Friday, October 5, 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters; Birthday Madness

Welcome to another edition of Romantic Friday Writers. This week it's 'Birthday Madness,' in honor of our two host, Denise and Donna. They are both October Babies. Libra's! So read my story and then head over to RFW and follow the links to read all the other excellent stories. Can you tell I'm having fun? Get out the virtual champagne, let's celebrate!.

Let's see how I did with the challenge of just 400 words and a little romance too.

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Shika drew the wagon filled with produce to a stop in the center of the Gypsy camp and stepped carefully down.

“Libra.” A middle aged woman greeted her.

“I’m sorry, Amaia, what do you mean?” Shika admired Amaia’s long black locks that curled tight against the colorful scarf she wore and followed her to a table.

“What question do you have for me tonight?” Amaia asked.

“Ah…I think you are troubled on this, your 24th Birthday.”

“How did you know?”

Amaia gestured toward the heavens. The moon was a sliver and the night sky swam with stars. “Do you see that constellation there?” She pointed to a brilliant set of stars.

“They shine bright for you tonight, Shika. They are Libra, as are you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Is it not your Birthday?”

“Yes.”

“Then Libra is your birth sign, you possess all the qualities.”

“What qualities?”

“You harbor us. Exchanging your food for our herbal remedies to tend to your serfs. You bring peace and order to your household and endure an unfaithful husband.”

“Are they not all unfaithful?”

“Perhaps. You stand against social opinion and never beat your servants nor speak a word of anger against them.”

“They serve my needs better when I treat them with respect.”

"There you see, my sweet Libra, even your words now are kind toward those that others loathe.”

Violins played. A group of women had begun to dance.

"Come,” a young man said and offered Shika his hand, darker than her own. They danced. Her kimono was tight against her legs while the gypsies favored brightly ornate fabrics blended into ankle high skirts that swept out freely as they danced.

The young man caught her close. She could smell wood smoke on his shirt. His black hair fell loose around his ears and his black eyes, so round compared to hers, twinkled in the firelight. An intense longing overcame Shika. If only she were a gypsy girl, unmarried with no responsibility, then perhaps--- Before she realized it he kissed her full on the lips. Shika shut her eyes. Never had she been kissed in this manner. Passion inflamed her; yearning intoxicated her, why did her husband lack feeling?

The crowd cheered. Shika flushed. He withdrew his lips.

“Happy Birthday!” The gypsies shouted. The young man turned Shika toward a baby lamb with a woven ribbon around its neck.

Word Count: 378

Can you guess what nationality inspired me to write Shika?

Shika lives in Shea-Talon, a country that inhabits my alternate fantasy world. I will turn this into a short story and in the future, Shika will also be in an epic fantasy story. I am several stories in the series away from that, but the short story will be one of five I finish this month and publish as an e-book. (I’m not sure when they will be published, edits, editor, more edits and book covers too.)

Return this Monday for my new series on Short Stories and Flash Fiction. I will use this story as an example of how to cut excess words to trim what you’ve written without losing substance and creating short fiction.

Look at this to see what I mean:
First Draft: Word Count: 552
2nd Version: Word Count: 496
This Version: Word Count: 378

How did I do that?

I hope you liked it.
Nancy

PS. Still looking for critique partners and/or Beta Readers, if interested say so in the comments. Thanks.

All stories and content on this blog are copyrighted and may not be used without permission from the author. All stories are fictional and are not about living people.

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18 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess she had a good birthday then!

Yolanda Renee said...

Loved the way you used astrology to tell your MC story, and then the suggestion of a future romance.
Nicely done.

Thanks for the POV lesson, it's like leaving 'that' out of a sentence. You consider it understood.

Anne said...

Shika's character made the story more endearing. Beautiful!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Alex
I guess so. LOL

Hi Yolanda
You're welcome. POV is hard sometimes.

Hi Anne
I love Shika too.

Thanks everyone for all the kind words. They are appreciated.
Nancy

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Nancy,

Wonderful use of astrology woven into the fabric of this flash fiction.

Quite a romantic and magical evening.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Michael
I know nothing about astrology so I had to do some research. But what else would gypsies do? Glad you liked it.
Nancy

Adura Ojo said...

