[This story was written for the team TravelingMattsLovesFriendshipisMagic. You can see how I used team names and the names of the team members to ensure that each of the 63 stories was original. Story is copyright ©2014 by Michael A. Burstein. All rights reserved.]

The Magic of Friendship
by Michael A. Burstein

They were always quarreling, and Laura Salvati was tired of it.

“The Elopus is my pet!” shouted Misha Collins.

“No, it’s mine!” Queen Elizabeth II shouted back.

Misha and the queen each tugged on four separate tentacles of the Elopus. It honked out its trunk in pain.

“Enough!” cried Laura. She lifted her magic wand and pointed it at the quarrelsome duo. “By the power of the Travelling Matts, you shall be friends!”

Sparks flew out of the wand. The next thing Laura saw was Misha and the queen dropping the Elopus and shaking each other’s hand.

“Let’s share the Elopus,” Misha said.

“I agree,” the queen replied.

The Elopus glanced from one to the other, and then scurried away.
[I have been told it is now safe to post or publish the stories we wrote for GISHWHES. I like all the stories I wrote, but this is one of my favorites. I was inspired by the name of the team that requested it and by the name of the team member who contacted us for it. Story is copyright ©2014 by Michael A. Burstein. All rights reserved.]

(For lehighvalleyLovesDefeatWilliamShatneLovesfoolofatookLovessimonsaysgishwhes)

Simon Says Shatner
by Michael A. Burstein

A shirtless Misha Collins, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Elopus stood helplessly, frozen in the force field, as Amanda Kann grinned evilly.

“I have trapped the three of you! No longer will you be able to thwart my plans to take over the world.”

“We must do something!” the queen said.

“Elopus!” Misha shouted. “Summon Bill!”

The creature honked, and suddenly William Shatner appeared at the door of Amanda’s lair.

“KANN!” he shouted as he fired a taser at her. Amanda crumpled to the ground.

Shatner pushed the off button for the force field, and the three friends emerged from their stasis.

“Now what?” the queen asked.

“Now,” Misha said, “I put my shirt back on.” He paused. “You too, Bill.”
mabfan: (book-cover)
To begin with, consider this an official notification that I am done writing and providing stories for the GISHWHES 2014 scavenger hunt. I know the hunt is still going on, but I've been up late many nights this week writing stories, and I need to reconnect with my family. :-)

In the end, I provided stories to 63 teams. In addition, I published one story that the team decided not to use ("Ashley and the Moon") and ended up with one other story for which the team that requested it never got back to me. (Actually, a few teams requested stories and then told my assistant that they managed to secure a story from another writer; I wished them well, rewrote those stories, and provided them to other teams.) So, 65 flash stories written in the space of a week, 63 being used for GISHWHES. Not bad.

I am delighted by how many of these stories I managed to churn out and I am frankly hoping that I provided more stories than any other writer. Will someone let me know if I set that record once the hunt is over?

And now for the thank-yous...

My first thank-you goes to my sister-in-law Rachel, who is very involved with GISHWHES and has done this before. I provided her with the first story I wrote for this madness, and she generously gave me permission to provide stories for other teams, even though that would make it harder for her team to win. So, thank you Rachel, for all that.

My second thank-you goes to all the teams who were willing to buy my story collection I Remember the Future as a condition of having me write you a story. When I saw that so many teams needed stories and weren't going to get them from Neil Gaiman, I realized that this gave me an opportunity to expose more people to my work. Some writers mentioned online that they were approached by people in a rude way; I am very pleased to say that not a single person who contacted me was rude about my own request, or complained about it. I'm hoping that those of you who bought the book will actually enjoy the stories contained within; and that fact is that every single story in that book save one was either a Hugo nominee, a Nebula nominee, or both. So at least one of those stories has to have been worth your $5. So thanks to all of you for your own random act of kindness to me. I hope you all win.

Finally, thanks to Annie Houston and especially Misha Collins. I must admit that I do not watch Supernatural, although it is exactly the sort of show I would watch. My wife and I did watch the first season, but then had to give it up for other things. (See The Brookline Parent for an example of what occupies our time.) Making item #78 one that required the teams to find a previously published science-fiction writer was a stroke of genius on your part. I hope you'll do something similar next year. I stand ready to serve.
Well, this was an interesting week. It began with my sister-in-law requesting a 140-word short story from me for something called GISHWHES.  The next day, I decided to offer a story to any team participating if they would buy a copy of "I Remember the Future." (As I'll soon note, I ended up writing stories for 63 teams!)

I didn't have time to do much else this week, although I did see Lev Grossman for his book event for The Magician's Land at Brookline Booksmith last night.

And I was more active on Twitter this week than on any other week I can recall, due again to #GISHWHES. Take a look at my Twitter account @mabfan and you'll see what I mean...
[As this story was requested by a team that then found another story from another writer, I have decided to post it here even though the hunt is still going on. This might give you an idea of what I've been writing, although I've actually been writing across all genres - romance, SF, fantasy, and horror. Story is copyright ©2014 by Michael A. Burstein. All rights reserved. And obviously, you can't use the story for the hunt, as it's now been published.]

Ashley and the Moon
by Michael A. Burstein

Ashley gazed into the eyes of Misha Collins as he held her close.

Suddenly, a flash of light from the sky caused both of them to look up. The moon had exploded! Half of it was gone!

“A random act!” shouted Misha. “I must go investigate this.”

Blowing the Whistle of Summoning, Misha called forth Queen Elizabeth II and the Elopus, along with the Misha-mobile. They jumped in and began to fly away.

“We will see you soon!” Misha called to Ashley. The queen waved. The Elopus honked.

“Darn moon,” Ashley said after Misha was gone. “You couldn’t wait five more minutes to explode?”
mabfan: (book-cover)
(ETA on Friday morning: I have a handful more stories written but unclaimed. First come, first serve. Deadline Friday 3 pm EDT USA time. The stories were inspired by the team names of the teams that originally requested them, but they are NOT using those stories and indeed have never seen them.)

Over the weekend, I found out that the current GISHWHES list includes the following as item #78:

"Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus."

I found this out because my sister-in-law participates in GISHWHES, as do a few friends and acquaintances. I posted on Facebook about helping these people out, which I was more than happy to do.

I've since discovered that many participants are apparently bothering famous writers they do not know, asking them to write a story for them. Needless to say, that's not the best way to do this. Many writers are happy to do favors for friends, but they don't want to be bombarded by random requests from folks they do not know.

I, on the other hand, will be happy to write a story for you if I don't know you, on one condition. I'd like you to do a random act of kindness for my publisher, Apex Publications.

First, email my assistant Julia at julia@mabfan.com and tell her you would like a story from me. Include your own name and the name of your team, and an emaill address to which I can send the story.

She will email you back to confirm that I have the time to write the story for you.

Then click on this link: "I Remember the Future: The Award-Nominated Stories of Michael A. Burstein" and have one member of your team purchase a copy of my 2008 collection I Remember the Future directly from the publisher (NOT from Amazon; use the "Add to Cart" button). It can be the trade paperback or the ebook, but I'm guessing most of you will opt for the ebook, as it's only $4.99.

Send a copy of your receipt to my assistant at julia@mabfan.com. Once we see that you have bought the collection, I will write the story and she will email it to you.

One caveat: DO NOT PURCHASE THE BOOK UNTIL YOU HAVE HEARD FROM JULIA THAT I WILL HAVE TIME TO WRITE YOUR STORY. If I get too many requests, I won't have time to fulfill them all.

Good luck with GISHWHES, and enjoy my stories.

Edited to add: A few people have sent receipts from Amazon. The purchase needs to be made directly from the publisher, Apex Publications. Please use the link above. Thank you.

December 2016

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