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

Jilly: Mistletoe and Ivy – A Christmas Short Story

mistletoe-and-ivyHappy holidays, everyone! Here’s my contribution to this year’s 8 Ladies Christmas Short Story Challenge.

Check out Elizabeth’s post on Friday for the rules, prompt words, and a magical snippet from Michaeline. And click here for Kay’s delightfully tweaked fairytale.

Mistletoe and Ivy

Rob Smith (not his real name) fixed a large spray of mistletoe to the deer antlers that branched conveniently over the sheepskin rug in front of the log fire. Saving the free world from the bad guys was what he did, three hundred and sixty four days a year. Accepting personal thanks from a single representative of those he saved was his annual gift to himself on the three-hundred-and-sixty-fifth.

This year he had the Ambassador’s daughter to snuggle with. When he’d returned the gorgeous Gina safe and sound to her famous, wealthy and relieved father, she’d made it clear, in scandalous detail, that she wished to reward him in person.

Gina hadn’t been happy he’d made her wait so long, but really, what better time than Christmas to turn that fantasy into reality?

His pager buzzed. Oh, no, you don’t. Not today.

He turned it off.

It turned itself back on and buzzed louder.

He threw it out of the cabin door and into a snowdrift where it vibrated loudly for a third time before falling silent.

Three times? Whatever it was, it was bad.

He fished carefully into the breast pocket of his woolen shirt as though his satphone was an IED. It might as well have been. He turned it on and waited for his boss’s PA to ruin his holiday. Ivy McPherson, probably not her real name. Known as The Icicle, which should have been. Continue reading

Jilly: Short Story – Cinderella’s Big Night

I was too busy celebrating on Friday to join in Elizabeth’s New Year Writing Sprints, so here’s a belated contribution using her prompt words: resolution, bubble, wish, plan, cloud, confetti, sequin, neon, heist, fairy tale, riot, kissing and castle.

Cinderella's Big NightCinderella inched open her dressing-room door and paused seductively on the threshold of the bridal chamber. Her wedding dress had been a demure cloud of white silk and tulle, but there was nothing virginal about her nightgown. If the populace could see their fairy-tale princess now, there’d be a riot.

Her outfit was a scanty mix of midnight-blue satin and lace, with a few strategically placed ribbons and buttons to make life interesting for Prince Charlemagne. Continue reading

Jilly: The Libertine’s Legacy – A Christmas Short Story

Girl in a Red DressFive minutes to midnight. Soon the church bells would ring out across Soho to herald the arrival of Christmas Day, but for now the heart of the city lay silent. Everyone else was long gone, which was exactly the way Faith wanted it. The door was locked and the phone disconnected. This was a private celebration.

She’d set the table for one. Silver cutlery gleamed on freshly laundered damask. Caviar glistened in its crystal bowl and angels on horseback sat perfectly aligned on a porcelain plate under a shining silver dome. On the carved sideboard a two-tiered antique china cake stand held bite-sized slivers of New York cheesecake and miniature caramel-glazed eclairs.

Three minutes. Faith lifted the bottle of Dom Perignon out of the silver ice bucket Continue reading

Nancy: Short Fiction Round-Up, and a Story!

Red Rain by Stefano Corso, courtesy of Creative Commons

Red Rain by Stefano Corso, courtesy of Creative Commons

For the past few weeks, I’ve talked about short fiction – about writing it, about ideas for using it as part of series and marketing campaigns, and about all its different forms. Each Friday here at 8LW, our own Elizabeth provides word lists we can use for writing sprints, which are really short-fiction warm-ups. (We even have a serial story going in the comments, thanks to Penny H! Check out the comments sections here, here, and here to get caught up on the sad fate of Timothy James Bartleby.)

If you really love short fiction challenges, either writing or reading them, you might want to check out Chuck Wendig‘s Friday blog posts for his flash fiction Friday prompts. You can also pop by Writer Unboxed, where they run monthly short fiction (really short, like 250 words short!) contests. The WU December contest is their Grand Finale, and is limited to the previous winners of the monthly contests.

This year, the WU monthly finalists were asked to write one more story, this one based on the image I’ve re-posted at the top of this post. As soon as I saw that picture, a story started forming in my mind. The bad news: I can’t participate in the challenge, not having finaled (or participated) in previous contests. The good news: since I wasn’t competing, I could make up my own rules. Hence, my Red Rain-inspired short story is 1000 words long. The protagonist is the main character from a future mystery book or series set in Copenhagen, which I will write someday in the (possibly distant) future. If you’d like to write a story or vignette about this photo, feel free to post it in the comments! In the meantime, I give you …

Copenhagen Blues Continue reading