Saturday Story Starter

One of my favorite books when I was growing up was Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays. If you haven’t read it yet, you simply must. MUST. It’s the first in a four-book “quartet” about the Melendy family, and in this one, the four siblings (who live in New York) battle weekend boredom by pooling their allowances so that each Saturday, one of them can have an adventure. Lots of surprises and much hilarity ensues…

Since moving back to New England, my husband and I have started our own Saturday adventure club. We’ve had fun checking out new breakfast spots (we’re big fans of diners), visiting historic sites and museums, and exploring nooks and crannies in and around Boston that we didn’t have a chance to explore last time we lived here (*cough* twenty-five years ago *cough*). Often a hike is involved, and the day almost always ends with ice cream (we’re big fans of ice cream, too — especially if it’s homemade or from a farmstand). We’re enjoying this new tradition immensely, and I’ll look forward to sharing tales of some of our adventures in the future!

Today, though, it’s time for a Story Starter. I’m picking a photo from last weekend’s adventure for this week’s inspiration. Isn’t this a gorgeous gate?

crane-estate-gate

For this month’s story starter, tell us about this gate. Is it keeping someone in, or someone or something out? Where is the gate? Is it at a castle, perhaps, or an elegant country home, or just a simple cottage that belongs to an expert blacksmith, or someplace else entirely? Who is looking through this gate? What is he or she looking at? Are they happy or sad? There are endless possibilities — you decide, you set the scene, you tell us a story.

Ready, set, WRITE!

For those of you who haven’t participated before, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). This is the kind of homework I imagine research paper service workers doing when the feel rusty. There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and click here and click here and click here and click here and here and click here and here and click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content…)

 

Saturday Story Starter

Look where I was earlier this week!

Kimball Farm ice cream 2016

Seriously the best ice cream ever.

So this month’s story starter is simple:  write about ice cream!  Your favorite flavor, your favorite place to buy it (or maybe you prefer to make it?), your favorite time of year to eat it, your favorite ice cream memory — or perhaps something entirely different, but it has to involve ice cream in some way…

(And in case you’re wondering, the flavor in my cup is Coffee Turtle  — mmmmmmmmmmm!)

Ready, set, WRITE!

For those of you who haven’t participated before, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and click here and click here and click here and here and click here and here and click here and hereand here and here and here and here and here and here andhere and here and here to browse to your heart’s content…)

Saturday Story Starter

Well hellooooooo there!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have a really REALLY good excuse, though — we’ve been in the middle of a move. A BIG move. An all-the-way-across-the-country-from-Oregon-to-Boston kind of move! Things are still pretty topsy-turvy around here, but we’re starting to feel settled. It’s really fun to be back on home turf (I grew up in New Hampshire and the Boston area), and I’m especially loving the snow!

On the book front, MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CAMP is in the pipeline and ready to go. Look for it on bookshelves near you May 3rd. Wheee! This is the 7th and final (I know I said that last time but really truly final) book in the series. Click here to read a sneak peek. And fear not, although it’s the last hurrah for my book club girls, there’s more fun ahead for you with a book that will be out in early 2017 — YOURS TRULY, the sequel to ABSOLUTELY TRULY. I’m putting the finishing touches on that this spring.

What do you say we dive into a little Saturday Story Starter? I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold and snowy weekend (at least it’s cold and snowy here in Boston).

For those of you who haven’t participated before, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). I rewrite my essay a lot but lately I’ve been lacking inspiration so I started this. There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and click here and here and click here and here and click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Let’s get started, shall we?

Snow day in Boston

Ah, pink tulips and snow. Two of my favorite things! And even better together!

But what are they doing here? Who brought them? Who are they for? And what’s the story behind the tulips and the snowy winter scene we glimpse through the window? You’re the writer, so it’s your decision. Set the scene for us, and tell us a story…

Ready, set, WRITE!

Saturday Story Starter

It’s July!

How did THAT happen? I swear it was spring just a moment ago…

Apologies for the slump in story starters. I have been busy writing writing writing. I’m just about finished with copy edits on MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CAMP, which means I’ll be posting a sneak preview soon, and I’m also knee deep in cooking up more fun for Truly and her friends in YOURS TRULY, a new Pumpkin Falls mystery.

But now it’s YOUR turn to write!

For those of you who haven’t participated before, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and here and click here and here and click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Let’s get started, shall we?

Space Needle

Many of you will know exactly what this is. For others, though, it may be completely unfamiliar. For the purposes of our story starter, if you DO know what this is, please suspend your disbelief (click here to find out what that means) for a moment, and pretend that you don’t.

So what the heck IS this, then? An alien space ship, perhaps? A futuristic tower for Rapunzel? Or something else altogether? You’re the writer, so it’s your decision. Set the scene for us, and tell us a story…

Ready, set, WRITE!

 

Saturday Story Starter

It’s SPRING!

Glorious SPRING!

So let’s write about … SPRING!

Spring

It’s so beautiful outside here in the Pacific Northwest that I could barely pull myself back indoors to get this Saturday Story Starter going.

For those of you who haven’t participated before, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and click here and here and click here and here and here and here and here and here andhereand here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

So, back to this month’s story starter …

Spring

I spotted these gorgeous blossoms on my walk today, and couldn’t resist sharing them with you (click on the photo to enlarge the image). They speak to me of spring. So does soft rain, and the sound of frogs, and green shoots bursting from the earth. The world smells differently in the springtime, fresh and new and filled with promise.

What speaks to you of spring?

Brainstorm a list. Now, take that list and turn it into something to delight us. A poem, perhaps, if you’re so inclined (not me–I am SO not a poet!). A description. A fake weather report. A conversation between two friends on a walk, noticing the world around them. Or perhaps your list will spark something entirely different–a story, a scene, something magical or humorous, who knows? Let the words take you in whatever direction they will.

Ready, set, WRITE!

Saturday Story Starter

It’s February already!  How did that happen!?

And it’s the first Saturday, which means it’s time for a story starter. I have a yummy one (ahem) for you today…

First of all, for those of you who haven’t participated before, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Ready for this month’s assignment?

Burger & Fries

See? I told you it was yummy.

Tell us what’s going on here. Clearly, someone’s about to have lunch. Maybe you want to describe the food itself (and make us all hungry in the process). Or maybe you’re more interested in the person about to tuck into it. Who are they? Why are they sitting alone? Is this their favorite meal, or just what was convenient? Are they on the road, or at school, or taking a break from work? Are they hoping someone will come sit with them?

You get the idea. Tell us a story….

Ready, set, WRITE!

Saturday Story Starter

Time to officially kick off the new year … with a story starter!

And do I have a fun one for you.

First of all, for those of you who haven’t participated before, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). It’s also a chance to see what others are doing and you might learn to use a word to page converter through someone else’s recommendations. Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

I know some of you are curious about last month’s inspiration (click here to see it). The alphabet chair is located outside a fabulous bookstore on Cape Cod: Eight Cousins Books in Falmouth, Massachusetts. If you ever stop by, take a picture of yourself in the chair and send it to me, and I’ll post it here on my blog, OK?

And now a drumroll, please, for this month’s inspiration …

Bentley

Is this puppy the cutest little fluffball ever or what?!

Tell us about this dog. Does he or she have a name? Does he or she have an owner? Where does he or she live? What’s his or her story?

Ready, set, WRITE!

Saturday Story Starter

I’m on the road at the moment (click here to find out where), but spotted something yesterday that I thought would make a fun story starter!

As those of you who have participated before know, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Onward to this month’s inspiration!

Alphabet Chair

This is a chair. An alphabet chair. (Some of you may know the location — shhhhh! — don’t give it away yet!) A very cleverly designed alphabet chair, with items that start with each letter incorporated into the design:

abc

See?  Animals for “A,” buttons for “B,” and so on. By the way, if you click on these pictures, they should enlarge for you.

Tell us about this chair. Did it just appear out of thin air one day, or did someone hire an artist to make it? Who would that someone be, and why would they want an alphabet chair? Or maybe you’re more interested in the maker, the one who designed and created it. Who would that someone be, and why would they be inspired to make an alphabet chair? Is it an ordinary chair, or an extraordinary chair? Does it have magical properties? If so, what are they?

