Elizabeth: 2nd Annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge

stopwatch graphicWelcome to another edition of Friday Writing Sprints here on the blog. It’s time to wrap up another week and, for those who are so inclined, enjoy another Christmas. Whatever you are doing today, I hope you are enjoying it.

Curling up under the blankets with a good book sounds like a nice way to spend part of the day, but before that, it’s time for some Random Word Improv to make sure our creativity stays in top form to be ready for any writing goals that might be planned for the upcoming New Year.

Plus, it’s fun, and who doesn’t want that?

Last year at this time we issued a Christmas Week Short Story Challenge on the blog. The rules were simple – write a short story of no more than 500 words including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following: Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, Volcano, Ghost. Extra kudos for including more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references. During the course of a week, several of the Eight Ladies posted short stories based on a these rules. If you missed them (or would like to read them again), the results included: Runaway Match, , The Christmas Wager, ‘Twas Daybreak on Christmas, and How Bunny’s Camera Became Magical.

Since we had such fun with the Challenge last year, we’re doing it again. The words for this year’s challenge are:

 New York            Casanova             Giraffe                Heartbreak        

Horseback          Love                      Poetry                  Celebration

Faith                      Velvet                  Firecracker         Villain

Though we had a 500-word limit last year, this time around any length is fine – a few sentences, a few paragraphs, or an entire short story – the possibilities are endless.

Now I know in past weeks our Random Word Improv results have tended toward the violence, suspense, intrigue, and thrills, no matter what the random words were, but I’m hoping at least a few of our entries will lean more toward the kinder / gentler end of the spectrum.

Or not.

We’ll be posting our short story efforts periodically during the course of the next week, but you don’t have to wait for us. Feel free to post your own improv efforts in the comments below.

For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here are the rest of the rules:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

Okay. Are you ready? Go!

Can’t wait to see what you have come up with. Hope you enjoy what we come up with during the week as well.

Peace and happy writing to all.

15 thoughts on “Elizabeth: 2nd Annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge

    • Thanks for posting the link for Penny’s contribution from last year – I hadn’t seen that the first time around. Looking forward to reading your effort on Sunday.

    • Thanks for posting the link. I think I’ll be ready to post tomorrow. Since Christmas is passing, I set mine for New Years’ eve with Jenna Hansen and The Wizard. A little stand alone history.

      • A Jenna Hansen, Wizard’s tale…

        The Wizard and the New Year

        Had it been six years already?

        It’s almost impossible, as a city cop, to get even one day off over a holiday, let alone a week. Spending it in New York? Well, that conjured up images of Lady Liberty, romantic carriage rides around Central Park, exclusive shopping, unique food shops, and possibly some snow with a bag of toasty chestnuts in your hand.

        What I hadn’t received that year were broadway tickets, love poetry inviting me to the top of the Empire State building for a rendezvous, or even tickets to see the new giraffe enclosure at the zoo. Any of those options would have made for a fine holiday break. Instead, I had received an invite that read more as a “summons to appear” for specialized counter-terrorism training in New York over Christmas break. So, I was spending the coveted week between Christmas and New Year learning how much more dangerous my city and my job were going to be by order of my chief and the President.

        Back then I thought of him as the smooth, Casanova type. He didn’t come across a a cop, FBI, or CIA. He was dressed too sharp, tailored too well, and looked solid gold. The rest of us came across as more tin-plated and back-woodsy. He was the kind of guy you knew was bad for you, the kind of smooth, villain, bad-boy who had velvet handcuffs in one jacket pocket and studded condoms in the other. All the girls gathered around him like moths ready to burn up in his fire. I didn’t blame any of them, when he smiled at you, you smiled back, grateful for the warmth. It was like the sun itself had deemed you worthy and beamed its perfect rays down upon you. That smile was overlooked by the deepest blue eyes you could ever swim in, and surrounded by nearly jet-black hair that was perfectly content to stay put, but for a rogue curl that would drop down as a tease. Sin in a suit.

        For the most part, the training was just as you would expect: long, dry, and alcohol inducing. The training exercises were much more stimulating, and after long periods of sitting, I relished the chance to be more hands on. I even got a piece of that solid gold suit.

        Just when I thought I had him where I wanted him, he managed to twist things around an get my face into the wall. He pressed in tight, making sure I knew his suit was cut for fit and function, not just flattery. Then he laughed just a little and whispered in my ear, “Most girls wouldn’t fight so hard, love.” Then he kissed my neck.

        I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hot, but he’d pissed me off. I slid down and back in to him, just a little, with a slight groan and he eased his grip ever so slightly, bringing his thigh just a little closer in. Being a polite professional, I didn’t grab for his more sensitive bits, as I could have, but I did get a more than lover’s grasp on his inner thigh. To his credit, he neither screamed nor dropped, but he did give me an opening to switch things around and get him cuffed on the ground. It was my turn to whisper sweet nothings now. I leaned down to his ear and said, “I’m a woman, not a girl.”, and I nipped at his ear.

