces are included. You can even add why your game is the best game ever!

Feel free to combine rules from other games, toys, and activities.

* Give a Speech. Write a short speech - just three to five minutes long - about something or someone you really love. It can be about a game or toy, a family trip or adventure, a class at school, or a person you admire.

Write your speech, and, after you practice it a few times, present it to a friend or a parent.

The ability to communicate well, whether it is on paper or by talking, is a skill you will be able to use throughout your life.

* Write a Sidekick. Superheroes are not the only ones who have sidekicks. Create a fictional best friend. Make sure to include all of the basic details: name, age, family background. What does he or she look like, wear, eat, and do for fun? Is you sidekick smart, funny, quiet, or all of the above? How did you meet? Why did you become friends?

Take an imaginary adventure with your sidekick and then write about it.

Whenever you are writing, whether it’s for work or for fun, remember to enjoy it. You never know when or where you will encounter your next bit of inspiration.

So, did you try out any of these writing prompts? How’d it go? Let me know in the comments.

* * *


Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Literary Magazines with Themes--Spring 2016

Here's my spring 2016 list of upcoming themes or prompts for literary magazines.  They're fun to write to, and you may also find that they match stories you've already written.  As always, read guidelines carefully.

Third Flatiron
Theme:  Keystones
Genres:  Speculative
Reading Period:  April 15-June 15, 2016
Word Count: 1500-3000
Pay: 3 cents / word

Theme:  Animals (see more detailed description in guidelines)
Genres:  Speculative
Dates:  Opens May 10
Word Count:  1500-5000
Pay:  1 cent per word

The First Line
First line must be:  "By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets."
Deadline: May 1, 2016
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $25-50

THEMA Literary Journal
Theme:  Second Thoughts
Deadline: July 1, 2016
Pay:  $25

Grey Wolfe Publishing
April Prompt:  "Every morning at 9:00 a.m. sharp, you get a call on your cell phone. The speaker says 'I know what you did' and then hangs up. This has been going on for two weeks straight. What did you do and how do you react to these calls?"
Deadline:  April 30, 2016
May Prompt:  You’re sitting at the breakfast table one morning, looking at the top news stories while drinking your coffee. The top story this morning is a crazy fan who was arrested for breaking into a local bookstore and stealing all of YOUR books! He’s quoted as saying “I just want to be their best friend!” Your first crazed fan. What do you do?
Deadline:  May 31, 2016
Word Count:  up to 2000
Pay:  $25 to contest winner

Enchanted Conversation
Theme:  Summer Solstice and Mid-Summer
Genre:  Fairy Tale
Reading Period:  May 1-May 30
Word Count:  700-3000 stories, poems of any length
Pay:  $30

Infective Ink
Themes:  Dear Diary—due April 27, 2016
The End of the World—due May 28, 2016
Pay:  $10 for stories 1500 words and up

On the Premises
Next theme:  TBA
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay: $60-220 

Timeless Tales
Theme:  The Snow Queen
Genre:  retelling of fairy tales—various styles and genres, poetry
Word Count:  up to 2000, 1500 preferred
Pay:  $20

Theme:  Identity
Genres:  Stories, essays, poems
Word Count: up to 2500 for prose
Pay: Unclear

Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  Visit her online at

July Blogging Prompts

The 4th holiday may have come and gone, but there's still a lot to blog about during the month of July.

Here are some topics to write about in July.

Summer Fun: It's summertime. Share with your audience unique ways to have some summer fun, that reflect your specialty or relate to your business.

Summer Productivity: On the other end of the spectrum, share productivity tips to will help your audience get more done (expand their audience, build their expertise, or do more networking in the summer months) when they really just want to chill out or get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. 


July Holidays: July is National Anti-Boredom Month! July 13 is Barbershop Music Appreciation Day, Embrace Your Geekness Day, and Fool's Paradise Day. Plus, July 26 All or Nothing Day (go for the extremes), July 27 is Take Your Pants for a Walk Day (promote exercise), and July 30 is the International Day of Friendship (show support - promote the website, blog, or business of your friends).

July Food Holidays: There are lots of food holidays in July. It's National Grilling Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month, National Culinary Arts Month, and more. Sundae Sunday on the third Sunday. Also, July 13 National French Fries Day, July 21 is National Junk Food Day, and July 31 is Cotton Candy Day and Jump for Jelly Beans Day.

