Friday, December 27th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Soured Relationships

dreamstimefree_242066eIt’s that time of year where you’re hitting party after party and seeing friends and family you might not have seen for years–or at least about a year.

You know them: the folks you wouldn’t associate with otherwise.

Seeing them turns an otherwise delightful party into a so-so affair. (Or maybe, a total bust.)

Having to socialize with folks like that reminds me of a book I remember a friend reading in high school. I can’t remember the name of it, or who wrote it, but the pages were full of pithy essays and quotes designed to help you get over a dramatic break up.

My favorite (paraphrased) went something like this:

Being with him/her wasn’t a drain–it was a sewer.

I love it! It comes sailing back into my brain each time I see those relations I would rather do without.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Pretend you’re heading off to a party where you’ll see folks you just don’t want to see. Imagine how the conversation would go if you ignored proprieties and told these people how you really felt about them. Write a nice cathartic scene.
  • Re-imagine the same scene. How would the dialogue go–this is tricky–if you just decided not to speak to the other person? Walk out of the room when they walk in, ignore any commentary or questions launched in your direction, allow dreaded “dead air” to accumulate after they speak until they feel so uncomfortable they’ll rush to fill it.
  • Write either of the above two scenarios into your latest work of fiction.
  • Write a book based on a horrible relative. (The beauty of this is that folks rarely see the bad side of themselves: they won’t realize you’re writing about them. And even if they figure it out, what are they going to do? Take it public and admit they’re a bad person? On the other hand, I recommend you consult with a good lawyer before doing this…unless you intend only to keep the novel on your hard drive.)

Good luck!

Image Copyright © Zakidesign | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Writing Prompt – The Personal Essay

dreamstimefree_63535-eI rarely explore prompts categorized as “personal essay.” I include them in a lot of suggested prompts, but they aren’t often the focus of my blog since I generally talk about fiction.

But personal experiences bolster fiction. It’s these experiences that allow authors to write what they “know.” They lend realism to an otherwise imaginative tale.

When you choose a suggested prompt below, spend some time remembering the details of what occurred or visualizing events or objects before you start to write. Have things clear in your mind so they can be clearly articulated in the writing.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about an event in your life that you considered bad – but turned out to have a good impact. Use a chronological format to pinpoint when your negative feelings turned to positive ones. Spend some time exploring your state of mind and what brought about the change.
  • Write about one day in your life which is particularly memorable: something that is so burned into your memory, you’ll never forget. Tell what happened, but expound on the reasons it’s so meaningful.
  • Have you ever been involved in a discussion or argument where you thought of the most right or perfect thing to say after it was all over? Here’s your chance to change history: re-write the event as it should have gone, if you’d said the right thing at the right time.
  • Write about a time that weather impacted your life. In the essay, include details of the weather by using your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.
  • Write about a family tradition or heirloom. Has something been handed down for generations – or is something celebrated in a distinct or unusual way? Visualize the artifact, or recount the details of the celebration in general, or one in particular. Write a letter as though you were explaining these things to a younger family member. What makes them so important?
  • Write about a day in your life when nothing went right from the moment you got up in the morning until you pulled the covers over yourself in the evening at bedtime. How did you feel? (Frustrated? Angry? Powerless?) Think about one thing which could turned the day around. What would that be? How would you do things differently?
  • 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 home when her twin sister marries because her new brother-in-thinks he’s gotten a ‘two for one’ deal, Sigrid takes up arms to make her own way.

    Photo Copyright © Randall White | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Dear Family: Your Christmas Cards Are In the Mail

wedding-invitations-stamps-galoreHey Friends and Family!!

I finally got my Christmas Cards out this morning.

Mom taught me that my Xmas cards should be perfect and beautiful, that I should use a Christmas stamp, that I should take my time so that you know I did my very best for you…

Sorry, Mom. Here’s the deal:

This year, some of you will receive cards that I’ve used in the past. I got rid of all those leftover ones and twos that have been hanging out for years. Apologies in advance if you received the same card you got last year – I did my best to remember.

