Tuesday, May 31, 2011

10 Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Writer - Guest Post, by Jamie Manning

10 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Writer

By Jamie Manning

I’d like to give a huge thanks to Mr. Draven Ames for asking me to do a guest post on his blog…you rock, sir!

As I was wracking my brain to try and come up with a writing-related post, I realized that any and every topic about writing has been done to death. How-Tos, Dos & Don’ts, Character Creating, the list goes on and on and on. No way could I add anything new to that never-ending compilation, so I decided to simply tell you what I have learned since starting my writing journey.

#1 Writing The First Draft is Super Hard

Even though everyone who’s gone before you tells you it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, for some reason you don’t believe them. Writing? Pshaw. Easy. So you sit down and begin. Then, like a Denny’s Restaurant in the South, walls are built around your creative brain so fast it makes you seasick. You can’t find the right word (or any word) to save your life. What do you do? Give up? You could. Or, you could do like everyone who’s gone before you did, and suffer through the pain, knowing that one day it will all be worth it.

#2 Revisions Are Even Harder (But Unavoidable)

Don’t let this one confuse you. #1 is plenty difficult. But revisions can be a nightmare, too. You pour all your heart into that first draft, only to realize upon a second read that You. Don’t. Know. Jack. Your sentences make no sense. You have flat, one-dimensional characters. Your plot holes are the size of Guam. You wanna burn the pages you just poured all your heart into (or hit that glaring DELETE button on your keyboard). But you don’t. You moan and groan and complain, but you revise anyway. You fix those sentences, give your characters life, pack those plot holes with Silly Putty. You revise. Because it’s your job.

#3 Reading Books Is the Greatest Way To Learn

If you’re a writer, you’ve heard it a million times. To get better at the craft, read. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Books (in and out of the genre you write), newspapers, magazines, even cereal boxes. Fill your day with words every chance you get, and you’ll soon start to notice that your writing looks just like those books and newspapers and magazines and cereal boxes. And you’ll feel proud, believe me.

#4 Toss Out Everything You Know About Writing

Everyone learns basic grammar in school. How to structure sentences, correct punctuation, etcetera etcetera. And generally in writing, those rules apply. But the great thing about fiction is that they don’t have to apply if you don’t want them to. With certain exceptions (you can’t use “tied” when you mean “tide”, for example), writing fiction gives you the opportunity to change—and even break—all the rules you learned about the written word. Want to use fragmented sentences? Do it. It’s fun (and liberating!).

#5 Other People Like The Stories In My Head

When I “finished” Blood Born (the book currently with my publisher), and began submitting queries, I was amazed that people actually wanted to read it. I mean, it really shocked me. It was the first time that someone (other than those close to us who have to like it) really liked what I wrote. It was an “Aha” moment for me (ode to Oprah there), and gave me courage to keep going.

#6 Being A Writer Wreaks Havoc On Your Tush

Now I’m the first to admit that I’m not Mr. Athletic. I enjoy playing with my dogs in the yard, or maybe taking a random, spontaneous walk every now and then, but I’m by no means physically fit. So maybe this one is tougher on me than most. But I never realized how physically straining writing would be. Sore fingers, sore wrists, sore bottom. Hydrate, people. Hydrate.

#7 Just When You Think You’re Done, You’re Not

You finish that first draft. You finish those revision rounds (2, 3, 4, infinity). You send your baby off to your publisher (or upload it to a self-publishing site) and finally exhale. You’re done. Finished. Kaput.

Oh but no, you are far from it. You realize you have more revisions to do. You meant to change that character’s name, add in that kissing scene you scribbled in the notebook by your bed at 2 a.m., Run Spellcheck! One of the hardest things about “finishing”? Realizing you’re never finished.

#8 Writing Is A Lonely Game

On top of having to sit for hours and days staring at a blank page (or screen), the realization that you are sitting at said blank page alone sets in and you want nothing more than to get up and go hang out with friends or go shopping or get lost in a book or TV show. But you don’t. No, you keep on staring at that lonely page until words finally become your friend again and decide to help you feel not quite so lonely.

#9 Writing Is Not A Lonely Game

When you think #8 is going to get to you and you’re gonna go crazy being by yourself, #9 smacks you in the face. You come across other writers on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other Social Media sites who are more than willing to lift you up when you’re body is dragging and tell you that “You Can Do It!”. There’s no greater feeling.