        I took my time patting him down and enjoyed every minute of it. I relieved him of two pistols, three knives, a pocket watch (that seemed “very dangerous” at the time), and four ribbed, “lubed for her pleasure” condoms. The director stopped me before I could locate the velvet handcuffs that I knew were hidden somewhere.

        “That’s enough Hansen. Stand down.”

        He rolled over, got the cuffs in front, and had them on the floor almost instantly. In less than a minute he was collecting his gear and smiling at me like he’d just won the lottery. He looked over at the director, “She’ll do.”

        Hansen, you’re dismissed. Report back to me at 8pm, ready for duty. Looking around, I noticed everyone else had already been dismissed.

        That’s how I found myself hanging from the New Years’ ball downtown, less than an hour before it dropped. And this after an exhilarating, but not at all romantic ride on horseback, at top speed, through Central Park on borrowed NYPD ponies.

        “You drop me and you’ll never get laid again, because I’ll come haunt your ass and scare them all away.” He held my hand, grabbed my arm and started to pull me up.

        “Have a little faith, Firecracker!” He smiled his halogen-beam smile down at me.

        “I am not kidding, Westin, you won’t even get a sheep! I’ll make it my afterlife’s work.”

        He got me into the ball and pulled me in tight. It felt good. I wasn’t sure whether it was the heat coming from him or the lack of draft up my heavily beaded party dress- either way, I had something solid under my feet.

        “Did you get it?”

        That made me want to pull off one of my four-inch stilettos and stab him in the throat.

        “Of course I did.” And slapped the ten pound half-ball of an explosive into his hand. “I’m not just giving a thong shot to all of New York and the national networks for nothing.” Good thing I’d had that Brazilian wax job two weeks ago, when I thought I would be in Hawaii for this week.

        “How are we going to make this thing disappear, now that we got it?”


        Sure enough, he proceeded to pull a mini, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, from a case I never even saw him carrying.

        The ball had begun to drop, carrying us down to the thousands of people in Times Square.

        “A little help, please.” He handed the bomb, with UAV attached, back to me.


        “I need you to hold that out there, propulsion away from you, while I start it and send it away.”

        “How about I fly it and you stick yourself out of the ball?!”

        “You aren’t rated for it and we only have one chance. Now get yourself up there, and for heavens sakes, get a good grip this time!”

        “I’ll grip you, you smug son of a…” And it was away. I counted down the last ten seconds with the rest of the world, and BANG! The bomb went off, on schedule, for the New Year.

        His hands wrapped around my waist and got me safely to the floor, inside the ball, once more. Facing me, he winked one of his deep, sea-blue eyes at me, gave a little wolf-whistle and smiled.

        “You’re quite the heartbreaker, Hansen, the world is a safer and more beautiful place because of your red thong, and that little black rose tattoo on your derrière. Perfection.”

        Of course he would look, how could he not, as he guided the UAV from between my spread legs, whilst the wind tugged the bottom of my dress ever upwards. Without the all of the decorative beading, the whole world might have seen my lack of bra as well.

        “You owe me dinner.”

        “How’s that, love?”

        “No one gets that view without dinner, dessert, a couple of drinks, and some serious, previous handholding and such.”

        “Only all of New York and at least a million viewers nationwide.”

        I straightened up and raised an eyebrow. “You must think you’re some kind of Wizard?”


        “Yes, because a magician pulls off tricks, but you’re able to seemingly bend reality to your will.”

        “The Wizard. I like that.”

        He smiled. I was giving him credit for a smirk that was all sex-appeal and charm, rather than condescension. He then gently reached for my hand and suggested we leave.

        As we exited the building into the cheering, kissing, crowd. He took off his suit jacket and tucked me in it like a treasured jewel. He offered me a yellow rose he pulled, from heaven only knows where, and said, “You are quite right. It seems that I am in quite in arrears and well behind in your debt good lady. I would gladly make up the difference to you in any way you see fit.”

        He warmed me with another perfect smile and a mini-bow, “Miss India Ink Black Rose, I am yours to command.”

        I think I may have blushed, just a bit. “Happy New Year, Wizard.”

        “Happy New Year, India Rose.”

        We kissed and the fireworks continued…just like the movies. Dinner was pretty good too.

        • Fantastic effort Penny; well worth waiting for. So many good lines. Loved “bad-boy who had velvet handcuffs in one jacket pocket and studded condoms in the other.” Can’t wait to hear what happens next with these two.

        • Sin in a suit! *Fans self*. That was great, Penny, loved it. Hoping for more Jenna / Wizard action in 2016!

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  2. Posted my entry. (Smile) if we could just keep doubling the “word limit” words each time, and I keep breaking the rules “just a smidge”, I might eventually be submitting 100,000 word novels for Christmas week. (Probably would have to start writing in January in order to do it, though. Could be done . . . .)

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  4. Posted my effort, and managed to squeeze in all the words without killing or maiming anyone 😉 . I learned a few things about Casanova, too – there’s a man who had an interesting life!

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