Help me with a story idea and win a Kindle Paperwhite!

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kindlepwAlthough I consider myself a writer and demonstrate that fact by writing reviews and news almost every day, there is one type of writing that I’ve always wanted to do, but just can’t seem to. Fiction. In 2010 I took a stab at Nanowrimo and ended up with a little over 4000 words before giving up. I came to the conclusion that my writing talent might be limited to just tech writing. Every so often I’ll get the itch to try again, but I get stuck with the same problem – I just can’t come up with a great idea for where my story should go. I have the beginning, but that’s it. That’s where all of you come in. You can help me brain storm for ideas and in the process, you’ll earn chances to win a brand new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader. Full contest details after the jump.

I have a soft spot in my heart for children’s stories and still read them today. So that’s what I’m trying to write…

My story is about a young girl who loves gadgets (shock!) and taking them apart. Her favorite things are clocks. One day she goes to a flea market and buys something that looks like a pocket watch but different. It comes with a small leather bound book that is written in some sort of code.

…and that’s all I have so far. I need your ideas to help spark my imagination so I can get further into the story. What does the “pocket watch” do? Time travel sounds too obvious and maybe too boring. What’s a good twist? Or maybe I should scrap the watch idea and go with something else. Send me some plots!

How to enter (please read carefully – any missed steps and your entry will be disqualified):

1. Between now and 12/21/2012 11:59PM EST leave a comment with a plot idea for my story. You can enter up to 5 different plot ideas, just make sure each idea is a separate comment.

2. At some point on 12/22/2012, I’ll pick 1 random winner using The winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hrs to respond. If I do not receive a reply to my email, I’ll do other drawing till the prize is gone.


1. Max of 5 entries per person (warning: I check IP addresses). Each entry needs to be a separate comment.

2. Gadgeteer writers, family members and close friends may not enter this contest.

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3. is not responsible for any lost packages or incorrect shipping addresses.

4. Failure to follow instructions will result in the entry being disqualified.

5. All submitted story ideas become mine. If one of your ideas helps me become a best selling author of children’s book earning eleventy billion dollars a year, you’ll get a hearty thank you, but no claims to the end product. 🙂


12/22/12: The winner is #32 Steven Feinstein

Thanks to everyone who submitted story ideas!

87 thoughts on “Help me with a story idea and win a Kindle Paperwhite!”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. What if it were no accident she got the pocket watch that day. The pocket watch has a sense of ownership and finds those in her family line. This is why she has always loved watches because it is apart of her. Now she must unlock the secrets of the code that allows her to take apart the watch and learn its secrets while at the same time learning her families history and past. The secret of the watch can be anything but the story is about the journey to the answer. An outward adventure tracking down clues and an inward journey of learning of her family their pain, crimes, good deeds etc. The family history makes her struggle to determine whether or not she even wants the watch or to know its secrets. Ultimately she presses on and discovers…

  3. It turns out the the watch turns out to be in actuality a little steampunk personal assistant. Through reading the book and tinkering with the watch she activitates the little guy who then begins to tell her of an ages old struggle between the keepers (those are the people whole protect the earth) and the ‘custodians’ a group bent on world domination. It turns out that the book and watch were not just something she happened upon at the flea market but actually were given to her because she comes from a long line of keepers. Her father gave up on it not believing any of it, but her grandfather did not and he left his ‘watch’ in the hands of friends to give to her when the time was right and she was needed.

    The watch can do many amazing things including things that may even seem magical, “teleportation”, “translation”, disguising the bearer, etc.

    The custodians have been in hiding for more than 50 years plotting to rid the world of the keepers and secure their domination of the planet.

  4. a classic approach would be Ala pan’s labyrinth where in the clock or whatever mechanism will be a gateway or compass to a strange either wonderful or horrific world. but it must be strange or there is no fun to it, right? the code from the leather book might tell the coordinates of the portals which might be just a simple hole (like alice in wonderland). Then from there on lets just go crazy over world creation, making something that’s pure escapism fiction for the kids of 2013. Maybe the girl warps to some tech world, but old steampunk tech will be more interesting than modern tech. that is just my opinion, since you are the writer i am just here to help let the ball roll.

  5. The pocket watch can stop time which allows her to freeze the world around her and fix things for people without them even knowing. You can follow her around as she finds situations where she can help (someone carrying an unsteady load, a puppy about to cross the street, etc) and she can freeze time with the pocket watch to help fix the situations.

  6. Julie,

    The watch is her conscience.

    At first, when things are good, it ticks a little faster. When something’s wrong, it ticks slower.

    The book explains how to take care of the watch. (You do have maintain a good conscience, you know.)

    And it explains how to listen to your conscience. Because, if you listen carefully, you’ll realize it actually speaks to you.

    This is a Jiminy Cricket kind of story that doesn’t have to use the word conscience at all.

    For, in the end, the girl grows up with a conscience of her own, and she can leave the watch where she found it, so some other little girl can discover it, too.

    And that made her feel very, very good.

  7. Pocket watch is a vessel for a djinn type spirit that she unknowingly releases. The book contains instructions on controlling the djinn, which she of course can’t read and must decipher as the djinn is either
    A – Evil and destroying things
    B – Good and losing his powers/dying or
    C – one of the ethereal spirits with connections to mother nature (who is also dying, hence increased weather calamities the world over).
    The only people that can transcribe it are part of a secret society with unknown origins (ancient Egyptians, human looking alien race).

  8. she has discovered that the cover of the little red leather book reads Treasure, but how did she figure this out? What helped her to decipher this and what must she do to uncover the remaining codes inside.

    She knows that each tick of the pocket watch is actually a code but how ever will she discover what each tock means. As she begins to take the pocket watch apart she finds that the time though precisely correct, is not running on a battery.

    Her heart begins to beat quickly and as she gazes down at the pocket watch she sees the hands circling and circling as if they are beating in time with her. Yes, that’s it she is controlling the time, her time, and she knows she must uncover the code before time runs out.

  9. The watch doesn’t tick, and she thinks it’s broken. She does something good/bad in her life and notices, as she’s about to throw the watch away, that the time has changed. You could go several ways with this, depending on your target age group.When she’s bad/mean the clock advances towards midnight, when she’s nice it ticks backwards a bit. An inscription on the watch case tells her she needs to bring the time back to 6am to make something great happen, etc. Something great does happen, but not what she was expecting.

