Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stalking, Reading, Writing


Inspired?

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”.
- Benjamin Franklin

Recently, I was out having lunch with my husband. A young woman stood up wearing a micro-mini. The man with a gray sweatshirt stood next to her. I watched them leave. Mere seconds had elapsed.
My husband said, “What are you looking at?”
I said, “First I noticed the woman’s skirt is really short and thought she’d be cold. Then I noticed the guy she was with is good looking. I wondered if they were a couple. If they were a couple, I wondered what stage they were in their relationship. Did they sleep together last night? Had they just started dating? Were they engaged? Would they get married, have kids someday? Or would they wind up with other people?”
“All of that?” he asked, incredulous. “I don’t believe you.”
I swore it was the truth.
He said, “I just noticed she had a short skirt.”
A couple of more times, my husband brought it up to make fun of me. Then he said, “I guess that’s why you’re are writer.”

I’m much more of a writer than a reader these days, but I’m still reading. Throughout 2011, I updated a January 2011 post to list all the books I read last year. I decided to do the same on this post for 2012.

Books read in 2012 (as of 12/26/12):

1. Open Minds, Susan Kaye Quinn
2. Foiled, Jane Yolen
3. The Secret of Spruce Knoll, Heather McCorkle
4. The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare
5. The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
6. A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie, Matt Blackstone
7. Locomotion, Jacqueline Woodson
8. American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang
9. Where I Live, Eileen Spinelli
10. Peace, Locomotion, Jacqueline Woodson
11. Love that Dog, Sharon Creech
12. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
13. The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
14. Watching Willow Watts, Talli Roland
15. Plain Kate, Erin Bow
16. A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
17. The Humming Room, Ellen Potter
18. Rumors from the Boys' Room, Rose Cooper
19.  The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman 
20.  Holes, Louis Sachar 
21. The Owl Keeper, Christine-Brodien-Jones
22. Dust, Arthur Slade
23. Cesar's Rules, Cesar Millan
24. Hate that Cat, Sharon Creech
25. Perfect, Ellen Hopkins
26. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. Holes, Louis Sachar (Yes, twice.)
28. Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
29. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
30. Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu
31. The Girl Who Could Fly, Victoria Forester
32. Inside Out and Back Again, Thanha Lai
33. A Million Suns, Beth Revis
34. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
35. The Day Before, Lisa Schroeder
36. Build a Man, Talli Roland
37. Save the Cat, Blake Snyder
38. 100RPM, ed. Caroline Smailes
39. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
40. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
41. The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan
42. M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman
43. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
44. The Giver, Lois Lowry
45. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
46. Let's Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, Jenny Lawson
47. Lost Girl, Sangu Mandanna
48. Well Witched, Frances Hardinge
49. Bloomability, Sharon Creech
50. Closed Hearts, Susan Kaye Quinn
51. Esio Trot, Roald Dahl
52. Alanna: In the Hand of the Goddess, Tamora Pierce
53. Moonglass, Jessi Kirby
54. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Tom Angleberger
55. The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen, M.T. Anderson
56. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, JK Rowling
57. Lucky Breaks, Susan Patron
58. Criss Cross, Lynne Rae Perkins
59. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
60. Book of 1000 Days, Shannon Hale
61. A Tale Dark & Grimm, Adam Gidwitz
62. Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware, M.T. Anderson
63. Gossamer, Lois Lowry
64. The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling
65. Eye of the Storm, Kate Messner
66. Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
67. Crash, Jerry Spinelli
68. Who is J.K. Rowling?, Pam Pollack
69. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
70. Bread and Roses Too, Katherine Patterson



I’ve been on a writing streak. I wrote and submitted a 9k short story for an anthology inspired by the beautiful picture above from JT Taylor Publishing. I leapt out of my genre to write something for it. (There’s still time if you’re inspired too.)
My most recent manuscript is increasing word count almost daily. Since 01/12 when Write On to Build On, I’ve only owed $3 to the Build On charity.
So, I’m writing. And I’m looking at couples and wondering what they’re doing. I’m pretty sure this proves I’m a stalker creepy chick writer.

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking."
— Albert Einstein

How’s your writing these days?
Finding any inspiration in pictures or random couples?

