Today’s guest post is a little different from my usual Friday Authors with a new book post. In light of the Christmas season, I’ve invited my dear friend, author/blogger, and huge promoter of the works of other artists, Sally Cronin, whose blog is The Smorgasbord Invitation , to come over and share one of her famous short stories for the season. I was thrilled that she had written a new and special story just for me and my blog. Sally has been writing a story series called ‘What’s in a Name’, using alphabetical order to choose a name for the story. In this story, Sally invited me to choose a name to base her story on. I gave her the name ‘Sanja’, my best friend for over 35 years.
For those of you who don’t already know Sally, her blog is an eclectic mix of her fabulous stories, as well as a ‘Smorgasbord’ of posts from everything to her educating series on health, her ‘laughter is the best medicine’ series, her series on musical legends, which she hosts with William Price King, as well as her numerous promotions she runs, inviting writers to submit their new books, promotions on their books, short story features, and much more.
I’d also like to mention here that Sally has been running quite a few promotions for the past month, inviting writers to submit their Christmas stories to be featured on her blog, and she’s been running a series of books featured from her Virtual Book Cafe, where she archives books from the many authors who’ve appeared on her blog.
Since it’s now early December, you can still check with Sally to see if there are any slots still available for you and your stories to be featured, but in case she’s already full, you will still want to visit her blog to read some of the wonderful stories and learn about new books and authors and read some wonderful contributions by other authors for seasonal reads. And stay tuned for Sally’s new promotions for the new year.
Here is the link to what Sally is offering for promotions for Christmas.
Visit Sally’s – Bloggers Around the Christmas Tree post and learn what types of goodies she has planned to share for the season on her blog.
Also, check out Sally’s Free Blog and Book Promotions because there are numerous promotions she offers to be featured on her blog year round.
Now, grab yourselves a coffee (or a glass of wine) and let’s read Sally’s Christmas tale.
Sanja – A Princess in Despair – A Christmas Fairy Tale.
Sanja looked through the lead glass window of her bedroom, and watched as her three brothers disappeared into the distant forest. The dark trees swallowed them in an instant, and closing her eyes she imagined she was beside them; riding Anica her white filly. How she loved the trails through the dark woods that suddenly opened into sun dappled glades of wild flowers and mushrooms. But her father had banned her from accompanying her carefree brothers, decreeing that it was time at seventeen to adopt a more ladylike and regal demeanour.
Tears filled her eyes at the memory of her last discussion with her father this morning; standing before him in the cold and intimidating throne room.
‘Sanja my child,’ her father scratched his balding head. ‘It is time to forget childish ways and prepare yourself for your marriage to Prince Aleksander on New Year’s Eve.’ Glaring at her from beneath his bushy eyebrows he continued, ‘I will not listen to your complaining and disobedience any longer; is that understood?’
He contemplated his only daughter, and remembered his wife’s wise words on how to deal with their wilful youngest child.
‘You must remember that the security of our kingdom depends on an advantageous union with all of our neighbours. Your brothers are promised to princesses on three corners of our realm, and when you marry the heir to Pokova to the north, we will have peace and prosperity for the future.’
He sighed and steeled his heart as watched her crestfallen beautiful face. ‘Your mother and I did not meet until our wedding day and we have had a most happy union, being also blessed with you and your brothers. We are royalty, and arranged marriages are as much part of our lives as your silk dresses and other privileges’.
Sanja bit her lip and silenced her response. She had been attempting to persuade her parents for the last two months that she could not marry a man that she had not met, and had not even seen a likeness of. Her shoulders slumped wearily and she curtsied to her father, asking permission to go to her rooms. The king waved her away in frustration and watched as the dispirited girl left the chamber.
Petar, Jakov and Henrik would be gone for several hours and she resigned herself to sitting in the window alcove and watching the palace staff going about their preparations for the grand feast tomorrow. The courtyard and kitchen gardens were bustling with activity. The cook and his assistants were unpacking tradesmen’s carts and gathering vegetables to accompany roast venison and turkey. In the distance she could see the giant farm horses pulling the cart holding the majestic tree harvested from the dense forest and destined for the ballroom.
Prince Aleksander was due to arrive today, but protocol demanded that she wait until she was formally introduced to him at the ball. Her brothers had met him at the annual boar hunt in the summer, and she had pestered them to tell her more about him. Unfortunately her three brothers loved to tease her and refused to talk about the prince at all; making faces at each other in merriment. A thought struck her and she gasped at the possible reason for their silence. He must be ugly, she thought, or perhaps stupid or had a nasty temper. Her nervousness only increased and she clasped her arms around her body in despair.
As she looked out of the window a flash of movement caught her eye. From the cobbled stable yard came a tall blonde man leading a jet black stallion. He was wearing a loose white shirt and leather jerkin, but it didn’t conceal the fact that he was very muscular as well as handsome. Feeling a little flushed, Sanja wondered why she had not seen this groom before. She also wondered why she had not heard the normally observant chamber maids gossiping about the new addition to the staff.
She watched as the man and horse moved gracefully down to the paddock, and she opened the window so that she could see more clearly. The cold winter air rushed into the room but pulling her shawl closer about her shoulders, she settled down to watch the proceedings.
The man released the horse and moved to the centre of the round paddock. He flicked a fine whip onto the sawdust behind the horse which responded by trotting around the outside of the ring… Another flick and the stallion turned and moved in the opposite direction. The elegance of both man and beast were magnificent; totally absorbing Sanja in the performance. After several minutes, the man dropped the whip to his side and turned to walk towards the gate… The horse stopped in his tracks and followed, gently nudging his shoulder to gain the groom’s attention. At the gate the man pivoted and placed his right hand at the top of horse’s forehead; leaning into him. They stood for several minutes; man and beast as one.