  10. The watch ticks normally, but when she winds it it resets/rewinds the day like the movie Groundhog Day. Each time through the day she tries to make a change to avoid something happening, but it just keeps getting worse/more silly/etc.

  11. The girl ends up realizing that the watch is actually going BACKWARDS! It’s counting down to something, she just cant figure out what it is (doomsday maybe?), she finally realizes what the countdown is for. Maybe she destroys the watch, or maybe is able to save the world for another thousand years by tinkering with it with her love of gadgetry. She ends up hooking up with the guy that helps her decipher the code in the first place. Maybe towards the end while saving the world, there could be a moment in which the audience thinks she isn’t going to be able to do it (volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis could be happening all at the same time), and finally when she winds the watch again, everything is peaceful again…

  12. She realizes it’s the watch of God (or call it something else). By pressing the stopwatch button on the side, she is able to stop time itself. She is able to stop the world around her, and the only person that is mobile is herself (her time continues moving). Pressing the button again resumes time as if nothing ever happened.

    What she realizes later is that anybody she is in contact with at the time of button pressing also ends up not falling into the realm of halted time.

    At some point while time is stopped, she and somebody else (whoever she was in contact with at the time of pressing the button), get into a fight, they drop the watch and it breaks!

    because of her love of gadgetry, she is able to fix it, but it ends up going twice as fast, (people are moving twice as fast, aging twice as fast, etc.), so she has to find a way to fix it!

    In the meantime, an overseas terrorist organization has intelligence of such a watch, and has sent men to kill her and obtain the watch.

  13. She runs into the house with her new found treasure. She plops down on her bed and as she does the dust from the little leather book forms into a small cloud of smoke. She sees the image of her great grandfather, he smiles gently, and points to the book.

    The first page is filled with symbols. The second page is filled with signs. The third page is filled with fill in the blank. She quickly leafs through the book. At the end of the book there is a riddle.

    My dearest claira
    You are the key
    You are all that I need.
    You need to unlock the code
    There are three major codes.
    Upon unlocking each code
    You will be granted a wish
    by the pocket musketeer.

    When he appears do not be frightened
    but be careful for what you wish for
    or you will be trapped into a journey.
    If you get trapped in a journey you must
    complete that journey before you can
    continue unlocking the next code.

    I have missed you my claire bear and
    grandpa can’t wait to hug you…
    But for now my dear you must begin
    to unlock the code the pocket watch…
    is dangerous and must never leave your site.

    The book snapped closed, smoke filled her room once again, and her grandfather waved and whispered hurry dear.

  14. The watch is seemingly broken and not ticking, so in the evening she just puts it away on her desk and lies in the bed, lazily studying the cryptic book. All of the sudden she hears a winding sound coming from her desk. The watch starts ticking… backwards! And she cannot set the hour nor stop the process. There’s also something wrong with the book. Letters move, switch, flip, dance, slowly forming syllabes, then words… “Help me” – that’s what she reads at the very first page. She somehow knows that the watch counts down the time she’s left. She must find out who needs help. And quick. Time’s ticking…

    The idea is yours, Julie. Now, finish the story 🙂

  15. A few people have said that the watch can stop time and only the main character will be mobile while it is stopped – this is the exact premise of a children’s series in the UK called “Bernard’s Watch”!

    Not saying you couldn’t use a similar premise in a clever way, but do Google this series before you accidentally breach copyright!

  16. There are no hands on the watch, only a constant ticking. As a spirit draws nearer to the girl, the ticking quickens. These spirits are unable to leave earth until the mystery that surrounds their death is solved. Each spirits story is encoded in the book. She could find out that her grandmother was a psychic who held seances and this was once her watch. The dead know to look for the watch, that the person carrying the watch will help them.

  17. The watch and the book are linked, any event she writes in the book, the clock changes to the time that event will happen (in my idea the clock also shows date). Once the event happens, the clock goes to 00/00/00 12am, and the event is mysteriously lined through in the book. If she lines through an event it will automatically reset the watch.
    It could draw her into a shadow group of beings who have other mundane but powerful items; a calculator and ledger that can determine the value of anything, a key that opens any lock, an eraser that can make whatever is erased vanish in real life; mundane stuff with very special powers.
    Hijinks ensue as she tries to understand the books and watch, the shadow group, and defend herself from people trying to get the book and watch.

  18. The watch is actually a stop watch. She is in her room when she clicks a button, the second hand begins to move. Timing things.

    But the stop watch is broken and only times up to a minute. At that moment, it stops timing. It takes her several tries to figure out that it only works for a minute

    She runs downstairs to show the new toy to her brother, but when she clicks the button, time stops, except for her. But it only lasts for a minute.

    It takes her a while to figure out that if her brother and she both hold the watch, they are both immune to the freeze.

    They then put their mind to the book. They recognize that the key to solving the code is on the dial of the watch. There are letters around the dial next to each number. It’s a simple replacement code.

    But the twist is that the code only works for one page of the book at a time. Each time they click the watch, the code changes to solve the entries for a different page.

    The code for each page takes them to a different part of their town. Then, once they are at the location, they need to do something to save someone by clicking the watch and stopping time for that precious minute.

    travel sounds too obvious and maybe too boring. What’s a good twist? Or maybe I should scrap the watch idea and go with something else. Send me some plots!

  19. Its also the theme of the Girl the Golden Watch and everything.

    I like the idea:

    The watch is a prison for an evil (spirit, elf, monster, etc) which is released when the girl tries to fix the broken watch.

    The monster starts causing trouble (depending on age group you want you could scale up the trouble from spoiling mom’s dinner for little kids to say causing harmful accidents for young adults).

    The book is a warning to not open the watch (which she did not read) and instructions for fixing the watch and using it as a trap to catch the released (spirit, elf, monster).

  20. A variation on my first entry:

    The girl discovers that if she sets the watch back she rewinds time.

    But it only works for ten minutes. Then the watch and time snap back to the present.

    Once again she and her brother solve the codes to take them to special places in town where they use the ten minute freeze to help people.

  21. The watch is the lost watch of a boy to whom it was gifted by his father. The book is love letters from his father to his mother.

