Brainstorming Day & Contest


Have you ever heard the expression, “wherever God closes a door He opens a window?”  How ’bout the stories and references to the flexibility of the willow tree?  Point here is, that I’m taking a break from the website work I’ve been doing for the past week, and moving in another direction–back to my roots in writing.

Here is a fun exercise:

Go through your old photographs and find one, or part of one, that has nothing familiar to you.  Use it as a jump off point for a story.

I like taking snapshots. I say “snapshots” because I’m not in any way a photographer. Mostly I use my camera (yes, the real, old-fashioned, I-only-take-pictures, device I hang around my neck) to snap places and people I find interesting.  Shh! Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t even ask permission for such a daring adventure.

Picture of a House In Littleton

What around you inspires a story?

A summer or two ago, I wandered the streets of Littleton in search of places I might use for sketches as part of my watercolor painting hobby.  I found this interesting looking house.  This morning, I’m using it for a short inspiration.  Perhaps you want to play with me?  You can use my photo. Go ahead. It’s fun.

Just in case your server doesn’t translate this photo well (it looked so much better in my iPhoto file!), this is a small green house whose back door looks over an empty lot. A weathered fence separates the viewer from the house and lot and there are wire frames mid-ground for what I think may have been canvas slung chairs at one time.

Okay.  That was just the facts.  Now, let’s play with story.  Who lives in that house?  Why are we interested in them? What’s about to happen that will grab people’s interest?

What if . . .

  • Someone in the house saw you taking this picture?
  • You heard an explosive sound coming from that direction?
  • A little boy wandered out into the vacant lot…with a heavy load in a black bag… and started digging as if he intended to bury that loaded bag?
  • A young woman in the vacant lot started picking up and pitching pebbles at the windows?

Now It’s Your Turn

Take the questions and one of the what-if scenarios from above to write a story, no more than 100 words. Did I tell you Pike’s Peak is sponsoring a flash fiction contest?  Go for it! You can do this.

I’m going to piggy back on Pike’s Peak, but focus on the “flash” part of the fiction.  Write a  100-word story (yes, I’ll use WordPress to check out the word count) based on the photo above.  Be the first to send it to me and I’ll do two things with it:

  1. I will publish it on my blog — hey, you could be discovered as the next O. Henry.
  2. I will send you an ARC (advanced reader copy) of “Sliced Vegetarian.”

Just write and submit using my contact page.  My mailbox keeps track of when something is sent to me.  If you are the first person to submit that 100-word thriller (or romance, mystery, fantasy or whatever your heart desires) I’ll be popping a copy in the mail to you.  This is my way of saying “thanks” to everyone who’s been following this blog for so long.

Other chances to win an ARC . . .

I’m working with someone who knows how to work in Goodreads, so I believe there will be a chance to win a copy of Sliced Veggie there within the next few months.  I also hope to figure out ways to get copies to loyal friends in my late spring newsletter (sometime in April, May, or June).  If you’d like to have a chance at that, or are interested in being on my mailing list, please let me know.

Meanwhile, although temperatures in Littleton remain chilly, the sun has come out again for a few days, and all is well.  Wishing you all a happy week ahead.

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