08 - Challenge Completed!
After six and a half months, and 35,000 words later, I have successfully completed my Story Tornado Challenge!
I have to confess, it was starting to become a bit of a millstone round my neck in the past few months. A busy day job and a new puppy, plus working from home, don't encourage you to sit at a computer late in the evening adding speech marks to text you really should have punctuated as you were going along. However, as of Sunday afternoon on the 22nd of August, I have successfully written 30 original stories in six and a half months.
It's worth stopping and thinking about this. None of the concepts for these stories existed before 1st of January. At least half of them came into being thanks to taking part in Storystorm, a fantastic initiative run by TaraLazar and many additional supportive and generous individuals. The aim of StoryStorm is to fire writers' imaginations and help them come up with 30 story ideas in 31 days. I outdid myself this year and came up with over 50 and, with a new-found self-confidence bordering on stupidity, set myself the Story Tornado challenge.
My journey has taken me through shops, sandwiches, sheep, dirt, poo, ducks, sloths, pirates, ancient sculptures, penguins, monsters, mythically stinky feet, over-ambitious budgerigars and a lot of cows (seriously, far too many cows).
And now, finally, I have crossed the finish line...
I've included all the synopses at the bottom of the page (except for a couple I've kept to myself) but, as a TL;DR, here's a few factoids:
Longest story: Dear Dairy (22,500 words)
Shortest story: Mine Now! (4 words)
Rhyming stories: 1
Stories in which people get eaten: 3
Stories in which a child loses a body part: 2
Predominantly non-fiction stories: 3
Stories mostly based around a bad pun: 5
Stories classified as humour: 30 (by which I mean all the stories are supposed to be funny...)
Most interesting fact discovered during research: Russian chickens say 'Pee-pee.'
Most important, yet simultaneously pointless fact discovered during research: You can't tether cows in a field anymore.
This upset Billy, so he called Bobby a nostril-head.
So, Bobby coloured Billy in.
Billy didn’t like being stripy, so he sold all of Bobby’s shoes, and replaced them with exactly the same shoes, but one size too small.
So, Bobby swapped all of Billy’s favourite films for one about growing turnips.
In return, Billy turned Bobby’s room into a teeny tiny zoo.
And charged Bobby an entry fee every time he went to bed.
So, what next? Well, I've got an idea for another chapter book, I've been doing a huge amount of research for a non-fiction picture book, and I've got 29 second-draft picture books that need refining... Oh, and I need to find an agent (if you happen to have a spare one lying around, please let me know). This all means the next few months will be focused on quality, not quantity, as I seek to pull together a couple of good submission sets from all of this. I think I'm going to need some professional help on this one (either interpretation of this phrase is probably appropriate).
So, for the final time, ladies and gentlemen, I give you...
The most beautiful row of green dots since the finals of Birds Eye Pea of the Year, 1985.
1. Mine Now
Big has taken Little’s hat, but it's hard to get it back when you’re, well, little. When his attempts fail, Little comes up with a radical solution, but not everything goes as planned in this (nearly) wordless picture book.
2. Don't Panic!
Don’t panic, it’s only a giant carnivorous plant with an unexpected appetite for tour parties. As the tour guide tries and fails to extract the group from their perilous predicament, the important thing is to stay calm, and not, under any circumstances, to panic.
3. Why Worry, Worry Witch?
The Worry Witch loves her job, filling children up with doubt and stress. That is, until she meets Ellie. No matter what she tries, Ellie just won’t worry. Soon, the Worry Witch worries that she’s not any good. But don’t worry; Ellie is on hand to help her look on the bright side.
4. Ten Thousand Steps a Day
Dad has to get more exercise, so we’re all going for a walk. Join us for a rhyming ramble over meadows, through woods and past pyramids. Pyramids?? I think we may have got a little bit lost…
5. The Sandwich of Doom
Dad says he can eat anything, so let’s put him to the test! Explore the Sandwich of Doom, stuffed full of some of the world’s most ‘interesting’ delicacies, including a fruit that smells like a skunk, the world’s hottest chillies and a cheese that can run away!
Millie hates dirt but, every time she cleans something, she makes another thing dirty. Millie thinks she’s found the answer with a little inspiration from a furry friend, but instead find out that a little bit of dirt isn’t so bad, after all.
Bug has found a nice warm place to live inside you, but when his home starts to get crowded, he sets out to find somewhere new. This charming tale introduces children to the bugs that make us poorly, and teaches them how to stop them finding a home in you.
8. Shear Embarrassment
Sidney the Sheep thought shearing would be fun…but now he’s naked! If he can just get back to his field without anyone noticing, he’ll be fine, but that’s easier said than done in a farmyard filled with hilarious hazards.
Alfie has a problem: his poo won’t flush, and Mum won’t be happy. So, armed with an array of plungers, pokers and pushers, Alfie sets about persuading his poo to go, with explosive results!
