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Greetings, tale fans!  We've been privileged to work with some delightful grownups in Los Angeles in two different UnWorkshop programs, The Footprints Writing Club, and Grief Lifters --  helping people learn coping strategies to deal with the loss of a spouse.  You're going to meet some more of our folks through their own takes on animals.  You'll also be reading life histories as they unfold in our ongoing sessions. 

Hope you enjoy, and do feel free to send us yours, as well as reviews of the stories you see here.  (Scroll down for fun new stories, and see the button below and at the bottom of this screen to submit your own.)



Laurel Shapiro, Pawprints Writing Club Star, at work!

Meet Laurel Shapiro

See this nice little old lady, as she refers to herself? Take a magnifying glass to the computer screen in this shot of Laurel at work. Right! She's penning a murder mystery series. But this former prominent citizen of Miami -- newspaper writer, fund raising champ, and actor -- has her even lighter side. Note: Both series, the murder mystery and fairy tales, began with class prompts in the Pawprints Writing Club.


By Laurel Shapiro

Once upon a time, a long time ago in Fairytale Land, there was a village located on the edge of the falls. Their chief sources of income were tourists and bottled water from the Viagra Falls.

The women really hated the falls. Frisky men are good, but all the time? It was like something out of a slapstick comedy. Also the falls were very dangerous for the men. If a man fell in while getting a drink, he turned up the next day stiff as a board and just as dead. The women could drink the water, bathe in it, whatever, and it had no effect on them.

But the men, what to do about the men? Even the mist from the falls would invigorate them. The women set up a committee called WAFWomen Against the Falls. They plotted and schemed. The first thing they did was bottle as much water as they could and store it a hidden cave guarded by a dragon alarm system that only responded to women. Now when they solved the real problem, they would be able to dole out what was left as they saw fit. This gave them a heady feeling of accomplishment.

But they hadnt fixed it yet. They decided to get some legal advice. After all, the government must be able to put a stop to this nonsense. They hired the country's foremost attorney. He flew in with his entourage, studied the situation from every angle, visited with the powers that be and finally declared, "It behooves you to leave the falls alone because everyone in charge is a man and they like it just the way it is, and so do I." For payment the lawyer took a car full of Viagra back to Boston. He made his second million rebottling the elixir in very small containers, and selling it at enormous prices.

Back at the falls, the women hatched a desperate scheme They would blow up the source of the water supply and go from there. The women hid, the mountain exploded and Hilary was elected President.

Too much? Ok, the women hid, the mountain exploded and a new falls emerged. It had a new name, Niagara Falls, and the men gradually forgot their halcyon days. Occasionally, when they were very good, the women would slip a little something extra into their water. It became a mythOnce upon a time, a long time ago a long time ago there was a falls called Viagara.

From Pawprints class prompt, "What a difference a 'V" makes..."



Big Louis, Pawprints Writing Club Star, on a boat


Louis hails from Philadelphia, where he did a number of things professionally, including being a chef and driving a cab. He hitched his wagon to a lady and came to California, much to our luck. Now he's a regular in commercials and films, and in our Pawprints shows. And can he write! Below is a tale he, too spun from a prompt in our class, and one of our favorites.

By Louis Weinstein

Taking a little time off from my archaeological studies for the museum back in Philadelphia, PA, I was about two hundred miles south of Cairo, deep into the Sahara Desert just west of Baris.

My, it was hot, but being dry, the air was much easier to bear when I was not in the direct sunlight than even 80 degrees humidity is back home.  I was partaking of cold water, a continual and necessary act, when suddenly I saw something approaching me from the distance. As it got closer I couldnt help but think, "My, oh my, what a beautiful being!"  When close enough for me to hear without shouting, nonetheless out came the shout, "So its you, so its you, where the hell have you been?"

"What do you mean?" I replied. " Who the hell are you?"

"Who am I, who am I? How soon they forget.  Just ten months ago we were together and you know I got pregnant and you werent man enough to be here in time for the birth of a lovely female offspring."

"Its not mine, its not mine and I can prove it!"

"Liar, how can you prove that?"

"Well its really easy.  I was in the U.S. at the time of your conception
and also, I havent slept with a camel for over two years."

From a Pawprints class prompt, "You're outside, in a forest, and a creature comes up to you. What is it and what happens?" (Louis, as is his wont, took a few liberties with the theme.)


Wanna see what the assignment was?



As we said before, Kay has a lively and entertaining way with the written word that matches her ability to read aloud and capture any audience. Appearing in stand-up comedy frequently in L.A., she also graces us as a member of the Pawprints Players. Here are snippets for you to savor, taken from the new book we are working on.  Kay said she just became obsessed with Harold...

Wanna meet Kay? See her reading some of her tasty tales.


