Writing Toward Home

Writing , Ideas, and Encouragement

Month: July 2016

Wordplay Wednesday: Thinking like a Teenager


  Thinking like a Teenager: Creating New Vocabulary

Each new generation of teens creates its own language by inventing new words and phrases or by taking familiar ones and altering them so they mean something totally different. The purpose behind this is two-fold: to have a common language of belonging and also to bedevil their elders. By the time the lexicon is appropriated by adults, the kids have moved on to new terminology. Think of “rad”, “groovy” and “totally.”

The same is also true of society in general. There are many words that were commonly employed in previous generations that now have passed into disuse. I re-read the classic novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, this week and found many expressions that were footnoted for this very reason.  Of course, this gave rise to a wordplay idea.


This week we are going to play around with using old archaic words in new ways.  I  employed my enormous  dictionary plus some online surfing to find uncommon and interesting sounding words to use for this exercise.

Below I have made a list of words without their definitions. Guess what?  You get to decide what they mean and how to use them in your writing.

The idea is to choose a word that looks and sounds interesting and come up with a definition. Then use the word in a free-writing exercise for five minutes. At the end of the time, choose another word and keep your piece going for an additional five minutes. 

I will post the definitions for the words next week. If your  curiosity gets the best of you, look them up.

Acersecomic                            nugacity


Fanfaronade                           bindlestiff


Gobemouche                           pyknic


Martlet                                        afreet


Hamartia                                   bannock


Mollitious                                   erf


Shamal                                        bardolatry


I would love to see your definitions and stories.

As always, have fun writing!

Below is my free-writing based on last week’s  post,  “ The Power of a Single Word.” The prompts were all single words that carry a lot of  meaning and power.

I chose the word home.


When I hear the word home  my first thought is of the place of my childhood, which we called “ the little brown house with the red door.” I lived there from the age of 6 months until I was a freshman in high school. It is the reservoir of countless memories: Christmases, birthdays, friends, hide-and-seek and Red Rover, lemonade stands, endless litters of kittens, picnics in the backyard, tire swings, and tree houses and running through the sprinkler.


One of my favorite memories is of decorating for Christmas. Dad, my brother and I would pile on our coats, hats, and gloves and head out into the piney woods behind our house to gather branches. I remember tramping along singing  Christmas carols and laughing at my brother’s antics. Dad would take his saw and cut fresh boughs which he  piled onto our outstretched arms until we could scarcely see. Even now I can smell the pine fragrance and feel the tickle of the needles  and the stickiness of the sap on my gloves.


Once we were home, Dad would climb the ladder and one-by-one accept the branches that we handed to him, stapling each one in place around our large picture window and our red front door. Next came the traditional untangling of the strings of Christmas lights which always produced a few “naughty” words from dad who insisted he had put them up so neatly the year before. My brother and I would cover our mouths with our sticky fingered gloves and exchange amused wide-eyed looks until the lights were ready to hang. Once the large bulb multi-colored lights were in place, we would plug them in and stand in the front yard admiring our work drinking hot chocolate and tea cakes provided by my mother.


Happy Writing this week! I hope you enjoy thinking like a teenager and making your own words.


The Power of A Single Word


This past Sunday  the sermon at church  was about the power of our words.  We were reminded to be careful with our words as they can be forces for good or ill and can bring hurt or healing. The message was based on a passage from Proverbs, but the Bible is filled with references to controlling our tongues and our words.  God speaks most about those things we have the hardest time learning.

The sermon included an interesting fact that my husband and I discussed in the car on the way home. According to the pastor, we humans on average speak 700 times a times a day with a total word count of between 7,000-20,00 words. To me, that sounded like an awful lot of words. I looked it up online and it was correct, with one caveat. Men tend to be at the lower end of the word count and women at the higher end. 


I do not want to get into the debate of whether women speak 13,000 more words per day on average than men. In my household, with a gregarious, extroverted male and an introverted woman wed to one another, I think the statistics might be reversed. I tend to be much more verbose in my writing than in my speech. Still, I thought about all of those words and wonder how much of what we say is really important. That is a post for another day, perhaps.

The pastor went on to talk about how some words possess so much more meaning than others. Sometimes a single word can convey volumes, especially in certain circumstances. That thought led me to consider words that carry a great deal of meaning all by themselves. I decided  this week I would make a list of prompts that are all just one word in length.

I came up with longish list, but decided to confine the prompts to five.  All are words  laden with a variety of meanings and connotations depending on the perspective and experiences of the writer. They may not be easily defined, but they are words about which we all  possess strong memories and ideas.

