STORYSTORM 2018 Update


In case you forgot, STORYSTORM, founded by Tara Lazar is taking place this month. If you’ve never participated in STORYSTORM, I encourage you to consider it for next year. I’ve been providing updates as I’ve moved along this month. I am happy to say that I finished STORYSTORM a few days early. And just to prove I’m a bit of an overachiever, I went with 31 ideas instead of 30.

Next month I’ll take these ideas on vacation with me and comb through to see what’s worth working on and what might have to stay hidden for a while until it rattles around in my brain some more. There might even be some that just need to hit the trash bin.

Did you participate in STORYSTORM this year? How are you doing?



STORYSTORM 2018 Update


In case you forgot, STORYSTORM, founded by Tara Lazar is taking place this month. In the past, I’ve posted my ideas here. I’m trying something different this year and simply keeping a spreadsheet of my ideas and posting updates at the blog.

Today makes 12 days that we are into this annual event. Believe it or not, I’ve managed to come up with 12 ideas already. I’m struggling, because tired brains don’t think well. Some of the ideas I will probably end up tossing when I get around to reviewing them. The nice thing is that each day a different guest blogger is featured at Tara’s blog to give us a healthy dose of inspiration.

Are you participating in STORYSTORM? Any other events you plan to participate in this year?

Challenges Can Be Good by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Here’s a little article I wrote as a Picture Book Idea Month (now STORYSTORM) success story.

Challenges Can Be Good

I don’t like NaNoWriMo. There. I said it. National Novel Writing Month is not for me. It did, however, lead me to the perfect challenges.

Discouraged after failing NaNoWriMo—miserably—twice, I came to the realization that the stress of cranking out 50,000 words during one of the busiest months of the year sours me on writing. It’s as torturous as dragging sandpaper across your sunburned belly.

In October 2010, many of my writing friends were brainstorming over their upcoming NaNoWriMo projects. Feeling left out, I decided to explore other options. That’s how I stumbled upon Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Creating 30 picture book ideas over the 30 days of November seemed daunting, but I gave it a shot and I made it. Now, what was I going to do with those 30 ideas?

Thankfully, there is National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee), an annual event the first week of May where you endeavor to write 7 picture books in 7 days. When I participated in May 2011, I developed an idea from PiBoIdMo that would become my third published book, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving (Guardian Angel Publishing, Nov 2016).

Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving shows ten-year-old Macy using quick thinking and ingenuity to save dinner when the dog swipes the turkey off the table. Without PiBoIdMo, this book may never have existed. It’s not the warm, message-driven story that I usually write. There is a set of fighting twins, a frazzled mom, and a turkey-stealing dog. Not so sweet. Pushing my boundaries to win this challenge allowed me to explore a fun and zany side I don’t often indulge.

Satisfied with my first dabble into PiBoIdMo, I participated again in 2012. Guardian Angel Publishing has Amos Faces His Bully under contract. This story was my first idea for PiBoIdMo in 2012. I can’t wait to see it published.

Just like you need to find a good writing spot and develop a writing routine, finding the right challenge for you can lead to greater success. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself. The rewards can be great.



Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at



STORYSTORM comes to an end today. Wow! Hard to believe how quickly 30 days goes by. I’ve enjoyed it and will really enjoy further contemplating some of these story ideas and fleshing them out. Here are the final three I have to offer:

Idea 28: I would like to write a short biography about Belle Reynolds who was a nurse during the Civil War. She was born in Shelburne Falls, MA and moved to Iowa with her family before she married a man from Illinois in 1860. She became a daughter of the Seventeenth Illinois Infantry and was honored for her actions at the Battle of Shiloh.

Idea 29: I would also like to write a short biography of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who left home to escape an arranged marriage and became Franklin Thompson, eventually enlisting in the Union army. After the war, she married and settled in Texas. In 1897, she was mustered in Houston to the George B. McClellan Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was a “Civil War veterans’ organization committed to preserving the memory of Union solider sacrifice.” She was the only woman ever to be thus honored.