The Subject was Harold
By Kay Roberts

Last Sunday in Venice a man appeared. His name was Harold. He had come to the beach to people watch and enjoy the ocean air and the delight of spending the day outside. He had made a good choice. When the overcast lifted, the water glistened, the sand sparkled and the people along the beach came to life like actors on a stage, as though they were there for Harolds benefit.

Something of interest was going on everywhere he looked. He walked and looked and listened. Stopped and enjoyed the entertainers and gladly gave them money. He spoke with artists and looked at their work and was pleased. He decided that he would return another day and bring along friends, for that was all that kept this Sunday from being perfect. No one to share it with.

The Exploits of Harold
By Kay Roberts

Last Sunday in the ladies room a man appeared. His name was Harold. Harold was a fool. He had come into the ladies room on a dare. If he had been a kid, OK, but a man Harold's age? There was nothing to do but holler at him and beat him with our fists and purses until he stumbled out the door. Old weird Harold strikes again.

Last Sunday in Frankfurt a man appeared. His name was Harold. He had become lost from his tour group. As he stood wondering what might be his best course of action, someone sneezed. Nearby someone said, "Gesundheit!" Harold grabbed the man and exclaimed, "Thank God, you speak English!"

Old, weird Harold strikes again
By Kay Roberts

Last Sunday in a dither, a man appeared. His name was Harold. He needed help calming down. His confusion became contagious. Soon everyone within hearing range was in a dither. Not one of them knew anything about dithers. What does one do with or to or in this case, in a dither. Chaos reigned or dit it rain? Oh, well. Old weird Harold strikes again.

The last Sunday in June a man appeared. His name was Harold. I knew from my studies that this signaled the rebirth of the Age of Magic. It was happening right in front of me. Harold just appeared on the Sidewalk in the middle of the Century City Mall. I ran up to him. I was so excited. I cried out: "What do we do next?"

He looked at me in great surprise and then dropped down to his knees and hissed my hand. "I can't believe it, you are still here." I grabbed my hand away and backed up a few steps. He looked bewildered. "Don't you remember, try to remember." I started looking around for a policeman but everything had changed. The mall was gone. People were walking around in old fashioned costumes. I reached for my pocketbook to hit him, if he came closer. I sat down hard on the ground. I was dressed in an old fashioned costume. This was the age of magic?

Harold was approaching me again and he seemed to be growing a long white beard. There were trees all over what had been the mall. Harold bowed from the waist "I did not mean to alarm you M'am", "don't you remember who I am?" "I am your Wizard Merlin."

"You are Merlin? I don't believe it. Prove it right now."

"If I prove it, will you believe what else I have to tell you?"


He waved his hand and a wand appeared. He waved his wand and a tall, dark, handsome man appeared next to him. The man had a crown on his head.

Marlin said: "This is King Arthur and you are his Queen Guinevere." From behind a tree appeared another tall, handsome man who cried out "I am Lancelot."

Then everything went black. This could not be the age of magic. This was all wrong. All of a sudden I laughed in relief. Everything was back to normal. Harold would appear in the year 3005 and I was glad I would not be there to see it. I think from now on I will study computers, not magic. I had seen enough magic for a lifetime.

From a Pawprints class prompt, "Suddenly a man appeared.
His name was Harold..."

Interested in prompts yourself?


New!  The stories below are now available to you in book form!  Click here to look  into Stories From the Heart. Vol 1 and Vol. 2 -- an bestseller! Also available:  our book How to Write Your Memoirs -- Fun Prompts to Make Writing -- and Reading -- Your Life Stories a Pleasure! 

Newest!: A full book-length memoir from Charles Alan Tichenor, Go East, Young Man, Go East...Memoirs of an Eyewitness to the oil boom and culture clashes of the Middle East." A fascinating read! Political machinations of the famous and infamous, including the double agent Kim Philby and his father, "Sinjin," Lawrence of Arabia, a benevolent king, the Rub 'al Khali,  all leading to American-Saudi collaboration and the birth of now wholly Saudi-owned Saudi Aramco, largest oil company in the world. And it all began with camels, somewhat reluctant Bedouins, and black gold. Plus, stories of America from the early twenties of the last century, penned with the scholarly and wry wit of the man who was one of the first three western ministers called to attend the then Aramco flock.

For you?          Footprints Writing Clubs for Grownups

We are grateful to Ellen Gaines, Director of the Felicia Mahood Multi Purpose Center in West Los Angeles for sponsoring our UN-Workshops, to Program Director Sherri Berlin for all her generous time and support, and for the help of the dedicated staff at the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks-owned facility. To learn more about these FREE UN-Workshops by Ina, contact Ms. Gaines or Ms. Berlin at 310-479-4119, or send us an e-mail at  We also wish to say a heartfelt thanks to Felicia Mahood for their generous sponsorship of the book, "Stories From the Heart."


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All stories published by permission from the authors. Collection 2003 Ina S. Hillebrandt

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