From the monthly archives: January 2015


I can’t fall asleep on my back — or rather, I don’t dare to. In that position I often slip into a fugue state where my mind wakes up from a dream, but my body remains immobile. In this limbo I can still sense things around me: sunlight trickling through the curtains, passersby on the street below, the blanket tented on my upturned feet. But when I tell my body to yawn and stretch and get on with the day, nothing happens. I’ll recite the command again — Move, you — and the message echoes back, unheeded. I fight, I struggle, I strain to twiddle a toe or flex a nostril, and it does no good. It’s what being reincarnated as a statue would feel like. It’s the opposite of sleepwalking — it’s sleep paralysis.
The worst part is the panic. Being awake, my mind expects my lungs to take full, hearty breaths — to feel my throat expanding and my sternum rising a good six inches. But my body — still asleep, physiologically — takes mere sips of air. I feel I’m suffocating, bit by bit, and panic begins to smolder in my chest. –Sam Kean, Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a character who has night terrors.

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever had night terrors or nightmares? Write about that experience.

Art Prompt: Night terrors

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about night terrors and other sleep disturbances. Share a personal story if you can. Give a few tips for better sleep.

Photo Credit: Luciana Christante on Flickr

In 1942, reports were streaming in from around the world about “voodoo” death: South American Tupinamba men, condemned by medicine men, died of fright. Hausa people in Niger withered away after being told they were bewitched. Aboriginal tribesmen in Australia, upon seeing an enemy pointing a hexed bone at them, went into convulsions and passed away. “Voodoo” death, according to Cannon, was real: “It is a fatal power of the imagination working through unmitigated terror.”… -Daphne Chen

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about voodoo death.

Journaling Prompt: What do you believe about superstitions like voodoo death?

Art Prompt: Voodoo death

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about voodoo death and the contagious fright involved that caused so many death.

Photo Credit: Davide Restivo on Flickr

Present for Tony

In Sicily a strange belief is connected with All Souls’ Day (jornu di li morti): the family dead are supposed, like Santa Klaus in the North, to bring presents to children; the dead relations have become the good fairies of the little ones. On the night between November 1 and 2 little Sicilians believe that the departed leave their dread abode and come to town to steal from rich shopkeepers sweets and toys and new clothes. These they give to their child relations who have been “good” and have prayed on their behalf. Often they are clothed in white and wear silken shoes, to elude the vigilance of the shopkeepers. They do not always enter the houses; sometimes the presents are left in the children’s shoes put outside doors and windows. In the morning the pretty gifts are attributed by the children to the morti in whose coming their parents have taught them to believe. –Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of All Souls’ Day from a child’s point of view.

Journaling Prompt: Do you celebrate All Souls’ Day? If so, how?

Art Prompt: All Souls’ Day

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about All Souls’ Day and how it has changed over time.

Photo Credit: Andy Mangold on Flickr

Colorful Artist

“We have intuitions about the continuity of people and other kinds of one-of-a-kind objects,” Bartels said.
…This has to do with “magical contagion” — the idea that the essence of the artist rubs off on the creation.
“If the artist made physical contact with the replica, it’s as if the artist imbued the work with her/his essence by having worked with the (new, replica) piece — it seems like others who might make the copy or other processes by which a copy could be made can’t transmit this essence in this way,” Bartels said.
Newman added: “One prediction that comes out of this idea is that artwork that seems like it has really had a lot of close physical contact with the artist, i.e., you can see evidence of his or her ‘hand,’ may be preferred to art where that direct physical connection is less obvious.” –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which magical contagion plays a role in the conflict.

Journaling Prompt: What is your favorite kind of art? Do you have any of this art in your home? Why or why not?

Art Prompt: Magical contagion

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Talk about the importance of art in our lives.

Photo Credit: Ian Sane on Flickr

Welcome to the Carnival of Creativity for January 18, 2015. All links will open in a new tab or window, so feel free to click through and leave some love in the comments. Once you close that window, you’ll be right back here for more linky goodness.

The Creative Mindset

Maria Popova presents Joni Mitchell on Freedom, the Source of Creativity, and the Dark Side of Success posted at Brain Pickings.

Miriam Schulman presents 5 ways to Spark your Creative Spirit posted at Schulman Art.

Tara Leaver presents 25 Ways to Be Creative in 5 Minutes or Less posted at Scoutie Girl.

Response to Writing Reader Prompt

Check out Joyce’s response (in the comments) to Prompt #1267 Near Death. Then go Like her Facebook page for her Haiku Happy project.

Sharing Our Work

Liz presents Acceptance posted at Liz Andra Shaw.

Creativity Quote of the Week

Words tell our stories, but art makes it possible for us to bear witness to them. -Cathy Malchiodi

Writing Tips

Harrison Demchick presents Two Kinds of Scared Writers (and How to Overcome the Fear) posted at Positive Writer.

Janice Hardy presents Moving Forward: Writing Smooth Transitions posted at Fiction University.

Steve Davidson presents How To Guarantee A Short Fiction Sale Every Single Effin Time You Submit A Story posted at Amazing Stories.

