Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Image Props for Stories #3: A Basketball, a Pillow, and a Pair of Boots

“Image Props for Stories #3: A Basketball, a Pillow, and a Pair of Boots” by Joan Y. Edwards

Basketball going through hoop Copyright  2012 Joan Y. Edwards
small white lacy pillow Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards
Boots – Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

Dear Readers,

Props for Stories #3. Joy Moore, Claire Iannini, and Meri added their stories using these three props in the comment section. Hip Hip Hooray for them.

Here Ye, Here Ye. Come on in.
Story #3 is about to begin.
Use all three props. Write a first page.
Make your story all about rage.

Post your writing in the comments below. At the end of a week,I’ll post all the stories with the names of the people who wrote them. I’ll give a free pitch and first page critique to one of the people who posts a comment. I will be the one critiquing your pitch and first page.

A first page sent to an editor or agent would be double-spaced, a first page would be from 150-250 words for a novel, Young Adult, or Middle Grade. If it’s a picture book then 250 words would be almost the whole book. So go for what will make this writing exercise fun for you. The challenge is in using all three props: a basketball, a pillow, and a pair of boots in a meaningful way. The main emotion I’d like for you to show in your story on this first page is rage  – violent, uncontrollable anger. Synonyms: fury, anger, wrath, ire, passion, frenzy, madness, rave, storm, rampage (from Google Search)




Joy Moore wrote and submitted the following first page:

This morning I saw the boots hanging from the entryway hall.

There were to boots from my mom’s victorian phase. The ones from her snow ski period. My small perfectly proportioned sister’s little shoes. And then there were mine. The large size eleven ones staring back at me to remind me that I had grown into a giant.

I was compact at age six. I could fit into any small place like under the table, under the crook of someones arm. But now at age fifteen I had grown into my size eleven shoes. At six feet and counting I had a sense that I will never be able to disappear and blend in with the crowd.

Modeling was something my mother had been pushing lately. The auditions were coming up for the North Park Mall Run Way shows. And she was hinting me hard to try out for it. Especially when Prom came and went with no date. But I couldn’t tell her. It was all too pink and frou frou for me.

I have always loved sports. When all the other girls in the neighborhood were comparing Barbies I was out practicing Basketball. At first it was my passion. When I didn’t fit with the others anymore, it became my escape.

Now I place the pillow under my bed cover to make it look like I am still in it. Then put on my jeans, nudge the basketball under my arm and walk out the door.

As I shut the door I take one last glance at the clock. It says 5:00 A.M. That’s good because it means I have at least and hour and a half to practice before anyone wakes up.

Thank you, Joy Moore.

Wasn’t that fun! Are you ready for more fun and excitement? Let’s read our next entry from Claire Iannini:

Once Jeremy’s head set upon the clean fluffy pillow, sleep took him hostage. After only sleeping one hour, he felt like he was climbing out of a deep cavern, being chased by a Giant whose boots pounded and echoed throughout the large underground cave. Jeremy’s eyes struggled to adapt to the unlit bedroom equipped with room-darkening shades. Peeved, he sat up to orient himself after so little sleep, having worked all night. Huh? What is that? Oh, Jeez – it’s a basketball? Are you kidding me, a basketball? Jeremy was furious.

He jumped out of bed, incensed by the interruption of sleep, and slammed open the bedroom door to the patio. “Ugh, my eyes.” He immediately covered his eyes as if they’d been set afire by the sun. “Who is it?” he yelled. “Are you nuts? What are you doing out here?”

Each question was screamed at an irate pitch higher than the one before it. Jeremy fumed and spewed his wrath at an unseen assailant as his hands still covered his eyes. He began to make slits between his fingers to peek out from, and found the culprit. Jeremy then remembered that a new family moved in next door. He was so angry that his hair felt ablaze.

Jeremy stood on the flagstone pavers in bare feet and boxers, hair cockeyed, a five o’clock shadow at nine in the morning, bloodshot eyes glaring between fingers, and he was clenching his teeth. He was infuriated at the boy’s insensitivity to his work schedule, and even more annoyed at the lad’s astonished expression as if he, Jeremy, was the madman.