Bonus: Fiction writers, in June your characters headed to the beach. This month, invite them to a barbecue. Have a main character, love interest or supporting character host a barbecue for their fictional family, friends and/or coworkers. 

What is the host making? Who is coming? Which guest is bringing what side dishes and desserts? How does what they prepare reflect their interests and personality? For example, one character buys something at the store and transfers it to his or her own cookware, while another spends hours perfecting a scrumptious dessert.

There's lots of fun to be had when you put characters in a social situation and see what comes out of their dynamic. This kind of exercise can lead to all sorts of awesome material.

Double Bonus: Extra gold stars to anyone who hosts a barbecue for inspiration


Debra Eckerling is the author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She's a writer, editor and project manager/goal coach, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. She is an editor at Social Media Examiner. Debra is also a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting and social media.

Submitting to Fiction Magazines with Themes--Spring 2015

From The First Line Magazine
Looking for writing inspiration or a new writing challenge?  Check out these upcoming themes from short story magazines.  Find one that strikes your fancy, write your best story, and send it in.  

Portals--Submissions accepted April 1-30
2065 (the year)--Submissions accepted May 1-31
Sport--Submissions accepted June 1-30
Crossed Genres.  (Science fiction or fantasy only, 1000-6000 words, Pays $.06/wd)
Submission Guidelines.

Lost in the Zoo--Due July 1, 2015
THEMA Literary Journal  (Print, Reprints accepted, Fewer than 20 pages prefered, Pays $25)
Submission guidelines

"Laura liked to think she was honest with herself; it was everyone else she lied to."--Due May 1, 2015
"The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable."--Due August 1, 2015
The First Line Literary Magazine.  (Print and PDF, 300-5000 wds, Pays $25-50, stories must start with the given line)
Submission Guidelines.

Nyx (the ancient goddess of night)--Due April 30, 2015
Monsters (dark fantasy and horror)--Due June 31, 2015
Pantheon.  (Mythology, The shorter the better,  Pays $.01/wd)
Submission Guidelines.

Dear Diary--Due March 28, 2015
Telling your kids about 'the birds and the bees' is always a difficult task--Due April 27, 2015
Modern spins on common fairy tales--Due May 28, 2015
Memory Loss--Due June 27, 2015
Infective Ink.  (Pays $10)
Submission Guidelines.

Learning--Due March 6, 2015--THIS FRIDAY
Check the website later for the next theme
On the Premises.  (1000-5000 words, Pays $40-180)
Submission Guidelines.

Perseus and Medusa--Due March 23, 2015
Timeless Tales.  (Fairy tales and myths retold in any genre, 2000 words maximum, Accepts reprints, Pays $15)
Submission Guidelines.

Un/Natural World (exploring natural and built worlds on Earth)--Due July 15, 2015
Story  (Pays $20/pg up to $200)
Submission Guidelines.

Kenya--Due April 7, 2015
The Dominican Republic--May 5, 2015
National Parks around the World--Due June 2, 2015
The Olympics--Due July 7, 2015
Faces (World culture and geography for ages 9-14, 800-word retold legends, folktales, stories, and original plays from around the world, Pays professional rates)
Submission Guidelines

Also consider Cobblestone's other magazines accepting 800-word stories based around themes:  Cobblestone (American history), Dig (archeology and history), Odyssey (science). 
Submission Guidelines

Themed magazines can also be a good way to find homes for your trunk stories, but be sure that the theme is a close fit, or you'll disrespect the magazine.  As always, pay close attention to the writers' guidelines.

And keep on creating!

Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  She also loves to travel and is currently writing a budget traveler's guide to cruising Alaska. Visit her online at

October Blogging Prompts

At a loss for blogging ideas? One way to engage your readers is with seasonal content.

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction – and if your niche is writing, marketing, or consulting – there’s always something to write about.

One of my favorite things about writing is that you can take one topic and spin it numerous ways, so it reflects your interests and expertise.

With that in mind, here are topics you can use to generate blog ideas in October ... or just use these writing prompts to jumpstart your creativity for your writing.

Autumn – How does the change of seasons impact your business? How does the change of seasons impact your writing? What are some fun fall-specific activities that interest you and how can you share them with your readers? October means football, fall fashion, hay rides, apple picking, fall crafts. There’s something seasonal that relates to your business that you can share on your blog. Do some brainstorming to discover what it is.

Fall Food – When all else fails, seek a food holiday. October is both National Dessert Month and Vegetarian Awareness Month, and there are a host of other daily, weekly and monthly food holidays. Do you write food mysteries or have a foodie blog? Do you write content for a restaurant or edible product? Perhaps you just like to eat…  Check the list and see how to spin it for your specialty.

Halloween – Didn’t see that one coming, did you? (joke) Write about anything and everything Halloween-related from food, décor and costumes (human and pet) to family adventures and activities. Also, most people associate October with the color orange. Fiction writers, interview an author. Share a funny or scary story. Or, even better, tips for how to write one.

Bonus: If you are a fiction writer, you can also use these topics to stimulate ideas for your stories. Send your characters out on an autumn adventures. You don’t even need to use the story in your final manuscript. But let your characters have a little fall fun. You never know where an adventure will take you.

In a perfect world, we have all the time in the world to write our blog content in advance. If you’ve already written all your October posts, just file this for next year. If you haven’t, hope these ideas will get your creative mind rolling, so you can create some awesome October blog posts!


Debra Eckerling is the author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She's a writer, editor and project manager/goal coach, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. She is an editor at Social Media Examiner. Debra is also a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting and social media.

Planning a Writing Retreat

I have written about writing retreats here in the past. Last month, I was on vacation and made that into sort of a writing retreat, but since I can’t do that again for awhile, I started thinking about other things I could do instead. And then it came to me: a one day writing retreat for my local writers group. I suggested the idea to them and was asked to start planning something.

For this first time out (maybe it could become an annual event), we are going to stay in town to keep costs low. I picked a part of town where there are restaurants, outdoor seating areas, a walking trail, public library, hotel and a university. Plenty of places to use for a day-long or half-day writing retreat.

The first thing I did was to make a list of things that might be important to a group of writers. This list by no means is complete. There may be other things that are important to you or to your group. You may use my list and add to it. Perhaps brainstorm with some other writers.

  • Goals – What do you want to get from the retreat? Write a chapter of your novel? Complete a book? Start a book? Write an article? Try out some new writing prompts.
  • Location – Do you want to stay local or go out of town? If spending at least one night away from home, where might the group want to stay? Hotel, bed and breakfast, cabin by a lake?
  • Length – Will it be for one day, a weekend, a week or longer? What about a particular day, week or month?
  • Writing time – How long do you want to write? Maybe the entire retreat, half of it, a few hours a day? Are there other things you would like to do besides writing during the retreat?
  • Work area – Will you be sharing your work area or will you be working alone? Indoors, outdoors, table, bench, library, café. Are there a number of cafes on the street or neighborhood where you plan to go? Try café-hopping while you write.
  • Social activities – What other activities and sites are available? Walking trails, shopping, museums, theaters or spas might be nearby. Get some exercise, do something besides writing, relax, have fun.
  • Meals – Will you eat together as a group or separately? Share the cooking, dine at restaurants, pack a picnic lunch, have some snacks. And don’t forget beverages, including wine.
  • Writing kit – What do you need to bring with you to help you write and to provide inspiration? A tote bag filled with items such as notebooks and pens, laptop, books, magazines, photos/art, music, etc.
  • Conversation – What will the group talk about? Bring a book on the craft of writing to discuss, an experience you want to share, suggestions on how to overcome writers block.
  • Online or offline – Will you forgo email and social media? It might be ok to do some research for the book or article you are working on, but for most of the retreat, try to stay away from the internet.
  • Types of clothing - What kinds of clothing do you want to wear/pack? If you wear a literary or writing t-shirt when writing, would that make you work harder? Perhaps it’s a shirt you got at a writing conference, ordered from NaNoWriMo or purchased from another source. You might get some compliments and comments on it when you are out and about!

I have a kit which I will use during the planning and at the retreat. The Writer’s Retreat Kit: A Guide for Creative Exploration & Personal Expression by Judy Reeves is a boxed set of cards and a book. This set covers the planning of retreats and includes lists of writing prompts. It’s full of ideas that writers will find useful, whether the retreat is far away or at home.

What would you like to do on a writing retreat? Have you been on a retreat? If so, what did you do? Feel free to share your ideas and experiences here.

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Summer Writing Prompts

Summer is here! I recently returned from vacation and am writing about the wildlife I saw. I haven’t decided how to use it yet, although it could appear in a future blog post or picture book.

While working at my computer, I thought about summer writing prompts and all the possibilities. I came across some websites for kids, although many of these prompts would also work for adults. Perhaps think about your own childhood. What did you do during your summers?

Journal Buddies has some great prompts for getting kids to write. I like 11, 13 and 22. I might include them in a book or article.

I also like Montgomery Schools’ prompt concerning one’s favorite summer memory. As far as my childhood, there were trips to amusement parks, playing with friends, and riding my bike around town.

Scholastic’s writing prompts look like fun. One in particular made me laugh. Check out the prompt for June 23!

What are you writing about? I hope the prompts on these websites spark some story ideas for you.

Have a great summer!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Submit to Fiction Magazines with Themes

I love magazines with themes or prompts, because they expose the many, many ways our minds work differently to produce so many stories from one kernel of an idea.

For all you fiction writers out there, if you're having writer's block or if you want to challenge yourself to write something you normally wouldn't, try writing for one of the magazines or e-zines below. 

Paying Markets ($10-$50)

THEMA Literary Journal.  Each issue is based closely around a specific theme.  All genres.  Reprints accepted.  Current and upcoming themes:  "Was that today?" and "We thought he'd never leave."  Submission guidelines

The First Line Literary Magazine.  Each story must start with the same sentence.  All genres.  Current and upcoming first lines:  "Fifty miles west of Bloomington lies Hillsboro, a monument to middle-class malaise," and "We went as far as the car would take us."  Submission Guidelines.

Pantheon.  As the name suggests, this magazine's issues center around various gods and goddesses.  All genres welcome.  Reprints accepted, but unpaid. Current themes:  "Ares" and "Gaia."  Submission Guidelines.

Infective Ink.  All genres.  Current and upcoming themes:  "The future of dating," "Great friendships."  Submission Guidelines.

On the Premises.  This is run like a contest, but with no fee.  Third to first prizes $100-$180.  Honorable mentions, $40.  All genres.  Current Contest:  "Decisions, Decisions."  Submission Guidelines.

Long Count Press. E-book anthologies of fantasy fiction.  Currently closed to submissions, but check in the future.  Last theme:  "Mesoamerican Fantasy."  Submission Guidelines.

Timeless Tales.  Retold fairy tales.  Next theme:  "Twelve Dancing Princesses."  Reprints accepted.  Submission Guidelines.

Subterrain.  A Canadian magazine that requires paper submissions (and an SASE with an IRC).  Upcoming themes:  "Pulp Fiction," and "Meat."  Submission Guidelines.

Semi-Pro and Pro Markets

Crossed Genres.  Science fiction or fantasy only.  Current and upcoming themes:  "Typical" and "Robots, Androids, and Cyborgs."  5 cents/word.  Submission Guidelines.

Unlikely Story.  Their two main themes are "entomology" (bugs) and "cryptography" (codes and ciphers).  They also have other theme issues, like "cartography" (maps).  All genres.   5 cents/word.  Reprints accepted at a lower rate.  Submission Guidelines.

Crab Orchard Review.  Literary.  One yearly theme (submissions accepted October).  This year's theme:  "Stories that covers any of the ways our world and ourselves have changed due to the advancements, setbacks, tragedies, and triumphs of the last twenty years, 1995-2015."  $100 minimum.  Submission Guidelines.

Penumbra.  Speculative fiction only.  Upcoming themes:  "Pain" and "Lewis Carroll."  5 cents/word.  Submission Guidelines.

Cobblestone Publishing's non-fiction magazines for kids 9-14 accept 800-words stories based on specific themes.  Your choices:  Calliope (world history), Cobblestone (American history), Dig (archeology), Faces (world culture and geography), and Odyssey (science).  Check the guidelines for query dates and themes.  Very good rates.  Submission Guidelines (choose the individual magazine you're interested in).


Fiction magazines these days come and go, so be sure to verify the details before submitting.  And, as always, read the submission guidelines, word count requirements, and theme information very closely.  Some are so specific you'll pretty much have to write a story with the magazine in mind.  Others are looser, so you can match up stories you've already written. 

Whatever you do, have fun and keep writing.

Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  She also loves to travel and is currently writing a budget traveler's guide to cruising Alaska.