Hi Nancy,

I like the romance that runs through the story and your use of astrology. The gypsy setting is lovely. It's great that the female lead will feature in more stories. Loving her already!

I think this piece could do with a bit more action and 'thought processing'/description between some of the dialogue for better flow. Dialogue on its own that runs more than three or four lines can be a bit tricky because some readers lose sight of who is saying what. I hope you find this constructive.

Regards,

Adura.

The Golden Eagle said...

Sounds like you've got a lot planned for this character! :)

Sally said...

There are hints here that something might develop - her husband is unfaithful and she's never been kissed like that before - oooh exciting!

Nilanjana Bose said...

Hello Nancy, my favourite line - 'the moon was a sliver and the night sky swam with stars' just lovely! Loved you wove in astrology and gypsy setting..so cool. Good to know you are planning more with Shika, look forward to that.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Adura
I appreciate your critique, however your suggestion is difficult in 400 words. More on that coming in my Monday post.

Hi Golden
I certainly do.

Hi Stephanus
Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Nilanjana
I do have a lot for all the characters involved. But Shika will play a major role. The king will be the mc., oh I smell trouble.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and leaving a comment, it's greatly appreciated.
Nancy

Raelene Purtill said...

Loved the setting and look forward to more of her story. I also found the older gypsy lady fascinating too.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Raelene
Thanks, glad you liked the ladies.
Nancy

Milo James Fowler said...

Nice work, Nancy! Cutting always makes our prose leaner and meaner. Writing flash is a great challenge, and it hones our skills as writers.

N. R. Williams said...

Thanks James, much appreciated.
Nancy

N. R. Williams said...

I love this story Nancy, and will be interested in your series starting Monday. I think I've gotten so good at cutting down to 400 words, now when I'm working on a longer story or a novella, I realise I keep cutting down TOO much then have to go back to add more detail.
This story has a lot of movement and mystery. I love anything with cultural undertones different to our own. I love the way you've used Libra, the October birthday horoscope, to such effect here. There is some editing needed, but as I can't see the other comments, you've probably been told of a couple of places you could have sharpened it up. Cheers! And thanks for the birthday wishes and the virtual champagne.

Anna said...

Dear Nancy,
Sometimes I think it is easier to write about things that you don't know that much about; it makes you do research! Or just decide for yourself how it is.
I love the way astrology plays strong role in this story.

It occurs to me that these are story-book gypsies, that we all take for granted as belonging to a story-book world. But even if trolls and faeries don't really exist, there are really people who are Gypsies or Romani, who have their roots in India centuries ago.

There are gypsies living in my home town. Their children go to my children's school. (Some of their sons have bullied my son.) And even though I don't know their language, I have had the opportunity to hear what it sounds like and even know what some common everyday words are in their language.

I don't think I could write about gypsies in my fantasy-stories though. Or I don't know; maybe I could. If I stuck to the story-book gypsies.

My former husband hates them. To him they are all thieves. I can, at least, see them as individuals, but they do have a culture of their own that is different from ours. They live in apartments in the next block from my new apartment, and not in colourful horse-drawn wagons. And I doubt whether they would take it kindly if I asked them to tell me my fortune.

What nationality inspired you to write this story? I don't know. You write that Shika is dressed in a kimono. Has Japan been your source of inspiration?

I would like to read your longer versions too. But editing can do wonders with a text. I was despairing about my post for 'Birthday Madness' until I finished cutting. I saved some of the cuttings to be put back in for a longer story. But I think it helped the plot and character development.

Best wishes & hugs,
Anna
RFW No. 46 - 'Birthday Madness'

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Anna
You had a lot to say about gypsies. If my child or grandchild were being bullied by gypsies I'd find it hard to tolerate them as well.

We also have gypsies in the USA. No, they no longer live in horse drawn wagons, but they do travel. Many of the scans in home repair have gypsies involved.

What I like to do is play the game of 'what if,' in my writing. I take existing cultures, usually their history, and ask. What if things were different for this culture? How would it have changed the dynamics of their history and personal beliefs. Since you brought this up, perhaps I will devote one of my Monday post to this idea.

As always, thanks for stopping by Anna. It's much appreciated.
Nancy