    The girl uses the love letters to track down and return the watch to the boy.

  22. The watch doesn’t work when she gets it, so she opens it, cleans it, and puts it back together. It works!

    But then she notices the code key on the dial. She and her brother use the key to solve a page in the book. It sends them to a place in town where they have to help someone.

    Each page in the book would be the basis for a new mystery.

  23. The code is easy to decipher. She figures out that it is a history book of the town.

    When she sets the watch to the time and date mentioned in the book, she is transformed back to that date. The date could be during the Civil War, when Elvis came to town, or even the previous week.

    Each time she travels somewhere she needs to save someone or something.

  24. Final variation. Clicking the stop watch makes her invisible. But only for a minute.

    The rest of the idea is similar to my others that the book sends her to places where people need her help.

  25. Your main character is an orphan taken in by an old tinkerer who had the watch and notebook. The child was left on his door step 13 years ago (or any age) your young character is a novice tinkerer herself and works well with her adoptive father. She is adventurous and daring and very smart.

    The watch itself is indeed a time travel device but tied to fixed points in time. These points all relate to great tinkerers and inventors throughout history who are not so tied to the watch but what is in the watch a tiny time crystal disguised as on of the jewels in the watches movement (put there much later in the history by a tinkerer/inventor to hide it). The notebook/journal can only be read while in the time shift (and only the part written in that time is readable) it is a history of the jewel and and how each inventor set out to find its purpose and origins it also shows how some of these inventors came up with their ideas from the crystal.

    The end goal for the story is to find out where the crystal came from, why it was brought to earth and what is its ultimate purpose. You can also visit its the watch and notebook owners out of sequence of how it was found to help glean clues as to what time period you should travel and who you should travel to see(this will be contingent on whether you use the moon part later in these notes as to how you travel through time).

    The notebook and watch should be passed from generation to generation to a young and promising inventor/tinkerer to carry on the last ones research. The crystal in the watch is only activated by a full moon when a phrase will be readable on the cover of the notebook(the time of year month and date can dictate what words are readable and thus what point in time you will be transported to). The bearer of the watch and notebook cannot interact with the historical person but can help affect the outcome of that person work/research thus actually making the main character a integral part of history. Some famous person that can be visited throughout history could be Archimedes, Tesla, Marconie,Curie and the more knowns like Edison and Da Vinci or any other notables.

    Your young character in the end finds out she is the final piece of the puzzle to figure out how the crystal works what it does and where it comes from for she is a descendant of the original owners of the crystal and now it is time for her to return home. In the end you find out she was left with the tinkerer because he had the watch and she was the only way for her people on earth to return to their home.

  26. She has an overwhelming feeling that she should take this unique clock apart. Although she remembers how many items she has attempted to dismantle items in the past and the result was breaking something in the process. The clock is so unique and special, she wants to avoid breaking it, but she is possessed with the urge to discover how the mechanisms in side work. Maybe if she opens it, she will get a clue to its origin or purpose. She twists the outside of the watch to reveal the interior. She looks in amazement at the complex working of gears. On the top of the inside of the watch, she sees a small engraving of letters. But, the letters are so small that she cannot decipher what is written. She goes downstairs to the first floor and retrieves a large magnifying glass from the desk in her father’s office. She runs back up the stairs to her room. She sits at her desk and turns on all the lights. With the magnifying glass, she can just read the minute lettering. It reads: “……….”

  27. Technology is huge, perhaps you could do a nice long story on how it has changed throughout the years, and how it’s reflected on certain cultures; the old age, teenagers, children, etc, etc, etc.

  28. If it is a purely education book you could do some research on watchmaking, and have the girl be an apprentice watchmaker for a time. The book could be her journal about her lessons. Perhaps a bit dry but still an option.

  29. OMG i just had a great idea!

    The girl would notice that every time she was talking to somebody, the watch showed a different time, and the book had different text.

    she later realizes that the watch shows EXACTLY how long the other person has left to live (down to the last second), and the book contains that specific persons life story written in it, including how they will die.

    you could do some crazy stuff with this one!

  30. It’s simple.
    She finds the first watch ever invented.
    who ever built that watch decided how many seconds are in a minute or how many hours in a day. hell, who ever built that watch decided to name it “seconds” or “minutes”.
    Now she has the power to make days longer (birthday perhaps?)m nights shorter (no one like to sleep) and come up with new names (half past fish).
    She then begins changing everything and what starts off as an “ideal world” quickly backfires.
    After a long journey of trying to fix everything she realizes that the solution was right there…
    Give me a Kindle and I’ll give you the ending 🙂

  31. As this is a children’s book….

    Tie in the vendor who sold her the watch..actually, the son or grandson of the vendor..(appeal to both girls and boys)…..

    Turns out the book is a police inspector’s notebook….and it contains facts about crimes that were committed in the past… the watch is a way to turn back time so the boy and girl can help solve the crime.

    when solved, they return to present time and fead another chapter which in turn brings the, to another adventure….

  32. To add to or complete my thought…as the boy and girl travel back in time to solve the crime/mystery…they get themselves I situations that rely in their gadget-loving skills to fix..almost like a young McGyver team…. They constant help each other…

    The title of the story could be “Time Will Tell”..or that could be the title of the series…..

  33. The book is really an instruction manual on how to take apart the watch..and then reassemble it in different ways,,, each different way turns the watch into a different gadget…(ala Lego)..and a different adventure starts….