Now even more enraged, Jeremy continued with his crazed onslaught at the boy with the frozen-in-time-look on his face beneath a Yankees’ hat. “Don’t tell me the real estate agent didn’t share my work schedule, because I paid her to do so. And stop looking at me with that puppy dog face as if I’m some raving lunatic you just encountered from an asylum.”

Long curly hair tumbled as quickly as tears rushed down the face of the young girl from next door, as she removed her baseball cap. 

Thank you, Claire Iannini.

Oh my gosh! You’re saying, Whoa! Now that was awesome. Are you ready for our last entry for this week’s “Finish the Story #3?” This is where on television they have a commercial, to keep your suspense up. Dun De Dun! Our last entry is from Meri:

The hardest thing I had to do was to enter that house, alone, and to take one last look through it by myself.

I knew the realtor was right. I just didn’t want to do it. I may just be tempted to set the house on fire, but that would give me away now wouldn’t it?

What is the world coming to when the police refer you to realtors who specialize in selling properties that were crime scenes? This I thought as i opened the door and walked into the cold crisp air of the house that felt as if it were frozen in time.

I saw the basketball first and thought of Timmie, the child my husband thought was his for the last 7 years until he learned the satisfying truth.
After picking it up and tucking it under my arm I headed into Cassie’s room to get her boots, her favorite hiking boots. The ones we’d bought a REI with her allowance money, just our little secret. I’d decided to bury them with her.

It was then that I spied the pillow. The one my husband had held over her little four-year old face until I came in and sent him over to glory for doing it. That and other things he’d done in our 12 years of marriage. He cheated, he lied, I covered it and cried until finally I saw my way out and I took it.I took it without remorse or misgivings. I didn’t shed a tear and I didn’t wear black and I didn’t hold a memorial service for him either. He’s gone and good riddance. I hope he burns in …..

I hope I have a match. Maybe there’s a lighter in my purse.

Thank you, Meri.

I applaud each one of you for participating in “Finish the Story #3. Each of you used the props in an interesting manner and showed the emotion of rage. Blue Ribbons from me to each of you!

Here’s my entry:

Jane had been at work for more than 15 hours. Selling basketballs. She’d like to throw a few basketballs down the throats of a few of the customers. However, she’d rather kick her boss with her size 7 boots. She’d like to kick him right where it hurt.  Even at best of kicking him in the buttocks might work, too.  Kicking him so hard that he’d have to wear a pillow around with him twenty-four  seven. The audacity of him leaving her alone in this rinky-dink store on the night before the Black Friday sales begin.

Bret said his aunt died. Well, his aunt must have nine lives or he came from a very large family. Every big sale that he schedules, his aunt dies and he takes off and leaves Jane alone to set up for the sale.  This time it’s going to be different. She wasn’t going to stay there. She wasn’t going to let him push her around. No sir. She’s going to show spunk. She’s going to show him who’s the real boss.  She was going to walk out that door. Lock it, and never look back.

Jane set the alarm, walked out the door, and bumped right into the arms of Bret Hutchins, himself.

I hope you enjoyed this.

Thank you, Linda Andersen for writing and encouraging everyone in the comments area.

There were four people who left comments on this blog post: Linda Andersen, Joy Moore, Claire Iannini, and Meri. The winner of the free pitch and first page critique for Finish the Story #3 was Number 3 (Random.org) – the third person to comment, Claire Iannini. Congratulations, Claire. Please send me your pitch and first page you’d like critiqued to joanyedwards1@gmail.com.

Here are links to two blog posts I did on pitch:

How to Entice an Editor/Agent with a Pitch(Logline)

How to Deliver a Short Gutsy Pitch to Entice Editors, Agents, and Readers

Think in abundance;
There Is a Publisher for Your Story!

Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012-2019 Joan Y. Edwards

Linda Andersen Is Proof That Pub Subbing Works


Linda Andersen is holding a notebook that contains a story she wrote during PubSub3rd Fri 2010. It captures the adventures of her niece at a marine science camp. The cover was designed by Laura Reeves http://www.reevesartworks.com/specialty-artwork.html. This notebook was presented to Tiffany as a gift from her Aunt Linda. A copy has been submitted to a children's magazine.
Linda Andersen
In the photo above, Linda Andersen is holding a notebook that contains a story she wrote during Pub Sub 2010. It captures the adventures of her niece at a marine science camp. The cover was designed by Laura Reeves http://www.reevesartworks.com/ This notebook was presented to Tiffany as a gift from her Aunt Linda. A copy has been submitted to a children’s magazine.

