Yes, someone is always asking, “Where do you get the ideas for your stories?” I have a writer-friend who usually answers, “Walmart. They had some on special, so I took a few.” I’ve wanted to come back with an equally snappy reply, but I somehow always think of a good one about two hours after the conversation. So I rely on the boring, unvarnished truth. I don’t know where stories come from. Once in a while I’ll get an idea from something I’ve read in the paper. Or I was unabashedly eavesdropping and heard a bit of personal history I just couldn’t wait to expand into a full-fledged plot. Once I delved into my own early memories to create a scenario. That one is still my mom’s personal favorite. But mostly stories come from the open-ended quest to discover “What if….” and follow that rabbit down the rabbit hole.
Recently I’ve branched out a bit in following that trusty rabbit. I’ve been doing some shorter works, short stories and a novella. Those are new formats for me. It’s a well-established fact inside my family that I have a hard time saying good morning in less than 20,000 words. Trying to tell a whole story in under 50,000 is a stretch. Browning said the reach should exceed one’s grasp; I’ve taken on the challenge. Two of my pocket-sized productions will be coming out shortly, so here is a sneak preview. I’m not sure I can tell you where the ideas came from, but I’m pretty sure you can find the end result on Amazon.com in the near future. They will only be available as e–pubs, but that makes them really portable, right?
Her septuagenarian traveling companions quenched every flicker of pleasure Gill Banks anticipated during her trip to England. Then Simon, not quite a stranger but definitely an unknown element, challenged Gill to let her own heart lead the way. And she found that a close encounter with a crumpet can change a life forever.
You said it, Gill. It’s magic, maybe a sudden spell that vanishes at midnight or maybe one that can’t be broken. I don’t know. But I do know I looked at you two weeks ago, when you came on the coach, and I saw sunlight break through the clouds. I told myself somehow before this tour ended, I’d have at least one good conversation with you. I’d find out what made the gold lights in your eyes shine and how you look when you laugh. I’d almost given up hope when I saw you in the tea shop, unhappy as a wet kitten. Then I said your name and you smiled. I saw that sunlight part the clouds again. I grabbed the chance because I wasn’t about to let you slip away before I found out who Gill Banks is.”
HELP WANTED: WIFE
When rancher Cole Witherspoon, a practical man, decides his ranch needs a woman’s touch, and he needs a wife, he goes about filling the vacancy in a practical way. He places a help-wanted ad. He doesn’t suspect when Cherilyn Bixby answers the ad how many lessons in love he’ll be learning from the no-nonsense schoolteacher…and her big, red cat.
It’s mighty brave of you to come out here all by yourself.” Cole rocked back on his boots. “I know most women want courting and flowers and love and so forth. I do believe that if two people make up their minds to treat each other decent, pay their bills, and find a little fun along the way, that’s a pretty good framework for a marriage. Stands a better chance than the lovey-dovey nonsense shoveled out by the movies. Your letters, they sorta tell me you take a practical view of things, as well.” He gathered up her suitcases. “Let’s head on to the ranch.” He started to reach for the wired box.
“I’ll take that one.”
“Funny looking case. What is it?”
“My cat.” Cherilyn lifted the case and turned toward the truck.
“Your CAT! Lord, woman, we’ve got barn cats at the ranch. You didn’t need to go and bring one.”
“This is Arabella, a pure-blooded Maine Coon cat and she’s no barn animal. She lives with me.”
“Cat? In the house? Never had a cat living in the house. Don’t think I’d want to. Better turn her loose in the barn with the rest of the mousers.”
“Now listen here, Cole Witherspoon, If it comes down to her being in the barn or me taking that next bus back, I guess I’ll just go back.”
Well, I have two pretty determined heroines heading out into new lives. To keep up with them, I’m going to have to branch out into a few new endeavors myself. How about you? Have some new challenges ahead? Hope they are as successful as Cherilyn and Gill found theirs.
Let’s get winter behind us and go look for wildflowers and romance, shall we?