For your free-writing session today, set your time for 10 minutes,  select one of the words below, and immediately start the timer. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the word. Write whatever your first thoughts and ideas are.


The word may spark a memory, an opinion piece, or fictional scene. Keep your hand moving and continue to write until the timer sounds. If you finish an idea, allow another to flow in and keep writing. When time is up, keep going if you have an idea that has energy. Write until you have a sense of closure with your piece.






Try each of these words this week in a fee-writing session and see where they lead you.

I will post my free-writing for a word on the list next week.

Happy Writing!

As always I would love to hear about your experiences with the writing.


Below is my free-writing from one of last week’s prompts. It is a slightly fictionalized version of a real event.  I edited it only for clarity and spelling from my original free-write.

“ The most frightened I have ever been”  10 minute writing.


When I was about 7 my mom, my grandmother, and I went to my Aunt Eugenia’s house to have lunch. My brother was spending the day with my grandfather because on a previous visit he had practically destroyed my persnickety aunt’s  living room by knocking over her grandfather clock which fell onto a glass bookcase and destroyed many of her beautiful knickknacks. After lunch I quickly grew bored with the chit-chat at the table which would likely last all afternoon. I went outside to escape my aunt’s wary looks, as if I, too, possessed destructive potential ( I did, but that’s another story). I loved Eugenia’s  huge yard because was filled with all kinds of gorgeous flowers. I wandered to the back of the property, where, hidden from view of the house, my cousin Mike had built a tree house. I climbed  the wobbly boards nailed to the tree and enjoyed a spectacular view of their neighborhood. When I heard my mother call, I descended the ladder and was confronted by two enormous, snarling German Shepherds who belonged to the next-door neighbors.


I froze as the dogs advanced, baring their teeth. I screamed in terror and backed up against the tree. At that moment their owner appeared and called them off. I stumbled through the garden crying and yelling for my mother. I fell at least twice skinning a knee and my palms on the rocky path  which ran through the flowerbeds.

I don’t recall anything else about that day, but  from that incident I developed a strong fear of large dogs  that remained for many years.

Thanks for reading and keep on writing!


The Ambivalent Dragon Part 6


In the last Episode, Princess Crowley recited a poem for Freeman, threw away her uncomfortable shoes, and declared her intention to give up being a princess by breaking her crown. 


Here are the last few sentences from last week’s post:


Princess Crowley looked over she shoulder and gave him a sly grin. “ My next poem has a message for you:


No more ‘Majesty’

Crowley is who I will be.

I renounce my crown.


What do you say to that?”


Before Freeman could reply a shower of arrows sailed over their heads.



Freeman dropped his giant pencil and lunged forward. “ Run, Princess!” He grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the hill where the arrows had originated. They ran toward a stand of trees.  “Get down!”  He shoved her toward a tangle of vines and foliage.


She crouched and pushed her snarled hair from her face. “What is going on? And didn’t you hear what I just said? Call me Crowley. I am not a princess anymore.”

“ No time for that, right now.” Freeman stretched his head and peered around a tree. “Those were dwarf arrows.  The two of us traveling together must have drawn their attention.  I have run into them before. They are a fractious lot.” 


 Crowley shuffled closer and peeked over Freeman’s shoulder. “I thought dwarves were cave dwellers and used other kinds of weapons like axes and swords.”

  He gestured toward the hill. “The ones out there are plains dwarves.  They are quite territorial and they use crossbows with deadly accuracy. That volley of arrows was just a warning.”


 She placed a shaking hand on his back . “Now what?  I may be large, but I am not invincible.”

Freeman turned and smiled. “ Princess… uh…I mean, Crowley, I will not let anything happen to you. I may lack skills, but my skin is as tough as armor and my loyalty is even stronger.”

“Thank you, Freeman, but-“

A clamorous shout interrupted her as a swarm of dwarves poured down the hill toward the trees.

Freeman grabbed her elbows and pulled her to the ground. “Stay here!”  He moved toward the field wondering how long he could repel an assault with his meager powers. 


The company of dwarves stopped at the bottom of the hill and launched a second volley of arrows directly at him, which crumpled as they bounced off his chest and belly.  A command went up from the front line of dwarves. “Aim for his eyes and wings!”


Freeman folded his wings against his back and raised a foreleg in front of his eyes.

How long could he keep them at bay? What  if he failed?

The dwarves reloaded their crossbows and took aim. Another command was issued. “Dispatch this inept  dragon and get that giant!”

