What is Storystorm?

STORYSTORM is the brain child of Tara Lazar, a children’s book author and mentor whose blog Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) is a source of information and showcase of personality. In Tara’s words:

The Storystorm challenge is to create 30 story ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.

You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your idea-generating senses. Ideas may build upon other ideas. Your list of potential stories will grow stronger as the days pass. Eventually, you will have a list of ideas to flesh out into concepts, premises and manuscripts in the coming year.

On this blog, daily posts by authors, illustrators, editors and other publishing professionals will help inspire you. By the end of the month, you’ll have a fat file of ideas to spark new stories.

Tara Lazar

This year, STORYSTORM inspired me to start a new journal in which I’m collecting ideas. Some may turn into stories and some may not, but one of the takeaways from this year’s authors and illustrators is to see where your creativity takes you. I’m up for the challenge!

I create with clay, yarn, fabric and, of course, ingredients. I imagine worlds with words.

Hon, where does creativity take you?

Ceramics: Two-Year Tea Set

Teaset glazed in nutmeg and slate.
I had no idea that a tea set project would take two years!

Wheel throwing a tea set was a challenging project for many reasons. Who knew that centering and opening a ball of clay that could fit in the palm of your hands would be so hard?! In my attempt to create tea cups, it looks weeks to get six, relatively similar sizes. Some were too thin and some were too lopsided–so many throw-aways!

Then there was the teapot itself. This proved so challenging that almost all of us students needed hands-on help from our instructor (Shout out to Beatrice!) She patiently taught us how to form a vessel and spout, a lid and, much harder than it looks, a handle.

After the tea cups and tea pot were made, what about a tray? My first attempt cracked in the kiln, and that’s where the project stalled. I didn’t want to glaze the pieces until I’d made them all so, discouraged, I put the them away. I waited and waited until I was ready to hand-build another tray. Two years later, this summer, I did.

The tea pot set saga is a metaphor for my writing, though working through the disappointments and successes of pottery feels completely different. In Ceramics, I’m more interested in the process than the product. When working on a manuscript, I enjoy the process, but have a specific goal in mind–to bring my characters and stories to life.

Whereas, the clay ignites my imagination…my imagination ignites the stories.

Hon, happy creating and imagining and working and persevering.

All You Shining Stars, A Poem

Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Farm-themed b-day party.

Teddy, Hannah and Morgan at their elementary school.

Triplets plus one.

I read “All You Shining Stars” by Christian Wiman in the December 23, 2019 issue of The New Yorker, and the poem was illuminated by my four shining stars.

All You Shining Stars 

Three kinds of hair in the brush one love

has left on the kitchen counter.

Four kinds of cries when it occurs as one

to blow off school and go to the mountains.

And later, over the river, when the upturned duck

never turns over, five kinds of silence.

 

Always our elsewheres are also here,

like tributaries so intuitive they seem

almost incidentally literal, tiny trickles

in wildernesses too immense to enter,

the cold clefts and the drastic drops.

cliffs of unthinkable ice.

 

Three kinds of sleep in the hum home

down the dark valley back to New Haven.

Four kinds of dreams behind the headlights,

the world springing into being ten feet at a time.

Five kinds of time when one love wakes up

and wonders where we are, and one wonder

wakes up another, and another, and another.

Dog, Cat, Mouse–Caught!

The Immobile Mouse!

The temperature was dropping, the water in the bowl had turned into a block of ice, and Midnight-the-Barn-Cat was looking skinnier than usual despite being fed twice a day. So, just like in my post “Cat and Mouse and Chipmunk,” I played cat and mouse–I became the cat and the cat became the mouse. Caught!

Outside, Midnight wants to be seen and acknowledged, but not picked up and pet. He’s like a tiny jaguar:  prowling, pouncing, hiding and hunting. He’s a very good hunter! Inside, Midnight turns into a mush, lifting his chin for scratches, cuddling contentedly on my lap, and squeaking when he’s had enough. Purr and squeak!

Insert the mouse.

Living in an historic house, you get used to mice in the winter and insects year-round. Good thing I’m not afraid of little animals and won’t kill a spider. If the lifespan of a field mouse is a few years, then the mouse in our house should get a world record because it’s been wintering here for about eight years. When Lucy spots the mouse, she does nothing! Her nonchalance says, “Oh, it’s you again. Please, help yourself to my food,” which is why I thought bringing Midnight inside would accomplish two things:  he’d warm up and the mouse would high-tail it out of here. Wrong!

I started composing a poem in my head about the dog, cat, mouse situation. I got as far as “Dog peeks, cat squeaks, and mouse sneaks.” “Can’t resist” and “coexist” were floating around along with “warm house” and “cheeky mouse,” but then…

there was the mouse being watched over by Midnight! Caught!

Upon inspection, I couldn’t tell if the mouse was immobile because it was in shock or because it had internal injuries. There were no bite marks or scratches. My guess? Midnight thought it was a toy. Then again, he is a good hunter. I picked up the mouse, warmed it, pet it, talked to it–eyes so shiny eyes and paws so tiny–and set it free outside. Poor thing! 

I thought the mouse matter was put to rest, but then…

…A DIFFERENT mouse was rooting around in Lucy’s food bowl!

“Midnight? Where are you!”

