How We Write – In the Shadows

The prompts were: anonymous, motivated kiss, and fool’s gold

Initially, this story was written in third person with the narrator just listing off what he saw. But when we went back over it for the blog, Kyros suggested it might work better as a true crime type story where the detective is dictating what he sees to a recorder. After that, the story took off. We could both see everything like we were watching it unfold on a TV show. That’s how you know you’re on the right track: the story starts flowing and every detail seems like it’s happening right in front of you.

Photo by from Pexels


“The subject has entered a small, upscale restaurant on the lower east side.”

He glanced at the lit sign over the door.

“Rubio’s on East 26th.” Letting go the record button on his digital voice recorder, he walked further down the block, then ducked into a dark alley where he could see his subject better.

Pressing down on the record button, he continued, “Subject has taken a table near the window. She appears to be reading something on her Kindle, completely oblivious to the other diners. Is she waiting for someone?”

He saw a commotion through the large plate glass window of the restaurant. (more…)

How We Write – Warm In The Night

The prompts, two men and a flapping tarp, brought to mind for Orion a rustic, possibly medieval setting. Hmmm, a cart with a flapping tarp? Now why would that picture spring to mind? Where was the cart going? Why? And why would the reader care?

Ah, there’s someone in the brush beside the road the cart is on. Who is it and why is that person hiding?

And it needed a cat. A cat always helps a story, right?

So why not make the cat the narrator?

And the story spooled out from there.


She-Who-Is-Warm and I wept when we left our first home.

Warm’s father said we had to go live with the strange man. There were too many mouths to feed and Warm was the youngest daughter. He told her the strange man would protect us, keep us safe, even love us.

That is not what happened though. (more…)

How We Write – The Woods Are Lovely, Dark, And Scary

The prompt for this one was to write about a real-life incident. Orion doesn’t know why this particular piece of her past surfaced, but even all these years later, it was still vivid in her mind.

It happened when she was a newly-minted English teacher living in a new, strange town. Being raised on a farm and not used to the noise and bustle of a city, even a relatively small Midwestern one, she often sought the peace and quiet of local parks. While the events of this story only happened once, it did put her off that particular park.

When she first wrote this story, she mostly just stated the facts of what happened, like a victim recounting the event to the police. When she and Kyros edited the piece for this blog, they fleshed it out into an actual story, framing the incident in thoughts and emotions, while still keeping it 100% true to Orion’s experience from when she was (much!) younger.

Photo by Cecile Vedemil on Unsplash




I took a deep breath, letting the light and air and peace of the wooded park seep into my body through the open car window.

I really need this. I’m still not used to this city with its loud noises, cars, and people running everywhere. I need reconnect with nature.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man jog into view. (more…)

How We Write – Flourishing Trumpets

Our prompts: Prompt attention, Flags, I’m late

This week, we celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. Those protests took place just two weeks after Kyros was born, so gay pride has had special meaning to him ever since he came out.

The events around Kyros getting kicked out of the military in 1989, before the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy went into effect, also shapes his view of how our country can treat gay people.

All of these experiences went into the writing of this cautionary tale in June 2016, right after the current president won his party’s nomination. Kyros knew from history and firsthand experience that discrimination is never fully eradicated. That even the smallest shift can undo years of hard-fought-for rights.

Happy Pride Week everyone!


“It’s hard to believe it’s only been eight years,” Dennis said, shaking his head. “We never believed it could happen here.”

The two men paused, staring up at the flags waving in the breeze over the central plaza.

“I know. So much has changed….”

A flourish of trumpets rang out from the loudspeakers, cutting him off. (more…)

How We Write – Into The Light

The prompt for this week was that the story had to start with the phrase ‘The lights were off when he entered the room.’

Kyros’ twisted mind immediately jumped to a Men in Black type organization that keeps the current president’s followers from questioning his actions too closely and keeps their attention focused on his former opponent.

Last week, we shared the story we wrote for Inauguration Day 2017. This week’s story was written for the first anniversary of that day. We plan to do this every year that this administration is in power as a continuing act of protest. Hopefully, this is the last one we have to write.  


The lights were off when Trevor entered the room.

He was momentarily blinded when a motion-sensor-triggered light blazed to life, illuminating the path to a large steel door on the far side of the room. Emblazoned upon the door was an ornate golden logo with gigantic letters reading ‘Department of INTB & WAH.’

Where the hell did all this come from? he thought. I’ve worked in this building for over twenty years and never seen it before. He pulled back, looking up and down the hallway. This wasn’t even here the last time I was in the basement. Curiosity getting the better of him, he crossed the room, opened the door, and carefully peeked in. (more…)

How We Write – Infected

After the 2016 election happened, Kyros knew that he wanted to write a story to process his feelings about the incoming president. This was a rare story that didn’t have any prompts (except maybe our fear for the future due to the outcome of the election). We wrote this over a couple days and decided that we would each publish it on our personal Facebook pages on January 20th, 2017, Inauguration Day, as a form of protest.


The guide stepped up to the podium. With a flick of his hand, he brought up a holomap of the planet spinning silently below. One area in the northern hemisphere glowed in a soft red.

“This section of the planet used to be called the United States of America. This nation contained two strains of a political virus, conservative and liberal. Neither was especially bad or good. They just caused the infected person to view the world in a slightly different manner.

“That changed when a mutated strain of the conservative virus began spreading through the populace. This new strain caused individuals affected by it to become ever-so-slightly fact-resistant. Few people of the time noticed because initially, only minor facts were rejected.” (more…)

How We Write – Newly Recurring Afterlife

Prompt: The wounds we cannot see

For the month of June, we’re going to showcase some of the political stories we’ve written, starting in June 2016 as we led up to the last election.

First up is Newly Recurring Afterlife, the most recent one we wrote.

Kyros woke up one morning, shortly after the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, with this story racing through his head. He immediately dashed to his computer and started writing. Normally, when we write a story, we outline the basic idea, then go back over it, filling in details, embellishing here and there. That was not the case with this story. It poured out whole cloth. He messaged Orion to join him before the normal start of their day. He was only a couple paragraphs in at that point. They went to work and the entire story was written in just over an hour. For comparison, a normal short takes about one hour to outline, and about 2-3 hours more to write and edit. This story demanded to be told!

We both felt strongly about the reactions from sitting Congressmen who, rather than actually working to prevent another tragedy, only offered up the hollow phrase “You’re in our thoughts and prayers.” This is the same thing they’ve done since Sandy Hook in 2012! We decided that a bipartisan response was needed, so we wrote one.


“Physical injuries heal, but it’s the wounds we cannot see that do the most damage because the damage is to our psyche, not to our body.” -K. Starr


The Congressman woke up.

He tried to move.

He couldn’t.

Struggling, he found he was tied to a post.

“Help! Can anybody help me?” (more…)

How We Write – Some Time To Kill

The prompts were: some time to kill and languishing in a cheap motel. These suggested a bad, forties dime novel detective story to Orion. You know that type, where the sultry woman shows up to hire the hard-boiled detective to solve a mystery. She tried to write one evoking that era and style but simply had to put her own twist on it, as you’ll see.

Photo by Steven Lewis from Unsplash


I was languishing in a cheap motel on the disreputable fringe of the city, waiting for a contact to show up. It was the type of place you breezed past without noticing, on your way home from work. From its flickering neon sign to the debris-strewn parking lot where anonymous vehicles hunched against the wind, it was invisible.

A scratching sound interrupted my third perusal of the daily paper. Tossing it down on the faded, worn bedspread, I went to the door and applied my eyeball to the peephole.


That’s odd, I swear I heard something.

Cautiously, I turned the knob. (more…)

How We Write – Magical Rapscallions

Our prompts were: Fish Food, Orange Juice, Onions

Orion used to spend her weekends pretending to live in the Middle Ages. (One year, she spent 26 of 52 weekends under canvas!) So, it’s no surprise that every once in a while a story lands there too. Also, we really like telling stories of people hoisted on their own petard. Couldn’t you tell?




“I can’t believe how lucky you are, Leo. The king really gave you time off from your regular chores to study with Donatello?”

“Yes. I was stunned. But, I’ve always wanted to be a magician.” A grin split his youthful face. “Donatello says that I’m a natural. He’s never had a student progress so quickly.” He puffed out his chest.

Angelo, the head cook, and Leo’s best friend, raised an eyebrow and looked down his long nose. “Not everyone is so fortunate as to have a patron like you do.”

Leonardo made a face. “Maybe so, but it means I have twice the work I did before.” (more…)

How We Write – Flashes to Ashes

Our prompts were: probable homicide, not for publication, works for me and moving right along.

We had way too much fun with this set of prompts! When Orion and Kyros saw ‘probable homicide’ we both remembered the plethora of cop shows that were on TV in the late 70s and early 80s and decided to pull random characters from those old shows to populate this story. And since we both watched the 1990s DC Comics’ TV shows, we threw in a few comic book characters for good measure as well.

Lt. Kojak from Kojak

Sgt. Wojciehowicz from Barney Miller

Officer Poncherello from CHiPs

Barry Allen from The Flash

Clark Kent from Lois and Clark, The New Adventures of Superman

Lois Lane from Lois and Clark, The New Adventures of Superman

And as for our villain, we’ll leave it up to you as to who that is. Leave your guesses in the comments below.


The unmarked police car with a lone bubble light flashing on its roof careened into the Dunkin Donuts parking lot, screeching to a halt just shy of the yellow crime scene tape. A stocky bald man in a dark suit stepped out of the car, pausing just long enough to unwrap a bright red lollipop and stick it in his mouth.

“What’s going on here?” he demanded, addressing the detective holding the tape up for him.

“It’s really bizarre, Lt. Kojak,” Sgt. Wojciehowicz said, grimacing. “All that’s left of this Barry Allen character is a pile of ashes and one arm with the middle finger extended.” The big man chuckled. “It looks like he at least got in the last word.” (more…)