A Monday Birthday Dog Day Short & Sweet

Good Morning Everyone!

Guess what day it is?

If you said International Skeptics Day, you’re right, but that’s not what I’m thinking of 🙂

Today is my Brown Dog’s birthday!  She is 7.  That means that she and I will be the same age this year.  (I’ll let you figure the math :))

I think she would enjoy a rousing chorus of

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Stinky (yeah… she rolled in something awful yesterday and in spite of the bath is still a little odoriferous… which makes her very happy… have you noticed a theme here? :))
Happy Birthday to you!!!

And of course I will be making her a cake, so stop by later for a slice 🙂

Speaking of cake, which is sweet, reminds me that we haven’t done a Short & Sweet for a while, and what better time for inspiration than now?

badge created by Loni Edwards

In between navigating my basement by canoe and bailing (oh how do I love thee, unnatural January rain?  Let me count the ways… uh, okay, maybe not :)) I persuaded my old computer to part with this picture of Baby Brown Dog.

In honor of her birthday, let’s think up stories for her to star in :))

You can think up a title, or an opening line, or a one sentence pitch or, if you’re really ambitious, all three!

I’ll go first.

Title: One, Two, Three!  Play With Me!
Opening Line:  One, two, three!  Play with me!  How many puppies do you see?
Pitch: A little brown dog wants to play, eat, play, walk, play, roll, and play some more, counting everything as she goes.

Now it’s your turn 🙂  Miss Brown says thank you in advance – she knows she will love your ideas to turn her into a literary star! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!  And don’t forget to stop by later for a slice of birthday cake (or two :))

Monday Short & Sweet – Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day, Everyone!

I hope you’re all getting to spend the day with family and friends, ushering summer in with all kinds of happiness and fun!

badge created by Loni Edwards

Since I know we’re all busy today, our Short & Sweet will be really short and sweet.

List three words that make you think of either Memorial Day or summer.

Using one or more of your own three words, or someone else’s that are listed in the comments, or some of the samples listed below as inspiration, give us the first sentence or two of a story and/or a one or two sentence idea for a story.

Here are a few sample words you can use for inspiration if you can’t think of any:

red, white, and blue
Old Glory
ice cream
sand pail
sea shell

Here is a sample opening sentence or two:

“Just keep digging,” said Jamie, dumping out another pail of sand.  “We’re almost there!”

Here is a sample idea for a story:

Ari plans a special welcome for his mother returning from active duty in the armed forces.

Now you go!  Don’t over think it – remember, this is supposed to be short and sweet! 🙂  Share your words and your opening and/or story idea.  maybe it will give you a great idea for a story, or maybe someone else’s words, opening sentence or story idea will inspire a great story!

Have fun!  I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

And have a wonderful Memorial Day!

A Special Short And Sweet With Ryan Sias!

Good Morning, Everyone!

I’m sure you’ll all be glad to know that despite my advanced age I’m still able to type 🙂

Thank you so much for all the lovely birthday wishes and cards and special pictures and banners… ooh, in case you didn’t see the banner I’ll put it here!

isn’t this awesome? it even has Phyllis! with chocolate!
banner created by the amazing and talented Julie Rowan-Zoch

Oh!  And a coffee mug warmer from one very astute and thoughtful blog reader (thank you Caroline! :))  I am so lucky to have so many wonderful friends.  You are all so incredibly nice, and you made my birthday very special! 🙂

And now, I have something special for you!

Fun creativity projects for kids!  Click HERE

Ryan Sias

Rian Sias, who has worked in animation for 20 years and is the talented author/illustrator of Go Greenie! Are You Eating Something Red?, Balloon Toons: Zoe And Robot, Let’s Pretend, and Go Greenie! Are You Eating Something Green? (36 Color-And-Learn Placemats) has started a new venture for kids which I think parents and teachers will enjoy knowing about!

Ryan says, “I wanted to let you know about a fun, art education email program I have created called Siasstudios.com.

