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Posts Tagged ‘Magic’

How We Write – Damned Fire

Our prompts were: fire, stripes, and stuffed animal.

In the first draft of this story, it was all about the fireman. But once we realized what a special little girl Lucy was, she became the main character of her own short story collection (The Damned Kid anthology will be forthcoming at a later date). In editing this for the blog, we realized that we needed to make significant changes to still tell the fireman’s story, but make it fit as part of the larger story cycle belonging to Lucy. In the process, we chopped over 200 words from the story.

Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash




Our engine company arrived just in time to see the first house in the subdivision flare up like a torch.

I shivered.

The fire seemed to have a life of its own. I’ve never seen one move so fast before. Or at right angles to the wind.

Jack finished pulling the hose down off the engine then hooked it up to the hydrant.

This whole area has been blanketed in smoke for days. These poor people probably don’t even realize that the fire’s snuck up on the greenbelt behind their houses.

Chief Johnson grabbed me. “Let Avon and Blake take that hose.” Pointing at a large home on the corner, he ordered, “You get that house cleared. The rookie and I’ll take the next one.”

I ran up the curving walk and pounded on the door. I was about to break in when it swung open.

There was no one there. (more…)

How We Write – The Music and the Magic

Our prompt here was, Is that your banjo?

Suddenly, Orion found herself in a barn with musicians tuning up in front of a rustling audience. Having read the Bedlam Bards series by Mercedes Lackey, it was apparent to her that everyone was waiting for the magic to begin.

The challenge was to convey the theme without overusing the words ‘magic’ and ‘music’. Such a short story—the span of only one song—required a lot of back and forth between Kyros and Orion to produce a clean story that rang true.





The dim hall rustled and stirred with quiet chatter as the audience arrived and took their seats. I walked up to the stage, my battered black case thumping against my leg.

“Is that your banjo?” asked the frontman of the small ensemble settling in to play the first set of the evening.

“Sure is,” I said, pulling my instrument from its case. The metal glinted in the stage lights, its white face shining like a full moon.

“Care to join in and make some magic with us?” (more…)

How We Write – Food For Thought

Our prompts for this story were: Oh, God, I have no idea and I don’t know whether to pet it or eat it. The last one made Kyros think that there was some kind of magical chicanery going on, similar to what happened in one of our earlier stories, Magical Rapscallions. We both thought it was a good idea to base this story in the same world since we already had a time period and cast of characters to draw from.

You wanna know how much Kyros loves writing these stories? He actually wrote the outline for this one on his cell phone—while waiting in the theater on opening night of Avengers: Infinity War.


“Excellent work, Leonardo! You’ve gotten much better at transmogrification ever since your little, um…,” My master gave me a rueful smile. “mishap with the king’s onions this summer.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said, feeling my face heat up. “It was two weeks before everything stopped tasting like onions. I swore I’d never eat them again after that!”

The old man laughed. “All right, boy. Since you’ve mostly mastered transmogrification, I think we’ll move on to something a little more…interesting.” Donatello stood, straightening his robes. “After lunch.”

“Interesting?” I asked, my eyebrows rising. “What exactly do you consider interesting?” (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 – Horsing Around

The prompts for this one were unusual. Instead of several words to work with, we only had the word Moonglow and a newspaper photo of trotters in a race similar to the one below.

We did a lot of research on this one. First, we tried to place the story at an actual racetrack, which led us to research the history of harness racing. Then when we considered using the mobile starting gate, we fell down another rabbit hole looking into when they came into use, to make sure that we weren’t creating an anachronism. Finally, we gave up and created our own racetrack and stakes race because we couldn’t find enough information to be 100% sure. But it was fun researching all those details to make the story come to life. That’s way research goes sometimes. You spend hours trying to get all the details just right…then use none of it in the actual story. But in doing the research, you get a feel for the material that shows up in little things (for example, Kyros didn’t know that the buggies behind the horses were called sulkies).

Watch out for some Easter eggs we hid in the story, too.

Photo by Martin Damboldt from Pexels


Horsing Around

“Hey, you’re Simpson, right?”

The young man in the stall turned from grooming his horse. “Yeah. What can I do for you?” he called over the half-open dutch door.

The other man reached out to stroke the chestnut mare’s muzzle.

“Careful,” Simpson warned, “she bites if she doesn’t know you.”

The stranger snatched his arm back just as the horse lunged in his direction. Clutching his hand to his chest, the man glanced down to verify he still had all his fingers. (more…)

How We Write – Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus!

When these prompts, Cavemen with computers; A dynasty of dinosaurs; Pools of light, rivulets of shadow, deserts of dark, came up, we struggled to figure out how to have cavemen with computers. Outside of some very weird Geico commercials, that’s not something you encounter every day. But drawing on our shared history of working for large companies in so-called cubicle farms, we hit upon the idea that morphed into the story you are about to read. Kyros had way too much fun crafting the spell they used. Orion wishes there was a video of him reading it. You would probably all laugh just as loud as she did. Maybe next time she’ll sneak a recording and share it with all of you.



A fierce roar rattled the office windows.

“Arroh, get in here!”

Oh, crap, what did I do now? I mentally went over the checklist of my duties. I already filed the meeting reports, contacted the affiliates, and ordered his lunch. The budget isn’t due until next week. What could he want? Another roar jostled me out of my thoughts. I tiptoed into my boss’s office.

Behind the vast expanse of desk, Mr. Rex Saurus sprawled on his office couch, an ever-present snarl contorting his long face. I used to envy all those sharp teeth, that is, until I caught a glimpse of his dental bill.

“Y…yes, sir?” Dammit, why did I stutter? Not a good way to impress the boss.

His short arms jerkily waved a sheet of paper at me.

“This report on the Stegosaurus Housing Project is incomplete and the numbers don’t add up!” He frowned down at me. “Do I need to replace you with someone more…precise?”

“No, no, sir. I’ll…I’ll fix it, sir. Right away. Sir.” (more…)

How We Write – Of Cook and Carrots

Continuing our examination of how we write flash fiction, next up is OF COOKS AND CARROTS. This short was written from a single prompt, carrots.

For us, contrary to what we have heard from other writers, working from a single prompt is much harder than from multiple prompts. When you have several prompts, you start to see connections between the words which creates the world and thus your story. With a single prompt, however, the possibilities are endless and we find we don’t know where to begin. With this story though, once the character of the wizard showed up, the story practically wrote itself. From the time we started until we finished was barely over an hour. Enjoy!


“Cook, have I not told you before?” the wizard asked, raising an elegant eyebrow. “I refuse to eat carrots.” He pointed one long finger at the steaming trencher with its orange intruders. “Take these things away. Now.”

The red-haired cook didn’t budge. Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest, a long wooden spoon held at the ready. He rocked on his heels, making his spotless white apron sway beneath his belly.

“Master, do you remember the omelet you raved about this morning?”

Puzzled, the wizard nodded. “Of course. It was splendid. What of it?”


How We Write – Weather The Storm

Our prompts for this story were persuasion, it was a close thing, Chinese food, and suddenly sunshine. We thought about a couple arguing about whether or not to have Chinese food. We both drew upon our early dating history to flesh out the disagreements between them. Then we wondered, what if one of them was a weather witch? This is the story that unspooled from there. 


“I’ve always wanted to see Celtic Thunder in concert. How did you manage to get tickets, Andrea?”

“My aunt dates one of the guys in the group.”

“Really? That’s cool.”

They heard a rumble reminiscent of the sound effects from the concert.

Andrea giggled and nudged him with her elbow. “Sounds like someone’s hungry.” (more…)

How We Write – Hog Wild

This story was written several years ago for the prompts: Barn, Bossy Team Leader, One More. When we edited the story before posting it, we found that our voice and timing had grown substantially. The changes in word count moved the story from flash fiction to short story in length (over 1000 words). Also, I think we made it funnier!

Hog Wild!

Jackson Stevens sidled into the conference room, juggling his laptop and morning espresso. He shoved the door with his elbow and headed for the only vacant chair at the table: right next to his bossy team leader.

Killian Porter, Director of Programming for their all-reality cable network, glared at him, pointing to the still half-open door.

“I know your show’s about farm animals, but were you born in a barn?”

“Oh, sorry, sir,” he said, hastily using his shoulder to close the door.

His boss was a large man who seemed to be stuffed into his suit. The man positively fumed while watching Jackson boot up his laptop. The rest of the room waited silently.

Once he’d finished fussing with the machine, Killian stabbed a finger at him. “That’s one more strike against you, Jackson.”

“Since you finally decided to join us,” he said with an exaggerated tone of politeness, “would you care to update us on the overnight figures for your show?”

“W…w…well, sir, the overnights are great for Hog Wild. Our new show seems to have hit the key demographics hard.” Jackson smiled at his boss. “Apparently, people love watching the crazy antics of people who race hogs professionally.”

Killian chuckled as he tilted back in his chair. (more…)