Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! What would life be if it was not filled with changes, conflict, and growth? It appears that the older I get that I have not slowed down when it comes to any of the above. Again, I find myself moving…and not just across town…but out of state. I’m packing up my books, my art, and my three cats, and hitting the road. Well, the cats won’t be packed away, but they are in for a long ride of 4.5 hours in their crates. It’s all good, as I am going to my home state, Indiana, and it actually feels right to be “going home” to Indianapolis. If you’ve read many of my blogs here, you know that I’m an adjunct writing instructor. I love to teach, but it’s not gotten any easier to make a living at doing so. It would be grand if I could say I was going home because I’d finally snagged a full-time position, but that isn’t the case. I do, however, have secured adjunct positions for at least three colleges for this Fall.

Yes, I could have stuck with the two or three colleges that I have here in MI/OH, but to be honest, I’m tired of driving across state lines to make a buck, and then losing what I made (read saved to get through the summer months) to state/city taxes (in the state that I don’t live in)…with no guaranteed income during the summer; plus, I just plain miss being nearer my family and a plethora of friends I left behind when I set out on this adventure in my life six years ago. I most certainly will miss the many friends that I have made in Ohio and Michigan, the vast majority are all in my creative tribes: poets, visual artists, playwrights and actors. And, because of those connections, I know we’ll all keep in touch in this social media society that we live in. Not to mention, I really do like to drive and will make the trip back north whenever possible. This is my last weekend in Michigan as a resident, and I will make the move with my howling cats next Friday. Wish me luck! And, who knows – maybe that full-time job is right around the corner…

Because every writer knows that conflict is an integral part to telling any story, or that  tension is needed in poems and plays, here are a few related prompts that might help you get something written regarding your own conflicts or changes in life:

  1. Write about a time that you had to make a decision to change something big in your life. It could be moving, changing jobs, ending a relationship, or going back to school. Mine that writing for an essay or a poem.
  2. If you’re so inclined, after writing about yourself with the above prompt, consider that same conflict/change in regard to a character that you’re working with in a story or a play.
  3. Write about a time that you’ve traveled with your pet(s). Was it a cross country move? Was it bringing the pet home for the first time? How about a funny or crazy time that you took your pet to the vet?
  4. Use these three words in your story/poem/play: packing/money/anxiety.

Have fun with the prompts. If you get anything that you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post your work in comments, or send me an email at

I’ll see you after the move!

Keep writing,




NaPoWriMo #14 – Time Out

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, it’s happened. I did not follow the NaPoWriMo prompt today (although, I will post it at the end of this post as well). Instead, I turned to the Writer’s Digest April PAD Challenge and used their prompt…so essentially I took a “time-out” from writing a form poem as asked by NaPoWriMo’s site. And, by coincidence that was the prompt from the PAD challengea Time Out Poem. As anyone knows that follows this blog – I teach writing classes as an adjunct, and have done that for 10 years. I also, to “make a living,” teach anywhere from 7-10 classes a semester. My poem today reflects the way I feel at this moment as this semester is coming to an end. My poem is titled “Time (Out) for a Change,” the PAD prompt, and then the NaPoWriMo prompt (of which I will write eventually, as it sounds fun…I just knew I didn’t have time to work with it today).

Time (Out) for a Change

Sometimes there
comes a break-
ing point and
I’m on the verge.

It’s time for me
to regroup and re-
assess this over-
bearing feeling
of burnout. I’m tired

of working hard
for nothing to save,
or spend, or feel
secure. It’s time
for me to take
a timeout,

before I break
and waste the
chance of change –
put myself back
on track. Make a living
of fun, not fractured
by stress.

The Day 14 April PAD prompt:

For today’s prompt, write a time out poem. There are moments in my life that I wish I could take a time out. For instance, it would’ve been nice earlier this year when I had pneumonia, but life and work keeps chugging along. But there’s always a chance to take time outs in poetry if you dare. So dare to write a time out poem (or two) today.

The Day 14 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today’s prompt comes to us from TJ Kearney, who invites us to try a eight-line poem called a san san, which means “three three” in Chinese (It’s also a term of art in the game Go). The san san has some things in common with the tritina, including repetition and rhyme. In particular, the san san repeats, three times, each of three terms or images. The eight lines rhyme in the pattern a-b-c-a-b-d-c-d.

Here’s an example san san from TJ’s blog, Bag of Anything:

Drinking the driven storm, the sturdy apple
Dances, between sky and earth, her spring-young leaves.
Knowing no purpose, knowing only season,
Her spring-young leaves, storm-driven, dapple
Earth and sky; all that my eye perceives
Dances. My eye drinks in the apple’s spring-
Young leaves, her dance that has no reason:
Only the storm, driving each dappled thing.

As you can see, three images or terms are repeated: the driven storm; the spring-young leaves; the dance, and the seven lines rhyme per the pattern given above. I hope you have fun giving the san san a try.

If you want to share any poem that you write from the prompts, post in comments!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #9 – A Scary Line

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Today is Day 9 of NaPoWriMo, and the prompt today was one that I considered running away from. The truth is most friends know a lot about my life, and know me, so there’s not a whole lot that I’m afraid to share. And, I’ve even shared more than some would like in other poems. But, in thinking of something that “scares” me right now…I feel that is more essay material than a poem. Yet, I like challenges – and I know that I didn’t take this poem to it’s “scariest” point, but it does scratch the surface. The poem is a result of that “surface” which at the heart of the matter is money…and being “stuck” in academia’s adjunct teaching circuit – which ironically doesn’t get mentioned in the poem, but I know it will eventually. Anyway, because I need to get back to grading…I wanted to get this written and posted. So, here goes my poem…“No Couch Counseling,”  and then followed by the day’s prompt. Enjoy…or not!

No Couch Counseling

I’m nearly 60,
and I don’t
own a couch,
or a living room
set. I’ve had plenty
of couches in my past,
but left them behind
in bad relationships,
or much needed divorces.

It’s the positive, I do
tend to embrace:
my beloved cats
waiting inside the door,
gracing me with their
presence, my art,
my books, the warmth,
a roof over my head.

Yet, each time I walk
into my apartment, the lack
of a comfy place to kick back
and relax reminds me
of choices I’ve made –
the good, the bad,
the unsettled.

The Day 9 NaPoWriMo prompt:

This one sounds simple, but it can be pretty difficult. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that includes a line that you’re afraid to write. This might be because it expresses something very personal that makes you uncomfortable – either because of its content (“I always hated grandma”), or because it seems too emotional or ugly or strange (“I love you so much I would eat a cockroach for you”). Or even because it sounds too boring or expected (“You know what? I like cooking noodles and going to bed at 7 p.m.”). But it should be something that you’re genuinely a little scared to say.

If you want to share something, you can always do that in the comments below.

Keep writing!


2013: My Year of Visual Art

I’ve been remiss in keeping my artist blog up-to-date. I started this blog last June in an effort to rekindle my passion for creating visual art. I’d like to say that the reason that I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been busy painting, drawing, and experimenting with new mediums. The truth is I’ve allowed my poetry to dominate my time – which is definitely not a bad thing at all. In 2012, I had more individual poems poems published than in any previous year. Also, two friends, Jayne Marek, Mary Sexson, and I started a poetry group called Company of Women which had many “gigs” between May and December and kept us all traveling between Toledo and Indianapolis on a regular basis for our readings. Again, not a bad thing at all.

Then there’s that little thing called employment that keeps me busy, and as an adjunct instructor of creative writing classes and assorted composition classes for two community colleges I have a lot of student writings to tend to besides my own. This is not a bad thing at all as: A) I enjoy my students, and teaching, and B) I need the income.

Toward the end of 2012, I found out through more many medical tests than I ever had in my life that I had a large gallstone and that my gallbladder needed to be removed. This was both a good and a bad thing – it was a good thing that it was discovered before the stone moved to block any number of ducts that would cause me a lot of pain and send me to the ER at any given time. The bad thing – as an adjunct, I have no medical insurance. Having debt is a stressful thing…and as a starving artist through the years I’ve learned to deal with not having money, but the stress is still a burden. But by going back to school I thought that maybe, just maybe, after I had my degrees and was able to teach that those days of financial stress would finally be behind me. Unfortunately, as an adjunct, not so much. I digress.

So what does all of this have to do with my art? Well, it’s a new year – a new start. Three days into 2013, I had that gallbladder removed and I healed much faster than I ever thought I would. And, the surgeon was very good to me and lowered his fees and I have a decent payment plan that I can handle to pay him back. Even though I didn’t have a lot of down time from the surgery, it did give me some time when I could think and plan for this year and the future. In those plans, of course continuing my poetry, but art is set to make a strong comeback. How with teaching and writing? I’m going to make time to create new pieces and experiment. I have some big plans in the works which will be debuted right here later this year.

It’s three weeks into the new year and I’m happy to report that I have a one-person show at Starbucks in Perrysburg, OH, titled “Faces: Pet and People Portraiture,” slated for February and March; I have a new pastel piece, “You’re Giving Me the Blues,” (pictured in this post) that will be hanging in the Music Mania Exhibit at Way Library, also in Perrysburg. Both of those exhibits are graciously sponsored by Prizm Creative Community.

And, I just received word that I will have a one-person show at Downtown Latte in downtown Toledo in October (It pays to be a coffee lover!). So I’m claiming 2013 as my year of visual art, the year where I keep adding more and more work, where I keep adding more places to have my work seen, and where I commit to keeping up my artist blog. You're Giving Me the Blues