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Archive for December, 2009

 Angels, one of my “speculative” short stories just went up on-line at Ensorcelled Magazine published by Berkeley. (Alas, this magazine seems to have vanished. You can still enjoy this story in my book, The Greener Forest.)

Angels’ beginning place was bee folklore about how a hive will swarm when a death is about to happen in a family. I combined that with the words of a West Virginia woodcarver, who said to me: “The wood tells my hands what to carve.” Then, added a bit of lore about bees being “little angels,” and before long, I had a story.

Angels begins: “The beekeeper stood in the woods, watched the maple boughs sway and listened to the angels singing in the trees. Though he hadn’t known who was doing the singing as a child, Porter had always heard angels…”

I hope you enjoy the story. And writers: puzzle together odd bits and pieces of information when it comes time to find an idea for a story. You never know what inspiration might come from folklore, an old wive’s tale, or a proverb.

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Thanks to writer/editor, Patti Kinlock, for the following review of my eShort Assassins:

vcw-a-cvr[1] “Assassins is a fast-paced tale of love, intrigue, loyalty and betrayal set on another world that seems not too different from our own. Flynn is a Traveler eking out a living giving tours of natural wonders on Konur Prime that many of his clients don’t seem all that interested in when he meets the genetically-engineered Natsu and her singing opossum Hoshi. Attracted to Natsu, Flynn invites her (and her pet) to dinner, but their meal is interrupted when he foils an assassination attempt. Now they are all fugitives, and Flynn learns that Natsu and Hoshi are runaways from a science experiment gone horribly wrong, looking for a better existence. Genetically bred to conduct complex scientific research in low-light conditions, Natsu and some other “experiments” in her group didn’t turn out as expected. When Hoshi, a genetically-bred opossum in the same research facility was “rejected” and left to die, Natsu “rescued” him. Unfortunately for Natsu and Hoshi, there are those who wish to eliminate any traces of failure, and now they are the only two “rejects” who haven’t suffered a mysterious illness or accident ending in death. Flynn looks to a trusted cousin for aid in helping the trio escape to the safety of Momma Tereza and The Third Eye in The Canyons. But, just one step ahead of the assassins, Flynn is in love and in over his head. Assassins is a fun read that twists and turns with adventure and a host of colorful characters, where science fiction meets the best and worst of humanity.” — Patti Kinlock, Editor, Lite Circle Books

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Cardinal in Holly Snow drifts are so deep, it’s hard to carry seeds out to the birdfeeders. The red-shoulder hawks perched in one of our trees this afternoon were so cold, they stood on one foot with the other tucked up in their feathers. The fox that lurks in our woods bounds over the drifts looking for a meal. The squirrels seem reluctant to come out in the cold to pilfer the birds’ food. Winter solstice is here, and I long for the warmth of spring.

Now, back to making Christmas cards — with one of my cardinal paintings on them.  The message typed on the front excerpted from Carol of the Birds: “Whence comes this rush of wings? Birds of the woods in wondrous flight…sweetest music bring” And on the inside: “Wishing you peace & joy, not only this holiday season when heaven & earth join the birds in song, but always.” And this is my wish for you in this season of miracles and magic.

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 My newest eShorts, Bells and Assassins,  just received their first 5-star reviews from Karol Kidd, a retired teacher from Ft. Meyers, Florida. Karol also gave Sideshow by the Sea 5-stars: “Bells brought a tear to my eye as it was such a touching tale of love and endearment.”

vcw-a-cvr[1] “The sci-fi elements of Assassins will keep the reader engrossed as well as challenged. It’s an excellent quick read.” And: “The fantasy elements of Sideshow by the Sea will keep the reader engrossed as well as challenged. The cover illustration truly enhances the appeal of this title.”

Plus: “TEACHERS OF TEENS TAKE NOTE: The author, Vonnie Winslow Crist, is writing fun works that are beyond the usual classroom basal reader fare. Sideshow by the Sea being one of several available at Echelon Press. Required literature and language topics of instruction could easily be based on Ms. Winslow-Crist’s delightful stories. Plus, reading them as ebooks would kick up the level of enthusiasm for many students who are not especially avid readers, but will tackle anything on the computer.”

