by Kimberly Wilson

In January 2019, I stared at the coin jug on our countertop through my Storystorm lens and wondered, could there be a story here? In my notes, I wrote Lucky Penny, A Penny’s Purpose, and…A PENNY’S WORTH, which became my 2022 debut picture book (Page Street Kids)!

The title evolved into a story about the importance of self-worth, told with a ton of punny humor and a pinch of money math. As you can see, this Storystorm gift Tara gives the kidlit community has been invaluable to me, and I’m excited to pay it forward this year by sharing some of my favorite ways to generate new ideas.

Idioms and Puns: Worth Their Weight in Gold

Pick a word or topic and google related idioms and puns. Then follow them down the internet rabbit hole. Make a list of all the word play that stands out as you go. If you’re lucky, you will find lines, a title, or even a theme for your next story! While writing about money, I listed every pun and idiom I could find on the topic. I even made some up! One of my favorite finds is the word “grand” because it means both “large” and “thousand,” and it worked perfectly with my story, A DOLLAR’S GRAND DREAM (Page Street Kids, 2023), about a dollar bill who finds living large may not be as one-derful as it seems.

Spend Some Time in the Shower

Lately, I’ve noticed shower power trending. Why? Because it works! If I had a nickel for every time I texted my critique partners, “I just got out of the shower and had an idea…,” I’d be rich! So, at some point today, I encourage you to grab your loofah and that pun or idiom you found and let the ideas flow until you’re pruny. An open mind + a hot shower = Storystorm ideas. And you can take that to the bank.

Critique Groups are Priceless

My CPs are the absolute best, and they’re always up for a brainstorm session. For a fun way to turn a word or phrase in your notebook into a full-blown idea, gather your writing friends, a posterboard, some markers, and a glass of wine (if you’re so inclined). Then take turns going around the table, or Zoom screen, and bounce ideas back and forth. Have fun with this, and remember, no idea is too silly!

Listening to Music Pays Off

Turn on your favorite tunes and listen to the lyrics! They just might spark an idea. It worked for me, and now I use this brainstorming tool ALL THE TIME. Backstory: Mark Hoffmann, the amazing illustrator for both of my forthcoming books, posted a reel on Instagram for another book he had coming out. I loved seeing his artistic process set to music and commented on his post. Moments later, he wrote back, said he planned to do a similar post for A PENNY’S WORTH, and asked if I knew any money songs. Of course, I did! So, I started listening to some old favorites, like If I Had a $1,000,000, by Barenaked Ladies, and Billionaire, by Travie McCoy. These songs were not quite right for Penny, but they inspired the sequel! Bonus: brainstorming to music can be done almost anywhere––in the car, at the park, or (for a double-dose of inspiration) in the shower. Cha-Ching!

I hope this post allows you to cash in on some cent-sational new ideas. Happy Storystorming!

Kimberly Wilson’s prized childhood possessions included a butterfly Trapper Keeper full of her stories, an overflowing bookshelf, and a pocket thesaurus. But it took many years (and a couple careers) before she pursued her dream of writing for children. A lover of puns and word play, Kimberly enjoys mixing humor, heart, and educational details into her writing. Her debut picture book, A PENNY’S WORTH (Page Street Kids) is illustrated by Mark Hoffmann and releases April 5, 2022, followed by the sequel, A DOLLAR’S GRAND DREAM, in 2023. Kimberly lives in North Carolina with her husband, two daughters, and their puppy. Follow her @authorkimwilson on Twitter, or @kimberlywilsonwrites on FB, Instagram, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Visit her website at

Kimberly is giving away a copy of A PENNY’S WORTH (upon its release).

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.