Prompt: Corrections – Ones that Worked or Did Not

This weeks prompt was introduced via a story related by one of our members who had been traveling overseas. As she was about to embark on the long return flight home to the US, she sent a short text her family using her smartphone. We’ve likely all experienced doing battle with the auto-correct function while texting on our phones, as it attempts to interpret what it thinks we are trying to say.

In this case she texted her family that the “flight was delayed.” A short while later on the plane she noticed that the auto-correct function had changed her intended text from “flight was delayed” to “wife was cremated.” At this point she no longer had internet access and so was not able to send a correction to her likely bewildered family!

Write about intended or unintended corrections in your life either made or received by you.


Prompt: Where the Road Takes You

This week’s workshop was led by Writers in the Grove member, Paula Parks, and she brought us the following prompt.

Collection of photographs and images of roads, trails, and pathways.

Examine or imagine a collection of photographs of roads, all types of roads, with bridges, train tracks, dirt roads, tree-lined paths, paved back roads, wide well-traveled interstates, all sorts of travel byways and highways. Write on wherever the road takes you.

Tell Me a Story

The following is by Writers in the Grove member, Bev Walker, based upon the prompt, The Roles We Play.

“Why can’t a woman be more,
More like a man?” he said.
“Because then you wouldn’t be here,” says I.

Would I trade having kids,
Watching them grow,
Laugh, learn,
For the hard labor of a
Construction site?
Or sitting in an office all day?

Would I trade the warm scent
Filling my kitchen
As I take loaves of fresh bread
Out of the oven,
For the oil and grease
Of a mechanic, a factory,
Or the dry sterile atmosphere
Of a skyscraper downtown?

Would I like to be an astronaut,
Like Peggy Whitson,
Out there, exploring the stars?

But the time is not,
Nor ever was,
For me to fly to the moon,
Discovery electricity,
Romance in Paris,
Dance across the Great Wall,
Or pet a tiger.
But I can.

I can do whatever anyone
Throughout time has ever done,
Feel what they’ve felt,
See what they’ve seen.

So, show me, storyteller.
Where have you been?
What have you done?
What have you seen?
Tell me a story
So I can go, too.

8 May 2017

Broadening Travel? Well, Depends.

The following is by Writers in the Grove member, Bev Walker.

I’d be much skinnier if I lived in Germany.
Cabbage, sauerkraut and beer are not my thing.
I know why Brits are such avid tea drinkers,
There isn’t a decent cup of coffee in the whole island.
I’m addicted to cheese.
I’d have to find a substitute if I lived in Scandinavia,
(Not that there is such a thing)
Their’s smells like sewage.
But how all those French stay so slim is beyond me.
Chocolate, creams, and pastries!
I gain ten pounds just looking in a bakery window.
Open the door, get a whiff, another ten.
Dare to go inside?
You’re a goner.

Are We There Yet? How Long Does It Take?

Ever wonder how long it takes to travel?

This is more than an answer to “Are we there yet?” It is a challenge that faces ever writer when their character leaves the comfort of home or work and must travel to another location.

If traveling by foot, how long does it take? By car? By bus? By train? What about by horse? The time spend traveling across the same difference changes with the mode of transportation.

The folks behind The Writer’s Handbook found a chart that answers some of these questions if you are considering traveling by horse, sea, foot, or pigeon. This is a great tool to add to your writer’s toolbox.

Another travel time chart to keep in your writer’s toolbox comes from Lapham’s Quarterly.

What about calculating for traffic congestion? It might take you 30 minutes to get to Portland, Oregon, in the middle of the day, and 3 hours to travel the same distance during rush hour. There is much to think about when you take your character traveling.

Here are a few more examples:

  • A healthy person can walk 3-4 miles an hour on flat and even ground (36-48 miles a day possible)
  • A healthy person can walk 1-2 miles an hour on rugged terrain, less if off-trail
  • By horse on roads or trails with level or rolling terrain – 40 miles per day
  • By horse through mountainous terrain on roads or trails – 20 miles per day
  • By horse through hilly grasslands with no roads or trails – 25 miles per day
  • By horse through rugged mountainous terrain with no roads or trails – 10 miles per day
  • By horse during Roman Era on roads or trails with level or rolling terrain – 20 miles per day
  • By horse during Roman Era on level or rolling terrain with no roads or trails – 15 miles per day
  • A wagon can travel 15-25 miles a day depending upon size, horses, path, and load
  • A league is 3 miles, the distance someone could travel in one hour.

Other tools to help you estimate travel times include:

This is just the tip of the travel time iceberg. What about travel by train? By skateboard? By bike? By helicopter? By skiing? By air balloon?

It’s your imagination traveling with your character. Add their travel type and estimates to your writer’s toolbox as a guide to help you estimate travel times.


The following is by Writer’s in the Grove member, Lorelle VanFossen, inspired by Prompt: Three Random Words with Same First Letter and Share. The prompt was to write down three nouns that start with the same letter and have nothing to do with each other, then pass them to your neighbor for the writing prompt. The words were truth, trouble, and transition.

She stood at the crossroads of her life as well as the intersection of Hindspitter and Fredricksville Roads, next to her car, a boring, blue Mazda like millions of other broken down, boring blue Mazdas on the road over the past twenty years, ignoring the steam hissing from its tightly clenched jaws. She chewed a broken thumbnail, the result of five minutes trying to force open those jaws to inspect the damage. It remained closed, as did her options for rescue.

Her cell phone gave up contact with civilization about 5 miles ago. Sarah stood in the middle of nowhereville rural Oregon, on the eastside where rain rarely visits. The old junker barely made it over the pass and couldn’t cope with the rising morning temperatures, and neither could she. She gave up on the thumb and ran a sleeve across her forehead. It didn’t help.

With no car in sight, the truth was life looked as bleak as these roads. She had 20 minutes to either magically repair her car or get rescued to make her job interview in Fredricksville. This was a long way to come for a job, but there were few options left closer to Portland. Fifty-six job interviews in six months since losing her high school teaching gig, it must be a world record. Job hunting was expensive. With no wand or wizard in sight, she could hear even more money sliding down the hole in her already empty wallet. Damn car.

A vulture swept down and landed on the Hindspitter street sign and hissed at her.

“Wait your turn, buddy,” she glared at him. “I still got some fight left.” She leaned back against the overheated vehicle and closed her eyes against the relentless sun, considering her lack of options.

Who names a street Hindspitter? Was there a family who owned this hunk of desert, or some unfortunate who died along the wagon road, his name forever immortalized with a blue road sign? Hindspitter. Imagine introducing yourself. “Hi, I’m one of the Hindspitters.”

The car hiccuped and spat a new burst of steam out the front grill.

She sighed and replied, “Wrong end.”