One-Word-Prompt Writing Challenges – Two Quick, Easy Ways to Stretch Your Imagination

What can you do with a one-word-prompt? Esther Chilton has two great suggestions – a limerick or a five-word story.

Writing & Photo Challenge Host Interviews #4

I’m thrilled to introduce Esther Chilton, as the hostess of a couple of fun writing challenges. 

Who doesn’t love a limerick? They make us smile and so I thought with lockdown, and all the worries surrounding that, we needed something to cheer us up.

Some of you might also know her as one of Carrot Ranch’s Rodeo Judges. 

She’s also a prize-winning author as well as a superb editor and tutor. If you need editorial services, she comes highly recommended, and trust me, if you’re an author, you need editorial services. So, with no further ado, I proudly present Esther Chilton.

I’d like to firstly thank Marsha for having me on her blog. I haven’t ever been interviewed about any of the challenges I run so I’m very excited! 😊

Esther Chilton

Q. What prompted you to begin to host a writing challenge? 

When I first started a blog, it was for my students at The Writers Bureau. I wanted to offer a few extras in addition to the writing course, such as writing tips, publication news and writing examples. Gradually, I started to post all sorts of different writing related posts, from some of my short stories, to funny typos you see on signs or in newspapers, to unusual words and their meanings. 

I can’t quite remember how the first challenge came about. It may have been a comment left on my blog about one of my short stories, so it got me thinking about holding a short story competition. I did a couple of those, before deciding upon some shorter, weekly challenges. I currently have a Five-Word Challenge on a Thursday, where I give a word prompt and the challenge is to write a story in five words, using that word somewhere in the story. 

The limerick challenge is a more recent one. Who doesn’t love a limerick? They make us smile and so I thought with lockdown, and all the worries surrounding that, we needed something to cheer us up and so that sparked my limerick challenge, which takes place on a Monday. Again, I provide a word prompt, but it’s not a requirement to use the word, unlike my Thursday challenge.   

Esther Chilton

I find that the shorter ones attract the most responses – people are busy and so have time to write a Five-Word Story or Limerick, rather than a lengthier challenge.

Q. How long have you been doing this?

On Esther’s blog.

I’ve been blogging since 2013 and started my first challenge the following year. 

Esther Chilton

Q. How much time does it take? Is it all-consuming so that you don’t blog about anything else? 

The two challenges I currently run don’t take too long. I love reading all the responses and then coming up with a fresh challenge for the next week. Some of the challenges I’ve run in the past, especially for longer stories, take up a lot of time and I found I was struggling to have time to blog about anything else. With the current two, I still have time for other blog posts, featuring guest writers, book reviews and all sorts! 

Esther Chilton

Q. How did you determine the genre of writing for the challenge? Do you have more than one?

I’ve had all sorts of challenges. Some have taken up a lot of time, as I mentioned, while with others, I’ve sometimes found that fewer people take up the challenge and so I try something new. I find that the shorter ones attract the most responses – people are busy and so have time to write a Five-Word Story or Limerick, rather than a lengthier challenge. At the moment, I’ll stick with these two challenges. I love them! But I’m sure they’ll change at some point in the future.

Esther Chilton

Q. What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

I prepare my blog post challenges by adding in everyone’s responses from the previous week and then I’ll set a new challenge. This sometimes takes a while – I try and think of a good word that will spark ideas and entice people into participating. I can always tell when I haven’t come up with such a good prompt as I get fewer responses – so I always try and come back with a good word for the following week!  

Esther Chilton

If you’re tempted to give a challenge a go, then go for it!

Q. How did you attract people to participate? / How do people usually find out about your challenge?

As my blog has been going for a few years now, I have my regular followers who participate. They will often share the challenge on their blog or on social media, so I sometimes get new participants that way. Some people stumble on the challenge by accident and then they’re hooked! Many of my participants are my students, while others are authors, fellow bloggers and people from all walks of life!

Esther Chilton

Q. Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post?

No. It’s just an ordinary blog post at the moment.

Esther Chilton

Q. Do you have help reading all the entries? 

No. I read them all myself. As my challenges are short, it’s manageable. When I’ve held challenges that have a longer word count, it’s been more difficult, but those challenges have tended to be held over a longer period to make it easier for me to read them all. 

Esther Chilton

Q. What do you do with the entries – like do you ever publish anthologies, award widget certificates?

For the current challenges, I just publish the responses on my blog the following week. But for the longer challenges I’ve held, I’ve offered prizes such as an Amazon voucher or book.

