Farewell to 2017…An Overpowering Year.

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Here we are at the end of another year, and for me this has been a year like no other. Yes, there have been difficulties in other years…but this one seemed overblown on both the personal and the social front. When I think of years that I wouldn’t want to live through again, 2017 will be right up there with 1983, 1998, 2010, and 2014. Those years were all bad years involving divorces, heartbreak, totaled cars, break ins, custody battles, money woes, deaths of grandparents and friends, and sometimes those lows come in bunches it seems. Of course, that is not saying that there’s not rewarding or redeeming events that happen in those trying years…and that’s not to say that there are not other years that bad things don’t happen…but of all the years of my life, and I have lived quite a few years, thankfully, I’m thinking 2017 was one of the worst. It was not only that way for me, but for a lot of people I know personally and for those I don’t. As a country we’ve been on a ride like never before…politically, with a president the likes we’ve never seen before…and it seems like just when you think things couldn’t get any more surreal…it does. It is hard to comprehend and when you try…the news just keeps coming at you: fast and merciless.

That would make 2017 a hard year in itself, but it took a turn for me just 8 days in…when I was at a poetry reading in Indianapolis and I got a call that my dad was being taken to the emergency room. From that day on, he was in the hospital…then in the nursing home for rehab…and then he died in June. It was just a month into 2017 when my mom was diagnosed with dementia, and then by March she’d fallen and broken her ribs, and then she was in the nursing home…where I thought she might be for the rest of her life…until my dad died…and she begged to go home. She’s fallen several more times this year, another time breaking her shoulder and putting her in the nursing home for a month from July 15 – August 15. 2017 is when I moved from my independent life in Indianapolis to being my mom’s caretaker back in my rural hometown. I was warned about being a caretaker, but until you’ve done it you never really know what the experience is like. It’s also been a year that has taken older cousins and younger cousins, one of my grand cats, and it’s been a year that had others share diagnoses of diseases…maybe it’s just a sign of getting older, but it sure seems like this has been an overpoweringly negative year.

Yet, I can’t write 2017 off as horrid as it seems…because I’ve reconnected with my visual art, and have been really happy with that. I’ve reconnected with friends from the past that I haven’t seen all that much because I’d been away from the area. I’ve spent much more time with my daughters and grandchildren.  Two of my grandchildren graduated high school and went to my alma mater, Ball State. Another of my grandchildren got married in June, and now is expecting my second great-grandchild. 2017 was the year that saw my one-act produced at the RCP One Act Festival in MI; my chapbook, Weathering Under the Cat, get published; a featured poetry reading in St. Louis at Poetry at the Point, and a few other poems published here and there. It was certainly not my most prolific year, poetry wise, but looking back…overcoming all the obstacles…I’m happy with what I got. I’m appreciative of my family and my friends, and I’m looking ahead, to hopefully, a healthy, happy, creative, and prosperous 2018. Here’s wishing the same for you that are reading this blog…and here are a few prompts to help you reflect and then move forward:

2017…an Overpowering Year

  1. Write in your daybook a list of all of the things that you consider accomplishments in 2017, then in another list (as a column or below that list) jot down all of the obstacles that reared their head. Take one item from each column and then write about how one couldn’t be appreciated without the other…, if that doesn’t work for you take one of the items from your list and write about it as an onlooker into your life and see what happens.
  2. No matter your age, think about some of the most overpowering years of your life – write down what made them that way. Did you feel you were never going to get out of that one year? Did you feel powerless? How did you survive that year? Who were the people that were there for you? Who weren’t? Was that a surprise? Explore the most powerful of your memories.
  3. Get out those notes to that novel, poem, essay, or play that you were working on earlier this year. Even if it’s for 10 minutes, write some more on it so that you can say that you wrote more in 2017 than you thought you would.
  4. Use these words in what you write: 2017, wind-chill, framed.


As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Happy 2018!! Keep writing!