I love drawing with kids and letting them finish my drawings.  They come up with wild and crazy ideas which make me laugh.  So I started this for all my nieces and nephews who live in other cities, and now have opened it up to the world!

Here’s an example of one of Ryan’s free art projects

My goal with Sias Studios is to foster creative development in children by giving them 100% free weekly art projects that engage their creativity.  The projects have imaginative coloring pages, zany story prompts, unique drawing lessons, and wacky characters.  All of my material is silly and fun, which I believe creates positive art experiences.”

And here is how one child finished it!

You can subscribe to this free, weekly creativity prompt by going HERE.  Sign up and then sit back and let the fun projects roll in!  Sias Studios activities are recommended for ages 4-11, or anyone who wants to have fun 🙂  Here are a few more examples:

Here is another project…

And here is one child’s interpretation 🙂

Here’s a link to a whole page of waffle fun CLICK HERE!
And here is a fun drawing lesson:)
I hope you’ll all take a moment to check out Ryan’s offerings and pass the word along to friends, family, your children’s teachers… anyone you think might be interested!  Ryan has a great sense of what appeals to young artists and his drawings and activities are always fun!
And now, for today’s Short & Sweet, one of Ryan’s prompts!
badge created by the lovely and talented Loni Edwards

Take a look at that fierce viking aboard his dragon boat and write the first sentence (or 3 :)) of a story in the comment section below!
Here’s my example:) 
“Faster! Faster!” cried Shigvid, doing a small jig of rage on his ship’s bow.  “Brunhilda cannot get away with this!”
I hope you’ll all get a chance to hop over to Ryan’s place, and I hope you’ll enjoy the prompt!  I look forward to reading your story openings!  And thank you all again for all the lovely birthday presents and wishes – you are the best! 🙂

Monday Short And Sweet – It’s April!

Wa-hoo!  It’s April!

And about time! 🙂

I hope those of you who celebrate had a happy Easter and are enjoying your sugar coma from all those chocolate eggs and jelly beans!

And speaking of jelly beans, I’d like to report the disturbing news that somehow pink won the poll on Friday.  Apparently the jelly bean connoisseurs didn’t show up to vote or the winner would have been red, black, or at least orange!  Ack!  What desperate times we live in when pink jelly beans can come out on top!

(And before all you devoted pink voters get riled up, I’m just funnin’ you – I like pink too 🙂  They are certainly better than green, purple and white! :))

Talking about jelly beans makes me think of sweet things and that makes me think of Short & Sweet which is so handy because guess what day this is?  Monday Short & Sweet Day!  (And look at this beautiful creation I have just in time – an updated Short & Sweet badge!!! :))

badge created by the incomparable Loni Edwards

It is also April Fools Day.  I was going to suggest that we all write a story about April Fools Day… but then I remembered I already did that 🙂  Plus writing a whole entire story might be a little more like a Long & Agonizing 🙂  So I have a back-up plan.

(It is important to always have a back-up plan.  I think that might be part of the Boy Scout Motto or something – doesn’t it sound like it should be?  Ooh, or maybe the Spy Motto! :))

So ANYway, if you would please stop nattering on about ridiculous mottos!, here shall be our Short & Sweet for Monday April 1, 2013:

Write (in the comment section) a fun (not mean) prank a kid could play for April Fools Day.

Very short.

Very sweet 🙂

The prank might spark a story idea for you… or for someone else who reads it… or someone else’s prank might spark an idea for you!

For example:

Turning the clocks ahead one hour so that the rest of the family thinks they overslept and rushes around like nuts!


An older sibling telling a younger sibling it’s Backwards Day – they have to walk backwards, put their clothes on backwards, eat and drink backwards, etc 🙂

Now you try!

(And I didn’t say it was a GOOD back-up plan! :))

Happy April Fools Day Everyone! 🙂

Monday Short & Sweet AND The In Just Spring Contest Announcement!

Happy Monday of the last week of February, everyone!

