This is the short story I wrote in 1978, not to be confused with the novel of the same title, which is completely different. The story was inspired by two things: a scene in one of the Darkover novels where someone using the Alton Gift actually did kill someone; and the fact that I was living in my parents' house while they prepared for my younger sister's wedding. My mother was planning the wedding reception--followed by a major party for her friends--in our back yard, and wedding planning can be very stressful for everyone in range. There was a lot of drama and fussing, and I already had a full-time job plus a full-time course load for my Master's degree.
I wrote this for a Darkover short story contest that MZB was running, and the rule was that stories had to be submitted anonymously. I was living in Connecticut, but the company I was working for had a plant in North Carolina (oddly enough, in a town named Marion). I put postage on the envelope and sent it there to be mailed from their mail room, so Marion (the person, not the town) had no clue that I'd even entered. The story took second place in the contest, and I finally told Marion I'd written it when she came for a visit. Fortunately, there was a chair behind her, because she was so surprised she fell over. It might have been better, however, if it hadn't been a rocking chair.
"The Alton Gift" is available from Fictionwise and Kindle. It is also in the anthology THE KEEPER'S PRICE.