Friday, June 24th, 2011

Writing Prompt – What’s Your Dream Home?

Castle - New AmsterdamI venture to say that I’m not the only woman whose little-girl dreams included getting married and moving into a castle.

(Though I was never into that pink, sugar-coated, cotton candy and ice cream Disneyfied version that always gets pimped to little girls.)

Show me dark stone masonry, moats and oubliettes, a crypt in the cellar (and a dungeon) and you’ve got my attention.

I still haven’t outgrown the idea.

I’ve whiled away endless hours on the internet looking at castles for sale (and castles for rent) searching for both inspiration, and, well, the perfect opportunity.

It’s amazing how many castles are actually affordable. What stops me is the whole ‘packing up and moving to another country’ thing. That’s too much hassle.

So, if I had my wish? Yeah, I’d move into a big scary castle on scads of acreage. I want cool stone floors, vaulted ceilings in the dining room, hidden staircases, secret passage ways, crypts to explore…I’d take a torch and my laptop and spend the afternoon writing. Now there’s some stimulating atmosphere!

My favorite room would be the huge, fully-equipped library: leather bound books ceiling to floor, large crackling fireplace, thick pile rugs covering the stone (and of course a tastefully designed technology center where I can surf the net and write…)

And at least one craggy turret of the castle must overlook the ocean, so that on breezy days I can throw open a lead-paned window to catch both the ocean breeze and the noise of the breakers hitting the shore. (This turret room will contain the second, fully-equipped library, etc. etc. because being surrounded by books while writing is simply euphoric.)

Here’s Your Prompt: What’s your dream home? Where’s it located? How would you trick it out? What’s your motivation for this location? This style? Would you decorate it yourself or call in a designer? Where would it be? Your home town? Where you currently reside? Or across the ocean on another continent?

If you’ve got the time, sketch your home and the surrounding property. Then, map the layout inside: add all the details that you can to illustrate your dreams.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

I’m in a Podcast!

Cover of Hellebore and RueThe latest ‘Broad Pod” podcast is available.

In it you’ll hear me read from my story, ‘Sky-Lit Bargains,’ published in Hellebore and Rue.

The ‘BroadPod’ production is an outgrowth of the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Readings I sometimes have the opportunity to participate in. So rather than hearing the full story, you’ll only hear a 6-minute snippet.

Of course, you’ll get to hear several other 6-minute snippets from other authors.

Click to listen to the latest Broad Pod Episode. (Note: This is a big file! You may have to wait a few seconds for the link to connect!)

To see other Broad Pod Episodes, check out the Broad Pod Web site. These podcasts are produced monthly, and are usually centered around a theme.

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Writing Prompt – School’s Out for the Summer!

School's Out[… cue the Alice Cooper music…]

Yesterday was the last day of school in our county, and the little parasites are out in droves today. Can’t go anywhere today without bumping into one!

So…in honor of summer vacation…

Here’s Your Prompt:

Depending on your school district, you have approximately 104 days of summer vacation.

What are your plans?

Pretend you’ve got nothing to do until school is back in session…and you’ve got to plan out how you’re going to spend each and every day.

Money doesn’t matter, obligations don’t exist, any and all transportation is available to you. (So, if you want to take a trip to the moon…you may.)

Parse out the vacation by weeks or by days — or weekends — or whatever takes your fancy. Explain where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there, who you’re going with, and most importantly: why you’re going.

Dig deep into your soul and examine the reason your trip. (“Because I’ve never been there,” isn’t good enough.)

And remember, we’re imagining here…so the reasons can be imaginary, too…

Once you’ve planned your entire vacation, choose one of your trips and pretend it’s already happened. Spend some time showing how the trip went, what you experienced along the way, and whether or not you fulfilled your reason for going.

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Great Review for Hellebore and Rue – and – a Contest About the Book

I just read another great review for Hellebore and Rue over at FanGirlTastic.

I’m tickled.

Reviewer Gayle Grazen had many nice things to say, but of course I’m partial to her words about my story, Sky Lit Bargains:


Kelly A. Harmon’s “Sky Lit Bargains” is an enjoyable adventure fantasy tale in which a young woman becomes the warrior in a male-dominated world to avoid a highly unpleasant marital prospect. This could have quite easily been part of a longer work.

Cover of the anthology Hellebore and Rue

This is the second reviewer who’s mentioned that the story could be a longer work. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t write it into a novel…?

If you’re read the short story, I’d love your opinion. Drop me a line (or mention in the comments below):

  1. Let it stand!
  2. Write a novel!

(Inquiring minds want to know!)

About the Contest

JoSelle Vanderhooft, one of the editors of Hellebore and Rue is a talented jewelery maker. She is designing necklaces based on the stories in the book and offering them as prizes in a little contest.

To win, all you have to do is make a post about Hellebore and Rue on any social media outlet, and then post back to her blog by June 15, 2011 to let her know. It’s that easy.

Details — and a picture of the lovely necklace– are on Joselle’s Blog, the Memory Palace.

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Writing Prompt: What Floats Your Boat?