109 comments:

  1. My day job work load has increased. To keep writing and reading something had to give -- blogging and social networking.
    Seems the more energy I have the more writing I want to do.

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    1. Mary@GigglesandGuns, looks like you had to make the same choice as me. I'm down to blogging once a week. I try to visit a handful of blogs a day. Hope you keep finding time to write!

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  2. That first quote by Ben Franklin is my favorite.

    I ask all sorts of questions when meeting or seeing a fascinating person. Just can't help it.

    I've been negligent on my reading and writing lately, but I've been researching for my next book, which will be a hit.

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    1. Miranda, I guess we writers can't help making up stories for people.

      Researching is a part of writing, so it sounds like writing to me. I'm sure your next book will be a hit!

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  3. Oh, I wouldn't have questioned your observations at all. I do the same thing. And if I can't tell a person's story by looking at them, I make one up. Takes all of five seconds to summarize a complete stranger's life. :))

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    1. L.G.Smith, I think of them as "character sketches". I wonder how off base or accurate we are.

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  4. Theresa - I love your humorous insight, and your quotes too! Good writing!

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  5. Love that Benjamin Franklin quote. I'm going to tweet it!
    It's funny how two people can have totally different thought processes about the same thing. :)
    How did you like Foiled? I've read so many of Jane Yolen's picture books and poetry, I haven't read any mg of hers? (is it mg or ya?). Will have to!

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    1. Kelly, I had Jane Yolen sign it at NE-SCBWI last year. I thought my nine year old daughter, who takes martial arts would appreciate it. I think it's fine for middle grade, though the protagonist does want a boyfriend. It had a twist I didn't expect.

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  6. Is it odd that I wonder that same things about people? I saw two teenagers walking in the pouring rain the other day, a boy and girl, and I started to wonder all sorts of things about them. First I thought they were crazy for walking in the rain, then I thought, "But what if their car died?" Then "What if they like the rain?" The possibilities are endless.
    My husband thinks I'm weird, too.

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    1. Emily, it's nice to know I'm not alone. I guess the only husband who wouldn't think we're weird is a writer husband. Probably.

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  7. Oh, I do the same thing all the time. And I'm a horrible eavesdropper as well.

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    1. Jaye, I like overhearing-on-purpose conversations too! A woman who ran a workshop on teen voice at NE-SCBWI a couple of years ago recommended spending time in fitting rooms to hear girl teens talk. Imagine?

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    2. Let me tell you you'd probably hear some pretty interesting things.

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  8. I'm so glad to find out that I'm not the only people watcher who makes up whole stories about people she sees. Phew! I'm not crazy, just a writer.

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    1. Connie, we blog to find out we're not crazy. At least not about making up stories about people we see...

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  9. Oh, Theresa, you are too funny! That's a lot of thinking in a little bit of time. I've been in avoidance mode lately, which is not a good thing when I'm trying to finish up for subs. :-)

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    1. Shannon, I think you're in a stressful position right now. If you want to run anything by me or need to vent, let me know. xo

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  10. Wonderful post - I am an avid people watcher and eavesdropper, complete with notebook!

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  11. I do like your hubby's succinct reply of "I just noticed she had a short skirt"! LOL!

    So glad you are on a writerly roll, lovely Theresa! Good luck with your submissions too!!! Oooh which genre did you leap into!??!?! How intriguing - as is that wonderful pic!!

    Happy stalking (it's for RESEARCH!):-) Take care
    x

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    1. Old Kitty, I dove into historical fiction. It's set during medieval times. I had Nicole Zoltack look at it afterwards to see if I had any idea of what I was doing. She gave it her seal of approval.

      It's not stalking--it's research. Ha! You take care too.

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  12. That is hilarious! I totally do that too :)

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    1. J.A. Bennett, the next time I admit to my husband I've been making up scenarios for strangers, I'll tell him, "According to my blog, that's what all writers do!"

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  13. I get so used to creating imaginery lives for people I'm sometimes worried that what I 'know' about my friends is really stuff I've made up.

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    1. Patsy, HA! I usually keep my made up stuff for strangers!

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  14. I stare at couples like that, but I never notice the girl. I notice the guy and think how lucky she is to have someone like that. And if she's smart, she'll never kick him to the curb. That's probably due to the fact that I've never found anyone to spend time with so I just watch other people.

