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.

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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?

Yertle!!
Yertle!

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.

Yum!

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

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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.

 

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

turkey-arsimagegallery

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Writing Prompt – Expressions

dreamstimefree_174300-eI’m sitting in the doctor’s office as I type this.

When I walked in, there were only there were only three people in the office. And now, forty minutes later…I’m still sitting in the waiting room, and there’s not a seat to be had.

Seriously. Standing room only.

The funny part: the expression on each newcomer’s face when they walk through the door. Most people are surprised at first. Then comes annoyance. There are quite a few angry faces, too.

(I’m thinking of Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story right now, where she packs Mr. Potato Head’s angry eyes, just in case he needs them.)

Me?

I’m laughing. If I’d been one of the entrants facing a backed up schedule and nowhere to sit, I’d probably be sporting my angry eyes and a tight-lipped frowny face, too. Instead, I’ve been joking with the seated folks sitting close to me.

We’re watching it all unfold and waiting for an explosion. That should be fun.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write an angry scene. Pay attention to the expressions on your character’s faces, as well as dialogue or actions. Stay away from cliches (a mouth that’s simply a slash, eyes that flash, etc).
     
  • Write a happy scene. As above, pay attention to expressions, not just dialogue and body language. Avoid sparkling eyes, wide or curved mouths and white teeth.
     
  • For practice, set aside some time to describe the faces of the characters in your manuscript. (If you write memoir or are writing a family history, pick the faces of people you know). Now picture these people angry or happy (or some other emotion). Take time to describe not just eyes and mouth, but brow and chin. Wrinkles. Scars. Moles and warts.
     
  • Write a poem about a person who is angry or happy (or, you decide what emotion), but don’t use facial expressions to convey the emotion.
     
  • Write an essay about a time you were extraordinarily angry or upset. Write about your facial expressions…from the inside. Were your eyes hot and stinging? Was your brow so furrowed the muscles were tight? Remember, too, how your expression felt when the situation was resolved. Write down those feelings, too.
     
  • As above, but use the “inner feelings” of your expressions in your manuscript for your point of view character.
     

Good Luck!

 

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Image Copyright © Dawn Hudson | Dreamstime Stock Photos.

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Darkover Schedule

"Darkover 36" CaptionI’ll be in Timonium, MD Thanksgiving Weekend for the last-ever Darkover Convention.

I don’t expect to have a table, but I’ll be carrying paperback copies of my novel and short stories from my publisher for you to touch and feel (or buy). 🙂

Here’s my schedule:

FRIDAY
4:00 – 5:00PM: Military SF – Why Should You Read It? – What does Military SF contribute to the SF genre? Is its contribution more than merely entertainment value? Are there stories or themes that Military SF tells better than other SF sub-genres? Discussion should include examples and recommendations.

7:00 – 8:00PM: “Show, don’t tell!” – This is an age-old piece of advice from writers. What the heck does it mean? Is it important for writers (including screenwriters and playwrights) to understand this advice? If so, why?

SATURDAY
10:00 – 11:00am: Katherine Kurtz: The Deryni Effect – When Ballantine began its Adult Fantasy line, Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni Rising was their first title by a modern Fantasy author. Authors and fans discuss why they think the Deryni series has been so popular and received such widespread acclaim.

12:00 – 1:00PM: Jaelle’s Memorial – Held in Atrium (Just Attending)

4:00 – 5:00PM: Autograph Session

5:00 PM – Broad Universe Reading with Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Margaret Carter, Meriah Crawford, Elektra Hammond, Erika Satifka, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Leona Wisoker, and Sarah Pinsker.

6:00 – 7:00PM: The “Woman with a Sword” Phenomenon – Take your pick: from Robert E. Howard’s “Red Sonya” (a 16th Century Russian warrior-woman) to Marvel’s “Red Sonja” (a swordswoman of the Hyborian Age); from C.L. Moore’s “Jirel of Joiry” (a wandering Fantasy swordswoman) to J.A. Pitts’s “Sara Beauhall” (a Urban Fantasy lesbian blacksmith) and Revolution’s “Charlie Matheson”. And it seems that dozens of new book covers feature pictures of sword-wielding, leather-clad women. Why the attraction? Is “the woman with a sword” motif a guaranteed “winning combination” for a writer or an artist?

SUNDAY
12:00 – 1:00PM: Short Stories vs. Novels: Does Size Matter? -How does “word count” affect the writer’s craft? Writers discuss different strategies and goals when writing short vs. long fiction. Pinsker(M), Ackley-McPhail, Crist, Harmon, Sonnier.

I hope to see you there! Please drop by and say hello if you’re around.

Also:

The Con Needs Volunteers!

If you can help out, see this Darkover Volunteer Page. Every hour you volunteer, can earn you a dollar off the admission to next year’s First Annual Chessiecon.

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!