Tag Archives: inspiration

Artist’s Way: Week 5 Check-In

23 Apr

1.) How many days this week did you do your morning pages?

I’m happy to report the morning pages are at 100% capacity for the week. I felt I did too much planning, so towards the end I allowed myself to let loose the anger, and boy did it flow, like blood oozing from a severed head. I haven’t been as loyal to the “start as soon as you wake up creed.” It’s difficult when you’ve got your lady Skyping you across an ocean. I’d rather see her smile before I get to it. Regardless, they were penned, and allowed me to let loose my feelings and opinions. I’ve been rocking a “Crave” engraved leather bound journal gifted to me from my brother-in-law, but triumphantly/sadly it’s almost filled up. The search is on for a worthy attached pile of papers to serve as the sequel Morning Pages journal.

2.) Did you do your artist date this week? 

This week I’m happy to report I got back on the “dating” track. I rocked my Zoo Membership, bypassing the 45 minute Easter break line, and brought some unexpected friends. An artist date is supposed to be a date with you and your inner artist, but I checked Mr. Artist and he didn’t mind if I brought along a collection of forgotten texts. Basically I bundled up all the books I haven’t gotten to yet but was itching to start. I’m sure the books I’m currently reading felt I was cheating, but hey I’ve got a lot of love, why not share! This was quite the effective exercise! While a hundred little jaws dropped as one of the polar bears drank from the other’s crotch, I politely sat on a bench leafing through an English manga (Japanese comic book), Return to Labyrinth  based on Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. I didn’t realize how fast of a read comics were. Plus the illustrations always provide inspiration. Even more so, comics have a serious space limitation, so if a picture book writer wants to learn how to keep it “brief” and to explore story development through dialogue, it’s time to hit up your local comic book store. Then when it was feeding time for the gorillas, I feasted on Kwaidan, Lafcadio Hearn‘s classic collection of Japanese ghost stories. While living in Japan, it was always on my to-do list. As chance (or the universe, if you read the Artist’s Way) would have it, I stumbled upon a beautifully illustrated version for only one easy payment of $4.99. I couldn’t pass it up. The zoo was filled with familial spring breakers, so my eyes took advantage and people watched for inspiration. As a childless children’s book writer, it’s important to take advantage of situations filled with energetic, expressive children. In regards to the zoo, I was able to watch how they reacted to the animals and their habitats. What did they generally ask of each animal? What did they already know? And what poison were their parents feeding them? “Hey hunny, look at the cheetah!” Excuse me ma’am, do you mind not being so ignorant about the ocelot, South America’s junior jaguar. Thank you. But I did go to the zoo with a purpose, so basking under nature’s heat lamp, I relaxed on a bench opposite a patroling one-horned Indian Rhinoceros to enter the world of the Carousel. As an avid amusement park enthusiast, I’m eager to learn everything I can about the history of the industry. This colorful collection of anecdotes, information and photographs brilliantly educates the reader on the merry-go-round. My ulterior motive for reading it is I happen to be involved with a woman who is so passionate about the carousel, I figured I should read up and share the passion with her. Overall, this was such a productive artist’s date, that as soon as the summer temperatures arrive, I’ll do this on a bi-weekly basis. It’s important to mingle at the local captive watering hole, observe the kiddies, and most of all not to ignore books (they’re very impatient!)).

3.) Did you experience any synchronicity this week?

My synchronicity this week dealt with a hobby of the musical persuasion. I’ve owned a guitar for 11 years. In that time, I’ve probably strummed no more than 11 hours. I’ve taken 2 classes, and bowed out both times prematurely. I want to make music, but for some reason the guitar doesn’t hit my chord. The drums however have always been my pie in the sky. I suppose the only thing keeping me from beating away is the neighbor factor. “Keep it down!” “What’s with all the racket!” When I move to Taiwan, I’m hoping to find sound proof walls. If I don’t, I know my calling. Because when I checked one of the bucket list this week by seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform live in my native Buffalo, NY, it was actually the drummer Max Weinberg’s birthday. The funny thing is back in college when I saw U2 in Providence Rhode Island, it was also the drummer’s birthday. Hmmm. Coincidence? I think not, this is a simply and silly sign from the universe. On your next birthday, treat yourself to a drumset! Consider it bucket listed under Urgent!

4.) Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? 

