How We Write – The Green-Eyed Monster Goes to the Circus

The prompt for this little piece was, It’s Not Fair.

At the time she got this prompt, Orion was writing exclusively in her WIP (Work In Progress), the Farseeker Chronicles. She heard this line delivered by the character of Xander, a boy that Brigid Farseeker met when she joined a space-going circus many years after the events of last week’s story, Vitandus. This is the story that Xander and Brigid told Orion.

By the way, Xander’s real name is Alexander Maximilian Caesar. He was meant for greater things than just helping with the circus animals. Stay tuned for more stories of Xander and the Farseeker universe.


Photo by Mysticsartdesign

THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER GOES TO THE CIRCUS

A Tale from the Farseeker Chronicles

 

“It’s not fair,” Xander muttered, grabbing a second piece of apple pie as the plate was handed to him. Around them, the sounds of cutlery and muted conversation filled the great dining hall on the Circus Ship Roustabout.

“What’s not fair?” asked his auntie, Brigid Farseeker, glancing up at him while she neatly laid out her throwing knives in precise rows. As Cougar’s Daughter, Mistress of the Knives, she was the star of every show.

“That isn’t.” He gestured down the long trestle table to where Marcos the Magician and little Greta the Flying Girl sat, heads bent over a checkered game board. An ebony tower-shaped piece rose, moved slightly, then settled gently upon a black square, all in silence and without any movement by Marcos. As her crowned alabaster piece levitated and took a position on a white square, Greta crowed, “Checkmate!” (more…)

How We Write – Vitandus

Orion was selling her jewelry at a small belly-dancing event in Tacoma, WA. While the dancing competition was going on, there wasn’t much to do, so she started writing. This story was the result.

The character of Brigid came out of nowhere and Orion just wrote down what she saw in her head. Bright, Brigid’s twin brother, coming out of the shadows was a complete surprise. Anyway, this is how and why the twins, around 14-15 years old, came to be living on their own in Port Town. When Orion first started working on this, it was sort of a Firefly fanfic, but as the stories kept coming and the characters took on lives of their own, with worlds and backstory that didn’t match up with Firefly, she realized her people and stories were in their very own universe.

Thus was born the Farseeker Chronicles. This work-in-progress, including stories, character sketches, and planetary system notes, now amounts to over 300,000 words!


Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcbeth/

VITANDUS

 

“Brigid! Come with me! Now!”

A shape like a great bear filled the tent’s opening. Bright, in the shadows, heard the man’s roar proceed him as he strode towards his sister. The crowd parted before him like startled birds.

Brigid, lost in the heavy beats of dumbeks and djembes, and the melodies of the flutes, electronic keyboards, and fiddles, continued dancing.

The man came to a halt at the edge of the dance circle. He glared at Brigid, taking in her small slender body, from her bare feet up across her blue work denims. His gaze ended on her red hair, bound at the nape of her neck where a few escaped curls swung about her freckled face like children freed from school.

*Brigid, it’s Father,* the familiar voice of her twin, Bright, spoke in her head, insinuating itself into her reverie. She slowed to a stop, facing her father where he stood arms crossed, anger clouding his face. (more…)

How We Write – Damned Fire

Our prompts were: fire, stripes, and stuffed animal.

In the first draft of this story, it was all about the fireman. But once we realized what a special little girl Lucy was, she became the main character of her own short story collection (The Damned Kid anthology will be forthcoming at a later date). In editing this for the blog, we realized that we needed to make significant changes to still tell the fireman’s story, but make it fit as part of the larger story cycle belonging to Lucy. In the process, we chopped over 200 words from the story.


Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash

 

DAMNED FIRE

 

Our engine company arrived just in time to see the first house in the subdivision flare up like a torch.

I shivered.

The fire seemed to have a life of its own. I’ve never seen one move so fast before. Or at right angles to the wind.

Jack finished pulling the hose down off the engine then hooked it up to the hydrant.

This whole area has been blanketed in smoke for days. These poor people probably don’t even realize that the fire’s snuck up on the greenbelt behind their houses.

Chief Johnson grabbed me. “Let Avon and Blake take that hose.” Pointing at a large home on the corner, he ordered, “You get that house cleared. The rookie and I’ll take the next one.”

I ran up the curving walk and pounded on the door. I was about to break in when it swung open.

There was no one there. (more…)

How We Write – Raise A Glass

Our prompts were: Fishing, into the wind, last place, haunt, drivers license, and glass.

The prompt glass, from my M3 writing group. There were several ways to go: a glass cup, window glass, a pair of glasses, someone being transparent as glass, or even someone with a glass eye. But, as usual, we didn’t take the easy way out. The prompt became a character’s last name.

One of the characters, Red Tom, first appeared in a short story based in our Dreaming of Xeres novel called The Infamous Couch Story.

Red Tom himself is based on a real person Orion knew called Red James. At one point in her life, she had just too many people named James in her life, so she renamed them Red James and Black James. As you do. Red James made such an impression on her, going from a long-haired flamboyant young man to the crew cut and three-piece suit wearing gentleman that showed up after many years away, that she keeps dropping him into stories.


Photo by Yutacar on Unsplash

RAISE A GLASS

He’d been watching the attractive woman for several minutes. She sat all alone at the bar, surreptitiously tossing glances at a group in the far corner. When they stood and raised a toast, she turned away with tears in her eyes.

“Hey, are you okay? You look really sad.”

She focused hazel eyes on him, tilting her head like he was a specimen in a zoo. (more…)

How We Write – Hell To Pay

Our prompts were: lost and found, off limits.

This is just a little piece of Gothic Horror. And when the word count came in at 664, of course, we had to add two words so that the count would be 666, the Number of the Beast.

We both like Lucifer on TV, so whenever we write Satan into a story, we see and hear the actor Tom Ellis in the character. It was fun to imagine that tall, dark eminence as a cherubic child.


 

HELL TO PAY

“He’s all yours!” The matron plopped the boy on the counter. “It’s the end of my shift and I’ve got a train to catch.” She adjusted her clothing, picked up her purse, and waddled off.

“Hey, wait. What am I supposed to with him?” I called after her.

“He’s lost. Someone found him. You work for Lost and Found, so he’s your problem.” (more…)

How We Write – Shadows of the Past

For the month of October, we thought we’d treat you to scary stories. This is the first one.

Our prompts were: Art of the state, after the gold rush, sex at sixty.

Orion originally wrote this one by herself. Here’s some of what the prompts brought to mind: Old, deserted gold-mining town, detour off Interstate, wizened gold miner as the caretaker of the town, no businesses left, there used to be a brothel (called Sex at Mile Sixty-Nine, which refers to an old stage stop), shiny metal statue on its side poking up through the wind-blown sand at the entrance or center of town depicting a minor politician or the founder of the town that the miner calls ‘Art of the State’ because it was put up by the state with no okay from the citizens. Maybe the town doesn’t like the person represented. Maybe the caretaker/miner makes a pass at the traveler, saying “Sex at 60 is a real bang, yes, sir!”

She used some of these ideas in the story, but it evolved wayyy beyond those ideas! Hope you the finished story that resulted.


Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

SHADOWS OF THE PAST

The road sign popped up out of nowhere, the first indication of life we’d seen in countless miles of prairie. At some time in it’s past it had probably been bright green, but now it was a weathered mossy-gray. Tilting every so slightly to the right, it proclaimed, “Treasure Trove, population: 2,117.” A barely visible arrow pointed off to the right.

Looking over at my husband, Alex, I winked. “Care for an adventure?”

The driver of our air-conditioned home-on-wheels fixed me with that lovely lazy smile of his. “Why not?” (more…)

How We Write – The Music and the Magic

Our prompt here was, Is that your banjo?

Suddenly, Orion found herself in a barn with musicians tuning up in front of a rustling audience. Having read the Bedlam Bards series by Mercedes Lackey, it was apparent to her that everyone was waiting for the magic to begin.

The challenge was to convey the theme without overusing the words ‘magic’ and ‘music’. Such a short story—the span of only one song—required a lot of back and forth between Kyros and Orion to produce a clean story that rang true.


 

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THE MUSIC AND THE MAGIC

 

The dim hall rustled and stirred with quiet chatter as the audience arrived and took their seats. I walked up to the stage, my battered black case thumping against my leg.

“Is that your banjo?” asked the frontman of the small ensemble settling in to play the first set of the evening.

“Sure is,” I said, pulling my instrument from its case. The metal glinted in the stage lights, its white face shining like a full moon.

“Care to join in and make some magic with us?” (more…)

How We Write – Perils of the Princess

Orion wrote this little story for the prompt: The boy beside the mailbox. When Kyros first read the story, he made a face, saying he needed a shot of insulin to counteract the sweetness overload!

It was an okay story, as written, but the editing made it much more fun and not quite so sweet. It’s sort of an extended joke. Kyros felt that the story gave away the ending way too soon, so he suggested some edits that helped conceal the surprise until the very end.

We hope you enjoy our little modern-day fairy tale.


Photo by Ricky Kulmann

 

PERILS OF THE PRINCESS

 

The boy beside the mailbox waved his arms at the fire truck. The first fireman out of the cab ran to him, kneeling to the boy’s level.

“You all right?”

“Yes, sir. You gotta hurry! Our dopey old doorman is trapped in daddy’s office by the front door.” He sniffed and wiped a tear from his soot-covered face. “And you gotta save my sweet princess!”

The fireman turned quickly to the other firemen. “There’s a man inside. Doc, Hap, find him!”

Turning back to the boy, he asked, “Is there anyone else in there?”

“No, just the three of us.”

“Good boy. Now tell me where to find your princess.” (more…)

How We Write – The Backyard

Orion wrote this a long time ago, for the prompt: Children live in the real world. Adults are acting out the fantasy. She says she started it not knowing how it would end, just waiting for the story to tell her. Even she was surprised at where it went.

Then, when we got to revising it together for the blog, Kyros upped the ante and turned a little slightly disturbing story into a little piece of horror!

And it’s a much better story for our collaboration. That’s one of the perks of having a writing partner. We highly recommend co-authoring, if you can find someone whose skills, ideas, and level of writing match yours.


Photo by Caroline Hernandez

 

THE BACKYARD

“What’s everyone doing, Sammy?” asked five-year-old Kelsey, peering around the flowery bush. Her older brother Sam, all of eight years old, shook his head.

Beyond their hiding place, their parents were working furiously on the backyard. They had planted a small tree and were rolling grass over the newly turned dirt. Their father stood up, stretching his back. He wiped sweat off his forehead and took a drink of the beer sitting beside him. Their mother, kneeling beside the tree, glared up at him and pointed at the ground with the small shovel in her hand.

“Maybe it has to do with Aunt Katie coming next week,” Sammy answered.

“Why?” Kelsey asked. “Is she going to sleep under the tree?” (more…)