Sunday, September 28, 2014

Three Flash Contests--enter to win

Flash Fiction Contest:
Nat. Brut
F I R S T  P L A C E  includes a $200 prize and the winner's entry will be included in Issue Five.

S E C O N D  P L A C E  includes a $50 prize, and the winner's entry will be included on the Nat. Brut Blog.

T H I R D  P L A C E  winner's entry will be included on the NB blog and will receive a T-Shirt.

InkTears International Short Story Competition 2014
The Prize
There are six prizes which will be awarded by the InkTears judging panel:
  1.     Winner: £1,000
  2.     Runner-up: £100
  3.     4x Highly Commended: £25
    Submissions must be a short story between 1,000 to 3,500 words in length, written in English. Any theme is acceptable.
 The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the stage and radio series, Selected Shorts. This long-running series at Symphony Space in New York City celebrates the art of the short story by having stars of stage and screen read aloud the works of established and emerging writers. Selected Shorts is recorded for Public Radio and heard nationally. Entries should be 750 words or less. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Part About Getting Lost

Here is an excerpt of an email I sent to my husband--after I'd survived getting lost leaving the Sörmlandsleden Trail.

The trail was perfect. The weather was perfect. Sleeping at night watching my fire die down was perfect. The only problem was today, my last day, which should have been glorious. The map was spot on--until I left the trail and tried to walk to Gnesta. I got up at 6:15 in order to break camp and get to the road. My directions said 14 km on the road, which is a lot. I was hoping to catch a ride.

Actually the first km was fine, everything on the map. I had visions of being EARLY for the 11:45 train. Then everything went haywire. I kept trying to follow the map of where the road led to the bigger road, but it dead ended. Literally, just stopped. There were logging road tracks and I tried, but they were awful. So I went back to where I made that turn. Probably backtracking a mile. It didn't make sense but I tried another gravel road, thinking that must be it. But it only took me back to the trail--just further down. So I went back again, finally agreeing with myself that it must be the horrible logging road I needed to take. Now I'm probably wasted and hour going back and forth. I went back to where the gravel road dead ended and took the awful logging road. I was falling down in mud and sloshing through muck. 

I finally had enough. I went back again and saw another logging road. I told myself I need to get to that road--so I made up my mind to follow this one to the end.

It came to an end and I wasn't going to go back. I did a big no-no, I started bushwacking through the forest with no idea of where I was going. I just knew there was a road somewhere.

Even if I could call for help, even if my phone worked=how do you call for help in Sweden, and where was I?

I got down to another lake. Which one was this on my map? (There were a LOT of lakes.) It was probably 10 a.m and I'd been walking non-stop for almost 3 hours. I was at my breaking point. Then I saw orange strips on the trees which meant I'd somehow reconnected with the trail--just further along, again. If that was the case, and I kept going I should come to a road and then I'd get off the trail and try to find the road.

After half an hour I got off the trail and kept following the road until I got to the bigger road. Glory, but I was so very, very far away now from Gnesta. And I was walking in the wrong direction. It was hard-packed dirt and no one came for a long time. I flagged a car down and the woman said yes I was on the right road and I was going in the wrong direction. I asked if there was much traffic and she said no.

So at least I was still in Sweden. I started walking and walking and walking. I hadn't taken any breaks and hardly any time to drink or eat. At noon I knew I'd missed the early train, but I was going toward Gnesta. It was hot and I was starting to fall apart. I prayed for a car to come, there had been no traffic for about an hour, when a car came going in my direction. I flagged him down. It was an older man who spoke no English, but HE DROVE ME TO GNESTA!!!!

I got there with 50 min to spare until the train came that would take me to the ferry.

By the time I took 3 trains and walked to the ferry I was the absolutely last passenger on the ship. They closed the doors behind me.

Oh my God. What a miracle.

All in all with all the wandering back and forth I probably did close to 15 miles walking in 4.5 hours.
P.S. Google Earth vindicated my experience. The logging roads weren't on the map, neither was the road that deadended. The moral of this story: BE SURE TO GET THE NEWEST VERSION OF THE TRAIL MAP BEFORE SETTING OUT.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Visby, a medieval walled city

I got to Visby at about 1 in the afternoon. Still no storm, just white fluffy clouds, like giant pieces of popcorn. I cycled around the city walls.

Until I actually saw someone storming the walls. A city worker.

Then from on top of a hill I spied some ruins. Come to find out there are 13"ruined" churches within the city walls.

And more ruins.

In the distance, storm clouds.

Why so many ruins? They were ruined by the Reformation.
Of course what is a walled city without some cute timberd houses.

After my walking tour of Visby I sat down in a square to bask in the sunshine and enjoy a cup of tea. Literally a second after I got up a big, fat storm cloud blew in and started shaking the tree tops. Dirt blew in my eyes. I texted the guys at the cycle shop, hopped on my bike, and pedaled with the wind pushing me to return the bike. The nice guy also gave me a ride in his car (with his family--the little girl pulled out her nannie to tell me to fasten my seat belt). He kindly dropped me off at my hostel, where the wind has been rattling the windows all night.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gotland Cycling Day 3

I left my host family at about 9 a.m. though I had to go back because I left this little device--haha. I bought a Kindle before leaving the States and it's been so great. Very light weight and functional wherever there is WiFi.

My first church stop was in Sanda.

Next I went on the the kyrka in Vastergarn. It is easy to forget that one is on an island. There are so many trees and small farms. Then

You realize that these people live and die by the sea. I felt a bit like a mariner today. The weather forecast called for a sunny morning, but then a big weather change was going to occur. Rain and high winds. I definitely did not want to be caught in a storm, so I hurried on to Visby.

