Nancy: Spring Cleaning and a Vignette

Danish Christmas Hearts

A few days ago, Michaeline told us about her ambitious plans for spring equinox cleaning and decluttering, both physically and mentally. There does tend to be something about the changing season that makes us crave restored order (or maybe it’s just a Virgo thing).

I tend to keep my physical spaces neat and orderly, but even the most stereotypical Virgo can have a mess somewhere that could benefit from some springtime TLC. Mine happens to be virtual. So while Michaeline focuses on her office and brain spaces, I’m focusing on my computer. One of the virtual folders pinned to my desktop I’ve neglected for quite a while is labeled Vignettes. Turns out, that’s where I’ve saved flash fiction pieces inspired by, among other things, Elizabeth’s Friday writing sprints. I haven’t had the time and writing bandwidth to participate in those lately, so it was fun to see what I’d written in the past.

Some of you might recall I have a plan for a mystery series set in Copenhagen, with protagonist Nicholai Olesen, or Nicky O as I often call him. One of the stories in my neglected Vignettes folder is about Nicky O, and while I’m pretty sure this showed up in the comments section at some point in time, I thought I’d post it here just to remind any Nick fans that he still exists somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain and he really will get his own book(s) one of these days. In this partial scene, Nick and his married lover/police detective Pernilla (who is often angry at him for so many reasons) are looking for clues to help track the killer who tried to frame Nick and…well, you can get caught up on how Nick got himself into this mess in the first place by first reading Parapluie (previously titled Copenhagen Blues) and Lost Hearts in Copenhagen. Then come back here to read Murder Clues (yeah, that title needs work, but hey, free fiction!). I’ll finish the scene and let you in on what Nick and Pernilla find in a second installment next week.

And to kick off our writing week in style, how about sharing a scene/vignette/opening paragraph of something of your own in the comments?

Murder Clues

When I slid into the passenger’s seat of Pernilla’s tiny black Puegot a little after nine that night, she didn’t spare me a glance or a word. Just floored the gas pedal and sent us zooming down the side streets of Vesterbro before I could even click my seatbelt into place. I took her dark mood to mean she’d neither forgiven nor forgotten the sins I’d committed against her over the past 72 hours. Continue reading

Nancy: Christmas Story Redux

Danish Christmas Hearts

Danish Christmas Hearts

 

As I’ve been processing and applying lessons learned about story theme here, origin scenes here, and ways to use backstory well here, the world and some of the ladies here at 8LW have shifted into holiday mode. As Jilly reminded us yesterday, there are only three weeks left in December. With shorter days, colder weather, and festive Christmas lights everywhere I turn in my little corner of the world, I finally got my story brain out of springtime in Kentucky (the newest WIP) and turned my thoughts to Glogg (thanks, Michaeline for making me think of this!) and Christmas traditions. Which of course led me to thoughts about Nicky O, the protagonist of my future Nordic Noir mystery series. When I’m ready to write Nick’s book, I plan to write some great origin scenes for him. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some holiday spirit with all of you in the form of a story you might remember from last year of Nick’s not-so-merry Danish Christmas. And next week, there might just be a new Christmas story to enjoy. I hope you enjoy the Nick’s story, and have a wonderful and productive week with your own projects! Any snippets you want to share, holiday-related or otherwise, are welcome in the comments.

Lost Hearts in Copenhagen: A Christmas Vignette

The sun was setting over a misty Copenhagen on Christmas Eve. Smoldering streetlamps and twinkling Christmas lights cast equally eerie glows over the deserted streets on this high holy day of family celebrations. The rhythmic rocking of the nearly-empty mass transit bus made Nick Olesen’s eyes drift shut.

He’d spent a long, sleepless night in a police station cell and had only been released two hours earlier, after the seemingly airtight case against him for murder had fallen apart. Continue reading

Nancy: Spending Halloween with the ‘Master of Suspense’

Can you spot the monster in this picture?  Image via Wikimedia Commons

Can you spot the monster in this picture?
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Time for a true confession on this October 31st. I’m not a big fan of Halloween. Never have been. Even as a kid, I wasn’t very motivated to go collect candy if it meant having to dress in a costume to do so.  And while, like Michaeline, I do enjoy the occasional monster story, in my case stories like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and some of the really clever iterations of vampires and zombies that have come out in recent years, I’m not into the non-stop gore fests that crop up on cable TV at this time of year. Other turnoffs: crazed clowns, possessed dolls, and anthropomorphic killer cars.

For me, the best scary stories are the ones where the monsters aren’t so obvious, the ones where they hide behind very human masks, when they look like clean-cut college kids, a worried husband, or the neighbor across the street whom you’ve never met. If any of these ‘monsters’ sound familiar to you, then you, too, might be a fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies. While Psycho is more likely to get airtime at this time of year, if I had to pick my three favorite Hitchcock films, I’d say Rope, Rear Window, and Vertigo. Continue reading

Jilly: Haunting Love Stories

books-that-go-bump-in-the-nightDo you enjoy ghost stories?

I don’t like sad or scary fiction, and since ghosts are a consequence of death and are usually associated with violence, unhappiness, revenge, terrible secrets and unfinished business, they’re not a natural choice for me.

Despite the caveat above, every October I get caught up in the atmosphere of approaching darkness, and ubiquitous Halloween/All Souls/Samhain imagery.

Yesterday I was looking for something seasonal but not too scary to read, and thinking that unlike vampires, demons or shifters, ghosts don’t really lend themselves to romantic fiction. A furred, fanged or soulless hero is one thing, but an incorporeal one?

I asked Mr. Google, and to my surprise, I discovered that Goodreads has a 95-book list called Ghostly Romance.

I spent a happy hour or so investigating. Continue reading

Nancy: More About Nicky O

Copenhagen: Almost gray enough to be Seattle

Copenhagen: Almost gray enough to be Seattle

For the past few months, when I’ve had time to think about story, I’ve had several current and future projects on my mind. One of them is a mystery set in Copenhagen, with one of my (current) favorite characters, Nicholai Jens Olesen, aka Nicky O (to his American friends). You might remember Nick from a few short stories I’ve shared here on the blog, Copenhagen Blues and Lost Hearts in Copenhagen. But one day soon (or you know, a year or so from now), I’m going to write Nick’s full-length story.

I’m already planning the trip back to Denmark for research. And for visiting my husband’s family and having great food and drinks and hygge, but also, research. Definitely research. I’ll want to find ways to use Copenhagen as more than just backdrop and scene setting. I’ll want to infuse Nick’s entire story with a sense of that unique place. And all this has me thinking about another story my husband and I binge-watched, the American TV series The Killing set in Seattle*, which is an adaptation of a Danish TV series (Forbrydelsen, which roughly translates to ‘Crime’). Continue reading

Nancy: Comfort Story

comfort zone phrase handwritten on blackboard with heart symbol instead of OOver these past several weeks, I’ve been immersed in stress. As often happens in times of long-term stress, I’ve found myself craving the worst kinds of foods, the ones full of fat and sugar, sometimes foods that don’t even particularly appeal to me under normal circumstances.

The reason for my cravings isn’t a mystery. It’s a stress response that’s as old as time, or at least as old as our prehistoric ancestors. And it’s not all bad. Loading up on high-energy foods gave our forebears the energy and endurance they needed for fight or flight in life or death situations. Unfortunately for us, even when our stress is over deadlines and office work, the rudimentary part of our brain turns to its same old, very old tricks to prepare us for battle.

But even if we don’t need the high caloric intake to survive a run-in with a sabre-tooth tiger, intake of those high-energy foods still has its purpose. Our brain sends out an SOS disguised as a craving; we eat the kinds of foods it wants; our bodies send back a signal that we’re prepared; our stressed brain is comforted. Hence, we have comfort food. It’s not an illusion, not our imagination. Comfort food actually mentally comforts us.

So what in the hell does all this have to do with writing, as this is, after all, a writing blog? Well, it has me thinking about other forms of comfort, specifically, comfort reading and watching. Continue reading

Nancy: Lost Hearts in Copenhagen – A Christmas Vignette

Danish Christmas Hearts

Danish Christmas Hearts

Happy holidays, all! This is my contribution to the Eight Ladies 2015 Christmas canon featuring words from Elizabeth’s writing sprints holiday edition. I’m picking up Nicky O’s story, the day after his arrest in Copenhagen Blues, which you can read here. It just so happens that this day is Christmas Eve, the main day of celebration in Denmark, and things are looking up for Nick. Or are they? (And sorry about the dead body, Elizabeth.)

The sun was setting over a misty Copenhagen on Christmas Eve. Smoldering streetlamps and twinkling Christmas lights cast equally eerie glows over the deserted streets on this high holy day of family celebrations. The rhythmic rocking of the nearly-empty mass transit bus made Nick Olesen’s eyes drift shut.

He’d spent a long, sleepless night in a police station cell and had only been released two hours earlier, after the seemingly airtight case against him for murder had fallen apart. The lead detective, who also happened to be Nick’s married lover, had whispered to him on the way out the door that she’d explain it all later. He hated himself for hanging not on her promise to explain how he’d just beaten a murder rap, but on her word that she’d sneak away from her husband to meet with him sometime over the holiday. Continue reading