Settling IN

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, July 8th was moving day and it went off without a hitch, so that is a relief. Now that the cats and I are in Indianapolis, we’re settling in quite nicely. We’ve been here just a little over a week, and the only thing left to do is unpack one more box of clothes, and hang pictures/paintings on the walls – and it will feel like we’ve never left. I never had a doubt that I wouldn’t feel right at home, and that I do. I’ve even had visitors already at my apartment, and a lot of people that I need to see now that I’m back. It’s funny, I was so anxious to leave this state six years ago, and it’s quite a newsflash to me how wonderful it feels to be back home. I’m happy, and look forward to the opportunities and the creative adventures that await me here. It’s also nice that I have friends in OH and MI who have been in contact with me through snail mail, and social media – it’s all the connections we make with others along the way that makes life so rewarding isn’t it?

Whether you’re going through life changes, mind changes, or just trying to adapt to this ever changing world we live in, here are a few prompts in hopes of helping you get some thoughts on paper:

  1. Write in your daybook about a time that you felt truly settled. Maybe it was/is a relationship. Maybe it was/is a home/apartment. Maybe it was/is a place that you lived/live. Maybe it was/is a job/career. Or maybe you’ve never felt settled – ever. Write what that feels like.
  2. Write about a place that you were anxious to leave. Did you? Why or why not? If you left, did you ever want to go back? As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side…do you find that…that way of thinking has helped or hindered you? Take a character that you’re working with – and see what they feel about where they’re “stuck” in your story/play.
  3. Use these three words in a poem/story/play: unpacking, incense, wine.
  4. Write about a connection that you, or your character, has made – was it a good one? Is it one that will stick for a lifetime? Was it one that should never have been made? Explain.

Enjoy the prompts! If you get something that you’d like to share – post it comments below, or email me at lylanne@lylanne.com

See you next week!

Keep writing,



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 lylanne@lylanne.com

I’ll see you after the move!

Keep writing,



Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Last evening while back in Hartford City, Indiana, a town that I lived in for 25 years of my adult life, and that I grew up in…at my uncle’s restaurant (I was 9 years old when he opened it, and started as a dishwasher at 13, and a waitress at 14!), I revisited a lot of memories. I was there to go to the funeral home for my ex-father-in-law’s visitation. He was the first of my two grown daughters’ grandparents to pass away. When I divorced their dad 31 years ago, it was not a pretty one (not that divorces ever are, and there was a strain and strife that someday I will write about but this is not the time). His death brought back a lot of memories, a lot of good ones that I’d had with my in-laws and that I hadn’t thought of in years, because for some reason the bad ones seem to take precedence. There was some healing and some closure, for me at least, as I talked to my daughters’ aunts and uncles – people at one time I called brothers and sisters for eight years. In addition, I spent a few hours with my elderly parents who came to the funeral home as well. And, then the three of us went to the Pizza King for supper before I headed back home to Toledo.


This also brought back memories for me, because when my uncle opened his restaurant it was a Pizza King franchise. However, about four years later he wanted to bring a few new items onto the menu and the restaurant for a time was called the Homestead-Pizza King; then eventually he broke with the franchise and it was called Homestead Keg & Kettle, and then for a time Carben’s Keg & Kettle until he and my aunt retired from the restaurant business. My uncle, Ben Hodgin, is now the mayor of Hartford City. Times do change, but just stepping into a Pizza King restaurant – the aroma of those particular pizzas, bring memories back, as do the tastes. Nothing tastes like those pizzas…and believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of pizzas all over this country! I’m rattling on about memories and pizza, so guess what your thirty-fifth writing prompt deals with?

“Memories are a Royal Feast

1) In your daybook write about a food that whenever you smell it or taste it, you are back at a certain time in life, or a special place. Who are the people you are with? Can you describe how that food tastes? How it looks? How it smells? Remember those senses help bring your writing to life.

2) Pizza King was started in Muncie, Indiana, and it is pretty much an Indiana staple…when you don’t live in Indiana they’re pretty hard to find, if they even exist outside of the state’s borders. It’s the same with White Castle – you can’t find those all over the U.S., and around Toledo we have Tony Packo’s…so why not write about a regional restaurant or a regional food that’s not found everywhere. What about when you move and don’t even think about what restaurants or foods that you’re going to miss, that could bring out a lot of good writing.

3) Maybe as I was writing about my first jobs, or my divorce, or going to a funeral home…that brought up some ideas for you to explore. With any of these prompts, set aside 10 minutes and write as much as you can…if you find that you have more than 10 minutes worth coming out on the page, great! Keep going until you come to a natural stop.

