Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

turkey-arsimagegallery

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Writing Prompts – Bits of Conversation

Couple in a bar having a bad date.I’m an eavesdropper. I admit it.

Wherever I go, I’m tuning in to the things that are being said around me.

I’m a snob, though. I generally don’t listen in on conversations between, for instance, the barista and the guy in front of me buying coffee. The guy buying coffee is passing time, waiting for his extra foamy tallboy. The barista is paid to be charming.

That conversation? Worthless. Usually.

I might listen in if there’s no one else around, but I’d rather listen to the old folks behind me, talking in hushed whispers. Or the goth couple hanging out in the corner arguing.

I love it when I’ve already sat down and gotten my coffee. (Black thanks, I’ll add a bit of cream for myself.) Because if I’m sitting, I can take notes. Awesome.

Conversation is great fodder for scenes. It can prompt entire stories.

Here’s Your Prompt:

(And your homework!)

Make time to sit in a place where you can overhear what other people are saying. With luck, you’ll start hearing things in the middle of the conversation.

After you’ve written a few lines, stop listening and re-read what you’ve written down. What story does it spark? Write it.

If you don’t like the first conversation, go listen to another. This time, stop transcribing when something catches your fancy.

If you can’t get out, do an internet search for “overheard conversations.” There are tons of them out there. Ignore the context and the celebrity of who said what. Find a conversation you like, and write from there.

Good luck!

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

© Mariykaa | Dreamstime.comThe Husband of Awesome™ and I closed up the garden last weekend. We wrapped up the delicate figs with blankets, hoping to baby them over until the spring. We gave the lawn a last once over, hoping it won’t need to be cut again this year. I hacked about a bazillion volunteer Rose of Sharon bushes out of the front flower bed.

There’s more to do, fertilizing and getting empty pots back into the shed, for instance. We just ran out of time.

I love tending the garden, whether it’s spring–and the ground is ripe for rebirth–or fall, when blooms are dying off and everything is ready for sleep. I love the dirt. (And puttering is a great time to noodle over plots.)

Gardens are so full of metaphor…and wonderful inspirations for writing.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about the sending down of roots (or balling up of them -if the plant is trapped in a pot). Write about making roots of your own, or pulling up your roots and moving on. Write about severing your roots.
     
  • Write about a character that’s been transplanted. If you journal, write about a move you made.
     
  • Write about a garden in the spring, or the summer, or the winter, or the fall. Carefully choose imagery to depict the season. Does a tree look the same in summer as spring?
     
  • Weeds. Write about pulling weeds in a garden, or culling the weeds from your life. Write about a character living in the weeds. Write about weed. 😉
     
  • Is former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins correct, “The soil is full of marvels…”?
     
  • What grows in the garden of earthly delights?
     

Good Luck!

 

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Image Copyright © Mariykaa | Dreamstime.com. Used by permission.

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Writing Prompt – National Sandwich Day

Reuben Sandwich. Photo by Ernesto Andrade.

Reuben Sandwich. Photo by Ernesto Andrade.

November 3 is National Sandwich Day!

Yay for sandwiches! I love a good ‘wet’ sandwich: soft, fresh bread, good cuts of meat–and for cold sandwiches–heavy on the pickles and hots. My favorite hot sandwich is a Reuben: corned beef and Swiss cheese on rye with lots of thousand island dressing and sauerkraut. Yum!

Novelist Lawrence Sanders in his book “The First Deadly Sin” describes his detective eating a ‘wet sandwich’ over the sink, accompanied by a bottle of beer. It’s the first time I’d heard the term.

Sanders goes into such loving detail describing the making and eating of this sandwich–taking nearly an entire page to do so, if I remember correctly–that my mouth watered the entire time I was reading.

That’s good writing. (Or maybe it’s my Pavlov response to sandwich descriptions!)

