Week 53 of Odd Prompts

I was tempted to just make this week one. And perhaps it should be. However, it’s a symbolic representation of how this year has gone on, and on, and on…

Behold! Your prompts. See you next year!

Cedar Sandersonno one leaves the Brownies milk any more. What has become of the House Spirits?Leigh Kimmel
Fiona Grey“There are goblins in the garbage again.”Becky Jones
AC YoungPerhaps asking the vet to give the pet unicorn a check-up was a bad idea.nother Mike
nother MikeThe elf under the pine tree had glow-in-the-dark pink hair, fluorescent green and purple camo tights and vest, and gleaming silver boots. She looked at us, sneered, and said, “I am true punk. Want to make something of it?”Cedar Sanderson
Leigh KimmelA plumbing fixture suddenly stops working. On inspection, it turns out the cutoff valve has been turned off, but everyone denies having done so.Fiona Grey
Becky JonesYou got everything you wanted for Christmas and then some…AC Young

As always, we don’t believe in commitment ’round here. I mean, we do. But we are Odds, after all. If you don’t want to issue an old-fashioned prompt challenge, you can still play along at your own pace in your own way… we get that. That’s why there are always Spares.

SpareWhat happens when the grypon’s torch goes out? And what happens when you’re the one to relight it?
SpareHis parachute opened, but then he made the critical mistake of wondering what else could go wrong while still airborne.
SpareThe camouflage was pink, frilly, and covered in glitter.
Spare“Ooo, popsicle octopus on a stick!” she said happily.
SpareOn New Year’s Day an annoying neighbour puts a card through your letterbox saying ‘Welcome to another Odd Year!
SpareNestled in Pandora’s box was a small alien baby…
SpareAs the choir began their chorus, the lead baritone lifted his head, and his eyes closed, and he crashed to the stage…

And now, for the audience participation portion of this post:

  1. Do we continue the prompts in 2021?
  2. Do we maintain the prompt challenge format?
  3. If not to either of those, what do you suggest instead?

Feel free to comment and suggest and we look forward to what this coming year brings us!



  1. 1. Please continue the prompts. I would like to start playing again soon.
    2. Prompt challenges are cool, but maybe have an opt in/opt out option? “I want a specific challenge” vs. “I want to be able to choose what inspires me.”


    • That is supposed to be how the spares work. You can send in a prompt, but if you don’t feel like a challenge, put ‘spare’ in the subject line. Then that week you can pick from the spares, if one lights a spark, and work with that instead of an assigned prompt from the challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Let’s keep the balls bouncing! Yes, more prompts. Yes, the challenge format (and spares) seems to work pretty well. Might add in the rerun prompts that I started playing with? Also, I think we should let people know that if you don’t finish in a week, you can finish later… just give us the prompt when you finally put up your masterpiece? Although that weekly soft line does kind of keep things perking along… hum, do we need some kind of audience vote on the best of the month or something? Hum… did that muddy the waters sufficiently? Mostly, yes, let’s keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of my projects for 2021 is going to be going through the stuff that I started in response to one or another week’s writing challenge and actually get them finished and put into a publishable state. But I definitely want to continue doing the weekly writing prompts. Quite honestly, there were some times in this past year when writing challenges were the only things that actually kept me writing, rather than just spinning my wheels.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It took nearly the entire year for me to finish week six (47 is still lingering). And I’ve written on my own prompt submissions some weeks, too, just for the practice or because I got an idea. Some weeks haven’t been great stories, but it got done – the accountability was huge for me, and getting over stage fright.

      This year, I’d like to get prompts more integrated with some bigger stories that I have plotted out (when it makes sense).

      As far as the anthology goes, I’m pulling my hair out trying to figure out what direction to go in. Aaah! Anyone have any suggestions or advice?


  3. On a different, but related, track: has anyone picked their story (ies) for the anthology.

    I’m leaning towards Special Delivery, just cause I had so much fun writing it.
    Maybe Messengers if there is room.


    • I’ve pulled several, some of which need to be completed, having been started in response to prompts earlier in the year but never finished. I definitely want to include “A Moment of Magic,” and there are several others, depending on how big of an anthology we want to create.