Freeman raised his head and drew himself to full height.  A kind of fury he had never felt before surged through his body. He had to protect his friend no matter what. “NO!” As he yelled flames exploded from his mouth scorching the grass that lay between him and the angry horde. “ARRGGHH!” More fire burst forth, the flames reaching the front line.


The shocked dwarves froze in their tracks for a few seconds, then dropped their weapons and fled in disarray, scrambling over one another to get away.

Freeman was stunned as he watched the dwarves make a helter-skelter retreat. What had just happened? He had never been able to breathe fire before. He reached his claws up to his mouth which tasted like sulfur.  He sat on his haunches and scratched his head in wonder.

A voice behind him said, “That was incredible! I thought you said you couldn’t breathe fire. You were holding out on me.” Crowley clapped him on the back and squatted beside him. “Very impressive.”


He shook his head. “ I don’t know how that happened. I have never been able to do that before. In Dragon Academy I could only manage to blow bubbles and feathers, which of course made me the laughing-stock of the whole school.”

Crowley looked thoughtful. ” Maybe since you were in danger…?”

Freeman replied, “ Well, I have been in scrapes before and I couldn’t breathe fire in those instances. This time I was so desperate to protect you, I got angrier than I have ever been. The flames just…I don’t know…came.”

Crowley took his claws in her hands. “I think you had the ability all along, you just didn’t need it –“

“Until I needed to protect someone I truly care about.” He shook his head. “I couldn’t let anything happen to you.”

She hugged him. “ I am truly grateful, Freeman. It was a noble act of bravery and friendship.  Now I wonder what other hidden talents you may reveal?”

He laughed. “Me too. For now I want to find my pencil and get a drink of water to get the charcoal taste out of my mouth. How do the other dragons stand that?”

Crowley said, “ I could use a rest after that ordeal. I am sure you could too. It’s getting late.” She indicated the sun sitting low in the sky. “I think we have had enough excitement for today.”

Freeman agreed. “Not far from here is a small village where I have obtained food before. Let’s head there. Tomorrow will likely bring new adventures.”


Wordplay Wednesday: Free-writing

Wordplay Wednesday :   Free-writing

Startup Stock Photos

Over the past few months we have explored words and played with them in a variety of ways . The purpose behind those activities was to demonstrate the potential that words possess. Used purposefully they can reveal, inspire, inform, entertain, engage, and more. By playing with words in different ways for a short exercise, a writer becomes more comfortable and confident in wielding them for a specific purpose.


The next step in playing with words is Free-writing, which is the equivalent of an artist’s warm-up sketches she may do before tackling her main work or the scales a musician undertakes before playing a piece of music. It is writing practice of a short duration that helps limber up the writing muscles and get them ready.


In Free-writing you use a word, phrase, or quote as a starting off point for your writing. It is a way of stimulating thinking, not a writing assignment. The words or phrase may end up not being used at all if your thinking takes you in a different direction. The purpose for having a starting point is so that you don’t find yourself staring a blank page frozen by indecision over what to write about.


The Process:


Writing practice should occur on a regular basis. Set a schedule for yourself that works. Daily writing practice is ideal, but not always practical. Decide how many days you will practice and stick to it.


Writing practice is best done by hand. The physical process of writing longhand creates an important mind-body connection.


You need some type of bound paper and a pen. You can use legal pads, the marbled composition books or spiral notebooks. I make a bulk purchase of inexpensive 1 subject spiral notebooks when the office supply stores are having sales before school starts. By using something that does not cost much, I free myself up to throw words down on the paper with abandon. Choose a pen that you enjoy writing with and always have a spare handy.


Write the date at the top of your paper.


Set a timer for 15 minutes. The purpose of the timer is to set parameters so that you will start writing quickly. You don’t have time to worry too much about each word when the timer is counting down. Just write!

Female hand holding a pen and writing a plan in a planner

Write the prompt at the top of your page. Read it over and then start writing whatever ideas pop into your mind. Don’t edit your words. Just write them down and keep going. Ride the wave of your thoughts wherever they take you. You might write a memory, a poem, a scene, a character sketch or, an essay. Don’t decide beforehand, just let the writing take the form it needs to take in the moment.


Keep your hand moving until the time is up. If you cannot think of what to say, write that. Your brain will quickly tire of “ I cannot think of what to write about” and it will come up with an idea or image to get you back writing.


Do not stop to edit, cross out ,or re-read until time is up. This is not the time for worrying about spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Just get those ideas and thoughts on the page. You can pretty them up later if you wish.


Write what matters to you. That’s where the power and magic live. This is not school, so you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone but yourself.


