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.


Monday, September 24th, 2012

Contest! And an Interview with Richard Long – Author of the Book of Paul

Just in time for Halloween, Richard Long has published his ‘supernatural thriller,’ The Book of Paul. To kick it off, he’s launched a contest where you could win a free tarot reading from Richard himself. Other prizes include $300 in Amazon gift cards and a Kindle Fire!

Read on beyond the interview to find out how.

Cover of the Book The Book of Paul by Richard Long.1. Tell us about the spark of inspiration that eventually grew into The Book of Paul.

The initial inspiration for The Book of Paul came when I wrote the first line of the first chapter called Exercises: “He practiced smiling.” I wanted to explore a character who had been so damaged by childhood trauma that he could no longer feel compassion, joy, affection, and had, accordingly, committed all kinds of horrible acts. I wondered if such a person could ever regain his emotional capacity and be redeemed by love.

2. What was the research process like for this book? Any horror stories to share?

There are many aspects to the story, so the research was really extensive. I love doing the research almost as much as the writing, so it’s a joy for me to read and learn so many new things. The creation mythology literally goes back to square one and builds from there, tracing the history of Hermetic and Gnostic philosophy, alchemy, druidism and pagan mythology–particularly Egyptian, Greek and Celtic traditions. There’s also a strong science fiction element involving quantum physics, artificial intelligence, life extension and what’s known as The Singularity. Other lines of exploration involved Irish genealogy and what I call the pain culture: tattoos, elaborate piercings and body modifications.

I made some gruesome discoveries along the way. The most disturbing was the Extreme Body Modification website I stumbled upon, which is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen. I first saw it in the early days of the Internet, which is pretty amazing in itself. I checked recently and it’s still there, though I didn’t have the stomach to peek inside again. I’m actually as squeamish as some of my readers about certain things, which is probably why the horror comes across so vividly. If something scares the hell out of me, it’s easy for me to convey that fear and revulsion.

3. Tell us about Paul. Who is he and what is his book about?

The Book is a 4th century codex, the only one of it’s kind. How and why it was made and what it contains is one of the central mysteries of the series, so I’m not going to spill those beans. Paul is every bit as mysterious. When he is first introduced you might think he’s a serial killer involved with the occult in some way. As the story progresses you discover some really unexpected things about him. One thing is clear from the outset – he is one very nasty piece of work. I’ve always felt that any horror novel or thriller is only as good as the villain. I definitely aimed for the fences with Paul.

Cover of the Book The Book of Paul by Richard Long.4. There is a strong tarot undercurrent to this novel. The protagonist even makes his living by reading the cards. Why did you decide to work it into The Book of Paul, and how does it surface throughout the course of the story?

I actually did tarot and numerology readings when I lived in the East Village many years ago. The tarot led me to a lot of dark occult explorations, which are mirrored in William’s journey. I was lucky enough to pull out of that nosedive and hop over to the Buddhist side of the fence. William is not so fortunate. The reader gets drawn into William’s world through his first person narration as he talks about becoming a collector of ancient occult manuscripts, which leads him to the tarot. Then he gradually reveals more through his journal entries, which contain the meat of the mythology and all the Hermetic and Gnostic lore. Finally, he discovers that the tarot is actually related to an apocalyptic prophecy, which Paul is determined to fulfill by any means necessary, which is very bad news for Billy.

5. At almost 500 pages, this is not a short novel. From start to finish, how long did it take you to write, revise, and ready for publication?

I’ve written over 2,000 pages for The Book of Paul and the series. The first draft of this volume was close to a thousand pages long. I cut out eight characters and their storylines in the second draft, which netted my first agent. She wanted a lower page count, so many of the narrator’s interior musings were cut. Those were actually some of my favorite sections. Then I moved to another agent and he wanted more of the mythology put back in, so it grew close to this size. After six months he hadn’t sold it, so I got sick of the whole process, wrote it the way I wanted, and published it.

6. Irish mythology is woven into The Book of Paul, and at one point, Paul even makes a sarcastic quip about the luck of the Irish. Why Irish, and how all does its culture influence the story?

When I’m writing, I go into a daydream state where I imagine the character and what he or she looks like and where they are and what they’re doing. No outline usually. I sit back and watch and listen. If it’s great the way I imagine it, then writing the dialog is like taking dictation. When I wrote the first chapters with Paul, I was surprised because I kept hearing him speak with an Irish brogue, but his accent went in and out – sometimes really thick, sometimes a little lilt, sometimes no accent at all. So I’m thinking, what’s that about?

I come from Irish American stock, but my parents told me absolutely nothing about their parents other than to say they were cruel. So that’s the starting point with Paul. He’s the ultimate bad dad. The more I explored Paul, the deeper it led me into Celtic mythology, Irish genealogy and history. I suppose I’m trying to find the missing links of my own heritage. My grandmother was born in Ireland, so I have dual citizenship, even though I haven’t been there yet. I’m thinking I’ll go next year when I’m writing the third sequel.

7. Who is your target audience for this novel?

The Book of Paul doesn’t fit into any neat, tidy genre. It’s very complex.

There’s a Pulp Fiction element to it, with quirky characters in a seedy environment. There’s a major religious/mythological mystery for the Dan Brown crowd. It’s very funny, but incredibly poignant. It’s very disturbing, but there are lots of fast-paced action scenes. There’s romance and kinky sex. Something for everybody.

8. Why did you decide to self-publish The Book of Paul, and how has the journey been so far?

The traditional publishing industry in general is like a boxer on the ropes in the tenth round. For fiction it’s even worse. Add first-time novelist to the list and sprinkle on an unclassifiable genre for a little seasoning. I had two agents who were well known and successful, and very enthusiastic about the book. But the editors they reached wouldn’t take a chance on it. I could have kept trying, but frankly, I ran out of patience.