#10 When You Find Out You’re Getting Published, #s 1-9 Are So Worth It

No, getting published isn’t what you set out to do when you write (if it is, try rethinking this whole ‘being a writer’ thing), but it certainly feels
awesome when it happens, and you realize that all that hard work has
finally, painstakingly paid off.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Invisible - Guest Post by LM Stull - Short Story

By L.M. Stull

Crawling out from my bed, I entered the night. The wind cut through me as I made my way up and down the busy streets of the city. My trench coat billowed behind me. It was the same every day. No one spared me a glance. Even I couldn't see my reflection in the glass windows that lined the busy streets. I was invisible to the world.

It used to bother me, the isolation, the constant confusion and uncertainty. Now, it was just my existence. I took a seat inside The Beautiful Bean, a dingy, shit-hole of a coffee shop near 53rd. For a few moments, I sat and stared at the attractive brunette behind the counter, waiting to see if tonight she would notice me. She didn't.

Her name was Mindy. She reminded me of someone, but hell if I could remember who. I knew she worked every night. So, every night I came here to sit and watch her. Shit, I had nothing better to do. Besides, if I was honest with myself, I wanted her. I knew it was an impossible desire, but it was one I wasn't yet ready to let go of.

The hours passed by too quickly and it was time for Mindy to close the store to make her way home. This is when we would usually part ways, but tonight I didn't leave. I stayed and watched her mop the floors, humming to herself, lifting her shirt to her face, wiping the sweat from her brow, revealing the soft, porcelain skin that hid underneath. Ironically, seeing a glimpse of her bare body didn't fill me with lust as I thought it would. Instead, a throbbing ache shot through me. It was somewhat ironic to feel. I hadn't felt anything in ages -- maybe ever, actually.

Turning off the lights and walking out the front door, she left. I quickly followed her. Several blocks up, I could have sworn she gave a backwards glance, as if she thought someone was behind her. It was probably just a coincidence.

We arrived at her home. It was a small, rundown townhouse. A soft glow illuminated the front room. Feeling a bit awkward, but yet unable to stop myself, I followed her inside. An elderly woman sat in the front room near a fire, asleep. Mindy pulled a blanket over top the woman and headed up the stairs. Again, I couldn't help but feel as though this was all so familiar to me. But how could it be?

At the top of the staircase, to the right, was a small room. Mindy pushed open the door and entered. I stood at the doorway and watched.

“What are you doing up still, honey?” Mindy asked the little girl lying in the bed.

“Can't sleep,” she paused yawning and rubbing her eyes, “it's always the same dream mommy. Will they ever go away?”

Mindy ran her fingers through her daughter's long brown hair. “Yes. One day, when they are meant to stop, they will. But, it really is late. Try to sleep my sweet, sweet girl.”

Mindy kissed her daughter gently on the forehead and exited the room. I turned to follow her, but stopped, turning my attention back to the small girl. She looked very much like her mother. Seeing her tucked in her bed soothed me, warmed my soul even. If I had one, that is.

“Hi there. Why have you taken so long to visit?” The little girl whispered.

“You can see me? Can you hear me too?” I took a seat at the edge of her bed, looking around at her pink room, trying to place where I had seen it before.

“Of course I can see and hear you silly. Wanna read me a story?” She climbed out from the covers, lying on her stomach, propping herself up on her elbows.

“How can I resist a face like that?” Reaching out towards her, I started to run my hand down the side of her small, delicate face, but something tugged at me and made me stop. “What shall I read to you my little princess?”

Suddenly, the girl's brow furrowed and she turned away from me. A small tear slid down her face, glistening in the moonlight.

“I'm sorry, what's wrong? Did I say something I shouldn't have?” The throbbing ache now filling me yet again, this time more intensely than before.

“It's just hard to see you like this. I miss you.” She buried her head into her arms and sobbed uncontrollably.

Aching, throbbing and confused, I stood up, backing myself into the wall next to her bed. I ran my hands through my hair, tugging at it.

“I'm so confused . . . what's happening . . . I know you . . . but how?” Everything inside of me was on fire. It hurt so bad I began to cry out.

In the meantime, Mindy had reappeared at her daughter's door. “Patrick, you have to let go. It's time. It's been almost a year. For her sake, please let go.”

She saw me. All this time, she had known I had been there and hadn't said anything to me. I fell to my knees, doubling over from the pain and fire that grew inside me.

“Daddy!” Yelled the little girl. “Mommy, what is happening to daddy?”

Hearing that word made the pain unbearable. Lifting my head, I looked at the little girl and attempted to speak. Nothing.

“Stay on your bed, Elizabeth. Look the other way.” Mindy crossed the room and grabbed a small mirror from the girl's nightstand.