Read aloud what you have written. The process of hearing your own words aloud is a way of discovering and honing your unique writing voice.



Now for the prompts. You may be wondering where the words and phrases for writing practice come from. I get my best prompts from reading. When I read, I always have a pen and something to write on nearby. I usually stick several index cards in the books I read. They make great bookmarks and are also handy for writing down words, phrases, or quotes that I want to remember. When filled up the cards migrate to my desk and wait until I need a prompt for writing practice.


The best prompts are ones that resonate with you. If it makes an impression when you are reading, then it will likely make a good prompt for writing. Collecting prompts is something I enjoy. I encourage you to do that as well. However, if that is not your inclination, keep reading.


Each Wednesday, I will post 5 prompts that you can use for your writing practice during the week. I will also post some of my writing from the previous week’s prompts. Let’s do this together!



The most frightened I have ever been


An obsession


Thanks for nothing


Give yourself permission to….


Embarking on an adventure



Happy Writing!








The Ambivalent Dragon: Part 5

Our saga of Princess Crowley and Freeman the Dragon continues:


They set off again and Princess Crowley began to recite a poem.


“Now, forest is home.

Though I love trees and flowers,

I wish for a friend.”


Freeman nodded, “ Haiku. One of my favorite forms. Nicely done, your majesty. A succinct version of your story. Do you have more?”


She smiled. “ I have created quite a number. It is difficult to recall them all since I could not write them down. That is why I am eager for a pencil. How about if I attempt to come up with one as we walk? Then perhaps, you will favor me with one of your stories.”


“An excellent plan, Princess.” Freeman stopped at the stream’s edge. “ For now I am all for a wash-up and a nice drink of water. My paws are quite sticky…” He bowed low. ”And if you pardon my saying so, your highness, you have blackberry juice on your chin and neck.”


Princess Crowley laughed. “ Of course, I do! I was known around the castle as ‘the princess with the dirty face.’ Drove the Queen to distraction.” She pushed up the sleeves of her gown and thrust her hands into the cool water and gave her face and neck a good scrubbing.


Freeman waded into the water and sat in a small pool . “ Ah, that is nice. “


Princess Crowley sat on the bank, removed her brocade slippers and dangled her feet in the stream. “ You are lucky that you do not have to worry about clothing, Freeman. I would love to take a swim, but then I this gown would be even heavier. If you were not here I would be tempted to skinny-dip.”



Freeman blushed, opened his mouth to reply and then closed it again. He rubbed one paw across his snout and looked away.


“Don’t look so shocked. You should be getting used to the idea that I am not a conventional princess. I wonder if I might find a way to get some clothing more suitable to the outdoors. I would love to just have some comfortable breeches, a tunic, and boots. In fact for now, I am going barefoot. “ She took her slippers and flung them into the stream and watched them float away.



Freeman stepped out of the water. “ Well, perhaps we can find someone in Warrenden who can help with a new wardrobe for you, majesty. I agree that your finery is not the best choice for the outdoors, but I hope you do not regret tossing away your shoes. The terrain gets rough soon.”


“ I spent many days barefoot as a young girl, whenever I could escape my nanny. I’ll be fine.” She removed her crown and snapped it in two. “I’d get rid of this silly thing as well, but I will use it for currency to purchase what I need. “ She tucked the pieces into the sash about her waist. “ Let’s go.” She strode forward.


Freeman scratched his head, picked up his pencil and backpack and followed.


Princess Crowley looked over she shoulder and gave him a sly grin. “ My next poem has a message for you:


No more ‘Majesty’

Crowley is who I will be.

I renounce my crown.


What do you say to that?”


Before Freeman could reply a shower of arrows sailed over their heads.





Come back next week for the next installment!



















Wordplay Wednesday

Wordplay Wednesday : Word Scrambles


The purpose behind my Wordplay Wednesday posts has been to foster a sense of fun and whimsy while exploring ways that words can be manipulated and used to create ideas, poems, and stories. My hope is that you found the exercises to be interesting and helpful.


After today, Wordplay Wednesday will be changing format a bit. Instead of playing around with word types and forms we will begin using words or phrases as springboards into writing. We will still be playing with words, just in a slightly different way. After all writing is simply words having fun.



For our final exercise, we will play with word scrambles. I will give you a bunch of letters. Set a timer for 1 minute and see how many words of at least three letters you can make with those words. Once time is up see if you can figure out the mystery word you can make using all of the letters. (There will be one, I promise.)


Take words from your list, or perhaps the mystery word and see what story or poem ideas you can come up with.