  34. I thought you wanted to write fiction – this is taking a sharp twist toward some serious science fiction! Here is my idea: This pocket-watch-like-clock is not your average clock. It counts backward…but to what? Once she drops her money into the gypsey’s hand in exchange for the clock, the gears of the once-silent clock come to life…only the second hand is moving backward. “Weird,” she thinks aloud, “I just knew this would be a great addition to my collection! Gramps would have been so excited bout this one,” she says sadly. she and her mother’s dad, AKA “Gramps,” enjoyed searching for that next really cherished addition to their clock collection. The more unique the piece was, the more cherished the item. Gramps had been gone for nearly a month now. She had spent most of the past four weeks doing just that, trying to find that next cherished addition to what was now her collection, alone.
    As she is thinking about all of this and holding her newly-acquired article of time-keeping, She starts noticing strange things – like things happening through-out her walk home that happened on her way to the flea market, a dog running across the street, a woman wearing a gardening hat/gloves/gardening tool belt,etc digging a hole with a large shovel, a man trying (and failing) to chase the mail truck as it pulls away and drives away down the street. Most of the time all of these things happen round her and its sort of -comforting -in a warm and squishy way. This time it was just plain freaky. Why, you ask? Because they were doing all of these things in reverse order. She looks around and sees that Everything is happening in reverse-order. She simply did not recognize as she was so deep in thought as she reminisced about all of the time ahe spent with Gramps and their clock collection. …This continues until she really starts freaking out and decides she just needs to lie down. “Apparently I’m the only one in the world who hasn’t just relived their entire day today in re-wind,” she thinks as she flips herself down onto her bed and quickly falls asleep from sheet mental exhaustion. The hands of the clock start spinning really fast and days are flying bye. Suddenly, it is many days later and she wakes up. She rubs her eyes and yawns, feeling uncommonly refreshed from a nap. That’s when she hears it – in full Dolby digital surround-sound as her Gramps yells her name, telling her to come downstairs for breakfast before all the bacon disappears. Bacon was her favorite and Gramps knew it… This was just like the morning on the day that Gramps died. Oh no. This is EXACTLY like the morning on the day that Gramps died!….and Gramps is NOT gone – he’s here! He’s downstairs! Making bacon! Oh my gosh, she thinks…..
    The rest is the girl trying to convince Gramps not to do what it was that ended up sealing his breath-less fate so he can live another day. This is where the leather-bound book comes in – its not until Gramps sees this book that he freezes and asks her to show him the clock. He had the pleasure of a day with this clock in his possession as a young boy, “it’s the reason I enjoy them so much,” he recollects… It was the day that his best friend did not drown in the quarry pits as they were cliff diving that very unseasonably warm day when he was barely 14-years-old…..

  35. Don’t get frustrated with your writing. There are a finite number of dramatic situations– that is why they keep doing remakes. Since every main character has to want something, and the story is the series of obstacles that she has to overcome to get what she wants–the watch is a device that sets into motion the obstacles that allow her to change and make realizations. The symbolism of a watch is time, but you need a new, unusual twist and memorable characters. Also, books with a male main character sell better to both boys and girls. My suggestion is that she is from the future and the watch allows her to travel back to our present. She marvels at the antiquated devices we have and discovers what she and her current culture have lost and is able to bring solutions to her time in the future. This will allow you the opportunity to show both cultures in a fun way and get kids to see themselves in a new way, through someone else’s eyes. Also, the reader will get to dream about the future. She will also have to overcome the obstacles of getting people to believe her in both times.

  36. The pocket watch is a time tracker for when people die and the pocketbook is the journal of who is going to pass away. The cryptic words slowly become readable, but only as death draws near for an individual. Ultimately she finds out that it is the tools of Charon, the one who takes the dead across the river Styx. Unfortunately, turns out that since she was the one who found it, she assumes the role of Charon. None too pleased about it, she tries to figure out ways to cheat death, while still having to follow the rules of the universe!

  37. The watch is a weapon to fight evil. Zombies vampires etc. kind of like greatest American hero. The instructions on how to use repair the watch Are in the codebook. Overtime she learned to decipher some of the codes and releasing the power of the watch to help her fight evil.

  38. WOW! I’ve read a few of these and they are really creative! I am really impressed!!!
    Okay here’s mine;
    The watch creates a dimensional rip in spacetime where you can travel to far off star systems using the book that is really a Michelin Guide to the stars and planets printed in a higher dimension which can only be read once inside the rip.

  39. The watch comes to her from a long planned series of events that we only find out towards the end of the story when she finds out that her ancestors were put in charge of a watch that controls time and a notebook that has instructions for time travel. She was destined to be the timekeeper but there is more to the responsibility than guarding it from mere humans. There is a group of humans from the future who airiness time travel and travel back in time to retrieve the watch and instructions so that they can rewrite time and make their future more habitable since we destroyed their future with our polluting ways, etc. but at the cost of imposing a fascist like regime. Bottom line, end of story, the futurists get control of the watch, but the girl still lives, to fight another day. Queue sequel.

  40. the clock is a doomsday clock where each hour represents a day. after a day a number disappears, the book are the instructions. And as the girl is reading its introduction it activates the doomsday clock (evil dead, cabin in the woods). In the book there are also instructions to 12 things that must be done in order to stop the doomsday clock from ending everything that the girl loves and that includes the planet she lives in.

  41. Well I was thinking, the girl could take it home and she goes to sleep, She “wakes up” or so she thinks and she is trapped in a dream, the only thing way that she can come out of the dream is to use the the clock (which is now frozen in time) and the book. the code could be something like a riddle and certain letters are bolded and create a message on how she can escape the dream realm, she then goes on this huge adventure to find things to help her escape and she comes across nightmare’s (fears) that she has to overcome to find a way out.

  42. The clock, once worn it seems cannot unfasten and reality is deformed ………. people are slightly different and bad and begin to recognize in her a trespasser. Only her little brother seems to be the same and will help her decipher the book and get rid of the clock and all gadgets

  43. here is another one, the mechanize clock is really the heart of a giant alien dog like creature. The book is actually a tablet that just seem to mimic a notebook, the notebook like device points the girl to the landing site of the alien mech like creature. the girl out of curiosity rode her bike to the spot on the tablet like device. and finds the landing site of the ancient flying ship. And within the ancient relic she finds a dog like mech with a missing part on its torso. The girl tries to scavenge for parts that may belong to this mech dog creature. To no avail she eventually realizes that the clock that she bought from a flea market was not a clock at all but the heart of this ancient mech dog. She then insert the mechanism to her surprise it awakens or reboots, the mech. The mech is actually a pet of the pilot, and now that the girl awakened it the mech is indebted to her. So she becomes its temporary master, and together they are out for some crazy and meaningful adventures. Like the mech dog looking for the pilot (that is its former master) and the girl wanting the mech to help her find her long lost brother.

