Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Happy Friday.  I hope you’ve had a good week or at least that nothing terrible has happened–the bar is pretty low for “a good week” these days.

Someone said “January is almost over” in a meeting today and made me think, for a minute, that I must have slept through a few weeks.  Fortunately, the calendar clearly shows that the month isn’t even half over yet.  A good thing, since there are still some holiday decorations piled on the table waiting to back into the cabinet in the garage.

Some of the rose bushes in my front yard are bravely blooming, despite the chilly temperatures.  Perhaps they’re thinking of spring, or at least February.

I’m busy thinking about performance reviews and year-end reports at the day job, which has left very few functioning brain cells for creative writing endeavors.  I know exercise is supposed to help with that so after work I think I’ll head off to the elliptical machine for a workout and then give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Welcome to the first Friday Writing Sprint of a brand new year.  I hope things are off to a good start and that you’ve all managed to stay out of the grip of Covid.  Several of my team members tested positive this week but, unless it’s actually a computer-virus, I should be safe here in the writing castle.

You’d think all this sheltering in place would mean I’ve been able to make a real dent in my to-be-read pile and gotten thousands of words on the page but, sadly, not.  Possibly due to all of the home remodeling/decorating shows I’ve been watching.

Nah, that can’t be it.

Whatever you are doing today, I hope it is something enjoyable.  I began taking down the holiday decorations the other day, once the tree left the house.  I miss having a big sparkly object in the living room, but the tree had started to lean toward the sliding doors–apparently attempting to make its own escape–so I took the hint.  The end of the holidays always means a clear-out for me.  I have a car full of things that will either be going to a local shelter or a local thrift shop.  The trick will be to keep new things from making their way into the house . . . at least for a time.   

First up on my list after work today is some quality time on the elliptical machine.  The holidays disrupted my routine a bit but now it’s time to get back to it.  After that I think I’ll give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: It Takes a Village

Happy Friday!  Today we’re continuing the 8LW 2021 Short Story Challenge.  Though it’s not a regular Friday Writing Sprint, feel free to give the challenge a try and post your results in the comments.  We’d love to read what you come up with.  So far we’ve had Jilly’s “Snow White and the Three Kisses” and Michaeline’s “A Christmas Dream.”

My entry isn’t a holiday story, but it is a tale about a brand new start, featuring almost all of the prompt words:  daisy, annoying, romantic, formula, country, careless, confidence, piano, fluent, guest, options, ivory, star, snow, blurry, and photograph.

Enjoy!

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It Takes a Village

What was I thinking?

Jenny stood by the gate that opened onto the pathway leading to the cottage and resisted the urge to run after Mr. Hendrick’s departing taxi and say she’d made a mistake and had the wrong address and could he take her to the train station instead.

Wouldn’t that have been a sight.

Jenny was normally quite confident and rarely second-guessed herself, but she hadn’t been prepared for the place to look so forlorn with its overgrown lawn, sagging gate, and peeling shutters.  It looked like something that had been cast aside and left unattended for too long, no longer the bright, welcoming haven of her childhood.

Jenny looked at her watch, then scanned the country lane in both directions.  Where was that estate agent? Continue reading

Day 23: The Gift of Joy

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  I think my keyboard is still a little sticky from yesterday’s wonderful beekeeper story.  Today’s story went in a direction I wasn’t quite expecting when my son and I were watching Hallmark holiday movies and brainstorming ideas (possibly while drinking mimosas), but sometimes you just have to follow where inspiration leads.

This entry is based on the story prompt of “what if your character received an anonymous/mysterious/unexpected gift?” and the following words: northern, blinking, warm, kingdom, seed, social, knuckle, bittersweet, dove, bauble, pure, invitation, coat, sticky, aversion, and challenge.

Courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, here is today’s story.

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The Gift of Joy

Maggie stood in the doorway to what her husband Peter laughingly called his study and felt the bittersweet memories wash over her.   It had been two years since she’d gotten the call that had changed everything but sometimes, in moments like these, the pain felt as fresh and sharp as if it had just happened.

Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.

In hindsight, accepting one of the New Year’s Eve house-party invitations she’d received from her well-meaning friends might have been smarter than spending the day clearing out what she’d privately always thought of as the apartment’s junk drawer, but she’d put off the task far too long already. Continue reading

Day 17: A Change of Plans

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. Today’s entry was initially going to be about a pair of spies working undercover who had been trapped into getting married, so as  not to blow their cover.  Unfortunately, the bride just could not seem to keep the look of loathing off of her face during the ceremony. Fortunately, another idea came to mind.

This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: angel, ambivalent, blaze, baffling, zipper, estate, fiasco, honeymoon, blurt, eruption, collision, diamond, mysterious, grizzly, naked, and drunk.

So without further ado here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

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A Change of Plans

Sophie stepped up on the padded dais like a queen preparing to address her subjects and turned to face the tri-paneled mirror wishing she was almost anywhere else.  The glass of champagne that the bridal shop assistant was doing a marvelous job of keeping refilled barely took the edge off the pain of shopping for a wedding dress in the company of her mother and mother-in-law-to-be.

To call today’s shopping session a fiasco would be putting things mildly.  One would have been hard-pressed to have found three women with more diverging tastes or stronger opinions.  And don’t even start on the ulterior motives. Continue reading

Day 15: A Visit from “Saint” Nic

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today’s entry features Detective Cassie McColl and Nicolai Papadopoulos, who readers of the blog might remember initially appeared several years ago in a series of Friday Writing Sprints.  They’re some of my favorite characters to come out of a Writing Sprint; I hope you enjoy catching up with them too.

This story features (some if not all) of the following words: secret, story, diary, snowflake, diamond, snuggle, forest, catastrophe, plan, buffet, traffic, surprise, signature, memory, flamingo, and whisky.

So without further ado here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

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A Visit from “Saint” Nic

I gave the zip-ties encircling the wrists of the latest felon to cross my path a tug to make sure they were secure before handing him off to the security guard for transport to the local jail.  That made eight, with four hours still to go on my shift.

If it was up to me I’d have made a public spectacle of walking him out the door as a warning to all of the other wanna-be criminals in the area, but the owners of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino preferred a more subtle approach.

Definitely a mistake on their part.

Considering how many arrests I made in the past four hours alone, the subtle approach was lost on an appalling number of the casino’s guests.  At this rate, there would be no one left to gamble or chow down on what had to be the biggest all-you-can eat buffet I’d ever seen, before they rang in the New Year later this evening. Continue reading

Day 9: Mistletoe Reboot

Couple embracing wrapped in Christmas lights

Welcome to Day 9 of the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’ve got a couple whose “happily ever after” could really use a reboot.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

Mistletoe Reboot

Maddie looked at the shards of broken glass and dried greenery at the bottom of the ornament box and wondered if the universe was trying to tell her something.

Dan had given her the mistletoe filled globe on their first anniversary; a reminder of when they first met at a holiday party thrown by mutual friends.

Back then they’d been full of plans and dreams for the future.

After they got married, they bought this cabin from her grandparents, envisioning vacations with friends, big family gatherings, and festive holiday celebrations, but it turned out those plans were just a fantasy.

In reality Dan spent most of his time at the PR firm, dealing with his clients and their scandalous exploits while Maddie focused on finishing her graduate work and establishing her counseling practice.

They’d reached a point where they both had successful careers – well respected in their fields if not the elite of the rich and famous – but somehow they’d lost sight of each other along the way.   They’d fallen victim to exactly the problems Maddie spent her days successfully counseling her patients about.

The irony was not lost on her. Continue reading

Day 8: The Duchess’s Christmas Wish

misteltoe

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’ve got a mischievous dowager duchess and a reluctant widower earl in 1870s England, along with some pesky mistletoe.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Nancy, is today’s story.