I admit it.  With March only days away, I’ve got spring on the brain… even though it’s currently snowing 🙂  I know it’s a little nuts because around here we don’t really get anything like spring ’til about the third week of April, but March is so hopeful, teasing you into thinking that spring is just around the corner, that I can’t seem to help myself 🙂

And in the spirit of turning the house upside down with spring cleaning… or something… I’m going to do everything backwards today.  I’m going to announce the contest first and put the Short & Sweet second.  I know.  The mind reels at this crazy rule-bending rearranging of the norm.  I’m such a rebel 🙂

First, as inspiration for both the contest and today’s Short & Sweet, I will share one of my favorite poems.

in Just-
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

N Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
balloonMan whistles

“in just” was originally published in The Dial Volume LXVIII, Number 5 (May 1920). New York: The Dial Publishing Company, Inc.

Isn’t that wonderful?  I love the idea of “eddieandbill… running from marbles and piracies”, “bettyandisabel…dancing from hopscotch and jump-rope” and who can resist words like “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful”?

So now that you’re in the mood…

 Announcing The In Just Spring Contest!

The Contest:  Write a children’s story, in poetry or prosemaximum 350 words (see how nice I’m being giving you two long word counts in a row for contests?! :))

The story must be about something that really says “SPRING” to you – something that really makes you feel that spring is here!  It can be nature oriented – the robins or geese returning, eggs hatching, flowers blooming, baby animals being born, bears waking up, sunshine or rain, etc.  It can be holiday oriented – St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, April Fools’ Day etc.  It can be school oriented – the spring pageant, spring vacation, the spring talent show.  It can be activity oriented – picnics, bike riding, baseball – anything at all that makes you think spring.

The only other requirement is that the last line must be “[Character Name] knew Spring was really here!” or “[Character Name] knew Spring was here at last!”  (You can also write in first person if you want – e.g. I knew Spring was really here…. and present tense is fine too.)  I’ve given the rhymers amongst you a choice… but if you can’t make either option work with your rhyme scheme you have permission to tweak it slightly as long as the essential meaning stays the same.

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Friday March 15 at 12:01 AM EST and Monday March 18 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official In Just Spring Contest post which will go up on my blog on Friday March 15 (no PPBF that day!) and remain up through Tuesday March 19 (no new post on Monday March 18).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my March 15th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)

The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Wednesday March 20 (no WYRI that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at midnight March 23 and the winner will be announced on Monday March 25.

The Prizes!:  I’m still working on the prize(s).  I’m hoping to have something knock-your-socks-off great to offer… but we’ll see.  Stay tuned 🙂
badge created by the talented Loni Edwards

Now, after all that excitement, for our Short & Sweet today, let’s close our eyes and roll back the years until we’re 5 (or 3 or 7 or 9 – anything under 10 :)).

Now let’s remember that feeling, that first inkling, that Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter has arrived.  What are the tiny details, the little moments, you think of?  The things that are representative of that season to you?
Now, let’s turn those tiny details and little moments into lines – things kids can do – in the style of “eddieandbill come running from marbles and piracies”.  You can share just one for the season of your choosing, or you can share for 2, 3, or all of the seasons if you really want to stretch those writing muscles!  (Or if you’re in a spring-obsessed mood, you can post 4 or 12 or 20 all about spring :))
Here are my examples:
Spring:  annieandjane come soaring, hair streaming, higher and higher into the greengold air
Summer: maddieandmike run laughing from the white-foamed waves that tickle their bare feet
Autumn: harryandgrant come creeping under skeleton trees toward the warm jack-o-lantern light
Winter: johnnyandjade come stomping in snowy boots and wooly mittens for a carrot nose and a licorice smile
This exercise may actually help you get started on your contest story idea!  Who knows?! 🙂
Have a great day, everyone, writing, reading, parenting, teaching, and otherwise! 🙂

Monday Short And Sweet – Saying It Without Saying It

Good Monday, my friends!

