A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times Magazines, Spirit Led Woman and on The Master's Artist Blog. Her work focuses on fiction, popular culture, media and their relationship to people who live according to a Christian worldview. Dee Stewart is the owner of DeeGospel PR, a Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA where she lives. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 5 years old in July at http://christianfiction.blogspot.com, keep up with her current projects at http://www.deestewart.com, talk to in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.
Christmas Carnival of Short Fiction and Contest
Christmas is my favorite time of year, not just because of the good cheer and great food. I love the great storytelling. Instead of dropping my daughter off to Mother’s Day Out for Christmas shopping, I spend it lying in bed, watching the Hallmark Channel’s Janette Oak series, while skimming through the books. Although I’m not a white frontier wife of the 1800s, their cultural differences don’t phase me or give me pause. It’s the universality of the stories, God’s abiding, enduring, and unyielding joy, that make their world relatable to me.
It’s the reason why the “Multicultural Fiction” column will have a new focus this month and in 2010. MF column wasn’t designed to separate writers of color but to showcase the many manifestations of God across cultural lines and worldviews for the good of Christ. I hope that this change will not only open AA readers’ eyes to a wider selection of Christian novels, but also so that all readers will take a second look at books written by Christians of various cultures and ethnic enclaves.
In this issue we will celebrate with a Holiday Short Fiction Carnival and Contest (like we used to do on our blogs). I’ve selected seven stories for you to enjoy and vote on—and a bonus short from me. Vote for your favorite story before December 31, 2009. I will announce the winner in the January column. The winner will receive a Christmas gift from me and a badge that the author can put on his or her site.
“A Different Christmas” by Ava Pennington
“I’m sorry, Mom, I’ll miss you all, too.” Carlotta sighed when her mother interrupted.
“But you’ve flown back home every year since you moved to Nashville. Surely Tamas would understand if you explain it to him.”
Tears welled in Carlotta’s eyes. “Mom, I don’t like it anymore than you do.”
“If you have to be with them on Christmas Eve, you can still spend Christmas Day with us.”
“Mom, we’ve talked about this. They’re in Chicago and you’re in New York. It’s impossible for us to combine trips. We were together for Thanksgiving. I promise, next year we’ll be with you for Christmas, and we’ll spend Thanksgiving with them. It just can’t be helped. . . . I love you, too. . . . ’Bye.” Carlotta flipped her cell phone shut. Well, that did it. Her favorite time of year ruined. Peace on earth? Not for her. Not this year. Read more, then come back and vote.
“Too Much to Ask” by Joanna Mallory
“Are you coming or not?”
Shaila Turner jumped at the sound of her husband’s voice in the hallway. She scrawled a few more lines, closed the notebook, and slid it back under the papers on her night table.
Mark was pulling on his gloves as she appeared. She sidestepped the vegetable tray on the floor and shrugged into her own coat and boots.
“Nice looking veggies. I’m glad you had the energy to chop them all.”
“No problem.” He picked up the food. With one hand on the doorknob, he turned back. “Look, Shaila, if you don’t want to go, just say so.”
Shaila shook her head. “We have to go.” Read more, then come back and vote.
“The Middle of the Forrest” by Aaron Wilson, Jr.
Three guys and one girl walked through a forest on a cold, December night. The forest was mostly green, but there was a patch in the middle that was complete darkness. From the bottom to the top, it was blacker than a thousand midnights in the bottom of the ocean. They sought this place because inside, despite the journey, all of their grandest wishes could come true in this place.
The three boys knew one another from childhood. Raised in the same house, by the same two people they called Mom and Frank. The girl was the only child born to Mom and Frank, and her three brothers, born at different places but reared as one, protected her as if they all had the same blood running through their veins.
The girl became ill one day and found herself on the earth in front of their home, unable to get up on her own and barely able to hear the frantic voices of her youngest brother and oldest brother begging her to wake up. She realized that she wasn’t asleep; she knew she wasn’t dreaming. But what she didn’t know was how to calm their voices. Read more, then vote for your favorite here.
“Screwback Hill” by Lea Ann McComb
I almost missed it. If it hadn’t been for that piercing ray of sun, the flash of chrome in a murky forest . . .
I took the last curve with my tongue clamped between my teeth, tapping the brakes, and mentally cursing the fools who designed this deathtrap—suicide after an eighteen-hour shift like I’d had.
