Friday, June 28th, 2013

Writing Prompt – All in a Day’s Work

Backhoe digging dirt in a field.Most people work to earn a living.

So, unless you write about fabulously wealthy people all the time, I’m going to assume that your characters are working-class folk.

And even if you write fantasy, your character is going to have to make a living somehow–whether it be by herding sheep or in the castle guard–so I think you might find this useful.

For most people, work defines who they are. When you meet someone at a party, you’re inevitably asked, “What do you do?” We’re slotted into pigeonholes at first meet: he’s a computer programer, she’s a lawyer, he owns a plumbing and heating company…

This works for fabulously wealthy people who spend their time on good causes, too: She does books for a soup kitchen, he’s a doctor at a free clinic, she reads to the blind.

And like it or not, what we do for a living–or to fill the time–shapes us. We spend a huge amount of our time in pursuit of it: exposed to the politics, embroiled in projects, learning our pecking order, gaining experience both good and bad.

So knowing what your character does for a living is important–even if it’s never mentioned in the book. Because what he learned on the job is a takeaway to his life. Keep this in mind when creating new characters.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a scene or a story about an important event in a person’s life…but come at it from the perspective of work: you can only reveal things as they are happening on the job.
  • Write a story about a person who keeps making the right decisions at work, but keeps landing in deeper and deeper trouble for them.
  • Write the scene (or an entire story) about a bitter person who’s got the dream of a lifetime–her dream of a lifetime–and how it ruined her.
  • Go large on the work idea: write a story that takes place at a business. The characters can only be seen as how they act on the job – no scenes away from the workplace.
  • Write a story where your main character is having trouble keeping his job. This difficulty can be central to the story or not.
  • If you Journal…
    • Write about the loss of your job.
    • Write about all the summer jobs you’ve had, or about your favorite summer job.
    • Write about your Worst. Job. Ever. (Or worst boss!)
    • Have you ever been profoundly effected by someone else’s job — or job loss? Write it.

Good Luck!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Writing Prompt – Epitaphs

Spina Monument - O Holy Redeemer Cemetery - Baltimore MDI attended a family member’s funeral on Monday.

It was not unexpected, and I’ve been thinking a lot about death in the last weeks or so. I’m the unofficial genealogist of the family, and have a collection of death memorabilia — so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I’ve been paging through albums of tombstone photos this week.

I love tombstones.

I’ve always wanted something really cool to mark my spot in the acreage where generations of my family are buried. (It’s unfortunate that we’ve become so lazy as a society that many cemeteries are no longer allowing upright stones since they’re harder to mow around. If I want to be buried with my family, then no stone for me…)

I’ve thought long and hard about what I want my epitaph to read.

Epitaph: a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument about the person buried at that site.

(You should know: most epitaphs are composed not by the deceased prior to his or her demise, but by the person who buries him. Not a rule, it’s just how it happens…)

Sadly, like a tattoo, I can’t seem to find the phrase I want to be stuck with for eternity. But I keep trying.

Long ago, pre-teen, I heard a (trite, pithy, silly) poem about death which has always stuck with me:

When I’m gone
Bury me deep
Lay two speakers
at my feet
Put some headphones
on my head
And Rock and Roll me
When I’m dead!

Yes, please! And make it heavy metal. I want to rock through eternity!

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write your own epitaph! Be known how you want to be known for eternity.
  • Write the epitaph for the characters in your WIP.
  • Create a character for a new novel or story. Start by writing the character’s epitaph. Work backwards to fill in the details of the person’s personality based on the slogan. Here is a list of famous epitaphs to give you some ideas.

If you write an epitaph, please leave it in the comments. I’d love to read them.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

You Know You’ve Made the Big Time… (ha ha)

… when Amazon refers your own book to you.

I’m on the mailing list to receive recommendations for new Science Fiction and Fantasy books. I got the email below a few days ago.

(Last week they recommended a whole slew of books I’d already purchased. Methinks they need to revisit their algorithm!)

Scanned Image of Amazon Letter recomending Sky Lit Bargains to me (the author)!
Friday, June 14th, 2013

Writing Prompt – United States Flag Day

US FLag Day Poster 1917June 14th in the United States is Flag Day, commemorating the day the 2nd Continental Congress adopted the flag. This happened in 1777, though Flag Day wasn’t officially celebrated until 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation.

Congress officially sealed the deal in 1949 by establishing National Flag Day.

Originally, flags were used in military maneuvers for coordination on the battlefield and identifying sides. In environments where other types of communication are hampered, flags have served as basic signalling devices.

Here’s a link to an article on International Maritime Signal Flags.

Today, flags are still used for communication and messaging, but can be seen in advertising or used for decorative purposes.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Create a flag to identify you, or a character in your stories, or a place in your world. Devote some time to thinking about what should be depicted on the flag and what the symbols will stand for. What traits are you, your character or your worlds built on? What ideals?

    Here is a web site devoted to flags and flag symbolism.

  • Flags are often associated with patriotism. Write a poem about patriotism or a patriot.
  • In the US Colonial Era, Patriots were despised by the Loyalists (Tories, or, King’s Men). Write a story or poem from the point of view of someone like a Tory.

Good luck!


Cover of The Dragon's Clause by Kelly A. Harmon depicts a Navy Aircraft Carrier on a moonlit night. Have you read The Dragon’s Clause?
For hundreds of years, San Marino paid tribute to the dragon living beneath their mountain city. But no one alive remembers him. Despite the existence of a contract, the town refuses to pay this year. When the residents renege on the deal, they must face the wrath of the beast.

$2.99 at | $2.99 at Barnes and Noble

Flag Poster from the Library of Congress Collection.

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Rainy, Rainy Day

Pink rose with raindrops on the petals.It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed and bumped his head
And didn’t get up until morning!

It’s raining today where I am, just hard enough for me to hear the commotion, but gentle enough to qualify it as a spring rain. It’s been raining for hours, too, watering my plants and greening things up all over the yard.

I love it when it rains on the days I’m able to sleep in. The room stays dark and cool, I hear the pattering of the rain on the eaves, and I can pull my feather pillow closer and snooze a little longer.

It’s apparently not bothering the birds, who are our in murders, chimes and parties (crows, wrens, and blue jays) searching for worms.

(Really, they ought to try the driveway, because that’s where all the worms hang out on rainy days. Up on the hill is so last week.)

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about a group of employees stuck at work, because the rain (the storm) is so bad they can’t get home.
  • Similarly, write about a group of people huddled together in a bus stop shelter. What happens when they’re there for an “extended” period of time.
  • Write from the point of view of the storm: are you the tiny raindrop, the dark, thundering cloud, or the bolt of lightening? Are you something else?
  • Write about the best time your were trapped out in the rain. Write about the worst.
  • Write how you feel about rain. Do thunderstorms affect you more than gentle spring rains? Do you hate all rain? What would be better in your life without it? What would be worse?
  • Consider:

    Kase here am facts days mighty plain, An’ any time you sees ’em you kin look fuh rain… ~ James Weldon Johnson, ed. The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922.
    Do you (or your character) always look for rain? Write about a time you (or your character) were looking for rain–as usual–and were surprised not to find it.

  • Re-write an important scene in your current work in progress so that it happens while it’s raining. How can the intrusion of rain make your scene more dramatic?
  • Write about:

    Dusk in the rain-soaked garden, And dark the house within. A door creaked: someone was early To watch the dawn begin. But he stole away like a thief in the chilly, star-bright air… ~ Siegfried Sassoon, The Dark House, 1920

  • Write a story where record-breaking floods (caused by rain) destroy someone’s life. (This isn’t about killing a character, this is about the flood waters taking away the most important part of his or her life: his family, his lover, her livelihood, etc.)

Good Luck!


Cover of Selk Skin Deep by Kelly A. Harmon depicts a Navy Aircraft Carrier on a moonlit night.

Have you read Selk Skin Deep?

JFK never envisioned a Navy SEAL like him: a selkie, ignorant of the ways of man, learns what it’s like to be human.

$2.99 at Amazon$2.99 at Barnes and Noble

Photo Copyright © Tiffany Toland | Dreamstime Stock Photos