Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Reading at Constellation Books Today


Tea With The Authors
Today at 3:00pm
Constellation Books 303 Main Street, Reisterstown, Maryland

Please join me and authors Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Vonnie Winslow Crist, and Robert E Waters at Constellation Books, Reisterstown, MD for tea, cookies, and readings/signings from their various stories from anthologies Bad-Ass Fairies 3, Dragon’s Lure, Barbarian’s at the Jumpgate, etc. (I might even read from Blood Soup, keeping with the holiday atmosphere…)

Come to this pre-Halloween event and bring your friends, ghouls, witches, warlocks, etc.

Read the Constellation Books announcement.

Author Websites:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Jean Marie Ward

Vonnie Winslow Crist

Robert E. Waters

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Writing Prompt – Ghosts and Haunted Houses

Haunted HouseI grew up in a haunted house.

I know this because I saw the ghost many times. I’m not crazy – his existence has been collaborated by visitors who’ve seen him, too.

Legend has it that the house was a former monastery, moved from another location in Baltimore to its present location. The ghost was a man, dressed in what I remember as monk’s robes, and when visible, he always appeared to be searching for something.

I make the distinction of his being visible, because there are many times we heard the ghost, but didn’t see him. While walking down the basement stairs, you could hear his footfalls behind you, as well as the creaking of the old staircase. You could also hear his footsteps on the kitchen floor.

On rare occasions, you could feel his presence – not the Hollywood version of dropping temperatures and frosty breath – just the simple impression that you weren’t alone in the room.

He never spoke, but we got the impression he listened. So, we often spoke to him. It grew to be a comfortable relationship.

Here’s Your Prompt:   It’s too easy for me to tell you to write just any ghost story. So…write your own ghost story. Who would you haunt? Where would you haunt? How did you die? Don’t be glib: I don’t want to read about you coming back to haunt your worst boss or your ex-boyfriend. Give it some thought. My monkish ghost is always searching for something…I imagine a crucifix of some sort. It’s important to him, and he can’t rest until he finds it. Why would you be haunting a place? What job have you left undone? What job do you need to do before you can move on?

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

In All Their Glory an EPIC Award Finalist!

Epic Award Finalist 2011Bad Ass Faieries 3: In All Their Glory Cover Art

I’m very excited to announce that the Bad Ass Fairies 3 anthology, “In All Their Glory,” is an Epic Award Finalist!

Winners will not be chosen until March, so there’s still an opportunity for this book to be a winner.

My story, “Selk Skin Deep” is published within. You can read the first five pages of Selk-Skin Deep here.

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Capclave 2010 a Blast

I have to keep this short because it’s gotten so late…

Capclave was a blast this year.

I met a lot of nice people at my Submitting Short Fiction Seminar and had the opportunity to chat at length with 1632 author Iver P. Cooper. It’s got me thinking about writing some stories for the Grantville Gazette.

(Seminar attendees: look right for the link I mentioned I’d be putting up.)

I finally decided on reading from “The Dragon’s Clause” during the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. The reading was sparsely attended, but to be expected since it took place directly after the dinner hour. I suspect that many folks were still out socializing and touring the area. (Nonetheless, I think I read well. I’d practiced, because the few bits of Italian in the story can really trip up the tongue. I’m glad to say that I got through “Consiglio Grande e Generale Municipio” without effort.

The dealer’s room had only a few dealers, and I have to admit that I was disappointed. Nonetheless, I managed another Moratorium #fail by purchasing two books from C.J. Henderson, a fellow Bad Ass Fairies author. I’ll probably get to those books in June! Worse: he tossed in a free magazine….like I need another “something” to read. (Thanks, C.J.!) šŸ˜‰

I caught up with some fellow knitters, and I’m kicking myself because I didn’t ask about a beautiful brownish-red scarf/caplet that I’d been admiring. I got caught up in the conversation and the moment was lost. (Hint, hint! If you’re reading….can you tell me where to get the pattern?)

Again, must run…but before sign off: Special thanks to Colleen Cahill, a Capclave organizer who is amazing at getting things done. Colleen asked me to attend and made certain I had a projector for my seminar….

More later!

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Writing Prompt: At the Pumpkin Farm

Pumpkins - Photo by Kelly A. HarmonI was at the local pumpkin farm last weekend. Took a hay ride, played in some shucked corn, had my photo taken behind several of those funny painted signs.

It was one of those days with a bright blue sky and the wind blowing so fiercely that tears run down your face. Nonetheless, I found it perfect.

