Friday, September 27th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Blending In

Today’s writing prompt is brought to you by the wonderful cephalopod: the octopus. The video below shows how quickly (less than a second in some instances) an octopus can blend into its surroundings.

Most people try to do the same thing, as first evidenced in grade school: wear what everyone else is wearing, get the most popular haircut, carry the same backpack.

What happens if you don’t? Nothing, if you’re lucky. But if you’re the kid (or the adult, even) who stands out, you often face a boatload of ridicule.

(An aside about ridicule: it’s nothing to be scared of.)

And it doesn’t even have to be your accessories which make you different: did you go prematurely gray in high school? I knew a fellow. Need the first “training” bra? Have ultra-curly hair?

You see where I’m going?

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about a character who needs to blend in: Maybe he’s a detective who’s following a kidnapper. Or someone with a notorious past who just wants to be left alone. Maybe your character is an alien who’s just trying to pass. Maybe it’s a girl in high school.
  • Write the opposite: write about the guy who refuses to conform, fit in, or blend. What kind of abuse does he take? Maybe he’s too touch to be abused. Is he spurned or idolized?
  • If you journal, write about a time you stood out, and really would have preferred not to.


Good Luck!

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Writing Prompt: Change of Habit

change_10338195_300pxOld habits die hard.

It’s a bit of cop out here to rely on tired aphorisms, but it gets my point across succinctly.

A change of habit–getting out of one’s rut–can take a monumental effort of strength and will. Creating new habits can take the same. (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?)

But from a fiction writing standpoint, they offer so much fresh material–so much potential for a character to grow and experience–that it might be worthwhile to add it to your Writer’s Toolbox. (You may prefer, to do as I do, and add it to your arsenal instead. 🙂 )

Consider a character with an ingrained habit. Perhaps every day on his way to work, he walks three blocks on Franklin Street, catches the Number 9 bus which takes him downtown, gets off at the industrial center and takes the company taxi into the plant.

What if whether by chance, fate or choice, he’s late getting out of the house. He misses the Number 9, and has no choice but to take the Number 11 instead? Eleven will drop him off at the industrial center, but not before first driving to the docks to let off folks who work around the Harbor. It will make him 30 minutes late, but it’s better than waiting another 45 minutes for the Number 9 to come back around.

Your character’s routine is entirely off. What will he experience along this route? Maybe it makes him change his point of view about something. He decides to make a life change. Or maybe the Number 11 bus gets hijacked. Either way, he’s out of his comfort zone, and something new–for better or worse–is about to happen.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a story in which your main character is forced to abandon his or her habit. What happens?
  • Write about a character who deliberately changes his or her routine, hoping for the better. Make things worse for him or her.
  • Write a poem about change or habit. What are the emotional repercussions?
  • If you journal, write about something you’ve changed for the better, or something you changed for the worse. If worse, tell how you alleviated the new problem. If better, relate the steps you took to maintain it.

Good Luck!


Cover of Lies by Kelly A. Harmon depicts a Navy Aircraft Carrier on a moonlit night. Have you read Lies?

The Queen lies dying, and the mage-physician holds the key to her health, but he doesn’t quite know how to use it. The Book of Lies has the capacity to heal, if only Beresh can write the proper words. But only a few pages remain in the book, and if they’re used before the queen is healed, she won’t be the only one to lose her life!

Short-Listed for the Aeon Award.

$2.99 at | $2.99 at Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

They Took a Lickin’ and Kept on Stickin’

I mailed a box home to myself when I was away last summer, rather than bring it home on the plane. (Yeah, I’m finally unpacked to the bottom of it. No judging!)

I stopped at a rural post office to do the deed. The post office had no electronic scale, and no machine to print out postage.

Everything was done by stamp.

The ladies in the post office were ECSTATIC that I was mailing such a heavy box home because they got to use up all the old stamps they had lying about the place. (They were a tiny bit worried they couldn’t get it all on the box, but they managed.)

Feast your eyes on over $20 worth of postage.

Thank goodness, I wasn’t the one who had to lick the stamps!


Sunday, September 15th, 2013

New Story Available: Lies

Lies by Kelly A. HarmonI wrote a story a while back called Lies. It shortlisted for the Aeon Award, but I never did anything with it.

Now, Lies has been published and is currently available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The wheels of distribution grind very slowly in some parts, but it should soon be available via Kobo, XinXii, iTunes and elsewhere very soon. I’ll let you know when that happens.

In the meantime, here are the links to:

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Writing Prompt: Preparedness

A cannon with all the equipment needed to prepare and fire a shot. Vintage Civil War artillarySeptember is National Preparedness Month. Since I work for a government agency, we’re getting repeated reminders to:

  • Stay Informed
  • Make a Plan
  • Build a Kit
  • Get Involved
  • …all with the usual hype and rhetoric.