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a scene in which one of your characters eats. He doesn’t have to eat a sandwich. If you’re writing fantasy, it could be stew, or bread and cheese. If you’re writing contemporary, maybe it’s wings or tapas. The point is: spend time crafting a few sentences which will make your reader’s mouth water. Don’t spend a page doing it: that was Sanders’ schtick. Write it your way.
     
  • Write a scene where “the big reveal” is made during a meal. Don’t let the dialogue carry the scene. Bring in the setting: the tablecloth and silver salt and pepper shakers, or, the scarred wooden table and broken crockery.
     
  • Write a “long” haiku of four of five stanzas describing the perfect sandwich and building it. When you’re done, see if you can whittle it down into one stanza, but still keep the ‘flavor’ of the long poem.
     
  • If you journal, write family history, or enjoy memoir, write about a memorable meal. Don’t forget to include descriptions of the food.
     

Good Luck!

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Zero Arrives for Halloween!

Jack Skellington's Dog Zero, sculpted by Kelly A. Harmon

Happy Halloween!

A few folks mentioned that they would love to see my finished Zero sculpture. Here he is! He looked a little better pre-rain, but I don’t think he turned out all that bad (considering I’m in no way an artist).

He was certainly a big hit with just about everyone who saw him tonight.

The head was the hardest part, and I did that in about two hours. It’s molded from newspaper, tinfoil, styrofoam and masking tape. His body is an old pillowcase that I cut open. I hemmed all the rough edges and then ran some pliable wire through the hem. This enabled me to ‘bend’ his body into waves so that it wouldn’t hang straight down…and look like an old pillow case. It really looked cool when the wind blew.

I wish the flash hadn’t washed the photo out so much: his nose really glows in the dark. This photo doesn’t do it justice.

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did tonight! And I’ve got chocolate left over: it doesn’t get any better than that!

Monday, October 28th, 2013

What Do You Know About Selkies?

cover=selkskin-optimized-250If you’ve ever wondered where selkies come from, I’ve got answers for you!

Melissa over at My World…In Words and Pages asked me to talk a bit about them for her “Mythical Monday,” post today.

A selkie features prominently in my story, Selk Skin Deep, so it was a natural fit.

Go on over and take a look.

Even if you’re not interested in my tale, I highly recommend Melissa’s Web site. She’s an ardent book blogger and discusses all things fantasy. Her reviews are spot on, and she almost always has a book giveaway running.

So, I say again, go take a look!

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Writing Prompt – ‘Zero’ Procrastination

zero-e
Halloween is coming! It’s my favorite holiday of the entire year.

My candy’s bought, my house is decorated, and I’m chomping at the bit looking for activities to extend it a little. Tonight, the Husband of Awesome™ and I will be handing out candy at the local elementary school and watching their costume parade. I can’t wait.

I’m working on a prop for tonight: Zero, Jack Skellington’s faithful ghost hound. I sculpted his head from newspaper, tinfoil, masking tape and styrofoam. Today, I’m spray-painting him white.

I should have covered him in paper mache before painting, but I ran out of time. I’ve been procrastinating.

Ahem.

I’ve also been procrastinating on my writing. I haven’t even turned on my laptop for THREE days!

My word count is not looking too hot this week, unless you count all the non-fiction… (And who counts that?) The ‘Zero’ project–and other Halloween stuff–has kept me pretty busy.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • The main character of your WIP has a secret vice that makes him procrastinate. What is it? How might this procrastination up the tension in your story? Write it.
     
  • Essayists: Thomas de Quincey said, “If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.” Is procrastination worse than murder?
     
  • Procrastination eats away at our time, slowly eroding this valuable commodity. Poets: write about time.   (Artists! This one works for you, too: show us time.)
     
  • For journalers and essayists: What have you been putting off? Why?
     

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.

Electronic:
$2.99 at Amazon$2.99 at Barnes and Noble

Paperback: $4.99 at Amazon.com

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Writing Prompt – The Most Meaningful Moment of Your Day

Pocket Watch by WinterbergWe experience tens of thousands of seconds–small moments–each day. Even our worst, or our most boring, day surely contains a meaningful moment or span of moments.

Omitting the most special and the most horrible of days, I am hard-pressed to define a single most meaningful moment in my day.

(Is that my ingrained sense of adventure surfacing? I can always find something interesting, even at the most mundane of times…)

I like when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. in the morning and I peek out the window into the back yard. I do this without fail: rain or shine, winter and summer.

There’s always something going on out there–even in the darkest of winter mornings–or maybe especially then: many times I’ve flipped on the light and caught some nocturnal beast in action.

Good morning kisses with my Husband of Awesome™ are also meaningful…

…as is hitting my daily word quota in the early morning. (Yay! Hooky day!) 🙂

Can you define a most meaningful moment of your day?

Some time ago, Real Simple Magazine featured an article where they asked writers to pontificate on their most meaningful time of the day.

The article features a meaningful moment as written by each author, and spans the entire day. Interesting reading.

Here’s Your Prompt

  • Choose the most meaningful moment of your day today, and write about it. You could write an essay, a diary entry or a poem.
     
  • Tomorrow, record your small moment for each of the hours of the day you’re awake. Write a few sentences about each small moment. Take special care to record the setting, the occasion, and how you felt at that moment. Be brief and concise.
     
  • Make a date of it! Spend the day with your partner and prep him or her about “the most meaningful moment.” At the end of your date, each of you should write down the most meaningful moment on a post card or index card. When you’re done, exchange cards.

 

Good luck!

 
 

PHoto Copyright © Winterberg | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Writing Prompt: Exercise and Creativity

Image of a runner's feet:  Copyright: Warren Goldswain I just got a new treadmill, ostensibly to shed a few pounds gained during my two foot surgeries in the last year. I prefer running outdoors, but with winter coming, the treadmill is the best bet to get back on track during the darker winter months here.

A few of my writer friends have turned their treadmills into writing desks, citing all the health benefits of obliterating a sedentary lifestyle. Not wanting to be left out, I’m giving it a try.

The Husband of Awesome™ and I made a trip to one of those lumber superstores and purchased a plank, some eye bolts and bungee cords. In less than an hour, I had a fairly decent makeshift desk on the arms of a treadmill. A ‘breakfast in bed’ lap desk (never used, alas!) and a cardboard riser on top the plank have lifted the keyboard, monitor and mouse to the appropriate level.

It’s fairly comfortable, and I spent an hour on the treadmill Wednesday, after my workout, to read email and work on my WIP (walking uphill at 1.7 miles an hour).

I got a lot of work done!

And it prompted me to do some research on the correlation between exercise and creativity. There’s plenty of research to be found, such as this paper on exercise and creativity by doctors David M. Blanchette, Stephen P. Ramocki, John N. O’del and Michael S. Casey.

They found that, “aerobic exercise may positively impact creative potential, and that these effects may extend for some period of time,” and “results suggest that orthodox aerobic workouts have potential benefits in aiding creativity processes, [and that exercise] potentially provides tangible improvements to creative productivity.”

So, exercise may not only help the creative process in individuals, but it may improve it!

Here’s Your Prompt:

  1. Go do some aerobic exercise! Take a run, walk briskly, jump rope, etc. for a half an hour. (Standard disclaimer here: please check with your doctor to make certain you’re fit before starting any exercise program!)
     
  2. Pull out a creative project that’s been giving you some trouble: a poem where you can’t find the right words, a story you’re blocked on, an art project you just can’t envision, etc. …and give it another try. Or…
     
  3. Start a project you’ve been meaning to get to, but has seemed daunting in the past. (Perhaps the exercise will help you think more clearly about how to proceed…) Or…
     
  4. Spend some time on your WIP. Do you have a better idea of how to proceed? A more clear idea of where to incorporate plot points or messages or meter? Perhaps you’ve thought of a new idea to add to the work.

Good Luck!

 
 
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Image, “Runner’s Feet,” Copyright: Warren Goldswain. Used by permission.

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!