The Emporium Gazette
Issue 28 -- August 2001

The Dog Daze of Summer
by Bob Nailor

Stories are made of these:
One little fact, changed!

Well, here it is, hot, humid, sticky and just downright unbearable in most of the northern hemisphere. The afternoons ease by ever so slowly and if you're lucky enough to be sitting on a shady porch or under a spreading tree, they're almost enjoyable with the light breeze to comfort you. A bit of lemonade or tea with 'chip ice' and you know you're in heaven. Summer is smoldering to an end and it's time to relax before the big harvest, not to mention the canning and preserving.

Each year it's the same, history repeats itself over and over. Or does it?

Think of a historical moment, and it doesn't need to be a major turning point for mankind. Actually, think of any situation where the outcome could have been different.

Let me show you an example: Mrs. Hill, a staunch reformist and leader of the community urban replacement, crosses the street and meets her demise. The town continues on its way and becomes a quaint village of artsy-craftsy things. That is history as we know it.

Now, instead, Mrs. Hill is spared, the car swerves and pretty well demolishes the corner drugstore. Mrs. Hill, rather than pushing to get the store repaired, has the place condemned and it is finally knocked down. The whole downtown area gets on a renovation kick and the community is now a hip and happening place with all the latest and greatest fad stores.

Just add the twists necessary to complete your story. It's called "Alternate History."

Need more ideas? The South won the Civil War - a well played - perhaps overplayed - theme. Eric the Red continued his discovery of the new world and had thriving Nordic villages in place when Columbus finally visited the Americas. General Custar won the battle of Little Big Horn. Diamonds rather than gold had been found to create "The Great Diamond Rush" to California. What if President Kennedy hadn't been shot? What if the Great Wall of China had failed to hold back the Mongols? What if Benjamin Franklin had electrocuted himself with his kite? The A-bomb was dropped at Hiroshima and there was a survivor! What if humans were dino-based? What if the Pharoah still ruled?

When it's a slow, hot day, chew on a blade of grass and relax in the shade of a mighty oak. Think. Wonder. Question "what if?" and let your mind take a roller-coaster ride to the absurd. Perhaps it won't be so strange after all.

If history isn't your "bag" then perhaps you could find the necessary enlightenment to brace your story properly at the local library - another cool place when the heat is bearing down.

Let the creative juices flow, gel and congeal; then in the cool of the night, put it to paper.

It may be a dogday afternoon, but your mind won't overheat if your lay about and think!

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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