Esther Chilton

Q. What else would you like to tell my readers?

If you’re tempted to give a challenge a go, then go for it! And if you’d like to have a go at any one of my challenges, or to read others’ responses, you’ll find them on: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com

Esther Chilton

Biography

Esther has regularly written for writing magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine. She has also had her work featured in a diverse range of magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, Best of British, Your Cat, Prima, My Weekly and The People’s Friend, to name a few. 

Winner of Writing Magazine, Writers’ News, The Global Short Story and several other writing competitions and awards, Esther has also judged writing competitions. 

For over ten years, Esther has been a tutor for The Writers Bureau and after requests from students, she put together a collection of her stories – The Siege. Esther’s latest book of short stories, A Walk In the Woods is out now.   

Esther has been working on her first non-fiction book to help writers get published – Publication Guaranteed (Well, Almost!). It’s the first in her A Helping Hand For Writers series and is available as an e-book. A paperback will follow shortly. 

In addition to tutoring, Esther works as a freelance copyeditor offering an editing, guidance and advice service for authors and writers. She has edited novels, non-fiction books, articles and short stories. You can find out more about it here: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/editing-proofreading-and-advice-service/

If you’d like Esther’s help, or would like to know more about what she can do for you, please get in touch: estherchilton@gmail.com

Links: 

Website

Blog

Twitter

LinkedIn

To buy Publication Guaranteed (Well, Almost!):

Amazon UK

Amazon US

For The Siege:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

For A Walk in the Woods:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Posts in the Challenge Series

How Responding to a Photo Challenge Focuses Your Writing and Increases Your Followers

How many pictures do you have that sit unused and unseen in your files? Hundreds, thousands? Be creative and put them to use where you and others can enjoy them time and again.

Allow me to introduce you to my friend Terri.  When I started this series on hosting challenges, the intent was to focus just on writing challenges. However, many bloggers do some of their best writing in response to photo challenges. 

If you host a writing or photo challenge, please contact me. I’d love to set up an interview/guest post with you.

Please, give Terri a huge Always Write welcome with tons of comments and likes. Don’t forget to participate in her challenge, Sunday Stills

SundayStills_blogbanner

Guest Post by Terri Webster Schrandt, Second Wind Leisure Perspective

Ⓒ 2020

My Blogging Journey 

I began blogging consistently in Fall 2014, as I neared retirement from my 32 years with a public parks and recreation organization. Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers. As I neared retirement, I thought I would start a consulting business and blogging seemed like a good fit for promoting it. Once I went back to university lecturing, teaching 15 units a year, I found I lacked the time to sustain a side business. 

I blog on the WordPress hosted platform which sponsored several blogging how-to’s and challenges. Some readers may remember the Blogging University which taught new bloggers about the basics of blogging (Blogging 101) and Photography 101. In 2014, not only did I meet and follow new bloggers, but I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

It was during this time I realized I had a knack for photography and used my background in art and journalism to write posts about recreation and leisure using my original images. 

I learned quickly that including an image with a blog post created visual interest and attracted more readers. Over time I was inspired to write my first short book Better Blogging with Photography which continues to sell worldwide on Amazon. 

Better Blogging with Photography cover
Better Blogging with Photography

Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers.

What prompted you to begin to host a photo challenge?

Challenges bring new readers, interest, and engagement to any blog. Challenges fit well within the framework of hobby blogging. 

I always enjoyed the WordPress Weekly photo challenge early on in my blogging journey and I discovered other challenges and participated in link parties. This was during the time I was building my readership and meeting new bloggers. I enjoyed the Sunday Stills Photography Challenge, but the original host announced he was through with blogging and called it quits. 

My own blog morphed into photography with emphasis on fitness, leisure, and recreation. After a lengthy blogging break in early 2018, I woke up one night with the idea that I could reinstate and host Sunday Stills myself. The timing was rather interesting. I jumped back in with Sunday Stills in May 2018 just as WordPress announced the end of its ridiculously popular weekly photo challenge. 

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it help photographers?

The purpose is simple: to inspire others to create images related to a weekly theme. I am challenged, too, as I select each month’s themes in advance. Many photo challenges out there are very specific to photography techniques and their hosts are not only a wealth of information about photography techniques, but accomplished photographers in their own right. 

Photobloggers help each other in this way by sharing techniques, ideas and continuing support and enthusiasm for each other’s work. 

One photographer in northern California went so far as to recommend a camera to me. For that I am eternally grateful for his advice and support. 

I also believe that images help create the idea for the story when inspiration is lacking. 

Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images.

How much time does it take to create a blogging challenge?