After a really long time… seriously, I can’t remember the last day we did this and that is only partly because of the memory lapses due to my advanced age :)… what was I saying?

Just kidding 🙂

It’s a Short & Sweet day!

badge created by Loni Edwards

And today we’re going to play Writer’s Taboo, a fun new game I just made up right this very minute!

Here’s how it works:

For your Short & Sweet you have to describe, in a few sentences, your choice of a setting common to childhood, or a common childhood experience or milestone (don’t worry, there’s a list!) without using the words most commonly associated with it!  And you have to do it well enough that we can guess what it is!

That means you have to crawl out onto the creative limb a bit and stretch your descriptive skills.

As writers, we focus a lot on words – choosing just the right words to say what we want to say.

But sometimes we take the easy way out.  We know, for example, that if we mention Valentine’s Day our readers are instantly going to think of pink and red construction paper hearts, white lace doilies, chocolate candy with red foil wrappers, and those little Conversation Hearts that look and taste like chalk 🙂  So we say it’s Valentine’s Day and leave it at that.  (Okay, I’m oversimplifying a little, but you get the idea :))

The point is, don’t go for the obvious or the easy.  Try for something a little fresher and more interesting.  If you do it well, your reader will feel transported and far more delighted than if you say something the same way it’s been said a thousand times before.

Here are your choices:
(for those of you who like randomness or have trouble making decisions at this hour Monday morning, pick a number between 1 and 15 and go with whatever you get :))

You may not use the words of the thing itself (e.g. birthday and/or party for Birthday Party) or any of the 5 words listed after it in your description.  And I recommend you write your own description before you read the others in the comments – there are only 15 choices so it will be fun to see how alike or different they are but it will be really hard to do if you’ve read someone else’s before you try to do your own.  Just write your description – don’t tell which one you picked or what words you’re avoiding.

1. Birthday Party: cake, present, balloon, candles, guests
2. Losing First Tooth: wiggle, loose, tongue, gap, pillow
3. Playground: swing, slide, sandbox, jungle gym, run
4. Picnic: basket, blanket, ants, lunch, grass
5. Doctor’s Office: nurse, scale, needle, stethoscope, thermometer
6. Fourth Of July: firecrackers, barbecue, parade, bonfire, American flag
7. Getting Dressed Up: tight, itchy, hate, uncomfortable, stiff
8. School: book, teacher, classroom, recess, pencil
9. Tree House: ladder, rope, high, trap door, boards
10. Camp: summer, poison ivy, bunkhouse, swimming, arts & crafts
11. Riding A Bike: learn, wobble, two-wheeler, helmet, training wheels
12. Field Trip: bus, partner, bag lunch, museum, walk
13. Halloween: costume, jack o’lantern, spooky, candy, trick-or-treat
14. Getting A Pet: new, dog, cat, bowl, responsibility
15. Fear Of The Dark: scared, monsters, nightlight, shadows, black

(If anyone has a great idea of an item to add to the list, email me and I’ll add it in so there are more choices – and of course I will credit whoever’s brilliant idea it is!! :))

Here’s an example.  I’ll use an item that is not on the list so as not to ruin any of the 15 on the list for you.

The classroom smells like sugar and worry.  On each desk sits a box, made in art last week.  Ms. Rousseau, the art teacher, said we couldn’t use the usual colors and shapes to decorate – she said we had to think outside the box.  Then she laughed at her own joke.  I painted mine rose (so there, Ms. Rousseau!) and pasted arrows cut out of lacy white doilies all over it, flying every which way, all of them missing the mark.  The boxes have a hole in the top so that kids can drop cards or small candies in.  I sneak a look around the classroom.  Dave Hannigan stuffs a football into the hole on top of his box and looks like he’s getting ready to punt.  Missy O’Haus’s is so full that little folded cards are spilling out the top.  Be Mine, says one with a cherry tootsie pop taped to it.  I’m afraid to pick my box up.  It looks empty.  What if it’s empty?  Whose idea was this dumb February 14th holiday anyway?

Gosh!  It’s surprising how hard it is to talk about something without using the words you most want to! But the idea is that it makes you reach for more – different sights, scents, sounds, tastes, emotions, experiences, and descriptions so you can hopefully come up with details you might not have otherwise.  Can you guess what mine was?  (And I will tell you I avoided the words red, pink, chocolate, heart, love.  Can you hear me sobbing that I wasn’t allowed to mention chocolate?  Oh, the cruelty! :))

I think it’s fun (even if I don’t do it all that well) – but then you know how much I love games and puzzles and this is sort of like that 🙂

I hope you all enjoy trying this!  I can’t wait to read your descriptions and see what you come up with to beat around the bush! 🙂  Remember, don’t tell which one you’re doing or what words you’re avoiding!  And actually, if you’re not up for the full challenge, if you even just want to write a setting/milestone/experience and the 5 things you can’t use to describe it (as I did for the list above), that is helpful too – it gets you thinking about what the most obvious choices are, which is helpful in trying to avoid them!

Looking forward to what you all have to share, whether list items or creative descriptions!

Have a great day, both writing and otherwise! 🙂

Monday Short And Sweet AND The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

I hope you’re ready because boy are we going to have fun today!

badge created by the uber-talented Loni Edwards

First off, we’ll be having birthday cake because we have a birthday in our family today 🙂  Happy Birthday, Justin!  Cake anyone?

Yum!  Now that we’re all supplied with a nutritious breakfast (why do you think I put strawberries on?), we’ll have a Short & Sweet to get our writerly gears turning for a week of exceptional productivity.

For today’s Short & Sweet we’re going super simple:

There’s been some kind of holiday mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster.  Write the newspaper headline (and a couple lines of the article if you like)!

(Admit it.  You didn’t think I could come up with anything that simple!  Well, I’m giving you a break after my very long-winded post on Friday 🙂  Also, my mouth is full of cake :))

Here are a couple examples 🙂

Santa’s Letters All Delivered To South Pole Penguins!  Postal service blames malfunctioning GPS.  The penguins only comment was, “Hrowrrk, Hrowrrk!”

Viking Delegation Arrives At Rockefeller Center.  “We thought you asked for a Norway Truce!” exclaims Harald V whose senior advisor is looking into new hearing aids for the king.

Monopoly Dispute May Ground Sleigh!  “I called first dibs on the shoe!” Dasher yelled as he was hauled off to time out.  Dancer was quoted as saying, “You poopy head!” which earned him a stint in time out as well.  A spokesman for the Clauses said, “This is trouble.  The sleigh won’t fly with only 6 reindeer!”

Post your headline (and as much article as you like :)) in the comments and hopefully yours or someone else’s will give you a great idea for a story!

And finally!!  The moment you’ve all been waiting for!!  Announcing….

The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!
The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story beginning with any version of “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind].”  For example, “Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart” or “Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe” or “Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon…”  You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂  But “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh” is completely acceptable too – whatever works for you 🙂  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (because I have to read them all in the week before Christmas! :))
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Saturday December 15 and Wednesday December 19 at 11:59 PM EST (no WYRI that day), and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Saturday December 15 and remain up through Wednesday December 19 (no new post on Monday December 17).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 15th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to seven (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Friday December 21 (no PPBF that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Christmas Eve and the winner(s) will be announced on Wednesday December 26 (no WYRI that day).  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to fifth place.
The Prizes!:  When I said the prizes were fantastic, I wasn’t kidding.  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 5th place, and will each receive a picture book manuscript critique AND a $20 Amazon gift card to spend on the reading material of your choice AND the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!  The critiques have been generously donated by the following fabulous children’s authors (in alphabetical order by first name :)):
Alison Hertz: author and illustrator of FLAP! (Magic Dreams Publishing, November 2012)
Amy Dixon: author of MARATHON MOUSE (Sky Pony Press, October 2012)
Corey Rosen Schwartz: author of Hop! Plop! (Walker Children’s Books, April 2006), THE THREE NINJA PIGS (Putnam Juvenile, September 2012), and the forthcoming GOLDIROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS and NINJA RED (both coming from Putnam).  Corey also writes the Meter Maids blog with Tiffany (below).
Sarah Frances Hardy: author and illustrator of PUZZLED BY PINK (Viking Juvenile, April 2012)
Tiffany Strelitz Haber: author of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Henry Holt, July 2012).  Tiffany also writes the Meter Maids blog with Corey (above).

