October 1, 2012

Short And Sweet Monday - Collections

Sufferin' sassafras!  Is it Monday already?

Then in that case it must be time for something Short & Sweet!
badge created by Loni Edwards
And when I say Short & Sweet, I mean it!  Seriously!  Somehow October snuck up on me, never mind Monday, and I've got SOO much to do!

Today is Princess Blue Kitty's first birthday.  (For those of you who didn't spend the summer here, Princess Blue Kitty is my car.)  And I will have you know that yesterday, on the way home from Stop & Shop her odometer rolled over 35,000 miles.  That is a lot of miles to collect in one year.

But it got me to thinking about collecting things.  If you have kids, spend any time around kids, or have ever been a kid, you know that kids love to collect things.  Pokemon cards and baseball cards.  Build-a-Bear outfits and accessories.  Vacation tee-shirts.  Rocks.  Matchbox cars.  Comic books.  Beanie Babies.  You name it, there's probably a kid somewhere who collects it :)

So for today's Short & Sweet think up something a kid collects.  Then think about why they collect it and what that tells you about who they are.

Then, in the comments (or if you can't comment because of my @$!%*%! blog you can email me and I'll post for you) write a sentence, or a couple sentences, or however much you want, that tells us something about your character, what they collect, and why.

Who:  can be as vague as "he" or "she", or as specific as "Molly, a little brown field mouse"
The Collection: can be absolutely anything you want! - the more interesting/unusual/downright bizarre the better :)  (And I mean anything!  Having trouble thinking something up?  Just look around and pick the first thing you see - dog bones, acorns, picture frames, super balls, macaroni, potholders, toenail clippings (sure! why not go for the gross?! :)), grass trimmings, song lyrics, cocoons, seeds.... the possibilities are endless!) ... (and in case you were wondering, which I know you were since I told you to look around and pick the first thing you see, I do not have acorns and toenail clippings etc. lying around my living room... only the dog bones :))
Why: hopefully the why of this collecting will give us a peek inside your character and will be the spark that ignites story ideas :)

Here are a couple examples:

Henry collected seashells on the beach where he had fished so often with Grandpa.  He searched for those that neither the ceaseless tumbling of the tide nor the careless steps of hard-soled feet had cracked or broken.  Only shells that were whole and perfect made his collection.  Whenever he found a new one, he brought it to Grandpa.  He never said it out loud, because that would ruin it, but in his heart he harbored the hope that somehow, if he laid something flawless and familiar in Grandpa's gnarled hands, his tangled thoughts would unsnarl, and his mind would become, once again, as whole and perfect as the shells.

Nobody listened to Anne, so she collected words.  Not just any words, not plain, ordinary words, but unusual, unpredictable words that rolled off her tongue in a pleasing way.  Someday she would use her saved up words - words like tangential, garrulous, idiosyncratic, vituperative, onomatopoetic, ecclesiastical and catastrophic - sprinkle  them into her speech like spices, and then, people would listen!  How could they not?

His shoelace collection started because of the orange ones he found with the baseballs on them.  Next he discovered the blue ones with green lizards, and after that, yellow ones with NASCAR flags.  He hung them from the handlebars of his bike, like streamers, and hoped that when he sped past she would look up from where she sat on the bottom step of her front porch stringing beads.

Or you can go as simple as:

Mabel collected milkweed pods because she liked to open them up, pull the soft silk from inside, tuck it into her hair and pretend she was an ancient enchantress in a forbidden forest.

Get the idea?

Even if your own character/collection doesn't spark a story for you, someone else's might.  And your offering might spark a story for somebody else!  So let's all share.  And please feel free to write as many as you'd like! :)

Shall we fire up our imaginations and see what kind of stories we can spark with our collections?

