Friday, January 27th, 2012

Writing Prompt: Tall Tales

Geese Postcard by W. H. Martin - 1909
“Taking Our Geese to Market”
W. H. Martin

Decades before the software program Photoshop was a gleam in anyone’s eye, photographer W.H. Martin was creating photo montages. Judging from the few postcards I’ve seen, his themes were mostly agricultural, with some based on “old wives tales.”

All the ones I’ve seen tell a tall tale.

According to Wikipedia:

“A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual. Some such stories are exaggerations of actual events, for example fish stories (‘the fish that got away’) such as, “that fish was so big, why I tell ya’, it nearly sank the boat when I pulled it in!”

Other tall tales are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the European countryside, the American Old West, the Canadian Northwest, or the beginning of the Industrial Age.

See Wikipedia for more information about tall tales.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a tall tale about what happened to you today.
  • If today is too hum-drum :(, write a tall tale about another day in your life.
  • Re-write a tall tale you already know with yourself as the main character, and using modern day events.
  • Like Martin, create a visual pictorial of a tall tale: draw it, use photography software to create it, or tear pictures from a magazine to make a collage.
  • Write an exaggerated poem about something that happened to you yesterday.
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I Totally Blew the Whole Book Moratorium Thing (Again) Tonight

A box of books, but not mine.[For those of you recently joining me, here’s a link to the first post I made about a book moratorium, and another on the failure of said book moratorium.]

* * *

I dropped by the library after work tonight to check out a movie, and of course I couldn’t help but peruse the book-sale rack.

I’ve done this a couple of times in the last few months and have been relieved to find those shelves chock-full of stuff that didn’t interest me. (Which was good.)

But the librarians must have spent their time this week winnowing out the sci-fi and fantasy sections of the library and dropped it all on the shelf before I came in.

I can’t even tell you how many books I picked up (though I will say it had to be close to 40, because I spent over 10 bucks and the paperbacks are only a quarter a piece. I did score a few hard backs.

Sadly, this comes on the heels of a book-buying binge over the weekend.

In 2011, I “officially” purged 227 books from the house. This means they were boxed up and carried away from the premises. This doesn’t count all the books I gave away to relatives and friends.

There are literally hundreds more sitting in bags and boxes in a little room off my kitchen because they’ve (so far) been too much trouble to haul away.

(It’s funny how I find it no problem to bring, say… 40, books into the house one day, but I can’t be bothered to take that many out the next time I leave.)

I think a large part of the problem is the lack of venues for divesting myself of books. The local thrift stores will take them, but not in the quantity I have to give away. The library doesn’t want back the books they sold me – though they’ll take the ones I’ve recently bought. I don’t mind giving them away, but I’d rather not have it be at my expense. (See how complicated it’s getting?)

And I am completely against tossing them in the trash.

I’ve been known to take a box of books on vacation, and then leave them for the next renters…but you can only rid yourself of so many that way.

How do you get rid of your excess tomes?

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Completely Off Topic: Jimmies or Sprinkles?

Cake Pops - Made by Kelly A. Harmon!Discussion: who knows what jimmies are? There was much discussion around my kitchen table the other day as we were eating some home-made confections…

Apparently jimmies (sprinkles, for those of you who are unfamiliar) must be a local (or regional) term. Is this actually the case? Please let me know in the comments.

What spurred the discussion was my creation of these little ladybug cake confections.

I received one of those “cake pops” pans for Christmas this year. Totally unexpected. I bake a lot of cookies — mostly Italian style biscotti using my Grandmother’s recipe — but I don’t bake cakes.

Single Ladybug Confection created by Kelly A. HarmonIt’s not that I don’t like cake. It’s just that a cake, even a small one, usually rots on the counter after a few days in this small household. It’s just a waste.

But cake pops on the other hand…are a neat way to economize…

…unless you decorate them, I’ve found. I could have bought a HUGE bakery-made sheet cake — fully themed – for what I paid for candy melts and icing pens, junior mints and confetti and jimmies.

But it was a lot of fun…if not as delicious as I thought they should have been.

Frankly, a slice of cake would have been fine.

But these do look so cute on the counter.

Now… no derisive comments about my decorating skills, okay? I’m a novice.

A plate of Ladybug Confections created by Kelly A. Harmon
Friday, January 20th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Liberty, or Lack Thereof

Give me liberty, or give me death.

~ Patrick Henry

Loss of liberty (or freedom) isn’t always an issue of being dominated by someone (or something) else, such as being bound in chains, or incarcerated in a cell, or being subject to some governmental curfew.

Sometimes it’s about danger, or embarrassment.

The main character in my novel work-in-progress has had her liberty curtailed. Not only is she being hunted down by demons, but she has been bitten by one, causing deeply horrible changes in her appearance.

So while she’s not literally bound in chains, she fears for her life if she goes outside (and so stays in as much as she can), but she’s also partially disfigured — which embarrasses her. So, whenever she goes out, she covers up.

Oh, give me liberty! For even were paradise my prison, still I should long to leap the crystal walls.

~ John Dryden

Sometimes our desires bind us.

Have you ever worked at a job which you absolutely hated? But did it for the money? There’s always a choice to live with less, and yet…

A day, an hour of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity of bondage.

~ Joseph Addison

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about someone who’s physical liberty has been taken away by incarceration, kidnapping, bondage or curfew.
  • Here’s a specific example: write about a group of people who are suddenly under martial law. The law restricts their movements in certain parts of town and requires that they return to their homes before dark.
  • Write a journal or diary entry about a time you felt you’d lost your liberties.
  • Write several stanzas of haiku about liberty (or freedom, if you need to watch your syllables).
  • Put yourself in the place of the villain: the person kidnapping or incarcerating someone else. Write about why you might do this, and how you might keep control of the situation.
Friday, January 13th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Forgetfulness

Finger with a Red String Tied Around ItI was halfway home from work today when I realized I’d not scheduled the writing prompt for today.


I’ve had so much on my mind that I forgot.

So… in honor of forgetting, today’s prompt is about forgetfulness.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Your character forgets something very important. What happens?
  • One of your characters forgets something she thinks is no big deal, but her best friend/ significant other/ spouse completely disagrees. Write the argument that ensues.
  • If you journal, use either of the two above prompts, only from your point of view.
  • Write an acrostic poem using the word Forget or Forgetful.
  • Here are some famous quotations about forgetfulness to spark you:
    • It is the lot of man to suffer, it is also his fortune to forget. – Benjamin Disraeli
    • Though the past haunt me as a spirit, I do not ask to forget. – Felicia Dorothea Browne Hermans
    • There is a noble forgetfulness–that which does not remember injuries. – Charles Simmons
    • When out of sight, quickly also out of mind. – Thomas a Kempis
Thursday, January 12th, 2012

2012 Writing Goals

Goal!I still need to post the results of my 2011 Goals, but that’s going to take some effort to get together. Things sort of fell apart toward the end of the year, and while I kept paper-based records, I didn’t enter anything into my spreadsheets.

I’ll get those together soon.

Even without punching the numbers, I realize I haven’t met many of last year’s goals. I might have been able to do so, but I didn’t anticipate the writing funk I fell into after losing a manuscript, as well as the time-sink The Great Roof Debacle turned out to be.

But instead of scaling back most of the number-based goals, I’m going to re-target them toward fiction. That aligns nicely with my overall plan.

Here are the goals:

1 – Write 250 days in 2012

Last year I tried to write 302 days out of the year, and I found it nearly impossible to reach. Working full time with a long commute just doesn’t allow for it. But I’m hoping that by cutting other “writerly” commitments (like no longer serving as the Secretary for my county’s writer’s association) – I’ll be able to manage a few more days.

2 – Double last year’s fiction output.

3 – Finish the first draft of my current work-in-progress.

4 – Write stories for three separate anthologies I’ve been invited to write for – before March 30.

5 – Write an average of 3 blog posts per week (at least 156) for 2012.

6 – Fifty-two (52) of the 156 must be Writing Prompts.

7 – Clean out my office, and clean off my virtual desktop.

Those of you who have seen my computer’s desktop know what a jungle of files it is. I want to organize all that. Likewise, I want to re-organize my office. Things are still in boxes due to the roof issues, and living out of boxes is really annoying.

I think that’s going to take a whole separate “project plan” to accomplish, but it will be worth it.

How about you? Posted your goals yet?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Writing Prompt – When the Urge Strikes

Alien Highway  - The Most Desolate Stretch of Road in the US, according to the NY TimesI was heading to work Wednesday morning this week — my first day back in the office after a long Christmas Holiday — when I’d finally reached the exit for the highway.

The signs loomed above me: east in one direction, west in the other. Usually, I’m on autopilot at a little after 5 a.m. in the morning, and veer eastbound strictly out of habit.

But Wednesday I had the strongest — the strangest — urge to take the westbound ramp and just keep going.

The closer I got to the ramp, the stronger the urge grew, so much so that I had to grip the steering wheel hard and make a conscious effort to make the left hand turn instead of drifting into the right hand on-ramp.

Even after I made the turn and was heading east, something inside me cried out for a U-turn (impossible on this divided highway – I would have spent time playing the clover leaf should I have succumbed to my urges).

Urges are motivated by something, either conscious or unconscious, and I’ve yet to decipher what my motivation was.

We could argue that it was some ghostly pull inspiring the desire to drive westward, but it could have simply been that I had such a blast with family and friends over the holidays that I was reluctant to end that euphoria by schlepping back to work.

Another motivation could be that work is such a heinous place (yeah, it has its moments) that I didn’t want to go back. Somehow, I think my westward urge would have manifested before Wednesday morning if that were the case.

Whatever the reason, I managed to suppress the desire and arrive safely to toil at my workaday endeavors without further incident.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • If you’re a journal or diarist, write about the time you succumbed to the will of an urge. What was your motivation? Did you anticipate the action with glee only to end in despair? Did giving in prove wildly exciting? Do you have any regrets? Do you wish you’d given in to more urges?
  • Write a story or a scene in which a character falls prey to an urge that is completely out of character for him. Why did he do it? What was the motivation? Did it end badly or well??
  • Write a story or scene about a character who stands firm against an urge…something she’s not known for doing. Where did she find the power to resist? Does the scene end badly, or well? Does she regret not giving in, or feel self-righteous that she was able to stand firm?
  • Some quick prompts:
    • a friend urges another to rid herself of a (real or perhaps not) physical imperfection
    • a wife urges her husband to overcome a sexual inhibition
    • a psychologist urges his patient to face a truth
    • a student urges another to deface a university building
    • you feel the urge to tell a lie to someone close to you

Photo obtained from NY Times Web site.

Friday, January 6th, 2012

A Bit of a Rosy-Fingered Dawn

Up early as usual, I caught the sunrise over the trees this morning. Before the sun came up, the sky was awash in this gorgeous red. Beautiful morning here.

About a half hour later, the sun peeked out from behind the rise in my backyard.

Rosy Fingered Dawn:  January 6, 2012
Sunrise by Kelly A. Harmon - January 6, 2012

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Happy New Year, 2012!

Champagne bottle blowing its cork.Wishing everyone a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

To my writer friends:

May this year bring you more sales than you’ve ever had before. May your story ideas be ever-flowing, and may you not suffer any writers block. May we all be in a best-selling anthology together. 🙂