What? A New Book? Really?

Other Realms Brewpub Cover

Hey, everybody! We’re not dead! We’ve just been dealing with a lot this year and slooowly but surely (and don’t call us Shirley) working on completing the final edits on our newest anthology, the Other Realms Brewpub

We are happy to announce that as of last week, we’ve finished! That means that the ebook is up for pre-order right now and will be available this Friday, August 16th for purchase, with the physical book following a week or so later. (Kyros is getting married literally the day after the book comes out, so we need a little more time to get the wrap-around cover completed for the physical book.)

So, you wanna know what it’s about, right? Here’s the blurb we wrote for Amazon:  

The Other Realms Brewpub, a magical bar in the middle of nowhere Kansas, plays host to all kinds of fantastical beings. From leprechauns to wizards, pookas to Greek gods, witches to akaname, the bar’s staff and clientele run the gamut of fantasy creatures. Their stories detail what life is like for magical creatures in modern Midwestern America.

At this bar, you never know who might show up next. Just ask the poor, beleaguered banshee bartender who’s being relentlessly courted by Satan.

Remember, if you pick the book up, please leave us a review on Amazon. It helps other people find our books and puts smiles on our poor, tired author faces. :^)

A treat for our loyal readers

Now that our year of short stories is over, we thought we’d share a little sneak preview from the sequel to Dreaming of Xeres, tentatively titled Running to the Past.

In the epilogue of DoX, we dropped a bombshell and revealed the true identity of one of our characters. In this piece, the prologue to book two, our characters finally find out what happened to Xeres and where it was located.

Enjoy!


Photo credit – Bftws on Deviantart

Running to the Past – Prologue

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” Memveta said, her voice trilling into hysterics. “How could this have happened?”

Thion shook his head. “It must have been something in the interaction between the Bylantians’ weapon and ours.” His tone was flat, though Ezarra could see the horror in the Klymurian elder’s eyes.

“These readings are impossible,” Ezarra said, her body thrumming with tension. “The sensors indicate that the debris is not even chemically compatible. It’s as though several vastly different planets exploded here, not just our home. Something happened when our weapons combined. Xeres wasn’t just destroyed, the basic building blocks of the planet were warped into incompatible elements.” (more…)

How We Write-The End

And so we come to the end….

 

This week’s story brings to a close our year of weekly short stories.

We started out by publishing three shorts in November and December of 2017, before we decided to publish our entire collection of short stories over the course of 2018. Yes, we really shared fifty-five short stories in just a little over a year. We hope our new readers will go back and read through them all. You can start at the beginning of our year of shorts and take a wild ride through the various wacky worlds we’ve created.

Or, you could go all the way back to the very first post on our blog and catch up on the side stories we wrote involving the characters from our novel, Dreaming of Xeres (DoX), starting with The Infamous Couch Story.

Starting next week, and coincidently, next year, we will be posting weekly progress updates as we (finally) begin work on the sequel to DoX, tentatively titled, Running to the Past.

See you next year…when we might just have a little surprise for you!

How We Write – Not-So-Shiny Armor

Our prompts were: rusty armor and mysteries of the night. This immediately made Kyros think of the Night at the Museum movies. But that’s been done before, several times. So Kyros came up with the idea of one guy saving another from a bunch of homophobic bullies. In talking our way through the outline, we realized that it would work perfectly in our Third War universe. Once we figured that out, we knew exactly where the story was going. Checking our (extensive!) spreadsheet of characters from our Third War universe, we found one of Alex’s friends from college who perfectly fit the bill….

Writing the story required several Google searches, the main one being using Google Maps to zero in on the location for the story. Once we had that, we used Street View to fill in the details of the setting, like the placement of the storm sewer and the bench. Another source that we use pretty much any time we write is thesaurus.com, a great place to find just the right words we need to tell the story. Also, we diagrammed the setting, just so we could get a feel for the street scene and where everyone was.


 

NOT-SO-SHINY ARMOR

Whew, am I glad to be out of there, I thought, walking down Seventh toward Congress. It’s nice they still have live concerts, but the Iron Bear was standing-room-only tonight. I inhaled a deep lungful of the Austin night air. Ah, it tastes like fine champagne. God, Kevin, I giggled, when did you start to wax poetic?  

A set of keys skidded into my view.

Sprinting, I captured them before they ended up in the gutter.

“Hey, you dropped your….” (more…)

How We Write – Our World Fell Apart

Way back in January of 2016, we entered a writing contest. We blogged about it here.

Sadly, our story didn’t end up winning that contest.

However, when the winners were announced, we couldn’t wait to read the winning story and see what the judges had been looking for.

We read the winner’s story. We looked at each other over our FaceTime chat and said, “That won?”

Then, we read the second place story. Then, third place…it wasn’t till the sixth place story that we found something we thought was good and actually fit the parameters of the contest!

In our original blog post, we linked to our story on their website. But we thought it was high time that we published it here for our readers. We hope you enjoy this story more than the judges did!


Photo by Kevin Rheault

 

OUR WORLD FELL APART

“See what I mean, Billy? They’re good. And this song? It’s like they pulled it straight out of all our talks about Xeres.”

I glanced over, watching my friend, Ryan Davis, struggle to get his considerable bulk into the executive chair he’d rolled up to the mixing board.

My hands flew across the board. Finally satisfied with the sound coming through the recording booth speakers, I turned back to Ryan. “I gotta admit,” I said, pointing a finger at him, “I thought you were kidding when you told me about these guys.” I glanced at the three musicians in the recording studio on the other side of the glass. “I get now why you want me to produce them.”

“Yeah….” (more…)

How We Write – New Day Dawning

This James Cavanagh story takes place right before he shows up at the science fiction convention in Dreaming of Xeres (DoX), and where he ends up embroiled in exactly the things he’d hoped to avoid. Orion had already written this vignette and another James story, Crossroads, before we’d even thought about adding James to the DoX cast. But in he walked, telling us he had history with another character and didn’t we need a cop anyway?

We’ve noticed that characters tend to walk onto our stage and demand to be included in the action. It’s like they’re fully formed and waiting in the wings for their chance in the spotlight. The more fully realized the character, the more likely he or she is to tell us what they want to do. This is where the prep work of building a character really begins to pay off


 

NEW DAY DAWNING

Running thru the smoke and din of battle, I clutch my M4 in a death grip. I jump at every sound.

I lost contact with my squad.

Where the hell is everyone?

The shockwave from a bursting mortar shell sends me tumbling through an open doorway. (more…)

How We Write – Crossroads

This is a strange piece. Orion wrote it either before or while we were writing Dreaming of Xeres, creating the character of James Brendan Cavanagh. After that, James did a walk-on in Dreaming. Then he pushed his way into being a major character in that book!

That happens when a character becomes three-dimensional. We have extensive spreadsheets on information about all our major characters, as well as many of our minor characters. It helps to round out the characters and often gives us jumping off points for stories or actions in our novels and short stories. Those spreadsheets (in Google Docs) are a combination of arbitrary determinations, like, he/she likes the color purple or things the characters or stories tell us about the characters, such as, what things Alex’s college friends are into and what career choices they made after college (CITE STORY HERE).

When we need a minor character, we can dip into the spreadsheet of science fiction convention attendees from DOX (Dreaming of Xeres), pick a city or an occupation we need, and hit the ground running with a name and other information to personalize the story.

We highly recommend spreadsheets!


Photo by Duke Cullinan on Unsplash

CROSSROADS

Around him the airport swirled and muttered and clamored, but to Tin Man, all was quiet. The wall of ice he’d built about himself kept out any trace of the humanity around him. None of them mattered. Not to him. His heart did not beat for them. His mind shut out any attempted emotional contact from them.

The doors from the passenger tunnel opened, disgorging the latest airline passengers: harried parents with children, rumpled businessmen with slim briefcases, and young men and women with backpacks and ear buds that spilled out thin drifts of music as they passed.

A gaggle of Asian students eddied around him, chattering in high-pitched voices, the cadence of their language falling strangely on his ears. A reunion broke out at the front of the waiting crowd, all balloons, hugs, and tears. The prodigal son or daughter was wrapped in relatives and well-wishers like a Christmas present. (more…)

How We Write – Meeting On A Cold Winter’s Night

Our prompts for this one were: Hotel for Single Women and May I See an ID. As you have probably deduced from previous sets of prompts, there is no telling what will come up when you get several prolific writers together and ask them for prompts!

When Orion started thinking about the prompts, she envisioned a beat cop. That led her to think of her character, James Cavenaugh, who she created for a couple of other short stories. He would later bull his way into the main cast of Dreaming of Xeres, the first book in our Third War series.

(Kyros: He was only supposed to be a bit player. We needed a cop and he was perfect. Then he just wouldn’t stop showing up. He demanded to be a bigger part of the story.)

(Orion: That sometimes happens, when you create a character. They become real to you, then they start dictating their own actions and reactions!)

Anyway, after delving a bit into his history, Orion decided he’d do perfectly well as the policeman for this story. That set the location as Boston, James’ hometown, and gave her the general time period (the mid-2000s).

So, who would James meet? And why would he need to see an ID? To satisfy the Hotel for Single Women prompt, it seemed obvious to make the person a woman and the story grew from there.

When Orion originally wrote the story, the woman pulled out a cap gun like the ones Orion grew up with in the fifties. You know, the ones that looked like Roy Rogers just drew it out of his holster?

When Kyros first read it, he shook his head and got a good laugh out of it, saying, ‘They don’t make cap guns anymore! And the toy guns they do make all have orange plugs over the end of the barrel to denote that they are fake.’

Orion was apoplectic. (Orion: What? Does that mean I can’t get caps for my toy guns? AARGH!)

(Kyros: Don’t worry, she can, she just has to find an antique toy dealer who still carries them. Though why would she wanna shoot off a cap gun? Who knows?)

So, in the original story, the gun was a cap pistol, but a quick shot of reality meant that, for the story to work, the gun had to be real.


Photo by Annie Niemaszyk on Unsplash

 

MEETING ON A COLD WINTER’S NIGHT

“May I see some ID, please?”

The young woman hesitated, then pulled her bag off of her shoulder and began to dig around inside. She shivered in the cool night air.

Jim Cavanaugh shifted from one foot to the other as the chill penetrated his stiff boots. Gods, I hate working the night shift. It wouldn’t be so bad if the streets were better lit. He glanced down at the uneven cobblestones under his feet. Or less treacherous to walk on.

And why does everything squeak when I move? It’s like I’m a walking police advertisement. ‘Hey, look at the rookie. Brand-new uniform and he makes funny noises when he walks.’ He mentally shook his head. And I get stuck working the overnight shift dealing with all the drunks and hookers.

He sighed, still waiting for the woman…no, girl, he amended.

“Miss?” he prompted, raising an eyebrow. (more…)

How We Write – The Cookie Conspiracy

The prompt was: The Cookie Conspiracy.

That immediately brought to mind children and fresh-baked cookies. But how do the kids get the cookies? And where are they?

Following those questions led Orion to a new ship and introduced a new cast of characters into her Farseeker Chronicles. The ship, Sun’s Glow, created for this story, would become the home of Kieran Thorgood, whom you met in last week’s short story, Eros Day.

We don’t know what adventures Kieran and the children and crew of Sun’s Glow will get into, but we do know they are (former and probably current) rebels. Kieran was a rebel hired to teach this brood of children. He’s also connected to Gayan Villson, of another covert rebel ship, the Tempest’s Kin.

In all probability, Sun’s Glow will turn up for the climactic space battle that Orion has been plotting for several years now. Stay tuned!


Photo by: Chocolate Monster Mel

THE COOKIE CONSPIRACY

“Do you smell it?” Ruby demanded, popping around the bulkhead at the top of the stairs. “Mom’s making cookies!”

Chase inhaled deeply. The scent of baking cookies filled him, borne on the ship’s currents of recycled air.

Such blessed change from the reek of oil, people, and machinery, Chase thought.

Chase nodded, dropping his pencil, homework forgotten. “As if I could miss it! I sure wish I could get one while they’re hot.” His mouth watered at the very thought. Chocolate chip, if his nose knew anything. His very favorite kind in the whole universe.

“Me too,” she said. “But you know Mom.” Her voice took on the tones of their mother in dictator mode: “No cookies until after supper. That’s the rule!” (more…)

How We Write – Eros Day

The prompt was: You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens?

Orion knew immediately that her Farseeker character, Gayan Villson, had to be involved in this story, since he’s one of her favorite creations and he already had several past lovers. What’s one more? But who did he meet up with? Where did they know each other from?

And in marched Kieran Thorgood, complete with a new ship, Sun’s Glow, and several new characters (SEE next week’s story, The Cookie Conspiracy)! Given Gayan’s military background, it was a safe bet they’d been in the war together and had history. And the plot was off and running.

When we edited this, we knew we had to amp up the sexual tension between the two men, and move a lot of the expository information into our main character’s thoughts. We also added a couple of hundred words to the story, making it much stronger.


Photo by Jriphoto

EROS DAY

 

“Excuse me,” Gayan mumbled, as he shouldered through the cluster of people just inside the doorway of the crowded saloon.  

“Is that all I get?” A deep baritone called from behind him. “After all these years?”

That voice! (more…)