It can take 5-10 hours a week. Just creating my own post and prepping my images for publication often takes me 3-5 hours. Being that this has a weekly theme, I first decide on each month’s set of themes. I publish this on my Sunday Stills page so the planners of the blogosphere can plan their images and posts in advance. Of course, I must find my own images for each theme, post-edit them, and write a post that not only showcases my images but provides examples for other participants. I comment and share each post on Twitter and Facebook when possible. Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images. Some of the time spent is checking daily for new pingbacks and approve, comment and share. 

What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

At the end of each month, I choose themes and post them one month advance on my Photography page. I choose photos that highlight the theme while writing a title and post that is general but inspiring to other bloggers.

How do you follow up with your participants? I post every Sunday at 7:00 am Pacific Time and bloggers read and many link to the challenge. I approve links, read and comment on each post and share on social media.

How did you attract people to participate? 

I have a good following and many folks seem to enjoy my photography. Sunday Stills had been popular, and many were excited to see it come back. As I join other challenges, other bloggers find my blog and participate in my challenge.

Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post? 

Not really, but I have a Sunday Stills image widget on my sidebar where bloggers can click to the page for more information.

Do you determine winners? If so, how? 

No, everyone is a winner! I share posts of new bloggers in the first day of the month’s post with links to their blogs. 

I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

Do you post or promote the results or links anywhere? 

I share Sunday Stills posts to my Facebook Page or Twitter, sometimes on Pinterest.  When I began Sunday Stills, I hosted a link-up on INLinkz for a few months. Not as many linked to it, so I stopped after a few months.

For my favorite photos, you can see more at  https://secondwindleisure.com/2019/11/24/sunday-stills-your-favorite-photo/

Bio

Terri is a writer, self-published author and retired recreation and parks practitioner living in Northern California. As a university lecturer teaching various courses in the recreation and parks major, Terri takes leisure very seriously because it involves one-third of our lives…really!

Her active lifestyle involves stand-up paddling, camping, hiking, reading, writing, gardening, walking the dogs, traveling, and photography.

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives is her blog about leisure, fitness and photography.

Connect with Terri

Blog: https://secondwindleisure.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SecondWindLeisurePerspectives/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/windigenredhead
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/terri.websterschrandt/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/aquachica/

More about the images I chose:

I added five of my favorite images that represent milestones on my photography journey and some good luck!

This one titled Autumn in Quincy, taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera in 2010, was the first image where I received many compliments and suggestions for entering it into contests.

I captured the plumeria with my galaxy edge mobile phone. It was the first plumeria I grew in 2019.

The sunflower with the bee was also captured with the same mobile phone in 2019, truly a lucky shot!

The windsurfer and my dog Brodie were taken in July 2017, with my Lumix FZ300, my beloved bridge camera with a long travel lens. Both represent action shots that were taken in major zoom mode but details still stood up to the wind and action.

Thank you so much, for participating in this series on writing and photo challenges, Terri. It was great having you here.

Related Posts

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #YAFantasy Kevin Cooper, #Mystery Mary Anne Edwards, #Historical Apple Gidley

I was thrilled to find my friend Kevin Cooper featured on Sally’s blog. Sally does an amazing service to authors, interviewing and featuring them on her amazing blog. Keep up the great work, Sally! 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.

In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.

Meet Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper is an eclectic author & songwriter. His works are multifarious. He has published fantasy, sci-fi, memoirs and drama in the form of novels, novellas, short stories, poetry and song.

Some of KC’s major influences in literature are JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman, C.S Lewis, Terry Brooks, and J.K Rowling.

View original post 1,107 more words

The Littlest Run Away

Are you trying to brush up on your fiction skills? Dialogue – make ’em snap? Description – include all the senses. Practice with Flash Fiction Challenges with me.

“Fiction In A Flash Challenge” Image Prompt Week #8. Join in, have fun and let the creative muse loose. @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Carla & Limpy the Lion

from Limpy the Lion’s perspective

Oh, no, here we go again. Mind you, I don’t like green eggs and ham for breakfast either. If my mom raised emus, well I’d eat the emus, not the stupid eggs. They’re so gooey. Give me a nice firm bird any day.

Like I said, my mom would have never let me run away. Her claws were pretty sharp back in the day, and she would whack us in the face if we tried anything. Not Carla’s mom, I know it’s not good to gossip, but I’d bet she doesn’t even know that Carla and I are gone. 

I’m quiet, but Carla normally jumps around and screeches at the top of her voice. It’s kind of cute the way she giggles. She wasn’t laughing when she dragged me out here in the middle of breakfast. 

I know she loves me, but I’m getting too old for this. Comfortable in my big window with the warm sun on my tummy, I dreamed about chasing emus and biting their heads off. I could feel my feet twitching. I am so fast and so stealthy. Stupid emus.

But you don’t want to know about me. You’re probably wondering why her mom didn’t notice that we left – again.