      I also got a neat idea — how about following each story with a brief essay about how we went from prompt to story, especially if there were some initial false starts that we abandoned. I think it would be a great way to show how writing isn’t always a linear progression, and often one shouldn’t go with the first idea that comes to mind, since it’s apt to be obvious, or cliche, or otherwise done to death. So we give readers the prompt, the story, and how the story came to being.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Continue.

    Recycle (or catalog on their own page?) the (unused) spares? I’ve submitted several and NONE have have been picked up. Once, the *image* was picked over them. Gets a mite depressing, it does.


  5. My blog’s a mess, (that’s another new year resolution!) so I’m posting this here:

    The camouflage was pink, frilly, and covered in glitter, but he knew no embarrassment. He’d worn a waiter’s uniform, black tie, and even dance tights in the course of his job. Pink ruffles were nothing, considering the stakes, which outshone even national security.

    His prey in this operation was exceptionally wary and clever. But she was busy serving smarties tea to a court of fairy unicorns.

    Stealthily, he raised his camera, which was decorated with puffy rainbow stickers. But the light from a ruffled lamp caught the lens, and it flashed. The glorious pink princess who ruled over her court of fairy unicorns caught sight of him and her wrath knew no bounds.

    A shriek.

    Daaaaddddyyy! I told you, no pictures.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My second prompt this week was from Becky Jones: You got everything you wanted for Christmas and then some…

    My first thought was that what you wanted had a sting in the tail. This led to the following speech:

    “I expect that you hear this every year, but it is a great honour to be invited to be the guest speaker at this conference.

    “My story is probably a variant on ones that you’ve heard many times before, but since I have to speak on something relevant here it is.

    “I had wanted a tabber ever since I can remember. For the benefit of those who are new to this august institution a tabber is a magical-hybrid of a domestic cat and a tiger of the Siberian wastes, magic being used to ensure that the resultant creature is small enough to be domesticated, and very affectionate.

    “As I was saying I had wanted a tabber for years. I had had a succession of toy versions, but I wanted the real thing. In the run-up to every birthday and Christmas I badgered my parents, and finally, on the Christmas when I was twelve they gave in. My present from them that year was an envelope, in the envelope was a piece of paper telling me to look outside, and there it was! A tabber kitten, the stripes a mixture of white, browns and reds, was awaiting me in its travelling cage, delivered only that morning. That one present made it the best Christmas I had ever had! I refused to open any more presents until I’d brought the young thing inside and cuddled up with it on the sofa.

    “I think I can hear a few giggles in the audience. Anyone here familiar with tabbers can guess what happened next. Yes, within a few days the warmth of the house had had its effect: the kitten started shedding its long winter coat. The hairs went everywhere! After a couple of attempts to vacuum them up – resulting in clogging of the machine – I was tasked with collecting them all up with a dustpan and brush, or bare hands if need be. I was not happy about this. I can recall a few arguments, but as my parents put it: The kitten was mine, and it was my job to clear up after it.

    “That wasn’t my only job. I had to feed the little thing every morning and every evening. Less pleasant was the requirement that I clear up after it had defecated in the litter box. But at the end of the day I got to spend hours cuddling up to my tabber, and for that time I was very happy.

    “Come New Year and I got another shock. When my siblings got raises in their pocket money, mine stayed as it was. I was not impressed. In fact I was extremely upset at the likelihood that I was on the road to being poor for the rest of my life. My parents stood their ground: My tabber needed food, not to mention vet’s bills, and until I was old enough to pay them myself the cost would be partially recouped by my not having any increases in my allowance.

    “They stuck to this resolution. By the time I was sixteen, and old enough to get a part-time job, all of my friends had much more money than I did – but I had a tabber, now a full-grown three-to-four-year-old, and that was better by far!

    “I was the first of my friends to get a part-time job, and no sooner had I done so than I volunteered to pay all of the costs associated with my beloved tabber. I didn’t save much money as a result, but I kept my determination to pay everything, and the evening cuddles were worth it. And yes, it was still my job to tidy up after the shedding of its winter and spring coats.