Thanks, Karol. Maybe a teacher or 2 will want to use my short stories in their classroom!

Update: Both Bells and Sideshow by the Sea have been updated and appear in my book, Owl Light, published by Cold Moon Press.

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vwc-b-cvr[1] My ghostly holiday eShort, Bells incorporates some of the Christmas traditions of my extended family. Gatherings of friends and family to share in a holiday meal is a tradition that I’ll be celebrating several times again this year. There are always too many of us to sit around one table, so we spread out across the house sitting where ever we can locate a chair or stool or nook by the window. We share memories, the latest news, dreams for the future, love, laughter, and sometimes, tears.

 When I was young, my father, Nathan Winslow,  meticulously put up a HO gauge train garden. He even got my grandfather, an accomplished oil painter, to realistically paint plaster mountains. His was a train garden of exactness and beauty. My husband’s family also put up a train garden. The George Crist family Christmas train garden was so exciting for my husband and his brothers when they were boys, that they’d ignore the gifts and rush for the trains.

My husband, Ernie, and I continued the train garden tradition. On Christmas morning, our kids would run to see the trains. When they became older, they’d help their dad throughout December fix up the train garden for their younger cousins to see when they came to visit. Last Christmas, Ernie and I were lucky enough to have our grandson with us at Christmastime. And little Nathaniel was inspired to crawl his first few feet trying to grab a miniature train that circled around under the Christmas tree.

Sleigh bells on door knobs, watermelon pickles, patched-together trees, and carols playing in the background are other traditions mentioned in Bells we continue in my family. Another Christmas tradition is baking cookies. I baked them with Granny and Mom. My kids baked them with me, and maybe my grandson will sprinkle some colored sugar on my cut-out cookies. (For ”Granny’s Sugar Cookies” recipe, see end of blog).

 I encourage each of you to celebrate the holidays with those you care about. Make good memories and establish family traditions, remembering you’re born into a one kind of family — but you can also build a family of dear friends. And especially at this time of year, treat others with a little more kindness and love. For as Aesop so wisely wrote in his tale of “The Lion & The Mouse” — No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.  Update: Bells can now be read in Owl Light, one of my books from Cold Moon Press.

Granny’s Sugar Cookies:

1) In a large bowl, cream together: 1/2 cup margarine and 1 cup granulated sugar. 2) Blend in: 1 large egg. 3) In a separate bowl, sift together: 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. 4) Next, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and blend well. 5) Chill for 1 to 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dust a pastry cloth with flour and roll dough out to 1/8″ thickness with a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut out holiday shapes with cookie cutters. Put cut-out shapes on a cookie sheet that’s been coated with a vegetable shortening spray (allowing room between cookies). Decorate with colored sugar. Bake in oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove cookies from oven when edges are lightly browned and using a spatula, scoop the cookies onto a rack to cool. Watch Granny’s Sugar Cookies carefully during baking, as they burn easily.

I usually double this recipe. Granny’s Sugar Cookies are a family favorite and disappear quickly! They also freeze well in sealed containers.

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vwc-b-cvr[1] Bells, a new eShort of mine has been published.  It’s a Christmas ghost story, and I promise the names Scrooge and Marley are not mentioned. Bells actually includes scraps of “real” holiday memories and family members in addition to things that were drawn from my imagination. But that is often the case with fiction — writers select threads of factual experiences and actual people they know and weave them with dreams and make-believe. If the author works hard at stitching the two together, readers will have a difficult time separating fact from fiction in the resulting tapestry. And that’s what we want as both reader and writer, a lovely, seamless blending of ideas that takes us into the world of the story.

In the case of Bells, the reader is invited into the world of 17 year-old Melinda on a snowy Christmas evening at a family get-together in an old house in a small town. The 100+ year-old house on the corner of Park and Millstone Streets is filled with people, delicious foods, holiday decorations, family traditions, a love story, and ghosts. And I challenge you to determine what parts of the tale are “real” and which parts are purely the stuff of dreams!

Update: Alas, Bells is no longer available as an eshort — but hooray, it’s included in Owl Light, published by Cold Moon Press.

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