Jilly: Treats from the Peak

North Lees Hall, the original Thornfield Hall (David Lally via Wikimedia Commons)

North Lees Hall, the original Thornfield Hall (David Lally via Wikimedia Commons)

Are you tempted by our Christmas Week Short Story Challenge? Everyone’s invited, and it’s only a measly five hundred words.

The challenge evolved in the comments to my post Man-Caves & Brainwaves, about the rich and varied history of my home county of Derbyshire and its story potential. The rules (guidelines, really, it’s Christmas and we’re flexible) are simple – write a 500-word short story including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following: Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, Volcano, Ghost. Extra kudos for using more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

I’ll be starting off the challenge next Sunday (21 December). Several of the other Ladies are planning to play, and Michaeline will close the week in style the following Saturday, 27 December.

If you have a little reading time, here are Continue reading

Jilly: Man-Caves & Brainwaves

Deep Thinking AheadHas anything fired your imagination lately?

Like Justine, I’ve set myself a personal deadline to finish my book, so right now I have my head down. I’ve tackled a thorny issue that I’ve been ignoring for months, and I think it’s going to work out fine, but I’m not ready to share, so I’ll post about that later. I haven’t been reading new books or doing anything else to fill the creative well, but yesterday I gave myself an extra incentive to keep going for it.

I wrote in this post a few months ago that my home county of Derbyshire would make a great setting for a steampunk or fantasy world, and I promised myself that when Rose and Ian finally get their HEA, I’ll take a little time to have fun, play with the idea and see what happens. I’ve just been Up North for a family visit, and I decided to take the opportunity to acquire some background reading.

Yesterday morning I Continue reading

Jilly: What Kind of Story Would Suit Your Home Town?

Crooked Spire, Chesterfield (Peter Tarleton via Wikimedia Commons)

Crooked Spire, Chesterfield
(Peter Tarleton via Wikimedia Commons)

Where did you grow up? Would it make a good setting for a story in a particular genre or sub-genre?

I’ve been living in the past this week. The sale of my mother’s house went through a few days after I got back from San Antonio, and I’ve been in Derbyshire packing up, giving away, and disposing of several lifetimes’ worth of accumulated family stuff. It was more than a trip down memory lane. I don’t think my parents (or their parents) can ever have thrown away a document, photograph or memento, and I found all kinds of old black and white and sepia toned pictures on postcard and thick card. I can just about recognize my father’s mother as a young girl, and my father’s father as a handsome, swashbuckling soldier from the First World War, but there are many Continue reading

Jilly: Finding Inspiration in Eyam

Derbyshire Well Dressing  (copyright Dennis Thorley via Wikimedia Commons)

Derbyshire Well Dressing
(copyright Dennis Thorley via Wikimedia Commons)

I didn’t write a word this week, but I did top up my creative well with a powerful mixture of present beauty and past heroism.

I spent an exhausting but productive few days in darkest Derbyshire, sorting out family stuff with my brother and mother. In a fit of optimism I took my laptop and all my notebooks, but brought them back with me unopened. I had plenty of time to think about story, though, as I sat in traffic jam after traffic jam, because late June is Well Dressing time in the Peak District, and people were out in their droves to visit and take photographs.

In rural Derbyshire, the tradition of decorating wells, springs and other water sources using designs created from flower petals and plant material dates back to the 1300s. It began as a pagan practice to give thanks for clean water during the period of the Black Death. Now the wells are a beautiful tourist-friendly photo-opportunity, but five hundred years ago, one of them played a critical part in ensuring the survival of the region.

The story starts Continue reading