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Creativity Tool: Story Starter

Story Starter

I don’t really do much with fiction writing, but on the occasion that I decide to dabble (or if I just want to get my creative juices flowing), I turn to my regular swipe file of things to write about.

But sometimes, I run out of ideas. Or maybe I want to try something different. That’s where Story Starter comes in.

Simple, effective, and outrageously fun to use, Story Starter is a tool that gives you a prompt that you can frame a scene or story around. Just a line to get you going, but that line is chock full of details that can spider outward into a work of art.

Also, if you’re looking for a good laugh, the prompts can be quite funny.

Go ahead, give it a whirl: http://thestorystarter.com/



Photo By: Sophie Thumser

I really suck at hobbies.

I tried painting, but I don’t have the patience.

I tried poetry, but I prefer reading it over writing it.

I tried crafts, but I just plain suck at those.

I aspire to be a hobbyist. Just ask my friends. I speak longingly of being a lady of leisure and hobbies, with plenty of time to learn programming, sewing, French, and piano.

However, like most of us, I work a 9 to 5 and actually, I’m quite happy with that at the moment.

But, there is the itch to have a hobby. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far to reconnect with a hobby that I’ve stuck with before.

A few weeks ago, I auditioned for a play – and I got a part.

In high school and college, I ran with the theater crowd and got to take part in quite a few productions. My fondest memories of high school involved the auditorium.

Whether it was a play, a practice, a rehearsal, a poorly choreographed rendition of “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”, the auditorium was where I made my friends, fell in love, felt heartbreak, connected with something bigger, touched the fringes of being confident, and discovered more about who I was and what was important to me. Formative years, indeed.

But it’s not my first love or what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s fun. It’s an escape. It’s a chance for me to flex a different set of creative muscles. It’s a hobby.

Much like my attention span, this is a hobby that will come in short, focused bursts. It’ll eat up a lot of time, but will have a finite duration.


Tonight is the first rehearsal.

Old friend, I’ve missed you.


My First Phone Number Request

Photo By: Alan Mays

So, I’ve never actually been asked for my phone number by a complete stranger before. It’s never happened.

The closest I got was when I was 14 and I went to Medieval Times with one of my good friends and the guy working the souvenir counter slid a sheet of paper across the glass with his name and number on it. He had long hair and wore tights with Converse shoes. I dug it. I actually ended up calling him too, which got really creepy. Never mind the fact that I was in PA and he lived in MD, he has a girlfriend who he gave some sort of crystal gift to that he felt the need to tell me about, I was the most awkward teenager ever, I still hadn’t hit puberty and wasn’t aware of how to be a female, he said he didn’t like school and wanted to drop out, but I digress. It was only one phone call because it was too weird, by the way.

My dating history is vanilla at best, so imagine my surprise when I got asked for my number in the grocery store this week.

It started in the bread aisle, as these things often do, as I had glanced down at my list. I didn’t need bread and wasn’t entirely sure what I needed in the same aisle, but I figured I’d make a pass to jog my memory. As I pulled my cart to the side and started to dig into my pocket for the list, a boy approached. He couldn’t have been more than 13 or so.

“Excuse me, miss?” he asked.


“Do you go to Scranton High?”

“I’m sorry, no.”

[Insert long awkward pause]

“Oh, so, um…are you a grown up?”


This was now turning into one of the most awkward experiences of my life. What did this kid want? Maybe he thought he knew me from somewhere, which is fine, but the whole exchange was just so unexpected.  After that, he walked to the end of the aisle and turned the corner. I went further down the aisle, then he returned.

“So, um…do you mind if I get to know you better?”

I thought for a second. I didn’t know what to say, so naturally, I said, “Okay, sure!”

What am I getting myself into?

“My name’s Jamal. I like to play basketball, go to the movies, read a lot, stuff like that.”

“Nice! My name’s Mandy. I like to read and watch movies also.”

Another long awkward pause.

“So, do you think you could give me your number and maybe I could call you some time?”

Oh. My. God.


I had to have turned about 50 shades of red. This whole situation just screamed uncomfortable. How do I let him down easy so that he doesn’t get depressed and drop out of school and blame the girl  that he got up the stones to ask for her number but she said no because she was a grown up?! (This is what happens in my crazy brain. I still feel terrible about this whole thing.)

“I’m sorry, but no, as I’m quite a bit older than you, but it was very nice to meet you!”

He looked heartbroken.

I felt terrible.

I still feel terrible.

I wish I would have said something motivating before he walked away.

“Hey Jamal, keep your chin up! Keep reading!”

I really do hope he keeps reading and watching movies, though, because he seemed like a nice kid. You’re too young to be picking up girls at the Giant, buddy. Focus on school and you’ll find the right girl some day.




25 Years. 25 Acts of Kindness.

In a few days, I’ll be 25. I never really thought 25 was a big deal until I got closer to it. 25 seems like such an “official” age. I’m able to rent a car in some states at this age. It also puts me at the middle of the road between 20 and 30. All in all, it’s pretty cool to be turning a quarter of a century. To ring in 25, I wanted to do something a little different.

Now initially, my first idea was to create a site called, “What Should Mandy Do for Her 25th?” or alternately, “What Should Mandy Do for Her Quarter Life Crisis?” where people could submit tasks for me to complete or ideas for activities (within time, budget, and geographic constraints, of course). I still may put this idea into action yet!

Anyways, I’ve read about this before, but I got to thinking that I should do something for others to celebrate. I took a page out of #26acts and settled on #25for25. For the rest of the month, I’ll be performing 25 acts of kindness for friends, family, and strangers. Part of me really believes in karma and what you put into the universe will come back to you, so I feel really good about being able to do something with my birthday than just get schwasted and eat cake.

I’ll be documenting my 25 acts, but feel free to give me ideas! Comment! If by some stroke of luck you participated in an act of kindness, fantastic! Better yet, I hope this inspires you to give a little extra kindness to a stranger or to put more good into the universe.


Things I Don’t Like to Do

  1. Fold laundry.
  2. Put away laundry.
  3. Do anything remotely related to folding and/or putting away laundry.
  4. Dishes.
  5. Play volleyball.
  6. Wrap gifts. (I like giving them, though!)
  7. Shop for bathing suits.
  8. Play soccer or kickball or any sport that involves kicking something.
  9. See how much gets taken out of my paycheck every week.
  10. Not be myself.