Becca Puglisi presents The Power of The Short Story posted at Writers Helping Writers.

Christine Frazier presents Why Your Hero Needs a Pop Quiz posted at Better Novel Project.

Lauren presents The Way You Think Is Directly Linked To Your Writing Success posted at Lauren Sapala.

Emily Wenstrom presents Kill Your Darlings For Fun and Leisure posted at The Write Practice.

Cathy Yardley presents Why Genre Matters posted at Writer Unboxed.

Beth Barany presents Compelling Characters: It’s all about the change in identity and belief posted at Romance University.

CS Lakin presents Why Cinematic Technique Is Essential for Novelists posted at Live Write Thrive.

Melissa Donovan presents How to Write Better Fiction posted at Writing Forward.

Carol Tice presents Writing for Content Mills: Did You Pick the Wrong One? posted at Make a Living Writing.

Mark Nichol presents 7 Pep Talk Points About Writing posted at Daily Writing Tips.

Larry Brooks presents Story Structure: What “going with the flow” Really Means posted at Story Fix.

Brian DeLeonard presents Using Fantasy to Enhance a Story posted at Mythic Scribes.

Joanna Penn presents Self Development. We All Need Mentors At Different Points In The Journey. posted at The Creative Penn.


Kevan Lee presents The Ultimate List of 95 Blogpost Ideas for Creating Craveable Content to Share on Social Media posted at Buffer.

Roman presents Try The Sermon Structure For Your Blog Posts posted at Daily Blog Tips.


This week’s podcast at Writing Excuses is all about I Have an Idea; What Do I Do Now?.

This week’s podcast at The Sell More Books Show is all about Content Events, Permission and Series Success.

This week’s podcast at The Self-Publishing Broadcast is all about Maintaining Integrity of a Series.

This week’s podcast at The Author Biz is all about How a Clearly Defined Business Strategy Can Help with Author Overwhelm.


Visual Arts

Christopher Jobson presents Multi-layered Laser-cut Wood Artworks by Martin Tomsky posted at This is Colossal.


Clair de Boer presents Why We Need to Keep Writing When We Feel Defeated posted at The Gift of Writing.

Robin Rosenberg, PhD presents Changing some aspect of your life posted at Psychology Today.

Jen presents Journal prompt: I need… posted at Journal Wild.

The Business of Creativity

Brennan Dunn presents How to Ensure You Get Paid as a Freelancer posted at Life Hacker.

Olivia L Bianca presents Trying to Get Your Book Traditionally Published? Five Things You Should Know about Editorial Boards posted at Novel Publicity.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to submit your article for next week’s Carnival of Creativity by Friday at midnight!


The Sphinx

Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

exposed film roll

The roll of film is eleven years old. –Overexposed by Amy R. Biddle

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the first line of the week as the starting point or inspiration for a scene, story, poem, or haiku.

Journaling Prompt: If you found an old roll of film from 30 years ago, what do you hope would be on it?

Art Prompt: Old roll of film

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a humorous story about a roll of film you once shot.

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr

propitious adjective
  • presenting favorable conditions; favorable: propitious weather.
  • indicative of favor; auspicious: propitious omens.
  • favorably inclined; disposed to bestow favors or forgive: propitious gods.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the word of the week in whatever you write today.

Journaling Prompt: What things do you see as a propitious sign that things are going to go your way?

Art Prompt: Propitious

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt:Use the word of the week in your article or speech.

Photo Credit: Josh Vaughn on Flickr


I had my recurring dream last night. I guess I should have expected it. It comes to me when I struggle-when I twist on my own personal hook and try to pretend that nothing unusual is happening. –Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Fiction Writing Prompt: What is the recurring dream that your protagonist has? Why does he or she have this dream?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a recurring dream you’ve had.

Art Prompt: Recurring dream

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the common themes of recurring dreams and what they symbolize.

Photo Credit: Hartwig HKD on Flickr

… institutional betrayal is a dimensional phenomenon, with acts of omission and commission as well as instances of betrayal that may vary on how clearly systemic they are at the outset. Institutional characteristics that the authors say often precede such betrayal include:

  • Membership qualifications with inflexible requirements where “conformity is valued and deviance quickly corrected as a means of self-policing among members.” Often, a member making an accusation faces reprisal because of the institutional value placed on membership.
  • Prestige given to top leaders results in a power differential. In this case, allegations that are made by a member against a leader often are met by gatekeepers whose roles are designed to protect top-level authority.
  • Priorities that result in “damage control” efforts designed to protect the overall reputation of the institution. Examples include the abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University, the movement of clergy to other locations in the face of allegations and hiding incidents of incest within family units.
  • Institutional denial in which members who allege abuse are marginalized by the institution as being bad apples whose personal behaviors should be the issue.
    Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about institutional betrayal.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about politicians or business people who demonstrate poor ethics and lie about it?

Art Prompt: Institutional betrayal

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Talk about a famous institutional betrayal, especially the behavior that led up to it.

Photo Credit: Penn State on Flickr