I've had two stories published lately, Traveling By Starlight: A Journey of Two Ways, and Before Their Time, and I wanted to talk about where the ideas came from. Since the respective magazines are both for-purchase, and Outposts of Beyond - where the latter story can be found - is in print and it would take a few days to get to you, I'll keep this post spoiler-free.
So Traveling By Starlight: A Journey of Two Ways was originally written for a fantasy-writers.org monthly challenge. The prompt was one I suggested, to write a story with alternate endings, so of course I felt obliged to jump in. Just because I'm me, I always feel obliged to add an additional challenge. In this case, I wanted to design the endings so they changed elements of the preceding story. That meant including details which could be interpreted in two different ways ... and led to me Googling "foods aliens eat." Which wasn't terribly helpful.
Before Their Time was also written from a prompt on a different site, though I no longer remember what it was. I'm sure, though, that I interpreted it in the most convoluted way possible. The story follows a time mage and her bodyguard who travel back in time to find the cure for a plague and end up in the wrong era. I took a bit to mull over what kind of magic her companion specialized in, settling on fire and light. Flame is perhaps a cliche choice for a battle mage, but the possibilities of light gave me some more unusual options.
I had so much fun with these characters, I went on to write other stories about them. In grand tradition of time travel, I wrote them out of sequence, everything from the moment they met to later adventures. I made a point of establishing the two as firm friends with no sexual tension; one or the other is usually in a relationship. I also set up some of the rules of time travel, including the fact that any time spent in the past is "lost" - a week in the past becomes a week in the future - and that the future can't be changed, or the consequences could unmake the world ... or is that true?
Hopefully, more of these tales will see print.