10. Teddy Bear Detective
Mr Snuggles is missing. Has he been kidnapped to create an evil clone army? Probably not, but Archie, Teddy Bear Detective, is going to investigate anyway. Will he find Mr Snuggles? Will he save the world? And will he successfully hide three thousand teddy bears from his mum?
11. Doug’s Ultimate Creature
The pupils at Miss Minerva’s School for Little Demigods have to make the ultimate creature for their end of term project, but Doug can’t think of anything. His classmates have made animals that can run, fly, swim and sing, but Doug’s Ultimate Creature is going to outshine them all…just as soon as he works out what it is.
12. Tantrum Shop
Upset by something? Is no-one listening? Then why not come down to the Tantrum Shop! Whether its weeping, wailing or a whirling rampage, we have the emotional outburst for you. Just don’t spend too long choosing your tantrum, or you may just forget why you wanted it…
13. That’s Not a Dog!
It can be hard to run a pet shop when you don’t have any pets to sell. With the help of the local zoo, one shopkeeper comes up with a creative solution. But as the chaos mounts, has he been a bit too creative?
14. Pirate Sloth
Blackbear, Anne Bunny, Calico Jackrabbit; The Squirrel’s Revenge is crewed by the most feared pirates of their age. But when it is Edward Slow’s turn to take charge, the Royal Navy seize their chance to capture the bloodthirsty buccaneers. Being slow got them into this mess; can it also get them out? Includes biographies of the real-life pirates behind the animal crew.
15. Woof Woof
Dogs say ‘Woof woof,’ don’t they? Of course they do, except in Russia, where they say ‘Gav gav,’ or in Poland, where they say ‘Hau hau.’ Discover the weird and wonderful ways animals speak in this global tour of barks, quacks, bleats and roars.
16. A Dog’s Tail
Ruffles has just woken up to find a strange, wriggly thing attached to his bottom. It must be a snake! And if you have a snake on your bum, there’s only one thing to do – chase it!
17. Garden Fort
Danny and Cleo have built a fort, but it seems they aren’t the only ones wanting to fight in their back garden. If the children want to keep hold of their lawn, they’re going to have to find a battle they can win, and they’re going to need their space hoppers.
The problem with old statues is that most of them are broken, at least according to the children of Class 1B. With the help of the school art cupboard, Mia and her friends set out to restore the statues before the big exhibition, with hilarious consequences.
19. Penguin P.I.
It’s great to be out on the ice floes with your friends, but something fishy is going on, and it’s not just the dinner. When penguins start vanishing, can our hero solve the mystery before it’s too late?
20. No Monsters at School
Mum says there aren’t any monsters at school, but Dawn isn’t so sure. After all, her sister says there are, so it must be true. Can Dawn avoid the vampires and miss the mummies, or was Mum right all along?
21. Playground Power-Up
Sorry, this synopsis is top-secret…
22. Fishy Heaven
FLUSH! Goldie has gone to Fishy Heaven but Lily misses her flippered friend and decides to follow. But when it is time to go home, Lily finds it’s not that easy to leave heaven. Can Goldie and her newfound fishy friends come to the rescue?
23. Pandora's Socks
Everyone in Olfacton knows there is one thing you must never do – take off Pandora’s socks. Everyone, that is, except her new Teacher, Mrs Meanie. As Pandora’s pong engulfs the town, can the people stitch together a solution before it’s too late?
24. Can I Play with Your Dinosaur?
Billy wants to play with Bobby’s toy dinosaur, but when Bobby says no, things quickly get out of hand. The boys see sense just before they destroy the world, but they still can’t decide what to do. Maybe you can help them do the right thing.
25. Give me Back my Nose!
When Rose’s nose goes missing, she heads to the zoo to find a new one. After trying out the animal kingdom’s coolest conks, will Rose find the nose of her dreams?
27. Dear Dairy (Chapter Book)
“Dear diary, This is my first entry, In my first diary, and I'm pretty certain it's the first one ever written on the side of a cow.”
Budge had always wanted to be a bodyguard but, when he lies to get the job, he quickly finds he can’t match up to the President’s brave doggyguards. But, sometimes, when you can’t be someone else, the answer lies in being yourself; a lesson Budge will need to learn fast if he is to save the president.
29. The Day Joe’s Bottom Left Home
Joe’s bottom decides to leave home, but quickly realises finding a new job isn’t going to be that easy. Meanwhile, Joe struggles in his quest for a replacement rear, until a chance meeting at the butcher’s shop shows them that maybe they belong together, after all.
30. Holiday in Heaven
‘I’m not ready to go to Heaven; I haven’t finished my jigsaw!’
When Jack mis-hears their holiday destination, he tries everything to stop the family reaching the afterlife. The confusion is finally cleared up, but will it end up a holiday from Heaven or from Hell?