Nancy: They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale Part 2

Happy holidays once again! Last week, I presented part 1 of Cynthia and Derek’s prequel story. If you missed it, you can read it right here. And after today’s entry, you might want to read the story that started it all, They Shoot Flamingos, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale

As a reminder, to meet this year’s story challenge, my heroine received the unexpected Christmas Eve gift of an open bar tab in Vegas. Of the six random words I did not use last week, I used four this week: northern, knuckle, dove, and pure. Happy reading!

They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale, Part 1

Shortly before 10 PM, after an excellent dinner and just a couple more shots of very fine whiskey, I walked two blocks to the fake volcano. It seemed absurdly early for the last show in Vegas, but it meant seeing tall, dark, and delectable that much sooner, so I hung on the edges of the crowd and waited for him. The volcano rumbled to life, spewing smoke and fake magma to the delighted oohs, aahs, and flash photography of the crowd. After a few unimpressive minutes—at least, if you’ve seen the real thing—the show was over.

And so was any hope I’d had of catching up with Mr. Right Now. Derek had stood me up. Second guy in one night. A girl could get a complex from less. Continue reading

Jilly: Christmas Story–A Gift Fit for a Queen

Here’s my contribution to our 2019 short story challenge. I think I got all the prompts 🙂

Happy Holidays, all!

A Gift Fit for a Queen

“Careful with those crocks, lad.” Ben Wildridge watched hawk-eyed as his apprentice unpacked straw-filled crates containing the finest bee nectar in the northern borderlands. Maybe in the entire kingdom.

“Yes, master.” Fifteen-year-old Toby rolled his eyes, but he lifted out the earthenware jars with care, cradling each one like a priceless bauble.

Which it was. Ben sold his regular honey in the weekly market, but he saved his mountain nectar for Wintersnight. The fragrant, sticky syrup was like the essence of summer, and the high prices of the midwinter holiday made it worth his while to wait.

When the crates were empty he left Toby to set out their stall and drove the cart into the inn yard. In an hour or two the place would be nose to tail, but it was still early and the bored ostlers were more than happy to spoil Silver.

Ben knew all too well that by noon the press of bodies, the gabble of voices, the smell of woodsmoke and fried food, warm wool and unwashed skin would make him puking sick. For now he could take an hour to show the townspeople he was alive and well, and that he knew how to exchange social niceties like a civilized person, no matter what the gossips said about his aversion to crowds. Then he’d sell his nectar as fast as he could and retreat to his mountain lair.

He strolled round the half empty market, exchanging Wintersnight greetings with families he’d known all his life. He’d almost finished his rounds, a warm venison pasty for Toby in one pocket and a flagon of cordial for himself in the other, when he saw an unfamiliar stall, displaying small rock crystal jars filled with something that caught the light and glowed like amber.

It couldn’t be honey. First, he was the only honey seller in Borderbridge. Second, who ever would put honey in rock crystal? Crystal was expensive, hard to find and even harder to work. And third, surely no honey could be that bright, that clear?

He stood rooted to the cobblestones, slack-jawed and blinking, until a small woman uncapped one of the jars and used a crystal dipper to drizzle the contents over squares of fresh bread on a wooden board. His nostrils flared. His mouth watered. It was an invitation, and a challenge. Continue reading

Michaeline: Christmastide

Three angels, one playing flute, another a lyre and a third a triangle

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The first thing you should know about Grandma Hildy is that she loved a bargain. Since she retired, her summer hobby has been thrifting and garage-saling, and her winter hobby has been be-dazzling and a-jazzling up her treasures with rhinestones, feathers, yarn and anything else that suits her fancy. So, I guess in all, that’s about five things you should know about Grandma Hildy.

The first thing you should know about my cousin Skylar is that he can play anything with strings. And that he’s got weird ideas about the “soul” of an instrument. He’s got a collection of seven guitars, five ukuleles, three mandolins and one cello that he plucks rather than use the bow, and they’ve all got names, and he plays them every day without fail. Needless to say, he’s not the person to ask to come catsit for you – way too busy to come to your place, and if one of the cats peed on an instrument, well, you’d never hear the end of it (that is, after he started speaking to you again). (It was two years before he spoke directly to me again.)

Anyway, last Christmas Grandma Hildy outdid herself for Skylar. She picked up a really nice ukulele at an auction, and then proceeded to gild it. She’d also found an outlet that was getting rid of its “fill-the-bag” polished rock cart, so she had about 25 pounds of rose quartz, amethyst, turquoise and tiger’s eye – and more. So, when she felt that gilding the ukulele wasn’t enough, she hot-glued a bunch of her polished rocks to it. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday.  Whether you’re in the midst of holiday celebrations or enjoying the remaining days of 2019, I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.  Mine has been filled with family, good food, and maybe a jigsaw puzzle or two.

Here on the blog, we’re in the midst of our annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge.  Several of the Eight Ladies have already posted their stories and there are a few more yet to come.  All of you blog-readers are welcome to participate as well (the story prompt and words are included below).  You can post your own story (or a link to your story) in the comments below on this post or on any of the upcoming Short Story posts.

The rules of the Challenge are simple – write a short story based on the specified prompt and include at least three of the random words on the list; extra points for including more than three words and extra points with sparkles for Holiday references.

What if:   Your character received an anonymous/mysterious/unexpected gift? Continue reading

Kay: A Christmas Story—The Gift of the Wise Man

A man walks in Minsk, Belarus, November 22, 2008. (Xinhua/AFP Photo published on sina.com)

I hope everyone out there is having a good Boxing Day and happy holiday season. I’m continuing the Ladies’ traditional Christmas story week, using Elizabeth’s random words. It’s a little longer than I usually do, so I hope you bear with me. Here we go:

The Gift of the Wise Man

The pale winter light was fading rapidly from the northern sky as Birdy Dove entered the warm kitchen. She hung her coat on the peg by the door and accepted the unspoken invitation of her brother to join him at the hearth. She sat down with a sigh and stretched out her cold hands to the flame. Continue reading

Nancy: They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? Part 1

Two years ago, I returned from a trip to LA shortly before we got our Christmas story prompt and challenge words. One of the words that year was flamingo, and somehow my trip and that word sparked a fun, steamy story I called They Shoot Flamingos, Don’t They? It was a blast to write that story, and I’ve always intended to revisit that world. So for this year’s challenge, I’m doing a prequel to Flamingos, flashing back to the previous Christmas when Cynthia and Derek met. In Las Vegas, because of course. Since this will be another long short story, I’m breaking it into two parts. I hope you enjoy it and come back next week for part 2!

Regarding the story prompt, our heroine receives an unexpected gift in the form of an open bar tab…you’ll see what I mean. And the challenge words I’ve used in part 1 are: blinking, warm, seed, bittersweet, bauble, invitation, coat, sticky, aversion, and challenge.

They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale, Part 1

There had to be a better way to get a date.

I sucked down the last few bittersweet drops of my Jack Daniel’s Black Label—neat, thank you very much—and tapped my phone to consciousness to check the time. My could-be loverboy from LoveStruck was officially fifteen minutes late. That’ll teach me to swipe right on anyone willing to meet for a drink on Christmas Eve in Vegas. Continue reading

Elizabeth: 6th Annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge!

© Eldridge Photography

Long-time readers of the blog may recall that around this time of year we tend to take a break from talking about writers and writing and do a little storytelling instead.  It’s like a multi-week version of our regular Friday Writing Sprints.

We’re kicking off this year’s Christmas Week Short Story Challenge today and several of the Eight Ladies will be posting their stories during the next week or so.  All of you blog-readers are welcome to participate as well.  You can post your own story (or a link to your story) in the comments below on this post or on any of the upcoming Short Story posts.

The rules of the Challenge are simple – write a short story based on the specified prompt and include at least three of the random words on the list; extra points for including more than three words and extra points with sparkles for Holiday references.

What if:   Your character received an anonymous/mysterious/unexpected gift?

As always, feel free to interpret the “What if” any way you choose (or ignore it completely) if your story-muse takes you in a different direction.

northern      blinking       warm             kingdom

seed             social            knuckle         bittersweet

dove            bauble          pure               invitation

coat             sticky            aversion        challenge

Whatever length story you want to write – that’s exactly the length we’re looking for.

While you wait for this year’s stories, feel free to get in the mood by checking out some of last year’s entries:

Even better, try your hand at today’s words and post your results in the comments for all to enjoy.

Let the challenge begin!

Kay: “A Grizzly Wedding” Christmas Story

Kizzy Macklin clutched the glass of champagne, now warm, and shifted rightwards at the head table, away from the drunken and leaning Peter Frederick Fordyce-Fisher III. Why her sister wanted to get married on New Year’s Eve, a day when the entire population had an excuse to behave badly, was baffling to her. You didn’t have to look any further than Freddie to realize the whole affair was one giant fiasco. But that was Carlie all over.

“Zhe looksh like an angel,” Freddie slurred, gazing in Carlie’s general direction, his eyes unfocused. Kizzy didn’t believe he could actually see Carlie, but he wasn’t wrong. Carlie did look beautiful in her simple white dress, her naked shoulders gleaming in the candlelight, and that giant diamond tiara blazing brighter than a lighthouse on top of her head. That thing was so big that if she stood outside, the refracted light would cause tanker ships to collide. Continue reading

Jeanne: Bear With Me on This – A Christmas Short Story

After reading Michaeline and Jilly’s amazing entries, I’m pretty embarrassed to post this one. Through the magic of multiple marriages, I am blessed with copious numbers of children and grandchildren. Every year I host a big do on Christmas Eve and attend a second one on Christmas day. Which leaves very little time for writing.

I’ve actually given up on moving forward on whatever work-in-progress is in progress in December each year, but since this is my first year being an Eight Lady at Christmas, I didn’t want to ignore the annual short story tradition here. But while the spirit was willing, the creativity (and writing time) were weak. Many apologies. Continue reading

Jilly: Breaking With Tradition – A Christmas Short Story

Where does the time go? Can you believe this is the fifth year of the Eight Ladies Christmas Short Story Challenge?

Check out Elizabeth’s post here for the rules and this year’s story prompts (I think I got ‘em all). And go here for Michaeline’s spooky and moving ghost story.

Below is mine—not exactly a HEA, but something sunny to contrast with Michaeline’s dark night of the soul 😉 .

***

Breaking With Tradition

Mia Bougainvillea glowered at her husband-to-be, wondering yet again what on earth had induced him to propose marriage. It was beyond baffling.

She knew why she’d accepted. He was her boss’s son. A brilliant scholar. Rich. Classy. Stylish. Blond, tanned, and perfectly proportioned. Out of her league. She’d been drunk on flattery and Dom Perignon. And now here they were, on her island, in a collision of cultures that had bypassed fiasco and was thundering toward disaster.

“Sorry, Mia. I’m not walking up there.” The midday sun reflected off Arthur’s mirrored shades as he stared at the sacred volcano, powerful and mysterious. “It must be five miles to the top.”

“It’s traditional,” Mia repeated. She folded her arms grimly over the knot of her bridal pilgrimage flame-print sarong.

His lower lip jutted. “I gave you my grandmother’s diamond solitaire. Isn’t that traditional enough?”

She shook her head, dislodging a few fragrant petals from her flower crown. “We have to walk to the crater and ask for Pinguis’s blessing. No islander would get married here without it. You said you were looking forward to it. You said it would be fun.”

“I was ambivalent at best.” His voice rose to a whine that made him sound like a colicky, grizzly baby. “Furthermore, when you first broached the idea I didn’t know it would be so damned hot.”

“You’d be cooler if you lost the suit and tie.”

“For the last time, Mia, a gentleman does not wear a skirt, even in the tropics.” He leaned forward slightly, eyes narrowed. “Are you naked under that wrap?”

“Of course. It’s customary.” She slanted a glance at him. “Many people find it sexy.”

“It’s embarrassing.” He smoothed out a non-existent crease in his sleeve. “Why don’t you put some proper clothes on—something that fastens. With a zipper. Or buttons. I’ll take you for lunch at the yacht club.”

Pinguis, help me. The honeymoon was over, and they weren’t even married yet.

“It’s not too late, Arthur,” she heard herself blurt.

Continue reading