Here are L'Aussie Denise' instructions:
- For a trial period, at least until the end of this year, Romantic Friday Writers will become a monthly, rather than weekly blogfest. There may be special themes from time to time as well.
- There will usually be guest posts on Wednesday each week during November, so check in. I'm asking guests to give us tips on writing flash fiction and romance.
- Because we only have to write one story or poem monthly, the word limit can be upped to make it 400-600 words temporarily. You can of course submit 200 words if you so choose!
- The challenges will be broadened - to include response to a photo, an image, or you might be given phrases to begin your story with. There may or may not always be a theme.
Here's our first challenge - responding to an image. Christmas is big at our house, but I know not everyone celebrates, or celebrates this holiday in different ways. So rather than making a Christmas blogfest, I'm giving you the opportunity to respond to this image in whatever way you wish - it reeks of a ghostly romantic tale to me, or we could have a 'lost in the woods' poem or story, or it could be a Christmas story (obviously not an Aussie Christmas!) Over to you! Stun us with your masterpiece. You have a whole month to write your piece, and you have extra words to play with. Don't forget we are Romantic Friday Writers. How about posting the challenge on your blog? All the more fun to read. I'll be looking forward to reading your December stories. Let's get writing people!
That was Denise' instructions. Now, here is my text :
No, wait. I thought I'd write a little about Christmas in Sweden first:
Christmas in Sweden is full of traditional food and fun things to do if you don't catch a cold. Winter is usually very cold and dark, so I think Christmas is a time for working against the elements: Lighting lights at the darkest time of the year; giving presents, cooking, cleaning house and inviting friends, when you'd rather go hibernate. It is also a religious holiday, as it should be. You go to church early, early Christmas morning. Christmas presents are opened on Christmas Eve. Christmas is a wonderful mix of the pagan and the Christian, of darkness and light, of dispair and hope.
After lighting the first candle for the first of Advent, the real 'kick-off' for Christmas is partly the banquet for the Noble Prize held on December 10th, in Stockholm's beautiful Town Hall. (The ceremony, banquet and dance are shown on tv each year. Lots of pretty evening gowns and jewellery to look at!)
holding candles, follow a preferably blond girl, who is chosen to be Saint Lucia (a martyr who lived in Syracuse, Sicily in AD 310). Lucia is also dressed in a long white gown, but with a red sash a crown of candles on her head. She carrys a tray with special saffron-buns
called 'Lussekatter' and gingersnaps (pepparkakor) be given to everyone they meet at this very early hour of the morning, when it is still dark at offices, hospitals, schools. They go anywhere and everywhere people are gathered in their everyday lives. Lucia is the bringer of light at this the darkest time of year. She is a comfort at the winter solstice.
For me, personally, this year, November (and now dipping into December) has been an uncertain and hectic time. I have tried to do too many things and failed at most of them. It has been unusally warm, so we have no snow yet, which may have contributed to my lack of planning. In my mind, it is not yet winter; Christmas is still far off. But in reality, it is very soon, and I feel so utterly unprepared.
Now, here's my little f i c t i o n a l story:
Jenny looked at the picture of a snow-covered house in a wintry forest with yellow light glowing from every window. This looks inviting. Should I buy these?
'Can I help you?' said a man who looked like a young James Stewart, as George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life. Jenny, who was lonely after a divorce, absorbed every syllable.
'I'm still thinking,' Jenny said laughing to herself, as she found herself using tha exact same words that the character Mary Hatch used in the film.
Jimmy Stewart continued unpacking packages and stacking books on a shelf. He had white cotton gloves on, so she could not see a wedding ring.
Why buy Christmas cards at all? She used to send lots of cards every year, but postage costs so much and writing takes time.
'Are you new here?' Jenny asked as she put the box of cards on the counter and opened her purse to retrieve her wallet, 'I usually stop here once a week. Haven’t seen you before.'
‘I'm just extra for the Christmas rush. The name's Jakob!' he said and smiled as he pulled off his right glove and shook her hand.
'Nice to meet you. I'm Jenny!' He kept his glove on his left hand so she still could not see his if he had a wedding ring. Jenny paid for the cards, took the bag and left.
'Happy Christmas!' said Jakob, putting his white glove back on.
Jenny walked toward the bridge. It was getting dark and beginning to snow. Silly me, I should go back and return these. I can't afford them. I won't have time to write them and I don't have the money for postage to send them.
Jenny walked across the bridge over the river and stopped to look at the trickle of water running through the frozen masses of ice. She thought about Clarence, the angel from the film. Wouldn't it be nice to have a guardian angel?
Suddenly she saw a tall, lanky Jimmy Stewart/Jakob walking across the bridge toward her. He looked directly at her and smiled.
'Hi Jenny! You haven't gotten very far! Let's have some coffee over there,' he said pointing to the café across the bridge.
They found an empty table near a window overlooking the river, and sat in silence a moment until finally Jakob spoke: 'What would you like to do the rest of your life?'
'To be happy,' said Jenny.
'That was a tall order!'
'Is it? Isn't that basically what most people want, Jakob?'
'Maybe. But most people fetter away their lives doing things that they really don't want to do.' He took out his wallet, opened it and counted out the price of the Christmas cards. 'Here. I'll take them back to the store if you give me the receipt.'
Being a penny-pincher, she saved all of her receipts, and could return both the cards and the receipt to Jakob.
'Who are you, Jakob? Are you a mind-reader?'
'No, nothing like that. Here, let me treat you to more coffee and another piece of cake.'
'Thanks Jakob, you're an angel.'
'Yep, that's exactly what I am', he said as he rose to fetch more coffee and cake.
Wordcount according to WordCalc: 555 (MPA - Minor Points Acceptable)
[Text copyright 2011 Chrstina Wigren]
Take a look at these critiquing pointers from Madeleine:
This story is inspired by Frank Capra's beautiful film from 1946, It's A Wonderful Life. I wish Karolyn Grimes, who played the part of Zuzu, all the very best! Please visit her official site here. Here's Karolyn Grimes with Donna Reed and James Stewart:
This story about Jenny and Jacob has received an honourable mention from Denise L'Aussie of Romantic Friday Writers:
Denise has also given me a special Australian award called 'Fair Dinkum':
Isn't is pretty? She called me a 'fair dinkum Swede'!