Sundial Wins

The Daddy Spell by Patti Ann ColtSweet Cicely by Kelly McCrady
In August, I entered a short story contest hosted by The Wild Rose Press, a relatively new epub. My CPs Patti Ann Colt and Kelly McCrady both have stories coming out with them this year: Patti's is an Americana novel called The Daddy Spell and Kelly's is a short story with a mythical twist called "Sweet Cicely."

The "Through the Garden Gate" contest rules read as follows:

We are looking for time travel stories 15,000-20,000 words in length. There are four categories: Regency, Civil War, Western, and Vintage (1955-1965). One story from each category will be e-book published and all entries will receive a critique.

All stories must start in 2007 with the heroine vacationing in this cottage (see picture) set in Bury, Lancashire, England. When she walks through the garden gate she is transported in time and finds romance in one of the time periods stated above.
I don't know why the thing appealed to me but it did. An idea came to me almost fully formed, with 1950s Italy as the setting. Think The Talented Mr. Ripley--all the cute summer dresses and riding around with hot guys on Vespas. Remember? I blogged about it ages ago, casting young Joaquin as my hot lead.

Living on a steady diet of Imogen Heap, Elisa, and Pearl Jam, I wrote the story in July, mostly procrastinating from the much bigger task of polishing TNFKaRWS. Long story short, the end result was "Sundial," and yesterday it was chosen as the winner of the Vintage category. Woot! I'm on their homepage!

The prize was publication with TWRP, but I'm talking with my agent this week about saving it for an eventual fan freebie or perhaps shopping it as part of an anthology. We'll see.

So what's it about? New York native Mark Lacey is from 1987. He's been trapped in 1950s Italy for four year, since he was 16. Thirty-year-old Australian Amber Schulman--daughter of a globe-hopping, thrice-divorced ambassador father--is from 2007. She just arrived in 1958, and they're trying their best to make sense of the crazy mixed-up thing that is life. And then they have The Hot, Hot Sex.

Mark returned to the rooms and bumped the door open with his toes. In his arms he held two canvas bags full of fresh food: fish, olives, wine, pasta, and a citrus aperitif called limoncello, a local specialty. The air had mostly cleared between him and Amber, and he felt like sharing the good things he'd discovered in Sorrento. And although he didn't like to admit it, he felt compelled to prove his maturity. If that meant cleaning up, cooking, and expunging his frat boy tendencies, the price was a relatively small one.

But the apartment was spotless. She'd beaten him to it.

Standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, mop in hand, she wore modest cast-offs from Silvia's collection: a sunshine yellow peasant skirt and a white cotton blouse knotted at her stomach, exposing a perfect bellybutton. A colorful scarf kept hair off her forehead and neck.

Screw groceries and maturity. Mark wanted to drag her into his arms and haul her to bed. Her tempting tan skin peeked at him, teasing with the promise of more. More Amber.


He jerked back to reality--or what passed for reality. "Sorry?"

"What is it? You're staring."

He shrugged and dropped the bags on the counter. In short order he prepared a simple lunch of bread, cheese, and tomatoes. They sat at the tiny metal dinette with orange floral chair cushions and shared the meal. Sunshine and Italian voices streamed through the single kitchen window, a window now clean and open to the street.

"What do you miss?"

He finished a swig of strong coffee and stared at the stained porcelain cup. "I don't like to think about that."

"It's all I can think about, how different things are," she said, her voice delicate. "I miss going online and to find out what's happening. It's like we're in a cave here."

"I assume I'll know what you're talking about someday?"

"Yeah. Sorry."

She took her dishes to the sink and returned with the tiny manual drip coffee pot. While refilling Mark's cup, she brushed her hip against his upper arm. Her scent, just plain soap and Amber, wrapped around him. He wanted to rest his heavy head against the flat plane of her stomach, to forget his troubles, to lift her skirt and kiss her inner thighs.

Metal clanged against metal when she banged the pot on the burners. He jumped. The room sparkled with an electricity he could nearly see, most certainly felt. A door of sorts had opened between them, but damn if his feet weren't glued to the threshold.

She slid back into her chair, feline and female. All grace. "I miss football. You know, soccer?" She doctored her coffee with cream and sugar. "My dad works for embassies, so I spent nine years in São Paolo, Brazil. He had a beach house in Santos, about 50 kilometers away. I'd sneak to Vila Belmiro to watch the matches."

Mark tried to picture his haughty princess at a soccer match but couldn't. And then he tried to figure out if he had any claim to calling Amber his.

No. Not yet.
I re-read it two nights ago when I was feeling down about the crap I'm producing right now, just happy to know that my stuff gets where I want it to be...eventually. And special thanks to Silvia for the translation and 1950s Italy help. I made her a character!

I can't wait to be with you.
No I just can't sit still.
Are we there yet?
Takes me back--
I remember such a magical place.
It was so...you...
"Closing In" by Imogen Heap

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