As you all know by now, I went to Supercon this past weekend. Despite the crowds and spending eight hours on my feet, I really enjoyed it. I brought cash with me in case there was something in the vendor area I couldn't live without, and as it turns out there was.


I had expected booths from the comic books stores around town, collectibles dealers, and a wide variety of visual artists showing off their prowess rendering chesty barbarian women with tiny waists. I didn't expect the authors.

The first full aisle we walked down there was a writer set up with such gorgeous artwork on display for her book that I had to stop to find out what the book was about.

Here's a tip guys, if you want to be sure I'll buy something - put a tree on it. If you surround that tree in a high-res soap bubble of color, I'll probably buy two. (Cover photo by Richard J. Heeks)

We were early to the convention which was great because we got to spend some time milling about without the crowds. Had we seen Rachel E. Kelly and her booth a few hours later, she might not have had the free time to talk with me.

Let's talk about the book first. Per the author, The Colorworld Series is about a young woman who can sense emotions when she touches people. She's also broke (author's word). Trying to make a little extra cash, she signs up for an experimental allergy study that attempts to use energy as a form of treatment [gamma rays anyone?], only to come out it with the ability to kill people by touch. It's any kind of skin contact that will do the trick - no intent required - so she's understandably upset. Book one is a quest to find out how to stop it, why it happened, and if the whos responsible intended it all along. Along the way she meets fellow Specials who were made so by the same unknown entity.

I bought book one. I would have bought all three volumes she had with her, but I had brought the small backpack and I had a full day of Contastic amusements to get through. Not a problem though, Rachel gave me a coupon for free shipping if I make my next purchase through her website instead of Amazon or B&N.

Book one is about 350 pages and I'm only a chapter in, but so far I like the writing style and the characters. Her writing is matter-of-fact, good dialog, and so far the character is very real world.

Since I had her all to myself, I asked Rachel a bit about her writing and herself as a writer. She started writing the first book in the series in 2009. She's a stay at home mom and had three kids when she started the project. I marveled at the presumed lack of free time with a family that size and she admitted that she often wrote late at night; staying up 'til four in the morning if the idea she was writing through compelled her. Rachel E. Kelly is self-published and has invested in not one but four editors to make sure the finished product is perfect.

She markets her work by taking it on the road. Rachel, hubby, and their four children travel the Con circuit in an RV shilling the books. This really amazed me. Another thing that impressed me about this thrice-published author was the Kickstarter project she initiated to bring artwork into her novels. They hit their $20k target and she showed me samples of the new books with full-color inserts drawn by a variety of graphic artists.

Here are some other links related to Rachel E. Kelly and her writing - Goodreads and Wizardworld

Her advice to me at the close of our conversation was this -
"If you want to finish the book you are writing, pick a date and tell everyone you know when it will be done by." The theory being that you have to finish because you've committed yourself publicly. I'm really glad that kind of positive thinking worked for her. She had good energy and reminded me of other go-getter woman I have had the good fortune to encounter. Imagine the efficiency this one woman has to exact in order to write, be a mom, be a wife, publish her own books, organize the artists for her second run of press with art, and travel the country in an RV to have two booths at all the conventions. She's my hero.

I want all of you to pick a project you love, one that you know you can finish - that deserves to be finished. Then choose a completion date and share it with everyone you know on facebook, tumblr, wordpress, livejournal, at work, in the family newsletter, that aunt who spends all of her time spreading the family gossip, and anyone who lives in your house - even the animals. Commit yourself publicly, because I really want to see you hit that target.

We could call it the Kelly Date. Is that too fan girl? Considering I haven't finished reading the books, I'm more a fan of what she accomplished, so don't think me too pathetic.

I bought a few more books at Supercon, but Rachel E. Kelly is the only author I got to spend quality time talking to. I'll tell you about the rest of my adventures at Supercon next week and then we'll get back to Writing Humor.


Be sure to sign up to write with us for July week one. A few people have pre-signed up for weeks two through four as well by simply stating their intent on the initial sign-up post. We are totally cool with that :) Check back in the wee hours of Sunday morning for the official Week One prompt. The whole month will be inspired by "All the small things" since July is a month-o-minis. I'm also considering giving away prizes for each week.

We also have a reading list and voting poll floating around out there that requires your attention. Shane is our votes leader at the moment, but we have until quarter to midnight tomorrow to unseat him (if required). As I say often, go hit up your friends who like to read - encourage them to check out the full list and vote for those what deserve it.