I love picking my own pumpkins. I do it every year, like an annual pilgrimage. It brings back fond memories…

Like the year I went in elementary school. It was cloudy. It was damp. The ride felt longer than it should have been. We got to the farm and it had nearly been picked clean by other school trips. Frost had hit the fields at least once already, because the vines had dropped, revealing all the mud and a dearth of lovely orange globes. The barrenness was evident before we’d even parked.

We spent a good hour, maybe longer, walking around acres of fields, kicking rotting pumpkins and looking at the remains of some unidentifiable animal left behind in the field by another.

Finally, I found a pumpkin I liked. So did everyone else. Each pumpkin had character. Each of us liked a particular one for a particular reason. Each of us thought, “Mine is the best. I wouldn’t trade this pumpkin for anything.”

Then, we were herded onto the bus and rushed back to the school in time for dismissal. The bus driver hurried along, and we were doing great until the light turned red…and she slammed on the brakes. Hard.

All those beautiful pumpkins? Rolled and tumbled forward to the front of the bus, banging and clanging along until they careened into each other in a big heap, some of them falling into the little well of a staircase by the door.

All that time choosing a pumpkin? Wasted. As we were each handed a pumpkin willy-nilly from the stack by the driver on our way off the bus.


So, that’s my pumpkin farm story… and your prompt.

Write about your best (or worst) day getting a pumpkin. You don’t have to tell a “farm” story. Perhaps you bought yours at the corner store — the biggest you could find — and didn’t realize then that pumpkins get heavier the longer you carry them. Did you have to carry it up a six-floor walk up? Did you drop it? Did you buy a pumpkin and keep it until the day before Halloween, and when you cut it open to make a jack-o-lantern you’d found it was rotten? Did you ever win a carving contest?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I’m Attending Capclave This Weekend. How About You?

Capclave Dodo I’ll be at Capclave this weekend, reading from…something. I haven’t decided yet.

I read from Blood Soup last year…but it’s tempting to read from it again since Halloween is right around the corner. It’s a nice dark story for Halloween.

I’m also teaching a seminar on submitting short fiction for publication.

Capclave is hosted by the Washington, DC Science Fiction Association and promotes short fiction. Their motto is: Where reading is not extinct!

The convention tends to be small and literary, but enjoys participation from big names in the field. This year’s Guests of Honor are Connie Willis, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer.

I’ll be reading with other members of Broad Universe, including Jean Marie Ward, Roxanne Bland, and Dina A. Leacock. We’ll be doing a “Rapid Fire Reading.” Each of us will read for about ten minutes from out work.

And, we’ll have chocolate.

If you’re in the Washington Area, please join us. I’d love to meet you.

Monday, October 18th, 2010

So Remember that Book Moratorium? #Fail

How to Read a Book - the Book VersionIf you recall, I issued a moratorium on book purchases only a few short days ago.

I’ve already failed…big time.

I had a meeting with the owner of Constellation Books yesterday – this was part meet and greet, part reconnaissance for me. As I am notorious for getting lost, even armed with map and GPS, I needed this dry-run so I could work out the kinks before my reading with other authors there on October 30.

(I did get lost, BTW – and that cost me nearly an extra hour in travel time to get there.)

The problem was not the bookstore…although I did order a book while I was there — but I’d already factored that into the moratorium.

The problem was the church yard sale I passed on my way to the bookstore. Have I admitted here yet that I’m seriously addicted to yard sales? Here goes:

Hello, my name is Kelly.
I salivate at the prospect of a good yard sale. I hyperventilate if it’s a multi-family or community affair.
If I’m driving, be a good sport and don’t complain when I stop. If you’re driving, you’d better pull over if you know what’s good for you.

Okay – I’m not that bad. I’ve been known to drive by tables filled with, ahem, junk. I do have my standards. Plus: I won’t stop if there isn’t a lot of stuff to look at. Otherwise, it’s just not worth my time.

But I digress.

So, I stopped at this church yard sale….and I nearly filled TWO shopping bags with books. They were mostly paperbacks, which means I fit quite a few into the two bags. I haven’t counted them. Suffice to say, it was a lot of books.

I’d like to think that this serious book acquisition is tempered by the fact that the books are mostly what I like to call disposable books: books I want to read, but (probably) won’t keep. I’ll donate them. In other words: they’re only temporary residents in the house.

Oh, and I picked up a several with someone else in mind (Hi, Sue!). I’ll hand those over the next time I see that someone. And since I didn’t get those for myself, I figure those don’t count.

Nonetheless, a major fail for me and my moratorium.

Anyone else have trouble sticking to this kind of “diet?”

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Writing Prompt: Comfort Food

This post is twofold:

First: Imagine sitting in front of the TV, unstaring. You don’t know what’s on, and you won’t remember what you were watching later. You’re mind is too occupied with what’s happened.

Second: You’re chowing down on your favorite comfort food.

Is it mac-and-cheese? Ice cream? Some ethnic dish from your childhood?

For me, it’s golden-yellow chicken soup, lightly salted and served with thick, chewy kluski noodles…just like my grandmother used to make. She served them separately: steaming soup in flat, white bowls at each place setting and a tremendous glass bowl piled high with noodles in the center of the table.

We were allowed to spoon as many noodles into the broth as wanted, slurp them up, and then add more noodles.

I want some right now.

Here’s Your Prompt: What happened? Why are you in such a funk? Did your dog get run over by your best friend? Have you lost your best friend? Is it something you did? Is it something that was done to you? And what’s that you’re eating? Did you make it yourself, or did someone bring it over? Do you keep it on hand for exactly this kind of need? Is it making you feel any better? Why or why not? What happens now?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Moratorium on Book Acquisitions (Again)

No BooksWith one exception, I’m declaring a moratorium on book acquisitions until the new year.

(I say “acquisitions” rather than purchase, because I’m just as likely to borrow a half-dozen books from the library or receive an ARC for review as I am to walk into a book store and buy a few. Alas. And these things tend to pile up.)

I vaguely remember mentioning this last year, but for the life of me, I can’t find the post. Maybe I only thought about declaring a moratorium last year…but this time I’m taking action.

The reason: I have more than thirty (30!) books in my to-be-read (TBR) pile, several of which I need to review for folks. (This number does not include books that I’ve purchased on the off-chance I might get around to reading some day.) If I keep obtaining books like this, I’ll never get to finish those promised reviews before December 31. That’s a self-imposed deadline, btw. I just don’t like having accepted books and keeping people waiting on reviews.

My bookshelves are shelved double-deep and I count nine separate stacks of books in this room alone – two of which are in danger of toppling. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the books were breeding on their own.


So, here’s the exception (and the danger)…

I have an hour-plus one-way commute to my day job and I listen to audio books to pass the time. Depending on the length of the book, I plow through one, sometimes two, during the work week. This requires a lot of trips to the bookstore and/or library.

And therein lies the danger: setting foot in either always results in a purchase or loan.

My plan: to stay out of either until my TBR pile is “substantially” reduced.

But temptation looms already!

I received a call from the library yesterday that one of the audio books I reserved is in. (I’ll be stopping by after work today to pick it up.)

And I’ll be reading at Constellation Books on October 30. [Details Here] I already know this is a deal breaker as far as my moratorium is concerned: it’s just not polite to be invited to a book store and not buy something. So, I’m not counting this purchase in my moratorium.

If I’m diligent, I should be able to knock out quite a few of the to-be-reads before January 1. And if I’m lucky, I can replace a few of them with audio books and kill two birds with one stone.

At least, that’s the plan.

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Bed Bugs at the Local Library


A (becoming more) common bed bug.

I’m not a traveler, although I’ve done my share of traveling for book gigs.

The first thing I do when I get to my room is check the mattress near the headboard: a prime location for bedbugs to hide. If I spot them, my plan is to cancel my reservation on the spot. A new room wouldn’t cut it for me.

The problem with bedbugs is that they’re so insidious: you can fumigate, but they hide in fabric and behind walls. And the worst-case scenario for me would be staying in an infested room and then taking hitchhikers home with me in my luggage.

I nearly missed my vacation to the Carolinas this summer when the rental agency called to let us know that our beach house had been infested. They’d fumigated, but I (and thank goodness everyone else involved) refused to set foot in the rental. The agency found us a new home.

But now the threat hits even closer to home: someone returned infested books to the Urbana Public Library in Frederick about a week ago. (Old news, I know – but I just heard about this from a student – I don’t normally patronize the Urbana location.)

The book drop has been closed, and the library has suspended inter-library loans until they’re certain the problem has been arrested.

The library has called the patron who returned the books to let them know about the problem…but I’m left wondering if it’s possible that they didn’t know they had a bedbug problem. Bedbugs bite–and leave nasty sores behind! How could they not know?

So, I’ve got to ask: why would a patron dump the books in the drop and make Library staff discover the bugs? Did they think they wouldn’t get caught?

If the patron had done the responsible thing, the problem could have been isolated to a single location.

I guess I’ll be adding, “Check books for bugs,” to my “to do” list when I go to the library. (Stuff like this makes electronic books a better proposition, eh?)