“Once Upon a Midnight Dreary, While I Pondered, Weak and Weary…” – Edgar Allan Poe


The Hunter’s Shimmering Forest, by Gill Bustamante

The clock struck one a.m. when the writers exchanged prompts. After an exhausting hour of scribbling away they looked up from their computers. “How’d it go?”

“Pretty well considering…”

Both authors walked away pleasantly surprised with their work this week. Given their general disappointment with the stories they’ve previously written late at night, the expectation to disappoint again weighed on their minds. The lateness of the hour not withstanding, each of them felt as if their stories succeeded in being both entertaining and representative of their individual genres.

In Song of the Solstice, Jacob wrote a character-centric suspense story about a father and son hunting in the woods. The deceiving nature of the forest makes you wonder what, among its eerie tranquility, is real.

  1. Time Inconsistencies
  2. A Father
  3. The Solstice

The late hour provided ZB with a barrier of separation between author and story that allowed him to venture outside of his comfort zone to create engaging science fiction. He captures the fear of the unknown in the sprawling galactic drama, Elphas Immunodeficiency Virus.

  1. Infected Tattoo
  2. Doctor’s Without Borders
  3. Science Fiction

Cometa Aducatoare de Viata, by Corina Chirila


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“You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.” – Larry Niven

“In a perfect world, this is exactly how the process of writing would go. I don’t need to be totally in love with the words I’m putting on the page, but if it comes with this level of casualness about it, dear god, I’d never stop doing it.”

This is how Jacob described the week’s writing and it applies pretty well for both writers.

A first draft is rarely the masterpiece we intend to author, these stories are no exception, but they were fun to write and the words came easy. The stories flowed from their fingertips with ease and even a little bit of grace.

In Buy Something or Leave, Jacob presented both the personal and political sides to the end of the world. At its heart this is a slice-of-life story set just before the end of the world. His prompts were:

  1. Supernova
  2. A wild dog
  3. An ultimatum

In What is the Plural of Penis? ZB paired his character with an uncomfortable setting to create an excellent natural conflict. It is a story where the protagonist constantly draws himself back into an unwanted, awkward situation. His prompts:

  1. Beekeeper
  2. A lie
  3. An art gallery

Supernova Over Avalon, by Frith Johnson

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“Style Means the Right Word. The Rest Matters Little.” -Jules Renard


Homeless Man, by Elize Bezuidenhout

The last two weeks have been full of challenges for both writers. This week was no different. While each of the six stories written over the last two weeks was unique in its attempt to utilize the prompts given, it wasn’t until this week that both writers felt like their story used each prompt to their full effect.

Jacob wrote Metropolis Razing, a heavy piece that captures the complexity and difficulty of life on the streets. His prompts:

  1. Non-White Main Character
  2. The Smell of Skin
  3. Times Square

For a totally different tone, ZB’s Casual Dating adds mystery to a bad date & shows how romance has evolved over the years.

  1. Modern Dating
  2. A Budding Politician
  3. Bari, Italy

Tinder Boy, by Ambrus Gero

For a look at the last two week’s stories, look here and here.

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“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” -Stephen King


The Red Door, by Katana Leigh

What an interesting week!  Z.B. & Jacob wrote not two, but four new stories.

After the first hour of writing, both writers experienced issues dedicating themselves to the story in front of them — often deliberating between two entirely different stories within the same prompts. That lesser commitment resulted in two comparatively uninteresting stories. Deciding to give it a second shot with brand new prompts and another hour on the clock, both writers went at it again. Though they might not be much more proud of their second attempts, there’s no denying the writing — they had infinitely more fun.

Ultimately, despite the lack of inspiration, both writers dedicated themselves to the task in front of them and did what all writers must: They wrote.

Jacob’s first piece Frames, is about how even simple acts are hard to accomplish when you are depressed. His second piece, How to Silence that Voice in your Head, is a how to guide that delves into dark fantasy. His Prompts for both:


  1. “…and that was the moment everything changed.”
  2. Sun worship
  3. Buying eyeglasses

How to Silence that Voice in your Head

  1. Magic amulet
  2. Scientist
  3. A self help book

ZB wrote the non-self-help guide How to Run a Marathon first. It is a story about a man’s weakness when faced with an insurmountable task. His second piece, Catching the Sun, is the type of story you would tell a child at bedtime. His prompts:

How to Run a Marathon

  1. Bicyclist
  2. A deflated balloon
  3. Male vulnerability

Catching the Sun

  1. Theft
  2. Sunlight
  3. Self-doubt

Marathon, by Simon Fairless

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“Art is Not a Democracy. You Don’t Get to Vote on How it Ends.” – George R.R. Martin


Wandering Albatross, by Chris Rose. In keeping with this weeks’s prompts.

