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Sandy Reay


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©Rona Golfen, RonaPhoto a photograph of a tree silhouette with birds and dead leaves at sunset which has been stylized in Photoshop
©Rona Golfen, RonaPhoto

What inspires you? Please contact Sandy.



Anything can inspire you.

  • a photograph, painting, graffiti
  • a phrase you heard in a song, read in a book, or overheard in a cafe
  • the sound of birds, animals, insects
  • perfume or the aroma from an open window that reminds you of something your mother used to cook
  • a piece of jewelry or an old sweater
  • shelter from the sun or rain under a tree
  • rhythm of a train or a song wafting out of the windows of a passing car
  • the texture of a broken sidewalk or decomposing leaves under your feet
  • a memory or a dream

I really like your author website. I'm honored to have my tree photo on the Inspiration page. That and Creativity are my favorite pages. I love that your suggestions apply regardless of your chosen media.
Rona Golfen, RonaPhoto


A Little Girl With a Book

Check the News

Dream Inspirations

Living the Dream


The Car that Saved My Life

The Christmas Mouse

The Crab Apple in a Cherry Tree

The Sinister Umbrella Part 1

The Sinister Umbrella Part 2

The Sinister Umbrella Part 3

The Old Traffic Ticket

Two Career Failures

Writing Prompt #1


Check out Sandy's song, Free Fall, and her poem, The Old Iron Hinge

Sandy Reay Author on Facebook Sandy Reay Author #Inspiration


Little Girl With Book

I take a book with me when I know I’ll have to wait somewhere, like a doctor’s office, the car repair shop, or an airport. I have a to-read shelf that’s full of thrift-store finds and new books: secrets to uncover. Funny how that photo of little me with a book foretold the reader I would become.


Do you want to share your story of how you started reading?
Please contact Sandy.


A Little Girl with a Book

I found a photograph of me when I cleaned out my parents' house. I couldn't have been more than two or three years old. I don’t remember the dress or know what hill I’m standing on. I'm holding an old hardback book, not a thin one with pictures, but I have no idea what book or why I'm holding it. I wasn't an early reader like my older sister—she learned when she was four and sick. Mom sat by her bed and read to her, day after day.

Once, when I wasn't much older than I look in that picture, the lights went out and the skies grew dark. The wind blew over a huge tree that crushed the front porch of the house across the street. It howled and shook our house. Daddy called it a hurricane. I asked my mother to read to me. She told me to ask my sister. My sister sat close to the window, reading in what little light leaked through the rain-soaked glass. I begged her to read to me and sat close to her—as close as she would let me.

Mom took me to the library to find books. Dad took us to thrift stores. I prowled the dusty shelves of worn hard-back books and studied the faded colored pictures on the covers to pick out what I wanted to read. Twice a year, my sister and I got gifts. We told our parents what we wanted. They bought one thing that was similar to what we asked for (within our budget) and something we needed. Sometimes, Mom slipped in a used book (a thrift-store find or hand-me-down). The first year my sister went to college, Mom gave me two new paperback biographies: Jenny Churchill and Isadora Duncan. The covers were bright and shiny, the pages smelled like ink and adventure, and the spines had no vertical age lines. I was the first person to open those books.


news: foot found in Yellowstone floating in a pool

Have you found any news stories that you'd like to share?
Please Please contact Sandy.


Check the News

According to KTVB News:

"A Yellowstone employee found part of a foot in a shoe floating in a pool in the park Tuesday. An investigation is ongoing and part of the park was closed temporarily."

If I wanted to write a crime story, this might inspire a great opening line. Feel free to click on the link to read more.

Inspiration from a dream in a Sandy Reay post from Mar 26, 2012  

Dream Inspiration 1

In my dream this morning, someone had replaced all the clothes in my closet with bustiers and butterfly skirts. I had on a slinky black dress, lots of silver jewelry and the only coat I could find was a hot-pink wool blazer. ???? In reality, my idea of dressing up is to wash my jeans and clean the dog poo off my clogs.

What would a character who wore clothing from my dream be like? What kind of job would that character have? What kind of trouble would that character get into? Or, cause? What kind of goals, challenges, revelations would that character face?
Please contact Sandy.

Check out Sandy's story Damn The Dream, and her poem, My Dream.

Inspiration from a dream in a Sandy Reay post from Mar 17, 2023  

Dream Inspiration 2

I put a slab of steak in front of the dragon.

He raised his head and arched his eyebrows. "What do you want me to do with this?"

"Breathe fire on it. You know: do what you do!"

I fixed the rest of my meal. When I went back for my steak, I found the dragon with a full belly and sleepy eyes. "Where's my dinner?"

He burped. "You told me to do what I do. So, I ate it."


