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Day 13: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

These posts are designed to work with The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. If you haven’t bought your copy yet, get it here and join us for the free October Journaling Adventure!

We have a few celebrity novelists in today’s video: New York Times Bestselling author (for multiple books) Jaquelyn Mitchard (watch for her new book The Good Son: A Novel coming out in December!), Global Read Aloud winner and multi-award winning author Padma Venkatraman whose novel, The Bridge Home, won over 50 awards (“Gorgeous Storytelling” – The New York Times Book Review) and Kristin Bair O’Keefe, author of Agatha Arch is Afraid of Everything, PEOPLE Magazine’s “Best New Book, 2020” among new writers to discover!

Of course, you may prefer to respond to the prompt, “A stranger knocks. What happens next?” before you watch the video or read my excerpt. Start by listing 5 possible next lines. Which one inspires (or scares) you the most? Write from that one!

My own dream-like response to this prompt surprised me. I run out the back door!

The stranger pursues me.

Finally, I’m cornered at a chain link fence. Here’s my excerpt:

I hear his rapid breathing, then his heartbeat, feel his breath on the back of my neck.

Still, I face the fence, eyes closed, my own breath shallow, stomach clenched.

“You Lisa?” he asks.

“Why?” I open my eyes but do not turn toward him.

“I got your mail. By Accident. I live next door.”

I turn then, mesmerized by his blue blue eyes. I don’t hear what he says. I’m lost in his gaze.

The stranger hands me my mail—two letter sized envelopes and a thick 8×10 package.

My taxes.

I knew I should have run away.

Your Turn to Journal

The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

I hope you had as much fun with this prompt as I did!

What ideas came up? Which did you choose?

In the comments, share an excerpt or just a first sentence.

Or share what surprised you about the experience.

How have you been enjoying the October Journaling Adventure? Are you able to journal every day (or close to it)? If not, what do you think you need to commit more deeply? What’s missing? Do you need to use the planning page to schedule specific times? Put your journal in a different place so you see it daily?

If you’re journaling daily, share what’s helping you be consistent. Your insights may help others!

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Deborah Louth says

    Day 13 – A Stranger Knocks – Prompt – I yell, “No Ones Home”.

    I hear an insistent knock on my front door sounding like the repetitive beat of a woodpecker’s drilling drone. The staccato rat-a-tat-tats break through my reverie, bringing me back from an active imagination journey I am having with my guides. “No one’s home”, I yell through the door”! Barrels of laughter cascade through my space from behind the door, as the voice booms a reply, “I am answering your call”. Do you not have any regard for what it took for me to get here, at your request, no less”? “Who are you”, I quietly ask? “I am your Future Self”! I peek behind the curtain at the window, but can’t see anyone. I courageously open the door and come face to face with an exalted version of myself from the future. We lock eyes and I telepathically feel a bounty of love spill from our combined heart space, filling me with new insights. “I am answering your request to assist you with writing your book, since I have already written it. Here is where we shall begin, “Once a day and sometimes more, I will knock upon your daydream door – you will answer come right in, it’s good to be with you once again”. I smile my approval and poof, my image disappears.

      • Mary Ann Liberati says

        Deborah, I loved that close encounter with your muse and I think even when your muse is out of sight she’s not out of your mind!

        A stranger knocks at my door
        It was late afternoon on the last day of October when I open my door to a stunning Brenda Starr kind of redhead with sparkling green eyes and curves in all the right places before me. She is wearing an exquisitely tailored black wool knee length dress with a matching finely topstitched cape and calf hugging black suede boots with a chunky heel in the latest style. She carries a soft caramel leather satchel over her right shoulder. She flashes a lightning white smile from glossy scarlet lips,”Hi there, I’m your new neighbor Sam Goodwich. I just flew in from Enchantment, New Mexico and bought the new house at 77 Celestial Drive. When I get settled in, I’d love to have you over for a steaming bowl of my special pumpkin soup. She winks and reveals that “the secret recipe has been handed down over the years and uses exotic spices.” Wow! And I thought it was just another Amazon Prime delivery man or a brown shirted UPS guy knocking at my door! I say, “Hi Sam and welcome to our little Salem neighborhood! There are lots of good hearted people and friendly, well behaved dogs around here.” Sam says,” I’m rather partial to cats, I hope that will be okay.” I meet her eyes and nod, “Of course it’s okay!” Sam smiles conspiratorially and changes the subject, “The neighborhood looks so picture perfect- almost Stepford Wives-ish! There must be some little quirks behind this glossy facade. Is there anything that goes on here that I should know about?” I am at a loss for words as this isn’t the usual repartee with a new neighbor. I think for a moment. “Well, truth be told we have a wicked mice infestation here – I think it’s because of our deep, dark woods that surround our houses.” Sam says the lovely forest is one of the things that attracted her to this area. Her eyes lift up to the sky and she filches a little brown stick out of her leather satchel which she waves back and forth. She hums a fiddly dee and a fiddly doe, then opens the folds of her cape and out pop two beautiful, fluffy balls the color of inky midnight. First I hear a low deep purring and then beguiling slow meows. Sam says, “Meet Blackie and Madge, my sweet kittens.” “ Those are interesting names! Can I ?” I stammer, “Hold them?” Sam says their fur reminded her of black magic and she wanted to give them fun names and places the kittens in my arms. I fall hopelessly under their spell- so delighted by their tiny whiskers, fluffy tails, tiny paws and green eyes just like Sam’s. Sam asks, “Would you be a lifesaver and keep an eye on them while I take my leave for a few hours- I need to get busy with my broom and tidy up my new place?” I say, “Of course, you can-I am happy to help you.” I shut my door and Sam disappeared down the road. Blackie and Madge romped and skittered exploring every inch of my colonial house floor by floor-even the dusty basement. I kept up with their frisky antics as long as I could and then I fell into a sound sleep in my favorite recliner near the TV. When I awoke the full moon was shining in through my windows and the kittens were no where to be found. Oh no- my panic rising, where could they be? I searched high and low. I opened my front door and looked from left to right calling their names. Strains of Conga music pierced the dark night from way down the street. I squinted for a better look at the orange sherbet moon in the dark sky and I think I saw the silhouette of a woman with a straw broom leading a line of tiny dancers. Behind her were two kittens swaying left and right on their hind paws and behind them thousands of squeaky gray mice with their hands in the air hips rocking to the steady beat in perfect rhythm. It was the very last time I saw a mouse in Salem. It has been over fifty years since that extraordinary day but when I see a harvest moon I remember Blackie and Madge and the legions of mice, swaying and line dancing to who knows where while a glamourous redheaded pied piper with a broom sings down a harvest moon. And I think there’s always more about good neighbors than meets the eye!

  2. Maureen says

    Three great responses, and each one totally different!

    Mine begins:
    The doorbell rang at 10AM. The curtains weren’t hung yet, so it was easy to peek out from the nursery window. Crap! Three immaculately dressed women were standing at the front door. One held a potted plant, one a plate of brownies, and the third a bottle of wine. I looked down at my spit-up stained nightgown and cringed….

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