Idea 30: I would like to re-imagine the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Make her a more modern girl–maybe with a red hoodie–and have her outwit the wolf on her own.

That’s it for this year’s STORYSTORM. I hope you’ll be kind enough to share your feedback on some of these ideas.



Who knew January would be so hectic? This time of year real estate is relatively slow, but I haven’t had much down time to participate in STORYSTORM this month. The health issues plaguing my father-in-law certainly haven’t helped. We almost lost him last week, but he finally seems on the mend. So where does that leave us? With 12 story ideas to come up with as of today. Here it goes….

Idea 16: How about a story of a young girl who cherishes the memory of her grandfather by planting a memorial garden in her back yard?

Idea 17: There is a story idea I’m tossing around about a wife who attempts to murder her husband and then takes off to Mexico with her new boyfriend. The husband recovers with a sketchy memory of what unfolded, but when he figures it out he goes down to Mexico to confront her.

Idea 18: The first full-length novel I wrote was women’s fiction and it centered around three sisters. I would like to write a prequel to that story that unfolds during their childhood: maybe when they are tweens or teens.

Idea 19: Have you ever read anything by Michaela MacColl? She writes historical fiction that centers around the childhoods of famous people like Queen Victoria, Louisa May Alcott, and Emily Dickinson. I’m up to writing something similar. Maybe Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Susan B. Anthony.

Idea 20: What if there was a little boy who saw Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery (Genesis 37)? What if his family didn’t believe him when he told what he saw, but as an adult he met Joseph again?

Idea 21: How about a child who witnesses Pentecost and how it transforms his life and that of his family? (Acts 2)

Idea 22: The story of Jonah and the whale has been told often, but I don’t know that it’s been told from the whale’s point of view.

Idea 23: I wonder what a child would have thought when Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 like we are told in the Gospel of Matthew.

Idea 24: Mercy Street is a Civil War era drama on PBS. Inspired by real people and events, it digs into the lives of those who work and visit the Mansion House Hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia. To fictionalize the lives of the Green daughters of Mansion House would be so interesting if you started with a year or two before the war and then continued into wartime.

Idea 25: Though this idea has been done before, it remains important: a tween in a small town is the victim of extreme bullying online and in person. She eventually commits suicide and the town residents–especially young folks–are left with the challenge of whether to stay the same or change how they treat each other.

Idea 26: I’m ready for another Christmas story too. Not sure what yet. Maybe an animal story that takes place in the forest where all the animals talk and something special happens.

Idea 27: Last one for today: how about a young string orchestra that is due to play a special event but obstacles get in their way: traffic, a flat tire, etc.?




STORYSTORM is moving along swiftly and we are already at the halfway point. We are in the process of moving my father-in-law back from the nursing home and work has been nuts, so I haven’t had time to share my ideas lately. Here’s what I have for the next few:

Idea 10: A mystery with a love triangle that takes place maybe in the 60s or 70s. It would be one of those deals where a man is in love with a woman but she is in love with someone else. She winds up dead and the man who loves her works to solve the crime.

Idea 11: There are a lot of stay-at-home mom cozy mystery series, but not many stay-at-home dad cozies. I wonder if I could write one. It would be neat to write from a man’s point of view. Perhaps this dad is early to a PTO meeting and finds the principal murdered.

Idea 12: If I ever finish Amelia’s Mission, I wonder if there is another story involving some of those characters. Perhaps it is a storyline that features Ralph in a larger role or the focus becomes his family instead of hers; perhaps he learns some of his own family history.

Idea 13: How about a mystery about private school kids on a field trip who work to uncover a missing artifact or to find a student who goes missing. Being a private school, I could limit the number of students so it would be more realistic.

Idea 14: Would love to try a pioneering story one day. Something like a man and woman who take advantage of the Homestead Act to move west and create a new life. Better yet, maybe it is a young man and young  woman who meet along the wagon train and fall in love.

Idea 15: How about a short chapter reader from a shelter puppy’s perspective about finding a new home.