Does the story need a setting? Is there more to this story? What would you do if this were your dream?
Please contact Sandy.

Check out Sandy's story Damn The Dream, and her poem, My Dream.


Living the Dream


Did you ever get to make a dream come true and find out it wasn't what you expected?
Please contact Sandy.


If you like this true story, you might want to check out Sandy's poem Coming to Colorado


This story, like others, is true. Memories formed the story. A recent writing class included lists as a way of writing non-fiction. That technique shaped the final* version of the story, which includes subtext.

* Final version: Is anything we write ever "final?"


Do you have a story that would work in the form of a list?
Would you like to share it?
Please contact Sandy.


Living the Dream

I worked for a company that was downsizing. They offered a year’s salary to anyone willing to quit. A friend had the opportunity to buy back her horse ranch in the mountains from her ex-husband. She
never had to put the worm on the hook. I wriggled onto the bank and climbed the line.

Too late, I heard the old joke: How do you get a million dollars ranching? Start with five million.

My childhood dream of living on a horse ranch in the mountains didn’t last. But I learned a lot.

  1. Horse ranching in the mountains bears no resemblance whatsoever to anything you've ever seen on TV or in the movies.
  2. Pine trees do not automatically grow with branches high enough to ride under. You learn to duck. With luck, you only have to get hit in the head once.
  3. Don’t ride horses into a bog. Bogs like to hide in low areas with tall grass and ambush clueless riders.
  4. If a horse kicks you on your ribs above your belt line, it will crack a couple of ribs. You may not realize it if you are flying through the air at the time.
  5. Landing on your back in a bog is a lot like landing on Grandma’s feather bed, except for the horses bucking around you.
  6. If you’re lying on your back with a couple of cracked ribs, there are three things you can NOT do: you cannot breathe, you cannot call for help, and you cannot sit up. You can, however, roll onto your stomach to get up, if you are agile and sufficiently motivated.
  7. Not being able to breathe while lying on your back under four bucking horses is sufficient motivation.
  8. The second-worst thing you can do with two cracked ribs: walking your horse back to the barn in no-longer-new cowboy boots. The worst thing: riding your horse back to the barn. Whoever said, “If you get thrown, get right back on the horse,” has never been thrown in a bog. Or tried to get back in the saddle with mud-slick clothes and two cracked ribs.
  9. A good friend is one who will help you get on and off your horse even if you are covered in mud.
  10. A really good friend is one who will clean the mud off your saddle while you’re getting your ribs taped.
Ravens with a no parking sign on a cloudy day
photo ©S.L.Reay


A photograph of a parking lot on a rainy day. Two ravens are in the gravel and rocks above the concrete curb which is painted red with white letters: NO PARKING    FIRE LANE.

Above the F in FIRE LANE, a raven sits on a sign: No Rollerblading Or Skateboarding.

Some might call this image foreboding or sad. The ravens amused me by flaunting the law to park on the gravel and the sign.

Have you every taken a picture that tells a story?
Please contact Sandy.


photograph of a small crabapple tree growing out of the stump of a dead cherry tree

This story was featured in the November Newsletter.

If you want a short story delivered to your email once a month,
sign up for eMail.


Have you ever had an unexplainable experience with an inanimate object?
Please contact Sandy.


The Car that Saved My Life

I bought this Ford Fiesta from a friend in August, 1982. It was a safe, economical, and reliable car for the entire time I owned it, with one exception. One winter night, I drove to that friend' house for dinner. When I left to go home, the car wouldn't start. We popped the hood, and saw no reason for the problem. I tried starting it again. No luck. We went into the house to get out of the cold, talked about potential causes (none likely, except—maybe—the cold) and symptoms I might have missed (none).

"I'll give it one more try." The car started. I drove home via the divided highway that ran from Boulder to northwest Denver. When I topped the hill and looked toward Broomfield, I saw a flash of light and heard a loud explosion. By the time I reached Broomfield, the police had the southbound lanes closed and rerouted us onto surface streets with no explanation.

It took longer to get home. I found a message on my answering machine from my friend. "Are you okay? Call me as soon as you get this." I did.

He told me about the explosion: two trains hit head-on under the bridges that carried the highway across the railroad tracks. Both bridges burned. We did the math. If my car had started when I wanted to leave, I would have been on the eastbound bridge when the trains collided.

I drove that car everywhere for several more years. It never failed to start again.


Sandy and Santa riding in an antique firetruck

Sandy in a homemade mouse costume in front of a Christmas tree

This story was featured in the December Newsletter.

If you want a short story delivered to your email once a month,
sign up for eMail.


The Christmas Mouse

I dated a man who ran a shopping mall. Friday after Thanksgiving, he brought Santa into the mall on an antique fire truck. I dressed in a mouse costume I'd made from a remnant of fake fur, a long-sleeve shirt, tights, black shoes, and eye-liner nose and whiskers. A Santa hat made me a Christmas mouse, and I rode in the fire ruck—wearing a heavy winter coat because it was cold outside.

I left the truck when Santa did, hid my coat, and handed out candy canes from a red and white stocking to the little kids. I posed for pictures and apologized to the parents of one child who screamed uncontrollably at the sight of a 5'6” mouse and had to be taken home.
Children and their parents followed me from business to business where I asked for jeans that would fit over my tail and tried on hats that did not fit over my mouse ears. I asked for mouse food in the pet store and ran away from the cats in cages, shrieking “Eek. A cat.” The sales clerks played along.

My friend asked me to go into a sporting goods store where a player from the Denver Broncos was signing autographs. On my way to the store, DJs from the local rock station yelled, “Hey, Miss Mouse.” “C'mon over here.”

I did. That was my mistake. They had microphones and speakers up on stands, and shoved a microphone in my face. “Hello, Miss Mouse. What are you doing tonight?”

In my best mouse voice, I squeaked, “Trying on hats and jeans.”

They smiled and laughed. “Where are you going?”

“To find the bronco.”

They talked about the football player and the store, and shoppers headed down the mall. I started to leave, and they stopped me.

“Why are you looking for the Bronco?” That was their mistake.

“Because I wanna go for a pony ride.”

The microphone vanished, one DJ hit switches and the other hissed at me. “You can't say that on AM radio!”


photograph of a small crabapple tree growing out of the stump of a dead cherry tree
©Rona Golfen, RonaPhoto


The Crab Apple in a Cherry Tree by Rona Golfen, RonaPhoto

We had a Japanese cherry tree in our yard for many years, but it died several years ago. A neighbor cut it down, but left about 3' of trunk standing. I was going to have it cut down, but last year something started growing out of the top of it. This year we actually have a little crabapple tree complete with white blossoms. It looks pretty strange growing out of a dead cherry tree, but it seems to be thriving. It's so interesting to me that a crabapple tree can grow out of a cherry tree. So far the crabapple tree has what looks to be cherry tree bark. I don't understand how that works. I showed it to our rep from the company that takes care of our trees, and he said it might change over time. 


The Sinister Umbrella: a black umbrella with bat wings and face


Is it a symbol or a metaphor? If so, for what? What would you use it for? Would it be something unexpected?
Please contact Sandy.

Do you want to know what's happening with this story?
Check out The Sinister Umbrella.


The Sinister Umbrella #1

In Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (translated by Edith Grossman) called an umbrella “sinister.” What would make an umbrella look sinister?

Later in the book, he wrote, “with his sinister appearance and his vampire’s umbrella.” Mystery solved.

I like the mystery of the “sinister umbrella,” so I will keep it. Perhaps I will add it to a story I started to write about a cafe table umbrella as a harbinger of magic. Yes, a sinister umbrella will make a nice touch in this story.

A vampire umbrella is intriguing, too—more than an umbrella for a vampire. A black umbrella with two broken spines like bat wings, and old-age holes, two revealing moonlight reflections like malevolent eyes.

Now that I have the visual image, I need to decide what to do with it. Is it literal? Does it turn into a bat at night? That's too easy.


The Sinister Umbrella: a black umbrella with bat wings and face

Do you want to know what's happening with this story?
Check out The Sinister Umbrella.


The Sinister Umbrella #2

Last month I wrote "Does it turn into a bat at night? That's too easy."

I surprised myself. I started writing the story, and realized that it needed something to add more tension: the umbrella that may or may not turn into a bat. It looks like one, and flies away, after years of clinging to a rusty table in the back of a courtyard. After that, it becomes a channel for power. Evil power.

I have mixed feelings about this. I like bats. One took shelter under my sunporch, and I had to protect it from the workmen who were putting siding on my house.

So, I rationalize. It is not a bat. It is an old umbrella with evil powers that only looks like a bat. when tiny lights shine through two holes in the fabric.

Is an evil umbrella that might look like a bat under certain circumstances a symbol of evil power?
Please contact Sandy.

penitentiary box  

The Sinister Umbrella #3

I played Sudoku to shut out the voices in my head, but a male voice interrupted me. "Penitentiary boxes."

I'm used to my characters talking to me. This voice didn't belong to any of my characters. And it didn't use words from any of the songs that live in my head.

I tried napping, but the voice woke me again and again. "Manitoba" (or something like it) and other syllables that may have been other names or languages.

What should I do with "penitentiary boxes?" I Googled it: solitary confinement cells, grim prison cells, cell blocks, and dogs sniffing cardboard boxes.