How has it been so far? The book is out in the world and it’s just the way I wanted it. I have complete control over everything I do, including the cover art, which is also exactly how I want it. The marketing is a lot of hard work, particularly the social marketing, which I had never done before. But that’s turned out to be a lot of fun too. I’m meeting so many great people–other authors and readers–and getting such a strong response on the book that it feels like a vindication. See? I told you so. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

How to Enter the Contest

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. By purchasing this book, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.

You can also win by commenting.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Special Guest Writing Prompt and Contest!

Today’s writing prompt is a very special edition: it’s packed with ideas and includes a writing contest which could net you several ebooks, including a copy of Terri Bruce’s Hereafter.

It was hard for me to give up a writing prompt slot when I enjoy creating them so much, but Terri and I have been friends for quite some time now, and when she pitched this idea, I couldn’t resist.

I hope you enjoy her spot as much as I do!

The Cover of Hereafter by Author Terri Bruce.A huge “thank you” to Kelly for turning her “Writing Prompt” post over to me today!

I love her writing prompts and they always manage to awaken my imagination, so I was thrilled when she allowed me to step into the driver’s seat for a day to help celebrate the release of my first novel, Hereafter—a contemporary fantasy about a woman’s search for redemption in the afterlife. I hope you enjoy these prompts as much as I enjoyed crafting them!

Today marks the first day of Chinese Ghost Month, a time in which it is believed that the spirits of the deceased leave the land of the dead and visit the living, similar to Halloween. While the spirits of the dead, particularly one’s ancestors, are not seen as malevolent per se, it is considered an inauspicious time to travel, move, change jobs, get married, or make any other major life changes as there may be evil spirits bent on mischief about.

At the end of Ghost Month, the dead return to the land of the dead—the living often light lanterns or float candles on waterways to guide the dead back to the afterlife, which I think is beautifully evocative. In between, there is Ghost Festival, which you learn more about in my guest post on that subject on August 30th at the Making Connections blog.

Author Terri BruceI first became fascinated with Chinese afterlife mythology when I heard of the Terra Cotta Warriors—which was so long ago now that I forget exactly when and where I learned of this miraculous undertaking by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Moved by the story of the emperor’s kindness (?), mercy (?), amazing sense of justice (?), or whatever it was that resulted in him taking life size replicas of his soldiers and servants with him to the afterlife, rather than the actual people, I delved further into Chinese afterlife mythology and became hooked. Though I tried to pull from all cultures and religions equally for Hereafter, I think it did end up slightly slanted toward Chinese mythology and folklore.

So…without further ado— Here’s Your Prompt:

  • It’s Chinese Ghost Festival, a time when the living leave offerings of items for the dead—what offerings do you leave for the deceased? Describe the offerings (food? objects?) in detail as well as where you leave them (at a grave? On the sidewalk? At an altar?).
  • The spirit of one of your ancestors visits you during Ghost Month—describe the encounter. What does the spirit look like? How do you feel? What does the spirit want? How do you react?
  • Describe Ghost Month from the perspective of the ghosts—are they happy to be turned out of the spirit realm or annoyed? Are they pleased with the offerings left for them or disgusted? Can they touch, smell, and taste the offerings? Does everything feel, taste, and smell like it did when they were alive?
  • What does the spirit realm/afterlife look like?
  • Write the story of a man or woman preparing an offering for the dead—what is he/she offering? Why that particular item? How does he/she feel as he/she prepares the item—sorrow? Duty? Pride? Love?
  • Write the story of spirits punishing someone for not preparing an offering during Ghost Festival—what penance would the spirits exact?
  • At the end of Ghost Month the spirits return to the spirit realm—how is this accomplished? Do they voluntarily return or are they compelled? Are they compelled by mystical forces or is it someone’s job?
  • A spirit is refusing to return to the spirit realm at the end of Ghost Month. Why? What will he do instead of returning?

And now…for a SPECIAL BONUS! Using any of the above writing prompts, write a 200-word (MAX) story for a chance to win a prize pack of books about ghosts! Visit the Writers Lens web site for details! Contest ends September 7th, 2012.


Where to Find Hereafter:

Where to Find Terri:

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Great Review for Hellebore and Rue – and – a Contest About the Book

I just read another great review for Hellebore and Rue over at FanGirlTastic.

I’m tickled.

Reviewer Gayle Grazen had many nice things to say, but of course I’m partial to her words about my story, Sky Lit Bargains:


Kelly A. Harmon’s “Sky Lit Bargains” is an enjoyable adventure fantasy tale in which a young woman becomes the warrior in a male-dominated world to avoid a highly unpleasant marital prospect. This could have quite easily been part of a longer work.

Cover of the anthology Hellebore and Rue

This is the second reviewer who’s mentioned that the story could be a longer work. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t write it into a novel…?

If you’re read the short story, I’d love your opinion. Drop me a line (or mention in the comments below):

  1. Let it stand!
  2. Write a novel!

(Inquiring minds want to know!)

About the Contest

JoSelle Vanderhooft, one of the editors of Hellebore and Rue is a talented jewelery maker. She is designing necklaces based on the stories in the book and offering them as prizes in a little contest.

To win, all you have to do is make a post about Hellebore and Rue on any social media outlet, and then post back to her blog by June 15, 2011 to let her know. It’s that easy.

Details — and a picture of the lovely necklace– are on Joselle’s Blog, the Memory Palace.