This prompt ties in with the short story guest blogger Sandra Merville Hart will be writing about on Thursday. “Not This Year” is a family drama, set in the 1980’s. But family drama is timeless.
This photo grabbed my attention because no one in it looks happy, and a few people look decidedly unhappy. What is story behind this family’s trip to the grocery store? Here’s my version.
What was I thinking? When has going shopping with the kids ever gone well? And I had the bright idea of bringing two nieces along. If one more kid complains, I am out of here, and I’ll give Mom and Dad a gift card for their anniversary instead of a party.
Michelle L. Levigne has returned to talk about her steampunk story in Christmas fiction off the beaten path. Welcome back, Michelle!
What inspired you to write “Crystal Christmas”, a steampunk story set in Cleveland, 1878?
Spend enough time with characters and they feel like friends. I want their story to keep going. “Crystal Christmas” is the next step in the storyline. I want readers know that several relationships hinted at in the Guardians novel, “Music in the Night,” have progressed. Not going to say any more, because that would give away too much of the story!
You’ve written many novels. What are the challenges when writing a short story as compared to a novel?
Short stories have fewer plot threads and characters. They are usually harder for me to write because I have to weed out so many sub-plots and secondary characters and history and settings that are begging (sometimes nagging) to be told. Perhaps a better way of saying it is they are demanding their moment on the stage.
Think of short stories versus novels as half-hour TV episodes versus feature films. You still have to cram the storyline requirements of “send your hero up a tree, throw rocks at him, get him out of the tree” into that limited number of minutes. Yet thousands of episodes are written every year that do just that. Same for short stories – without the benefit of all the character development that is done over the course of a season, like in TV shows
What excited you the most about this story?
Playing with my “dolls” again, and moving their story forward. And yes, I confess, this is a blatant attempt to get people interested in Guardians …
Tell us more about the series, The Guardians of the Timestream.
Guardians deals with a millennia-long contest between two groups of people, descendants of time travelers who went from our distant future into the distant past. One group went to stop certain historical events, and the other group followed them to protect the time stream. Set in Post-Civil War USA, the story starts with Ess Fremont, who escapes her stultifying boarding school to find her missing brother. Disguised as a boy, she has many adventures along the way. In the course of the four books she meets allies of her missing grandparents, learns her heritage, and reunites her family, while striking serious blows to the enemy’s cause. In the 4thbook, readers meet Carmen and Brogan, the main characters in “Crystal Christmas,” and learn about their underground community. If you see similarities to “Phantom of the Opera,” you wouldn’t be wrong!
Note: I’m playing with plans (someday, don’t ask when) to continue the storyline started with Guardians of the Time Stream, but focus on the underground community. The tentative title for the series is called Hidden Mountain.
Since we’re in a holiday mood, what’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Or what’s your favorite Christmas story?
Operation Christmas Child, which is part of Samaritan’s Purse. I really love putting together the boxes for kids in other countries – trying to fit as much into a shoe box-sized plastic box as possible. Hygiene supplies, school supplies, toys, socks and hats and gloves, whatever I can find.
My kids and I put together boxes with the other kids at church. It’s a wonderful tradition! Thanks again for stopping by.
Carmen and Brogan are still learning the possibilities and uses of crystal, the key to their ancestors’ time machines. As Christmas approaches, a brutal winter descends on Cleveland. Brogan is trying to help Mr. Wallace create the perfect Christmas gift for Ess Fremont – an engagement ring of crystal. Carmen helps, because her talent includes “singing” the crystal into pliability. She can’t help wishing for a ring of her own from Brogan. They have other concerns that take precedence, however. Illness brought on an airship threatens the city and reaches the underground community. They wait anxiously for the arrival of the Fremont family on the airship Golden Nile, and try to give the children a joyful Christmas.
Everything comes together at a snowy Christmas Eve service.
On the road to publication, Michelle fell into fandom in college (she is a recovering Trekker, and adores “Warehouse 13,” “Stargate SG-1,” “The Dresden Files,” and “The Librarians.”), and has 40+ stories in various SF and fantasy universes. She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA focused on film and writing from Regent University. She has published 80+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, and sub-genres of romance. Her official launch into publishing came with winning first place in the Writers of the Future contest in 1990. She has been a finalist in the EPIC Awards competition multiple times, winning with Lorien in 2006 and The Meruk Episodes, I-V, in 2010. Her most recent claim to fame is being named a finalist in the SF category of the 2018 Realm Award competition, in conjunction with the Realm Makers conference. Her training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature; proofreading at an advertising agency; and working at a community newspaper. She is a tea snob and freelance edits for a living (MichelleLevigne@gmail.com for info/rates), but only enough to give her time to write.