My drawing has taken off! I’m finding myself more comfortable and eager to sketch. In the Night Pages, I doodled on 4 of the 7 pages. In regards to the Night Pages, I allowed myself to treacherous yet effective behavior. For two of the night pages, I actually went to bed without doing them, though took care of them the next day while trying to stay in the frame of mind from the previous night.

This week was another successful one in regards to the task as I completed 8 of them. Week 5 has a host of quirky writing exercises examining what we want from life. I took the tasks seriously and as instructed gathered images correlating with these desires. I posted some on Pinterest, and kept the rest private as suggested by my girlfriend in order to stay confident about them in case others unleash their criticism and negativity. It’s important to protect your inner artist. After all, they are just a child and as they grow, you must guard them from all foreseeable danger.

Significance occurred with productivity. I dusted off my father’s bicycle and rode it across town to the library where I spent hours each day tackling formiddable GRE vocabulary. But I didn’t neglect my artist pursuits. As while at Barnes and Noble, I researched possible publications for my “Wrestling Dad” article on the double-life of famed “The Innovator of Violence” Tommy Dreamer.

My girlfriend can tell how moved I am by the “Artist’s Way” that she abandoned the hints and flat out demanded (politely) that I purchase a copy of her own. Which I gladly did. That now have 2 other mortals, who I have urged to begin re-discovering their inner artist.

My love for comic books is growing. I ended most nights this week by reading recent issues of DC Comic’s Justice League. It took 31 years to grow a fascination and appreciation with actual comic books as oppose to their cartoon and cinematic spinoffs. In fact, I’m eying up issue #1 of Deadman. As soon as this sentence adds an exclamation point, it’s all mine!

Happy discovering imaginators!

Artist’s Way: Week 4 Check-In

15 Apr

1.) How many days this week did you do your morning pages?

Is there any doubt? EVERY SINGLE DAY! Sir/Ma’am Yes Sir/Ma’am! Of course, for a couple of the days I may not have penned them when I first woke up, they were completed. I’m starting to relax in the morning pages, and have lost a great deal of anger. Though I’m not lazilly filling the page, I’m also looking within and above for answers. While last week I was able to quickly write away, this week it took much longer. This probably has something to do with me having to seek out emotions to draw upon and that I wrote most of them while in the car.

2.) Did you do your artist date this week? 

NO. I could look at some of the things I did this week and pass them off as an artist date, but I won’t lie. I did not complete my artist date this week. I should have and had planned to make my debut visit to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Part of the problem is I place perhaps so much importance on the artist date, that I feel I must trek to some place entirely new or undertake something epic. I need to be comfortable with biking to a local park and having a picnic under the canopy of chirping birds, or even the bicycling itself, permitting I traverse landscapes rich with nature or man-made creations. Perhaps it’s time to draw up an artist date menu, for I have seven opportunities left, and I desire to take advantage of all of them.

3.) Did you experience any synchronicity this week?

I’m experiencing thought block trying to look back. Though, there were definitely moments that pointed me in the right direction. I sought out to interview famed professional wrestler Tommy Dreamer for an article portraying the “wrestling Dad.” Not only was I able to score the interview, but I ended up adding an impromptu interview with the fascinating “The World’s Most Huggable Wrestler” Bryan Castle. Instead of merely plugging his profile into RingWriters.com, I feel his story has potential to be on display in a number of local Toledo, Ohio print or online publications.

Thankfully my supportive friend and lady Jaewon was able to point out that I hadn’t edited any picture books this week. I appreciate the reminders, as they push me to stay on the right path without getting too sidetracked.

One major aspect of synchronicity deals with an old high school acquaintance who is now a writer and actively pursues the creative life. He contacted me about getting together to work on some 2-minute shorts, something I look forward too.

I’m also strangely being led into a path of comics and graphic novels. There’s a major convention coming up in Toronto, Canada, and that same friend is working on a comic book. I also accidentally discovered some books on how to draw/create your own comics at the local library. Something is afoot. I’d be a fool not to listen to what God/the universe is planning for me. At least this gives me a “get out of guilt pass” when I neglect creative work to watch episodes of the Young Justice animated series.

4.) Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? 

Peace of mind. I generally feel more confident.

Also, I find myself standing up for my creative life on several occasions. I won’t put myself down by using the word “aspiring.” On the same hand, I don’t talk about creative pursuits with those who don’t warmly support it. I’m learning not to cry out for support, and rather look to myself and the universe for it. A plan will unfold, if it hasn’t already.