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    1. Michael, if the guy is cute, I notice him too. In fact, I think this guy was good looking.

      I hope you find someone to spend time with.

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  15. I am exactly the same, Theresa, a lot of my characters in my stories come from my scientific observations (or nosy eavesdropping).
    I wonder have any of us ever been observed and written into stories, think I'd be afraid to read it:)
    Lovely picture, you know me I love writing from visuals, I am back doing Magpies again to kickstart new writing ideas. Good luck with your story, sounds interesting.

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    1. Brigid, ah, scientific observations...

      Hmm, I wonder if I've made it into someone's story. Ever see the t-shirts that say, "Watch out or you'll end up in my novel,"?

      You and Niamh got me writing from visuals with your wonderful interpretations of pictures from Magpie prompts!

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  16. I'm writing, too! I think 2012 must be the year for writing. Perhaps all the muses are afraid of the apocalypse, so they're starting to get their act together. Inquisitive people (and stalkers) make good writers. :)

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    1. Madeline, Year of the Writer--I like that! If only the muses knew that it takes so long to publish a book, we'll never make it before the next apocalypse (I've lived through so many already).

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  17. I always try to figure out people's relationships to each other! It's fascinating. Especially in bars when everyone's hitting on each other. There are so many stories in those details!

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    1. Meredith, bars are interesting places to check out couples or potential couples.

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  18. LOL, this is great! I wondered all these things as you described them and your curiosity about them. I see people and wonder things as well. I rarely write it down but I think it goes somewhere in my psyche and comes out later when I write.

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    1. KarenG, I don't write them down either. But I have a very disorganized file somewhere in my brain. I hope this stuff comes out later when I write too!

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  19. I love people watching, and I love figuring out the relationships. Old women with younger men always interest me - son, nephew, gigalo? Coffee shops are great places for that, but I've come to realise I need to at least pretend I'm reading a book or I look suspicious!

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    1. Annalisa, I could see that being a fun activity. Friends, relatives, or lovers? Yes, it's good to have a prop when "researching".

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  20. I had a chuckle at your hubby's response. My hubby thinks like that too. Not only are we writers but we are women too and I'm sure that's part of the way a female brain works as well. Good luck with your 9k story.

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    1. Lynda, I think your woman-writer theory is correct!

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  21. Awesome that you're writing so much. I'm much more of a reader these days and a blog writer. But I'm making slow progress.

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    1. Natalie, I was more of a reader last year and more of a blogger the year before. I guess we go in cycles. I'm hoping I'll keep up the writing, but who knows? Some people are so disciplined.

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  22. I think the fact that you were asking all those questions about that couple definitely is proof that you were a writer; maybe you had subconsciously already started to form a story in your mind (or if you haven't already, maybe you could) about that couple. And it's good to hear that you're on a writing streak; maybe all those books you were reading helped motivate you.
    I sometimes ask myself questions about couples too. One question I'd like to know is why I often see beautiful women with not-so-beautiful men, but I very rarely see beautiful men with not-so-beautiful women. I know that sounds sexist, but just from observing couples out in public, it's one thing I've noticed. More often than not beautiful people gravitate towards each other, but... (Or maybe I'm just envious because the hot guys don't gravitate towards me.)

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    1. Neurotic Workaholic, you're the queen of observations. Your fill in the blank or fantasy of what you'd say to someone or a group of people always makes me laugh.

      I was never the one who got the models either. In fact, my husband liked my best friend before he liked me. Luckily I started dating someone else and he wound up never asking my friend out.

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  23. Hi Theresa! Not much writing relating to my current WIP but I've been writing exercises. I'm due to write two 500-word stories - one of them is to build a character.

    That was funny - your questions about the couple. A similar thing happened to me and my husband last year in the city but I didn't ask that many questions. That is truly a writer's mind :)

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    1. Len, hi back! You've been doing a lot of writing! I never do character exercises on my own, but when I've done them in workshops I've found them to be worthwhile. You never know where the next novel idea will come from. Good luck!

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  24. I do the same thing to people I see--I can't help wondering what they've experienced. Or if they're writers and are likewise watching me go about my business. LOL.

    I'm working on the outline for my first novel right now.