Have fun, everyone!  I can't wait to see what you come up with! :)  Hopefully we'll be so inspired that we won't be able to write fast enough! :)

P.S.  If anyone happened to take the new Short & Sweet badge 2 weeks ago when I first put it up, please swap it for this one - the first one was missing the kitty's whiskers! :)


  1. Kerry had begged her Mom for a baby sister or baby brother, but Mom always said five was enough and told Kerry being the youngest was very special indeed. Kerry did not agree, so she started to collect baby animals. First, it was a stray kitten who wandered into the barn during a storm. Then she found Crispin, a baby pigeon with a broken wing. Her big brother, Fred, helped her nurse him and they kept him in a shoe box in Fred's room far from Kitty's claws.

  2. After chewing all the flavor out of it, Maggie stuck her gum in a shoebox. Hubba Bubba, Chicklets, Razzle Dazzle Berry, Winter Mint--each little blob was a sticky, one-of-a-kind sculpture. She slid the collection under her bed.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Susanna, your examples are so beautiful! I especially love the one with the seashells and grandpa. So touching. Joanna and Diana,yours are wonderful too!

  4. Great example. Let me try one:
    Varibel nicked the empty paper towel roll from her mother's fingers. She stuck it with her other paper towel rolls and tissue paper rolls. Picking through her collection, she finally realized she had enough to build her paper telescope to look out at the stars.

  5. What a great collection and background, Joanna - I love it! I hope this sparks a good story for you :)

  6. This is WONDERFUL Diana! I love it! What a great (and disgusting!) collection, and I love that she keeps it under her bed. What a character! I hope this sparks a story for you :)

  7. Thank you, Iza! Now I'm waiting for one from you :)

  8. First, I love the name Varibel! So original! And second, I love this collection. I had no idea where you were going to go with it, but what a great plan! I hope you get a good story out of this :)


    Amelia collected cats that she found wandering at the front of her house. She'd take them in and give them milk and put her doll's clothes on them to make them look pretty. She couldn't stand the tickle of the whiskers so she got some scissors and cut them off. Purrfect!

  10. delores @ thefeatherednestOctober 1, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Grant picked up matches and lighters that he found laying around and buried them at the back of the garden. His daddy was a fireman. Grant hoped that every match and lighter he buried was a fire prevented.

  11. Oh, good one! I'm so glad Grant didn't turn out to be an arsonist! :)

  12. You just leave me in awe. Brilliant! I'm not sure my characters have been collectors until now . . . okay, when I really stop and think, I do have some minor characters doing some collecting, but it would be a spoiler, so I can't share on that one . . . hmmm . . . gosh. I need to add this to my LIST OF QUESTIONS.

  13. You left us with great examples! I keep meaning to do more of these, so here's one...
    He collected dreams over the ocean with his giant sea foam net. When he caught an especially good one, he packaged it with the down from cottonwood trees and tied it with a fiddle head bow. On cold nights he sent warm dreams to shivering children, and on hot nights he sent them thoughts of ice cream and shade.

  14. Well, obviously not every character collects things, it's just kind of different way to come up with some character and plot ideas - sort of sideways so you don't realize what you're doing until you're done :)

  15. Oh, Hannah! This is lovely! That is a picture book right there! I hope you're going to write it :)

  16. I'm sorry. I'm still laughing at what you called your blog. :D

    This is a cool idea. I love Hannah's.

  17. I was trying to be polite, but it's hard :) And I know - Hannah's was wonderful! But I really liked the other too - everyone comes up with such interesting ideas - I liked Diana's bubble gum under the bed one :)

  18. Here goes - (HEY! That could be my new motto! I think I say that a lot :) )
    Fredrick collected live lions and tigers and bears. When people ask why, he just says he likes to feel their soft fur and hear them growl. He didn't care what people thought. He loved the animals and he knew he wouldn't outgrow his 327 lions, 281 tigers, and 679 bears, but maybe his house would.
    I like your examples Ms. Hill!

  19. Thanks, Erik! I like yours too! :) And I agree with your other comment - Hannah's would make a great book :)

  20. Juniper C. Elf thinks everything about the human world is marvelous, especially socks. Striped socks, tube socks, argyle socks, Juniper treasures them all. Each night, she creeps into human homes, and plucks various socks from laundry baskets to add to her expanding collection. Little does she know the effects of her sock affinity on the human owners.