There are so many fun directions you can go with this one….

Ready, set, WRITE!

 

Saturday Story Starter

October snuck up on me!  I guess I’d better post a story starter before it completely zips by….

As those of you who have participated before know, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, on the computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Before we get started, I need to let you know the location of the “magical staircase” which was the inspiration for last month’s story starter. Remember this picture?

Magical Staircase

I LOVED all the stories it prompted!  And yes, it’s a real place. It’s called the Mosaic Steps, or the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project. Next time you’re in San Francisco, head over to 1700 16th Avenue between Noriega Street and Moraga Street. Click here for more information and pictures. And here’s a cool YouTube video as well, which gives you a sense of how completely awesome these stairs are. I want them in my backyard.

Now, on to this month’s story starter. Here’s our inspiration:

Doll under a rug

Yeah, I know.

It’s a little weird.

What can I say?  It’s getting close to Halloween!

Tell us a story. Paint a scene. Make us laugh or give us the shivers. How did this doll get there? Or is it a doll? What is it doing? Who put it there? Or did it get there all by itself….

Ready, set, WRITE!

 

 

Saturday Story Starter

Can you believe it’s August already?  Summer is slipping away….

But not before one more Story Starter!

As those of you who have participated before know, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Before we get started, though, I left you hanging last month with another picture that I promised had a story to go along with it. Here’s the picture:

Mistake House May 2014

And here’s the story:

Many moons ago, I was a student at Principia College. Principia is located in a breathtaking spot, high up on the limestone bluffs of Elsah, Illinois, overlooking the Mississippi River. The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark, thanks to Bernard Maybeck, the celebrated American architect who designed it. (Click here if you’d like to watch a short video showing some of his buildings at Principia College.)

Maybeck called the project his “favorite child,” and he designed the campus to look like an English village. (Swoon! Perfect place for Anglophile me!) This little building in the picture above is known as the “Mistake House,” and it was a sample building, enabling him to try out the various materials and techniques he would use in constructing the rest of the campus.

And it was here in the Mistake House that everything changed for me overnight.

I was an English major, set on becoming the next Jane Austen. It was spring quarter my senior year. I needed one more credit to graduate. As I was flipping through the course catalog trying to decide what to take, I spotted a class called “Children’s Literature.” I thought, “That’s sounds fun–and easy.” (Did I mention it was spring? Or that I had senioritis, and was eager to coast through to graduation and the “real life” that beckoned beyond?)

I duly signed up for the class, and on the appointed day I walked through the door of the Mistake House, where it was held. Can you imagine a more perfect setting for a course on children’s books? The teacher was a former children’s librarian named Marjorie Hamlin. She was and still is a force of nature.  Here’s a picture of her taken not so very long ago on a trip she took to Vietnam, when she was in her 80s:

Marjorie Hamlin on an elephant 2011

Isn’t she wonderful?  She just sparkles with vigor, curiosity, and vibrant life. And that’s what she was like as a teacher, too. Everyone should be privileged to have a teacher and mentor like Margie. She made the world of children’s literature come alive to her students, and it’s because of her class that I decided to write for young readers.

Many decades later, I dedicated THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB to her. Here she is the day I brought her a copy:

Margie Hamlin Closeup

You can see why I love her, can’t you?

And you can see why the Mistake House will always be special to me.

OK, onward to our Story Starter.  Here’s this month’s photo:

Magical Staircase

(If you click on it, the photo should enlarge.)

I came across this fabulous staircase on my travels earlier this year. (Some of you who live in the city where it’s located may recognize it–and even walk up and down it regularly!) It was late afternoon, and the setting sun shone on the small pieces of shimmering tile with which the stair risers are decorated, lighting it up with an ethereal glow. Pure loveliness!

Tell us about this staircase. Tell us its story. Perhaps you want to think about where it goes, and who uses it. Or perhaps you want to look at the makers–the artists who conceived and created this beautiful piece of public art. Or were they artists? Perhaps they were fairies or elves or other creatures who chose to grace this corner of the world with their particular magic…

Ready, set, WRITE!