It’s those mean moody emus. They take up all her mom’s time. One time one of them bit off my eyes. I think it ate them, but I couldn’t see, so I don’t know for sure. Carla’s mom never offered to put them back on no matter how much Carla cried about it. My crying days were over.

So this morning, Carla comes down for breakfast really excited because her mom had promised to bring some doughnuts home when she came back from her big date last night. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Pans and dishes clattered and banged in the kitchen. I know doughnuts don’t make a peep, so I hoped they were sitting in a box somewhere close by. Carla’s mom dropped the plate really hard on the table. 

“Get in here Carla.”

Carla dragged me by my back leg and tossed me onto the bay window ledge.

She plopped into the chair. It barely made a thud when she kicked the table leg.

“Mom, do I have to eat emu eggs again? You promised.”

“Charles and I didn’t make it to the doughnut store, Carla. Eggs are better anyway. Don’t forget to rinse your plate when you’re finished.”

I heard Carla huff. 

Then the door slammed, and I heard those damn birds snorting and grunting. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the pigs had gotten out of their pen down by the barn. 

Boom! Boom!

That the female. She’s the one who ate my eyes. I hate that bird. If I ever get the chance I’m going to scratch her eyes out.

Before I could finish, Carla grabbed me by the shoulder, dragged me across the floor and flung open the door. The screen banged shut against the frame as I got a whiff of freshly mowed grass.  

As she shuffled down the lane, I sniffed and the curl of stale fish stink covers my face. It’s the lake again. She dropped me into a puddle of green algae when we ran away a month ago. When we got back her mom threw me in the trash. Carla dragged me out and put me in the washer. I must have laid in there for three or four days. You lose track of time in a washer.

“Carla, sweetie don’t cry. What’s wrong,” I said in my head.

“Grandma come get us. I want to stay at your house.”

“I’m not grandma, for heaven’s sake, Carla. I’m not a genie.” 

She squeezes me and kisses my face and gets me a little wet, but I don’t say anything.

We have to get in the big truck for hours to get to her grandma’s. Usually when Carla runs away we stay in the hideout that Zack, her big brother built when he was about twelve and her dad was still alive.  

Suddenly Carla’s hold on me loosens. A quad rumbles along the dirt path. 

“Zackie!” 

He picks us both up and we ride for a long time. The wind almost takes the stuffing out of me. Once, it blew me out of the quad, and Zack had to go back and pick me up. He listens to Carla. Thank God. 

I smell doughnuts on her breath.

********

Check out other flash fiction entries on Suzana’s site. Do me a favor and tell her I sent you, would you?

Related Posts

The Beauty of Sky Lines

Everyone has a picture of the sky. What do you do with them besides keep them in a file? Here’s an idea – share them in a photo challenge.

This week Terry Webster Schrandt chose #sky as her theme for #Sunday Stills today, July 12, 2020.

sunrise over the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Sunset over the Sierra Nevada foothills

Apple says I have 11, 744 pictures with sky in them. Murky, dusty, dull gray, hailing, rain, foggy skies, sunrises, sunsets, one-sixteenth of a pixel or a whole photo. The photo app did not differentiate between skies. It’s up to me (a human) to choose. Yay! I feel so validated!

Underground Gardens looking up through a lattice
a web-shaped skylight covering. Trees and vines grew from inside the caves up through the skylights.

If you go to Fresno, California, you must stop at the Underground Gardens. One talented man dug his amazing underground home and garden from hardpan. This is one view in a central area of the home. It’s not covered. Rain comes in, but it soaks into the hard ground and doesn’t enter the living area of the underground home.

They don’t give tours in the winter. It’s a cool 55 degrees in the middle of 108 summer temperatures, so it makes a great respite from the heat.

view of propeller from inside the plane as we flew
Prop plane

I seldom fly in a prop plane, but for a while we had service from Visalia, CA to Ontario, CA. It took about an hour to fly the distance which was much more comfortable and less expensive than a four-hour drive through Los Angeles traffic. Little did I expect this beautiful view.

Outside of Kettleman City

This picture doesn’t even look like it has a real sky. Traveling from Visalia to the Central Valley Coast, you transverse a rolling desert with lines and lines of cars all going or coming back from the coast. One either side of the two-lane highway you could be in the middle of nowhere. Only one truck driving on a side road marred this view. Most of the time the sky is a cloudless dusty blue but this was one day in a million.

wind machine in orange grove
Stairway to heaven in an orange grove near Woodlake, CA

I hope you enjoyed my Sunday Stills. Watch for Terri’s interview coming on Tuesday as #3 in the series on Challenges.

Related Post

15 Rosy Ways of Looking at Perspective