    Juniper C. Elf thinks everything about the human world is marvelous, especially socks. Striped socks, tube socks, argyle socks, Juniper treasures them all. Each night, she creeps into human homes, and plucks various socks from laundry baskets to add to her expanding collection. Little does she know the effects of her sock affinity on the human owners.

  22. Larissa, how wonderful! You've solved the world's missing sock mystery! I've been looking for the match to my Josie and the Pussy Cats socks since the late 70's.

  23. I was thinking the same thing, Pam! :)

    Pamela Courtney (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Larissa, how wonderful! You've solved the world's missing sock mystery! I've been looking for the match to my Josie and the Pussy Cats socks since the late 70's.

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  24. Oh Susanna, I really love your seashells for grandpa story, beautiful.

  25. Thank you, Pam. Now I'm waiting for yours :)

  26. Chester woke early. He was so excited. He quickly shoved his hand under the pillow. He hoped that what his older sister had told him was true. Sure enough, a dollar! A whole dollar! "Hmmm, and the tooth wasn't even that big," thought Chester. "I bet if I get more teeth, bigger teeth...boy oh boy! I'm gonna be rich!" He grabbed his Optimus Prime pen and tablet and began to make a list of all the places he could find more teeth. There was Gramps teeth that were soaking in the mason jar. "Gramps never uses 'em." Ooh and there was the racoon's skull that his brother found on their camping trip. Chester would have to get a hammer and break the glass case to get it. "That skull is full of teeth!" On his way to Gramps room, Chester thought to himself, "I might as well get the pliers from Dad's tool box when I get the hammer. I'll pull ol' Blues teeth and mom won't have to take him to the vet."

  27. Jasmine loves to bake cookies, but not for herself. Every morning she puts on her mother's apron and starts to work. She bakes dozens of chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, and snicker doodles. The smells make her tummy rumble, but she doesn't nibble on one cookie. After they cool on racks, she fills tins with the cookies. She carries stacks of tins to her large wagon and heads for the homeless shelter, where the children greet her with cheers.

  28. Susanna, this is so fun!
    I can think of so many....and I probably will, but here's the first one I have:

    Travis was at the flea market when he saw it.
    To anyone else, it just looked like a small cup.
    A weird small cup too; not really big enough for anything.
    But Travis knew what it was big enough for.
    He bought it for a dollar and took out his hankie and wrapped it up nice and tight.
    "Just ten more," he thought as he looked by the other tables.
    And he only had three more days.

    In three days, everyone would be coming from all over to help celebrate Grandma's 85th birthday.
    Travis had asked again yesterday.
    57 people were coming.

    He should have thought of the idea earlier.
    "That's how ideas are though," his older brother, Tucker, said.
    "They don't come around just because you want them too."

    Tucker was the only other one Travis told about the plan.
    He was helping with the teapots.
    Luckily he had quite a few friends at his college who were into drinking tea.

    But no one loved tea as much as Grandma.
    She didn't drink it as much now that Grandpa was gone,
    and she never used the special dragon tea set she had,
    but no one loved it more.

    That's why he needed so many cups.
    Because what would a birthday party be without tea?

    "And tea can't be served in a mug," Grandpa always said, " cuz mugs are for coffee, plain and simple. Tea, well, that takes a special kind of cup."

    Travis felt the one he had in his hands again.
    He opened up the hankie to take a peak at it.
    "Only ten more," he said, "I can do it!"

    He was so entranced by the deep blue of the cup
    He didn't even notice the girl crash into him.

    But he did notice the cup, falling, just out of the reach of his fingers.
    The crash it made on the ground almost sounded musical.
    But a sad note.

    The girl took one look at Travis and ran away.
    Travis looked at the broken cup.
    He looked at the girl.
    And he made up his mind in a second.

    "Hey! Wait up!" he called as he ran after her...

    Wow I went a little long with that, didn't I?