Writers and Cabin Fever

Will this winter ever end?

Plans changed, events cancelled, over and over again. Snowstorm after snowstorm and bitterly cold temperatures have been the status quo lately.

I like to get out of the house and do something fun on occasion, meet with my writers group, check out the bookstores and libraries, and look for inspiration. It seems like I have been housebound more than I have been away from home! And to top that off, I just got over cold #2 for the winter of 2013-2014. At least I don’t do public speaking for a living!

Thankfully, we have had power, so I've been able to do some research, reading and writing. Recently, I found a website that can be helpful for those of us who seem to be spending a lot of time inside and might be going a little stir crazy:

Toasted Calender – writing prompts for every day of the year. There are also writing contests, forums, chats, writing exercises, even a pre-NaNoWriMo challenge.

However, I am so ready for an off-site conference, retreat, dinner out, shopping expedition, a walk in the park . . . .

How has your winter and your writing been going? What are your ideas for beating cabin fever?

24 more days until spring!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

And End of Summer Writing Prompt

At a loss for what to write for this month’s blog post, I finally settled on a post about a writing prompt. 

We just returned from a weekend away, to attend a family wedding. It was also a visit to our past.

We drove by former homes and schools.We wondered what was still there, what had been torn down, and what had changed.We did see some differences, but everything looked in good shape.

We ate at two old haunts. One was a pizza place, the other was a locally owned ice cream store. Pizza and chocolate ice cream – two of my favorites!

A family cookout was held Friday night, for those not involved in the wedding. Swimming was also part of the evening, but the water was too cold – for August. No one would have guessed this when plans were made. However, the kids went swimming, while the adults watched.  

Some new stores had opened, some old ones were still in business, either in the same location or a different one, and some had closed. The public library had also undergone a transformation that included an expansion for each department.

The wedding was held in an old country church that had been attended by generations of relatives. Next to it is a cemetery, where they were buried years ago. We paid them a visit. 

Getting together with long-time friends, for food, fellowship and fun, capped off the weekend. 

What a trip down memory lane.

Write a story about your childhood or your early adult years.You may include a favorite restaurant, an event from school or a memory about a house you lived in years ago. Perhaps you could write about a much loved relative or a family gathering.What feelings do these memories bring back? I hope you feel inspired and are able to add something to a WIP or begin something new.

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Feeling Stuck? Try These Writing Prompts!

Sometimes all it takes is a little boost to get your creativity in gear. Next time you're in a writing rut, here are some prompts to try:

• Write down a memory of a time you had a conflict with someone else. This could be with a significant other, child, sibling, parent, friend, or any other conflict that comes to mind. Now, write the same scene again, but this time from the point of view of the other person.

• Pick one ordinary household object. It can be anything: an egg timer, a reading lamp, a vacuum, a blender. Next, imagine a world in which that object is unknown. Create a character that stumbles onto this object and try to describe it in a new way, as they would view it. See where the story takes you.

• Have you ever read a book or seen a movie and wondered what happened to the characters after it was over, or before it started? Now is your chance to find out, because YOU are going to write it yourself!

• Write a song about ... well, about anything you want! Set it to the tune of your favorite song, or make up your own tune.

• What if something out of the ordinary happened on an ordinary day? What if it snowed in Vegas? What if a 2-ton whale washed up on the beach? What if a family with eight children moved in next door?

Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and editor of the new anthology Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Dzanc Books "Best of the Web" anthology and has appeared in many publications including Monkeybicycle, Arcadia Journal, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. She has also published 70+ articles and essays in outlets including Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, The Los Angeles Times, and more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul series books. Dallas is the founder of Write On! For Literacy, a nonprofit organization that empowers kids and teens through reading and writing. She frequently teaches creative writing workshops, mentors young writers and artists, and organizes an annual Holiday Book Drive that has donated more than 12,000 new books to underprivileged and at-risk youth. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction from Purdue University, where she also teaches undergraduate writing courses and serves as Assistant Fiction Editor of Sycamore Review. Her website is and she frequently posts writing prompts, articles, and interviews with writers at her blog: Follow her on Twitter @DallasWoodburn and @WriteOnBooks.

How to Sell Your Book in Bulk

  by Suzanne Lieurance Did you know that studies have shown that most self-published authors sell fewer than 200 copies of their book?   Tha...