Not only that, I've joined a group of fabulous authors and we're dedicating our time to providing a series of weekly free reads! Every Saturday morning, look for another short story to be released on our blog.
Eventually, there will be 26 of us, each contributing two stories a year. That's manageable for us and wonderful for you. You'll have the opportunity to sample prose and storytelling styles across a wide range.
The first series of stories is required to have a song title. I had a lot of mental angst over mine. I really, really, really wanted to do "It's Hard to Kiss The Lips at Night (That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long)". Of course, once I had given the song another listen, I couldn't get away from it!
This presented a number of problems. First of all, I tend to write dark stories. A dark story with that song title is not only just wrong, it would betray reader expectations because with that title, who would expect a dark tale? I did come up with a short story premise but...it was dark. Very dark. As in, a futuristic slave/overseer kind of dark. Not what I needed.
After I got the Notorious Cherry Bombs out of my head, I went back to my shelf of CDs.
Years ago I got the album dwightyoakamacoustic.net for Christmas. It has a lot of songs that stayed with me, and I have thought that it would be a fun project to write a story for each song. Maybe not to be published with that association and not sharing titles, but for my own interest. I'd keep that secret, while using the songs as the basis for plots and characters.
So which song would work for this project? I listened to the album a few times and afterward, Two Doors Down was the one that lingered. I'm not good at constructing short stories featuring drunks. I thought and thought about what a neighborhood bar provides and represents. Comfort, the reassurance of the predictable. But what if that is changed suddenly? When the outside intrudes, it's a wake-up call and shakes up everything. Like a kaleidoscope, then the colorful shards settle, it can well be a very different world.
Different worlds are good. I write most of my stories in different worlds. Different worlds offer a lot of opportunities to shake things up, make things up to suit my needs.
So who should be shaken up? Someone with something to hide...or to fear. It's very difficult to build a world, introduce at least two characters, throw them a curve ball to complicate their lives and resolve it all in less than 5,000 words. The reader needs to know enough to understand how much this event is pivotal, and how desperately the main character needs to maintain her equilibrium. That requires space on the page.
If the fear--and the intrusive element that complicates things--comes from the past, it can be introduced with hints and a bit of introspection from one character rather than having to be explained as it unfolds. So, the main character needs something fearful in her past that will send her into a tailspin. It's even better if at first she thinks it might be the answer to questions she has had that no one else can answer...
And thus was Two Doors Down born. It departs from the song in many ways. I couldn't redeem a drunk in that short a story, much as I'd like to. I hope it's not a betrayal of reader expectations but I KNOW it's not as much as it would have been if I'd posted a dark story with the title, "It's Hard to Kiss The Lips at Night (That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long)".