Monday, November 19, 2007

Contest Theme: Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy



Pix-N-Pens is pleased to welcome Rebecca LuElla Miller as our guest judge for this contest. She is a free lance writer and editor who has sold stories and articles to various online or print publications, including Victorian Homes Magazine. Her editing assignments include books in Bryan Davis’s Dragons in Our Midst series. Her current work in progress is the third book of a fantasy trilogy, The Lore of Efrathah.



Our contest this week is totally out of my league, so I'm hoping some of you will educate me - be glad we've got an expert judge!

Submit a Christian SCIENCE FICTION and/or FANTASY short story - 2000 words or less - to me by email at tracyruckman @ gmail.com (remove the spaces please). Send your story by Friday, November 30th, for your chance to win your choice of selected fantasy titles such as Bryan Davis's Raising Dragons. We'll have more details of prizes later in the week, but for now, get writing!!!

Be sure to stop by these websites to learn more about Rebecca and SFF happenings.

Author Blog: A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Team Blog: Speculative Faith
Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour : CSFF
Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Newsletter: Latest In Spec Classifieds

Friday, November 16, 2007

Entry: Romance Short Story

The Magic of Midnight
by
Sally Chambers


Alexis worked hard each day to help create the gowns her father sold to the well-to-do ladies of the town. The young daughter of the proprietor, she’d taken her place in the sewing room after her mother died. Her father hadn’t objected, enjoying her company and admiring her talent. And every Saturday since her sixth birthday, for twelve years, she awoke at twelve minutes until midnight and descended the circular staircase into the emporium.


Tonight will be different—magical, Alexis decided, peering down the mahogany staircase. She stood still, listening, but no sound came from papa’s bedroom. In the foyer below, the grandfather clock chimed the stroke of midnight then resumed its methodical timekeeping duties with a reassuring “tick-tock.” The tiny candle she carried cast flickering light as she steadied herself, holding onto the smooth wooden banister. Her footsteps were silent, their sound lost in the plush carpet that spilled down the circling steps.

A wash of pale yellow moonbeams illuminated the old emporium, scattering light across the polished floor at the foot of the staircase. Lexi set the candle atop a tall chest and made her way between racks full of gowns and fancy dresses, to the side entrance. She took the brass key from her pocket, unlocked the French doors, and pushed them open.

Will he be here tonight?

Lexi stepped over the threshold and into a floral paradise of buds and blossoms and for a few long moments, the garden became a wonderland bathed in moonlight. Taking a deep breath of fragrant air, she allowed herself a twirl of joy then turned to go back inside, securing the doors behind her. The ritual had begun.

She drew the heavy velvet drapes across wide display windows that faced the cobblestone street, cocooning herself within the spacious room. Now it would be safe to light all the candles. She took the one from the chest and went to the first of twelve brass lamp stands, lifting each crystal globe to light the taper beneath. She couldn’t help smiling, thinking of how her father always shook his head on Monday mornings. He’d look at her and say, “How quickly the candles seem to burn away these days.”

Patience, Lexi. Her hand shook a bit with anticipation, but she’d made herself a promise. She wouldn’t steal a single glance at the hundreds of beautiful garments until she’d lit every lamp. Savoring the moments it took to light eleven others, at the twelfth, she replaced the globe and rewarded herself with the “first look.”

The lovely old-fashioned shop never failed to take her breath. Shining gilt frames, brass fixtures, and lustrous wood graced the interior. The entire room seemed to pulsate and glisten in the candlelight.

A draft scented with lily of the valley surrounded her. Lexi loved the delicate flowers. They bloomed in lush abundance in the garden, and she would take a walk there after wandering among the gowns tonight . . . hoping to see him.

So that’s how it went—down the staircase, into the garden for a moment, then weaving through the proper displays of linen, polished cotton, gingham, and dotted Swiss—roaming in and out between the rows of laces, velvets, organza, silks, and taffetas.

Then she would choose a dress that suited her mood, holding it, staring at it, dreaming of where it might take her. Sometimes she imagined she was a renowned ballerina at a party in her honor, another time a princess with ladies-in-waiting at her beck and call, and still other times, she’d be a busy mother attending a tea with her daughter . . . or on his arm. On and on the dreams would go. But tonight . . .

A glimpse of shimmering blue caught her eye and drew her. The gown was exquisite. It hung—featured for the day—against the creamy pearl and peach blossom pink of the wall covering.
Entranced, Lexi studied the dress that seemed a work of art, wondering where it had come from. Her fingers hadn’t touched this silken material—and if not, then whose had? She’d never seen it before. Would fit her? The nipped waist, the tucked bodice, the . . .

She reached up and removed it from its soft hanger. Mesmerized, she stood in front of the mirror. The three-paneled looking glass reflected her on every side as she whirled, pressing the satin dress close against her body. Sky blue ruffles caressed her neck; silken fabric skimming her waist, flaring out around her.

Oh, what if I really could wear this dress tonight? What if I was in his arms, dancing?

She could almost hear the music; she could almost feel the polished floor beneath her slippered feet.

Maybe if I close my eyes it will happen! Maybe, if I pray hard enough . . . The thought took her breath—dizzy as she was with her imaginations. And Lexi closed her eyes with a deep sigh.
Mm . . . the fragrance again. This time borne on a cool zephyr; had she left the French doors ajar—where had it come from?

A rustle, a sound; there was someone else in the room! She had to open her eyes.

“Am I dreaming?” Is it truly him? Walking to her side, the tall young man placed a bouquet of miniature white bells and greenery into her arms. He smiled at her, offering his arm.

Oh, could he hear her drumming heart? “I must be dreaming.”

“Perhaps,” he said. “But now—will you dance with me?”

“Dance? I . . . but . . . but I’m not dressed for a . . .”

“Shh,” he whispered, placing a finger lightly across her lips. He gave her a gentle smile and turned her toward the mirror. The glass echoed something different, and her eyes widened.

“See, you have on a beautiful dress—perfect for our dance.” The elegant blue silk gown enveloped her slender figure and flowed outward from her waist, cascading to the floor. Instead of straight and night-brushed, her hair was swept up with blue ribbons and fell about her shoulders in curls, and on her feet—blue satin slippers.

“Ohhh . . . the dress . . . it’s all so . . . lovely.”

He took her hand and led her through the double doors, outside into the moonlight, into the fragrance, into the music of the night. He held her close, tenderly, her feet barely touching the floor as they danced.

Am I dreaming? Am I imagining all this? Maybe, but tonight instead of admiring the twirling gown in front of the mirror, she was inside the twirling gown—in the garden—with him.
“Happy birthday, Lexi,” he whispered, his cheek against hers, the warmth of his breath moving through her hair, the sweet words blending with the breeze.

The grandfather clock chimed, and Lexi counted. One . . . two . . . three . . .
“No, please, not yet!” Four . . . five . . .

Opening her eyes, she sat alone on the marble bench. Glancing down, she saw only her long pink kimono. Where was it . . . the blue gown! Hesitant, she rose and walked toward the doors. Inside, everything was in order as if it had never been touched—just as when she first descended the staircase. The satin gown was safely on display, but tucked into the sash, a spray of lily of the valley. Deep in her heart, a knowing: one day he would come again . . . perhaps this time to stay. Lexi smiled and turned to blow a whisper toward the garden, towards the starlit sky.

“Thank you.”

Submitted by
Sally Chambers

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Urgent Call for Prayer

Since there are currently no entries for this contest, I'm going to post a special request.

Author Kristy Dykes needs prayer. Thursday morning, she will have surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor discovered only last week during a routine eye exam. Kristy is posting her journey on her own blog, and I urge to to visit and read her story. She is one amazing woman - her faith, her life, her attitude are an encouragement and inspiration to us all.

Many of us - writer friends, acquaintances, fellow Christians - are holding special times of fasting and prayer for Kristy the next couple of days, asking God to perform a miracle and remove that tumor from Kristy's brain. We're asking everyone to spread the word, and pray.

Will you please join us?

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Theme: ROMANCE!

Pix-N-Pens is honored to have prolific author and "romance guru" Lena Nelson Dooley as our guest judge this contest.


Our theme is ROMANCE! Submit a short story 2000 words or less, with a romantic theme. You have two weeks to get your entry submitted - stories should be emailed to me at tracyruckman @ gmail. com no later than midnight, Friday, November 16th. I'll post the entries as they arrive, and Mrs. Dooley will judge them the weekend of November 17th-18th. The winner will receive an autographed copy of her book Minnesota Brothers.



