Friday, July 26th, 2013

Writing Prompt: Desperate Measures

Reconstructed face of woman supposedly cannibalized in the Jamestown VA colony, 1609.

“Jamestown Jane” – Reconstructed face of a 14-year-old girl thought to have been cannibalized in 1609 by the Jamestown Colony.

Earlier this year, archeologists found evidence of cannibalism at Jamestown, Virginia in 1609.

There are at least six hand-written accounts by colonists mentioning the fact, including this one by George Percy, the governor of Jamestown at the time:

“…Notheinge was Spared to mainteyne Lyfe and to doe those things which seame incredible, as to digge upp deade corpes outt of graves and to eate them. And some have Licked upp the Bloode which hathe fallen from their weake fellowes.”

But no physical evidence had ever been uncovered, until now. The bones of a 14-year-old girl were dug up in the fort cellar. They contained cleaver and knife marks, according to archeologists: all signs of cannibalism.

Colonists had called the dreaded winter of 1609, “The Starving Time.”

Though they’d been an established colony since 1607, they were still learning how to become self sufficient. A drought hindered their summer growing season, and when Captain John Smith returned to England for the treatment of an injury, relations broke down between the colony and the local Indians, who had, until then, been friendly.

When the winter came, they did what they must to survive. Even so, only 60 of 300 remained in the spring. Could it be that only the people willing to eat their friend’s flesh survived?

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Make a list of things that people do in desperate times — murder, cannibalism, betrayal, robbery — and write a story or poem about it.
  • Write about a time when * you * were desperate. What did you do?
  • What is quiet desperation? Write about it.
  • Write about a desperate phone call.
  • Write about a time you were desperate to impress someone.
  • William Penn wrote in The Fruits of Solitude, “As a Desperate Game needs an able Gamester…” What did he mean? Write about a “desperate game.”
Friday, July 19th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Heat Wave, and No AC, Alas

Mommy and baby girl in bikinis with their backs to the camera, sitting on the edge of a pool.We’re having a heat wave, which is no surprise, because it’s July on the East Coast.

Unfortunately, the AC decided to give out today. I’m waiting for a call back from some AC Repair companies to let me know if they can make it out anytime soon.

(This rots, because I had plans for today. Big Plans!)

Instead, we’re sitting here stewing – literally, not figuratively, because at least the basement is a cool 73 degrees. And I have iced-tea brewing – my favorite.

Hope you’re keeping cool!

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Temperature spikes usually make people uncomfortable. Write about heat. Irritable people, tensions escalating, tempers flaring. Write about:
    • Tempers flaring out of control in the office, or
    • Tempers flaring out of control on public transportation: a bus, in a taxi, or on an airplane.
    • Write about a married couple — or a young couple living together — trapped in a sweltering apartment and no funds to get to the movies or somewhere where they might spend some time getting cool.
  • Heat also brings up the possibility of passion. Write about sex on a tropical island, or in a candle lit room. Write about hot, passionate kisses. Write about forbidden sex or your deep-in-your-heart sexual fantasy. Write long, torrid sex scenes designed to make your reader squirm, where the climax is, achingly, pages and pages later.

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

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Snapshots

Liberty Bell Rock Formation - Yellowstone National ParkI’m getting ready for vacation.

Besides my computer, the one thing I always take with me is my camera. So, I’m charging batteries, cleaning accessories, and cleaning off data cards (Hello, Christmas photos! That’s where you are!)

I take a lot of snapshots no matter where I go.

And I’m terrible about cleaning off the data cards…which is why I have so many of them. I tend to keep taking pictures until they’re full, and then rush in a mad scramble to get them cleaned off before the next event. So, I buy extras. And now they’re all full, too.

I know some people who clean them off right away, tossing the blurries and labeling the people. I’m rarely that organized. (I’ve got better things to do! Don’t you?)

By the time I get to the photos, I’m often surprised by what I see on the camera. Not just the event, but the expressions, the feelings, the emotion.

Some good story stuff there.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Open a photo album to a random snapshot. Write the story of what’s happening. If you journal, perfect. Write this moment. If you write fiction, make up a story about what you see. Bonus points if you use someone else’s photo album. (If you don’t have a photo album, use Google Images and search for “people.” Use the first photo you see.)
  • Write about an autographed photo.
  • Write about someone — or something –missing from a snapshot.
  • Here are some story starters or journal ideas:
    • In this snapshot, I am…
    • It was picture perfect.
    • He refused to hold still.
    • “We agreed, no photos.”
    • Capture this image.
    • It shook the camera, and this is what we got.
  • Write about light and dark, shadow and substance, frame and focus.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nature paints the best part of a picture, carves the best part of the statue, builds the best part of the house…” Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
  • Write about something written on the back of a photo.

Good luck!

Photo of Liberty Cap Bell Yellowstone National Park © Raymond Kasprzak | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Secrets and Shares

I was talking to a friend earlier this week about secrets. Mostly, it was about family secrets: things that have been buried for years that suddenly come to light.

Oh, my! What a mess. The drama!

Sorry, I can’t spill the beans here.

But it got me thinking nonetheless.

Why are secrets kept? Why are things shared? What prompts people to share secrets after years, decades, of being mum?

Once, when I was visiting the cemetery with my Mom, she walked up to the edge of my great-great uncle’s grave and put her shoe on the corner. “His daughter’s buried right here,” my Mom said.

Revelation! There’s no tombstone but my uncle’s on the grave, and no indication that any other body might be buried there. I never even knew my G-G-uncle had a daughter! Why would she be buried in such mean conditions?

These are the things great stories are made of!

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about what makes a thing secret. Then write what makes a thing shared. Experiment with writing each in two different ways: veiled language for secrets, open and direct language for shared things. Then, try it again and switch language.
  • Write a story (or a poem) about a family revelation. Write it first by exposing the secret at the beginning. Write it again, leading up to the revelation and then a tell-all at the end. Which is more powerful?
  • Write about a character who shares too much. Or, write about a character who doesn’t share enough.
  • Lord Byron says, “No words suffice the secret soul to show, for truth denies all eloquence to woe.” True or False? Why? ~ From, The Corsair, Canto iii. Stanza 22. George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron.
  • Story Starter: I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone, but I know I can trust you.
  • If you journal, write about a family secret. You don’t need to reveal the secret if you don’t want to, just talk about what transpired between family members. Who knows and who doesn’t know? How has it changed relationships? Is keeping secrets worth it? How has the secret changed lives?
  • “What magic shall solve us the secret of beauty that’s born for an hour?” said Madison Julius Cawein. Write what the secret of beauty is.

Good Luck!

Cover of Selk Skin Deep 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. | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Happy Independence Day, USA! has this awesome July 4th infographic to celebrate the day (and I am shamelessly posting it here…)

I’m off to eat a hot dog! Hope everyone enjoys the day.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger (and more readable) version.

July 4th Infographic by
Monday, July 1st, 2013

Badge of Lies: Jason Kahn

Jason Kahn and I go way back, published by the same small press several years ago, where we both ‘discovered’ each other’s work. His stories have continued to intrigue me. His latest work, Badge of Lies, is no exception.

Rather than do the standard guest interview, I’ve asked Jason to provide an excerpt to whet your appetite, and he’s rather handsomely obliged. I hope you enjoy it. Once your’re done, read more about Jason in my original interview with him here.

Cover of the novel Badge of Lies by Jason Kahn

Badge of Lies is a story of trust and betrayal, of a good cop who has to do bad things to make things right. Thanks to Pro Se Productions for making this possible, and I hope everybody enjoys the ride!

~ Jason

From Badge of Lies by Jason R. Kahn:

I worked it out as I inched ahead, thought about the layout of the place, figured where I’d lay an ambush if it was me. A grim smile spread on my face as I paused at the entryway to the kitchen. There’s Ronnie, head down at the table, top of his head pointed at me, but I’m not focusing on him. I take a single long stride into the middle of the kitchen and pivot left, pointing the Glock. A moment of shock, even though I expect it. In the open window off the inside courtyard, a shadowy figure crouches, waiting. It was a big shadow.

He raises his arm and I don’t need to see the gun as I squeeze the trigger on my Glock and dive. Muzzle flares explode as multiple shots reverb like canon fire in the confined space. I squeeze off a few rounds at the same time as the other guy and feel a sting in my shoulder as my hurtling body crashes into a refrigerator. I go down for a moment, sprawling on the cracked tile floor. Panic spurs me as I scramble to my feet expecting another volley, but he’s gone.

I stood there motionless, gun pointed at the open window for several long seconds as left-over nerves washed through me. My chest stopped heaving as I shakily lowered my arms and re-holstered my piece, moving quickly to the window. I stuck my head out, cool drizzle pattered against my face as I noted the fire escape leading down to the alley behind the building. Doubtless the guy was long gone. I stumbled away from the window, aches and pains starting to radiate through my body as the adrenaline wore off.

Badge of Lies is now available in paperback and Kindle electronic. Buy it now:

Also available: The Killer Within (Kindle) which continues to get great reviews!

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt! For a bigger taste of Jason’s work, you might try listening to one of his previous novels, Dark InSpectre, on audio. Jason makes them available for free – linked from his Web site, here.

Learn more about Jason: