Competition: Join the Written Fireside!


Today we have a little competition that our authors have asked us to launch! We’d like YOU to start off the next Written Fireside story. Here’s the wonderful Lori Connelly to tell you more about it:

Usually Written Fireside creates one story, round robin style. I gather a group of authors together, make up a schedule spanning a couple of months, and then start the story on the Written Fireside blog Each author adds their part to the story in turn. Not one story has evolved into my original concept. In fact, after each story is completed, I’m amazed at the how different the visions each author had of the characters and back story.

To celebrate Written Fireside’s first birthday, I thought it’d be great fun to take many of the authors who’d participated in its first year, give them all the same starting paragraph, and let them share how wonderfully different each one would write the story.

For the month of August, every few days, successive authors will take the starting paragraph provided and share how she would build a ‘Christmas by the Fire’ story from it. The schedule and all the links will be on the Written Fireside blog as well as the authors. We will end up with 14 unique visions all from a single source, that one paragraph.

Normally I write the beginning of a Written Fireside, but on this one special occasion I’d like to invite one of our readers to start the stories….

To enter…

Leave your first paragraph in the comments below by midnight (GMT) 15/07/2014. We’ll pick our favourite starting paragraph and our lovely group of authors will each write their own story that starts with your beginning. The anthology of short stories will be released just in time for Christmas, with a full credit to you for starting it, and a link back to your website, social media, or other writing.

Remember, although it might be warm outside, the theme for this Written Fireside story is Christmas, so keep that in mind when you write your starting paragraph!

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31 Replies to “Competition: Join the Written Fireside!”

  1. Deciding to deliver her Christmas Cards at the last minute had been a huge mistake. The winter sun had disappeared leaving her in the darkness. Guided only by the street lights as they danced and played around her, leaving eerie patterns on the crisp white snow beneath her feet.

    (sorry for bad grammar)

  2. She anticipated the phone calls from her mother, all enquiring as to why this person or that person had not yet received their card but, at least now she could say “They are in the post” having shoved the last of them through the post box. The cold air nipped and tugged at Jane’s cheeks causing her to shudder in her red winter coat and carefully navigate through the snow in her newly purchased leather boots. She wondered how many of these relatives would actually send her one back? Care about her life, ask if she’d found love? She hadn’t, but, she still wished someone would take the time to scrawl a few best wishes in a card like she had just done.

  3. Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely ‘nice’. This year she had broken Daniels heart into a million tiny pieces, so ‘naughty’ seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon.

  4. From the windows of her mud room, Erin McBride spied the Northern Lights shimmering above the fields that stretched away from her cabin into the night. Firing the heavens in greens, reds and even a deep fuchsia pink, the aurora reflected off pines heaped with snow, giving them the look of Christmas trees twinkling in the dark. A pretty sight, but she had no time to waste. Thrusting her feet into boots she was almost too rushed to lace, she yanked on her coat, and scooped up the fragile paper and sting wrapped parcel on the bench beside her. A second later, she was banging out the door and running for the fields.

  5. Wrapping the last Christmas gift, she tossed the empty tape roll on the table with a sigh of relief. Resting her chin in her hands, she contemplated her next move. The children were asleep, and oblivious to the anxiety she felt.

  6. Being alone at Christmas was never a thing that Walt ever had to worry about. Being born into a family of eight children as the seventh had always put him into the center of Christmas excitement. Now, after two failed marriages which left his own children out of touch with him, he could feel the loneliness of his situation. No drawing names and exchanging gifts, none of mom’s special sweet desserts, and no love in sight. The joy of Christmas seemed to be a distant memory.

  7. Riding up the hill astride her big bay horse, watching the snow swirl along the frozen ground, Rene’s thoughts were of the Christmas holiday coming soon and all the preparations waiting to be finished. Hopefully many of her friends and family would be able to come for a visit during all the holidays, and she wanted to have everything beautiful and cozy when they arrived. Winter was always a beautiful time of year in the Rockies, but it was necessary to be prepared for emergencies as well as celebrating the season.

  8. Christmas wishes
    When I started this journey, I thought easy , I will go home, and start over , thats what I thought. Half way it started snowing , big huge flakes, not bad yet , I can do this-gripping the wheel tight,I drove further and further into the storm, then something or someone appear in front of me, maybe I won’t get my Christmas wishes after all,what a mess , my car is in the ditch, I am alone , its getting colder, my brain was working overtime, what can I do? Is someone out there, did I really see something?

