The Short Story

Some of our millions of devoted fans and followers… OK, maybe thousands…OK, our mom…has asked us when the next Maddi Davidson book is coming out. Truth is, we did start another book but got a ways into it, and, with a big “meh,” deciding that we didn’t want to write another book just to write another book, not when we were having so much fun with the characters. (Haven’t we all had that experience of loving a mystery series and then deciding after the 15th book in the series that it was time for an apocalypse to kill everyone off?)

For now, Emma and Keoni and crew are on an extended surf vacation, and the waves are epic. As for us, we decided we were going to explore other literary venues like … writing epic poetry! But our Latin and Greek weren’t up to it, so we settled for short stories.

Truth be told, short story writing is a lot of fun and it hones your writing skills. You don’t have 150 pages to blather on about bad childhoods: if it is a mystery, you have a few scant pages to kill someone off and hook your reader (without making it too obvious whodunit, like only having one other character in the story). You have to keep the pacing going, as someone expecting a short story is not going to suffer through 8 pages of angst-written background material: they want to get to the blood and gore, pronto. Or neat knife in the neck.

Another fun part of short stories is – contests! There are short story contests where you have to work your story into whatever the heck the contest theme is – uncomfortable underwear, for example. Sometimes we’ve written a story that we are trying to foist…ah… submit for a contest, and we find ways to rewrite it to include a thong as a core plot device. Hey, we didn’t say we were successful all the time! We have explored not only our writing style (we aren’t always snarky and funny in the short stories), but geographic locale. We’ve set a couple stories in Idaho and one in Hawai’i. We’ve set them in modern times and in the 1880s. We’ve done sort of science fictiony ones, and some that are low tech and character driven (one character was driven right off a cliff). Best of all, we’ve had some successes in getting our stories in anthologies, “placing” in some of the contests and generally have had a ball with trying something new.

So, with heartfelt appreciation for the fun of doing something different, here is an excerpt from our story “Heartfelt,” the lead story in Mystery Times 2015, available through Amazon.com

Hannah felt the chill of the mid-February day: cold, dreary, and the kind of damp that made your bones hurt if you were old enough. Today, she felt old enough and then some. Bob lay on the frost-nipped grass, gasping for air and periodically flopping about as spasms gripped his chest.
He looks like a freshly landed fish, she thought. Funny, I’ve always pictured him as a snake. But now? Decidedly a fat trout. A catch-and-throw-back trout.
The cacophony of sirens reached a crescendo as a fire truck and ambulance rounded the corner and screeched in stereo down the street.
She wondered why they always sent a fire truck with an ambulance; she’d told them specifically it was a heart attack. Nothing on fire here: Bob’s heart had been stone cold for years.
Two men in dark blue jackets with reflective EMT logos on the back jumped out of the ambulance and sprinted to Bob’s side while neighbors popped their heads out of half-opened doors to discover the source of the hubbub. Most gave in to curiosity, venturing forth from their sepia-toned ranch homes to join the flock gathering across the street from the emergency vehicles.
Intent on watching the medics working on Bob, Hannah was barely aware that a man from the fire truck had approached her. It wasn’t until he spoke that she realized he was there.
“What happened?”
Hannah turned to find baby-blue eyes staring at her. Innocent eyes, she thought. She blinked for a few moments, considering his question. Shit happens. Thirteen years of it.

 

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