Now, Class

Here’s the next piece in our examination of the way we write short stories. The prompts we had this time were: Blue sleeves, farmers market, pawn shop, indispensable, thoughts of a crash test dummy, summer.

The first thing that jumped off the page and inspired us was the line about “thoughts of a crash test dummy.” What exactly would a crash test dummy think about? That led us to contemplate what kind of discrimination it would face from other robots. (Can you tell we read a lot of science fiction?) After all, crash test dummies are essentially made to be destroyed. That sparked the thought of early Star Trek TOS stories where they presented prejudice in a way that the audience could relate to without challenging their real-world prejudices. The rest of the prompts quickly fell into place once we had that germ of a story. What came out of that contemplation is the story that follows….

 


Now, Class

by Orion T. Hunter, with Kyros Amphiptere

 

“Okay, you with the blue sleeves….” Professor Ian Carmody consulted his seating chart. Around him, the students in Finance 101 waved for recognition. “Ms. Trefell, where would you spend 100 credits?”

The young black woman stood. “At the farmers market! It’s even close to my dorm.” She thought for a moment. “I’d get some fresh veggies. Ooh, and that yummy honey the old lady sells. And I could really use a new scarf, my old one’s practically falling apart.” She smiled. “That would probably leave me just enough to grab one of Mr. Dewey’s fresh-made pizzas.”

“Tasty, I’m sure.” He laughed at her enthusiasm. “Next, um,” He glanced at the seating chart on his tablet computer. “Mr. Jackson.”

A thin man rose, his black hair so closely cut it looked more like a five o’clock shadow.

“I’d head straight for the pawn shop on Main. They’ve got a wedding ring that would be perfect for my sweetie.” His face reddened to the roots of his almost-non-existent hair. He peered around furtively. “Don’t any of you tell her. It’s a surprise.”

A female voice from the back row called, “That’s what you think. Carol’s been waiting for you to pop the question since the end of summer.” The laughter made Mr. Jackson duck his head.

Carmody huffed a laugh. “Well, I guess you’re on the right track then, young man. Who’d like to go next?” Scanning the raised arms, he selected a bright yellow hand. Craning his head to see around the massive football player between them, Professor Carmody blinked when the student came into view. “Yes, Mr. Senfoyl?”

The student in yellow and black stood uncertainly.

“And what would you do with 100 credits?” Carmody prompted.

The student hesitated before speaking. “I know exactly what I’d spend it on, sir. A new paint job. For me.”

Professor Carmody nodded, smoothing a hand across his hairless head. “So that you could fit in better?”

Senfoyl straightened, thrusting out his chin. “Yes, sir.”

The normal background chatter of the classroom ceased abruptly.

The bell rang, shattering the silence.

Carmody raised his voice. “Wait! I want you to keep a diary of every credit you spend between now and class next Thursday.” He waved toward the door. “Dismissed.”

The room filled with the sounds of fifty students rushing to be somewhere else.

Pointing at the student in the yellow jumper, he asked, “Mr. Senfoyl, would you please join me?”

Mr. Senfoyl stopped midway to the door. He nervously approached the professor’s desk.

“Yes, sir?”

“Are you certain you want to give up your robotic heritage just to fit in?”

Senfoyl’s yellow head bobbed. “Oh, yes. If I was silver, like you, everyone would accept me as just another robot. All the students think I’m an imbecile, or worse, they ignore me completely. Some of the teachers make fun of me too.”

“Teachers?” Carmody’s head whirred for an instant. “Interaction with your teachers is an indispensable part of your education. I’d advise you to take this problem to the Regents. It’s our job as teachers and administrators at this college to ensure everyone gets a good education.”

The professor’s voice softened. “It wasn’t very long ago that humans felt the same way about robots like me. Now, no one thinks anything about us running the educational system.”

Carmody put one steel arm around Senfoyl’s shoulders. “You wait. It won’t be long before former crash test dummies like yourself find a place in human society too.”

New short story collection coming soon!

We’ve been hard at work on a new anthology entitled The Other Realms Brewpub (ORB for short).

This anthology contains stories from our new Modern Magic Universe series about a place where magical creatures co-exist with the modern world.

The idea for this world came from a Facebook post where someone complained that they wanted a magical universe where you get a shot of confidence in your espresso before you go on a blind date. Kyros thought that would be a fun place to play and shared the idea with Orion and off we went.

There will be twelve stories in the first collection, all centered around a magical brewpub located in the middle of nowhere Kansas. We’ll introduce you to the pooka who owns the bar and is also the cook. The bartender who is a centuries-old banshee. Along the way, you’ll also meet leprechauns, fairies, witches, gods, and a multitude of other magical creatures. Oh, and it’s also a favorite hangout for the Prince of Darkness! Everyone has a hell of a good time!

Weather The Storm

Our prompts for this story were persuasion, it was a close thing, Chinese food, and suddenly sunshine. We thought about a couple arguing about whether or not to have Chinese food. We both drew upon our early dating history to flesh out the disagreements between them. Then we wondered, what if one of them was a weather witch? This is the story that unspooled from there. 


WEATHER THE STORM

By Orion T. Hunter and Kyros Amphiptere ©2017

 

“I’ve always wanted to see Celtic Thunder in concert. How did you manage to get tickets, Andrea?”

“My aunt dates one of the guys in the group.”

“Really? That’s cool.”

They heard a rumble reminiscent of the sound effects from the concert.

Andrea giggled and nudged him with her elbow. “Sounds like someone’s hungry.” (more…)

Hog Wild

This story was written several years ago for the prompts: Barn, Bossy Team Leader, One More. When we edited the story before posting it, we found that our voice and timing had grown substantially. The changes in word count moved the story from flash fiction to short story in length (over 1000 words). Also, I think we made it funnier!


Hog Wild!

by Orion T. Hunter and Kyros Amphiptere ©2017

 

Jackson Stevens sidled into the conference room, juggling his laptop and morning espresso. He shoved the door with his elbow and headed for the only vacant chair at the table: right next to his bossy team leader.

Killian Porter, Director of Programming for their all-reality cable network, glared at him, pointing to the still half-open door.

“I know your show’s about farm animals, but were you born in a barn?”

“Oh, sorry, sir,” he said, hastily using his shoulder to close the door.

His boss was a large man who seemed to be stuffed into his suit. The man positively fumed while watching Jackson boot up his laptop. The rest of the room waited silently.

Once he’d finished fussing with the machine, Killian stabbed a finger at him. “That’s one more strike against you, Jackson.”

“Since you finally decided to join us,” he said with an exaggerated tone of politeness, “would you care to update us on the overnight figures for your show?”

“W…w…well, sir, the overnights are great for Hog Wild. Our new show seems to have hit the key demographics hard.” Jackson smiled at his boss. “Apparently, people love watching the crazy antics of people who race hogs professionally.”

Killian chuckled as he tilted back in his chair. (more…)

Where do we get ideas for our stories?

We’d like to give you a peek into how we create our short stories. Technically, most of our stories are flash fiction, loosely defined as 1000 words or less. Short stories usually run 1000 to 7500 words.

Orion belongs to a writing group that meets every two weeks and conspires to come up with three prompts to use in a piece for the next meeting.

Once we get the prompts, we spend a day or two mulling them over. Usually, we come up with a few ideas for stories that could include all of the prompts. After a bit of discussion, we sketch out a rough outline, mostly detailing the dialogue, with a few character actions. Once that is done, we dig into whatever research is needed.

Sigh! I should tell you that research is often a black hole from which most writers have great difficulty escaping. One topic leads to another, one website to twelve others, and on and on, falling down the internet rabbit hole!

The funny thing is, much of what we find isn’t even included in our story. This research helps us to understand the character or the setting or some other aspect of the story. For example, for the short story ARROWHEAD, we did extensive research on adopting a child from China. Our research resulted in maybe eight lines in the finished story. However, the knowledge we gained about the subject influenced how we wrote the entire story and the way the characters felt and acted.

The (Bird) Brains of the Outfit

Orion and I have been writing together off and on for over twenty years. Ever since we started writing full time though, we’ve had another very opinionated, if uncredited, writing partner: my feathered companion, Abigail. Here’s her story….

I had just lost my job and had lost my fifteen-year-old kitty, Kalki, a few months beforehand. Depressed and killing time before a doctor’s appointment, I wandered into a pet store in Berkeley called Your Basic Bird. I’ve always wanted a companion bird but had never found one that I connected to. The birds were always pretty, but I never got that ‘click’ I’ve gotten with all my other pets. (more…)

What’s it like to write collaboratively?

We thought we’d share with you, our faithful readers, how we write. We are going to do a series of blog posts showing you our writing process. Along the way, we’ll share some of the flash fiction we’ve written over the last couple of years that are unconnected to our Third War novels.

We’ll cover such things as where we get our idea, how we actually collaborate to write our stories, and how we handle disagreements. We hope you enjoy the ride!

Unidentified Love is Here!

Yay! Unidentified Love is finally available in paperback!

It took Kyros several months of hard work and caused him to pull out chunks of (blue at the moment) hair to kick the original ebook through Scrivener and into a form acceptable to CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand arm.

But that means you can now hold Unidentified Love in your hot little hands! And Orion and Kyros can add the physical book to their growing shelf of published books.

So, rush to your computer, pull up Amazon, and get your very own copy of Unidentified Love today.

Yay!

The wraparound cover art for the paperback.

Unidentified Love is coming!

We are so excited! We’ve decided to offer a print edition of Unidentified Love. After weeks of hard work to create a matching back cover and reformat the book for print, we’re almost done. The proof copy is on its way to us. According to the tracking information, the proof copy decided to take a tour of the Midwest on its way to California from North Carolina. So far, it’s gone through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana, which oddly enough is where both of the authors grew up.

As soon as we get the proof and approve it, the book will be available on Amazon. Stay tuned!