  9. Clutching her coat around her, she fought the wind howling down the city street, blinking against the icy wisps of snow thrown up from the pavement. This was not what Christmas was about. Christmas was summer heat,cold salads and playing cricket on the beach. Not for the first time she regretted the decision that brought her halfway around the world.

  10. The frosted windows filled the room showing only the weak shine of the moon that was filtering through the light cloud cover over head. It was cold, really cold as she retrieved more blankets to wrap around her body in the bed. Hopefully she thought the winter would end, but as it had already been ongoing for six months. The snows never seemed to stop, already it was up to the bottom of Ali’s window and she knew it would only get deeper.

  11. Brilliant, another Christmas approaches and where am I? In B&Q with my parents! My dad looking for light bulbs and my mum complaining about the price of the trees as she buys a choir of motion detecting carol singers that my dad will no doubt remove the batteries from and tell her they went flat. But wait what is this… something I wouldn’t mind finding in my stocking… the new guy. How the hell does he make that ugly green uniform look fashionable? Tall, dark and handsome with a beaming ‘may I help you?’ smile, like a Jolly Green Giant. I think I might need assistance in buying my dad a new drill.

    (There you go Lori, as promised… yes I wrote it in B&Q as my parents argued over BBQ’s)

  12. Last Christmas Eve seems a world away right now: a surreal moment in my hitherto perfectly normal life. Last Christmas Eve, my best friend asked me to marry him. I laughed at him, mistaking the glimmer in his eye for that deep, dark humour we so often shared. He was joking; he must have been. I waited for him to see the joke, but he didn’t laugh. He turned on his heel and walked quickly away. In that moment I lost my chief accomplice in life’s adventures. I had become Elizabeth Bennett, surprised by the unexpected proposal, and he was my Mr Darcy, his good opinion lost forever. Our friendship lay in tatters. Twelve silent months have limped agonisingly past, it’s Christmas Eve once more and then, last night, it happened: a note pushed through my door. He asked me to meet him here, behind the church. The graveyard is dim in the fading twilight, the only illumination coming from within the stained glass windows of the church. I clutch my coat tightly around myself and stand and wait, my heart pounding in my chest. Whatever it is that he has to say, I am ready to listen.

  13. “There’s no way in hell I’ll do it.” Colt Devlin pushed up from the table and glowered at his little sister. “No way. Ask someone else.” Ali’s proposition was ludicrous. It was barely a week before Christmas, and she wanted him to take part in a stupid ‘Sexy Santa’ competition just because her boyfriend–scratch that–her ex-boyfriend had wimped out? Five guys, standing on a makeshift stage in the bar she owned clad in red trousers, black boots and very little else while a horde of women catcalled and rated them in order of hotness. A guy would have to be crazy to even consider it…

  14. Jack, a boy of only 13, sat on his bed, as he looked out of the window and watched the first snowfall of winter. He contemplated the many years he had spent in the orphanage. The many friends he had made had all slowly left him one by one, they all sent him cards each holiday saying that they hadn’t forgotten him, and that they were hoping some one who could appreciate how special he was, would take him home. He pulled out a shoe box from under his bed, the box was old and battered and inside it was his memories of happiness, with a sigh jack put his new addition’s into this battered box and slid it back under the bed . The thoughts of possibly being apart of a family again overwhelmed him, a tear ran down his face. The door creaked open, he lifted his head, and did his best to wipe the sorrow from his face and put on a smile. He took a deep breath to calm himself, there in the doorway he saw a beautiful woman, her hair long and dark, her figure tall and slender, and with a smile on her face she held out her hand to Jack.

  15. The flickering firelight threw shadows across the faces of the strangers standing by the hotel reception desk. In all her years, Katherine Williamson had never seen such a bedraggled group, and certainly not on the day before Christmas. Elderly couples, bickering families, and an assortment of business men and women standing next to those enveloped in layers of clothing. One young woman stepped forward. “Our coach to the airport has been cancelled,” she pleaded. “We have nowhere else to turn. Have you any rooms?”

  16. Mary stood in the ashes of her ruined kitchen. She stared at the licks of smoke and smouldering ashes all that remained of her shopping bags full of presents. They taunted her as if to say ‘no Christmas for you this year’. A solitary tear escaped and trickled down her sooty cheek.”You shouldn’t be in here it’s not safe,” a deep voice made Mary catch her breath. She jumped back. Two uniformed, muscular arms enclosed her. She leaned into him momentarily grateful for the comfort. He smelled of smoke, sweat and spice. Intrigued Mary sneaked a peak at the man who restrained her and forgot to breathe…

  17. It felt good to be burning the last remnants of his existence, well in her life anyway. No more falling over his guitars, his smelly socks and his graphic comics. The flat looked tidy, peaceful but why did she feel like she couldn’t breathe. It was the beginning of a panic attack that was going to become a familiar occurrence whenever she thought of Christmas. How was she going to tell his mother that she no longer wanted two dozen mince pies making on Christmas Eve and her own mother that she wanted to spend Christmas alone.

  18. Filled with trepidation I took my first step. Releasing the breath that I barely noticed I was holding, I took another step. It was like a guilty pleasure, destroying something so beautiful yet I had the urge to run, spin round, lie on the floor and create snow angels. I restrained myself, I had always loved the first fall of snow, wiping everything clean, putting a sparkle on an otherwise dull car park. I looked around to see if I was being watched, at 4.17 in the morning, I doubted anyone was looking. How wrong could a person be.

  19. The chime of the doorbell was closely followed by a shout from the kitchen of: ‘Can you get that, Marie?’ She looked down at her teddy bear dressing gown and monster feet slippers; not exactly appropriate attire for answering the door. Not exactly appropriate attire to be seen in at all, by anyone, ever. ‘Marie? I’m up to my elbows in pastry here.’ ‘Yeah, okay, Mum, I’m going,’ she sighed and forced herself to her feet, clutching her coffee mug. She’d been back in her parent’s home less than a day and she was already regressing to adolescence. She took a fortifying sip of sweet, black coffee and unlatched the front door. All the heat in the hallway immediately evaporated. There was no one on the doorstep but in the centre of the path, obscuring her view of the gate, was a tree. ‘What the…?’ She squinted through the haze of silently falling snowflakes and made out the round body and small head of a bird, nestled in the branches. The inch of settled snow soaked into the bottom of her slippers as she hurried out to investigate, circling the tree, searching for some clue as to where it had come from. A note tied to the trunk with red ribbon stated simply: For Marie, on the first day of Christmas Who would do something like this? She scanned the quiet road and spotted the dark head of a tall man disappearing around the corner. Could that really be Christian? Her mind immediately tried to reject the idea but her heart leapt at the possibility…until she remembered what she was wearing.

  20. As I stood there, under the mistletoe looking into Georges gorgeous blue eyes, with his beautifully long eyelashes that I adored, I started to wonder if this is what I wanted. Was I ready for commitment? I wasn’t the committing type, I liked to have fun, be adventurous, I can’t even commit to the same coffee at Starbucks. But lately, with all the festive cheer and Love, Actually on repeat, I started to imagine myself with him for the rest of my life. I started to feel like my Christmas wish was coming true…

  21. Cassandra stared out of the window of the hotel suite, she could hardly believe she was here alone, just 24 hours ago, life seemed so perfect….. Alex had been the man she was going to marry, the romantic break in New York for Christmas was the perfect end to a wonderful year, next year they would be man and wife.. They should have be Ice Skating in Central Park, visiting the Christmas Trees at the Rockefeller Centre, but no she was alone, as she turned around she could see Alex’s face everywhere, dancing in the flames of the log fire that burned in the corner of the suite. She wanted to scream, throw things at him, the image of Alex gorgeous face swam before her eyes, a lone tear fell from her blue eyes, how could he do this to me??

  22. “Jessica, will you make me the happiest man alive and marry me?”
    There were a few seconds of silence as everybody in the room absorbed and made sense of Matt’s words, including Jessica. And then, smashing into the stillness came the cheering, the clapping and the whistling. The music was turned up a little louder, the sound of All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey tumbling out of the speakers, and suddenly, Jessica felt like she was drowning. Her mum, dad, aunty, uncle, sisters, brothers, cousins all crowded her, wanting to pull her into their arms and squeeze. The air was stifling, she couldn’t drag in a single breath and everything seemed to be swimming in her vision, blurred and unclear. Matt was tugging on her arm, trying to spin her around for a kiss and, most probably, for an answer, but her Aunt Rosa was grabbing Jessica by her other arm and attempting to smother her with kisses. As another family member choked her, she caught a glimpse of the tall, regal looking Christmas tree standing proud in the corner, its dainty, pretty lights like gems between the branches. She blinked, trying to steady her breathing and in turn steady her insane heart, and pulled away, mumbling an apology. She turned back to Matt, and the room grew quiet as everyone waited and watched. “Matt…” That one word was enough to make her mind up. “After what you did? You think asking me to marry you will make me forget?” Jessica shook her head slowly and glanced at the expectant faces that were now circling them. Her mum looked horrified. “Marriage will not make us better, Matt.” Matt took a single step towards her but Jessica held out a hand to stop him. “No. Don’t. And in answer to your question? No to that, too.” Matt’s happiness flooded from his face leaving a sad, confused expression behind. The music was turned back down and a few people left the room. “Asking me to marry you won’t erase my memory. Not now. Not ever.” She glared at him one last time before leaving the room and ignoring the pleas of her parents.

  23. So much talent. I do not envy Harper Impulse’s task in choosing one out of all the amazing entries, but I’m excited by the variety of story ideas now dancing through my mind. Huge thank you to everyone who entered!

  24. Emma ladled the molten liquid into the punch bowl. It sloshed and danced, and caught the reflection of the fairy lights.The smell of wine, citrus fruit and winter spices was enchanting; conjuring nostalgic memories to keep her company while she prepared. Her hands shook slightly; five minutes to the off but she was careful not to splash the crisp linen cloths or her evening gown.
    The glow from the candelabra drew cartoons on the walls, the fire sang a tune and the pine tree looked like time and love had been lavished upon her.
    The table was perfect. Laid for thirteen.Would it be lucky thirteen or would it be war? She pushed out the memories of the last gathering from her mind as the doorbell chimed. She reached for the door, palms slick with perspiration from nerves.

  25. Sitting on a cold slab floor, freezing her bum off, surrounded by bubble wrap and strewn with hay Louise silently cursed her mother. What was she thinking burdening her with this ‘Christmas Wish List’? As she wrestled the oversized Mary freeing her from her annual cocoon of bubble wrap she was all too conscious of Fr. McGee’s lurking presence. Poor old Mary had seen better days and her once angelic features had, after layers and layers of poster paint made her look more like Alice Cooper than that of a young virgin mother who had given birth to the Son of God.

  26. The cold, grey slush is gathered, like old potato mash, on the side of the road. My knuckles whiten as I tighten my grip on the steering wheel. The asphalt becomes coarse, as the car shudders onto the turn off. Behind me, the twin snail trails and red tail lights that I had been following disappear. Christmas jingles mingle with the rustle of paper. I dart a quick peek at the passenger seat. A stuffed toy, sheathed in pink wrappings, sits awaiting liberation by little hands. The track ahead stretches now like a pale, chilled corpse, flanked on either side by bruised and scabby banks.

  27. Tara gazed excitedly out the window as the plane touched down on the icy runway, the Christmas lights in the airport twinkled and danced in the darkness. Now that she was here she suddenly felt sick with trepidation. What if they hadn’t really forgiven her and had tricked her into returning? Rejection was something she couldn’t bear again. She pulled on the long fur coat James had given her before she left and quickly checked her reflection. She was no longer the young beautiful girl who had fled all those years ago but her hair was still thick and dark – her best feature her father had always said. She ached now to feel his arms around her again and her mothers gentle caress as she recalled times past. Christmas had always been such a magical occasion in their family with everyone gathered around the fire singing songs and telling stories. Blocking out thoughts of home had been her coping mechanism but she had never gotten used to the blistering heat of Sydney in December. Squaring her shoulders she stepped off the plane with her head held high. She stopped for a moment on the steps and let the freezing air envelope her as the unfamiliar smells became familiar again and she realised she was where she was meant to be – Home.

  28. i am so impressed by the standard of these entries.

    I cannot wait to see which paragraph wins, so I can let my imagination take me on a journey to complete their story.

    Best of luck to everyone, I’m excited for you all.
    Carmel Harrington.

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