Friday, January 22, 2010

Interspecies Dating

I love interspecies dating in romance. The motto seems to be "Make a way." Cat, dog, elephant, three-toed sloth...there's room for all of them. Haven't seen a spider romance, but I once wrote one for Timothy Tick. Heck, I even wrote one for a couple potatoes.

The thing about fiction is you can have almost anything you want. In an alien environment, the you set up the parameters and then you follow the rules. The only sin you as the author can commit is to change the rules mid-story.

So if you have a shapeshifting frog falling in love with a shapeshifting elephant, it's all good as long as your parameters allow it. The important part is setting up the parameters before diving into the story.

I have frequently admitted that I'm mostly a panster when it comes to writing. And that's true. However, I don't leap on that rollercoaster until my world is all in place and the parameters have been set.

Usually, I have a map with all the information about the planet, the basic description of the characters, and a rough idea of what direction the story will take. THEN I leap on for the ride of my life. And part of that story inevitably is the romance portion.

Ah, the possibilities. They're unlimited. They're wondrous. They're exciting. Below is a tidbit of a story I'm still kicking around. I just don't know where I want to go with it. But you're free to make suggestions. I'll post the beginning. And we'll make it a sort of choose your adventure except you get to suggest the next bit in the story. So here it is:

Things that go bump in the night don’t exist. At least that’s what Rainbow told herself as she pulled on a jacket for her nightly walk. Odd things had been happening lately, but surely there was a reasonable explanation. It was raining and the wind was howling. So what? That had nothing to do with whether or not she was going to give in to her inner urge to be a couch potato? A bet was a bet. No way was her best friend Margo Henry going to win the challenge. Just because Rainbow hadn’t thought quickly enough to insert a stipulation about bad weather—well, too bad. Fifty bucks was fifty bucks. She was so gonna dance in the parking lot when Margo paid up.

Her pedometer was firmly clipped to her jeans with the comfortable elastic waistband. She checked her pockets, making sure she had her keys and her wimpy little cell phone in her right hand pocket. In her left was her flattened roll of duct tape and her Swiss Army Handyman knife with fifteen tools. Oh, Margo made fun of her, calling her McGyverette, but she never went out without her trusty duct tape and Swiss Army knife. Who knew when she would have an emergency and need them? At the last minute she grabbed a tissue packet and stuffed it in the pocket with the phone and keys. She hated it when her nose started to run while she was walking.

All right. Rubber garden clogs? Check. Rain slicker complete with hood? Check. Umbrella? Rainbow looked at the empty hook where the umbrella was supposed to be hanging. Oh, yeah. It was drying in the bathroom. She plodded into the bathroom, closed the still damp umbrella and plodded back out to the front door. Umbrella…check. One of these days—when Margo paid up on the fifty bucks—she was gonna get herself one of those teeny little gizmos that played music. Until then, she’d just have to hum to herself while she walked.

She locked the door, closed it with a slam and hobbled down the stairs. Okay, so her knees weren’t in such good shape and Margo had shamed her into this stupid walk every day. She was thirty-eight years old! So what? She was walking!

When she opened the lobby door to the full fury of the storm, she quailed for a moment, just a moment and considered going back upstairs. But fifty bucks was fifty bucks and she needed the money so she opened the umbrella with a snap and sailed out into the pounding rain.

Six laps around the parking lot should do it. According to her pedometer that was exactly one mile. In the rain, one mile was her limit. Geez, why did it feel so spooky? Then she noticed that half the parking lot lights were burned out. Swell. Just swell. No wonder it was so gloomy.

Tramping along the edge of the parked cars, splashing through the puddles on her fifth circuit, she didn’t pay any attention when another of the lights died a slow death. She was busy thinking about early retirement. Her company was really pushing the older workers to retire or quit so they could hire the young ones for minimum wage. Rainbow snorted. As if! She might have the stray gray hair or two, but she could still work with the best of them! She had two weeks of vacation starting on Monday. She was willing to bet no one would do her job while she was gone. Probably the desk would be piled higher than Mt. Everest when she went back in two weeks. Hah! Maybe her nincompoop of a boss would notice that she actually worked—unlike that prima bimbo, Boopsie. What the hell kind of name was that, anyway?

As she was walking past one of the lights it went out with an audible pop. She tilted the umbrella back and took another look around the lot. Only one light was still shining.

Okay. That was just not right. Enough walking already. Margo never specified how long she had to walk. Tonight five laps were going to be more than enough. As she approached the sidewalk leading to her door, the last light went out with a ping. She stumbled to a stop in the sudden darkness.

There was something out in the storm. Something…that didn’t belong there. Something wicked waited in the shadows.

Rainbow stood shivering in the blowing rain. The umbrella really did very little to keep the mist away so she decided that it would be far more useful as a weapon. With a snap, she collapsed the umbrella and clutched the wet folds in her hand. As much as she wanted to run for the door, she had a very strong notion that she needed to stay away from the parked cars. Slowly, step by step, she backed up moving back out into the open lot.

Abruptly, the rain fell harder, drumming on the cars, drowning out all the other night sounds. She pushed her hood away from her face, listening intently to catch the smallest out-of-place sound. When it came, it was too late for her to wield her umbrella. The huge dark form whooshed out from between two vans, landing on her back like a chunk of concrete.

She fell to the ground flailing and beating at the thing with her umbrella. It growled and hissed striking terror in her heart. She tried to scream but her throat closed up in fright. Then she realized that it wasn’t terror, but something squeezing her throat with power and determination. Her frantic struggles grew more frenzied when hot searing pain ripped her shoulder.

A red tide glazed her vision. In one tiny corner of her mind a little voice noted, This was what it meant to see red. She had never realized that a person could really see red. And then with a terrible roar, she leaped to her feet, flinging her attacker to the wet black top with a dull crunch.

Puffs of smoke curled in the rain. Arms akimbo, she stared down at the limp black heap on the ground and opened her mouth to curse it out for terrifying her. To her shock, a stream of flame flew from her mouth to the pitiful thing at her feet. In a flash, it burned to ash.
The street lights all around the parking lot blinked back on. Ignoring the strange events, Rainbow bent to pick up her broken umbrella and that’s when she saw the enormous scaly feet. Her red rubber garden clogs were perched rakishly on the biggest toes.

She shook her head irritably. The yellow slicker hood slid down over one eye. It was pulling on her ear, so she shoved it back out of the way with one curved claw and then bent her head to contemplate the puzzle of red garden clogs on those huge toes. It occurred to her, just in passing that they might be her toes, but her mind slid right past that and settled on the next thing that caught her attention.

The remnants of her jeans and cotton panties were wrapped around a pair of scaly ankles. In the weird light from the street lamps those ankles looked purple. Or maybe maroon. Odd. Very odd.

From the corner of her eye, she noticed something that resembled a snake with a rag mop on its head and it seemed to be swishing to and fro like an agitated windshield wiper. There was something very strange going on. She just couldn’t quite put her finger on what the problem was.

Then the tiger and the alien showed up.


  1. "Then the tiger and the alien showed up." ....well, of course they's an Anny Cook book.

  2. I remember you telling me about this one!! So glad you're working on it:)

  3. Oh my. That sounds like it will be a very good story. I hope you will be able to finish it.