Friday, May 31st, 2013

Writing Prompt – How Do People Travel?

Airplane on the RunwayI attended Balticon this past weekend. (Had a terrific time, as usual.)

Balticon takes place at a hotel in Hunt Valley, Maryland and gets booked solid by the time the event rolls around. On the opening day, the hotel entrance is over-crowded by folks who come from all around loaded for bear with all the things they can’t live without for four days.

It’s amazing to see what folks travel with, and how they travel: like the eight folks that traveled together down from New York in a single car, but got separate rooms because they needed the space.

Then there’s the dichotomy of those who will travel as light as possible, forgoing even a change of clothes (I hope they brought their toothbrush!) so they’ll have room in the car for all the treasures they’ll take home; and those who travel with trunks filled with costuming gear, and you’ll see changed several times a day.

I’ve seen folks come in with several coolers and (little red) wagons loaded with food so they never have to leave the hotel in search of a less-expensive meal. (And NOT at Balticon, I’ve seen these same folks pull their wagons and coolers up to a gaming table so they can play all night without having to leave their chair!)

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Make a list of things your characters absolutely can’t live without when they’re traveling. And/or, make a list of things your characters can’t live without when they’re just “about town.” Now: lose those items.

    Write the scene where your character needs those items and discovers that they don’t have them. What happens? How do they work around the loss?

  • Send your character on a road trip. Have the car (train, bicycle, airplane — not in the sky!) break down. What happens?
  • “THE silent room, the heavy creeping shade, The dead that travel fast…” — Fabien dei Franchi, Oscar Wilde.
  • Write a scene about how the travel (the view, the journey, the people met) affected your character in a life-changing way.
  • Put your main character in a situation where he or she has the opportunity to embark upon an affair. The setting is a country he’s never been to with a language he does not comprehend.
  • “How heavy do I journey on the way When what I seek, my weary travels end, Doth teach that ease and that repose to say, Thus far the miles are measur’d from thy friend! — Sonnet 50, Shakespeare
  • If you journal, write about a time you traveled that had some profound affect on you. Did you make a promise to live life differently after that? Have you kept that promise?

Good Luck!


Cover of Sky Lit Bargains by Kelly A. Harmon depicts a woman dressed in armor, leaning against a stone wall.

Have you read Sky Lit Bargains?

Forced to leave her home when her twin sister marries, Sigrid takes up arms to make her own way.

$2.99 – Kindle | $4.99 Paperback | $2.99 – Nook

Photo Copyright: © Clarita | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Remembering the Fallen

Graves at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day - 2008
Friday, May 24th, 2013

Writing Prompt – A Bit of Randomness

A very young girl in curlers and make up.I’m heading over to Balticon later on today, and it’s been a frenetic week preparing. Not because I’ve got such a large schedule — I deliberately don’t have much of one at all this year — but because life just got in the way.

I’m sure there’s a blog post/writing prompt for “life getting in the way” but that seemed kind of vague to me this morning. Watch for it later, I’m certain.

So, today’s prompts are rather random. Just some ideas I’ve been playing with that haven’t gone together for one huge post…and they all start with the photo.

Your options: choose the photo for the prompt, one or some of the prompts, or all of them (that might prove interesting!) and write away.

The Random Prompts

  • A woman on her honeymoon is shocked to learn a major secret from her husband’s past.
  • “Uncle John, I don’t like this.”
  • I loved her with all my heart – but every day she became more of a leech.
  • While driving to work one day, you decide to drive by the office, and just keep going.
  • A woman on her honeymoon is shocked to learn a major secret from her husband’s past.
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

New Story Available: Sky Lit Bargains

Cover of Sky Lit Bargains by Kelly A. Harmon depicts a woman dressed in armor, leaning against a stone wall.I have a new story for sale! Yay!

Sky Lit Bargains was first published in the anthology Hellebore and Rue, and now it’s available as a single.

It’s also available in paperback!

The paperback copy is only available in the CreateSpace store right now, but it should arrive at shortly. It’s listed on the sight, but not available for purchase yet. When the buy button shows up, I’ll post here. (Same goes for B&N.)

If you want a shiny signed copy, I’ll be at Balticon this weekend. Just drop by the BroadUniverse table where I’ll be spending most of my time. I opted not to be on any panels this year — I wanted a relaxing weekend. You should be able to catch me at the table at almost any time of day.

More of my stories will be released in paperback soon, starting with Blood Soup. If you’ve got a favorite you’d like to see after that, drop me a line.

Here are the buy links for Sky Lit Bargains:

Sky Lit Bargains – Kindle

Sky Lit Bargains- Paperback via CreateSpace

Sky Lit Bargains – Nook

Very shortly it should be available at Kobo and iTunes. I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

An Excerpt from Thaddeus Nowak’s YA Fantasy – Mother’s Curse

I’m smack in the middle of reading Ted Nowak’s Mother’s Curse. Like a lot of ‘young adult” novels being published these days, it appeals to the adult sense of excitement. This one’s not just for “the youngsters.”