“Here, I think it's time. Look in the mirror.”

Mindy lowered the mirror to my face and I looked into it, expecting to see nothing. Instead, I saw myself for the first time. “Patrick Keating.” I spoke through a cracked whisper. Seeing my broken, gray flesh, loosely falling from my bones made me want to vomit, but I couldn't.

Another violent burst of flames poured over me, this time causing me to fully collapse onto the floor. For the first time, I remembered. I remembered everything. My daughter. My wife. The night I had been murdered. I cried out, banging my bony fists against the floor. “NO!”

Mindy crawled next to me, wrapping her arms tightly around me, crying. “It's time to say goodbye. I'm sorry I didn't talk to you before, but Father Lawrence said you had to figure it out on your own. We’re going to be okay, but it's time for you to rest.”

I wanted to tell her how much I loved her -- how much I missed her and Lizzy. My skin began to glow brighter and brighter, until my daughter's room became as bright as the sun. My body began to shake violently and I saw my once rotting flesh now become whole.

Mindy stood up, holding our daughter close. A force much stronger than anything I could have ever imagined lifted me above, higher and higher.

Before they were out of my sights, I reached down to my family and opened my mouth, hoping that what I wanted to say would come out, “I‘ll love you forever.”

I saw the two of them nod, tears falling down both of their faces, as the bright light consumed me until I could see no more. I smiled as a blanket of warmth and tranquility engulfed me.

I guess I hadn't been invisible after all.

L.M. Stull
Author of Memoirs of a Monkey
Available June 2011

Founder, Between the Lines

L.M. Stull - An Author's Bio

Originally a Washington, DC native, L.M. Stull now resides in Southern Virginia. She has always been a creative person and studied classical piano and dance from a young age.

During the day you will find her chained to a desk at a law firm. Yes, she works for lawyers. Now you understand why she writes about creatures . . . Boom! At night she channels her inner creative monster and writes (sorry, she doesn't turn into a werewolf or anything).

Her debut paranormal romance novel, Memoirs of a Monkey, will be published by Black Kettle Publishing in June 2011.

When she's not writing or feverishly taking orders from attorneys, she laces up and runs (and sometimes drinks wine...yeah, okay maybe more than sometimes).

There are several ways you can go about stalking her on the web if your little heart so desires: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads (Hint: she'll totally think you're awesome if you add her upcoming books to your to-read pile) and of course her really cool Website. She also runs the Fellow Writer's group on Facebook.

L.M. is also the founder of Between the Lines, a book club who is proud to feature the writings of independent and small press authors. For information on membership and how to become a contributing author, visit their website. You can also connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post - Bullies Bite the Little One

Bullies Bite The Little One
By Paul Joseph

I was in seventh grade. The bell dismissed me from language arts. I proceeded to the locker pod. I opened my locker and removed my lunch, a daily ritual since my small Christian private school did not have a cafeteria. It was ‘brownbag or starve.’

As I shut my locker, my left arm was grabbed by a hand – a soft hand, perfectly manicured, that pulled my arm towards her teeth. Before I processed what was happening, my skin had been punctured.

The culprit was no stranger – she lived in my neighborhood. We were in the same carpool (my small Christian private school did not have transportation, either). We were in the same sixth grade class. We were in the same seventh grade class. We went to the nurse every afternoon at 1:00 to take our allergy medication. We worked together on a project for religion class – she liked to draw and I liked to write. We were a good team.

But the rules of society forbid us from being friends. She was a 5’4” attractive cheerleader - blonde, thin, and athletic. I was a 4’8” overweight nerd – the honor roll student who would rather read a book than play basketball in the driveway, and who couldn’t get picked in gym class for all the bonus points in the grade book.

I never found out exactly why she bit me. I know that when confronted by a teacher, who was not a real teacher by certification standards, her explanation was that she didn’t like me. In her mind, the reason justified the behavior.

I suspect she was tired of taking heat from her popular cheerleading friends. They most likely heckled her for associating herself with me, so she sought a divine moment, one where half the grade was present, to make her point. Her point had been made.

Ten years later, I returned to a seventh grade classroom. As I got ready for my first day as a History teacher, I noticed the faded scar on my left arm – the remains of a ten-year old bite.
The scar has faded with time. My dark, hairy Italian DNA worked overtime concealing it. But it’s still there. It will always be there.

As a teacher, it wasn’t long before realizing bullying was alive and well – that rather than making progress, kids find new methods with time. I was often quoted for saying, “I’m so glad I graduated before facebook existed.”

