Monday Sparks — writing prompts

rain-65484_1280Write a haiku about something happening in nature right. If you aren’t familiar with haiku, it’s a form of poetry from Japan that usually describes nature. It doesn’t rhyme. The first line is five syllables, the second line is seven syllables, and the third line is five syllables. Here’s my contribution, inspired by a heat wave I am currently experiencing. If you are inspired, please send me your poem.

Heat bakes the sky. It

Cracks with thunder, pours out rain,

Healing the baked ground.

Writing Tip — Gifts for Mother’s Day

mom-48958_1280With Mother’s Day approaching, many of us are thinking about what gift to give to our mothers, or grandmothers, or wives, or other female relatives.  As a writer, you can always make a gift of your art.


Writing a poem is wonderfully personal gift.  I have given poems as Christmas gifts.  Know nothing about poetry?  I recommend checking out books of children’s poems to introduce yourself to this writing style.

I like studying children’s poetry because I can focus on the structure, instead of the meaning, which is usually straight forward.  Below are listed books that are a great introduction to a few different styles of poetry.

Rhyming poetry — A Child’s Calendar by John Updike

Free verse — Red Sings From the Treetops by Joyce Sidman

Haiku — The Cuckoo’s Haiku, The Maine Coon’s Haiku, and The Hound Dog’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen

Acrostic poems — Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic, also Fall, Spring, Summer by Steven Schnur.

Even if you only write four lines of verse in a card, that personal touch will mean so much. (That rhymed.  Mmmm … maybe I have the beginnings of a poem.)



Putting down on paper a significant event you shared with the woman you want to honor makes a thoughtful preset.  Your recipient may not know how much that event meant to you so letting her know is a true gift.

I wish I had written to my grandmother how much it meant to me to spend time with her and my grandfather at their house when I was a kid.  I thought she knew.  It was only when I was an adult that I discovered she didn’t.  She had thought my sisters and I all had a good time, but she didn’t know those visits were some of our fondest childhood memories.

Unless you are an experienced writer, I would keep your story to around 500 words.  Even if it only runs to 200 words, that’s fine.  Short can definitely be sweet if it delivers a story in a concise, imaginative way.

No matter what kind of writing you choose, be sure you edit it.  No one writes her best story the first time.  Reread and rewrite as much as you can before you give it away.  Every time I reread a piece, I always find ways to improve it.

Writing Tip

refugees-2071291_1280This isn’t really a tip, but it ties in with my previous post about using May as a setting.  This poem sums up my feelings about the month since I have kids in school.


Some of us may scream.

Some of us may shout.

One thing is for certain.

All of us want out!

The teachers are exhausted.

The parents are worn out.

The kids haven’t worked since March

And only plan escape routes.

Some of us may sulk.

Some of us may pout.

Some of us may push and shove

And fight a title bout.

But just like death and taxes,

It’s true without a doubt.

After nine l-o-n-g moths of school


Writing Tip

address-book-2246457_1280National Poetry Month

I forgot that April is national poetry month.  When I worked as a children’s librarian in public libraries, we tied our book displays and programming to the event.

Because I am not a poet, I write poetry when I want to have fun with words.  Maybe poets do the same thing with prose when they need a break from their serious writing.

I also like to write poetry because the only person I am trying to please is myself.  As I work on my novel, I have to keep in mind all the rules of good writing, the expectations of the audience I am writing for, and the requirement of agents and editors.  I am free with poetry.  If I share a poem, I hope others will like, but if they don’t, that’s fine.

The event began in 1996, created by the Academy of American Poets.  While there’s still time, check out 30 Ways to Celebrate on the Academy’s site.

Even though I write poetry just for fun, I learn techniques I can apply to my prose writing when I read it.  My background as a children’s librarian has led me to read children’s poetry more than any other kind.  But I think a skilled poet can appeal to kids and adults in different ways with the same poem.  I’ll talk about what I have learned from reading poetry next time.

Writing Tip


I am not a poet, but I occasionally get ideas that can only be expressed in poems.  I wrote the poem below in response to the poem “January” by John Updike in A Child’s Calendar. I love these poems.  While I like the one  Mr. Updike wrote about “February”, my poem better reflects my feelings about the month.


The wind is grayer.

The days are colder.

The month gets longer

As it gets older.

At first we loved

The clean, bright glow.

But now it’s simply

 Snow on snow on snow on snow ….

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