Ted’s embarked on a blog tour to promote Mother’s Curse, and the sequel, Daughter’s Justice — both available now. Read on after the excerpt to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.


Feeling slightly better for having a bit of light to keep with her, she continued down the street, occasionally looking through a window to see the remains of a room. After the third storefront she passed, she wondered at the reason all of the furniture and even drapes, carpets, and accessories had been left behind. Even in the desperate flight from Antar, people were still taking their belongings. They removed their drapes, even ones far less decorative then what Stephenie suspected were here. Why would everyone desert a city and yet leave almost everything behind as if they were simply going across town to visit a friend? She was hesitant to consider an answer. This city had been deserted and abandoned for a long time. Antar castle and city above had been there for as long as memory could recall and the original castle even before then. Had any of those above known about a city deep in the rocks under their feet, there would have been stories.

Stephenie used her stolen crystal to look into a shop that reminded her of a bakery, with a large oven in the back wall and the remains of shelves still partially attached to a side wall. The sparkle of something shiny and shaped like a pendant caught her eye. Looking closer at a mass on the floor, she paused and then stepped quickly away from the window as a shiver of fear rolled down her spine.

She closed her eyes, but the unmistakable image of a human skull laying on the floor would not leave her sight. She shivered again and looked up and down the street. Perhaps they didn’t leave.

Mustering her courage, Stephenie slowly approached the window again. She forced herself to look at the mass on the floor. Wiping away some of the dirt on the window, she could make out the arms and runners of a rocking chair mixed with what was likely clothing and the decayed bones of the person who’s head had rolled several feet away after the chair had collapsed. Bits of hair and desiccated skin clung to the skull, which was fortunately staring away from the window. The person died sitting in a chair and no one came to remove or bury the body?

Stephenie sniffed the air and thought about the strange odor she had been noticing since she had entered the city. It was a musty sweet smell. “Is this a plague city?” She felt her throat tightening with each breath and again quickly retreated from the window. She turned toward the way she had entered the city, ready to run back to the large doors and flee, but the dryness of her throat and the sound of water stopped her. If this is a plague city, then I am as good as dead and I might as well die after I’ve had something to drink.

Slowly, she turned around and continued down the street, no longer bothering to look into the store fronts. The rot and death they held did not interest her anymore.

She passed several side streets, but continued following the slowly turning main street because the sound of water was getting louder in the direction it was heading. After a short time, the street opened into another large plaza at least a hundred feet in diameter. Several streets exited the round plaza, but at the very center, lit with several points of glowing light was a fountain. Its water pushed up from a center mound and cascaded down several stone statues into a series of white marble bowls. The fountain was a dozen feet high and thirty feet across.

Drawn by thirst, Stephenie quickly reached the edge of the fountain and could feel a cool mist splashing over her. Knowing she would die slowly and painfully from whatever disease had killed the residents of this city, she did not care if the water was poison as long as it tasted fresh. Taking a small sip, she tested the flavor and found it cleaner than what she was used to in the castle. Scooping up more water with her hands, she drank deeply before noticing how dirty her hands had become. After quickly rubbing away the dirt, she moved a couple feet away and continued to drink until her stomach felt full.

Relieved of her thirst, she sat down next to the fountain and buried her face in her wet hands. She sobbed with frustration and relief in one confused wail. While she would not die of thirst, how was she going to get out and warn her father and Joshua about her mother’s betrayal? She cradled her cut arm in her lap and leaned back with her eyes closed. I’ve got light and some water, but what good would warning everyone do if I bring a plague to them? She shook her head. Damn it, why do the gods hate me so? Fundamentally, she knew her tie with Elrin, even if a result of her mother’s doing, was her real damnation. She could not bring herself to worship the demon god and she dared not seek out the other gods for fear the priests would sense her connection to Elrin.

Opening her eyes, she stared at her foot prints along the cobbled street. A lone trail to remind her that she had to do whatever it was she was going to do on her own. There was no one to help her.

She sat silently staring into the distance for some time. Then she blinked her eyes, uncertain that she was not imagining it, but after a moment, there was definitely a strange luminescence moving down the street. As it grew closer, she scrambled to her feet, recognizing the dim outlines of a human form. The apparition was moving in her direction. She quickly moved away from the fountain, but as it closed on the fountain, it appeared not to notice Stephenie at all. Instead, it held its, or her, hands as if carrying something. When it reached the fountain, it leaned over as if scooping up water.


Mother's Curse BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Mother’s Curse and Daughter’s Justice eBook editions are just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:

  1. Get your copy for just 99 cents
  2. BONUS: The sequel is also discounted to 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media event

Mother’s Curse is a coming of age story about the youngest Princess of Cothel and her efforts to save her father and brother from her mother’s schemes, while at the same time, coming to terms with what it means to be a witch. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Daughter’s Justice continues Stephenie’s journey of discovery, where she must overcome national opposition to her being a witch as well as lead her friends and protectors on a mission to stabilize her countries finances. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Thaddeus Nowak is a writer of fantasy novels who enjoys hiking, photography, and the outdoors. Visit Ted on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Unexpected Discoveries

So the Husband-of-Awesome™ and I set about to grill chicken for dinner the other night.

Mr. Awesome went out to the grill and opened it up to find this:

Five Little Birdies in the Grill

Here’s a close-up. Turns out there were five little birdies plus mama nesting in the grill.

Five Little Birdies in the Grill

The really fortunate thing about the matter is that Mr. Awesome broke with habit when he found the birds. Usually, he fires up the grill willy-nilly without peeking inside, so that it’s pleasantly pre-heated before we cook.

(Don’t blame him, I do it, too.)

Imagine if he hadn’t broken his normal habit. Those birds don’t know how lucky they had it.

And us, too.

And so this unexpected discovery put paid to the grilling endeavor, not just for Wednesday night, but until the little guys decide to vacate the grill.

Here’s Your Prompt

  • Write a scene in which either your protagonist or antagonist is unexpectedly surprised by something nice and cheerful which messes up their plans. Note: it’s got to cause your characters some consternation, because a story isn’t a good story without some drama!
  • It could be argued that Mr. Awesome’s break with habit was due to ‘divine intervention’ of some sort*. Write a scene in which a similar serendipitous event wreaks havoc with your characters’ plans.
  • Journal about a time when something strange happened (divine intervention?) — in the nick of time — to save you or a family member from peril.

Good Luck!

* Or maybe he just saw some straw sticking out of the bottom of the grill.

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Mistaken Identity

I got sued this week for nearly $10,000.

I received two letters in the mail from attorney’s wishing to represent me.

The only problem is, I am not the Kelly Harmon that everyone’s looking for.

I phoned the attorney who represents the plaintiff, and his assistant apologized: they were certain I was the wrong person when they filed the paperwork with the courts, but they wanted to have something in the case files while the other Kelly Harmon is MIA.

(This raises my hackles on all kinds of levels, not withstanding the fact that it appears in public court documents that I skipped town after not paying rent for a few months. But why would an attorney knowingly put false information in court records?)

But we’re getting away from the topic here: mistaken identity.

If I hadn’t proactively called the attorney on the case, I would have been served with papers. (While I was chatting with the assistant, she put me on hold to call the process server and tell him not to drop by my house.)

Being served would have opened up a whole host of problems: all of which are fun to put your characters through…but no fun to live through in real life.

I got lucky. Here’s hoping that your character isn’t!

Here’s Your Prompt

  • Imagine you’re approached on the street by a stranger who greets you as though he knows you. Instead of claiming mistaken identity, decide to continue the discussion to see where it leads. Write the dialogue and setting of such a situation.
  • Write the story from the opposite point of view: you’re the man who greets the other as if he already knows him. The twist: you know you don’t know him, and you’re trying to scam him in some way. What’s the scam? What happens?
  • Write about a character who gets in trouble because of mistaken identity (is sued, or caught by a bounty hunter and thrown in jail, or becomes the target of a smear campaign, or is beaten up by a raging family member hell bent on getting revenge for someone, etc). How does the character clear his name? How is the situation resolved?

Good luck!

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Writing Prompt – Telling Fortunes, Fortune Telling

I’m reading a book by a new-to-me author and I’m really enjoying it, despite my reluctance to start. It was one of these world-traveling books where the modern-day protagonist finds a magic item at a yard sale and is whisked to another world. Quite the trope set up.

But I read a blog post by the author (on something completely unrelated) and her voice caught my fancy.

The intriguing twist in the book is that when our lovely world-traveling protag ends up in her other world, she can tell the future of anyone she touches.

So, of course, my mind is on fortune-telling. Fortunes make wonderful leaping off points for story or scene starters. I imagine they’re great for jogging your memory if you’re writing your memoir.

With that in mind, your prompt today is set of “fortune-teller like” predictions.

Here’s Your Prompt

  • “…it came to pass that…”
  • You are in the woods. You must prepare a sacrifice.
  • The architect of your destiny is…
  • You are walking the city streets, randomly turning corners, when an animal approaches you and tells you something…
  • You’re on a journey, between heaven and earth, approaching the sacred site. And the sacred site looks like a shiny diamond, protected by the worst of hell’s fatal traps…
  • Down into the deepest depths you look…and see what?
  • You have the opportunity to visit a seer. What is the one question you’re allowed to ask? What’s the answer?
  • Stones by the road tell the future of what’s to come.
  • You receive an invitation from a casual acquaintance, and find yourself at a party attended by hundreds in a large, elegant mansion in the ritzy part of a town. An hour after you arrive you receive another invitation — delivered by one of the caterer’s staff — to meet the Lady of All Wild Things on the balcony, overlooking the pool…
  • A stranger approaches you in a grocery story and hands you something, saying, “Wear this for protection.”

If you don’t like my suggestions, try the on line Fortune Cookie. You can reload the page to find new suggestions.

Good Luck!