I will post my word lists and the mystery words at the end of this post. Don’t peek, until you give them a try! Have fun!




  1. t s w r r e i

2.   n l u s a i c t

3.   n s e k i h t r

4.  d e w r e r n a w

  1. n t i e r a s p


Don’t peek yet!



What, are you peeking before you give it a try?


Seriously, don’t peek until you have played with the words! I’m watching!

pexels-photo mystery


OK. Here goes:

  1. tie ties rest west wire wires wits wits wet wets set sit tire tires writ writs write writes writer   writers
  2. ant tan nat tans ants tie ties antic antics  sic sac stain lat last lats sun stun aunt aunts cats scant lunatics
  3. hint sink ink inks hin hins hen hens then sin thin thins kin kith sire hires hire thine rink rinks rank ranks think thinker thinkers
  4. wad wand and sand sad rad reed  reeds  read reads dare  are  seed  dew  need needs reader readers  raw rawer ward wards wend wends wanderers
  5. pin pan nip nips nap naps pins pans spin pain pains paint snip span tin tins sin saint set pet pets pest pat pats past paste rest tap taps tip tips painters


Seems as if my word choices had a bit of a theme going.  Hope you had fun. Keep playing with words!

See you next week with a new spin on wordplay.


The Ambivalent Dragon: Part 4


Our story so far: Freeman, a writerly,  non-fire breathing dragon meets  the poetic Princess Crowley who has been turned into a giant by a disgruntled sorcerer. They decide to travel together to Warrenden where they can obtain enormous pencils  with which to create their literary work. You can read all of the story in previous blog posts.

A thunderous roar rattled the ground, followed by an ear-piercing screech as something flew just overhead causing Princess Crowley and Freeman to fling themselves  into protective crouches. 


“What in the name of …of…of  the King was that?” asked the princess.

Freeman stood and brushed himself off, then extended a paw to help her up. “ That, your majesty, was my  older brother, Fieron, my personal tormentor and dragon without equal. He is everything I am not, a champion flier, brave beyond measure and winner every year of the fire-breathing competition held on Dragon’s Eve.”


“ But I did not see anything go by.” She shielded her eyes and squinted into the distance.”

“Invisibility is another of his many talents. Combined with his speed and other abilities, he is a formidable foe to all who take him on.”  He shrugged and gave a rueful smile. “ And to those who wish to be left alone as well.” He beckoned to her and they resumed their trek by starting  across a large,  fallow field.


“ What is his purpose in harassing you?”

“ He does not like it when I venture out of my cave. I am an embarrassment to dragon-kind, a liability to our reputation, he says. I am supposed to stay hidden away, which I do most of the time.”

They stepped across a narrow stream and headed up a small hill.

The princess said,  “ Ah. I can identify with that. My mother could not wait for me to be gone from the palace. I  was seen as a detriment to my sisters finding suitable husbands.”


Freeman said,”  I venture out when I have new stories to sell and when I need writing supplies. He probably heard about me getting chased by those trolls. That will be another excuse to drive me away from my cave. The only good thing is he likely scared the trolls away.”

“ So where is he now? I mean since he is invisible…”

“ Oh, he’s gone.  Flew over that mountain range. One of the traits I did happen to inherit was the ability to see what is hidden or not visible to others. It is a great trait to possess as a writer. And it helps me avoid Fieron as well. Usually I see him long before he is near, but I was thinking about our journey.  He is no doubt on his way home to report me to my father.”

“Hmm. I, too, am supposed to stay in my place in the forest. I have done so for a while, but I want more from life than just hiding out. I want to see the world and find a purpose.”

“ What about your poetry? “ He stopped and pointed to a large thicket of blackberry bushes laden with plump fruit. “ Let’s stop here and eat.”

The princess sat down and began plucking berries. “ My poetry is only for myself. No one is around to hear it. It is just an amusement to fill my days. I am just playing with words.”


“ Perhaps you should consider sharing your work with others. The world is always in need of poetry and good stories. In Warrenden, such things are highly prized. Perhaps you can find a receptive audience there as I have.”

“ I am not even sure they are any good. What if no one likes them? I am already such a spectacle in this giant body.  I don’t want to be known as the purveyor of paltry poetry as well. “

Freeman clapped his paws. “ Alliteration! I love it. I’ll bet your poems are better than you think. Why don’t you share some with me.”

“OK. But, let’s walk as I recite. I will feel les awkward that way.   ‘

 “Fine. There is a stream ahead where we can wash up and beyond that an abandoned apple orchard and farm. We can find more to eat there.”

They set off again and Princess Crowley began to recite a poem.


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