My Favorite Part of Reading

'Peasant_Woman_Resting'_by_Léon_Lhermitte,_Cincinnati_Art_MuseumWhen I wrote A World Without Books, it sent me spinning off in so many different directions I couldn’t keep track of them.

I think of a woman, working hard all day cooking, washing, taking care of her children and probably doing outside chores such as collecting eggs, feeding the goats, and working in her vegetable garden. She cleans up after dinner, gets the kids to bed and then falls into bed, only to find herself face-to-face with her Mr., who has hopeful eyes.

No matter how tired I am (and I’ve never worked a day like that one) I always try to read a little bit before I go to sleep. I want to be transported into another world. For a minute.

My favorite part of reading is using my imagination to create worlds, people and scenes simply based on the words the author has written. Most authors use a minimum of words to describe a place, knowing the reader’s imagination will take over and create the place she’s writing about. Here is an example –

This is from At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon. In the form of a letter. “Dearest Timothy, It is a good evening to sit in this pleasant room and write a letter. Correspondence is, for me, a luxury which stirs my sensibilities, especially if it be with an old friend. 

“I believe you’d enjoy the way Martha refurbished my disorderly bookshelves, and put this study in working condition. She has even had your favorite rug repaired, so that when you come again, you won’t stumble over the torn patch and go reeling headfirst into the armchair!”

Can you see much more of this man’s study than just what he’s described?  Words like pleasant, luxury, bookshelves, armchair – all good strong words that give us a feeling about this place, without having to describe it in minute detail.


A Study

This is what I love about writing. My image of his study is going to be unique, inspired by pictures of other studies I’ve seen, and even what I hope to have one day.

This is why the movie is never as good as the book. We already have an entire movie stored away in our mind. It can never compare to the movie Hollywood makes. Our mind has no budget limitations.

What kind of study did the passage bring to your mind? Share it with us in the comments.

More later,


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Saturday Links – Hobbies

Saturday - Hobby

Oh I do love this store – too bad there isn’t one near my house. Like next door.

It’s the weekend. You should relax! Have some fun. Do your hobby. You don’t have a hobby? WHAT? We’ve got to fix that right away. Everyone should have a hobby. You should know the joy of creating something from parts and pieces.

I’m not affiliated with Hobby Lobby, unfortunately. Have you ever been there? I could spend days there (and have) visiting different departments, dreaming of the different hobbies I could take up if Mr. S wouldn’t object to losing another room in the house. He would. You, however, may need a hobby! I have way too many.

Here is a HUGE list of hobbies – if you’re looking for one.

Are you trying to find something for the man in your life? They need hobbies, too. Here are 75 hobbies for men. 

Don’t let a money issue hold you back. Here are hobbies that don’t require a second mortgage. 

Wanna be trendy? Here are the 50 most popular hobbies. Jump on board one of them.

I have a feeling your Saturday is now full! Did you get the sewing pattern or pick a hobby to try out? What was it? Nosy bloggers like me want to know.

More later,


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Writing Ideas – Part 2

Where do you get ideas?Last week we talked about where and how to get ideas for writing. I can walk around for days with ideas bursting from my brain, but as soon as I sit down in front of a white, blank piece of paper (or monitor) – there is no idea within 50 feet of me. Personally, I believe it’s that scary white paper, but that’s just me.

It’s time to invest in The Idea Bank. Last week I talked about writing down our ideas in our Writer’s Notebook, but this week I got this great idea to call it The Idea Bank. Isn’t that what it is? A place to deposit your ideas until you’re ready for them? Yup.

But, first we have to get ideas before we can deposit them. Duh. Here is this week’s tip on getting super ideas –

If you don’t already, begin people watching.

People – watching is like attending the Olympics of Ideas. Ideas are walking in front of you every second. The trick is to capture them. Like with a net! Throw your net out there and reel them in. (I’m not feeling too serious today.)


Every person who walks by has their own unique story. And while it’s not practical or even possible to get each story, we are perfectly able to make up our own! What is it about a person, a stranger, that can spark ideas?

The answer to that question is different for each one of us.

“But, Karen, there’s no place near me where I can watch people – I don’t have time to watch people – Are you kidding? I barely have the resources to watch my own kids!”

Fear not! I wouldn’t lead you down this path without a solution. I’ve shared before that I live in a tiny little town where everybody knows everybody. If I were to sit on Main St. (and there are some lovely benches) and just watch everyone go by, I’d know most of them. Then of course, you have to visit and they want to know what you’re doing and the explanation is tricky … it’s much easier to hide behind anonymity.

YouTube, here we come. Search for ‘people watching’ and you’ll get tons of video that will allow you to sit at your computer and people watch. I kid you not.

Do any of the people in this video look interesting to you? No? Then you’ve got to watch it again. I wrote down 43 ideas. Really! (Boy, there are a lot of people living there!)

How many ideas did you get?

