Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Shared Storytelling: Advent Ghosts 2014

Is any season lonelier than solstice? The elements shove the sun over the horizon, force the flora into the earth, drive animals deep into their dens. And what of us? We contend with old paths turned treacherous by ice. Well-known tableaus have gone foreign, hills hoary with frost and trees stripped down to bare boughs. Spare a sigh over goldengrove unleaving, just one while rubbing aching knuckles and flexing numb toes, face ruddied to rawness by the cold. Then go home to shelter and faces known -- if not always friendly. We understand why. The half-full bottle hidden beneath the sink. Bills shoved to one side of the desk. Those hard words muttered in still moments. Breathe in the tired smells of stale coffee, damp cigarettes, and aerosol air freshener. Then pause. The air holds a hint of wood smoke as fire flares up in the hearth. The house creaks, wind whipping around the eaves. Tinsel glitters in the dim light. The person sitting across from you smiles tentatively. Starts to speak. Hesitates. The silence, filled as it is with the ghosts of old arguments, is deep.

What will you say to break it?

Welcome to Advent Ghosts 2014, the sixth annual shared storytelling event at ISLF. Every year, a group of us gather to celebrate the old Anglophile tradition of swapping spooky tales on Christmas Eve. We shake things up just a little bit, though. Rather than writing lengthy pieces, we compose 100-word stories -- dubbed "drabbles" -- and post them the weekend prior to Christmas. All comers are welcome, just so long as they follow a few simple rules ...
1) Email me at ISawLightningFall [at] gmail [dot] com if you want to contribute.
2) Pen an eerie little tale that's exactly 100-words long -- no fudging the length.
3) Post your story to your blog on Friday, December 19 and email the link to me. Hosting can be arranged for those without blogs of their own.
4) Understand that though I never have and never will censor stories, I do reserve the right to put content warnings on particularly graphic tales.
Remember this: Even though the event is dubbed "Advent Ghosts," you don't necessarily need to incorporate either element from that title. We're looking for a particular tone. Aim for creepy, scary, sad, unsettling. Work it any which way you want using the genre you like. Anything from horror to fantasy to crime fiction to weird takes on religious tales is fair game. Why not read the stories from last year and the year before that and the year before that? But whatever you do, just make sure the gooseflesh crawls up our necks. Come and help us pass these lonely days.

(Picture: CC 2010 by i k o)

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