Guest author: Trent P. McDonald ~ Of Prompts, Novellas and Books

In case you haven’t heard, I’m releasing a book of two fantasy novellas on May 21! Both of the novellas, Towards the Light and The Mad Quest, were written in response to Sue’s #writephoto prompts.

I’m sure you are all aware of Sue’s #writephoto challenge.  No?  Well, I’ll talk about them, just in case…  The prompts are in two parts.  The first part of the prompt is one of Sue’s photos. These are typically of the English countryside, occasionally of ancient or medieval sites and rarely of more modern settings. Besides the photo, Sue also gives a key word. She allows a very free interpretation of how we participants want to respond to the prompts. Many write poems. Others stories. One even does visual art! Some use one prompt, some the other and one or two just riff off of the idea of the prompts.  You’ve all seen and read them, right?

My typical response to the challenge is to write a story so that the photo can act as an illustration. I use the key word as the title, so the entire story must somehow relate to that theme. I then try to incorporate the key word as often as possible. If there are multiple meanings to the word, I try to sneak the word in with as many different meanings as I can. I then use another definition of the word “prompt” and write the story “promptly”, in one take, nonstop typing from beginning to end. I will sometimes have a 1000-plus-word story posted on my blog little more than a half of an hour after first seeing the prompt. If you have never timed your writing, believe me, that is fast.

So what does that have to do with the book I’m releasing?


As I said, these two stories were based on Sue’s prompts for her #writephoto challenges. Each chapter was written in response to a new prompt. I tried not to think or plan the story from week to week, I went into each prompt fresh. Stupidly enough, I also never reread any of the chapters after they were posted, except to go back and copy names and other words that I needed to repeat chapter to chapter (proofing I found I didn’t do that quite enough  😉 ). I really wanted the new chapter to be as spontaneous as possible. I also tried to post each new chapter as quickly as possible, so I wrote them almost stream of conscious style, looking at the prompt and then writing nonstop until I had a new chapter.

OK, by the time I got close to the end of each story I had ideas of where I was going and tried to use the prompts to head in my direction, but there were some surprises that I had to find a way to work in.  Yes, Sue would occasionally sneak in a photo so totally off of my story that I had to get creative to find some way to get it in!

It sounds like a mess in the making, doesn’t it?

Truthfully, when I sat down to create a first draft out of the chapters that were written for the challenges, I was surprised at how well everything fit together. There was a true flow from chapter to chapter, so much so that I ended up with about 1/3 of the number of chapters in The Mad Quest that I had started with, and even combined a few chapters in Towards the Light. They just flowed together so well, they meshed up perfectly.

It is fun to try to figure out the original key word as I read through. I have done enough editing that the repetition is no longer as strong, but it is still there.

Of course, since the roots of modern fantasy go back to the English countryside (Tolkien is ultra-English!), Sue’s prompts often take me in the direction of fantasy, though not necessarily back to England. Throughout both stories I made little winks and nods to some of the classic, and even not so classic, Fantasy stories that have come before. If you read them, you’ll soon discover that I didn’t take myself too seriously with these two stories and was often a bit tongue in cheek. OK, I was often very tongue in cheek, with some straight-faced humor and a few twists and turns along the way.

Here is a little bit about the stories:

In what should have been a normal day, Brandon finds himself down the rabbit hole and into a new reality where he is captured by Dwarves, gets involved in “Elemental Politics” and finds himself in a race to save the worlds – yes worlds, six, perhaps seven – and the peoples of those worlds in the tongue-in-cheek Fantasy novella, “Towards the Light”.

(Read more about Brandon at Trent’s World)

Lorounce, a “not only is the glass half empty, but the longer we talk about it, the more that evaporates” kind of guy, is on a reconnaissance mission with his childhood friend and secret crush, Merla, to enter the stronghold of the evil Lord of Darkness.  The mission soon spins off on an adventure to try to rescue the prince, find and confront the dragon to secure the magic sword and then raise an army to defeat the evil one with said magic sword all while being chased not only by the minions of the evil one, including a pack of magical wolves, but their own people as well. Whew.  It is totally impossible, mad even, but with some unexpected help and a few twists along the way, maybe they could pull it off, this adventure called “The Mad Quest”.

“Towards the Light” and “The Mad Quest” are two fast paced, farcical Fantasy novellas.  With visible winks and nods to the great Fantasy works that came before, but with a few unexpected twists, these two stories are light-hearted valentines to those classic works of the past; love notes but with pokes in the ribs and “bunny-ears” behind the head fun.

The book with these novellas will be released on the 21st of May, 2019.  If you want to make sure you have it in hand on the 21st, You can preorder a Kindle edition from the links below.

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Amazon Canada  Amazon France  Amazon Australia

If you don’t see your country’s Amazon, search for it or ask me and I’ll get a link.

Find and follow Trent

Trent’s World Blog    Amazon author page    Twitter@trentpmcd

trentAbout the author

I never decided what I wanted to do when I grew up. I compose and play music, draw and paint, take a lot of pictures, and yes, I write. I’ve written a couple of books that are sitting on my shelf waiting to go out and I write a new short story almost every week, which I often post on my blog, I’ve collected some of the best short stories I’ve written and put them out as “Seasons of Imagination”.

I also like to eat, so I work as a computer nerd during the day while I figure out what it is I really want to do.

If you really need details, I was born and raised in Ohio by the shore of beautiful Lake Erie and now split my time between mountainous New Hampshire and the coast of Massachusetts.

One thing to know about me is that I hate to write bio-blurbs in the third person.

Find Trent’s books on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle

The Fireborn

In the shadowy area where myth and history collide, an unlikely hero is forced to save the world from an ancient Celtic curse. Dr. Elliot Everett-Jones knows that shadowy area well, having spent most of his life exploring its dimensions as given by a host of unreliable sources and imaginative speculation. Some would say he daydreams over the improbable plots of second-rate Romantic era authors. These fantasies, however, come to life after the discovery of the Cauldron of the Dead. When the Cauldron produces the evil fireborn, Elliot is forced to confront an army of these mythic undead with nothing but his obscure knowledge and the hope of finding the legendary Lady of the Lake to give him Author’s sword. Even more frightening is the idea that he might have to confront his ex-wife, Eleanor. “The Fireborn” is part joyful romp through history, myth and legend, and part fast paced adventure set in modern England and New York. The entire book, though, revolves around Elliot’s relationships with a large variety of characters. These relationships form the key that may unlock the mystery or lead to utter defeat.

Amazon US    Amazon UK

seasons-final-jpg-72dpi-469x750Trent P. McDonald’s Seasons of Imagination contains an eclectic mix of stories covering many places, times and even different genre, yet they all hold one thing in common, they are all about people.  Be they silly, serious or speculative, all of the stories are about us.  What makes us tick?  Why do we say the things we do?  Why do we react as we do?

So whether it seems the stories are exploring outer or inner space, in reality they’re always exploring the human space.

Here is an invitation to open the page and come with me to explore the Seasons of Imagination

Amazon US   Amazon UK

The Halley Branch

An evil 300 years in the making.  A trap set 150 years in the past.

The day should have been a normal “family day” at the Hawkins’ Mausoleum, but a premonition followed Trevor into the crypt. To make matters worse, he couldn’t shake his morning vision of a dead woman draped in a funeral-shroud.

After rescuing a girl trapped in the tomb, repressed memories forced him to reevaluate everything. Was his extended family a cult with roots going back to America’s colonial past?  Was the evil Benjamin Halley still stalking his tomb after 150 years? Was there any truth to the Power described by the family’s patriarch, Miles Hawkins?

Trevor realized that he was being manipulated and drawn into a trap set in the 19th century, and feared that everyone around him had already been ensnared.  Who could he trust?  The members of his own family’s Branch, The Bradford’s, like his cousins Bill or Stan?  Perhaps members of the Hawkins Branch, such as the beautiful but jaded Amelie?  The one Branch he knew not to trust was the extinct Halley Branch.

But the Halley’s were the ones who were welcoming him with open, if dead, arms.

Available via Amazon

Buy your copy of the Halley Branch in Paperback :US   UK   FR   IT   DE

…or for Kindle: US   UK   FR   IT   DE   CA   AU   IN

Tell me a story!

If you are a writer, artist or photographer…If you have a poem, story or memoirs to share… If you have a book to promote, a character to introduce, an exhibition or event to publicise… If you have advice for writers, artists or bloggers…

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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15 Responses to Guest author: Trent P. McDonald ~ Of Prompts, Novellas and Books

  1. trentpmcd says:

    Thanks for having me back for a guest post!


  2. trentpmcd says:

    Reblogged this on Trent's World (the Blog) and commented:
    I did a guest post over on Sue Vincent’s blog. Check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on your upcoming release! Sue must be thrilled her prompts guided your story structure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How interesting, Trent. I am also writing a story around prompts but only to the extent they fit in. I will skip a prompt if it doesn’t inspire me. I plan to fill in all the bits and pieces when I actually sit down to write this story.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve watched Trent use the prompts for his stories, but it was great to get the behind-the-scenes workings of the process and how it stretches him at times. A wonderful storyteller. Thanks for the post, Trent and Sue. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 2 people

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