  44. The watch doesn’t work at first, but that afternoon she fixes it and gets it ticking. That evening she’s visited by Santa Claus, who sent the broken watch out into the world to find a special little girl or boy to help him save Christmas. Santa’s Workshop has a special elf (called ‘The Gadgeteer’) who repairs toys that aren’t working quite right. The Gadgeteer has come down with a case of ____(sore fingers? a cold?) and Santa needs someone smart to help him. That night she visits Santa’s workshop and fixes several toys with minor problems (something installed backwards, dead batteries, sticky thing that needs greasing, etc). Santa is thrilled that she’s been able to fix all the toys for the Children of the world. Santa flies her back to her home before dawn and she falls back asleep. Was it all a dream?

  45. The watch is an Apple product, and the battery is dead but not user-replaceable. So it’s junk now.

    The watch includes copyright protection and, like protected music you purchase online, cannot legally be passed/sold to other people. The little girl now faces a $6 billion lawsuit from the RIAA for causing loss of revenue.

    The watch’s mechanism was made by the same folks that made Apple Maps, so it’s less than accurate. It’s 70 past 5B-o-clock right now?

  46. I know this is overkill, but I got carried away…

    At the swap meet, she approaches a space that’s always there and looks in a bin full of old clocks and radios. It’s the same old garbage that’s always in there. The disheveled, cigar-chomping grump that’s usually parked in an old lawn chair in front of the beat up old van is conspicuously absent. Instead, a boy about her age is behind the tables busily moving items about. She asks about the old man. The boy tells her he’s ill and sticking close to the port-a-potties over by the food vendors. She asks him if there might be any old clocks about not in the regular bin. The boy rummages around in the van but finds nothing. He smiles when he remembers something. From under a seat on the passenger side of the van he pulls out an old wooden cigar box. Inside is said watch and leather book. He sells it to her for what she has- $13.13. Big mistake- for him. He shouldn’t have done that.

    Once home at her desk, she inspects the contents of the old cigar box more thoroughly. The book looks strangely like a passport but she can’t understand the language. She puts it to the side and focuses on the timepiece.

    Upon closer inspection, it’s not a watch, at least not like any watch she’s ever seen, but whatever it is- it’s not working. She’s crafty as you say so she pops open the back and inspects the mechanism which while straightforward to her mechanical mind is unlike the standard gears she expects to see in a typical timepiece (insert your descriptions here). She has no ideas as to what it does but the flow of the mechanics seems to make sense to her. After close inspection with her magnifying goggles (she would die if anyone saw her wearing them) she spies a small sliver of wood blocking one gear. She removes the sliver and the mechanism comes to life, whirring at an almost impossible speed. She closes the back of the watch. She senses great energy coming from the device but can’t hear a thing with the back closed.

    At that same moment in time, in a quiet area of Cork County, Ireland, the area around a small, desolate cottage begins to feel electrified and the air begins to swirl, kicking up leaves and dirt. A bluejay perched on the eaves of the cottage flies off in disgust. The cottage then shakes more and more violently. Finally it disappears all together as if the entire structure had been sucked into an invisible vacuum cleaner hose. The displaced air rushes into the newly created void with a noise like a thunderclap.

    Our heroine opens the cover over the face and instead of a standard watch face, there is a series of revolving and mingling shapes. There are 14 numbers around the outside of the watch face: 0, 101, 202, 303, 404, 505, 606, 707, 808, 909, 1010, 1111, 1212, and 1313. Instead of a minute or hour hand, there is a little house (like a golden, tiny version of a monopoly house token) moving around the face from number to number stopping for a few seconds in front of each. When the house arrives at a number, it stops and a tiny inner dial on the face begins counting off 15 seconds. The other shapes on the watch face freeze for that length of time. She realizes the shapes look similar to the writing in the book when they are still.

    Her mom is calling for her. She has chores to do so she’ll investigate more later. As she closes the device she notices an engraving on the inside of the door. It’s just two words: “Borderlink Circle”.

  47. The watch isn’t inherently magical by itself. She takes it with her, everywhere, and one day sees someone else with the same watch and book. She follows and learns they are two of many in a secret society of tinkerers. And the watches only work when another is near. To make x, y, z happen, requires Watchkeepers coming together for a common goal.

  48. The book has no writing in it, but the back pages are tracing paper that have very light impressions of writing on them. One page is torn. The pocket watch is not working, so she takes apart the watch and finds a torn piece of tracing paper and no inner working to the watch. It has times, addresses and a mysterious code written on it. She goes to each address at each written time and discovers each house looks exactly the same and on the door there is always a letter under the welcome mat with her name on it. Also all in tracing paper. the letter is a secret code also and does the cheezy predictable thing of aligning them and it reads ” dear, (characters name) i am so glad that you have discovered my letters. I have been planning this for a while now and need your help. Please keep in mind that this is not a movie and you will not go on some crazy adventure and find treasure with Johnny Depp. You need to follow these directions carefully, don’t ask why just do it to save me and yourself because i got you involved now too. 1. collect 5 erasers from Lidia, Josh and Mark from (insert school name) high school (they are my spies) 2. take 4 pictures at exactly 230 degrees at terrain park. 3. go to the library and check out Christmas Trees and biting dogs. 4. collect $39.25, put in envelope and mail to (insert address). 5. the book has blank pages, write the names of whoever crosses your path, comes up to you or even says hello. Thx! those are my ideas you can write from there!

  49. Hello,

    Story Idea #1: Protagonist disassembles pocket watch, discovers Caesar or Vigenere cipher key inside case back, which then makes diary readable. Turns out, watch can go backwards or forward in time (or in dimensions or in places on Earth, etc.). Unfortunately, disassembling watch caused several parts that allow backwards and forwards “movement” to be controlled to “move” themselves to different locations because they are no longer “anchored” in the watch case. She then has to use the watch to to to the temporal/dimensional/historical location, have an adventure, install missing part, and continue on until the watch is reassembled and all “movements” are possible with it.


    Aryeh Goretsky

  50. Here’s a story where the clock is the key to reading the book. The clock seems to not work, but the girl has an intuition: the time indicated is a reference to the page (hours) and line (minutes) of the book. Copying that line on the last page of the book the watch moves and marks a new time and so on. Eventually the book turns out to be the diary of a witness of an old crime; No one believes her except the old school library custodian. Together they will frame the murderer……

  51. The watch is an enigma like encryption decryption device and the book is at first glance empty.

    Gibberish starts to appear in the book but it turns out by setting the watch to the time printed at the beginning of the gibberish she is able to translate the messages. The book and watch are being used by a secret group of magical assassins.

