One of the less talked about heroes in my stories is probably Derek Smythe from A Country Kitchen Christmas. Mainly because this is a short story. I wrote it for a Christmas short story contest one of my writing chapter members puts on almost every year. The criteria was it had to be 10K words or less, set in the south, be based or at least inspired by your favorite Christmas story or movie. To make it more interesting I decided to make this an Inspirational romance. I never thought I could do one and I felt it was very light on the elements, but from the negative reviews I got it was more than enough for some readers to not like it. But let’s get back to Derek Smythe our hero.
Ten thousand words doesn’t give much room to go into great detail about the characters, but Derek didn’t need much. He fell in love with Penelope Anders in high school, but was too shy to tell her. Instead he spent time staring at her from afar, but she noticed and it annoyed her. Then after high school when her aunt passed away and Penelope was forced to auction the farm off to pay taxes, Derek decided to use his college fund to save Penelope’s home. The only problem was she didn’t want the farm saved. She couldn’t wait to get out of Crater’s Corners.
It isn’t until Penelope finds herself in a pickle and is forced to return to Crater’s Corners and the Anders farm for Christmas that she sees Derek again. You see, Miss Penelope has been writing a very successful Country Kitchen Cooking blog for the Southern Cooking Channel. Everything is going fine until she’s informed that the new CEO ran a contest giving one lucky winner the opportunity to spend Christmas with her at the Anders farm (oops!). The CEO even decides to broadcast a live cooking show from the farm where Penelope and the winner cook dinner. Another big Oops because Penelope can’t cook. She’s been using her aunt’s unfinished cookbook manuscript to pass herself off as a cook.
Have you figured out what Christmas story this is based on yet? I’ll give you a hint: It’s a Barbara Stanwyck movie.
When Derek bought the farm it was in need of many repairs and he’s spent the last several years trying to maintain the place. His bank account has taken a hit and he’s regretting his hasty decision to save the place for Penelope. Ready to throw in the towel, he prays for God to show him the answer. When the producer of the Southern Cooking Channel shows up on Derek’s doorstep wanting him to allow Penelope to return to the farm to fulfill the terms of the contest he agrees only if he gets a new roof and septic system for the farm. The producer calls his bluff and his prayer is answered.
If you haven’t read about Derek and Penelope then I won’t spoil the story by telling you more. You can pick it up for 99 cents at Amazon. And as for the Barbara Stanwyck movie you can catch it on Turner Classic Movies in December. It’s a real treat. I love it about as much as Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner.