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Casper by Gwen Kirby

It made me want to come back for more stories from this anthology…

The Reading Room is a log of my “writer-as-reader” reactions to the short stories I’m reading now.

The author captures the voice and interior voice of teenage girls really well. In this story three teens are working at a store that resells items from lost baggage — the major industry in their town (!).

These girls don’t work at the most popular lost bagagge store, the one that draws all the visitors. Their is a down-market, knock-off version of it.

Each girl has her own place in the social pecking order, her own dreams for the future, and all this unspools quite naturally.

Interestingly, Kirby ignores the common wisdom that a story has to have a strong point-of-view character and that shifts in perspective must be clearly offset; that an omniscient narrator is a no-no….and it works. I’m going to have to go back and read this again to see why.

OPENING LINES


Kirby is a master of pulling me into the story.

“The girls of the Unclaimed Baggage Dept—Greenleaf, Alabama’s second-best and only other unclaimed baggage story– found Casper in a lime green suitcase.”

Look at the details!! It’s not just a store, it’s the “Unclaimed Baggage Depot–Greenleaf, Alabama’s second best and only other unclaimed baggage store.” It’s not just a suitcase, it’s a lime green suitcase.

We don’t know what or who Casper is. We have to keep reading.

Imagine if this read

“One Monday morning in summer, the girls who worked at an unclaimed baggage store found a [SPOILER ALERT] taxidermized albino wallaby in a suitcase.”

Still an intriguing premise, but ho-hum execution. You’ll have to work MUCH harder to get me to keep reading.

THE MIDDLE

We zig zag between the girls’ hopes and dreams as they first figure out what to do with Casper and deal with the consequences of their actions.

Each scene builds up a stronger picture the girls, individually, and in relation to each other and their town.

CLIMAX AND RESOLUTION

….was a bit unexpected and I’m not sure how I feel about it. My favorite way to feel about a short story!

THE ENDING

Takes us solidly into the perspective of the girl who is most active in the climax, and gives us a really interesting perspective to chew on (from her point of view; her reaction to events) as we close the book or turn the page. I wouldn’t call it a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ ending, but I was satisfied.

It made me want to come back for more stories from this anthology…but not yet. I want to savor this one for a moment.

Find this story in Sh*t Cassandra Saw by Gwen Kirby

An Interview with Mary Robinette Kowal about writing “The Spare Man” – Part 1

Join us as we talk about writing, cocktails and the art of writing what you don’t know…

Murder! Cocktails! Adorable service dogs!

Award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal comes to the StoryADay podcast to discuss her new novel The Spare Man and the art of writing books you’d actually want to read. Don’t miss it!

Listen to the Audio

Watch the video

Watch video with full transcript here

LINKS:

LINKS
MaryRobinette.com
Mary Robinette Kowal’s Patreon
My Favorite Bit (10 best Fantine curses) 

More Writing Help

StoryADay Short Story Framework

Download the free Short Story Framework and write today, not ‘some day’. Go from ‘idea’ to ‘the end’ without getting lost along the way!

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Weekly writing prompts and lessons in your inbox, every Wednesday with the StoryAWeek Newsletter

StoryaDay 3-Day Challenge

Take the 3-Day Challenge and write three short stories this weekend!

SWAGr for December 2022

It’s that time again: time to make your commitments to your writing for the coming month. Join us!

Welcome to the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group!

Post your goals for this month and let us know how you got on with last month’s goals.

Serious Writers' Accountability Group

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Finish first draft of story and write 3 articles for my school paper. – Courtney
  • Write on seven days this month – Clare
  • Extend my reading and to read with a ‘writers eye’- Wendy
  • write 10,000 words – Mary Lou

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends!)

It’s Annual Review Time!

Don’t be afraid!

it’s that time of year when you’re supposed to make goals, but how to do it without getting bored, scared, disappointed or terrified? I have some thoughts…

Listen to the Audio

LINKS:

Never miss an episode: Subscribe to the Podcast

Link to this episode: https://storyaday.org/episode272

Join the discussion in the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group (SWAGr)

Need something to help you get closer to your purpose while setting or assessing your goals?

Get the Annual Planning Bundle

Read the accompanying article

Get writing prompts and lessons in your inbox every week with the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Annual Planning Bundle

Download the Annual Planning Bundle and always know your next, smallest step as you chase your writing goals.

6 Weeks of Creativity

With six weeks left in the year, you may be looking to do a big push or you may want to chill. I have one tip that will make either of those options (or something in the middle) work.

Also in this episode, some updates on my Tidy Desk Challenge and what’s been going on around here at StoryADay recently.

LINKS

Read to write? Watch this peptalk

Want to build a slow, steady practice? What this

Want to finish one project this year? Watch this

Ready to chill? Watch this

Ready to write today, not “some day”?

Goals are Disruptive

This simple phrase changed everything for me, this week.

This was a massive (and kinda obvious) disruption to my thought processes this week. It goes deeper than simple fixes, but is much more likely to have a real impact on your writing life…and your quality of life. Enjoy!

Listen to the Audio

Watch the video

LINKS:

Never miss an episode: Subscribe to the Podcast

Link to this episode: https://storyaday.org/episode269

Join the discussion in the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group (SWAGr)

Need something to help you get closer to your purpose while setting or assessing your goals?

Get the Keep Writing Workbook

Get writing prompts and lessons in your inbox every week with the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Download the Keep Writing Workbook and always know your next, smallest step as you chase your writing goals.

Julie’s Current Favorite Writing Tools

Books On Writing

Save the Cat Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody

save the cat cover

This one makes the most sense to me of all the books on story structure. Your mileage may vary.

If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland

This book (written in the 1930s) brought about my re-awakening as a writer, and probably still informs all my soap-box rants about your right to write.

Anything by Donald Maass

Writing the Breakout Novel, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, his new stuff…anything. Possibly everything.

Pens & Paper

I know, I know, like you I type faster than I write, but i also find I need to ‘think’ on paper/ When I’m handwriting, I like the pens and paper to be yummy. These are my current faves

Pilot Custom 823

This is a real splurge, but I used mine every day (a lot) for 8 years and never once did it feel scratchy. Because of the plastic barrel you do have to be a little careful not to drop it. Pilot will replace defective pieces, but if you break it, you’ll have to buy replacement parts!

TWSBI

This is a great mid-priced fountain pen that has the same voluminous ink reserve as the Pilot 823, one of my favorite things! I hate having to keep ink on hand or stop writing to refill too often.

Lamy Safari

A great entry-level fountain pen to try out if you’re not sure ink pens are for you. This has a really comfortable grip and you can swap out the nibs, so if one becomes worn or if you fancy a thinner/fatter stroke, you have options. They also come in fun colors. This one uses cartridges or a refillable converter. You’ll have to fill this one more often than the TWSBI or the Pilot, but sometimes that’s the fun of a fountain pen: trying out new inks!

Leuchtturm 1917

After years of mourning my college-staple (the A4 spiral-top notebook, narrow rule), which I couldn’t find in the US, I moved to side-bound spiral notebooks that always annoyed me because i caught my hand on the spiral when writing on the backs of the pages. Plus the paper was pretty thin, especially once I started getting more inky with my pens.

Then I discovered Moleskine notebooks (8.5×5.5″) and was pretty pleased with them, until someone put me on to the Leuchtturm1917.

Not only is A5 in size, which is just that little bit wider, allowing for more words per line, but it comes in all kinds of papers: blank, lined, square-grid and, my new love, dotted. The dots are faint-but-not-too-faint. The paper is creamy. The two (count ’em TWO) ribbons allow me to mark different sections. The pages are numbered and there are pages for an index at the front. It comes with a standard pocket-for-keeping-things-in at the back and labels to put on the front cover and spine, if you’re that way inclined.

Plus, did I mention the pretty colors?

I choose one color scheme for the year ahead and stock up on three or four. They are my one-notebook-to-rule-them-all and I keep everything from shopping lists to meeting notes, journal entries, mind-maps and random calculations in them. Periodically I go through and update the index so I can find things. This works MUCH better for me than trying to have topic-specific notebooks which I inevitably leave somewhere or put somewhere ‘safe’ and never have to hand when it matters.

I create a few blank pages at the start of every month for an overview of what I have coming up and for me to log my daily achievements. I usually get about three months’ out of one notebook.

Washi Tape

A brilliant artist friend told me about this trick: line the edges of important pages in your journal with washi paper. It folds nicely and doesn’t need to stick out, but you can always find the right section of your ntoebook at a glance.

Tabs

Having said that, I also buy these tabs from Ink + Volt and use them too. I only really use the monthly ones (I have a section in each notebook for a daily log.)

I don’t go crazy with the tabs, because if I have to make too many decisions about the ‘right’ place to write something I’ll stall out, but I do like to have the monthly overview easily accessible.

(As I mentioned, I keep the index up to date from time to time, so that I don’t have to make those kinds of decisions every time I open the notebook!)

Planner

I use a lot of digital reminders and calendars, but I love my paper planner. The Ink + Volt Planner has been my best friend since I discovered it in about 2015. I like the way the days are laid out in the week view (morning, afternoon, evening – perfect for someone who knows they need to get to stuff ‘at some point today’ but doesn’t like to be hemmed in by specific time expectations – hey! If I decide to go for a walk at 2pm instead of writing an email, I don’t want my planner judging me).

It also has a lot of journaling prompts (which I rarely use) and goal-setting sections, including a monthly 31-ish-day challenge (which I do tend to use).

It encourages you to set goals for the year, month and week AND to review them weekly. I find this helpful.

Digital Staff

Google Calendar

I use this for scheduling everything from family stuff to writing appointments to workshops and events I have to be at. If my calendar (and phone) aren’t buzzing, I have no sense of the passage of time. I could chastise myself about this or I could learn to accept it and work around it…with digital nagging!

Calendly

Just as I cannot be trusted with times, I cannot be trusted with details or timezones, so I use Calendly to schedule anything that involves another person, like interviews for the podcast or 1:1 calls with the Superstars. It syncs with Zoom and Google Calendar, so all my digital minions can conspire to get me where I need to be, when I need to be there.

Scrivener

It’s an optional extra when it comes to writing, bit if you are interested in going pro, or keeping track of everything you’re writing, Scrivener can be a wonderful tool. I used it for one project and learned just enough to make it useful for that. Then I started asking “I wonder if Scrivener can…”. The answer was almost always ‘yes’. I use it a little less now that I’m working across Mac and PC operating systems, but i probably should bit the bullet and figure that out.

Google Docs

As a ‘work anywhere’ word processor I find Google Docs the way to go. It’s not quite as powerful as Word in some ways, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It’s a lovely, clean interface and I never have to worry about hitting ‘save’.

Timelines

If you’re interested in figuring out how long things take you, I recommend this tracking tool. YOu do have to manually start and stop sessions (if you can’t handle that, you might want something like ‘Rescue Time’ which automatically tracks all your digital pursuits), but I like the fact that I can have multiple sessions running at the same time, so for example, I can see that I’m spending 1 hr in my business (running a writing sprint) but I’m also sneaking in about 3/4hr of fiction writing time.

Trello

These visual boards are useful for planning projects and keeping tasks together. Because most of my work is project based (meaning I might do one tasks every few months, rather than every day) it helps me make checklists every time i do a thing. Then, months later, when I want to do it again, I can go back to Trello and find it!

Here’s a sample board I made to show how an author could plan their social media content

Learning

Learn Scrivener Fast

I love this course. It’s arranged in bite-sized pieces with tons of video delivered by the engaging Mr. Joseph Michael,, Every time I think “I wonder if Scrivener can…” I go here first, to figure it out. Sure, you could use a search engine and comb through years and years of (possibly out of date) free info, but sometimes it’s worth the investment to get well-curated and updated info.

Product Launch Formula

This marketing course might seem like a weird thing to put in a writers’ toolbox, but learning how to sell without feeling sleazy is a really useful life skill as well as an essential career skill, in case you want to make money from your writing. Everything I learned about how to structure an offer, so that people feel invited in to a book, course, or other experience, I learned from Jeff Walker and his Product Launch Formula Coaching team. There are lots of other people teach his methodology now, but I’ve found my home here.

Communicating with My Audience

Website

I use a WordPress site self-hosted and have used site hosts Bluehost and WPEngine. Bluehost iswas a fine starter-host, and WPEngine has better support. I also recommend Elementor and Divi if you want to build custom pages.

Email – Convertkit

I have used Mailchimp in the past, but moved on to Convertkit a number of years ago. I’m pretty happy with them. (They have a free plan for people with fewer than 2,000 subscribers, so it’s a pretty good way to try this out)

It’s important to have you own email list because you don’t ‘own’ any of the followers you’ve gathered on social media. If Facebook or Twitter decide to ban you, how will you get in touch with your fans? Easy, if you’ve invited them on to your email list.

BUT to run an email list properly you should be using a service like Convertkit, that makes it easy for people to opt in AND out of your mailings, and keeps you within the laws on these things (not to mention making your readers not hate you!)

Social Media Scheduling – Later

I do a lot of manual posting but when I want to make sure things go out regularly, I use Later.

Course Platform – Kajabi

For a while I hosted courses on my own website server with a WordPress plug in, but I decided to go with the much more slick and attractive Kajabi, after a few years. It’s pretty over-powered if you aren’t running a course for a lot of people, but for my StoryADay courses it’s a wonderful asset.

Community Chat – Slack

I never wanted to take my community onto somebody else’s platform, so no Facebook groups for me, ever! Slack is like a group-chat/message board on steroids. The free plan is fine, thought it has some limitations. I’m always looking for the next killer app (as we used to say, back in the day…)


That’s a lot, I know. Nobody needs all this stuff. All you need is your imaginations and way to record your stories (either on paper on in someone else’s ears) but since people often ask, I thought I’d make a list. And now I have.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links and I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through them.

What are YOUR favorite tools? Leave a comment!

SWAGr for November 2022

It’s that time again: time to make your commitments to your writing for the coming month. Join us!

Welcome to the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group!

Post your goals for this month and let us know how you got on with last month’s goals.

Serious Writers' Accountability Group

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Finish first draft of story and write 3 articles for my school paper. – Courtney
  • Write on seven days this month – Clare
  • Extend my reading and to read with a ‘writers eye’- Wendy
  • write 10,000 words – Mary Lou

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends!)

What Do You Do in The Pause?

I wrote this story on the blog this week, but in this week’s podcast you get a more complete version, along with some thoughts about what to do if you’re In The Pause

I wrote this story on the blog this week, but in this week’s podcast you get a more complete version, along with some thoughts about what to do if you’re In The Pause

Listen to the Audio

Watch the video

LINKS:

Get the Keep Writing Workbook

Get writing prompts and lessons in your inbox every week with the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Download the Keep Writing Workbook and always know your next, smallest step as you chase your writing goals.

Do you know about ‘The Pause’?

I’m writing this in Rancho Mirage, California. It gets five inches of rain a year, and I think they all fell today…along with a violent windstorm that took down a tree outside my hotel room.

I watched as the maintenance crew arrived, piled out of their truck, then paused to assess the damage.

There was some milling around, some chatting, but at a certain point someone picked up a chainsaw.

Someone called for the wood-chipper.

The pause was over.

Everything was noise and motion and determined action.

If you’re finding it hard to write, perhaps you’re in the pause.

Perhaps the pause is necessary.

storyaday graphic divider

The last few years have been… a lot.

Most people are standing around looking at the damage, not yet capable of formulating a plan for what happens next.

Imagine what might happen if people like us helped lead the recovery.

Imagine what might happen if, while everyone else is trying to put back what’s been broken, storytellers stepped in to clear away the dead wood and shape the landscape of the future.

We need new stories.

Stories that allow people to imagine better futures.

We need stories written by the quiet kids, the overly-sensitive kids, the ones who pause and notice everything.

If you’re not feeling the pull to create right now, get ready.

It’s coming.

And we need you.

Download the Keep Writing Workbook and always know your next, smallest step as you chase your writing goals.

What kind of stories do YOU think the world needs right now? Leave a comment

Preparing for NaNoWriMo?

Everyone you know seems to be preparing for National Novel Writers’ Month. Are you?

I’ve done a few challenges in my time (from StoryADay to NaNoWriMo) and I have some questions for you about how you’re preparing and what you’ll do instead-of/as-well-as outlining to sustain you through the month.

Listen to the Audio

Watch the video

LINKS:

Get the Creative Challenge Workbook

Save The Cat Writes A Novel, Jessica Brody

Dan Wells’s 7-Point Story Structure

Romancing The Beat, Gwen Hayes

(some of these links are Amazon affiliate links, but you should feel free to look for these books wherever you like to buy/borrow books.

Join the Critique Week Waitlist

Get writing prompts and lessons in your inbox every week with the StoryAWeek Newsletter

P. S. Want to read about That Time I Met NaNoWriMo Founder Chris Baty, and how, sometimes, doing a scary thing turns out to be wonderful?

StoryAWeek Resources – Season 1 Week 9

If you’re following along with my StoryAWeek newsletter we’re talking about location this week.

Here are some links to things I talked about in the email.

Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson

All links above are Amazon affiliate links

Who Do You Listen To?

It’s dangerous to allow rejections, acceptances, marketing budgets or any other business-related nonsense to determine your worth as a writer.

So who should you be listening to? In this episode, I have some thoughts…

LINKS
StoryADay Critique Week: https://stada.me/critique

StoryAWeek Newsletter: https://storyaday.org/storyaweek

3-Day Challenge: https://storyaday.org/3dc

 

Ready to write today, not “some day”?

Who Do You Listen To?

In which I tell you what my critique partners said about my latest pages…

Listen to the Audio

Watch now

Watch the video

It’s dangerous to allow rejections, acceptances, marketing budgets or any other business-related nonsense to determine your worth as a writer.

So who should you be listening to? In this episode, I have some thoughts…

LINKS
StoryADay Critique Week: https://stada.me/critique

LINKS:

QR Code for stada.me/critique

Join us in Critique Week

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Get writing prompts and lessons in your inbox every week with the StoryAWeek Newsletter

[Reading Room] The Locked Pod by Malka Older

The Reading Room is a personal log of stories I’ve enjoyed, read through the eyes of a writer. Find more

This story plays really nicely into the idea of the Locked Room Mystery, only it’s an escape pod on a space station, and not just any space station but a cloistered world of intellectuals who have chosen a life of focus, mostly-ignoring the outside concerns of the universe.

The opening line is a doozy:

“When we opened the escape pod, the person inside it was dead.”

The mystery in the story is a classic ‘locked room’ mystery: a seemingly impossible to explain murder, and the solution is excellently suited to the setting of the story. (Well done, that author!).

I think mysteries work best when they misdirect and distract us with a compelling human story and this one certainly does that. We have a cloistered order of intellectuals to explore, one that is suddenly confronted with an outsider, and a dead one at that, AND we have a bit of a family story as the protagonist’s teenaged daughter enters the tale (with all the usual parental issues that come along with living through your child’s teenage years: communication missteps, a growing sense of separation, an acknowledgement that time with them is finite).

This story reminded me of the best of classic sci-fi: Asimov with a bit more character development, Clarke with a bit less tech, Heinlein without the weird sex stuff.

As a mystery AND Sci-fi fan I really enjoyed this brief visit to the words of Malka Older, and look forward to the novel. “The Mimicking of Known Successes” (Tor, 2023)

Said author Malka Older:

“Living through the past year two years five years, I’ve thought a lot about the power of comfort reading, and so I packed this book with elements that bring me joy: a slow-building romance; an atmospherically Holmesian mystery; a storied academic idyll (constructed from reclaimed satellites); long train rides across the bleak landscape of a giant gas planet, and tea in front of the fire on stormy nights. At the same time, I also found myself needing to write about ecosystem loss and communities in conflict between returning to what was normal in the past and forging a new future. It’s the banter-filled, yearning comfort read I needed in my life, and I’m so happy to send it out into the world.”

Tor.com

Find this story in the Sunday Morning Transport newsletter

SWAGr for October 2022

It’s that time again: time to make your commitments to your writing for the coming month. Join us!

Welcome to the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group!

Post your goals for this month and let us know how you got on with last month’s goals.

Serious Writers' Accountability Group

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Finish first draft of story and write 3 articles for my school paper. – Courtney
  • Write on seven days this month – Clare
  • Extend my reading and to read with a ‘writers eye’- Wendy
  • write 10,000 words – Mary Lou

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends!)

Day 30 – Hope

I hope you’ve had a brilliant May! Leave a comment and let me know your hopes for the future.

The Prompt

Write A Story of Hope

You can use this prompt to write about your hopes for your (writing) future or you can write a fictional story that revolves around hope.

The fun thing about playing with hope is that it raises the stakes so very high, and allows for the possibility of some real dark nights of the soul. What does it do to your character when they think all hope is lost? How do they act?

And what does it do to your reader when you whiplash their emotions all over the place and grant your character’s wish, after all?

(Can you tell I’m hoping for happy endings? You should feel free to disappoint me if you’re more of the ‘everybody dies a meaningless death at the end’ type)

Leave a comment letting me know how your month has gone, what you’ve achieved and what you hope that means for the future.

It has been an absolute privilege to spend this time with you creative souls. I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of the year and most of all,

Keep writing,

Julie

Day 29 – Duty

You’ve been writing enough, by now, that I think it’s time to set you free a little bit…

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by the theme: Duty

Write a story that grows out of your thoughts (positive or negative) as you ponder the word ‘duty’.