Wow!  Would one of those critiques be an awesome prize to win or what?!  And $20 to spend on a book you wanted but didn’t get for the holidays?  Plus bragging rights?  So put on your thinking caps!  Sharpen your pencils!  Fire up your imagination!  And start writing those holiday stories 🙂  You’ve got 2 whole weeks! 🙂

Just to be clear, in case it wasn’t above, in the interest of leaving time and space for the contest and giving y’all time for the busy-ness of the holidays and all the things I know you have going on in your homes and lives at this time of year, my usual posting schedule will be in a complete shambles between Dec. 15 and 26.  I will have a special post on Saturday December 15 (not a usual posting day for me) to kick off the contest, there will be no new post on Monday Dec. 17 (so we can keep posting and reading each other’s stories), no WYRI on Wednesday Dec. 19 (so we can finish posting and reading each other’s stories), no PPBF on Friday Dec. 21 (so I can post the finalists and you can vote), no new post on Christmas Eve (because it’s Christmas Eve :)) and no WYRI on December 26 (so I can post the winners!)  Hopefully that will free you up to write, read all the wonderful entries I sincerely hope we’re going to get, because with 5 such fabulous prizes to give away it would be very sad if we only got 3 entries :(, vote, and still have time for your families 🙂  I think we got somewhere between 30 and 35 entries last year – I hope we can meet or exceed that this year so our critique donors will feel loved and appreciated 🙂

I can’t wait to read your Short & Sweet headlines :), and then I guess I’d better get to work on my sample entry for the holiday contest since I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write! 🙂

Happy Monday, Everyone!  And please spread the word of the Holiday Contest to anyone you think might be interested.  It’s a chance for some writing fun, lots of blog visits, and maybe even a prize 🙂

Monday Short & Sweet – Winter Is (Not) Coming :)

Happy Monday, Everyone!

badge created by Loni Edwards

I’m not going to beat around the bush.

I’m just going to come right out and say it.



Here it is:

I saw a completely black woolly bear.

I am not kidding.

Now, I know all about woolly bear folklore… the whole 13 segments, one for each week of winter (OK, well, that’s just hogwash – around here we definitely have more than 13 weeks of winter!), and how a lot of black at the front means early winter will be harsh, and a lot of black toward the hindquarters means the end of winter will be harsh (and if you don’t know which end is which, well, you’re just going to have to figure that one out on your own :)), and generally you want a nice wide band of brown because the brown means mild.
Pyrrharctia isabella 001So I’m thinking an all black woolly bear is either a true pessimist, or is having a Halloween trick on us a bit late (or just hasn’t changed out of his Dementor costume yet), or really likes dark chocolate and is campaigning for world wide recognition of a National Dark Chocolate Rules Day.

I think I’d like to vote for number 3 🙂

But I do not think it is a harbinger of a serious, cold, snow-filled winter, because unlike our friend the black woolly bear, I am not a pessimist 🙂

(I also really like the word harbinger… it’s fun to say!  But I digress…)

Now that I’ve come up with a very clever way to sneak in a picture of a woolly bear because I think they’re really cute AND we’re all on the same page about how we will most certainly not be having a Little House In The Big Woods type of winter, let’s warm up with something Short & Sweet, shall we?

Remember (because it’s been a couple weeks and you might have forgotten) – Short & Sweets are meant to be fun and quick.  No agonizing!  Just write!

Okay, ready?


