Friday, August 31st, 2012

Writing Prompt – Dichotomy

Photo of a Muslim Man in Tan Robes and Bright orange hat driving a pink barbie scooter. Photo By Kelly A. Harmon

Dichotomy – a division between two contradictory parts.

I took this picture out the car window one night last week after leaving a restaurant. (The Husband of Awesome™ was driving.)

When I first saw him, his robes were flapping in the wind. I’m sorry the camera didn’t catch that.

I love the idea of a man — any man — driving a Pink Barbie Scooter. He’s either entirely sure of himself as a man — or he just doesn’t give a crap what other people think. Maybe both. Or maybe he’s in some desperate situation. The fact that his florescent-orange turban clashes here, is icing on the cake.


Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a story, poem or essay about the man pictured above. Where is he going in such a hurry? Is he on his sister’s scooter?
  • Think of another dichotomy you’ve seen — or make one up — and write about that.

Good luck!

Monday, August 27th, 2012

What’s Your Favorite Candy Bar?

Photo of a Mars Bar Candy Bar by Evan AmosI received an unusual question via email from a co-worker today.

She meant it rhetorically, because she’d asked so many others in the email. But it was fun, so I answered her back.

For your edification, here’s the question:

What’s your favorite candy bar? Ice cream? Cruise ship? Bribery tool? 😉

And the answers are:

  • Mars Bar – I was so disappointed when they discontinued it in 2002! But, they brought it back a few years ago, so all is well.
  • Mint Chocolate Chip – I love peppermint!
  • Royal Caribbean – I need to go check if there are any specials. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a cruise…
  • Time!! – which is a difficult commodity to grant – although there are many creative ways for you to give me some. Barring that, I can be bribed with Books, CDs of my favorite bands, and concert tix!

So now I turn the question around to you guys:

What’s your favorite candy bar? Ice cream? Cruise ship? Bribery tool?

Mars Bar photo by Evan-Amos.

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Writing Prompt: Inventions

A Portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis.jpgI’m reading a novel right now which includes Benjamin Franklin as a character. Although he’s not truly “in the story,” he is much talked about and the novel includes exploits about many of his inventions.

He’s probably most famous for creating bifocal lenses: Franklin owned two sets of glasses, one pair to see near things and one pair to see far things.

Tiring of switching his glasses back and forth, he had the lenses of both pairs cut in half and put back together in one frame so he wouldn’t have to keep switching.

He also created the “Franklin” stove, which allowed people to heat their homes more effectively by providing more heat and less smoke. It also burned less wood.

Swim fins and the extension arm – that nifty device which lets you grab things off high shelves – are also two of Franklin’s creations.

I could go on.

Reading about Franklin’s inventions has been nearly as exciting as the story.

Serendipitously, August is National Inventor’s Month. Thus…

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Invent something which will make your life easier. Pretend you have all the tools, the knowledge and the money to make it happen.
  • Write a story about an invention which is supposed to make life easy for the protagonist, and then does the complete opposite!
  • Write an essay about an invention the world would be better off without. Be persuasive. Use facts to back up your opinion.
  • Rather than writing about an invention, write a story about an inventor who creates something fantastic, horrible, praiseworthy, frightening, or (you fill in the blank). How does he or she do it? What are the accolades or consequences?

Said American Inventor Thomas Alva Edison: To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.

Good Luck!

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Special Guest Writing Prompt and Contest!

Today’s writing prompt is a very special edition: it’s packed with ideas and includes a writing contest which could net you several ebooks, including a copy of Terri Bruce’s Hereafter.

It was hard for me to give up a writing prompt slot when I enjoy creating them so much, but Terri and I have been friends for quite some time now, and when she pitched this idea, I couldn’t resist.

I hope you enjoy her spot as much as I do!

The Cover of Hereafter by Author Terri Bruce.A huge “thank you” to Kelly for turning her “Writing Prompt” post over to me today!

I love her writing prompts and they always manage to awaken my imagination, so I was thrilled when she allowed me to step into the driver’s seat for a day to help celebrate the release of my first novel, Hereafter—a contemporary fantasy about a woman’s search for redemption in the afterlife. I hope you enjoy these prompts as much as I enjoyed crafting them!

Today marks the first day of Chinese Ghost Month, a time in which it is believed that the spirits of the deceased leave the land of the dead and visit the living, similar to Halloween. While the spirits of the dead, particularly one’s ancestors, are not seen as malevolent per se, it is considered an inauspicious time to travel, move, change jobs, get married, or make any other major life changes as there may be evil spirits bent on mischief about.

At the end of Ghost Month, the dead return to the land of the dead—the living often light lanterns or float candles on waterways to guide the dead back to the afterlife, which I think is beautifully evocative. In between, there is Ghost Festival, which you learn more about in my guest post on that subject on August 30th at the Making Connections blog.

Author Terri BruceI first became fascinated with Chinese afterlife mythology when I heard of the Terra Cotta Warriors—which was so long ago now that I forget exactly when and where I learned of this miraculous undertaking by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Moved by the story of the emperor’s kindness (?), mercy (?), amazing sense of justice (?), or whatever it was that resulted in him taking life size replicas of his soldiers and servants with him to the afterlife, rather than the actual people, I delved further into Chinese afterlife mythology and became hooked. Though I tried to pull from all cultures and religions equally for Hereafter, I think it did end up slightly slanted toward Chinese mythology and folklore.

So…without further ado— Here’s Your Prompt:

  • It’s Chinese Ghost Festival, a time when the living leave offerings of items for the dead—what offerings do you leave for the deceased? Describe the offerings (food? objects?) in detail as well as where you leave them (at a grave? On the sidewalk? At an altar?).
  • The spirit of one of your ancestors visits you during Ghost Month—describe the encounter. What does the spirit look like? How do you feel? What does the spirit want? How do you react?
  • Describe Ghost Month from the perspective of the ghosts—are they happy to be turned out of the spirit realm or annoyed? Are they pleased with the offerings left for them or disgusted? Can they touch, smell, and taste the offerings? Does everything feel, taste, and smell like it did when they were alive?
  • What does the spirit realm/afterlife look like?
  • Write the story of a man or woman preparing an offering for the dead—what is he/she offering? Why that particular item? How does he/she feel as he/she prepares the item—sorrow? Duty? Pride? Love?
  • Write the story of spirits punishing someone for not preparing an offering during Ghost Festival—what penance would the spirits exact?
  • At the end of Ghost Month the spirits return to the spirit realm—how is this accomplished? Do they voluntarily return or are they compelled? Are they compelled by mystical forces or is it someone’s job?
  • A spirit is refusing to return to the spirit realm at the end of Ghost Month. Why? What will he do instead of returning?

And now…for a SPECIAL BONUS! Using any of the above writing prompts, write a 200-word (MAX) story for a chance to win a prize pack of books about ghosts! Visit the Writers Lens web site for details! Contest ends September 7th, 2012.


Where to Find Hereafter:

Where to Find Terri:

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

New Short Story Available!

Cover of Short Story: Selk Skin Deep by Kelly A. HarmonI have a new story available via Kindle!

Selk Skin Deep is an alternate-history — military history, too — about a Selkie who is also a Navy SEAL.

Selkies hail from Scottish folklore. They are mythical creatures that live as seals in the ocean, but can come ashore — shedding their skins — and become human.

Most selkie stories are about women selkies who come to sun on the beach, and whose sealskin is stolen by a man. Without her skin, she’s forced to remain in human form until she gets it back. The man generally forces her to be his wife/maid/servant (sometimes mother to his kids) until the story ends when she finds where he’s hidden her skin and she returns to the sea.

You can read more about selkies at Wikipedia.

My story is a bit off the traditional beaten path. Here’s the description:

Kennedy never envisioned a Navy SEAL like him.

1967. Vietnam. Fat-boys and comp-B bombs explode aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Livingstone killing thousands. Everyone dies if the carrier sinks, unless one SEAL – one selkie – puts the lives of humans ahead of his need to keep his secret.

Inspired by the true story of the U.S.S. Forrestal fire of 1967, award-winning author Kelly A. Harmon weaves alternate-history and fairytale into this action-packed and emotionally charged story.

This review is from when the story was published in the Bad Ass Fairies 3 Anthology: In all Their Glory:

“Selk-Skin Deep” by Kelly A. Harmon is a very well-written, harrowing story of an accident that didn’t have to happen aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam war. The selkie uses his advantage to try and save the ship and its crew. Ms. Harmon has written an action packed, suspenseful account of a naval battle with a poignant ending.” ~ Tangent Magazine

You can buy Selk Skin Deep on Kindle now. It should be available for Nook and via Smashwords very soon.

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Writers Prompt – Worms and Coffee

Worms and Coffee - North Carolina - Photo by Kelly A. Harmon - 10 August 2012Today I was driving through eastern North Carolina and I came across this little gas-and-go store at a bridge intersection.

(The bridge takes you over to the coast, where apparently, a lot of fisherman go. At this little crossroads, they can get worms [for bait] and coffee [for some energy] on their way.)

I LOVE the name of this store. It’s a clever bit of naming that (unless you’re a local fisherman) makes you think twice. I adore the incongruity.


Here’s Your Prompt

  1. Write a story about “worms and coffee.” Caveat: it can’t be about fishing.
  2. If you don’t like the idea of worms and coffee, open up the dictionary to a random page, close your eyes and drop your finger down on a word. Do this twice or more, until you come up with two different nouns. You can connect them with “and” or “or.”
  3. Choose any of these random word pairs that I generated using a random noun generator found on the internet:
    1. okra and alligators
    2. pen and Zinc
    3. mountain and soda
    4. caterpillar or desert
    5. storms or fairies

  4. Find your own word pairs using the Paper Tiger Random Noun Generator.
Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Writing Prompt – On the Road Again

Pacific Railroad Sign - Photo by Kelly A. HarmonNo sooner do I get back from Oregon than I have to start planning my next trip away.


Yeah, yeah, it’s great….but what should turn out to be a few relaxing weeks is turning into scads of laundry, tons of email catch-up, a frantic paying of bills and tossing out of all the science experiments taking place in the fridge.

Oh, and I’ll be eating lots of junk so that I don’t inadvertently start any more science experiments in the fridge.

Since I’ve got traveling on the mind again today…

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Imagine you’ve been driving for hours. The open road is barren and desolate, you need gas, and you’re hungry. Up ahead you see a shifty, broken down diner, but you’ve got no choice but to go in. Lucky for you, they’ve got gas pumps, too. Oh, and they serve liquor. There’s a bunch of Harleys parked out front all in a row. When you enter the diner, everyone’s crowded at the bar, staring at something you can’t see. What happens?
  • On the road again –
    Just can’t wait to get on the road again…
    Goin’ places that I’ve never been.
    Seein’ things that I may never see again…
    ~ From “On the Road Again, Willie Nelson.
  • You’re on vacation, up early the next morning due to jet lag, and the weather announcer on TV says that it’s going to be windy and cold for the next week (you were expecting sunny and beautiful). Someone in your party shouts, “Road Trip!” Where do you go? What do you do? Write what happens.
  • Pick one:
    You’re driving

    • In a bad section of town…
    • In the “touristy” part of town…
    • In the part of the city where the rich people live…
    • On the open road in the middle of nowhere…
    • On a long stretch of unpaved road…

    … and one of these things happens:

    • You get a flat tire.
    • You run out of gas.
    • You see something extraordinary.
    • You’re robbed.
    • You hit an animal.

    Write the scene.


  • “…a number of people, shop people and so forth, attracted by the stories they had heard, were walking over the Horsell Bridge and along the road between the hedges that runs out…” ~ From The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells, 1898.
  • If you journal, write about a trip you’d planned, but had to cancel. What happened? How did you feel? Or, write about a trip you’d like to make: Why do you want to go? What draws you to that place? What will you do when you get there?
  • “An elegant carriage stood in the middle of the road with a pair of spirited grey horses; there was no one in it, and the coachman had got off his box and stood by…” ~ From Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1917.
  • You get home after your trip, drop the suitcase inside the door, collapse on the sofa and say, “Thank goodness I’m home!” What happened?

Good Luck!


If you enjoy these writing prompts, consider donating a cup of coffee or a donut!