4) With any of these prompts you can tailor them into a poem, a piece of fiction, an essay, a memoir, or even a 10 minute play. All you need to do is get your ideas down on paper, and the decide which genre you want to work in, then add/delete whatever is needed to make the best piece possible. Remember the real art of writing is being able to find the right word(s), making those good images, etc. That won’t always come in the first draft, and sometimes not even in the third…or thirty-third. It takes tenacity and a desire to write well.

As with all writing, this “Memories are a Royal Feast” writing should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! I don’t know about you, but I feel 2014 has been an odd year already…and we’re not even a full two-months in yet. I have a hunch as to why it seems like it’s been a hard one to deal with…it seems that every two-three days we’re socked with another snowstorm or deep freeze, and if the sun is out…the wind picks up and blows the snow everywhere. Many places in the Midwest and around the U.S. have broken winter records all over the place, as if Mother Nature was going for the gold. Here in Toledo we’ve had an official 72.7″ of snow (is it any wonder we’re feeling a little put upon?!)…and we’re just 0.5″ from breaking the record which was set in 1977-78…and it looks like it will happen since we have another month of winter…and it has been known to snow in April and beyond. I’m not the only one feeling a little blue this year, it seems that many of my friends and students are talking about how this year seems so much harder too – so it’s not just me. Maybe it’s not just the weather, maybe it’s the climate of our society – it seems a lot of people are pretty grumpy.  But that’s another blog for another time…and maybe we’ll all be a lot more cheerful here in about two months when it’s sunny and 70 degrees, the birds are chirping merrily again, flowers are bursting through and everything looks more colorful than white on white with a splash of dingy gray.

In one of my first posts of 2014, I said that on occasion I would post some of my own photos and then you could utilize them as possible prompts to write a poem, spark a short story, or spur an idea to run with in your writing. I’ve got tons of those lovely white pics that I can share, and hopefully, I won’t be adding on to my 2014 list of winter rant blogs much longer! Here are some photos to use as your 34th prompt(s):

“Winter Blahs”


Snow Again – February 17, 2014


A Hungry Visitor in the Snowstorm – February 17, 2014



Buried in the White Stuff Again – February 18, 2014


The Tunnel that I’ve Shoveled Over and Over and Over this Winter – February 18, 2014

Enjoy experimenting with these images. If you don’t like these, maybe look at some of your own pics that you’ve snapped this winter – how do they make you feel?

I will be back next Wednesday with even more writing prompts for you.

I hope that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, that you will let me know. You can contact me here.

Keep writing!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! In a few days it’s St. Valentine’s Day. A day for lovers and love. Some people are lucky in love and have found, or at least have experienced, a true love. Others of us are still waiting for that day; hopefully, not being cynical about love, or giving up on it altogether. However, it is hard not to be over all of the over sized pink and red hearts, sappy cards, chocolates in heart shaped boxes and those pastel, pure sugar, candy hearts with sayings like “Be Mine” and “Hug Me,” that now appear shortly after Christmas.

Does anyone remember those valentines exchanged in elementary classrooms, where you got to make your own valentine’s card box and take it into school in hopes of cashing in on the most valentines, or maybe a secret admirer writing something special on a card dropped into that carefully decorated box? Or, how about when you got to be the one to bring in the valentines cookies or candy to share with the entire class? Do they even allow things like that anymore? I have no idea!

Anyway, I wrote up a prompt for my creative writing students this week, and as I was writing it I decided it would also be a good time to share it here too. So here is your thirty-third prompt:

“Cupid’s Arrow: Hit or Miss?”

1) In your daybook write about what Valentine’s Day means to you as a romantic person. Are you one of the “lucky” ones that have been struck by Cupid’s arrow and found true love? How do you celebrate? Do you still have romance after all of these years? Is it a brand new romance? What is your favorite love song? What’s your favorite gift? Write about your most memorable Valentine’s Day.

2) What about the flip side? Are you one of the “unlucky” ones that Cupid has missed with all of those arrows? Write about your feelings of Valentine’s Day. Does it make you fume with all of the hype? Do you feel lonelier on this day than any other, or is it just a day you choose to ignore? What love song do you despise? Write down how you really feel about all of those sappy greeting cards and gushy couples.