Pick a holiday, any holiday.

Of course Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, National Deviled Eggs Day (no I did NOT make that up – it’s November 2 – you can check!), Kwanzaa, Make Your Own Head Day (November 28th if you’ve never celebrated before) etc. are clearly foremost in our minds right now, but I hope some of you free spirits will dance to your own tune and pick National Gum Drop Day (February 15) or Easter or Look Up At The Sky Day (April 14), or maybe Sidewalk Egg Frying Day (the lesser know July 4th holiday) or Ear Muff Day (March 13) 🙂


Got your holiday?

Write down the name of your holiday.

Now, write down
 – something you see on that holiday
 – something you smell on that holiday
 – something you hear on that holiday
 – something you taste on that holiday
 – something you touch on that holiday

Then write down the name of the holiday one last time.

Guess what?

You just wrote a holiday poem!

And maybe it will be even more than that and give you a great idea for a story!  (Or at least your PiBoIdMo idea for the day if you’re participating in that festival of inspiration and frivolity as I most certainly am!)

I’ll give you an example.  Remember… short… sweet… off the top of our heads here (because let’s be honest – I used up most of my available time rambling on about woolly bears :))

Delicate ribbons of tinsel shimmering silver and gold
Spicy pine breathing the outside in
Joy To The World singing clear to a starry sky
Bright peppermint, cool and sweet, and
Peace On Earth warming every heart

So, are you ready?  Get set…  WRITE!!!

Please share your holiday poem in the comments so we can all admire them and become inspired for a whole week of great writing!

Also, if you have a word you love to say (like harbinger, or maybe Terpsichore or multitudinous, please share that as well! :))

I can’t wait to read your Holiday poems!  I hope someone picks Race Your Mouse Day (May 28th)!

(P.S. I will announce the winner of the October Pitch Pick on Wednesday during Would You Read It!)

Monday Short & Sweet

I feel like a flibbertygibbet.

I don’t know exactly what that is (or how to spell it :)) – something the nuns called Maria in The Sound Of Music 🙂 – but that’s what I feel like!

So today’s Short & Sweet is going to be very short and sweet because I have a school visit and 47 million things to get done before I go (no, I am not exaggerating! :))

badge created by Loni Edwards

Pick one (or all if you’re feeling ambitious :)) of the following actual openings of actual books (well, I changed some names) and write  3-5 sentences of your own story starting with that opening, AND/OR a brief synopsis of what your story would be about.  (I’m not telling you what books they’re from because if you knew that might bias the direction of your story or, worse, limit you!)

1. “Ouch!” said Princes Amelia as she stabbed herself with the needle.

2. One day four big chickens peeked out the coop window and saw a wolf sneak into the farmyard.

3. Violet was a little white cat with bright green eyes.

4. “There she is!” Mandy whispered excitedly.  “She’s coming back!”

5. Rocky and Blossom lived in a meadow on the mountain.

6. In the moon of the raspberries in a long time ago a baby sleeps, dreaming.

7. Cyrus Squirrel stood at the edge of the forest and cried.

Example: first 3-5 sentences starting with #7:

Cyrus Squirrel stood at the edge of the forest and cried.
His fur was wet.
His paws were cold.
He was hungry.
He was lost.
But worst of all, his brother Stewie and tricked him again!

Example: synopsis starting with #1:

“Ouch!” said Princess Amelia as she stabbed herself with the needle.
Synopsis: Princess Emmeline from the neighboring kingdom is coming to visit and Princess Amelia wants to impress her.  But Princess Amelia is not good at sewing.  She is not good at dancing.  Her table manners make the dogs look like royalty.  And no matter how hard she tries, her hair always seems to be messy and her gown always seems to have dirt on it.  How will she get Princess Emmeline to like her?

I hope you’ll have fun with this!  Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Happy writing 🙂

Short And Sweet Monday – Collections

Sufferin’ sassafras!  Is it Monday already?