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  25. I do this all the time. If I'm having a conversation with someone, I miss half of it because I'm too busy trying to figure everyone else out. Too crazy. Right now, editing and writing something new.

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    1. Christine, I tune people out when I'm thinking about my rough draft. So bad!

      Good luck editing and writing.

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  26. I guess I'm the oddball. I don't wonder about people like that. Although, I wouldn't think anyone weird if they did. I think I'd be impressed.

    And I'm not allowed to do any more reading. At least not on school nights. Monday night I got caught up in a book, and next thing I knew it was 2:30. Dealing with students on three hours sleep is not a good thing.

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    1. Liz, those books that suck you in... Poor you! Dealing with students after 3 hours of sleep is NOT a good thing!

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  27. Your couple stalking, er, observing is SO much like me. I've done that a lot, but specifically I remember casually watching this teenage couple about 2 years ago. Hubby and I were waiting in line for a comedy show, and these teens were behind us in line, sitting. (It was a long line.) They were holding hands and asking all sorts of "getting to know you questions". It was adorable. I was trying to figure out if they were dating yet, and predicting how long they'd last.

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  28. Shelley, that sounds like a funny scene. Listening teens is great for writing authentic voice as long as you take out the constant use of "like" from their sentences.

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  29. It's great when just little things start to inspire us. Great list of books you've read.

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  30. M Pax, thank you. I'm aiming to read at least 50 books this year.

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  31. My computer is still not working and Techie Guys in Repair Land are trying to help me, so my writing hasn't been as quick as I'd hoped. BUT, I've been writing by hand, and it's been fun. In fact, I finally solved a problem I'd had - so it's going pretty well I think :)

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    1. Jemi, I've never tried writing by hand. I'm glad it's working for you--you're making a positive out of a frustrating situation.

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  32. I love that Benjamin Franklin quote and the amazing picture! That is so funny about when you looked at the couple because I so do that. Sometimes I can't believe the way one thing leads to another in my head and where I end up! :-)

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    1. Tracy Jo, me too! It's this stream of consciousness. I never know where I'll end up!

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  33. LOL And your husband is definitely a man!

    I've read Susan's book (I beta read it a year ago. It's really good. I have to read it again before the sequel comes out). I still have to read Heather's book. I have it. I just haven't gotten to it yet.

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    1. Stina, I know it was such a man statement!

      I'm looking forward to Susan's sequel, but I don't think I'll reread the first one beforehand. So many books, so little time.

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  34. Yes! I think that's exactly why you're a writer. You have a natural curiosity about the world around you.

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    1. Carolina, thanks! I guess it's human nature for writers to observe human nature.

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  35. Inspired? Yes. I find that picture very inpsiring!

    And I love the account of your thoughts vs your husbands thoughts! I do this too sometimes when watching other people. It's fascinating to wonder about their stories...

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    1. Rachel, do you think you'll write something for the anthology?

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  36. That's so funny. Stream of consciousness is fascinating. From "short skirt" to "who do these people end up marrying?" in 15 seconds.

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  37. I suppose it pays to be perceptive and curious if you're a writer! I love those prolific times, and it sounds like you're having one of them. As for me, I'm in this strange position where I've got projects lined up back to back, and if random inspiration strikes, I might be in serious trouble.

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    1. Sarah, it's tough when that happens. I write down a page or two of note ideas and/or a first page and return to it later. The manuscript I'm working on now was from one of those times I didn't have time to write. Good luck with your projects.

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  38. That is so funny. Yeah, I have conversations with myself about people, too. I don't usually share them with my husband. Although, actually he's a better observer than I am and he figures people out really quickly, too. Good luck with the anthology!

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    1. Vicki, my husband never asks me what I'm thinking about or looking at, so I must've had a glazed look on my face! Thank you.

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  39. I love Franklin's quote; I use it in one of my writing lessons. Not sure if it inspires my teen students or not, but I like it. :) Your story is funny - I think us writers just think that way. There's always a story behind what you see, you know? Congrats on your writing progress!