Be sure to weigh in on some of our other articles this week. RicoChey was talking about a different kind of color in your story world and Kathy wants to discuss how your reading tastes might skew your editing choices. Both articles are worth your time.

Did you know the 5-word story game has a legitimate origin? Well, I did not. According to Wikipedia, the exercise to which we are accustomed is grandfathered by a game called “The Exquisite Corpse“. The article describes it as “a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. “The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun”, as in “The green duck sweetly sang the dreadful dirge”) or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Today’s rules are as follows: Contribute five words, or until you have used two adjectives, whichever comes first. (And yes, we are going to have many arguments about what constitutes an adjective, and the intellectual debate will be fiery and fun.) I’ll kick off.

“A bleeding moon rose above the barbed wire…”

The Lost & Found June contest is still going for those of you who signed up, and those of you watching can still play along with weekly word games (here’s a recent treat) and support your fellows as the month unfolds.

Last night’s Google Hangouts Flamestorming session was a success — feel free to share links to your results in the comments, and be on the lookout for the next scheduled event!

Is it Monday again? It seems as though a great deal of time has passed. For one thing, you may have noticed the format has changed somewhat in the last week. Today we bid farewell to ‘Manic Monday’, ushering in a new future for the beginning of your week. Stay tuned! But today, the topic is change, primarily that of scenery.

There are many kinds of change, but one of the most dramatic is a change of location. We, as human beings, have an evolutionary imperative to associate shelter and the home front with security and comfort. As even a migrating tribe would build camp during pauses in exodus, today we exhibit similar habits and traditions on a modern day scale. People tell you, “Home is where the heart is.” I suppose that means the first thing you have to find is your heart. If you are a writer, your heart may be in your work. It follows logically that home is actually where you feel safest to write.

If your heart is in your writing, then home is anywhere your computer (or other writing tool) is. What surrounds and lies beyond your computer is the other story. Beyond the desk and the chair and the temperature of the room, what defines the comfort and security of the home for your heart, for your craft? And what of the writer who never writes in the same room, or has no room at all? Every person, and so every writer, draws their peace from a different source or combination of sources.

Most of us are taught and socialized to accept that home is where you pay your rent, wash your own dishes, and keep your own shoes next to the door. There is a reason we use a general term like ‘homeless’ to describe anyone who does not live inside. A simple Pinterest search proves that many writers swear by the importance of a well-designed writing space. If it takes a collection of colors, angles, and textures brought together in specific syncopation to maintain the stability needed to write, then change of scenery is only rendered irrelevant when that small corner of one’s environment is reclaimed and set back into stone. Every new apartment, house, or otherwise has potential. After all, what are walls and floors and ceilings except another blank page? But the life one lives with pre=printed address labels is not always freedom — for many others, it is prison.

Consider the life of a traveling writer. From whence does a wandering scribe draw harmony? For a traveling writer, the bread and butter is the constant change of one’s scenery, and the adventures that develop as a result. Surely, a different constant tethers a traveler to the center of their own sense of zen. When every hotel room, foreign hostel, camp tent, and blanket beneath the stars must serve as home one day at a time, how does one collect from fountain of stability? Yours truly believes it is the glorious lack of tomorrow’s itinerary that drives a wandering salmon upstream. If upon the rise of every sun the same day lies before you, how then can you paint the picture of a different possibility? Similarly, it is a brave soul that writes only from experience, and it is upon the winding road of adventure that one lives more than the one life each of us is guaranteed.

What role does scenery, characterized here as where one might call ‘home’, shape your writing and your identity as a writer? Is there a part of you that hungers for the traveler’s life, or do you seek the homestead? It is arguable that one can write most clearly from what one has truly experienced — do you agree, or can the talented artist work from fresh, unblemished clay?

The June contest marches on with its chosen theme, Lost & Found. Follow the link to play along, or to support your fellows. In addition to writing games hosted throughout the month, you are also invited to attend a Google Hangouts session on June 14th, an official Flamestorming meet-up for any and all to attend!

We all have that one person in life who inspires us in a very particular way. Or maybe we have one person for each way we need to be inspired. Regardless of how many inspirational people I've been blessed with, there is one who stands out as being my inspiration to become funny.