Here with me today is Linda Andersen. She is one of the early birds who joined me in the Pub Sub plan at its birth in October 2009 and planned for the first Pub Sub together with others on February 15, 2010. She has been very successful at getting writing assignments by sending out queries and submissions. Thanks for being here and allowing me to interview you, Linda.

Joan, let me be the first to congratulate you!  It’s official.  Happy 1st Birthday Pub Subbing!  You have created a quality program that encourages writers as they travel on submission journeys.  What a privilege to share some of my writing experiences and how Pub Subbing has been a positive influence.  Thank you for inviting me.

1. During 2009, how many submissions did you make? How many writing jobs did you get?

My records indicate that I made eight submissions in 2009.  From 2006-2008, I submitted far more frequently due to regular freelance writing.  I wrote activities for Celebrate and Adventures, Christian magazines for children.  In 2009 the magazines were closed to submissions; therefore my numbers decreased.  I accepted one writing assignment— to create an online teacher’s guide for the May issue of AppleSeeds. Because I submitted less in 2009, I was able to spend more time on my writing craft.  Both are crucial to the writing success.

2. During 2010 with Pub Sub encouragement each month, how many submissions did you make? How many writing jobs did you get?

I sent forty-one submissions in 2010, which is a huge increase over 2009.  Twenty of these submissions resulted from two contracts.  These were awarded based on satisfaction with earlier assignments.  This proves that you should always do your best, even when payment is small. One contract was to develop six units for a Christian curriculum under development and one was for creating two years of online teacher guides for Cobblestone magazine.  Cobblestone changed its policy from assigning one guide per year to assigning an entire year.  Needless to say, I was very excited and honored to get these contracts.

3. What are your submission goals for 2011?

I intend to contact at least one agent this year. I will submit a manuscript to an editor who spoke at the Fall SCBWI-Carolinas conference.   Even publishing houses closed to submissions often allow conference attendees to send one submission following a conference.  I will request a paid critique on a manuscript.  I am also determined to get a magazine credit this year; so I will submit to several magazines.  I will enter at least one contest.  In addition to submission goals, I plan to improve my technology skills by setting up a website and blog.  I have friends who have agreed to help me through this process.  It’s important to have a web presence and to market yourself.

4. How do you keep track of your submissions?

I display information about submitted projects on a bulletin board as well as update a computer spreadsheet.  PubSub3rdFri certificates are also a great source for tracking submission, as well as a motivation tool.  I have modified the system somewhat.  Instead of printing certificates, I simply draw smiley faces on my calendar to match the date of submission.  I considered applying stickers, but drawing works just as well.  I write PubSub and the name of the magazine or publisher beside the smiley face.  Having smiley faces on my calendar cheers me every time I glance at my calendar.  It works for me.

5. What do you think are the three best things you achieve from submitting once a month or more, using the PubSub3rdFri philosophy?

  • My confidence level increases with each submission.  My chance of being published also increases.
  • I am more willing to try other new challenges such as volunteering to be a member of the planning team for a Christian conference called Write2Ignite.  http://write2ignite.com/ This has helped me stretch and grow.  I wrote a blog for the first time.  “Thrift and Gift.” I presened a breakout session for one of their conferences.
  • Being part of community. Writing can be a lonely venture.  Being part of PubSub3rdFri and the Write2Ignite planning team has helped me reach goals while enjoying the companionship of others.