Style Essentials For Every Season, Published In Elegant Lifestyles Magazine

The November issue of Elegant Lifestyles Magazine is out!

While I was doing research on classic clothes, guess what I found? Clothes that were designed for British and French militaries which became popular when soldiers returned home. Truly functional to fashionable! Camouflage is certainly a print that’s worn by U.S. soldiers and also stocked in stores. The most interesting info was how men’s watches transformed from pocket watches to wristwatches (future post for sure).

Cat and Mouse and Chipmunk

 

When I’m the cat and the cat’s the mouse!

The only time I can get Midnight in the house is when I play cat and mouse with him! One of the times (there have been several) he toyed with a fledgling, I left a door open, he wandered inside and blam! I shut the door, trapping him inside. This way, when I returned the baby bird to the brush under its nest, it had a fighting chance. Hon, don’t cry, “Poor Midnight” since the cat has a dog-free zone filled with a comfy bed, scratching post, a couch, and lots of cuddles and kisses. Now, if only Midnight would get the message…

Staring Contest

The staring contest between Lucy in Midnight is funny! I love the pics above, which show them concentrating, but with roles reversed. Lucy has accepted Midnight, chasing all other cats off the property. Isn’t that nice of her? Now, if only Midnight would get the message…

This has not been a good summer for small animals!

It seems like every few days, we come across a deceased bird or small animal! What the heck is going on?! I don’t think it’s all Midnight’s doing. I wrote this tribute to one of those sad creatures.

Chipmunk Eulogy

Chipmunk would no longer chat,

Scurry like an acrobatic,

Or stand on base or be at bat.

Sad to say, he was laid out flat,

Thin and gone and, oh no, splat!

I wiped a tear and tipped my hat

Checked my car.

Did I do that?

Couldn’t be.

I blame the cat!

Unfinished Business

Needlepoint canvases, knit infinity scarves and market bag.

I’m a WOABOPP!

Do you finish one book before starting another? Clean one room before heading to the next? Eat dinner before dessert? Apparently, I’m the opposite of all that. I was picking out yarn for patterns and also looking at needlepoint canvases when someone in the yarn shop looked over her glasses and said, “You’re a work-on-abunch-of-projects-person.” Is that a bad thing?

It’s not just knitting and needlepoint. I work on several writing projects at a time:  one manuscript might be up for review by my critique group; one manuscript might be in its infancy; one manuscript might be ready to query. And, of course, I like adding new posts to Bmore Energy.

I wasn’t always like this.  Then I had triplets! If this was one of my picture book manuscripts and I had to identify the moment when the change occurred, it would have to be the day all three triplets shared a bassinet together for the first time.

Baby B left the hospital at 10 days, Baby C was released at 12 days, and Baby A stayed in the NICU for 6 1/2 weeks. When Baby C came home, she was on a completely different feeding schedule than her siblings, and the first two babies weren’t thrilled about the new face. (The sisters could not be placed next to each other! Think head to toe.)

Three babies who needed to eat eight times a day meant preparing twenty-four bottles while doing constant laundry while changing countless diapers. Dinner for me and Hubby? Lots of pasta. Gifts? Piled up unopened for a long time. Sleep? Very little. There was no learning curve–it was a lion’s den!

I wasn’t multi-tasking; I was MEGA-tasking!

So, to the person who called me a WOABOPP…yes, yes I am. And I’m off to revise a manuscript, pick up a kid, try a new recipe, finish knitting a market bag, read one book, listen to another, bathe the dog…

Which camp do you fall in? One-Project-Person or WOABOPP!?

No judgement, hon!

Show and Tell: Something’s Fishy

IMG_6548

 

Remember the book What Color is Your Parachute? 

Back when I was wondering what the heck I was doing as a department store manager that included a) a divisional marketing manager who gleefully chose one of us to humiliate daily, b) being in charge of two multi-million dollar departments on two floors with two buyers and two staffs without an assistant, c) no time to eat, and d) hair falling out in clumps, I decided to re-look at my priorities. Not only did I read What Color is Your Parachute?, I took a career-assessment test at New York University. There was one glaring characteristic missing in my life–creativity! Hon, I should have known.

I recently came across one of my very first picture books complete with illustrations and an author photo in which I’m missing my front teeth. I wrapped some of my books in plastic wrap so they’d look like they came from the library. Cute!

I also came across songs I wrote. I’d play around on the piano and then plot the notes in a music book.

When my parents said they wouldn’t buy me a dollhouse, I made my own out of cardboard. (It actually had a couple of floors!) When I wanted a summer dress, Pappagallo handbags with changeable covers, and an Esprit drawstring bag, I sewed my own.

I learned how to needlepoint, embroider, and knit when I was elementary-school-age. Another creative outlet opened up, and I designed my own canvases and wrote my own patterns.

My first jobs, aside from babysitting and being a camp counselor, were working in stores. I liked retail, but especially merchandising the selling floor and doing the windows.

So, when I left that miserable, weight-loss-inducing department store job, I started my own business. A couple of years later, I became pregnant with triplets. That was the end of the business and time to re-assessment priorities again.

Back to the magic of children’s books, which I was trying to create as a ten year-old. Guess what? I’m still trying.

Needlepoint pillows I made for two sweet sisters. I added the coral to the fishy scenes. Real life fishy scenes from the Mystic Aquarium.