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!

 
 
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Image ‘borrowed’ from: www.storkie.com.

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.

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SAM_3133a-e

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.

SAM_3173a-e

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!