I sold my first book to Astraea Press in the spring of 2011. The Legacy was published in July of that year. Since then, writing has consumed more and more of my life. I’d always thought I had one big novel in me, but since The Samurai’s Garden came out in 2012 there has been a constant stream of stories running through my head. Several of them came unexpectedly, such as my short story for the anthology, Love and Diamonds. The process for Operation Rhombus, my offering, went something like this:
On the facebook page for Astraea Press authors, a tiny announcement went up. It was a call-out for short stories up to 5K in length, around the theme Love and Diamonds. Of course the 100-plus authors went wild. It’s quite an honor to be included in an publisher’s anthology. It means that the publisher acknowledges your writing as representative of their company. So we started speculating about how we could go about accepting this challenge. I knew I wanted my story to be different so it would stand out, so I started looking at the theme from different angles. A baseball diamond? Maybe, but there are other authors who actually coach sports teams and could undoubtedly write a better baseball story. Where else would you find diamonds besides a jewelry store or a diamond mine (which I also don’t know anything about)?
And then it hit me.
I’d spent twenty-eight years teaching elementary school. For thirteen of those years I taught in a regular classroom, and math, especially at the lower grades where I spent my time, included shapes. A quadrilateral with four equal sides is called a rhombus, and I remember one of my students moaning one day, “Why can’t we just call it a diamond like everybody else?”
And so the story of math teacher Paul Cramer and his lady love, English teacher Ellie Hartwell, was born. And fortunately for me, Astraea Press accepted it! Paul is an absent-minded hero. Ellie loves him, but for some reason he’s hard to find in the days before the big Valentine Dance. He’s busy with a new project called Operation Rhombus.
Here’s a short snippet:
Hey, Miss Hartwell, How are you tonight? It's odd, seeing you here without Mr. Cramer."
"Yeah, where is Mr. Cramer, anyway?"
"He said he had to get some supplies for some school project," she told them.
"School project?" I wonder what project that would be," a girl to her right wondered.
The boy next to her nudged her. "Don't you remember? He was talking about it yesterday in trig class. Operation Rhombus."
"Operation Rhom— Oh yeah! I remember now." The girl turned to Ellie. "Yeah, it's really important. But I thought he was going to go get the r- the supplies earlier in the week."
"He probably forgot until today," another girl said. “You know how Mr. Cramer forgets to do things until the last minute.
Everyone at the table laughed. Yes, they all knew.
Operation Rhombus and fourteen other stories in the Love and Diamonds anthology are available at Smashwords for half off this week, using code REW50. Here’s the LINK for the book!