This week’s process proved great for both writers. A sort of perfect storm of prompts lead both Z.B. & Jacob to new creatives places. It was a nice change after the difficulties of the previous week — to be able enjoy writing and have a couple of pieces that we are proud of.


Jacob wrote an eccentric piece with solid world building that drops you directly into the story. With three seemingly contrary prompts he committed to the absurdity and wrote the charming : Our King, the Giant Squid.

His prompts:

  1. Giant Squid
  2. Shakespearean Fool
  3. Cloning

ZB found inspiration in the epic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Manhattan Project/Hiroshima Bombing to write the multilayered The Albatross.

His prompts:

  1. Location of a crime
  2. A tailor
  3. An albatross


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“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” – Frank Herbert

This quote has perhaps never been more true for the writers than it was today, though Herbert likely had other intentions behind his words.

Z.B. spent much of his hour researching the perfect setting, but ran out of time before his characters arrived there. Jacob, on the other hand, felt the constant tug and release of conflicting ideas, resulting in a conclusion more or necessity than purpose.

ZB’s story Storm in a Teacup used the following prompts:

  1. School for the                      (disability/speciality/etc.)
  2. Teapot
  3. “Going back in style.”

Jacob’s story No Horizons used:

  1. Epic romance
  2. Ghastly Murder
  3. Jack-in-the-box (children’s toy)


    Jack in the Box, by Charlie Spear. A fitting visual to this week’s struggles.

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“Write what you know. That should leave you with a lot of free time.” – Howard Nemerov

Bus Stop (painting)

Arête de bus, by Kristian Kasi.

The two stories that came out of this week’s writing session proved as opposite as possible.

Jacob wrote a loving story between a mother and her son. Inspired by his own experience at his sixth grade science fair, he created the impressively cute An Imperfect Gift.

His prompts:

  1. Mother’s Day
  2. Surrounded by water
  3. An Inventor.


For a more nihilistic read, ZB’s Bus Stop captures the cynicism of an authoritarian society. He used his prompts to supplement an ideology not entirely his own.

His prompts included:

  1. Police State
  2. Bus Stop
  3. Grocer

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“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman

*Two Years Later*

Z.B & Jacob, the writers behind (H)our Stories, are pleased to turn that proverbial door sign around and announce that they are BACK IN BUSINESS!

Plenty has changed since the last time the writers convened to write.  Two years away experiencing what the world had to offer between nourishment, shelter, & companionship, the writers remembered that stories (and the writing thereof) is just as integral to their wellbeing today as it had been all those years ago.

To start off, Jacob wrote a simple story about a 1. grandfather 2. brushing teeth. It had to include two different time eras and he managed it beautifully in the slow paced but gripping Heaven Before Bed.

Z.B. wrote a very noir story unique by its contradiction of genre to character. He was supposed to include 1. a person in a cowboy hat, 2. somewhere near sand, and 3. a Sony Walkman. Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for that Walkman in The Package.


Toothbrush & Toothpaste Cap, by Elizabeth Fraser.

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September 30th, 2014

Annnnd We’re Back!!!

After a super long gap (H)our Stories is back in business!

This first week Jacob hit a home run with Half Way There. His prompts were 1) Death, as a character; 2) Immortality, as a theme; and 3) The line, “Can you spare a dollar.” What we got was an extremely complex look at the struggle of immortality vs. mortality in youth.

ZB wrote There’s a Dragon? with the prompts 1) Literature vs. Reality; 2) A dwarf; 3) “Monkey see, monkey do.” Though he didn’t manage to fulfill most of the prompts he still managed a cute series of vignettes about teenage boys.

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August 28th, 2014

Hi All!

New posting! This week Jacob was prompted with: 1. Fairytale, 2. Oppression, 3. A Father Figure. The final result is The Legend of Henry (as told by Jacob Schatz).

Z.B. was prompted with Sexworker, Gravel, and a Mentally Disabled character. The story is: A Life Full of Peaches.

Tell us what you think!

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