My Little Part in the Local Summer Reading Program

I have been involved with donating a prize for the Summer Reading Program to our small town library for the past few years now, and this year I decided to go big. Past years have seen jars of little origami stars, yarn pom-pom bookmarks, there was a set of books and a wooden cobra.  Little things. Nothing that was terribly extravagant because I could never get my butt in gear to get anything done.  Running the produce business with my mom during our busiest season didn’t afford a lot of time for making things, and I rarely like to purchase anything for reading programs, coming up with something fun on my own. The origami stars in a jar were always fun, especially with little quotes about  the stars and such. Easy to do, since I spent my tv watching time folding them and it was something I had jars and jars of.

But this year, I decided that I wanted to go big. I was flipping through a Southern Living  or something along the lines of that, I can’t remember now, and in one of the articles, there was this image of a Jenga game. And not just any Jenga, but a giant one. One made with two by fours. One that was super classy looking with nautical colors, being played on a lake dock, mind you. It was so cool.

So I started hunting for two by fours at our local cabinet shop since they tend to throw out a lot of scraps. No dice. I found nothing but some two by sixes or eights. It would have required a lot of ripping and sanding and futzing with. As it was, I was enlisting Mr. B’s help in the process because hey, he’s the one with all the tools.  So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, because purchasing the wood isn’t cheap. They say it might cost you around $25, but that’s only if you are probably getting the inexpensive, twisted 2×4’s.

Then serendipity struck. Mr. B has been hard at work cleaning out his garage filled with, well, stuff. A lot of stuff. Mostly wood stuff. Boards, trim, blocks, wood.  And he had been collecting really pretty plywood with nice veneers for a while. We are talking cherry, oak, birch, poplar, douglas fir, etc. Nice stuff. Really nice stuff.  Well, he was going to just burn it or chuck it, when I asked, “hey, could you use this?”

Turns out you could. So, after a lot of cutting (57 blocks because hey, he thought we needed more) and a lot of sanding (a LOT of sanding) and painting (after I finally found what paint I wanted at our 2nd hand store) and painting some more (and having my librarian ask when the heck I was going to have my project done… okay, she was a lot sweeter about my dilly dallying than that statement) and finally making a carrying case (Mr. B couldn’t just make a box, no, we ended up with a snazzy tool box carrying case)….. And almost a month into the whole thing, the project was done.

This is a heavy , outdoorsy, cool game that turned out so cool. I mean, I wanted to keep it it was so cool, but I was also afraid to play it because if you know Jenga, you know it eventually topples.  And I’m working with a stack that is probably around 10-15 pounds. (the case and game all together are pretty hefty)

But this thing turned out so incredibly well! I’m excited to have made it. I may never do it again, but still.  It looks soooooo cool. And I have specific family I hope wins the thing since their kids are readers….. But we shall see.

What do you think? You can see several stages of the game below. Pretty nifty, huh?

 

So, I’m pretty happy with the whole thing. Now I need to start now, thinking about what I’m going to do next year….

Kate

It’s A Rabbit Hole of Wonderland Writing Prompts

Rabbit Hole

Now that is a mouthful of a title, but after someone in my writing group said she got writing prompts off of Pinterest, and another in the group telling me the same, I decided to check it out.

Down the rabbit hole was the mental hashtag that came from looking at Pinterest.


Oh my gosh! I just typed in ‘writing prompts’ into the search and hours later I think I had collected several. Way more than I would would ever need. But not enough.  And that was just with a simple search. (by hours later, I mean, I collected them over several hours, not necessarily sitting there for hours. That would have been silly…… plausible, but silly)

So clearly I never knew of this world of really, really cool prompts. I mean, I am forever writing things regularly and I have way too many things started, so why I would ever need a prompt, is beside me.  That being said, I NEED these prompts because somebody needs to write about them. Right? I mean, they are too cool to give up. Someone has to do the dirty work of writing a story on these. And if that dirty work falls to me, well then a writer’s just got to do what a writer’s got to do…..

Currently I have various things floating around in my head, and I have been writing at all kinds of things that I haven’t shared here, probably won’t share here, and even some things I won’t share with anyone.  But sometimes it’s fun to break out a mode of writing and do something totally different, and that’s where these prompts are fun. So you only write a short story to nothing. So it is something you dabble in just for fun. Such is life. Why do we color in coloring books? It doesn’t get us anywhere. It doesn’t do anything but relax us. For me, silly nothing stories relax me. Heck, running a pen full of in over the pristine page of a new piece of paper is relaxing. I want to mark it up!

The woman in the writing group who said she used Pinterest, well this last week she wrote something totally amazing, using one prompt from there, and a couple prompts I bring to the group every week. I have my ‘grab bag’ of prompts I’ve made. Words, feelings, colors, dates, numbers.  Things that could get the ideas flowing. Not so much an actual  ‘A boy walks into a bookstore, sees a girl he likes, sidles up to her and says, ‘Quick, they’re coming to get us. We gotta run.” Now how would you finish this idea?’ That is a Pinterest prompt. (one I made up, so feel free to use it anyone. I don’t care because I personally think this is a crappy idea, but hey, whatever floats your boat.) No my prompts are much more ordinary. I’ve gotten some amazing stuff from them, and so have several of the other writers from the group, but on the whole, rather boring compared to what I have just seen.

Point being, after that longish ramble there, but the woman, gosh let’s call her Sandra Dee, well I’m not sure her story is ever part of her books or anything, so I’d call it relaxing writing. Candy writing. Fluff.  But so much fun.  Some of my fluff writing has gone on to actually be something.

So prompts. I find them terribly helpful and fun and a way to break out of your mind. The backlog of stuff crowding you up and making it so you might not be able to write. People talk about writer’s block all the time.  It’s writer’s block from what you are currently writing, not necessarily writer’s block. I have writer’s block all the time, but it’s only on something I ‘Need’ to be writing. Not so much as writing goes. I can plop down anywhere and start writing just about anything. So Prompts are kind of that slap in the face inspiration, oh, well let’s write about this. And sometimes they can take you places you would never imagine.

Three months ago I pulled ‘pink flamingo’, ‘traveling trailer’, and the word Crowder from an author of a book.  I now have 8 short stories about a fictional town in Texas called Crowder.  It has serious potential to become a book of stories from this town. All humorous in some way or another.  All because I pulled three word prompts. I mean, think what you could get if you used an actual plot prompt?  Who knows. You might write the next Hunger Games or something.

So curious. How do you feel about prompts? Do you use them or mock them? What are some great places you get prompts from?  I just found this great WordPress blog for them; Promptuarium.  Check it out. A lot of them have been reposted on Pinterest, but hey, you might get some great ideas.
Enjoy the prompts I’m posting here. If you get something great and want to share on your blog, link back to me so I can read it.  And also, check out the prompts on my Pinterest board. Maybe they will inspire you to create great things.

Kate