Sanja caught her breath and stuck her head out of the window, better to capture this intense and beautiful moment. The groom turned away from the horse and as he did so he looked up. He saw Sanja inelegantly hanging out of the window and smiled; even from this distance it was devastatingly effective. She ducked back inside and slammed the window shut. The impudence of the man, and to crown it all, this was just the sort of behaviour that her father had been so critical of.
That evening her mother knocked on her door and ushered through two maids with laden trays. She had also brought the palace seamstress who carried a linen wrapped garment over her arm. Sanja loved her beautiful mother and hoped that over their supper she might be able to win her over to her side.
She had heard her brothers arrive back an hour earlier, clattering into the courtyard and calling for Anton the head groom to come and collect their horses.. As they had noisily run up the steps to the main entrance of the palace, Sanja had been tempted to peek out of the window to see if Anton had anyone assisting him. But she had dismissed this foolishness. Tomorrow she would be betrothed, and married on New Year’s Eve. She must put all these romantic notions from her mind. However, part of her wished with all her might that she could be just a simple maid, who could dream of love and marriage with that devastatingly attractive but unobtainable man.
Her mother eventually left Sanja’s chambers having remained resolute on the upcoming marriage. But she had smiled at her daughter’s determined efforts, whilst reminding her that she had a royal duty to obey her father. Hanging on the front of the door to Sanja’s dressing room was a very beautiful pale blue dress. The ball gown was edged with matching satin and violet flowers draped across one shoulder down to the slender waist. However, even this sensational garment did little to lift her mood as she contemplated how tomorrow would change her life forever.
Early the next evening the guests for the Christmas ball began to arrive in their carriages. Whilst waiting to dress, Sanja kept watch from the window hoping to catch sight of the groom as the horses were led away. Her maid assisted her into her ball gown, and gently tucked in an odd strand of jet black hair which had drifted from the elaborate upswept style. Sanja stood in front of her full length mirror and despite appreciating that she looked every inch a princess, she felt coldness deep in her heart. She had to face the fact that she would never know the kind of love that other girls were privileged to receive. Her father had won, and very soon she would be leaving the palace and going to a strange land, far away from those who had loved and protected her until this moment.
Sanja carefully descended the red carpet of the curved staircase, eyeing the clusters of guests in an attempt to identify the man she was going to be spending the rest of her life with. Most were known to her, and as she moved between them they smiled and bowed. She saw that her father was at the end of the throne room with her mother, three brothers and a tall stranger with his back to the room.
Her father looked up and saw her, beckoning her over and touching the stranger on his shoulder. As Sanja reached the group, the elegantly dressed man turned and she looked into startling blue eyes. She gasped as she recognised the shaggy blonde hair and the broad shoulders, blushing to the roots of her hair.
‘Your Highness, may I introduce my daughter, Princess Sanja.’
Her father took her right hand and placed it into the large palm of the man in front of her.
‘Sanja meet your betrothed, Prince Aleksander of Pokova.’
Breathlessly Sanja looked down at his broad and sun-tanned hand.
A deep voice broke into her scattered thoughts. ‘I believe we have glimpsed each other before Princess.’
She looked up into his smiling face and her lips trembled as she fumbled for a response.
Sensing her discomfort, Prince Aleksander continued, ‘ I was working with Kyros this afternoon when you noticed us. He is my betrothal present to you and I hope you will ride him back to Pokova with me after our wedding.’
Sanja’s beaming smile and gentle squeeze of his hand gave him his answer, and as he led her off to the dance floor for their first waltz, she heard her father behind her.
‘Somebody get me a brandy.. A very large brandy’.
©sallycronin What’s in a Name 2016
For another special treat, Sally is sharing one of her favorite recipes for the holiday season. Sally posted this fun recipe on her blog awhile ago and I thought it was hilarious and asked her if I could share it here. According to its origins, the original author is unknown, but this popular cake has been circling the internet for over 30 years!
Best Christmas Recipe
Besht Cishmash Reshippy.
- 1 Cup butter
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Cup dried fruit
- 1 Teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 Cup brown sugar
- 1 Cup nuts
- 1 or 2 quarts of aged whisky
Before you begin, sample the whisky to check for quality. Good isn’t it?
Select a large mixing bowl and a measuring cup. Check the whisky again as it must be just right. To be absolutely sure, pour a large glass and drink as fast as you can.
With an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and beat the hell out of it again. Meanwhile at this parsnicular point in time, wake sure that the whixy hasn’t gone bad while you weren’t looking. Open second quart if nestessazy.
Add 2 large leggs, 2 cups of fried druit and beat until high, If druit gest shtuck in peaters, just pry the monsters loosh with a drewscriver.
Example the whiksty again, shecking confistancy, then shitf 2 cups of salt or destergent or whatever, like anyone gifts a shplit.
Chample the whitchey shum more.
Shitfin shum lemon zhoosh. Fold in chopped sputter and shrained nusts. Add 100 babblspoons of brown booger or whushever’s closhest and mix well. Greash ubben and turn the caky tin to 350 decrees. Now pour the whole mesh into the washing machine and set on sinch shycle.
Cheque dat whixney wunsh more and pash out.
Do let us know how YOUR cake turns out! LOL
Visit Sally at her blog Smorgasbord Invitation and visit her books HERE