by Tami Charles

Repeat after me: I might fail, and that’s okay!

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tami Charles and I am a Storystorm failure.


Because effective today, on this sixteenth day of January, whereupon I should have a minimum of sixteen story ideas, my grand total is. . .wait for it. . .a whopping three. THREE!!!

Hold on, guys. Be right back.

Storystorm, Day 16, self-portrait.

Well, that was cathartic!

Moving along. . .

I’ve been a member of PiBoIdMo (now Storystorm) so many times, I’ve lost count. In the beginning, I outdid myself. Thirty ideas, in thirty days? Ha! How about sixty-two?

Truth be told, my “idea” count decreased with each year and honestly, I’m okay with that. As I reflect on where I am today, versus where I was then, I realize that 98% of my ideas were really, REALLY bad! I didn’t land an agent or any book deals with those ideas! (Thank the good Lord, himself!)

In fact, the first year I “failed” Tara’s challenge, I drafted the idea for my debut picture book, FREEDOM SOUP. That next year, I “failed” again because I thought I was Superwoman. I had also joined Nanowrimo, where I wrote my debut novel, LIKE VANESSA, and brainstormed seventeen picture book ideas.

But for me, it was all about quality versus quantity.

Thanks to Storystorm, I’ve learned how and where to find nuggets of inspiration. Jogging in the park. Waiting in line at Home Depot. Sitting in the doctor’s office while my son barfed in a bag. (Good times!) On a conference call with an editor who personally requested a “Cheerios” type of picture book. (True story. Also: thank you Carter Hasegawa!)

Inspiration is literally everywhere. Sometimes you find it yourself, but other times it finds you. And here’s the BEST part: all it takes is a word, a doodle, a sentence, to mark the moment.

Plot, characters, setting, bleh! Who cares? It’s the IDEA that counts and it’s that IDEA that will turn into a STORY later.

Now if you’re one of the Storystormers who’s up to 74 ideas already, this blog post is probably not for you. (Show offs!) I want to specifically address those who might be feeling “less than” at this point.

Are you behind in your story idea count?

It’s okay.

Do you feel like every.single.idea stinks worse than Limburger cheese?

It’s okay.

Are you worried that other Storystormers are sailing ahead of you and somehow that makes you less qualified?

That’s not okay.

One of my favorite quotes is, “The race isn’t given to the swift, nor to the strong, but to the one who endures until the end.”

Right here, right now, let’s make a proclamation together.

Repeat after me:

I, ___________, do hereby proclaim that my time is not up yet. I still have 14 more days to meet my goal. And no matter the count, I know that I will still win the million dollars that Tara Lazar has promised every participant.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your journal or PC, and Storystorm with abandon.

Former teacher. Wannabe chef. Debut author. Tami Charles writes picture books, middle grade, young adult, and nonfiction. Her middle grade novel, LIKE VANESSA, debuts with Charlesbridge on March 13, 2018. Thus far, the novel has earned starred reviews from Kirkus and Foreword, has been selected by the Jr. Library Guild for Spring, 2018, earned a spot in the Top Ten for ABA’s Indies Introduce List, and won the SCBWI Book Launch Award. Tami’s picture book, FREEDOM SOUP, debuts with Candlewick Press in fall, 2019. She had the opportunity to be featured in a cooking segment with Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, where she demonstrated a Thanksgiving version of the popular Haitian soup. Tami has more books forthcoming with Candlewick and Charlesbridge. She is represented by Lara Perkins of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Visit her online at and on Twitter @TamiWritesStuff.

Tami is giving away a copy of her debut MG novel LIKE VANESSA.

Leave ONE COMMENT on this blog post to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!