Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What If?

A Random Conversation:
About ten years ago I was working the day shift at a residential facility.  When the second shift came in to relieve us, we let them know how the residents had done and then we just chatted until our shift ended.  One of the women told us about a garage sale she'd gone to where she'd found a wonderfully old wooden ironing board.  She bought it with the idea of refinishing the wood and painting a skinny Santa Claus on it, then using it as a Christmas decoration.

Back in the days of wooden ironing boards, they were kept covered with several layers of cloth padding to keep the wood from warping or burning from the hot irons.  (And I'm old enough to remember those layers of padding...sigh)
When she peeled off the layers of dusty old covers, what she found underneath was $164.  We speculated for a while about what the money might have been put there for and why no one ever took it out.  And then we went our separate ways.

But I couldn't get the idea of that ironing board out of my head.  Why did someone hide money under those covers?  Was it to surprise someone else?  Or maybe a vacation she was saving for?  Or was it her "escape from a bad situation" money?  It was obviously a woman, because back in those days a man would have never, ever ironed.

But the even bigger question?  Why was it still there?  She'd been saving it for something...but she never used it.  Why?

For the next several years those questions plagued me until I finally had to write about it.  My mind went in all directions while I did the "what if" thing.  And that's where the idea came from for my novel "The Ironing Board".  The story delves into the lives of 3 present day baby boomers whose futures are changed forever after finding an old ironing board with money and diary pages hidden under the pads.

While I'm actively seeking an agent that will enjoy reading The Ironing Board as much as I enjoyed writing it, I've started on my second novel...no title yet.  And I've been trying to come up with an unlikely friend for my 10 year old main character.  But this time I found my answer in a television commercial.  Who would have thought?  There he was, a character in a commercial.  So I grabbed my yellow legal pad and wrote the scene that was playing out in my head...before I forgot it....cause I'm smart enough to know that in my old brain, the idea won't reside for long before it's flitted away into the land of the forgotten.

Ideas can come from a multitude of places and circumstances but only if, and that's a big IF, you're keeping your eyes and ears open to the possibilities.  So, if you're a writer, where do your ideas come from?  Do you "people watch" or eavesdrop on conversations?  Do they come from old memories?  Or maybe the ideas just pop into your head.  Where did the idea for your latest novel come from?

Recipe of the Week:
I  haven't added a recipe to my posts for some time and I have one to share today.  It's my mother's Chocolate Frosting.  This is by far the best chocolate frosting I've ever tasted.  Creamy and delicious.  And it's enough to cover a 9 x 13 sheet cake with thick, rich chocolate goodness.
The ingredients are:

6 T butter or margarine                          5 T Hersheys Cocoa
1/4 t. salt                                               2 t. vanilla
1 lb. (one box) confectioners sugar         6 T milk

Have your margarine at room temp and cream well.  Add the salt, cocoa and a little of the sugar.  Mix with a mixer on low speed.  Add the vanilla, more sugar and 2 T of the milk.  Mix with mixer.  Add rest of sugar and milk alternately and mix on high till fluffy.  The use of an electric mixer is key as it puts air into the frosting and that's what makes it so fluffy. 

Even if you're a die-hard canned frosting user, you will be blown away by the taste of this frosting.  If you have any left over after you've slathered a thick layer over your cake, spread it between two graham crackers for a really delicious treat the kids will love.  I've even cut the recipe in half and just done the graham cracker thing when I had a lot of kids still at home.  And be sure to lick the beaters and the bowl!  The best part! 

Psst...just between us...if you make this while the kids are in school, you get to lick the beaters and bowl yourself without having to share.  :)

Quotes of the Day:
Writing is truly a creative art - putting word to a blank piece of paper and ending up with a full-fledged story rife with character and plot. ~ William Shatner

Writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth. ~ Khaled Hosseini
Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. ~ Ray Bradbury

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