The best writers to follow on Twitter – plus a prompt to jump-start your weekend creativity

The Huffington Post has a stirring list up today of the 50 Best Book People to Follow On Twitter. Check it out for writers and book people galore. (Hey, where’s WD?) Each listing also includes a sample tweet—five favorites are below, followed by a prompt. Have an excellent writing weekend! ?

@MargaretAtwood: O, T-pals: I now appear to be a lovable, fuzzy-cardiganed ol’ granny – when did that happen? >:-( (I do have the fuzzy cardigan tho’.)

@doctorow (Cory Doctorow): To my grandmother last night: “Oh no! Forgot to put lamb’s blood on the door!” Her: Puzzlement. In 85 years, she’s never listened to a Seder

@paperhaus (LA Times book blogger Carolyn Kellogg): Sure, Wolf Hall won every big award. But sometimes awards get it wrong: Citizen Kane lost the best picture Oscar to How Green Was My Valley.

@melvillehouse (Melville House Publishing): Just when you thought your understood fiction, they had to go ahead and throw in some science:

@maudnewton (Writer Maud Newton): Jincy Willett’s time-wasting ideas for writers: Don’t miss her Facebook status cross-stitch. (via @Gwenda)

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WRITING PROMPT: He didn’t have time to go to Jared’s


free to take the following prompt home or post your
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your story to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

You’ve just met – but because of what just happened, you’re going to do it. You’re going to propose.

* * *

Also, the new Writer’s Digest University—an excellent hub of writing courses and workshops—has gone live. Check it out at, where you can take part in a free mini course about how to create a salable nonfiction book concept.

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4 thoughts on “The best writers to follow on Twitter – plus a prompt to jump-start your weekend creativity

  1. Martha W

    Zac, irony of ironies here. *grin*

    Mark, very cool journey into steampunk. Great start.


    "I asked you to leave me alone," she said. She ran her gaze around the room, settling briefly on him before skittering back to the man seated in front of her.

    Jimmy listened from where he leaned on the counter, intent on the conversation. The man laughed like he’d just heard the best joke all year. "I’ve told you, Mandy. Without me, you’ve got nobody. Your family won’t even talk to you now."

    The blood drained from her face and she pressed her lips into a thin line. She dropped her head, her shoulders sagged. "You know, Ethan-"

    Not even thinking further than that moment, Jimmy straightened, headed for her. Every morning for months, she came in and ordered the same espresso and muffin. She always looked rushed but this morning she’d dropped in early so he’d had the chance to introduce himself.

    She’d been smiling until this guy had walked in the door.

    He slid into the empty seat next to her, wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Thanks for waiting for me." He lifted his chin in the man’s direction, keeping his attention on her. "Who’s your friend?"

    She stared at him for a minute before shifting closer into his side. She felt good there, he noticed.

    "He’s my ex."

    Jimmy raised an eyebrow. "You haven’t mentioned him before. Everything okay?"

    Ethan’s fist slammed onto the table, sending her coffee splashing onto the saucer. "Who the hell are you?"

    Mandy’s hand slid onto his thigh. She drew a deep breath to reply and he leaned in, brushing a kiss across her cheek. "I’m James."

    Ethan flicked a glance at the jeans and polo shirt Jimmy was wearing and snorted. "What’re you? The janitor?"

    "Ethan." Her reply was sharp and quick.

    Jimmy smoothed his hand up and down her arm, hugged her even tighter. "Janitor? No. I’m the owner. LaVista is mine."

    He felt her heavy stare. It was news to her too.

    "Yeah, whatever. Get lost." Ethan leaned forward. "She doesn’t need you, she’s got me."

    A slight whimper, only loud enough to reach him, escaped her throat. Jimmy gave her a quick squeeze, then another kiss. This one on the corner of her mouth. He hovered there, savoring the taste of coffee on her lips. "Honey, you haven’t told him yet?"

    "N-no." She turned her head slightly, kissed him back. "You tell him. I don’t think he’ll believe me."

    Jimmy leaned his forehead on hers, tilted his head to see Ethan. "This morning in the shower, Mandy agreed to marry me. We’re going tonight to pick out the ring."

    The little inhale next to his ear was the only response she gave to his announcement.

    Ethan jumped to his feet and stormed out of the tiny restaurant, slamming the door on his way.

    Mandy slumped, resting her head on Jimmy’s shoulder. "Thanks for your help."

    "Help?" Jimmy tilted her head up to see her face. He kissed her again. "No, I was just taking out the trash."

  2. Mark James

    Just a note on the prompt I wrote. I would be downright plagarizing if I didn’t mention that I was heavily influenced by Scott Westerfeld’s "Leviathan", a steampunk Young Adult book. I’m very indebted to his writing for my first venture into the world of steampunk.

  3. Mark James

    The MechBeasts were part machine, but at feeding time, I thought the only reason they didn’t eat me was because they weren’t sure if more food would come after I was digested.

    I went to the feed train and filled a silver bucket with organic black goo called Carbo-Fuel. McElephs loved it. The new one already had her segmented trunk poking between her bars.

    “Get your nose back in there, girl,” I said. “I’m not supposed to let you.”

    “Ellie hears you are good to McBeasties,” she said in her smooth trilling voice. “And dinner is smelling so tasty.”

    “Move over Ellie.”

    The McElephant moved back, graceful on her six Mech feet, and let me pour the Carbo-Fuel into her feeder. I saw her coming from the corner of my eye, and I thought she’d start slurping and splash me all over. But she laid her trunk over my shoulder and waved it slowly back and forth. Ellie’s version of a hug.

    I stroked under her tusks. “Welcome, big girl,” I said.

    When I got to the last cage, the McAnts had spelled out “FEED US OR DIE” on the glass wall of their cage.

    I’d stacked steaks into the pull cart and hauled it down to their cage. “I’ll give you all I got,” I said.


    I opened the feeding tube that was supposed to be locked on their side. A gang of them swarmed up my arm and in seconds they spread strategically over my body.


    I filled the feed tube slowly. “I’ll feed you this, then I’ll call for more. That good?”


    I put in the steaks slow, trying to think. No cell phone. No wireless anything in the McZoo because of the Mechs on the beasts. No way they’d be patient while I walked two miles to Central.

    The ants on the back of my neck had pincers ready to rip out the back of my brain. The ones lower down, between my legs, I didn’t like thinking what they were ready to do.

    Behind me, I heard thrashing and a big crash. Oh my mother’s drawers. Ellie was out of her cage.

    I turned and saw her coming, carrying her feed bucket on her hooked trunk. She stopped in front of the McAnt glass cage. “Let go the human,” she said in her soft voice. “Or Ellie will paint your cage black.”

    She couldn’t really paint, but she could spew her Carbo-Fuel all over the glass front and block out the sun. The McAnts were Solar-Breathers, needed sunlight the way people needed oxygen. She put down the bucket, took up a snout full and showered the cage, making what they feared most, shadows.

    I felt a ripple of vibration over my body, then the ants were crawling down in lines, back toward their cage.

    When the last one was in, I locked it up tight. Inside, the McAnts were fighting over the steaks.

    I ran to Ellie, got down on one knee and said, “Ellie, never thought I’d say this to a girl like you, but, will you marry me?”

    She hugged me with her trunk. “Little human Kuper is being silly,” she said. “I already cherish you, and in time you will learn to cherish me.”

    I stroked her Mech trunk, felt her warmth all around me. Yeah. I guess I would.