  29. Sorry I'm so late to the party!
    My car also has 35,000 miles...but it's a 2004 Elantra...hahaha...guess I don't drive very much. :)
    Love your examples, Susanna...Anne, who collects words, reminds of Frederick the mouse who collected words, colors and the rays of the sun.:)
    So I've procrastinated long goes:

    Lacy patterns flickered on the damp craggy walls of the dungeon. "Just a few more and I'll have enough" thought Arano as he slowly dragged another body along the muddy bone-strewn floor. The heavy weight prevented him from moving with his customary agility, but Arano was determined to let nothing stand in his way. Looking up towards the ceiling, he could see the other bodies, bound and shrouded, his helpless captives, ready to serve him.
    Just then, one of the wardens approached, wielding a broom and with a quick sweep along the wall, the intricate cobweb floated to the ground. Paralyzed with fear, Arano froze in the corner, but as soon as the warden had moved down the corridor, the spider quickly scaled the stony wall and began weaving yet another web...the storehouse for his collection.

    Hahaha...definitely NOT my usual picture book offering! I didn't name the collection...but I'm sure everyone will know it is a collection of dead insects...yuck! Don't know where this came from...maybe it was the brown spider that appeared in my kitchen sink yesterday...thank goodness for faucet sprayers and sink disposals. :) :)

  30. You're not late at all, Vivian, and I'm so glad you came :) LOVE your collection - very Halloween :) and cleverly done - I didn't figure it out right away, I was picturing something even more grisly! Thanks for joining in the fun!

  31. Wow, Kathy Ellen! I guess you really got a spark! What a great idea! Thanks for joining in the fun and good luck with this story that seems to want to be written! :)

  32. Wow, Pat! Another fabulous character, collection, and story idea! This would make a lovely story! I'm enjoying reading everyone's creative ideas so much!

  33. Oh, boy, Pam! This is some collection! What a great twist on the tooth fairy (although I'm pretty worried for Old Blue!) and what a terrific premise for a story - an inspiration born of misunderstanding that will have to be cleared up for Chester! Thanks for joining in the fun!

  34. I was going to call my character, Arachnid, but I thought that would be too I picked Arano (arana with a tilda on the n is Spanish for spider). :)
    And I wish I could take credit for the 'Halloween" nature of it...but I never even thought of that. :)

  35. The Halloweensie Contest is coming up soon... I haven't thought up the exact rules yet, but you never know... this could work :)

    Vivian Kirkfield wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I was going to call my character, Arachnid, but I thought that would be too I picked Arano (arana with a tilda on the n is Spanish for spider). :) And I wish I could take credit for the 'Halloween" nature of it...but I never even thought of that. :)

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  36. Here goes:

    Hercules, the young and daring Detective, collects clues that he finds in his local newspaper, and his favorite mystery books. He hopes someday to write the "best ever" kid's crime investigation story!

  37. What a great idea, Jarm! This says early reader series to me! :)

  38. First nice use of sassafras! Here is my very short and sweet:

    There are two things Joey Anderson must never find. The first is the collection of boogers under
    my desk. The second is my notebook of
    Dear Joey love letters.

  39. Oh, good one! I love this Lauri - very creative! :) (Also eewww! :))

  40. Thanks...I actually just made my way back here to pick it up, copy it, and run with it! All these chapter book ideas coming into my head...

  41. :)

    Kathy Ellen Davis wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Thanks...I actually just made my way back here to pick it up, copy it, and run with it! All these chapter book ideas coming into my head...

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  42. I'm intrigued by your story. I work in the dental field so of course I am attracted to teeth! I can't wait to see how this story ends.

  43. Carla collected sticks, all kinds of sticks- long sticks, short sticks, twigs, branches, straight ones, curved ones, toothpicks, chopsticks, in hopes to find THE one-the one magical stick that can grant him wishes and make his baby brother disappear.

  44. Ooh, I love it! I wonder how it will all turn out...?


    Just one more smiling heart and Kori Kuta’s collection is complete.
    At least she thinks so.


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