What does duty mean? To whom does your character owe it? Should they?

Will you write a story of sacrifice and honor or one of rebellion (an honor)?

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer with a strong sense of justice. But that doesn’t mean she’ll do what’s she’s told. Read more about Julie and invite her to talk to your writing group.

Day 28- Tree of Life by Katie Bennett-Davies

The Welsh Government plants a tree for every new child in Wales. Write a story involving one of the trees or forests.

Would you like to join us for a writing sprint this morning? Click here at 10 AM (Eastern US) CHECK YOUR TIME

The Prompt

Since 2008 the Welsh Government has pledged to plant a tree for every new child born or adopted in Wales. Write a story involving one of the trees or forests.

You can read more about the scheme here

You could take this down a supernatural/fantasy root (pun intended).

  • What if the child’s life was linked in some way to the tree, perhaps their life is even linked to that of the tree. What would a parent do to protect the tree and ensure it flourished as it grew?
  • You could write from the point of view of the tree over a long period of time. What does it witness? How does the tree itself change/mature?
  • You could write in the genre of climate change. How does this scheme affect the planet? This could either be from a positive or negative perspective.
  • Or, from a conflict point of view, think about who might not be in favour of this scheme. This could be a developer who wanted to build on the cheap land that the Government is now using for a forest. Or someone in a community who sees farmland being bought up for tree planting and their way of life disappearing. What might someone do to sabotage the forest- arson, breaking the the saplings, etc?

Remember you don’t have to use a traditional style of storytelling. You could write your story as the minutes of a meeting, a newspaper report, a personal letter.

You might not have time to write a long story with all the background info filled in so jump straight into the action. You can always add backstory when it comes to revising.


Katie Bennett-Davies

Katie Bennett-Davies lives in Wales with her husband and cat, Didi. Living with disabilities has allowed her to see the world from a different perspective. She enjoys pottering in the garden and drinking too much coffee.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

bingo 28

Day 27- A Hairy Situation by Michele E. Reisinger

The possibilities are as numerous as … the hairs on a human head.

The Prompt

Rapunzel’s saved her from an enchanted prison. Sampson’s gave him unparalleled strength. Medusa’s was nearly as deadly as her eyes, and in Pope’s mock-epic, Belinda’s drives the Baron to distraction.

Tell a story about a “hairy” situation.

  • Imagine a comedy of errors between a novice hairdresser and their demanding client.
  • A mystery in which a lock provides the only clue … or a portal to another time on another planet on which everyone is bald.
  • How might things change if it were animal hair or peach fuzz or electrified?
  • If sprouted from a museum statue that suddenly came to life?
  • If you gave Medusa’s hair to Belinda or turned Sampson and the Baron into roommates?
  • Maybe plop one or more of them into a completely different genre or setting?
  • You may even have a real-life hair horror story–Now give it to a character who is your complete opposite.

The possibilities are as numerous as … the hairs on a human head.


Michele E. Reisinger

Michele is a writer and educator living in Bucks County, PA, with her family and never enough books. Her short fiction has appeared in Across the Margin, Stories That Need to be Told, Sunspot Literary Journal, Dreamers Creative Writing, and others. Find her online at mereisinger.com.

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Day 26- Like a Wrecking Ball by Brenda Rech

Choose a character to observe this scenario

The Prompt

A wrecking ball is parked in front of a 100-year old building. You are an architect, the wrecking ball operator, or a homeless person? What are your best memories and deepest regrets?


Brenda Rech

Brenda is happily married with two beautiful daughters, three dogs, two cats and a bird named Amy Farrah Fowler. Her flower gardens are forever at the beginner’s stages as she would rather hike with her husband and dogs or explore her writing. Her favorite breakfast is crispy bacon and strawberry jam on white toast. She is currently working on her first novel and has a monthly newsletter ‘Thru the Window’

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

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Day 25- Found In Translation by Carey Marie Shannon

Write a story in which two characters talk different languages

The Prompt

Communication can be one of the greatest challenges of the human race with roughly 7000 spoken languages in the world. Have you ever been in a country where you did not speak the language but needed to find a location or service? Have you ever helped a non-native speaker of the language in your country purchase an item or find the right train? Perhaps the communication resulted in gestures, pointing at an item or drawing pictures to convey a message. Write a story where two characters speak a different language and must communicate for the most part without words. It can be in first person from the point of view of one of the characters. If it helps, draw from your own personal experience(s).


Carey Marie Shannon

Carey Shannon loves to use her writing to make humorous connections between items that may appear completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for a serious Elvis fan and frequent blood donor.
Carey Shannon loves to write about humorous connections between items and subjects in life that may appear to be completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for an Elvis super fan and frequent blood donor. She has been a member of the Story A Day community since 2020 and now hopes to provide some inspiration quirkiness to other writers.

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Soaring

How to soar in your writing life…and as a result, the WHOLE of your life.

Listen to the Audio

Watch now

What do you need to do to help you soar in your writing life? Join me for a Lesson in Creative Thermodynamics!

LINKS:

See the illustration and leave a comment on the Lesson In Creative Thermodynamics

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Day 24- Dancing In The Dark by Robin Stein

Write a story inspired by a song

The Prompt

Listen to Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen and watch the video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=129kuDCQtHs You have few options: 1–Write to the music as you are listening. 2–Dance with the music to get you in the spirit before you write. 3–Use the lyrics to spark your story idea.


Robin Stein

Robin Stein lives and writes memoir, poetry and fiction in Newton, MA. She finds inspiration in music and dance. robinsteincreative.org

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Day 23- An Unexpected Journey by Fleet Sparrow

Use this as the first line of your story: “Every journey begins with the tears of kings.”

The Prompt

Use this as the first line of your story: “Every journey begins with the tears of kings.”

This can be taken literally as a story about a tragedy that’s befallen a king, or a searing indictment of the crocodile tears rulers use to start wars; or you can use this as a metaphor: instead of an actual physical journey, maybe it’s a journey of the soul.


Fleet Sparrow

Fleet Sparrow is a queer, genderless writer living in the Los Angeles area who makes zir financial living moving freight and zir creative living writing. Perhaps, one day, the twain shall meet.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

P.S. I haven’t forgotten about the bingo card. If you’re still faithfully filling in your gameboard, snap a picture and send it to me here for a chance to get some real-world mail from me.

Don’t forget, I’ll be reviewing pieces of some of your stories live, tonight at 7 pm Eastern US.

Watch your inbox for a Zoom link about an hour before the call, or you can simply follow along on YouTube

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Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

A Lesson in Creative Thermodynamics

It takes a lot more energy to get off the ground than it does to stay in the air…

My dad joined the Air Training Corps as a teenager because they promised to let him fly a glider. 

(Patriotism? Sure! But also: flying!)

As a kid I thought this sounded very cool. As a grown up (and a mother) my first thought is:

“You want to do what in a plane that has no engine?!”

But there’s a secret to staying in the air in a ‘sailplane’.

The secret is to know that some areas of the ground radiate extra energy in the form of heat. This forces the air upwards.

A skilled pilot in a good glider can find and ‘borrow’ that energy, riding those thermals, to soar for a little longer.

Why should you care about this?

I promise It’s not just me spouting hot air (rim shot!)

As creative people, like glider pilots, we’re always fighting gravity–usually in the form of everyday obligations that demand our time and sap our energy. This is when we can learn something from glider pilots:

Borrow energy to give you a lift.

How do glider pilots find these invisible sources of lift?

It turns out there are clues you can stay alert for.

  • Towns and farms radiate energy in the form of heat that lifts the glider and allows it to soar long after the initial lift.
  • Wetlands and swamps absorb energy, cooling the air and drawing it (and the glider) down.

Wetlands are necessary for continuing life on this planet; but glider pilots need to plan around them, if they want to stay aloft. 

In this metaphor the wetlands are all the parts of our lives that may be essential and beautiful, but don’t support our creativity. (You KNOW the ones I’m talking about.) They’re important. But if you spend all your energy there, you’ll come crashing down.

And it takes a lot more energy to get off the ground than it does to stay in the air.

The Good News

All you need is one good, strong lift to keep your writing life aloft for a while.  

And the more often you chain together those uplifting moments, the longer you get to soar.

You might borrow energy from

  • listening to music you love
  • going to a museum and pondering the work that went into creating those masterpieces;
  • going to the theater or a movie;
  • going for a walk in nature;
  • having a good chat with a friend (bonus points if the friend is pursuing a creative life too);
  • or something else that lifts you up.

What Next?

Live your life.

Do the things you need to do.

But stay alert for opportunities to ride an upward thermal every now and then.

Keep writing,

Julie

What are YOUR creative thermals? What lifts you up and gives you energy? Share in the comments!