The Story Behind My Short Story “On Like Donkey Kong”

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Rhonda Lane Powerpoint Intro Slide
Introducing myself in the conference presentation with the book and branding.

A version of this post ran in author Dorothy Callahan’s newsletter. Enjoy!

I’m a horse blogger who’s also writing a series of horse mysteries, but my first published crime story features donkeys.

“On Like Donkey Kong” is one of twenty-two short stories in FISH OUT OF WATER: A GUPPY ANTHOLOGY, edited by Ramona DeFelice Long and published by Wildside Press. Guppy chapter President James M. Jackson wrote the introduction.

“Guppy” refers to a chapter of Sisters in Crime, the organization that advocates and supports female crime writers. SinC also has “Misters in Crime,” as you may have noticed with the credit for the anthology’s introduction. The Guppies chapter is designed for unpublished writers, except the group is so supportive long-published authors stick around . The chapter name “Guppies” originated with “Great UnPublished.” Get it?

You also may be wondering, if I’m so into horses, why write a story about donkeys?

Into the Way Back Machine

When I was growing up in rural Kentucky, civic groups raised money by presenting donkey basketball games where local citizens would play a basketball game while riding donkeys. Money from tickets and concession sales went to community organizations. Imagine the fun of seeing your mayor or teacher unseated, a.k.a. humbled, by a donkey.

Flash Forward Coughty Years

Several years ago, a friend invited me to the equine rescue where she volunteered. A weanling miniature horse was about to be adopted out, so it was my last chance to meet the little cutie. I also visited other residents, one of whom managed to upstage the adorable mini foal.

A relentlessly friendly donkey foal insisted on following me around. He was a pocket pet. His mom appeared relieved to have a break from his attentions. I delighted in them.

I wasn’t surprised to learn he also was about to leave for his forever home. Good thing. I couldn’t tell my husband MacGuyver a donkey “followed me home” along an hour and a half drive.

Last Year, a Call for Stories

Then, last spring, the Guppies called for short stories with the theme “fish out of water.” I decided to set my series protagonist, a former globetrotting photojournalist playing basketball on a donkey at a small southern rural town’s charity game.

The main suspense plot featured a search for a child separated from her mother at the event. My journo would dismount her donkey, hand the reins to a kid in the stands, and find the missing child. Suspense capped with a happy ending.

However, a critique group of other hopeful contributors deemed my story fun to read, but not dramatic enough.

I Needed a Felony

So, I expanded another character from the first story, a jerk of a horse trainer with his own agenda at the game.

For the new story, I didn’t focus on him, but his scorned ex-wife. Tammy Jo had a score to settle. How far would she go?

An Excerpt with the Donkeys:

She was about fifteen feet away when she heard the wheezing start of a donkey’s heehaw. Then, another. And another, only this one louder than his pals, so loud it like to split her eardrums. The off-key chorus built into a cacophonous chain reaction.

Her heart leaped to make a run for it out her throat. Her feet danced in place, hot-potato-style.

Gawd Almighty, please shut them up.

She’d be seen for sure if she didn’t get under that truck ASAP.

FISH OUT OF WATER features twenty-one other great crime stories in addition to “On Like Donkey Kong.” It’s available in paperback and ebook through your favorite bookseller.

Cue the helpful “buy” links! I made sure none is an affiliate link. Enjoy!

Cover for Fish Out of Water anthology

More about FISH OUT OF WATER and “On Like Donkey Kong:”



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