Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Remembering 9/11

Terrorist-Hijacked Plane Hitting the World Trade CenterLast year on this day it rained all day — not, a gentle, soaking rain — but torrents.

Today it’s bright and sunny — cool — as it has been lately. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

I feel cheated.

Where’s the reminder of what happened in 2001?

I remember.

I remember those who died, and those who died fighting — saving and attempting to save those lives.

I honor those who continue to fight, and thank you for all that you do.

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Friday Writing Prompt: Idea Swap

Kelly A. Harmon's 1st Annual Idea SwapSeptember 10 is “National Swap Idea Day.”

I’ve had some difficulties locating any truth in that statement…there’s nothing “national” about it, apparently. Yet all sources — even Hallmark– consider it “national” and grant it “holiday” status.

All sources agree that it’s more than just a day to swap ideas, it’s a day during which everyone should share ideas for helping each other out, making each others’ lives better, and helping out fellow man.

This source also encourages the use of a creative imagination.

I’m all for helping fellow man, and, from a writing point of view, I can see the advantages of sharing ideas with each other. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone has an idea…the problem, sometimes, is in the execution of it.

The idea I have, I may not be able to satisfactorily complete.

Or, there are times when I want to write, and I’ve got a zillion ideas on my idea list, but none appeals.

So why not share with someone else?

Here’s Your Prompt:   Swap writing ideas with another writer. Give away the seeds of a story or novel that has been moldering in your journal (or your mind!), fruitless. Choose several of your most intriguing ideas, the ones which you really like, but for whatever reason, have been unable to devote the time to write them. Cast them away, like dead weights.

Now, accept the ideas of another writer. Read them. Write them in your own journal — or type them into your files — put them in the place you collect your own ideas. Give it a few hours, a few days, a week at most to percolate. With luck, you’ll be inspired sooner, rather than later. Now, write your story.

I wouldn’t be joining into the spirit of the day if I didn’t share some of my own ideas. Here are a few:

  • An author is haunted by the ghosts of characters he’s killed off.
  • A sudden sun shower, a field of dead trees, a human skeleton, a small whirlwind of dust, wild horses and sun-bleached papers
  • Worry not. Pray not. Don’t have one, don’t need the other.
  • A man on a bus, carrying his lunch–two slices of pizza–in a disposable grocery sack.

Good luck! Please share your stories.

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

New Bad Ass Faeries Web Site and Blog

Bad Ass Fairies BooksWhen you say the word “fairy” aloud – many folks conjure up a Tinkerbell-like apparition: magical, cute, helpful. It’s the Disney-sanitized version of the myth.

Most traditional stories of the fae reveal a world of mischievous, cruel — even outright harmful — creatures who like nothing more than to bedevil man.

The Bad Ass Faeries books take fae story-telling back to its roots, showing the faeries for who they are, and often in the modern world.

If you’re at all curious about the Bad Ass Faeries™ series, you need to check out the new Bad Ass Fairies Web site. There’s an associated blog as well.

Some pages are still empty, and there’s a glitch or two to work out, but the editors wanted to make the page live — and advertise it — as soon as possible.

I’ve got a story in the Bad Ass Fairies 3: In all Their Glory anthology, called Selk-Skin Deep. It takes traditional selkie mythology and stands it on its ear, putting the main character (the selkie) on a Navy ship during the Vietnam War.

If you like:

  • Faeries (or fairies!)
  • Military stories
  • Alternate histories
  • Action (Fire! Bombs! Explosions! Death! Destruction!)

… then you might like my story.

Read the first five pages here. (Warning, it ends abruptly in the middle of a scene. Sorry!)

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Do You Tagxedo?

Have you seen this nifty program called Tagxedo? Just give the link to your Web page or Twitter account or news site and it whips out a tag cloud of appropriate terms.

It will even force them into a shape. And you can pick and choose colors to match your style. Here’s the tagxedo cloud for my Web site (April, was a pretty big month for me, apparently…):

Tag Cloud of Kelly A. Harmon's Blog

I’m fascinated by how the seemingly random words fit together…and I’m curious about the algorithm used…I only did one post about Frog and Toad and yet Toad features fairly prominently in the graph. You can him in bright yellow in the upper left leaf of the clover. Frog doesn’t get half as nice the recognition.

Here’s the tag cloud for my twitter account:

Tag Cloud of Kelly A. Harmon's Twitter Account

It looks like I should go edit out the “Published a Blog Post” reference I have on the auto-post to twitter when I update my blog. But, I do like how my #FollowFriday friends are featured.

There seems to be a few inconsistencies in the system. Because of the date format on my blog “th” is a big hitter in the cloud (today is the 7th of September…see?) and the word “the” is very tiny in the graph. Realistically, it ought to be the focal point of the graph with everything else wrapped around it, as much as it’s used. Ideally, the program should bar it (and other oft-used words) from the pretty picture. I think that would make it more accurate.

Still, it’s a fascinating snap-shot. I think I’ll try it again in a few months to see how things change (or if they don’t)!

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

Miners and their Children - 1940

Miners with Their Children – at the Labor Day Celebration, Silverton, Colorado. September 1940. (Russell Lee, photographer)

Happy Labor Day!

Here in the United States, Labor Day has traditionally been the demarcation line between summer and fall…the day after which most kids return to school. (Though in recent years, schools have been opening the last week in August.) It’s always hot and sticky, and minds are rarely on curriculum.

But for the last few days, I’ve been waking to 50° (F) temperatures and days that have barely peaked at 70°. Unusual. It certainly feels like Fall.

I love this time of year!

I love crisp air in the morning, the smell of woodsmoke, and leaves crunching under my feet.

(We’ve been keeping the windows open all day, and as much as my allergies are screaming, I can’t help but enjoy it. The house smells great with the wind whisking through it, driving away the stale, conditioned air. The house feels brighter and bigger – as if it’s grown a bit. I really enjoy crawling into cool, clean sheets at the end of a work day…)

I look forward to baking bread from scratch, making stew, and for the first time in about a decade: going back to school — though my class doesn’t start until September 10, and I’ll be teaching!

To those of you celebrating Labor Day today…I hope you have a terrific day. (To those of you not celebrating – I hope you have a terrific day as well!)

I plan to get outside and enjoy the weather while it’s still mild…what are your plans for the day?

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Friday Writing Prompt – You’re Late!

Alice in Wonderland's White Rabbit - Running Late!

I overslept this morning.

(Well, in truth, it’s hard to oversleep on your day off. )

This was a planned day off – having worked 45 hours last week and 35 this week in order to get a “free” day.

But, in this case, a “free” day only means that I don’t have to report to my day job. I’ve packed it with other stuff that absolutely needs to get done, like:

•  Drive to the college in the next county over to fill out paperwork so that I can teach a class beginning next week;
•  Get to the library and pick up the CDs I have on hold before they put them back in the general collection;
•  Get my hair cut, since I’m beginning to look like Cousin Itt.
•  And 27 other items on my to-do list, most of them writing related.

See? There’s nothing “off” about it.

But I digress.

I got up early, made a pot of coffee, drank the entire pot of coffee, made some breakfast, checked my email…

…and before I knew it, I was later than I wanted to be. Now, I’ll be racing through the day like a mad-woman trying to get all these things done. (Who wants to be burdened with a ‘to-do’ list over the weekend… I plan to have fun!)

Here’s Your Prompt: Look at your current work in progress (or start a new one) and put your main character in a situation which makes him or her late. (If your story’s been plodding along, this should add some tension. Bonus!) How does the lateness affect the story? What goes wrong? How does your character deal with it? Is she cool under pressure? Pragmatic? Does he turn into a basket case? How is the situation resolved?

If you journal, think of a time when you were really late for something. What did you do to try to alleviate the problem…drive 90 miles an hour on the interstate? Call ahead and try to gain more time? What happened? How did you feel? How many folks did you tick off? How was the problem resolved?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Still Playing Name Games…

Hello My Name Is...This was supposed to be the entry full of character naming resources, but I’ve had a fun offer I want to tell you about.

Matt Marotta, the programmer of The Name Stooge software program, happened to wander by my blog as I was discussing character names. He offered me a free copy of his program – no strings attached.

Well, of course I couldn’t pass that up. And of course I’m going to tell you all about it. But the best part is: Matt’s going to give away some extra copies to readers of this blog!

We haven’t worked out the details yet…but keep your eyes here over the next week or two for the details. It’ll be something easy, like leaving a comment about characters, or maybe linking to mine or Matt’s blog.

Name Stooge is intended to help you choose the perfect name for your character. You enter a few bits of data:

  • Your character’s age and gender
  • When the story takes place
  • How common the name should be

…and it spits out the possibilities.

I like the idea that you can determine how common (or uncommon) the name is. And knowing when the story takes place helps to weed out names that weren’t used in a particular time period. (How many Brittany’s or Aiden’s were walking around in 1920?)

I’ve already installed the program (very easy to do) but it’s begging me to register before I take it for a test drive. And you know my litany: I’ve got some writing to do…

So, look for a review of the Name Stooge software sometime in the next week or so…at which time you’ll get your opportunity to score your own copy.