At the 2014 MileHiCon, I went to a panel titled "So You Want to be in an Anthology." I expected this to be a discussion of how to find and submit to anthologies, tips for making it through the slush pile, maybe even methods for approaching anthology editors who don't hold open submissions sessions. There was a little bit of that, but what it turned out to be was an exclusive opportunity to submit to a charity anthology—the only ones allowed to submit to it were the people who attended the panel that day. The topic was "sidekicks": write a story in which the sidekick, rather than the hero, is the protagonist.
I was in town for MileHiCon, but I left the convention early because my dad had bought tickets for the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Chihuly is an artist who does elaborate large-scale glass sculptures such as the ones pictured here. They are often set up in parks, gardens, or historical monuments, working with the landscape to enhance the effect of the artwork. These glass sculptures were set up all through the Botanic Gardens, creating a beautiful and magical scene. In the visitor's center, they showed a documentary about the construction of these installations, and as I watched, I started thinking about the people who assist Chihuly in his wild, abstract creations. And then I realized that could be my "sidekick" protagonist: an artist's assistant (in space, of course). I keep a 6x4 notebook in my purse for just such flashes of inspiration, so I pulled it out and started scribbling notes. A few days after MileHiCon was over, I wrote out a first draft, and titled it "Regarding the Incident on the Yellow Planet."
To the Ladies, Gentlemen and Non-binaries of the Interstellar Arts Council: Please, I can explain. I know it looks as though I am solely responsible for the sabotage of the largest royal art commission in the galaxy's history, and, well, that's partially true. But even villains must have their motivations, and I assure you, I am not the villain of this story. By the time you read this message, I will no longer be at the address of its origin. Oskar taught me well the importance of leaving no fingerprints behind.
The story was accepted into the anthology, and I was able to meet with a number of the other contributors at the 2015 MileHiCon to sign each others' books. For many of the contributors, this was their first published story. It was something like my 40th, but it's one of the more fun publication experiences I've had. Even better, each sale of Sidekicks in either ebook or paperback goes to benefit MileHiCon, an absolutely wonderful small science fiction and fantasy convention that I haven't missed a year of since I discovered it.