I'm going to put "penitentiary box" into the The Sinister Umbrella.
What would you do with it?
Please contact Sandy.


image of an old traffic ticket from Colorado Springs dated "1st Oct 31, 1998" citation for speeding


Have you ever found anything unusual in a used book?
Please contact Sandy.


The Old Traffic Ticket

I love old books, used books, with dog-eared corners, flexible spines, loose pages, hand-written notes and highlighted phrases. The books tell a story before you read the title.

Old books contain memories, sometimes in a physical form. I found papers and old photographs used as book markers. One book I found contained an old boarding pass. Before paperless tickets, these passes were issued at the check-in counter and collected at the gate. Someone went to the airport, checked in, but used the pass as a book mark. Perhaps the traveler got sick, fell asleep and missed the flight, or left the airport for some reason.

I wonder if I can turn a guess into a mystery story. What if that someone was a criminal, or unjustly accused of a crime, and that boarding pass was proof of their guilt or innocence? What if the person who found that boarding pass knew about the crime, and came forward? Or failed to come forward?

Fortunately, Google found no evidence of a crime involving the person on that boarding pass. I still wondered what happened? Sudden illness? A frantic phone call from a loved one? An accident, or a missed flight? I once dozed off in the airport in Naples Italy, and slept through the boarding announcements, which were in Italian. I'm lucky I woke up and noticed the lack of people waiting to board.

This traffic ticket is dated Oct 1, 1998. Tickets like this are common. Like boarding passes, they're turned in when the recipient pays the fine or fights the ticket. Twenty-three year old tickets are not common. Why was this ticket in the book for that long? The book looked like it had never been read. Did the recipient of the ticket hide it i a book? Did her heirs load up boxes of books and take them to the used book store? What else did they miss in her books?


First prize photo in photography contest



Have you ever had a door slammed in your face, only to find another door opened, with a better opportunity?
Please share your story with Sandy.


Two Career Failures

When I was in my 20s (1970s), I worked as a draftsman. A secretary and I were the only women in the building. She wore silver-hair sprayed into short stiff curls, starched dresses with floral prints, and long-sleeved matching sweaters like capes. I wore jeans, cotton-knit shirts, and tennis shoes.

My drafting table was in the office at the other end of the hall. The geologists assigned to the other desks in the room spent their days out in the field, writing in notebooks, collecting data for me to draw.

One day, Charles, a man from another office, shuffled into my office holding a camera. Remember Tim Conway's old man on the Carol Burnett show? That was Charles speeded up. I stopped drawing and put my chin in my hand, waiting for him to speak.

“Do something sexy.”

Sexy? Me? Oh, he was serious. I licked my lips.

He snapped a few pictures. I went back to drawing pictures of core samples at different elevations.

A few months later, Charles shuffled in with a trophy. “We won first prize.”

He handed me the picture.

“For that?!?” I think I yelped.

“Yes.” He smiled and held up the trophy with a camera and “First Prize” in big letters.

I put the photo down, and he let me hold the trophy. It had “Humor division” in small letters. My career as a model ended.

One of our projects was collecting data about water levels in a canyon near a ski area. My boss gave me access to our computer and a book about how to use the writing/editing program—it was nothing like Word. I took the user manual home and read it cover to cover. I became the resident editor expert.

I'd taken two night classes in computer programming: Basic, then Fortran. Some of my drafting work was repetitive: vertical rectangles divided into smaller boxes. With help from one of the computer experts, I wrote a Fortran program to draft the boxes. It lacked all the details I drew, but it was a start. With less than two hours of data entry, I could run my program and see the results on the monitor. Because we rented time on a computer in a different city, I had to wait one work day to have the printed results delivered—about the same amount of time it would take me to draft one page. If I refined my program, I could have it create a more complex design in far less data-entry time and improve productivity.

Excited about this breakthrough, I showed my boss.

“It'll never catch on.” He took away my user id.

I took another night class. My career as a draftsman ended when I found a job as a programmer.


photograph of the inside of car, one hand on the steering wheel, following a white car through an intersection. Two cars appear in the rear view mirror. White streaks and black patches in the sky indicate high speed at night. Red and blue patches of light might be from the flashing lights on the top of a police car

What's your reaction to this picture?
Please share your story with Sandy.


Writing Prompt #1

One of the writing groups I follow online posted this picture with a post encouraging us to write a a microflash story (at least 25 words).

This is what I wrote:

It was a short drive to the grocery store for marinara sauce and ‘shrooms. But the red and blue flashing lights on the police cars sent her brain into warp drive. When she woke up, she found herself strapped to a table in the sick bay of a star cruiser. Half way to Romulus 7.

Does this tell a whole story (in 55 words)? Or, does this read like an opening for a "real" story?