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  40. Karen, the Ben Franklin quote is popular. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  41. Ha ha haaa! The man thang! EGAD. I do the same thing Theresa. I wonder and think and people watch everyone. Sometimes making up my own stories about their lives. Yeah. I know. I'm a nut! :-)

    Yay on your writing progress. Big congrads. And hugs too. :-)

    xoxoxo

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    1. Robyn, I guess nearly all writers do this. Not a nut. A writer/writer nut.

      Hugs to you too.

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  42. hehe... nothing like a little stalking for inspiration.
    congrats on the abna, wishing you well for the next round.
    xx

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    1. Michelle, yes, stalking can be inspiration. Thanks for the congratulations on ABNA. I'm happy.

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  43. That's how you know you're a writer :-)
    I surreptitiously stare at people on the train in the mornings, if I'm not reading, and wonder about their lives. Also people in paintings, and photographs, and...

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    1. Deniz, paintings and photographs? Now I'll have to see if I do that too!

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  44. way to go with your short submission!
    I laughed at this post about wondering the background of the people around you. I can relate, as I'm sure other writers can as well!
    Great reading list! The Beaver one had me searching for it just from the title. Sounds cool! Thank you.

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    1. TerryLynnJohnson, I hope they accept the story. 9k is a big investment. But then again, so are the whole manuscripts.

      The Sign of the Beaver was good. I read it with my fifth grade reading group.

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  45. Inspiration pops out at me from the most random places. A snowflake on my nose, a chance remark I hear on tv, a vexing phone conversation I have - the possibilities are endless.

    And that conversation between you and your husband was hilarious!

    Jai

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  46. Jai, I'm the same way. I've even found inspiration from books I didn't like. Sometimes there's something about the premise that's cool, but the rest falls short. I start asking, "What if?" Next thing I know, the idea folds into a completely different story.

    I kept chuckling when I thought about the conversation with my husband, so I thought I'd share it.

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  47. You were thinking about the stories behind this couple's relationship and your husband only thought about the skirt - hilarious. I guess that IS why you're the writer :) Congrats on being so productive with your writing!

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  48. Julie, that's why I'm a writer and that's why my husband is a guy. (I did notice the man was good looking though.) Thanks!

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  49. What a GREAT photo! I love it. Hehe, had to laugh about your miniskirt story. So true--as writers we tend to notice or think about things "normal" people don't bother to!

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  50. Carol, I guess no matter what we tell ourselves, writers aren't normal.

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  51. That is so what I'd be thinking. I LOVE to people watch. Congrats on all your great writing!

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  52. Ciara, yes, watching people can be interesting. Thanks!

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  53. Theresa,
    You're totally awesome. I owe about $4 now, but that's only because I've been busy organizing various writing group activities. le sigh. :) Keep up the great work!

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  54. Nutschell, I can't believe hom much writing related things you accomplish. You are one impressive chick!

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  55. Awesome story, Theresa. I love to people watch, wonder about them, and create stories by looking at complete strangers.

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  56. Medeia, it's nice to know I'm in good company.

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  57. Love that photo, but I have no time to write a story based on it. I think about the same kinds of things about people I see.

    Congratulations on making the cut at Amazon :)

    Happy Weekend!

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  58. Carol, thank you for commenting. I'd love to make it to the next round. We'll see...

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  59. Isn't it amazing what stories you can create in your head? I sometimes am so wrapped up in my thoughts that I miss questions people ask me. Great photo. A book has to go with that!

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  60. Cleemckenzie, I get lost in thoughts and miss what people are telling me too. Yes, the photo will be the cover of the short story anthology.

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  61. Best of luck with your submission.... Really enjoyed seeing the way you perceive things... reminds me of me... a lot. And my hubby would be exactly like yours:)

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  62. Tfwalsh, thank you. I'm anxious to find out if my story was accepted. There are only about 5 or 6 slots and I don't know how many submissions they're receiving. I'm hoping!

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  63. LOL! This sounds like a few conversations my other half and I have had. Ah yes, you know you're a writer when... ;) Congrats on the word flow, that's excellent!

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    1. Heather, maybe you should write a post: "You know you're a writer when..." We'd all nod in agreement! Thanks!

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  64. Why do I have this great certainty that your short story is amazing? Perhaps it's the wonderful picture and the fact that you're a stylistic writer.

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    1. Brooke, I hope you're right. Once I viewed, the picture, the story (mostly) unfolded. Thanks for the compliment!

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