6. Are the steps listed on Joan’s PubSub3rdFri blog posts helpful to you? Why? How?

Yes, the steps are helpful.  Here is why/how:

  • Week 1:  When beginning a manuscript, check writer markets for guidelines—especially word count.  Some magazines have theme lists. There is no need to submit if the submission doesn’t match what the editor has requested.
  • Week 2: Book List—handy reference.  I like to buy my own personal copy of writing craft books.  I tend to highlight heavily.  If you’d rather check out a copy, libraries offer some titles.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, ask about inter-library loans.  The title may be available for a small fee.
  • Week 2:  Incubator. Don’t send out work too soon.  When you’re not “in love” with your work, you are more likely to spot sections that need to be strengthened and spot careless mistakes.  WARNING:  Don’t forget about your work and leave it in the incubator indefinitely.
  • Week 3:  Read aloud. If you stumble over the words, your manuscreipt needs to be revised.
  • Organization tips are appreciated—although I’d prefer a personal secretary.  Wouldn’t we all?
  • I like that PubSub3rdFri has a raincheck policy.  Great idea! I haven’t gotten one of those at the grocery store lately.  Have you?

7. How do you reward yourself for submitting?

I draw a smiley face on the calendar, call a writing friend or email her about my submission.  I have been known to sing and dance a bit, but in private of course.  I give thanks for my gift of writing.  Sometimes I suggest to my husband that I’d like to go out to eat or I shop at favorite stores.  Other times, I reward myself by registering for an upcoming writing conference or workshop.

8. When you receive a rejection, what are three things you do?

I call a writing friend, or email her about my rejection.  I pray and give thanks that God will help me grow from this.  I don’t usually update my computer spreadsheet right away with rejection status.  I try not to make any hasty decisions regarding the manuscript that day.  I usually work on another project while I decide what to do with the one that was returned.  Usually, I revise and send to my critique group and then begin the rounds again.

9. What kind of manuscripts do you submit?

I enjoy writing shorter submissions such as activities, rebuses, picture books, fiction and nonfiction magazine articles and stories.  I write Christian curriculum and online teacher guides for educational magazines and Christian curriculum.  I also have a book of educational riddles that I plan to submit again soon.

10. Name three books that have helped you learn the craft of writing?

There are so many excellent titles out there but I’d like to suggest The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen.

11. Name three workshops, classes, or conferences that have helped you learn the writing process.

I am still learning the writing process.  Three experiences that I especially benefited from include John Claude Bemis’ Writing Novels for Children, Lisa Wheeler’s Picture Book Bootcamp, and the Institute of Children’s Literature course.  Another valuable tool—submit a manuscript for a paid critique as part of the workshop or conference experience, if offered.  It most likely will be the most valuable experience of all.

12. What is your personal advice on how to get published to writers of books or magazine articles?

  • Start where you feel comfortable.  I started by creating activities for the back of the children’s bulletin for my church.  It wasn’t a huge jump to creating activities for Christian curriculum.
  • Remember that magazines need fillers such as game ideas, rebuses, poems, trivia facts.  This is one way to get published and build credits on your resume.
  • Search for theme lists with magazines like Pockets, Clubhouse Jr., AppleSeeds, Cobblestone, etc.  Challenge yourself to write to a theme. Submit.
  • Think professional!  Join a writers’ organization.  Subscribe to a professional magazine.  Study a current Market Guide.  Join a critique group.  Read craft books and quality titles in the genre of your choice.
  • Enter contests.  Decide in advance if you are willing to pay to enter.
  • Write about topics that stir your emotions.  Listen carefully to children you know and observe their behaviors.  Perhaps something said or a reaction  will trigger a story idea.  It will also help you learn character’s voice.
  • Keep ongoing files as writing ideas occur to you.  Sometimes, you might jump right into writing a story or you might “save it for a rainy day.”  When you’re ready for a new writing project, refer to your list.
  • Take a risk.  Submit a manuscript for a paid critique.  Revise.  Submit to a carefully selected editor or agent.
  • Of course novel writers can’t submit works as frequently as those who write shorter manuscripts.  Set realistic goals you can meet such as word count, research deadlines, etc.  Consider sharing a chapter each time you submit to a critique group.

What do you give PubSub3rdFri for its birthday?  Another submission of course!

Thanks for having me.  It was a pleasure!

Linda Andersen

You’re welcome, Linda.

Wow! You can see that Linda Andersen is very talented. Thanks, Linda for sharing about your Pub Sub experience. Best of luck with all your publishing dreams! Thanks for being my friend.

To those of you who are reading this. Thank you. I am honored.

Feel free to share a link to my blog with others.

Never Give Up! Take Action toward Your Goal!
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards.