I woke up this morning to find St. Nikolaus once again failed to leave presents in my shoes.
My dad was in the Army, and my sisters and I spent most of our childhood in Germany and the Netherlands. We were understandably happy to adopt the tradition of leaving a pair of shoes out overnight on December 5th for St. Nikolaus, who would leave us a small present. We’d get little things, like a tiny wooden Christmas ornament, and it was great fun. Mysteriously, St. Nikolaus stopped leaving me presents after I left for college…
In some places, St. Nikolaus is accompanied by Krampus, a horned half-goat, half-demon creature. Coincidentally, I’m using a variant of Krampus in a faery story that will be out in a few weeks in a new anthology. My story is set at Midwinter, and incorporates some of the mythology about the Holly King and the Oak King, who battle at the solstices. The Holly King reigns from the summer solstice to the winter, and the Oak King from then until the summer solstice. I’ve really enjoyed researching all of this, and plan on using some elements from this mythology in future stories as well.
I’m wrapping up my story about Gilroy, a cat who is a witch’s familiar. I love writing about cats! I haven’t written many stories with dogs yet, which I realize is kind of funny, but quite a few of my stories have cats as side characters. This story – which doesn’t have a final title yet – is my second with a cat protagonist, and just like the last one it’s been super fun to write.
These stories are a reminder that I remain catless, which is not only a very sad situation, but will unfortunately continue to be the case until we do some more remodeling work. There is no good place in our house for a litter box, which was an incredible oversight on the architect’s part. So for now I just add cats to stories, and reminisce about my past cats.
Here’s an excerpt from “Sleeping Stones,” which is in the anthology Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence. This story is super short – it’s only two pages long. The setting is Stonehenge, at the winter solstice.
The stones stood as they had for millennia; some tall and somber above the small crowd of people, some mere remnants left underground because it hadn’t been worth the scavengers’ time to excavate the entire form.
The air was crisp, the sky brightened by the light of the moon as it peeked through the winter clouds. The mood of the people was festive. A number were solemn, awed by the sense of mystery they perceived to be present; others were jovial, dancing and singing. Several were asleep.
No one was warm, although the less sober thought that they were. Even the stones were cold, but that didn’t bother them in the least. A happy group of revelers dressed in what they felt might have been appropriate attire thousands of years before danced around the one they called the Slaughter Stone.
This story is super short – it’s only two pages long. I wrote the original draft years ago when I gave myself an ‘assignment’ to write stories that were no more than 500 words long. That is a really short amount of space, and it was quite a challenge! It was a fantastic exercise because I had to think so much about whether or not what I wrote was engaging and moved the story forward.