    “When I got a place at University, my parents and I had a discussion. I couldn’t take a tabber with me to the halls of residence, so they would look after it for me. There was a financial element, but that’s not particularly interesting.

    “The first thing I did at Freshers’ Week was to join the uni’s Tabber Appreciation Society. And I enjoyed the Society immensely. Not only were there talks giving tips on the best way to look after a tabber (I’d made a fair few of the beginner’s mistakes I realised), but I met a young lady who was as fascinated with the creatures as I was.

    “By the end of the three years we were engaged, and no sooner were we married than my tabber and hers moved in with us. We have had a string of tabbers ever since. No sooner have we got over the grief of losing one than we get the next.

    “Those who are familiar with this particular magical-hybrid will know that one of the consequences of the magic used in their breeding is that they are brilliant around babies and children. Each of our lovely children has grown up with tabbers in the house, and when each of them moved out we gave them a tabber as a farewell present – my wife often jokes that it was the best money we ever spent on them as adults.

    “It’s now time for the toast: To the continued good work of the Magical-hybrid Appreciation Society of Europe!”

    [“To MASE!” came the response from the conference attendees.]

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like it! I was thinking of the hidden sting as well. I once asked for a radio for Christmas…and my dad gave me a Heath kit and a soldering iron. I got a radio…but I had to build it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • And it’s very tasty! Drat, wait a minute, it’s Wednesday, isn’t it? And I haven’t done my weekly writing! EEEK!


  7. AC Jones prompted

    Perhaps asking the vet to give the pet unicorn a check-up was a bad idea.

    Let’s see. The odd prompt this week was… ah, asking the vet to give the pet unicorn a check up wasn’t a good idea? Hum… I have a piece somewhere about the Hollywood vet, working with made to order pets. But this could be the other way around, letting the vet be surprised by a unicorn.

    Let’s see. Genetic mod unicorn? Surprising the vet with a unicorn. Oh, what if the child believes that this is a unicorn, and the vet insists on disabusing her of the falsehood? Or, what if the vet turns out to need the belief? Hum… lots of possible directions to go with this… Okay, let’s give one of them a shot…

    A Unicorn in the Back 40? (550 words)
    By Mike Barker

    Helen shook her head. The Wendel family insisted that she come out to their farm to check out their new family pet? Well… they were regular customers, with their rabbits, cats, dogs, and all the other pets. And she did enjoy visiting their farm. It was well kept, even the chickens got cleaned up nicely and fed. So…

    She enjoyed driving out to their farm. The cows in the fields, corn towering in another field, sun shining nice and warm over all. The kind of afternoon when you think you can almost hear the world humming at peace with itself.

    Then she turned into their drive. It was winding, with a nice little grove of trees, and she almost felt as if she was somehow driving out of the everyday world into another one.

    The barn sat on the right side of the parking space, their farmhouse, an old whitewashed rambling house on the left. That left them a space in the middle that was fenced in. As soon as she parked, two kids ran out of the house.

    “Oh, you’re here! Great! Fred really needs a checkup, because mom says we can only keep him if you say it’s okay.”

    Helen laughed.

    “Okay. So… where is this Fred? And where did you find him? You’ve had skunks, even that weasel, and your mom isn’t sure about this one? What, did you find a snake?”

    The kids laughed.

    “No, Fred isn’t a snake. Come on, he’s in the barn.”

    She followed them into the barn. And stopped dead in her tracks, looking at what was standing in the stall, posed in a beam of sunlight slanting down from the hayloft overhead.

    Shining white, like a young pony, with… a silver horn thrusting up. The mane over the horn curled nicely around its base. It blinked big, blue eyes at her.

    She finally got her voice working again.

    “That… That’s a unicorn.”

    Both of the kids nodded. The unicorn nodded.

    The boy said, “That’s Fred.”

    She started laughing.

    (There’s a little bit more at https://mbarker.dreamwidth.org/237548.html but I’ll warn you now, it is far from finished! Drat, coming back from a week of vacation, I don’t seem to really be getting things done, somehow…)

    Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks! A bit rushed, but… as you say, there’s so much more to tell! I was trying to keep it light and fun, so I’m glad that worked…


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