I’m happy to announce the winners of my giveaway! The prize package of a copy of From the Lake to the River, signed by eight of the authors, an Ohio ornament, and a box of chocolate-peanut butter buckeyes goes to Audrey Stewart. The prize package of a copy of Christmas fiction off the beaten path, signed by three of the authors, an Ohio ornament, and a box of chocolate-peanut butter buckeyes goes to Paula Shreckhise. I’ll be contacting you shortly.
Thanks so much to all of you who entered. It’s made the launching of my mystery short story so much fun!
Today is the last stop on my blog tour and I’m visiting historical fiction author Anne Clare on her site, Sharing the Stories of World War Two. My post is about writing a 10,000 words short story in two weeks while preparing for Christmas, Sunday school, and a visit from my in-laws.
Because my focus this month is the anthology Christian fiction off the beaten path and writing short stories, I decided to feature another anthology. This book has a special place in my heart because it contains my first published work, “Debt to Pay”. But more than that, it showed me that I could write more than my YA crime novel.
I’d worked for years on that novel. I’d occasionally stir the interest of an agent, who’d ask for sample chapters and my business plan. Then they’d always turn it down. I hadn’t considered writing a short story until this opportunity came.
Forcing my imagination outside the world I’d invented for my novel released a creative flow I didn’t realize I had. My imagination had grown stale, working with the same characters, in the same setting. I’d lost a lot of my enthusiasm for writing fiction. The challenge of the short story showed me that I was more than a one-book writer.
Historical fiction. A group of ladies in Cardington, Ohio, are answering letters to Santa. One letter from the daughter of a Confederate soldier asks for something more difficult than giving toys and candy. The women must decide if they can put aside their sorrow for the sake of a child.
“CHRISTMAS ANGELS” BY CAROLE BROWN
Historical fiction. Her mother called her a failure, and maybe she was. Her husband was gone—in the service, yes, but if he loved her—really loved her, why didn’t he write? Or call? Or send the money she needed?
What she needed was a miracle…and that wasn’t going to happen.
“COLD READ” BY SHARYN KOPF
Time Slip. When Stephie Graham volunteered to direct The Rainmaker at the historic Holland Theatre in Bellefontaine, Ohio, she might not have thought it all through. Like how hard it can be to find six male cast members for a small community production. But then Andy Tremont moseys into the audition—and into her heart.
In case things weren’t difficult enough, the theatre might have a ghost named Juniper who’s trying to keep Stephie and Andy from getting together. There was, in fact, a Juniper who took the Holland stage in 1933 and sang about her broken heart, certain she had lost her chance at love.
But maybe God has a plan for both women that is beyond what either could ever imagine.
“FRED’S GIFT” BY BETTIE BOSWELL
Contemporary. Widowed mother Dawn is filled with regrets concerning her aging father. Is it too late to make up for lost time? Or, will she find peace and perhaps a new love as her father’s final journey is revealed?
SOLDIER’S HEART BY TAMERA LYNN KRAFT
Historical fiction. Noah Andrews, a soldier with the Ohio Seventh Regiment can’t wait to get home now that his three year enlistment is coming to an end. He plans to start a new life with his young wife. Molly was only sixteen when she married her hero husband. She prayed every day for him to return home safe and take over the burden of running a farm. But they can’t keep the war from following Noah home. Can they build a life together when his soldier’s heart comes between them?
SURPRISED BY LOVE BY SANDRA MERVILLE HART
Historical fiction. Set during the tragic 1913 Great Miami River Flood in Troy, Ohio.
Lottie’s feelings for an old school crush blossom again during the worst flood her town has endured in years.
Desperate circumstances throw Lottie and Joe together. Can tragedy unite the couple to make her long-buried dream of winning his love come true?
SUMMER SONG BY MICHELLE LEVGINE
Contemporary. Dani has growing doubts about mixing marriage and a music ministry on the road. Then again, with as little time as she and Kurt can spend together, despite working for the same ministry, she might never see that engagement ring. Four weeks at a teen music boot camp gives them time together, but the egos and politics that converge in one place might threaten everything.
DEBT TO PAY BY JPC ALLEN
Country noir. While cutting wood near their home in Wayne National Forest, a teenager and his older brother stumble across a dying millionaire, who claims his plane was rigged to crash. Do the brothers seek justice or cash in?
COURTESY TURN BY REBECCA WILLIAMS WATERS
Contemporary. Recently widowed Lori returns to square dancing as she tries to open a new chapter in her life.