Lena Nelson Dooley is a multi-published, best-selling author of Christian romance. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the vice president of the local chapter DFW Ready Writers. Her releases earlier in 2007 were The Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner, Carolina Carpenter Brides, and Montana Mistletoe. Her romantic suspense, Who Am I?, will release in the Heartsong Book Club in November. Mrs. Dooley enjoys helping new authors. She has hosted a critique group in her home for over 15 years. She also promotes other authors on her blog . To find out more about her books, go to her web site or visit her Shoutlife profile .


Come, share your hearts with us!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Entry: CHALLENGES

God Can Do Anything
By Debbie Roome

I have glimpsed the passions and frustrations of Moses as time after time he went before Pharaoh. ” Let my people go.” was his cry. In a similar fashion, I spent months begging the South Africa government to “let my son go”.

Our story started in March 2005 with our decision to leave Africa and seek a new life in New Zealand. The problem was obtaining a passport for Timothy, the third born of our five children. Tim was born in Zimbabwe but as he had lived in South Africa from the age of seven months, Zimbabwe would not give him a passport. Unfortunately, neither would South Africa.

All South Africans have an identification number which is issued at birth. Immigrants over sixteen are assigned a number when they apply for an identification book. This number is central to life in South Africa and without it, you cannot get a job, open a bank account or cash a cheque . Nor, as we discovered, could you apply for a passport. Because Tim was only fifteen at the time, local government staff refused to issue him with a number.

So started a nightmare of being referred from one office to another, racial undertones and flat refusals to help. The system is renowned for its slowness and bribery and corruption is rife from top to bottom. Queues of several hundred are common and the premises are dirty and dilapidated. The location in the central city is a hot bed of crime and armed robberies.

After a month, a belligerent woman eventually accepted Tim’s application for an ID number. I suspect it was filed in the trash as soon as we walked out. Regular phone calls bore no results but we weren’t too worried as it was several months before our departure date.

In October 2005, my husband left to start work in New Zealand and prepare a home for us. With him gone and our tickets booked for January, I became more and more worried. In November, I decided to take Tim up to Johannesburg as we had heard the office there was more efficient. They accepted the application but said it could take months to process.

As December loomed, I called in back up. Friends, family and our church prayed for favour with Tim’s application. I approached our local newspaper and they printed the story of our plight. A helpful reporter supplied me with an unlisted number for management and so my quest continued.

The last two weeks of December were the worst I have ever experienced. In the midst of the pain and trauma of packing up our lives. Of farewells to family and friends, winding up my business, the sale of our house, settling accounts, closing bank accounts, dealing with floods and a swimming pool deluged with dirt, I continued to struggle against the government. My efforts included another trip to Johannesburg, the submission of applications three and four and extended visits to government offices. I did things I would not have thought I was capable of including pushing my way into management offices and paying a bribe to try and get a passport through the black market. It was all to no avail.

Six days before we were due to leave, I called the office as I had been doing twice a day for weeks. I was told the manager was busy with the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs who was touring their department. I dropped everything, grabbed Tim and drove into town. Along with hundreds of other people, I stood in a filthy hall in temperatures of over 100 degrees. Everyone was pushing and shoving but I was determined to speak to this man.

God honoured my determination and after half an hour, I got his attention and was able to explain the situation to him. He apologized for the treatment we had received and promised to authorize the issuing of an ID number and a passport. We went upstairs and filled out application number five and again submitted all the documentation, photos and fingerprints.

I continued to call them two or three times a day but still nothing happened. On Friday, 13th January 2006, Tim and I once again pushed our way into management offices. I told them I would not be leaving without his passport. We were booked to fly out at 6am on Monday 16th so this was our literally our last chance. The day passed in a blur of lies, insults, refusals and frustration until finally I threatened to call the deputy minister direct. (A compassionate staff member had slipped me his number.) Finally some action. After 2pm, the long awaited ID number popped up on the computer system. It was rushed through to the passport section and we submitted more forms, more photos and more money. Five minutes before the offices closed for the weekend, we were handed Tim’s temporary passport.

The victory of holding that passport in my hand remains one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was the culmination of an immense battle that stretched me in more ways than I thought possible. It was also tangible proof that God answers prayer and still performs miracles. Obtaining it was a shocking, terrible experience, yet looking back, I have no bitterness or regrets. God used it to show me that when the battle is the fiercest, the hardest and the most intense, the triumph is the greatest, the victory the sweetest.

That temporary passport has expired now but I’ve kept it as a reminder of what God did for us. As a trophy of the victory that God gave me. As evidence that He truly can do anything.
Submitted by
Debbie Roome