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Short Story in Progress: The Petal Collector

One of the photos that inspired my current short story work-in-progress.

 

I’ve given my short story an easy working title: The Petal Collector. Here are a few of my notes for the scene I’m working on:

Rising Anger

  • Rose cannot keep herself from watching the petal collector. (From her office window.)
  • It makes her angry to see a person getting so much joy from picking up dead things. And he’s taking petals from HER death-countdown bush.
  • What is that book he brings out to read every single time he visits the garden? Thinking that it might be a Bible makes her both angry and envious. (Weave within story.)
  • She wants to end her life, but she gets a stirring inside whenever she follows his activity.
  • What’s up with this guy and his petals?
  • More importantly, why does she care? She imagines a number of scenarios.
  • At the end of the scene, she smiles at something he does, which also makes her angry.

Read my earlier post to learn the original inspiration for this story. As soon as I have a decent draft of a scene or two, I will post it here on the blog. Stay tuned!

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Photo Fiction Inspiration: Cora’s Receipt

Cora grocery receipt 1944

Image from knickoftime.com

This image of an old grocery store receipt has inspired several story ideas in my mind. I saw the image while using Pinterest for my story research, and several elements caught my attention:

  • The date
  • Her name
  • The fourth item purchased
  • The hole from the receipt spike
  • The match of the year to the receipt number

The author of the pinned article shared the story of how she found a stack of receipts in an antique register. All of the receipts were Cora’s, and it was clear that Cora ran up a tab each week at the grocery store.

The tablet purchase intrigues me the most. Yes, it could be simple: Cora needed to replenish the household writing paper. But here is where my imagination takes off:

  • Story 1: The tablet becomes another holder of Cora’s “secrets.” She hides her box of tablets — there are 13 —  under an abandoned car she found on the property of a school for the blind. Cora befriended a girl who attends the school, and shares what she hears during her nightly walks through the neighborhood, though she says they are “made up.” However, tonight Cora is meeting up with the blind girl to share a story that Cora must tell her is true.
  • Story 2: Cora has a crush on Charles, one of the Stroker sons, and writes love letters to him that she never sends. She secretly hopes that one day he will ask her why she buys tablets so often, though she’s not sure what she will say. Meanwhile, Charles only talks about his dedication to God and how, unlike his brothers, he plans to never marry. When Cora walks into the store on Halloween, Charles tells her that he is leaving soon to join the Merchant Marines (he saw the Bogart movie) and help with the war effort. Charles is 16 years old.
  • Story 3: Cora is a teacher, and has planned a Halloween Party for the only white family in her school. The family is planning to leave due to the negative racial activity they’ve encountered, and Cora hopes to talk them out of the move. The tablet is a gift Clara plans to give to a budding writer in the family, the first of them all to be educated past the sixth grade.

It’s amazing what the mind can do with a small amount of information. Maybe I’ll write a collection of stories from the image, and not limit myself to one. There’s a thought!


 

 

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Writing songs for my stories

microphone

Photo by Dan McDavid

 

While I was working on my story, The Blue of Heaven, I started hearing something in my mind that has now turned into a song.

When I finish the lyrics and the recording (and I thank God for my son, who is so good at both traditional and digital recording), I will include this song when I release my short story collection as an e-book. I will embed the song somewhere in Blue to give you another way to experience my character. I plan to do this with other stories, too. Once we have something ready for you to hear, I’ll upload a clip to my Audio page.

Songs within stories — it’s a new idea for me. What do you think?

Years ago, songwriting and singing was it for me. My goal was to record albums of songs that I wrote, become a star, win a Grammy, be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and take care of my family with all the money I made. During the pursuit, though, I became the type of person you have to become when those are your only goals in life.

Self-centered. Extremely self-centered.

My priorities changed when I became a mother, which led me to once again think about God. A year later I became a Christian, and I began to look at life differently through my new faith. For a while, I continued to sing in bands with my husband, but eventually I fell in love with motherhood and old hymns, and I left the pop music scene behind.

I’ve sung as a soloist and in my church choir since I joined it 20 years ago, and the appetite for stardom through my musical talents has never returned. I’ve been satisfied with the life God chose for me.

It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m working on a song, with my adult son taking care of the tech side of things. There’s a microphone on the table and soon I will record my voice singing a song I wrote.

You know, I never lost a love for singing and songwriting. I just dropped the love for trying to get to a fantasy place without thinking about the cost — for myself or for anyone else. And, believe me, that self-centeredness cost me things that fill me with shame when I think of them.

So, here we are today: I’m writing stories. I’m writing songs. I hope you like them. I hope you share them.

And I hope God is pleased by them.

That’s all.