Overall, I wasn’t fully dedicated to the Artist’s Way this week, but I feel I improved as an artist. In regards to the Night Pages, I successfully completed all seven, but I did cheat one day as I penned it the next morning. I also slacked off on the tasks only completing 4 of the available 10. Although Julia Cameroon says we only need to aim for about half, I place higher standards on myself. Though, as part of my recovery, I’m not going to beat myself up or feel I have to make up for it. I will just be aware of the time in each day and in relation to the week to successfully complete the tasks in a meaningful way. I also can be blamed for having high expectations for Week 4. I was floored by the connection Cameroon’s words made in Week 3. Thus I quickly devoured the tasks. Week 4, didn’t exactly resonate with me. I was also reluctant to recite my “Artist’s Prayer” everyday. I need to keep pushing though and letting go of any hesitation and fear. I’m looking forward to Week 5, but almost fear that the end will come. A part of me wants this 12 week course to expand by an additional 40. I could always use the other books in her series, or create my own. (I’m in favor of the latter.)

Thanks for reading imaginators. All the best and more to you on your artist journeys.

Artist’s Way: Week 3 Check-In

9 Apr

1.) How many days this week did you do your morning pages?

Once again, this proud imaginator is proud to announce that he rocked through all 7 days of the morning pages! I was quite the loyal servant to the page, both on time and with the release of emotion. I’ve been able to cut down my writing time to 18 minutes. Though I still find my writing endurance fading midway through the second page, I hope to see that endurance increase in future weeks. I don’t see the immediate effects of these morning pages, but I believe in them, and I especially boast a proud smile when I place the bookmark in the journal. I’ve only made made it through 25% of the course, and more than half of the journal is full with exactly 63 pages penned.

2.) Did you do your artist date this week? 

This week was a double-header all in the name of science! Sadly, these dates failed to blind me with science. Though, I don’t regret either of them. Both of the dates were intended as “inspiration trips” much like what you can see on Syfy’s Monster Man show, where the artist working on a project goes somewhere to further enlighten the process of that particular project. For me, I’m eager to send out a picture book based on stars, the galaxy kind. Consequently, on Friday I paid a visit to the Buffalo Museum of Science. It’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been there, and it’s certainly seen better days. Regardless, I made the best of it. Though I wasn’t “inspired” by the space area, I was able to take a lot of information from the “body/health” exhibit. As a bonus, on my way out I ran into my cousin’s cousin and her family and was able to enjoy a hot cup of talk and watch her adorable daughters play in the children’s room. The second artist date was on Saturday at Buffalo State College’s Insert-Name-Here-That-I-Forgot Planetarium. I made a reservation for one (technically two, since my “artist self” came along as well), and slouched my way into the snug 60 seat theatre of the stars. I ABHORED (GRE word bonus!) the presentation, as it basically just a student made power point slideshow projected on the globe ceiling screen. It was only at the very end, that the staff darkened the room and treated us to a 30 second look at the twinkling skylight. I scored a 15 minute nap, but more importantly grabbed some needed details about planetariums for my story and eavesdropped on everyday children’s conversations which are always helpful for a kidlit author. While my muse didn’t meet me there, I was happy to break out of the comfort zone a bit and re-visit a childhood relic and travel to someplace for the first time.

3.) Did you experience any synchronicity this week?

For those who aren’t aware, Julia Cameroon describes synchronicity as “lucky breaks,” which are anything but lucky and rather the doing of the universe to help us realize our creative goals. Now if I had won the $640 million dollar mega-million jackpot, I would say that I had some amazing synchronicity this week. That didn’t happen, but I can’t ignore the little but important things that did. A lead for a SUPER COOL CAN’T WAIT TO QUERY IT TO MAGAZINE STORIES contacted me with her phone number, I just have to pick up that phone now and get permission for an interview. If successful, I have high hopes for this feature piece. The universe did make me aware of a huge comic book convention in Toronto, occurring in just two weeks, which could be helpful. I usually have more syncrhonicity, but I’m not alarmed by this week’s lack of or my inability to realize them. There will be more in the future, I am certain of it.

4.) Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? 

While I won’t admit to any profound changes in my creative life, I believe progress is already showing. During Week 3, I revised two of my picture books, one of which I feel is nearing completion and just a final edit away from sending to a prospective publisher. I have noticed how my productivity in other changes has been inconsistent. Perhaps this is because I don’t deem them as significant. However, studying for the GRE at this time is of dire importance and I hope I can rally my time to pursue an honored score. In addition, I spent more time at the library and at Barnes and Noble then in recent week, which shows I am actively removing myself from idleness to be more productive.


In regards to the Night Pages, I’m sad to report that for the second straight week I missed one of the days. It occurred on Monday, the first day. In regards to blog posts, I fell one short, as I only posted once this week for CraveCoasters. Happily, I was able to post my desired two posts for both CraveWriting and RingWriters. I’m delightfully shocked to see how RingWriters receives more hits per day than CraveCoasters and CraveWriting. On another avenue of creativity my dedication to learning how to draw is taking off. I began using a wonderful book called Face Off, geared towards developing one’s caricature drawing skills. As commanded by the author, I drew my required random 10 caricature sketches for both Saturday and Sunday. I also began a new tradition by returning to the Queen City Comic Book Store and purchasing my allotted comic book for the week. While I’m hungry for more, this one comic per week dosage serves as a wonderful treat for the week, while not costing a lot nor consuming too much time. Well, I did cheat when I ordered “Return to Labyrinth: Volume 1,” an English manga comic book based on Jim Henson’s classic film, and one of my favorites, starring David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly and a host of adorably creepy muppets. I was also tempted to drive back to the comic store several times this week. And I almost purchased the bond Brightest Day Green Arrow comic book volume. This amazes me since I’ve only read two comic books in my entire life. In the past two weeks, I’ve read three. I’m happy to embrace this new obsession, permitting I can prevent it from getting out of hand. Also, reading comic books certainly aids my eye for art, something I welcome.

In a triumphant feat, I completed 8 of the 10 tasks! Julia Cameroon recommends we tackle just five, but I was highly motivated and went beyond what was asked of me, and most of them were completed early in the week. My refusal to procrastinate should make me proud, and I think I need to celebrate… maybe I can buy two comic books this week? 🙂

Artist’s Way: Week 2 Check-In

2 Apr

1.) How many days this week did you do your morning pages?

I’m proud to report that I successfully penned all three of the morning pages each and everyday. I started out in week one at over 30 minutes a day, but I’ve been able to breeze through the morning pages more quickly. I feel that I’m voicing less complaints. I wasn’t really surprised by anything other than how I still tend to drift off half-way through and that the first page seems to take the longest. But once I get started, CHOO CHOO! The train just keeps on rolling baby!

2.) Did you do your artist date this week? 

I didn’t execute my artist date until Saturday, but it was certainly more effective than last week’s trip to see The Lorax. This week I chose to “return to innocence,” and visited Blockbuster, Toys’R’Us, Queen City Comics Bookstore, and Markheim Pet Store. Each of these four stores resonates with my past, and outside of Toys’R’Us, I haven’t been to any of them in over 5 years. Between all of those places, I spent countless time in there as a child, so it was interesting to waltz in as an adult. Sadly, each of the five places had underwent a massive overhaul. Blockbuster lost the blue and the VHS tapes, Toy’R’Us overhauled the entire store down to the placement of aisles and content, Queen City Comics looked clean and organized, and Markheim being in a new location lost the appeal I remember from my past. As a children’s book writer it’s important to remember how a child thinks and what they desire. Thereby visiting relics of my childhood, I was able to tap into my inner child. Job well done! I felt I would miss my childhood after this artist date, but instead I was actually holding strong in my adulthood, which for me was an unexpected positive outcome. The results haven’t been immediate, but the memories I was able to extract are pouring a foundation on which to place my creative desires on.

3.) Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? I started the tasks on Saturday as opposed to the last day like I did in Week 1. I haven’t seen my devotion to the process waning in anyway. If anything, I’m starting to believe in this course more than myself, but ultimately that won’t hurt me as this course is designed to help me. I should have devoted more time to the tasks, and I also didn’t integrate the tasks into my morning pages. I find it hard to stop the stream of consciousness and integrate elements from the book. I will probably always struggle with that, because once I have to turn off my switch and consider passages and elements from the book, I will lose that robotic writer mood. Though, I am starting to realize that I don’t have to be “in the mood” to create. Once I start, it’s hard to stop. For someone who needs to write more, this is a wonderful lesson to learn and integrate into their daily life.

BONUS: In regards to the Night Pages, I’m sad to report that I missed one of the days. I only came through with 6 out of a possible 7. While I didn’t do a lot of doodling, I was able to focus on the writing and fill most of the page with reflective and productive. I’m still satisfied with my decision to commit to the night pages. In regards to the tasks, I also fell short this week as I truly only competed about 4 of them. Looking ahead to week 3, I’m confident I will be able to understand and enjoy them more. I just need to start before Saturday.

Quote Parade #5

25 Mar

“Every book is a children’s book if the kid can read.” – Mitch Hedberg

“Rediscovering your inner creativity is like playing both roles in Hide-N-Seek.” – Crave Cravak

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know too well.” – Joe Ancis

“Walt Disney was a beginner of things, not a finisher.” – General William Everett Potter

“To Walt (Disney), progress meant sharpening – not erasing – what came before. It was like restoring color to a black-and-white photo – enhancing an image while retaining its essence.” – David Koenig

“Those who believe they have nothing, are disappointed by everything. Those who believe they have everything, are disappointed by nothing.” – Crave Cravak

“You have been given the gift of life. It is a fragile gift and not one that you can keep forever. But, is the most precious gift in all the world. Use it well little one.” – Thundercats (2011)

“In the end what matters isn’t how long we’ve lived. But how fully we’ve lived. The good we’ve done. The friends we’ve made. The love we shared along the way.” – Thundercats (2011)

“It’s time to turn the to-do list into a memory.” – ??? TV commercial

“Never half-a$$ two things; whole-a$$ one thing.” – Ron Swanson

Shopping List: A Writing Exercise

20 Apr

Each and everyday there linger biological and societal tasks we all must attend to: laundry, a trip to the little boy/girl’s room, and even opening the door for a total stranger. Usually they have nothing to do with our lives as writers, until now. It’s important for us imaginators to apply our creativity to as many daily ordeals as possible. Consequently, I present to you today’s writing exercise: ‘The Shopping List.’

Much like ‘Day in Disguise,’ this exercise gets your creative juices flowing. ‘The Shopping List’ allows you to play maestro masterfully conducting words to score the otherwise mundane grocery  list. Regardless of who does the shopping in your house, creatively re-name each item. Be sure to imploy figurative language, sensory details, and/or pop culture references.

Disclaimer: Make sure your list is appropriate for all ages, especially easily offended grumpies. By the way, I never take my own advice.

  • Milk: Udder Juice
  • Lamb: Mary Doesn’t Have This Anymore
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: E.F.O – Edible Flying Objects
  • Eggs: Plastic Nest
  • Mayonaise: Causasian Spread
  • Paper Towels: Liquid Huggers

Not only will it help get the creative juices flowing, it’s a fun activity for couples, roommates or the whole family. Have others try to solve the ‘riddle’ for each item. It’s important to see if your remixed names are merely beautiful letter parades or if they actually relate to your audience.

Even if the list is just for you, give it a whirl. If you can’t find the peanut butter simply ask the clerk, “Excuse me, where is the greasy peanut  poop?”

Happy shopping imaginators!

Day in Disguise: A Writing Exercise

13 Apr

Between each sunrise, writers should have written…something.

After a busy day, it’s difficult to swim in your imagination. If you need a help transitioning from the adreline pumping confines of reality into a writer’s groove, forget curious liquids, there’s a writing exercise waiting to assist you.

Remember, writing is the key: you don’t always have to pen a staggering slice of a novel. If you’ve had a full day, use the activities, events, and experiences of the day to your advantage.

Say hello to the “Day in Disguise” writing exercise. Simply recall all of the things you did today but instead of writing them down like any Joe Shmoe (no offense to the Shmoe family), enlist your creative dominance over the letters to remix the day.

For example, “ate grapes” becomes “savored the flavor of juicy spheres after ripping them from their umbilical cord.” Or “watching the movie Sorceror’s Apprentice” becomes “Witnessed a skull faced motorcyclist who could be gone in 60 seconds wait 1,000 years to train a dork who previously scored a girl “out of his league” to be Merlin’s apprentice.”

You can also choose keep it simple by remixing “took a nap” to “visited the dream SPA.”

For each “Day in Disguise,” start from the beginning of your day and simply list all of the things you did or want to remember. Then one by one, until you’re satisfied, in the writing mood, or successfully defeated writer’s block.