More later,


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The Storyteller

So, it’s Tuesday! Remember last Tuesday? The World Without Books and the story prompt? Here’s mine, and if you wrote one – you can email it to me anytime and I’ll add it to this post. karen at livinginserendipity dot com And without further ado – (Oh I should say I’m really bad at titles, so don’t let the title discourage you from reading it.) –

The Storyteller

Sparks from the fire flew up into the clear night sky. The bitter cold threatened and I snuggled closer to my father while I listened to the Storyteller. My village, most of them anyway, huddled around the warm fire and listened to the tales he spun out of the air. A few times a year a Storyteller came to our village and it was always a festive time. The adults would gather with him to learn news of other villages, receive bundles of gifts from far off relatives who wanted to be remembered. As for us children, we waited for the nighttime when the stories would begin.

” … and then the bear rose up on his feet with a mighty roar. I could see he was well over six feet taller than I was, but I trusted my spear. My spear had never let me down before – my father, who was a great warrior – told me it was blessed by my ancestors and had indeed been used by my own grandfather.

“The shaggy bear shook his gigantic head and roared again. I drew back my spear, aiming directly for his heart and was just ready to throw it when a lion appeared behind the bear. It was the biggest lion I’d ever seen!” The Storytellers face shone in the firelight as he walked around the fire, his voice ringing out in the clear air. His arms were stretched out and he made a sound like the bear – a huge, horrible roar like I’d never heard before. I wanted to sit closer to my father, if that were possible, but I didn’t want to show fear. Then I felt his hand on my back and immediately felt safe. My mother smiled at me. She still thought I was a baby.

“The lion was stalking the bear. A bear twice his own size! Quickly I began to think. I had only one spear but two enemies. If the bear was wounded and got away, he would be more dangerous to me, but if the lion killed him then I would have to kill the lion – a much harder kill. I took a deep breath, aimed for the bear’s heart and threw my spear with all my strength. There was a great crashing as the bear fell to the ground and then all was quiet. Where was the lion?” As the Storyteller made his way around the fire, he began to peer into the darkness, looking for the lion. I started to think there could very well be a lion out there, just waiting for his turn in the story. I tensed up.

“I could not find the lion. Perhaps he sensed my superior strength and he ran away!” The Storyteller gave a great, loud laugh. A few of our villagers laughed as well, but it was a nervous laugh. “So, forget the lion I told myself, you’ve got a bear to butcher! And such a bear would take weeks to butcher. I could well afford to leave some meat behind for the lion. I pulled out my knife as I approached the giant bear – I needed to make sure he was well and truly dead.

“I kicked one large foot and it just wobbled back and forth. I took a few more steps and kicked his gigantic paw. It just lay there. I felt fairly confident he was well and truly dead. I grasped the end of my spear to pull it out, but it would not come free. I pulled and pulled but it would not budge. The bear would not release it to me!

“Puzzled, I walked around the bear and what I saw pure amazed me. You wouldn’t believe it if I were to tell you.” He grinned and looked around the fire. “You still want me to tell you? Do you promise to believe me?” We all shouted yes, yes!

“Well okay then. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” The Storyteller crouched and walked carefully, as if walking around that bear. “As I got to the back of the bear, I saw a strange thing. The strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. My spear had gone through the bear completely, and then through THE LION,” he roared, “and THEN both enemies were speared to a tree stump!” He threw out his arms and lifted them to the sky. “What do you think of that?”

My father laughed and then I realized it was a tall tale. I laughed with my father, but my relief was huge. I really believed there was either the lion or the bear waiting in the darkness. He was a good Storyteller.

I leaned against his knee as he talked with my mother, and then our neighbor. Everyone was laughing over the tale and in good spirits. I grinned at my friend who sat with his family across the fire and he grinned back. These were the happy times, the times that would be remembered when we were snowed in or when food was scarce. We’d laugh and joke about the giant bear and the lion, and suddenly things would seem better. You were always warmer if you laughed, especially if you could laugh with your family.

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New Affiliate – Creative Live

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Have you visited It’s one fun place. They have classes in just about every subject of interest to creative people. These are not 10 minute classes, like on some other sites. They are in-depth, but fun, classes of 1-3 days!

The best part is, if you take the class while it’s Live – it’s free. Yes, free – the entire class. After it airs live, it then goes into On Demand and there is a charge for taking the class.

When I signed up as an affiliate, I was given a class to take (my choice) and they only asked me to write a review. I chose Build a Successful Creative Blog by April Bowles-Olin.

But, I also registered for the new class in Calligraphy today and because it’s live, it’s free!

I’m not even half way into the Creative Blog class and I’ve already learned a TON! When I’m finished, I’ll post a full review.

News: When I finish the Creative Blog class, I’ll be using what I’ve learned here, and also on a new blog I have in the works. Nothing there yet, but there will be.

Do some clicking and take a free class. See what they have to offer. Regarding affiliate links: I only use affiliates I have experience with and have enjoyed their product or service.  I don’t pick new affiliates willy nilly.

More later,


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Friday Five – Organizing for Writers

I’m the first to admit that I am not an organized person. But I love organizing things of all kinds. Do I want to go to the mall? No, I want to go to the office supply store! I love all the possibilities in there. Fresh, clean pages, paper in all colors and sizes, pens that glitter! Little tabs I can stick on the pages in my notebooks – Oh! Notebooks 🙂 Every kind you’d ever want – paper covers, leather covers, ruled paper, grid paper, drawing paper – a girl could lose her head.

Coming back down to earth – the result of my love affair with the office supply store is that I have a lot of planners, notebooks and ‘things’ that I haven’t used.

But, I truly did need a practical planner. Something I’d stick to, and I could look at every day, enough room to make notes, record appointments, reminders and all that kind of stuff that makes my mind tired.

  • organizing for writersMy favorite planner (and I just purchased my second one) is found at Amazon for 9.99. It starts in July and I’m in the process of transitioning from last years, to this year. (I did smudge out some personal information.) And to make it more fun, I also purchased new markers and highlighters 🙂 I could mark each day how many words I wrote.
  • A bulletin board. Yes, just a plain cork board. I’ve found it’s wonderful for keeping my total word count in view all the time. Especially when I have a deadline. Boring, isn’t it? But it gets the job done!

organizing for writers







  • organizing for writersA super find at Goodwill for just a few dollars. I’m not exactly sure what it’s called, but it holds files upright on a corner of my desk. This keeps things neat and tidy.
  • Why should I keep my pencils and scissors in a boring old can? I also found this at a thrift store. There are actually two of them, the other one holds art supplies at my other desk. Why do I count this as an organizing item? Well, for one thing, without it, my pencils and scissors would be all over the place! But the main reason is – it’s pretty.

organizing for writers








  • You see how low-tech this all is? And cheap? I mean, not expensive. 🙂 I wanted it low priced in order to afford my Writer’s Notebook that I carry in my purse. I didn’t want a paper covered, cheap little thing. I wanted a Moleskine. Yup… they are not THAT expensive. Only when compared to a 59 cent wire bound. And I get to use those little tab thingies on it! Look how pretty –


organizing for writers








What are your favorite organizing items?

More later,


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Where Can I Find Ideas? Part 1

Where do you get ideas?

I get asked about this a lot. Where do you get ideas? Ideas are everywhere, we just have to be aware of them. Every time I see an interesting person, my mind starts revving up and suddenly I’ve got an idea. I come up with ideas for their background, their job, their relationships and what they’re doing in the place I found them. I write it all down in the notebook I keep in my purse.

If you’re having a hard time gathering ideas, here are a few tips –

  • Be observant everywhere you go.
  • Eavesdrop.

Be observant everywhere you go

If you start looking at everything around you through the eyes of a writer, soon you’ll find yourself floating in ideas. Really look at people or things. Apply the 5 Ws – who, what, why, when and where. Add ‘how’ if you want to.

  1. Who is this person? (make it up, don’t ask them)
  2. What are they doing in their life? (or here? today? this year? etc fill in the blank)
  3. Why are they doing the thing you listed in #2? (Is it their job? Are they being blackmailed? Are they running away?)
  4. When do they have to accomplish this task? (is a bomb ticking?)
  5. Where do they go?  (to work? to buy something illegal? to escape?)
  6. How are they going to do it? (do they have a gun? is the item in their pocket right now? are there code words?)

You can see how easy it is to get carried away, but let yourself get carried away! You may have the makings of a great mystery on your hands. All great writers were something else first. None of them were born writing. You must act on your desire.


My mother taught me not to do this, but I’m giving you permission for one exception to the rule. Only eavesdrop on strangers. Don’t do it at home, or your friend’s house, or your boss’ office. That will only get you in trouble. Eavesdrop among strangers.

Where do I get ideas?

While standing in line, waiting for the movie to start, a doctor’s office – any public place like that. Don’t eavesdrop at your gym, a party or anyplace you’re liable to run into these people again. (That’s my disclaimer.)

What are you listening for? Snippets of conversation. They don’t need to make sense to you, you can’t know the context. A lot of our conversations with each other are carried on from earlier times – no updating needed. Just listen and write down what you hear. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.

One time I was waiting in line at the movies and the one of the films playing was Pompei. A couple behind me were deciding which movie to watch. I really wasn’t paying much attention until I heard this –

“Pompei? Hmmm, I wonder what that’s about?” a woman said.

“Uh … Pompei?” her companion replied.

Now, that’s great stuff for off the cuff conversation in a story. You could substitute anything for ‘Pompei’ – a news item, a notorious movie star by name, etc. It depicts a woman who is either preoccupied with something else, or something of a dingbat. It could also be a man who says that line – you’re the writer, you choose!

The point is to collect these snippets here and there in your Writers Notebook, which you are carrying around with you all the time, right? Right!

Next Thursday we’ll cover –

  • If you don’t already, begin people watching.

Where do you get ideas? Are you working on a short story for next Tuesday?

More later,


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