I used to teach an online creative writing course. While a large part of the 20-part course curriculum was structured, there was also the opportunity to create personalized assignments. One of my favorite assignments was meant to spark the imagination of the less-than-imaginative student. Here it is:
1. Read one book you wouldn’t normally read.
2. Go to one movie you would never go to see.
3. Watch one popular TV show that you’ve never watched because you didn’t think you’d enjoy it.
4. Read one magazine you’ve never read before.
5. Go into one store you’ve always avoided (too expensive, too cheap, whatever) and buy something.
6. Try to make (or bake) one new recipe you’ve never made and always wanted to try.
7. Go to somewhere different (a different park, a different shopping mall, a different coffee shop…it doesn’t have to be exotic).
8. Try one new activity.
9. Sit down and really listen to the conversations around you (at a family function, at a coffee shop, wherever). Take notes.
10. Strike up a conversation with a stranger in a grocery store (without coming across like a stalker).
The students who embraced the assignment inevitably found plenty of inspiration to include in future
Today, however, my favorite shoes are my Asics runners. They start life as a running shoe, and at the 300-mile mark, they become my walking shoes. Even my protagonists (Emily Garland in The Hanged Man’s Noose, and Callie Barnstable in Skeletons in the Attic) are runners, and they both dress for comfort vs. style.
Of course, I do have other shoes, though they tend to be low-heeled and sensible: a pair of black patent leather ballerina-style flats is about as fancy as I get these days. As for sandals, my pretty white ones with the bling-y rhinestones tend to get overlooked for my much more comfy Birkenstocks. Simply put, I was in a shoe-rut.
But was I also in another rut? I thought about the books I’d been reading, the movies I’d been watching, and determined that maybe I was. I haven’t done all ten parts of the assignment yet (well, I always do #9, so I’ll take a pass on that one) but I’ve added The Book Thief to my to-read pile, and just the other day I watched an episode of America’s Got Talent—and found myself enjoying it. Who knew?
Does this mean I’ll be wearing stilettos any time soon? Doubtful. But you can bet your bottom dollar that one of my characters will be. They’ll probably be two-tone pink and mauve with a bit of a platform…
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Skeletons in the Attic
What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…
Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.
Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?
Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.
Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.
Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
Find Judy on her website/blog at www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.
Find Skeletons in the Attic:http://getBook.at/