Sunday, July 11, 2010

Idea Garage Sale: Solicitation for Donations

It occurred to me while I was cleaning the bathroom yesterday that Sunday's my birthday, dammit, I shouldn't have to work and people should be giving me presents. And since I now have three whole followers (one of whom I don't even know personally; wow) and two people in the gaming group say they read this, and since my guiding principle is that ideas are common as dirt, they should be able to generate a sale idea or two in the comment section.

So, what about it, y'all? You don't have to go to the lengths I do and it doesn't have to be a well-rounded or a complete idea; just something that's been rattling around in your head awhile that you don't expect to ever do anything with. It doesn't have to be a story idea, either. A picture you know you'll never draw, a business you know you'll never start, a campaign you wish somebody else would DM. I know you've got 'em. Everybody does.

And if you don't feel like celebrating my birthday today, celebrate E.B. White's. It's his birthday too! Also, this is the 151st anniversary of the publication of A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens's least funny novel - no, wait, Hard Times is oddly devoid of comic characters, too. But nobody has to read it in English class. (I should reread it. I might enjoy it more now than I did when I was 13.)

And the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird. Here's a story we all wish could be told about us. Once Harper Lee, who made a steady enough income with Mockingbird she never had to get a soul-sucking day job or write anything else, was at a cocktail party and somebody clueless asked what she did. She answered: "I wrote a book." Clueless raised his eyebrows and said: "A book?"

She replied: "Well, it was a really good book."


  1. Happy, happy birthday, Peni! I hope you are having a marvelous day!

    Let's see, ideas to share. Well I went over the Yahoo news page to see if I could riff on the idea that there's a story in everything in the newspaper.

    First story that caught my eye was one about trying to decide which historic buildings to save in San Francisco. Right away there was a thought of a novel about a pair of friends with one family owning a historic building and the other family wanting to tear it down.

    Another story was about digging up a Connecticut neighborhood to look for artifacts from a Native American battle with English settlers. Seems like a good idea for a ghost story to me.

    And of course the oil spill is still front page news and lends itself to all sorts of story possibilities. What if your father was responsible for a disaster of that magnitude? What if your mother deserted her family to go down and help during a disaster? What if the main character of the story had run away from home and was out on a stolen row boat when the disaster occurred?

    You're right, Peni, ideas are all around us. We only have to be open to the possibilities to see them.

  2. Hello and happy birthday, Peni! Hoping all is well with you -- Very best wishes, Emma D Dryden

  3. Happy birthday, Peni! My idea for you: a role-playing game book. You know that world so well, why not fictionalize it and make it pay you?

  4. Happy birthday, Peni. Earlier today I read an online article about a man in VT who created a 122-ft long dinosaur out of scrap wood, and is now involved in a battle to keep it from And I thought of you, and your love of things prehistoric and of time travel. Might be something there. (Here's the link to the story: )

  5. Happy birthday, Peni and many more. Cool blog! If I ever have an idea (or a thought, come to, um, think about it) I'll post it here!

  6. Happy birthday, Peni! My idea is not new -- Sharon Shinn already did it: JANE EYRE in space. But I think there's plenty of room to do it again, differently. There can never be enough JANE EYRE for me.

    Nancy W.

  7. Hi Peni, Happy Birthday! (Susanwrites sent me!)
    I love your blog header since I can never keep up with all my writing ideas. But that doesn't mean I can think of any good ones to share right now.

    My latest idea for myself is to combine three story lines into one multigenerational saga. Think the middle graders will go for that?

    What I really love is when other people come up to me and say they want me to write the story they're excited about. It doesn't help any when they go on to specify how much of the proceeds should go to their cause!

  8. Hi Peni, Happy Birthday! For your garage sale:

    Someone whose life is defined not by the one thing he or she did did but the one he didn't.

    The story that goes with the title "This Last Bit of September Heat"

    A writer who gets rich at her idea garage sale.

