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05-19 Sarah Raplee – Riff on 7 yrs. Of SPAM & a Giveaway

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stranger than Fiction?

By Sarah Raplee

When I am lacking in story ideas, or in the mood to procrastinate, I love to scan the news headlines for inspirational, quirky, or just plain interesting stories. Not only do these news items entertain and uplift, they are often story fodder.

My favorite headline on a national news site this week is How a 3-D Printed Arm Gave Hope to Boy Maimed in Bomb Blast by Mick Ebeling (Not Impossible Labs) special to CNN on Mar 19, 2014. The story speaks to how we all feel overwhelmed by the world’s problems, how focusing on helping one person makes it easier to take action and how doing so can touch many more lives. The headline reminds us that, despite all the horrors that may occur, the world is full of good people and wonder and hope.

Although national and international headlines offer up some story gems, local news is a more dependable source of story inspiration. Why? Allow me to demonstrate. 

I’m going to run an experiment, just for fun. The name of the first city that pops into my mind is Kalamazoo, Michigan. Never been there, haven’t read anything about the place lately, but I’ve always loved the name. I’m going to search for “Kalamazoo, Michigan news” and check out the first website that comes up. I betcha dollars to doughnuts there’s story fodder there.

Searching…searching…scanning…scanning…scanning…reading…Eureka! I found it!

The website is and the headline is “Sunken Wilhelm Baum tugboat out of the water; reason for sinking still a mystery.” The ninety-one-year-old tugboat sank whilst resting quietly at the dock. When it was raised (a story in itself), no reason could be found for the sinking. No holes in the hull, no bad weather, nothing.

I don’t know about you, but my imagination runneth over.

That was fun! Let’s do one more, just to prove this wasn’t a fluke. Hmmm, how about somewhere further south? Again, I’ll pick a place I’ve never been and haven’t recently heard mentioned. How about Clarksville, Texas?

Once again searching… scanning…scanning…reading…Eureka! I found it!

The website is and the Mar. 20, 2014, story is “Could court ruling impede NETT?” A Northeast Texas (rail) Trail Coalition official and a Supreme Court justice are taking diverging public paths on a ruling issued by the Supreme Court last week.

Conflict and high stakes, anyone?

Next time your muse decides to make herself scarce, do what I do—scan the headlines for inspiration.

Try this and tell me what you found in the comments!

Stop by my website at 


Judith Ashley said...

Interesting process, Sarah. I remain amazed at your creativity!

Diana McCollum said...

You are so right, Sarah! I've found things in the headlines and further back in the newspaper that I've saved because truth was stranger than fiction. Like the little Dash hound carried into the brush by a mountain lion in the Sierra Foothills, in California. His screeching was more than the lion could take and it dropped the dog, which ran home with only a few scratches.

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks, Judith - it's nice to be called 'amazing', although insanely curious might be a better descriptor, LOL.

I love your dog and lion story! You have to use that in a book some day!

Thank you both for stoopping by.

Robin Weaver, Author of Blue Ridge Fear said...

Pretty cool sites, Sarah!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sarah
Scanning the news is a great idea to boost our muse.



Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Robin and Margaret!