Also: With this Christmas mailing, I was able to get rid of my entire stash of 32 cent stamps, 37 cent stamps, 42 cent stamps, and a variety of “make up” stamps such as the “H” class, as well as nearly all my 1 cent, 2 cent, 3 cent, 4 cent and 5 cent denominations.

Some of your cards will have an excess of seven stamps on them to make up the difference. (The stamp collectors among you should be salivating.)

I actually had to buy 4 cent stamps at the post office this morning! Please note that it is a sign of how much I care about you, that I actually stepped foot into the Hell which is the post office during Christmas season.

The good news is: I get to buy all new holiday cards next year for you to receive. And since I own only “forever” stamps now, they’ll all have a single, pristine Christmas stamp on them.

See how much I care about you? Love to you all…and Merry Christmas!

Image ‘borrowed’ from:

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Writing Prompt – A Little “Best Of”

dreamstimefree_251887-eI’ve been traveling.

Last week it was a convention and this past week it was out of state for a friend’s book launch.

Since I don’t know whether I’m coming or going, I figured we’d do a little “best of” the writing prompts this week.

In honor of Friday the 13th, you could revisit the Attack of the Phobias Writing Prompt.

Here’s one for poets: Structured Poetry, The Tanka

Here’s a writing prompt about collections: What do your characters collect?

Writing Prompt: Lost

For something unthemed, you might try the Random Words Writing Prompt.

Have Fun!

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Something Wrapped

dreamstimefree_149098-eAre you buying gifts for the holidays?

I am.

(I’ve got about half my gifts bought and wrapped already–though I’m a bit behind this year. It makes me crazy to be this behind.)

I plan to do a bunch of online ordering in order to save time and effort. And internet shopping is the best!

I can’t stand crowds, I hate to browse, and I like the idea of being able to comparison shop from my desk chair. I can shop for almost everyone in the course of a single afternoon!

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “something wrapped?” Write about it. (You could write a story, an essay, a poem…whatever!)
  • If you journal, write about “something wrapped.” This could be a gift you received, a gift you gave – or something that was not a gift, but about something you only discovered once it was “unwrapped” or unveiled.
  • Write about receiving a surprise gift, or being surprised by the gift. Write abou unwelcome gifts or gifts cloaked in mystery. Write about the best gift you received, or the worst. Write about gifts from lovers, or ex-lovers, or from someone in the past.

Good luck!


Image Copyright © Simon L | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Dr. Seuss and Sandwiches

I’m in Massachusetts for the next day or so, celebrating with my friend Trisha Wooldridge for the launch of her debut novel, The Kelpie.

Since I’ve never been to Massachusetts before, she’s taking me around and seeing the sites (in between book stuff and writing) and it’s been loads of fun.

First we went to The Doctor Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden to see some sculpture created of the characters in his books. (I LOVE Dr. Seuss!) The Gardens are part of the Springfield Museums, so we got a chance to tour there also.

Despite the terrible fog, I managed to grab a few photos.




The natural structure behind the lorax here–not really part of the Seuss exhibit– was created by planting and weaving saplings together. I’m told that in the spring and summer it’s beautifully green. It’s large enough to wander through. There’s a lovely little arbor in the center that would be perfect for a wedding.

This ‘stickwork’ sculpture was created by artist Patrick Dougherty and contains over eight tons of saplings. Doesn’t it look like something Dr. Seuss would have drawn?


But the best part of last night was dinner. I experienced a culinary delight the likes of which I’d never experienced before! “The Burger” was topped with bacon, 1000 Island dressing, red onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses AND a fried egg.


Apparently, it’s a Massachusetts thing. I loved it. I can totally see this as a breakfast food.


Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Writers of the Future – Another Honorable Mention

WOTF_3rd2013I just received my certificate in the mail from the Writers of the Future contest. Another Honorable Mention – this time for my story, All for Beauty and Youth, which I hope to see published next year.

All for Beauty and Youth is my first foray into steampunk, and I had a lot of fun writing it. I stayed away from zeppelins and goggles, and instead focused on trains and clockwork creatures.

It’s been accepted for an anthology due out next year, but I haven’t received the contract yet for it. Until that materializes, I don’t want to mention the anthology.

I’m fairly sure that I’ll find a place for it, even if the expected contract doesn’t come through. I’ll keep you posted.