In addition, you can use this list to test the power/humor of your writing, while entertaining others.  Bring it to work or school the next day and have your peers try to see through the figurative language and guess what you actually did. Remember, sharing is caring, and there’s nothing better than to easing others into reading your work.

Happy creative listing imaginators!


*Can you guess what they are?

  • Gave my teeth a bath.
  • Was attacked by an indoor rain storm.
  • Calmed the waves of the blanket ocean.
  • Fancy footwork accelerated two circles towards my destination.
  • Mowed my facial fields.
  • Avoided the temptation of Ronnie M’s dead cows and feasted on a bowl of green.
  • Co-workers laughed at the color of my refrigerated urine.

The Day in Pictures

8 Apr

Inspiration can come from anywhere. But for those  imprisoned within a cubible, a dense fog lingers.

Luckily, many have access to the internet. Facebook and Twitter may absorb more time than a wait at the DMV, though besides networking they do little to aid a writer. A google image search can conjure up a bizzare menagerie of images, but more time is spent on teh hunt than relishing the glory of the catch. While Children’s Literature themed blogs are the ideal, sometimes a writer needs inspiration from other sources. Consequently, I recommend a personal passion of mine, USA Today’s ‘The Day in Pictures.’

This daily dose of photographic gems aids the writer in many ways. First they provide inspiration in the form of a possible character, setting, or emotion. In addition, they give non-fiction writers an idea of what to capture if they need to provide their own photos. Though, best of all, the photos are topical and educational. I can learn about distant cultures, customs, and conflicts. Think of it as a living history textbook in the form of an entertaining slideshow. While a picture may say 1,000 words, those penning middle grade or chapter books need more to fill the pages. Conveniently, given the journalistic captions, ample information is provided forming a joyous springboard for further exploration and research.

Imaginators, if you’re looking for current and vivid inspiration to strike your sense of sight, look no further than USA Today’s ‘The Day in Pictures.’

Quote Parade #4

27 Mar

“Just because something isn’t true, there’s no reason you can’t believe in it.” – ‘Hub’ (Robert Duvall) in “Secondhand Lions”

“She needed the opportunity to prove to herself that she was something more than what she believed.” – ‘Eric’ in “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

“It’s not about how well you play; it’s how you feel about what you’re playing.” – ‘Piano Lady’ from “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The thing about life is you always have to keep something on the the to do list.” – ‘Alan Shore’ from “Boston Legal”

“Maybe if you’re honest about the darkness in a room, maybe then you can begin to show someone the light.” – Jamie Tworkowski

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.” – Chuck Palahniuk

“We’ve been waiting all our lives for things we’ve always had but had no eyes to see.” – Republic Tigers – ‘Buildings & Mountains’

“A book begins as a private excitement of the mind.” – E.L. Doctorow

“Writing itself is pretentious. Think about the arrogance required for someone to think, “I am going to take all of these clever stories and ideas that I have in my head and put them all on paper. People will spend their hard-earned money to read my brilliant ideas.” What an arrogant bastard!” – Nick Adams from “Making Friends With Black People”


2 Feb



Happy Happy Hippos


QUOTE PARADE: “A satisfied customer – we should have him stuffed” – Basil Fawlty

IMAGICISE: What’s inside a teddy bear that makes it so cuddly? Imagine if children were asked to think about what was inside a stuffed toy. In 5 minutes create that list. For an advanced imagicise begin writing a story about one stuffed toy who had an item from that list inside him/her. (This imagicise actually prompted me to pen my picture book ‘Stuffed’ about a teddy bear who loses its stuffing and searches for the ‘right stuff’)

THE STARTING LINE: I always wondered what hid beneath Mr. Buttonworth’s furry skin. Then one day…

THE FINISH LINE: …and that was his/her first and final hug.


"push me please"


IDEA FACTORY: The Casting Call – Want to create a character driven story? Need some fresh characters for a story? Simply assemble your stuffed animals and hold a casting call. Sit the critters against a plain backdrop and allow them to tell you their story. If you don’t have an arsenal of stuffed toys, simply borrow your child’s, neighbor’s, or bring a camera to the toy store. Luckily for me, I stumbled upon the casting call by accident. My parents wanted to put my treasured childhood relics to ‘sleep.’ I agreed on the condition that each and every toy was immortilized with a photo. Since every picture says 1,000 words, I was able to listen to each creature’s story.