    (I’m all for being prepared, btw, I just don’t think it should be a crazed, one-month endeavor. Shouldn’t you be prepared all of the time?)

    I don’t know if it’s related to Preparedness month, but the local constabulary hijacked our public parking lot Monday morning to hold some kind of drill or training session. Most had on helmets and were holding those clear, riot-control, body shields.

    All I could think of on my way out to lunch was, “Time to speed! Floor it!” With all the local police tied up playing war, there couldn’t have been a better time. I wish I could have laid down some rubber on the way out of the parking lot.

    Here’s Your Prompt:

    • Write a story about someone who has prepared to the nth degree for something, but still failed because he or she hadn’t considered something else.
    • Write about a character who throws caution to the winds, and enters into a situation (or situations) without a thought for preparation.
    • “For all your days prepare,
      And meet them ever alike:
      When you are the anvil, bear—
      When you are the hammer, strike.”

      ~ Preparedness By Edwin Markham. The Gates of Paradise and Other Poems (1928)

    • If you journal, write about a time you prepared for something: an exam, a recital, a race, etc.
    • Or, write about a time when you thought you were well prepared, but weren’t.
    • Write about a time you thought you weren’t prepared enough–but you were.
    • Write about a character that helps another character prepare for something, then have the character utterly fail. Failure could mean the loss of his life, his job, a limb — something totally devastating. Make the story not about the person who failed, but about the person who helped him.

    Good Luck!

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013


2nd Airplane about to strike the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001

Never forget.

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

I Have Figs!!

I have been babying a few fig trees for the last few years, wrapping them up in blankets and straw each winter and letting them breath in the spring.

One has taken off really well, the other two only so-so. The second two are a different variety, so it could be that they’re much more slow growing. I really need to do so some research on them…

In all these years, I haven’t had a fig. But now I do! Check out this guy:

Brand new fig on a fig tree.

At first, I thought it was going to be the only fig, but then I noticed this little guy on the other variety of fig:

Brand new fig on a fig tree.

I know it’s late in the season, and I can’t help but wonder if we hadn’t had that late frost in May this year if I wouldn’t have seen these fellas earlier. I can only hope that we don’t have an early frost: or else I’ll lose these before they even get a chance.

For those who are wondering, here are my figs. The tallest tree towers over me by a good three feet, so I’d say it’s close to nine or ten feet tall.


Keep your fingers crossed: no early frost!

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Family Highs and Lows

Two inquisitive ducks - Photo Copyright Peter Elvidge found at Dreamstime Stock PhotosFamily can be the source of great joy, or utter despair.

I love my family. I love getting together and seeing each other and just plain talking on the phone. When I get to yakking with my sister or brother or my Mom or Dad, even my aunt…we’re nearly always on the phone for over an hour. We can’t help ourselves.

This could be because nearly two thirds of my family lives out of state. (Funny that, they’re all from here …but moved away.)

The fact is, I see my out-of-state family a whole lot more than my in-state family. I think it’s because we chat on the phone, we send stuff via snail mail, we make plans…we make the effort, and get together. I invite them, they invite me. The stars don’t always align, but it’s all good.

The in-state side of the family: they’re a little more insular. They prefer to stay in their own neighborhood, where church and close-proximity friends take precedence. Travel is anathema. They live over an hour’s driving distance away, and that feels like such an effort to overcome, apparently. (I drive that distance every day to work and back: it’s a nuisance, but certainly not the great divide.)

But those in-state folks are a whole lot more tech-savvy, I have to admit–always have been. We communicate via email and Facebook and occasionally, Skype. Though it’s all very metaphorical distance-making: family through the telephoto lens. (But still family, even if they keep the rest of us out of their neat little box.)

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Make a list of the three best things about someone in your family: these traits could come from a single person or three different family members. Do the same for worst traits. Now, build a composite family character using those traits. Introduce this character in your work in progress as an impediment to the hero getting his way.
  • Similar to above: write an essay about how your family gets in the way of your dreams.
  • Write about a time when your family came to your aid unexpectedly.
  • Write about a family betrayal.
  • If you’re a poet, write a poem about growing up in your family. Describe a singular event that epitomizes what it was like.
  • Describe “the most perfect family.” Write a story about someone who has no family at all, and dreams about being in this perfect family. Does he or she achieve this dream in the confines of your story? What happens?
  • If you journal, write about how you are like your mother or your father. Or, write about how you are unlike your mother or father. Skip the obvious physical distinctions, instead pay attention to opinions, mannerisms and thought.

Good Luck!

Photo copyright © Peter Elvidge | Dreamstime Stock Photos