On the way I was once again reminded that this is an island. After days of riding in the interior, the landscape opened up to the water.

And, oddly enough=bunkers.

Before I got to Visby I took a side road. The weather didn't look too alarming. I passed some weird stones in a field. Seriously I thought it was an outdoor camp. But the next one explained what it was--an ancient burial ground. Rocks placed to resemble a ship.

Next--on to ViSBY,,a medieval walled city.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gotland Cycling Day 2

I love stopping at the village kyrkas. For one thing they are spaced short distances. In about 8 or so km I can be at a new one. Also they have picnic tables where I can sit and have tea from my thermos or the numerous buns I buy from the ICA grocery store. The other reason I stop is that they have toilets. All have been clean, well-stocked and just great. Some are more modern and some are
More basic.

My second day of cycling was a bit gloomy. There were periods of sun and clouds, then mostly cloudy. I stopped by a church in Dalhem. It was breathtaking, rivaling Siena. The walls were colorfully decorated-- not sure if they are frescoed or simply painted. See for yourself.

Above notice the angel riding on a ship. Always the boat motif.

I went on to a ruined Abbey and monastery at Romakloster. The information in English said the Abbey disappeared, but the timing is slightly revealing. It disappeared because of the Reformation and the lands were given to a lord. From the Lord to a lord. It started to rain so I hid back under an awning among the ruins.

After awhile I went on to where a host family welcomed me for the night--good thing because it started to rain again.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Swedish Mile

Not only do the Swedes use km to measure distance, but they also have the Swedish mile. Roughly 1 Swedish mile equals 10 of ours. I did about 5 Swedish miles yesterday. I also kept passing old mile markers that looked like cute little houses. Everything in Sweden is Cute (except getting lost, which that will be published later.)

I kept cycling on, clocking km and swedish miles until I came to a point of interest. (Signs are very good, so far. Hopefully no getting lost.) The info board told me that during the Bronze Age there was a settlement here. Now just a heap of rocks. That is the problem with the Bronze Age. There was also evidence of modern man, lots of bits of tissue on the ground. That's the problem with modern man--we also leave our mark. Next I rode on to a church at the little town of Bro. It was quite old. Not sure when it was built, but set into the walls once again were stones with old writing.

 Notice the ship on the one above. Inside the church was colorfully painted.

 Notice the ship above the fresco.

The bapistry above is my favorite.

Later on I passed another OLD church. Notice the cross above the grass-thatched roof.
Around noon, while even more out in the country I passed the old Johnson Family farm, there was a sign in Swedish, but I knew they were welcoming people to stop. There were probably 30 cars in the parking lot and when I pulled in on my bike I was the only one not from there. There were a ton of people milling about. I bought a hot dog and watched a machine thresh some kind of wheat or flax. There were chairs set out for the old folks to watch. It was that exciting. They just sat and watched as if it were a film (Bergman?)
I stopped next at another small farm where there was an ancient point of interest. Standing stones, on some guys farm. Can you imagine? In the old days before they figured out what they were, they must of been a huge aggreviation.

Above another kyrka. I just can't stop stopping at them to wonder and eat a snack, before going on.

Well, I got to Farosund, a town at the tip Gotland Island, where I was hoping to find some place to sleep. I'd been hearing again and again that places were closed for the season. The Swedish gods must have been looking out for me be cause I lucked into a wonderful, cheap place--and the best part is I have it practically to myself. Not only do I have my own room in which to relax, but almost the whole facility. It is called the Boot Hostel. Will definitely 're commend at Trip Advisor once home. Also the great people who rented me a bike in Visby.

The very lucky part, though, is that the other person staying here spoke to me in English and told me that for one night only on the other tiny island of Faro there was a kind of special night. A Faropallosa. So I hoped on my bike, went to the ferry, got over and rode a bus around all night for free, stopping at various places. One of which was the Bergman Center. Ingmar Bergman, the director lived out his last years on the island, and his journey rediscovering it was as happenstance as mine. Just luck. Below the outfits from Fanny and Alexander.

And I finished the night at the kyrka where Bergman is buried and a 10 o'clock service of special music and a choir. The church inside and out was lit with tiny candles.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sörmlandsleden Trail Diary

So begins my own Nordic saga. After leaving the comfort of my friend and her home in Tranås, I took 4trains to begin my hike in the small town of Molnbo. I got off the train and was told to follow the signs to get to the trail.
So I did for maybe a mile until I reached the trail.
The trail was VERY  well marked. Every few steps trees were painted with an orange band. It would be hard to lose the trail. Yet I also had with me the official map for the trail. The one issued by the society that maintains the trail.

Until I got to where I was going to spend my first night. At what is called a wind shelter. Lotta had loaned me a high-powered sleeping bag. It should keep me warm--it weighed a ton, adding at least 5 pounds to my pack. Here is where I slept.

And here was my view.

The next day was more of the same. Beautiful pine woods breaking forth into beautiful glistening lakes. Where I refreshed myself with a swim! It was so relaxing, but very lonely. All together I only met one group walking--a bunch of school kids out with their teachers on a day hike.

I was by myself. The next night I stayed by Lake Djupsjön.

Where I slept so sound. At night you can't hear a thing--only your own breathing and the fire as it dies down.

Next: in my saga. How I got incredibly, horribly lost, but lived to tell about it. CLICK HERE. And the people who made the map WILL BE HEARING FROM ME.