    It turns out that the assassins are after her father for his research into the magical world, but he doesn’t have time for her and doesn’t believe her.

    She has to convince her best friend that her father is in danger and work together to stop the assassins by sending them fake messages through the book and tripping up the assassins sent to find out what is wrong.

  52. After buying the watch and book, she is kidnapped by masked mysterious strangers. Her mother sees the daughter being carried off by masked men, during the chase the watch is dropped but the strangers get away with the daughter.

    Distraught, the mother returns home to find a glowing watch with a silent display of what her daughter sees. The watch was somehow attuned to the daughter in the chase and the child can hear what her mothers speaks into the watch.

    The strangers keep moving the child while she is asleep, but working together the daughter is able to help her mother find and rescue her.

  53. Story Idea #1: For Ages 1-3

    This book involves counting and curiosity! Large text and colorful photos to make it interesting and easy to read. The curious little girl gets into her mother/father’s “gadget bag” and starts pulling things out. The format is: Written number, numerical number, story.

    One, 1, One fun messenger bag.
    Two, 2, Two smart phones.
    Three, 3, Three jingly keys.
    Four, 4, Four ear buds.
    Five, 5, Five flash drives.
    Six, 6, Six multi-tools.
    Seven, 7, Seven LED lights.
    Eight, 8, Eight batteries.
    Nine, 9, Nine cables.
    Ten, 10, Ten stylus pens.
    Uh-oh! One big pile of gadgets!

    So some of the lines aren’t as good as others, but you get the idea!

  54. Story Idea #1: For Ages 4-8

    This book involves curiosity, adventure, and helping friends. The pictures would help tell the story and add excitement and emotion into the plot. We’d start with the watch concept, but leave out complex sub-plots to keep it in the reading range.

    “The girl is poking around in her parent’s packed garage looking for neat, cool things. She discovers an old pocket-watch and gets excited because it’s so different! She brings it to her mother/father, who remembers that old watch but tells her it’s been broken for many years. They agree that if she can get it fixed then she can keep it all for herself! So she goes back into the garage to look for something that would help her. She finds a multi-tool and uses it to pry the back open, but it’s too complicated for her. She needs help and decides to go to the watch repair store. She puts the watch and multi-tool in her bag and sets off..”

    So along the way she’ll meet different people who each have a situation. She helps out and receives a little token from them as she continues on:

    – She comes across a friend who is trying to fix the chain on his bike. Her multi-tool helps him out, so he gives her his compass in thanks.
    – She comes across an elderly tourist couple who are lost and can’t find the hiking trail back to their camp. Since she knows the area, she helps guide the couple back with the use of her compass. They give her a paracord bracelets in thanks.
    – She comes across a jogger who broke his/her shoelace and can’t keep going. She uses her multitool to cut the paracord to make new laces. The jogger gives her a compact umbrella in thanks.
    – As it’s starting to rain, she comes across a little boy that is going home from school. She uses her umbrella to keep the both of them dry as she walks the boy home. He gives her an old coin in thanks.
    – Insert more encounters 🙂
    – She makes it to the watch repair place. As the repair man is looking over her watch she retells her adventure of all the people she met and all the things she acquired for her bag. When she at last gets to the coin the repair man gets excited. It happens to be a coin that he’s needed for his collection in his display case. He agrees to trade it to her for anything that he has in his shop. So she picks out a moleskine book to record her future adventures. The watch is fixed, and she sees that it’s almost time for dinner and rushes home to her family.

  55. Her mother calls up to her Ellie it is time for bed you can play with your pocket watch in the morning. Ellie pulls the covers over her head and begins to play with her new gadget. She rustles to find her flashlight and just then the pocket watch beeps three times.

    As she twist to turn on the flashlight the book flashes. Her mother calls up to her Ellie Jones settle down and go to bed. Ellie yells, but “Jimmy Jones” is not sleeping either his bedroom light is still on.

    Suddenly the book flips and flips pages and to her wondering eyes is a photo of her brother, Jimmy Jones, and he is on the Naughty list.

    She can only read Naughty List everything else is in code. The pocket watch again beeps three times. Ellie takes her little screw driver and opens the back of the pocket watch. Inside the pocket watch is a message.

    Ellie each time the pocket watch beeps three times it is your mission to save another child from the naughty list. You must decipher the code in order to help these children. Each of them carries a secret, a secret they can only share with you, the pocket watch believer.

    The back of the book is empty place all their secrets in code….

  56. The journal contains the life stories of several real people and, when held while reading each story, the pocket watch reveals how much time each person has left to live. The watch will allow the girl to give more time to the one person she deems most worthy. Does she choose to give time to the scientific researcher who is battling disease or the mom of a young child, etc? Ok, this is dark but it could be compelling teen literature!

  57. The journal is blank except for instructions inside the cover that tell the girl to write a description of a new character on each page. As she begins to write, the pocketwatch flashes and starts counting down one hour. One of the characters she’s written emerges from the book and tells her that she must write enough characters within the hour to fill a community or else their world will be destroyed.

  58. The book has a single line of text that seems to be in a somewhat legible, not english but seems close. Its in a ring around what looks like a diagram of the mechanism. The only part of the device that makes any sense in the inscription on the outside. Its latin or looks like latin, SOMNIUM IN REM. The device is worn but on the edges from being held tight. It fits in the hand comfortably leaving no gap in your palm. The door latch opens easily with a push on the winder. It has a sort of slow automation to opening. Spilling slowly open with a deliberate movement.

    It seemed too good of deal from the old woman who sold it to her. She had a lot of the retro stuff that she liked. Record players, transistor radios, even some of those old braun pieces apple based their products on. This was one of a few pieces she had in a display cases next to here cash box. The things seemed unique mechanical, but old. Old like renaissance brasswork.

    Nothing had a price though so they were going to be expensive. It end like that with the antiques. Haggling and overpriced junk. But the watch or locket whatever called to her.

    As she holds the open device the book becomes readable. It offers up an instruction set explaining the use of the device. It simply allows whoever holds the device to enter a dream state where the holder can create and control the dream world. By using the device the holder controls a separate universe.

    The book goes on to explain the contingencies of the device and the limits of the other universe. Including that occupying the other realm is completely controlled from spacial view to time passage.