Kids today face a new genre of fear: the fear of online harassment. They post disparaging comments forgetting the world can read them – and that once something is posted on the Internet, it is never gone for good. As a society, we have not been able to convey to children that despite the stupid sticks and stones saying, words do hurt. Words scar. Words matter.

As an anti-bullying advocate at my former school district, I heard stories I never needed to hear. Kids reported bullying situations that left me stunned. What makes someone alter a pornographic photograph and distribute it with the face of a fellow classmate? What makes someone invite a kid to a party that never existed – only to show up and sit for three hours because he was embarrassed to call his dad for a ride home before the ‘party’ would have ended? What makes kids destroy each others property out of hatred or revenge? I never understood it. I don’t want to understand it. I just want it to stop.

At twenty-seven years old, I remain scarred (physically and emotionally) from situations I encountered as a kid. On June 14, it will be ten years since I was handed my high school diploma, yet I continue to get anxious in social situations. I hate meeting new people. I hate getting nervous before meeting new people. I hate worrying about things I shouldn’t worry about.

There is a part of me that will always wait for the next mouth to bite me. The good news is, with age comes wisdom. We find our niche and connect with people worth our time – people who embrace us for who we are, not who they want us to be. We have opportunities to use our experiences to make a difference. For me, that venue has been writing.

My mission in writing YA fiction is to help troubled teens find comfort through the characters; to give kids a voice when they feel they don’t have one. I want teens to find themselves through the stories – to learn through the characters, and hopefully, feel inspired to apply that new knowledge in a positive way.

Literature is a valuable teaching tool. It’s no surprise I chose bullying as the focus for my first YA novel. It is an epidemic in our country, which produces a need for high interest literature that addresses the issue while holding a teenager’s attention. Regardless of what happens with my novel, I look forward to the day we no longer need to write books on bullying. I look forward to the day when bullying has become a thing of the past. Spreading awareness and educating others is the first step.

-Paul Joseph

I would like to extend a big thank you to Draven for inviting me to guest blog and talk about bullying. It was an honor to be here and share my thoughts on this important topic. Draven is a great friend and supporter; he is also a talented writer who sparks great discussions on his site. You are wise to be reading his words.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guest Post - Short Story - The Well - By Michele Shaw

The Well
By Michele Shaw

After Momma got sick, I took over most of her chores. I became a decent cook, learning to use every part of the game Daddy brought home. I did just fine cleaning, too, with our homemade tools and Momma’s solutions. Most importantly, I fetched water. My arms grew stronger from hauling buckets day after day.

I took to borrowing Momma’s coat, warmer than mine, for daily treks to the well. Nearing fourteen, I stood as tall as her, and the worn sleeves hit my wrists just so. I used her special combs, too. They kept long strands of hair from blowing in my face on windy days.

Daddy always said we were to drink only from our well, never trust another, and he knew best. His barrel arms and broad shoulders made me feel safe, but his mind, oh, how his mind worked. That’s what really kept me safe. I longed to know all he did, nightly begging for stories by the fire. Sometimes he obliged, and I listened. I obeyed.

Until the well ran dry.

I didn’t want to tell him. Lately, his eyes had grown tired. With daylight shrinking and animals burrowing in for the winter ahead, food graced our table in smaller quantities week by week. The woods held its shrinking bounty of meat, berries, and nuts like a selfish hag.

No. I couldn’t tell him. Water was my job. Curing the lack of it fell to me. Alone.

After he left for the day, shotgun in hand, arrows sheathed on his back, I laced up my worn leather boots. I secured the combs, buttoned the coat’s two remaining buttons, and stuffed a crust of bread in my pocket.

This trip, longer than usual, required something for my hands. Momma’s light breathing in even spurts meant she slept—like always. I quickly rifled a drawer by her bedside, snatching a pair of wool socks in need of darning. I cut small holes for my fingers and grabbed another pair to wear on top.

The fire needed another few logs to keep her warm in the cabin. I arranged them on top for a good long burn before I slipped out.

Wind nipped at my face as I closed and latched the door. I grabbed buckets from our splintered porch and balanced the handles in the crook of my arm. I knew where it was, the next closest well. No one used it.

Might even be dry. No, no, don’t think it.

The crisp air carried the scent of snow, though none fell, and the cloud-filled sky looked wrong. Swirling gray puffs moved too quickly, unnaturally fast. A nice knit cap would have helped, but Momma didn’t knit anymore. Not that it mattered. We had little wool to knit with.