My Aunt Phyllis is one of the funniest people I have ever known. The way she tells a story gets me laughing long before she even approaches the punch line.
The telling involves:
Dramatic body language.
Exaggerated facial expressions.
Conspiratorially murmured back story and internal dialog.
Closing words delivered with a loud cackle or guffaw once she sees that she's got you hooked.

I could spend hours with my aunt and never get bored or run out of things to say. She's also a really good cook.

Back when I was young, I got to spend a lot of time with Aunt Phyllis (or Ant P as I usually refer to her on cards and emails) and since I was (by her own statement) one of the few people who laughed at her jokes she made sure to tell them all to me.

In the early Eighties, Ant P gave me a book to read just before my family's summer road trip. She passed it on because it made her laugh until she cried. Ant P assumed it would have a similar result on me. The book was Erma Bombeck's "If Life Is A Bowl Of Cherries, What Am I Doing In The Pits?"

I loved it and went on to read the handful of others that were published.

Erma Bombeck was a humorist writer with a number of Ohio newspapers throughout her early career. Around 1964 she hit on a subject that propelled her column "At Wit's End" out of her small local paper into national newspaper syndication. By 1967 she was traveling the country giving lectures and radio interviews, and Double Day had compiled some of her articles into a book that shared the same name as her column.

What writing gold was it that Mrs. Bombeck discovered? Hyperbole, coincidence, and the relatable situations seen daily by a mother and a housewife. She made the mundane hilarious. With insight into a husband's snoring, a child's inability to put his clothes away, an entire household's ignorance of the empty toilet paper roll, and the dangers of gift shops in Europe - she helped a nation laugh at themselves and appreciate their own families a little more.

Here are some examples I found typed out on the internet, but if you happen upon one of her books it in the library or used bookstore (or on Kindle), pick it up. If you have a day where life is trying, reading a few pages of Erma Bombeck's take on things should give you a reason to smile.

First, a few one-liners Goodreads users have shared -
“Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.”

“Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.”

“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”

“Sometimes I can't figure designers out. It's as if they flunked human anatomy.”

“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”


These are a bit longer -

Read more... )

Read more... )


Let's talk today about early influences in our reading. It could be humor,  mysteries...anything - what did you read in your youth that stuck with you and helped form the writer you are today? Also, talk to me about how you incorporate humor into your writing. What's your style?


Brigit's Flame reminders:

We have an ongoing contest for June, the topic is Lost & Found and while it's not due until the end of the month, you should be working on it now.

Kathy shared a quick writing game with us yesterday - go check it out.

Flamestorming is happening on June 14th. Make a note on your calendar to join us in Google Hangouts for writing sprints and community bonding.


Did everyone sign up for June? If not, we welcome and encourage you to follow the action, read, vote, and support your community mates! Remember, growth is sponsored by encouragement and feedback. At the Flame, we burn brightest together.

I’ve always been a writer in my heart. Since I was old enough to translate my thoughts into written words, I was telling stories. I’ve also always been an insufferable extrovert, despite all odds, so the storytelling didn’t stop at pen and paper. Growing up, I turned to every outlet possible to let it all out. At my best, I was joining clubs and taking part in activities. At my worst, I was making up tall tales and lying because I wanted something new to say. Kids, right?

As an adult, I’m still exploring. The next thing I really want to try is vlogging. For those of you who don’t spend your entire lives glued to your cell phones and computers, vlogging is a short term for “video blogging”. YouTube is crawling with talented vloggers with genuinely wonderful, funny, or insightful things to say. With enough searching, anyone can find their vlogger soul mate. In fact, I suggest you go try that. Anyway, I really want to try it. I’m always being told I have something to say. People have told me to do stand up comedy or public speaking or just basically anything that involves voicing my opinions or experiences to an audience. I don’t disagree, I think I’d probably be great at it.

So that’s my next journey — lights, camera, YouTube. But what to to vlog? Well, literally anything. I’m ridiculous enough, I could talk about anything. Food, makeup (fails, I’m amateur as heck), pets, single life (in the sense of being unmarried and on my own), feminism/humanism, city life, cycling, economics… That’s the thing about being a writer. We don’t even have to be ourselves all the time. We can be whomever we need to be, just to have something new to say.

How do you, as a writer, transform? How do you channel what you can already do, into something new you haven’t done yet? Do you find art is fluid, or can trying something new be difficult? Alternately, do you have a favorite vlogger to turn us onto?

Congratulations to our May contest winner, Shane Bell! The June contest is afoot; whether you’re signed up or just in to watch, click here to keep up.


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