3) Write a valentine to someone anonymously. Send it. Or don’t. Write about an unrequited love. Write about a love lost, but you can’t get over. Write about a memory from elementary/middle school/high school on Valentine’s Day.

4) Utilize any of these prompt ideas and write for 10 minutes or until you exhaust the idea. Once you get something written down, revise it by expanding on what you have or by cutting it down if it needs it, just keep revising it until you’re happy with your result. Any of these prompt ideas can lend themselves to a poem, a memoir, an essay, a story, or a play.

As with all writing, this “Cupid’s Arrow: Hit or Miss?” writing should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This Sunday is the anniversary of a major milestone in pop culture history: The Beatles’ first U.S. appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. There’s already been quite a bit of talk and a few TV segments honoring this upcoming anniversary, and there’s even a Grammy Beatles Special 50 years to the day, on Sunday, February 9th in tribute. The Beatles had a profound effect on me, for sure – beginning with that magical night. I’ve written a poem about that night simply titled “February 9th, 1964,” and it has been accepted for publication I’m pleased to say. When it it appears I will provide a link to it. However, that’s not the only poem I’ve written about The Beatles, and I didn’t even write “February 9th, 1964,” because of the 50th anniversary this year – I wrote it from the pure love, inspiration, and admiration that I’ve had for the group since that first night I saw them perform and I was 7 years old. I’m still disappointed that my mom wouldn’t take me to the Indiana State Fair that same year to see them in concert!!! (And because of that I took my daughters to see the New Kids on the Block at the height of their popularity so they wouldn’t harbor that same disappointment over not getting to see their pop idols).

For years, it was just a given that I was a Beatles freak – I have all four original Beatles dolls, I still have all of my Beatles bubble gum trading cards, my Beatles lunch box, Beatles coloring books, Beatles pendants and pins, and I have owned all of their 45s, various LPs including Rubber Soul (of which I’ve written about here before), and I own the complete Beatles CD set. As a child I also had my own Beatle boots, and a “mod” hat just like John used to wear. There’s old photos of me playing air guitar… also, I would sit for hours and play DJ with my Beatles records, and organize them in a play list (I am an only child, after all). My cousins and I would play at being “The Beatles,” and the Fab Four were a constant “soundtrack” of my life through my formative years…and still today. As you can tell, The Beatles appear in my writing a lot – whether as a reference, a song title, or a memory.

Here’s my drawing that I sold recently (but I am working on more – check my Lylanne’s Freehand Art blog soon):Image

Beatle Dolls circa 1964

I was heartbroken when they broke up, but still bought all of their solo records and of course Paul’s with his band Wings. I was heartbroken again when John was killed, and then again, when George died. I finally got to see Paul in concert in Indianapolis, which out of all of the concerts that I’ve been to (and I’ve been to hundreds!) is one of the most emotional ones. So what does my love of The Beatles or this 50 year milestone have to do with your writing prompt? Well, if you can’t guess – I’ll tell you…there’s a lot to write about whether you’re a fan or not! Here’s your thirty-second prompt:

“In My Life…” (one of my favorite songs)

1) In your daybook, write about the first time you ever heard or saw The Beatles. Were you one of the fortunate ones that got to see them in 1964 somewhere in concert? Was it later during the Sgt. Pepper’s years? Did you own any of their records, dolls, games, trading cards, etc? What memories do you have of The Beatles during these years? How old were you? What did your family/friends think of them? Even if you’re really young, you (I hope) have heard of The Beatles, so you can participate in this prompt too – just by responding to how you feel about them. And, although, I can’t comprehend it – some people didn’t/don’t like The Beatles – if that’s you, then write about that.

2) Take one of your favorite Beatles songs and use it as a title, a line in a poem, or maybe build a story around it.

3) Which of The Beatles was your favorite? You can certainly write a poem, essay, story, or play that involves him. Start writing!

4) Utilize any of these prompt ideas and write for 10 minutes or until you exhaust the idea. Once you get something written down, then revise it by expanding on what you have or by cutting it down if it needs that, just keep revising it until you’re happy with your result.

As with all writing, this “In My Life…” writing should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!