    The next shock comes with the knock on the door from an interested collector. How did he know what she had. Were there other items like this in the world. Do I have the only one?

  59. What were/are your favorite children’s books? Where did you want a book to take you? Time travel? Solving a puzzle/mystery? From the start of your story, it sounds like you’re going in both of those directions. Is it literal time travel or — maybe there’s an inscripton on the “watch” so she could find out who that person was…? Or is it a locket with something inside…a key to the code in the book? What secrets would someone put into code? You’re going to have to come up with a code & the text for the book — it’s going to be pretty complicated & you’ve lost me — but good luck with that!

  60. The watch is actually the “heart” of a mechanical animal (pick your favorite-bear/horse/etc.). These animals live in a different world-everything is mechanical and thus, eventually things wind down or break. The watch needs to be fixed vs. finding a suitable replacement so that the animal can continue living.
    The book is actually an repair manual/diagram guide for the “Tinkerers”–those folks who maintain the mechanical creatures.
    They can keep the dying animals on a bypass machine temporarily-but they need to find a suitable replacement part/watch quickly. Therefore, they are on the lookout for old watches, scouring pawn shops, flea markets, and garage sales.
    The girl likes taking things apart and can repair the watch, allowing her access to the fantasy world and a chance to be a “Tinkerer.”

  61. Smee again 🙂 Here’s another plot.

    The girl takes the watch and notebook home and starts to study it. Notebook itself isn’t that interesting – old, worn, yellow pages, yet empty. The watch, broken. Although it’s late, she can’t resist checking why it isn’t working and what’s inside. It looks “almost” like a watch, but this “almost” makes her even more curious. She sets up her magnifying glasses, screwdrivers and other tinkering tools and starts to take it apart… or at least tries to. Suddenly, the watch flips open like an old medallion and instead of small little wheels, springs and other things you usually see inside a watch, she sees a deep black shiny, stone-like surface. She can’t resist touching it. But when she does, the blackness starts to spread, covering her finger, progressing to hand. She is aghast, tries to take this thing off her, but it remains glued and progressing quickly. Suddenly the world around her explodes, but metaphorically – the watch sucks here inside the blackness, which quickly transforms into blinding warm light. Slowly she gains here vision back. She’s somewhere else! Her room is no more around here, neither is her house or the rest of her world. She stands on a meadow, air is crispy and fresh. It’s not Narnia though. Hogwarts it is not either. This place is a high-tech realm. At the horizon she sees a white, shiny towers of a city made of glass (or at least she thinks it looks like that). Strange aircrafts traversing the sky. A four-legged spider-like robotic creature look at here curiously from the nearby tree. She looks at her hands – all is normal, watch is still open, but a bit different – in place of black stony surface there’s some interface, it looks like a very modern round smartphone now (could be holo-equipped too). “The book” she thinks. She has it in other hand. It’s still old, worn with yellow pages. But not empty anymore. The whole first page is covered in text beginning with… “Sarah took the watch and begun to study it…” then there’s more. It can’t be! It’s all what just happened! But there’s more. When she turns the page, there’s some more text – one page more – rest are empty. When she reads the text, it reveals what will happen in the nearest future…
    That’s it. The goal is – to find a way home and to have some adventures during the process, good and bad but always with a moral. But is the fact that she knows what will happen next a help or an obstacle? It’s up to you how to unfold this story, Gadgeteer.

  62. The watch is in fact a “master watch” changing the time on which can change everyone else’s time. Being a school kid she uses the power to her advantages at the school without knowing it is messing up the time in the whole world. At the end everybody finds out and uses the watch for daylight saving changes for everybody? or else destroys the watch.

  63. If she is a “detective” sort of a kid, the watch could be a radioactive substance detector one. Then while using it she accidentally finds people trying to smuggle radioactive substances. Upon following them, she is led to a very big underground mafia who are trying to build a nuclear weapon for terrorism. Though she is eventually caught up by them and imprisoned, with her excellent gadget skills, she builds herself equipment which help her escape. The final piece of equipment sadly had to be the watch, but she is grateful that she could help save so many lives using the watch.

  64. If she is a teenager, the watch could be a gadget which can detect the “vibes” of people. The hour and minute hand would detect if two people connect and the second hand would be something to show whether it is in a positive or a negative way. In this way she finds out a lot about her relationships and eventually finds out her boyfriend is not in love with her. With a romantic twist, she finds out another guy she likes who also loves her. This guy then finds out she was using the watch to know if she could trust him or not, and thus becomes angry, but they eventually make up for the bad and come together.

  65. The watch, carefully preserved, keeps alive all the universe and the book is a time capsule that encloses the profiles of all the Keepers before the girl: in fact she finds her own profile page and immediately after the one who must have after her because the world can continue to exist. …Then she discovers her mission: Keep the clock and find the successor …

  66. what you can do is show that the watch has two dials with no. upto 360 etc and the leather diary has a list of with each row containing 4 nos. out of curiosity the girl rotates the dial in order to find out what the first 4 nos mean but instead she is taken to some strange place. the 4 nos are some places’ latitude and longitudes and…….so the watch has some kind of ability to teleport the person.

  67. Story Idea #3: For Ages 7-10
    (previous one should have been 2 and not 1)

    Keeping with the watch idea; The book with “codes” is actually schematics and information written in another language that she doesn’t recognize. And the young girl actually purchased the main face/body of a miniature grandfather clock, which had been modified with a casing to make it like a pocketwatch. But she’ll only realize this on her adventure to discover what this watch really is.

    The book would lean more towards a light mystery, where the girl seeks out people and information. Along the way she’s likely to encounter professionals in different fields who give her some speculation or ideas to help (like if they recognize some of the book’s sketches or designs and have an idea about what it means.) Each of these professionals would also share some information about the work they do (dealing with whatever types of gadgets, gear, or technology) and the girl will discover little clues that she collects on the way.

    She’ll eventually find someone (historian? tinkerer?) who can understand the “code” book and listens to the girl. They go over it together and find out that this “watch” is part of a hand-crafted, precise artifact that’s hundreds of years old. The interpret the writings to understand that the main body of the artifact (of a miniature grandfather clock) has been tinkered with to look and act a little different, but that it’s somewhere (museum? city? city in another country?) So with his help, the girl goes off to find the missing piece.

