Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Writer’s Prompt: What’s in Your Character’s Survival Kit?

Man wearing a backpack, back to the camera.I was reading Military 1 today and came across an article about what Navy SEAL’s keep in their survival kits. These kits, which are used if a SEAL is caught behind enemy lines, are pretty impressive.

Each kit is only 4 inches by 2 inches by 1.5 inches, and comes in your choice of tan or green.

SEALs are able to use the kits as a digging tool, and a pot to cook food in (though not at the same time) – and they contain an impressive array of items: a mini, stainless-steel Multi Tool with pliers, wire cutters, file, and awl; button compass; LED Sqeeze light; fire starting kit; full-sized blanket; 2 x 3 signal mirror with aiming hole; bobby pins; safety pins; rope; first aid items and more.

They’ve got to be prepared for anything.

This got me thinking about our characters and what they might pack as “survival” items in our stories.

The lead character in my work in progress carries some specific demon-banishing items in her purse at all times, since lately, she’s been plagued by demons. Part of her kit includes holy water, holy chrism (oil) and salt which has been blessed by a priest. She uses these items to seal windows and doors, and in a pinch, they become weapons against the demons.

So, she’s always prepared, right?

Wrong. Where’s the drama in that? (She’s going to learn fairly soon that her kit no longer works.)

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Create a “survival kit” for your character. It could be as small and jam-packed as a Navy SEAL’s, or could be as mundane as the items your character habitually loads into his pockets every morning. Whatever it is: have a good reason for the items to be there. It’s got to be something your character carries with him every day. It’s too Deus ex machina if the items show up only when your character needs them.
  • Think about all the ways those items can be countered. What logical things could happen to make the survival kit less than useful?
  • Write the scene where your character realizes that all his or her prep has been for naught. Lead him or her through determination to get the job done, frustration after frustration of items in the kit not working, realization of failure, decision to quit and/or determination to succeed no matter what.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

New Short Story Available!

Cover of Short Story: Selk Skin Deep by Kelly A. HarmonI have a new story available via Kindle!

Selk Skin Deep is an alternate-history — military history, too — about a Selkie who is also a Navy SEAL.

Selkies hail from Scottish folklore. They are mythical creatures that live as seals in the ocean, but can come ashore — shedding their skins — and become human.

Most selkie stories are about women selkies who come to sun on the beach, and whose sealskin is stolen by a man. Without her skin, she’s forced to remain in human form until she gets it back. The man generally forces her to be his wife/maid/servant (sometimes mother to his kids) until the story ends when she finds where he’s hidden her skin and she returns to the sea.

You can read more about selkies at Wikipedia.

My story is a bit off the traditional beaten path. Here’s the description:

Kennedy never envisioned a Navy SEAL like him.

1967. Vietnam. Fat-boys and comp-B bombs explode aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Livingstone killing thousands. Everyone dies if the carrier sinks, unless one SEAL – one selkie – puts the lives of humans ahead of his need to keep his secret.

Inspired by the true story of the U.S.S. Forrestal fire of 1967, award-winning author Kelly A. Harmon weaves alternate-history and fairytale into this action-packed and emotionally charged story.

This review is from when the story was published in the Bad Ass Fairies 3 Anthology: In all Their Glory:

“Selk-Skin Deep” by Kelly A. Harmon is a very well-written, harrowing story of an accident that didn’t have to happen aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam war. The selkie uses his advantage to try and save the ship and its crew. Ms. Harmon has written an action packed, suspenseful account of a naval battle with a poignant ending.” ~ Tangent Magazine

You can buy Selk Skin Deep on Kindle now. It should be available for Nook and via Smashwords very soon.