The Duchess’s Christmas Wish

Bennett Fairbank, Earl of Sandalwood, stood in front of the newly-stoked hearth in the study of his son-in-law’s country house and hoped very hard he had not allowed his beloved daughter Lucinda to marry badly. He’d been about to ask her about the inattentiveness and slowness of the servants in her new home when the maid had finally arrived with tea service.

“I’m so sorry.” Lucinda reached for his hands as soon as the maid had left the room and finally stood still long enough for Bennett to kiss her cheek. “We’ve had to hire so many new staff so quickly, what with fifteen guests arriving for the weekend, and Christmas preparations well underway.”

“I’d have thought your husband would have had a full staff ready for his new bride.”

Lucinda squeezed his hands. “Daddy, don’t—”

“Lady Lucinda, here you are!” A familiar voice grated on Bennett’s ears.

The Dowager Duchess of Bridgehampton sailed into the room, bringing with her a blast of cold air from the hallway that reminded Bennett of the long icicles hanging from the eaves, one more task unattended. He might have to take the new servants in hand himself. Continue reading

Day 6: A New Year of Possibilities

© Eldridge Photography

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  In the the last two stories, we stepped into the past and met Bunny Blavatsky and her magical camera.  Today we’ll be meeting Maggie and finding out whether there is a Happily Ever After in her future, based on the rules from another “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — featuring any or all the following words:  New York, Casanova, giraffe, heartbreak, horseback, love, poetry, celebration, faith, velvet, firecracker, and villain.  Extra kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

So here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

A Year of Possibilities

Maggie knew her time dating Antonio, aka the Manhattan Casanova, was limited, she just hadn’t realized their relationship was over until New York fashion week rolled around.

Gabriella had big dark eyes, legs that went on forever, and a long, thin neck. It was no mystery why she was nicknamed The Giraffe, especially in the leopard print gown she was currently modelling.

Rumor had it she was attempting to break free of an abusive relationship. Antonio never could resist a damsel in distress. During the show, he had eyes only for Gabriella and Maggie doubted he even remembered she was sitting beside him.

After the show they said their goodbyes, she hailed a cab, and that was that; an inauspicious end to what had been a whirlwind affair full of lavish parties, horseback rides through the park, romantic poetry, and thoughtful gifts.

Maggie had met Antonio on an unseasonably cold day in October on the Staten Island Ferry. She had no coat and he offered his. He was an ideal escort – passionate, witty, charming, and generous – but like the real Casanova, he was drawn to the quest for pleasure and sex like a moth to the flame. Continue reading

Day 2: “The Christmas Wager”

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’re continuing with another story, based on the rules from the first year of our annual “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — featuring 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.

So here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

The Christmas Wager

“Oh, Papa, what have you done now?” Charlotte asked her father as he sat at the table calmly eating his Christmas pudding.

He raised his head and peered at her over the top of his spectacles with a frown. “What have I done?”

Charlotte pointed to the man standing in the doorway. “Lord Bickershaw has your note of hand for this house. He claims he won it from you.”

“Oh. That.” Lord Atherton sighed. “Meant to tell you about that, my dear.   I was testing my new mathematical theory–“

“By gambling?” she interrupted.

He rubbed his forehead as if trying to erase a bad memory. “I don’t know where I went wrong. Things were going splendidly all evening, then all of the sudden they took turn for the worse.”

“About the time Lord Bickershaw joined your table, was it?” she asked, with a glare toward the doorway. “Everyone knows he cheats.”

“How dare besmirch my honor,” Lord Bickershaw interrupted. “If you were a man I would call you out.”

“Don’t let my sex dissuade you. I must warn you however, I’m equally skilled with both pistol and rapier.”

“A little spitfire, aren’t you.” Lord Bickershaw looked her up and down. “Perhaps you’d care to make a wager of your own.” Continue reading