Then in that case it must be time for something Short & Sweet!

badge created by Loni Edwards

And when I say Short & Sweet, I mean it!  Seriously!  Somehow October snuck up on me, never mind Monday, and I’ve got SOO much to do!

Today is Princess Blue Kitty’s first birthday.  (For those of you who didn’t spend the summer here, Princess Blue Kitty is my car.)  And I will have you know that yesterday, on the way home from Stop & Shop her odometer rolled over 35,000 miles.  That is a lot of miles to collect in one year.

But it got me to thinking about collecting things.  If you have kids, spend any time around kids, or have ever been a kid, you know that kids love to collect things.  Pokemon cards and baseball cards.  Build-a-Bear outfits and accessories.  Vacation tee-shirts.  Rocks.  Matchbox cars.  Comic books.  Beanie Babies.  You name it, there’s probably a kid somewhere who collects it 🙂

So for today’s Short & Sweet think up something a kid collects.  Then think about why they collect it and what that tells you about who they are.

Then, in the comments (or if you can’t comment because of my @$!%*%! blog you can email me and I’ll post for you) write a sentence, or a couple sentences, or however much you want, that tells us something about your character, what they collect, and why.

Who:  can be as vague as “he” or “she”, or as specific as “Molly, a little brown field mouse”
The Collection: can be absolutely anything you want! – the more interesting/unusual/downright bizarre the better 🙂  (And I mean anything!  Having trouble thinking something up?  Just look around and pick the first thing you see – dog bones, acorns, picture frames, super balls, macaroni, potholders, toenail clippings (sure! why not go for the gross?! :)), grass trimmings, song lyrics, cocoons, seeds…. the possibilities are endless!) … (and in case you were wondering, which I know you were since I told you to look around and pick the first thing you see, I do not have acorns and toenail clippings etc. lying around my living room… only the dog bones :))
Why: hopefully the why of this collecting will give us a peek inside your character and will be the spark that ignites story ideas 🙂

Here are a couple examples:

Henry collected seashells on the beach where he had fished so often with Grandpa.  He searched for those that neither the ceaseless tumbling of the tide nor the careless steps of hard-soled feet had cracked or broken.  Only shells that were whole and perfect made his collection.  Whenever he found a new one, he brought it to Grandpa.  He never said it out loud, because that would ruin it, but in his heart he harbored the hope that somehow, if he laid something flawless and familiar in Grandpa’s gnarled hands, his tangled thoughts would unsnarl, and his mind would become, once again, as whole and perfect as the shells.

Nobody listened to Anne, so she collected words.  Not just any words, not plain, ordinary words, but unusual, unpredictable words that rolled off her tongue in a pleasing way.  Someday she would use her saved up words – words like tangential, garrulous, idiosyncratic, vituperative, onomatopoetic, ecclesiastical and catastrophic – sprinkle  them into her speech like spices, and then, people would listen!  How could they not?

His shoelace collection started because of the orange ones he found with the baseballs on them.  Next he discovered the blue ones with green lizards, and after that, yellow ones with NASCAR flags.  He hung them from the handlebars of his bike, like streamers, and hoped that when he sped past she would look up from where she sat on the bottom step of her front porch stringing beads.

Or you can go as simple as:

Mabel collected milkweed pods because she liked to open them up, pull the soft silk from inside, tuck it into her hair and pretend she was an ancient enchantress in a forbidden forest.

Get the idea?

Even if your own character/collection doesn’t spark a story for you, someone else’s might.  And your offering might spark a story for somebody else!  So let’s all share.  And please feel free to write as many as you’d like! 🙂

Shall we fire up our imaginations and see what kind of stories we can spark with our collections?

Have fun, everyone!  I can’t wait to see what you come up with! 🙂  Hopefully we’ll be so inspired that we won’t be able to write fast enough! 🙂

P.S.  If anyone happened to take the new Short & Sweet badge 2 weeks ago when I first put it up, please swap it for this one – the first one was missing the kitty’s whiskers! 🙂