  9. Happy Birthday Peni, you dont know me but my Sis Susan does. Hope you have a wonderful day.
    Lori Brown

  10. Birthday greetings to Peni!

    Idea that I should do something with but probably won't: How could 30 million adults in the USA not be able to read? In the land of opportunity with free public education? How is that possible? What are we doing wrong?

    Discuss. :>

  11. Whoa, shameless begging works! Especially when somebody well-connected like Susan Taylor-Brown shills for you. Don't feel you have to stop when my birthday ends. Y'all come back and share ideas any time.

    Thanks, Susan. I'd read any of those. Good lord, Emma, hi; haven't "seen" you since I stopped submitting to S&S (which I'll never do again without an agent). Anastasia, I actually have an RPG drawer manuscript and I have a LARP story I haven't given up on. The trouble is, if you use a particular system you've only got one possible publisher - and the contracts where literature crosses with game properties are whack. And Cynthia, that dinosaur - yes, total middle-grade novel, with the kids whose grandfather conceived it and who helped build it rallying support against the bureaucracy.

    Marsha, I know you have ideas - you're just getting stage fright when you go to write them down. That's natural in a world as ambivalent about creativity as ours is, but overcomeable. Hi, Nancy - when did Sharon Shinn write Jane Eyre in space? What title do I look for? Joyce, I read multigenerational sagas when I was in middle school, and some of the more wholesome ones (Louise Aldrich, I remember) were even in the children's section, so yeah, they could.

    Agh, husband needs me downstairs. I'll come back later.

  12. Happy Birthday, Peni. I popped in here this morning and couldn't come up with an idea for you. Then the kids were bugging me so I left my computer. Now it's great to see all the other comments! So how about this: a girl who has no idea what to write for a homework essay and she's at the library wandering aimlessly when this book catches her eye. So she picks it up and it has this perfect idea for her essay. She checks it out, uses it to write the essay, gets a great marks, and then returns the book, only to find she owes... 10 good deeds for 10 different people before midnight...and that turns out to be much harder to accomplish than she ever thought. If she doesn't pay the debt...what? something bad will happen, not sure what. There, that's about all my tired brain will come up with.

    Great birthday party game!! Again, hope you had a great day.

  13. And I'm back (though I'd type better if Miss Thai would settle in my lap instead of constantly circling the keyboard). Susan O'Keefe - you are cryptic and make me think you know more of the story than you say...

    Hi, Lori, Susan TB's sister - I bet she's still laughing incredulously every time she hears herself described as "my sis," isn't she?

    The trouble with ideas like that, Dian, is they're so huge. You either need to do a scientific study, or a massive non-fiction work distilling all the studies and the history of the literacy movement, or carve out a tiny piece of the problem and make a story of it and it's all so exhausting...I don't think a fiction writer can write a story like that till she finds the character who can keep her focused in the midst of all the distracting depression and powerlessness and lead her to an empowering ending. Or, a tragedy; but modern audiences don't like tragedy.

    And finally (or not, she says greedily) - Lizann, you came up with all that this afternoon? It's amazing what you can do when you start thinking in those terms, isn't it? Ten good deeds before midnight is a LOT of people - she better be returning that book in the morning, to give herself some time. I think when you figure out to whom she owes the debt you'll know what the consequences of failure are.

    All this, plus e-mail roses! What a good birthday. Thanks, y'all.

  14. Yay, Peni! I'm so glad some folks stopped by the chat. Hope your day was filled with wonder.

    What color roses?

  15. Happy Birthday, Peni! (I'm a friend of Susan's...) My idea is to write stories based on street people (homeless). How did they get there? Are they living on the streets voluntarily, or because they have no choice? I am fascinated by this, but never had the courage to actually talk to any of them. --- Lori K.

  16. Happy Birthday from Deborah Nourse Lattimore, a friend of Susan T. B., who says you are marvelous and that's good enough for me!
    Have Cake!
    Have champagne!
    Read something swell!
    and do something new and splendid!
    cheers, Deborah

  17. Jane Eyre in space: JENNA STARBORN by Sharon Shinn. See, I knew that would be your cup of tea! The idea, anyway.