Preston and his staff meetings. Didn’t the man have a life outside the hospital? Apparently, the rest of us weren’t supposed to, either. He obviously didn’t have teenagers. Lauren had called every thirty minutes with another segment of
Why-isn’t-Chad-inviting-me-to-the-Winter-dance? And now Morgan would meet me at the door demanding that I check her shoddy homework.
I whipped the wheel to the left and wondered if Rodney had scraped all the graffiti off the garage door yet. Having to look at it every day made me sick. Thought we were past all that. Read more, then vote for your favorite here.
“Not Another Holiday!” by Lena Nelson Dooley
Martha was lying in a hospital bed with her back turned toward the door. Why didn’t they just close the door so no one would bother her? If one more person came to her door and spoke to her with a big smile, she was going to throw up. There was nothing cheerful about her life right now. And if she never heard another Merry Christmas, it would be soon enough. What did she have to be merry about?
Last week, right before Thanksgiving, she was in an auto accident. Not only did it total her new car, that car had burst into flames with Martha buckled into the seatbelt. A seatbelt that jammed, holding her inside. By the time she was rescued, she had sustained some serious burns. Those very burns were keeping her in the hospital. Maybe until after the next holiday. So Martha really didn’t have anything to be merry about. Read more of Not Another Holiday! and vote here.
“The Diamond Jones dot Com” by Linda Leigh Hargrove
O Mellow Night
November 22 / by The Diamond Jones
My uncle can play the trumpet and he ain’t half bad. I sat up in the kitchen with Mama Dee and listened to him toot out a few Christmas tunes and it was really nice. Mama Dee had brewed what she called Christmas tea and made her tea cookies (heaven on earth; I tell no lie) and we had sat up there listening to Uncle Ed’s concert. It was real nice. I love these old people. This little bambino growing inside me is mellowing me out.
I’ve been working all day down at The Spread, our little weekly on the east side of Vine Street, on the wrong side of the tracks. The editor, a crazy bald ex-con I’ll call Gee, and I have been working on a special Christmas edition. Gee gave me a wad of money and said, “Merry Christmas.” So I’m going to take the bus to the mall tomorrow and shop a little for Mama Dee and Uncle Ed. I think I’ll get Mr. Carl (my favorite neighborhood drunk) and Gee something too. Read more of Linda's story, then vote.
“Missing Christmas” by Marcia Lee Laylock
Sulking and soaking. For me, the two always go together. I know when I’m not fit to be around people, especially the people I’m mad at, so the bathtub is the best place to be. I run the water as hot as I can stand it and stay there until I feel like I can be civil again. That night, the night before Christmas, I thought I might be there till dawn.
Tim had dropped the bomb when he came home from work two days before we were to go home for the holidays. Somehow he’d managed to mess up making the flight reservations. How could he mess up something so important, so essential to my sanity? Bad enough he’d talked me into coming here, to the end of reason and any sign of civilization, just so he could have a “real Northern experience.” Bad enough he didn’t once compliment me on how I’d bravely been enduring the minus fifty degree temperatures. Bad enough we still had five more months to endure life in this town on the edge of the universe. Now we were stuck here for Christmas. Read more of Missing Christmas here.
Bonus. My short. “Catching My Gingerbread Man”
rejoice, O daughter of Zion!
I placed my last Gingerbread Donovan in the basket when the phone rang. I checked my watch: 6:30 p.m. The party started in thirty minutes. I didn’t have time to drive, let alone talk. Yet I checked the caller ID anyway. Thank Goodness I did. It was Mama and she would have had a hot fit if I didn’t pick up.
I answered. “Mom, let me call you from my cell phone. I have to get to the party.”
”No need. Just checking to see if Donovan had picked you up already.”
“Mama . . .” I sighed. “We’ve been through this before. I’m driving myself.”
She scoffed. “For something so important he should at least pick you up tonight. He never escorts you anywhere.”
“Mom, that’s not true. But today there’s no time; I had to run home and bake the cookies.”
“What cookies?” Mama paused. “Please tell me you did not make that man those gingerbread cookies again. Lord, what you do for that man . . .” Click here to read or listen.
Don’t forget to visit the CFB Christmas Carnival Blog to vote for your favorite story.