Soft Ice Cream Cone - Image taken from: Brentwood Carvel OnlineI’m trying to narrow down my life to the things that really please me.

When I figure that out, I plan on streamlining everything.

I’m fairly certain of the ‘short list’ of things that I really like. Here’s a subset:

  • my family
  • writing
  • good friends
  • reading
  • really loud music 🙂
  • my doll collection (No, I am not too old to play with dollies!)
  • visits to Staples (Will the Husband of Awesome™ groan upon reading this?)
  • genealogy
  • gardening
  • photography
  • knitting
  • soft ice cream
  • chocolate and peanut butter together
  • homemade whipped cream

The list goes on.

Some things have always been, and will always remain on the list: soft ice cream, family, reading… Knitting is fairly new, and I’m not certain how long it will continue to captivate me. But I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to knit sweaters or quit all together. (One can only knit so many scarves and potholders and really kewl fingerless gloves before the shininess palls, ya know?)

When I figure this out, when the list above is complete — and current — because I don’t want anything on it that used to please me, I’m going to weed everything out of my life that doesn’t pertain.

If it’s a physical item, it’s getting tossed. If it’s a bad habit, I’ll break it. If it’s an acquaintance, I’ll refuse future invitations.

Big job.

My point is this: why should we surround ourselves with anything that doesn’t give us pleasure? All else is an annoyance, a liability, or a distraction from what’s really important.

Here’s Your Prompt: Make a list of all the things that you enjoy doing or having or being.

The list can be as long or as short as you want it. It’s your list, after all, and only you can know how many things should be on it.

Now, pick one item on the list, one thing you really, really love, and write about why it gives you such pleasure. Write as if to a friend that you’re trying to share this passion with. Don’t try to be persuasive. It’s not you job to convince your “friend” to like it, too. Instead, concentrate on why you feel the way you do about it. Help your friend understand your passion.

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

How Big is Your To Be Read Pile?

Fallen Stack of BooksMy to-be-read pile fell over.

It’s been threatening to do so for quite some time, but I haven’t heeded the warning. Good thing I don’t tend to stack things taller than myself.

I may have been hurt in the ensuing avalanche.

I’m also lucky that only a little more than half toppled over. The other bits are on a small, sturdy book shelf, with two large baskets (full of books) on top. Those survived the descent into messiness.

What I need to do is go through the pile and determine if there are any that there’s no hope I’ll ever get to …and then give them away.

(Seriously: with so many new books being printed, where will I find the time to catch up on these?)

But it’s so hard to choose which should go: old sci-fi classics with outdated science, but “necessary” for me to read to complete my education? The literary fiction which I know will probably bore me to tears?

(Disclaimer: I have read *some* lit fic I’ve enjoyed, it’s just that with me it’s hit or miss.)

What about all those gift books by well-meaning friends, who don’t have a clue about what I’d actually read if I’d picked it out myself?

Ahh, I see one about angels right on top. I know someone who may enjoy it more than I. I think I’ll pass that one along at the first opportunity.

There are more than a hundred books in this pile. (Yes, there are others stacked up elsewhere. Don’t tell the Husband of Awesome™.)

I suppose I could re-order them by length (rather than haphazardly putting the newest acquisitions on top), and read the shortest ones first. That might weed out several in a fairly short time. Similarly, I could read all the YA first, since they’re usually quick reads for me.

Or, I could toss out all the oldest ones, thinking that if I haven’t gotten to them yet, I probably won’t. But then, how will I know if I’m passing up a good read?

How do you tame your pile when it gets so large that finishing them seems like a monumental task?


Note: The photo above is not the photo of my poor, beleaguered books. Nonetheless, it’s a fairly good representation in both amount and subject matter!

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Writing Prompt: Sense of Smell and Memories

Honeysuckle FlowerI was taking a brisk walk last night when I smelled the perfume of honeysuckle wafting by on an itinerant breeze.

A flood of memories assailed me.

I was struck with the image of my teenaged self driving too fast along twisting rural roads, music blasting, windows rolled all the way down, honeysuckle scent barreling into the car through windows and vents, bathing everything in its sweet odor.

I was reminded of hot summer evenings, deck-sitting, waiting for the elusive breeze, and with it the tantalizingly sweet smell of honeysuckle.

I remembered visiting my aunt’s house with the steep hill on the front of the property covered in honeysuckle, and sitting in that patch — flowers up to my ears — with laughing cousins and siblings, all of us telling jokes and sucking on honeysuckle flowers.

Wow! It’s no wonder scientists say that our sense of smell is the strongest link with our memories.

What are you reminded of with a particular aroma?

Here’s Your Prompt: Conjure up some scents!

Take a sniff from a perfume or cologne bottle you haven’t worn in a while. (If you don’t have one at home, check out the perfume counter at a department store, or the personal aisle in drug store for shampoo or hairspray or lotion…)

Take a walk in a bakery or florist. Or a leather goods shop. Or the beach.


Create your own memories by lighting a fire or candle, or baking one of your grandmother’s recipes in the oven.

What memories do these smells evoke?

Write a memoir, an essay a journal entry or a poem.