    Once the clock is found, it’s disassembled and put back together. There are inscriptions on the inside which indicate it’s some national treasure. The girl continues on to get it appraised and truly finds out what a valuable discovery she made, which would never had happened without her initial curiosity and gumption.

  68. Story Idea #4: For Ages 10-12

    This adds a major subplot and layer of depth to my story idea #3, which should fit the reading range. The subplot to be added is that someone the girl encounters for help ends up being a bad, greedy man. He could be a pawnshop owner, someone who deals with antiques, etc. but regardless of what his profession is he sees that the watch she has is truly valuable and wants it for himself to get rich. He attempts to buy her out, but the girl is hesitant and declines. After she leaves the man decides he’s going to take it by whatever means necessary.

    So this version of the story will have many tense encounters and escapes as the girl knows she’s being followed by people trying to get the watch from her. Since it opens up the potential for action, the girl can end up using her own gadgets and gear to thwart the henchmen/attackers. She will be bold, confident, and resourceful.

  69. Story Idea #5: For Ages 12 and up

    This story idea will center on the girl finding the watch & book, but will also host a cast of characters around her as well. The other characters add some depth and real-life complexity that today’s teenagers would encounter. The girl will be a very ordinary girl (who doesn’t feel ordinary), doesn’t get noticed too much at school, but will have a few very close, caring friends. Other characters of significance would be family, neighbors, teachers, as well as other students (especially any antagonists too!)

    She purchases the watch and book on a weekend. Nothing really happens until monday at school when she’s sharing her discovery with her friends. The code book looks like “mumbo jumbo” to everyone, but then someone flips some little switch on the watch and it starts to pulse with a light hum. They’re all startled and excited and decide to keep it a secret and get to the bottom of things, which leads them to investigate the book some more. From the book they decipher that the “watch” does something more, and as the girl tinkers with it and tries to open it up she does something to it where it starts to click and whirr with noises of things going on inside the watch. They all feel the intensity of the watch and figure out that it increases and decreases as they move, and they get a hunch that it might be trying to lead them somewhere.

    They take the watch all around the city so they can try to record measurements of the vibration based on location to determine if there is a certain direction the watch wants to go. The end up getting a decent idea and make a plan to venture on that way, but, since they’re all teenagers, they have to deal with their parents (collectively) to be able to go. The parents just DON’T understand and accuse the kids of being so “addicted” to technology and gadgets. So the kids, with their talents and resources, hatch a plan to fool the parents for a few days while they can escape and get to the bottom of the watch’s behavior.

    With the use of computers, networking, tablets, cameras etc. etc. the kids create some illusion (more imagination is going to be needed here) that they’re all having a slumber party together, when in reality they’ve taken off with backpacks of gear and supplies to follow the trail of the watch. The kids eventually get to some secret underground automaton facility and the watch ends up being some access key. Unfold discovery, adventure, and danger in this seemingly abandoned factory.

    Of course the ruse on the parents doesn’t last as long as the kids had planned, and the parents find out that all the kids are missing and freak out. Police are called and a search is put out to find the kids. By the time the police catch up to the location of the abandoned factory, the kids are actually in need of help to escape and are semi-rescued by the police and search party. But in the end, the kids made some huge discovery within that factory (more imagination on this), and they get public recognition for their talents and determination. The parents reprimand the kids for what they did, but are also very proud. And the ordinary girl, with the help of her good friends, doesn’t feel ordinary anymore and they are heroes at the school.

  70. plot #1

    the contraption is not a watch, but actually an elaborately constructed compass. at any given time, it points only to her next destination, whether it be a person, place, or thing. along the way it becomes clear to her that she must travel to different places to meet various people who can help in her quest to decipher the code.

    this is actually based on a childhood experience of mine, when i received a compass that looked like a wrist watch.

  71. plot #2

    something along the lines of incredibly loud and extremely close. this time, the object is a watch. the girl goes on a journey to track down the previous owner of the watch and notebook. the owner was an archeologist working on deciphering the script of a recently discovered civilization. the passages had a personal meaning to him, who was estranged from his daughter before dying. through the protagonist, the daughter achieves a sense of closure regarding her father. the girl and the daughter stand by his grave together at the end.

  72. plot #3

    after enlisting the services of a cryptologist, the girl uncovers the meaning of the code: whoever possesses the watch carries a double-edged sword. when its possessor performs kindness, her actions are magnified. if, for example, she is helping out a stranger, others also come to the stranger’s aid. if she comforts the sick, they heal quicker, etc.

    on the other hand, when she acts out of anger, the results are destructive.

    she is capable both of great help and great harm. is this a power that she can live with?

  73. Ok. Idea 1. I always loved the national treasure series because of all the clues leading to something else. You have the clock and the secret code book. The clock has an alarm that only goes off once it is in the hands of one of the chosen. Then it shows a key to decipher one of the pages in the book. Your girl figures out the code and it leads her to another object. This object leads her to yet another object, and so on, until it leads her to the realization that she was adopted and her biological family is at the end of the trail of objects.

  74. Idea 2. How are you about scifi? The watch was originally hers and has found it’s way back to her to guide her to find her family. Her family is in hiding because they are not from this world and are in danger of being discovered. The watch lights up when she touches it and displays keys for her to decode the message in the book. As she gets old enough the clock shows her more keys so that eventually she locates her family and helps them escape capture.

  75. Idea 3. The watch came from the Wanderers, people from a different galaxy that wander through space looking for the chosen. A chosen one has special powers and abilities. They can be very hard to find, but are attracted to gadgets. So the Watchers place objects in different worlds attempting to locate the chosen ones in order to help them develop their powers for good. When our girl, the chosen one comes in close range of a Watcher item it begins to come alive. It lights up and makes noise and gives clues to answer the riddles in the book that came with it. soon the Watchers will be training their newest chosen one.

  76. The winner has been chosen. It’s #32 Steven Feinstein.

    Thanks to everyone who submitted story ideas. You guys have fantastic imaginations and I hope to use some of your ideas to jump start my story!

  77. I picked up a Kindle Fire HD and I’m loving it. It was easy to understand and I love the interface. Here’s the one I have on Amazon If you’re looking for a tablet you should check it out, I think it’s very underrated.

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