I should have walked past, but I stopped anyway, a butterfly of hope fluttering in my heart.

I had to check our well one last time.


“Please,” I yelled into the hollow tunnel. The tear escaping my cheek provided the only water at the bottom. My voice echoed up, and I threw my socked hands over my ears to muffle it.

The air stirred and I turned to whistles through the pines. Rustling leaves. Movement.

“Hello?” I called.


I wiped a drip from my nose and started for the path, remembering the way. Daddy showed me once, but only as a warning of where not to go. That warm day, so beautiful with wildflowers blooming and warm breezes tickling my skin became a tour of the outlying area. He set my boundaries for play and work—where I could go, what I could touch, what we were allowed to eat. Daddy’s good nature made the day fun, while I understood the purpose of everything he said.

I figured he never expected the well to run dry. Neither did I.

But it did.

More light crept across the sky, struggling to break the billowing waves of clouds, but our thick tree cover fought to keep it out completely. I worked with the path, moving through openings, turning sideways when needed, and gently moving branches to leave it as undisturbed as I found it.

A song floated through the treetops. A bird? But what a strange sound it made. Lovely soft notes, closer to a child’s voice than that of a bird. As I moved in further, a small parting of branches above allowed a sliver of sky to drift into my vision. The bird flew past, not once, but twice, cooing the song, almost as if dropping it down the hole in the trees to only me. I shivered, taking five more steps.

And there it was.

The well.

I stayed back a good ten feet, unsure why I didn’t walk straight to it. The bird, black as pitch, circled overhead and lilted his song again. I knelt and rested the buckets on the ground. I removed one of the socks, sifting dry grass and brush for a pebble until a brown speckled one appeared. A light toss landed it in the center, and a plop echoed up. My taught shoulders eased as I imagined the small ripple—tiny waves forcing one after another to the sides.


The other sock came off with a tug and I picked up the buckets. Plenty of water and not much farther than our well. Not so far that I couldn’t make it, and one less worry for Daddy.

Though the bitter day numbed nearly every part of me, the walk left me thirsty. When I leaned at the edge of the well, a small ladle hanging from a string threw off a glint from its silver surface. I glanced up, catching the hurried clouds closing a gap of sun that had opened for less than a second. I studied the ladle again, then jerked around, pricked by the...nothingness.


No bird. Winds stopped. Clouds immobile. Pure quiet.

Fuzzy thoughts floated around me, falling away when one sharp desire choked them—water. My chapped lips longed for liquid, the ache in my throat creating fissures that snaked down my chest.

Still thirsty. So thirsty. Why am I so thirsty? One drink, then fill the buckets. Plenty of time before Daddy gets back.

Daddy. The thought stopped me; I hadn’t heard a single shot since he left. But thirst overtook my unease.

I tied the rope to a bucket and threw it in. Pain seared my mouth and up through my nostrils, a dryness worse than any I recalled from the hottest summer day. The bucket clanked the stone walls, finally breaking the surface. I waited five seconds, then ten before pulling hand over hand. The bucket’s weight soon grew beyond my strength. I couldn’t understand it, a single bucket feeling so heavy. One of the combs loosened from my hair and fell, clicking twice against the stone before hitting the water. I briefly mourned the loss, but I needed to drink. Grunts and sobs spewed from me with each painful yank.

I paused, breathing in short gasps, trying to ignore the burn strangling my arm muscles. Resting my head to my wrist brought the images.

Momma would go first, then me, then Daddy. Weakest to strongest, but all succumbing. Dehydrating, starving…dying.


I straightened, one final burst left. The bucket swayed and scraped the wall, halting when I hoisted it to the ledge.

For the first time in weeks, I smiled.

Beautiful, clear water, glistening like a mirror, gathered in the bucket. My sallow complexion reflected back. I took the ladle and dipped it full. Though it weighed little compared to the bucket, my spent strength made lifting it a chore.

Midway, a forearm’s length from my mouth, the ladle moved as though pushed from beneath. Effortless. My wilting arm no longer mattered. I tipped the first drops and they splashed my tongue, exploding moisture down my throat. Warming sensations oozed outward; clear to my frozen fingers and toes. I gulped, finished the ladle, and filled it again.

I blinked, a sudden energy overtaking my blood, pulsing it with force.

My strength returned, but different. Not renewed—better. I searched my reflection again. Me, yes, but healthy, beautiful—glowing. I wanted to run, jump, dance.

But I needed to get this water to Momma. Maybe she could heal. Maybe with this water we didn’t even need food. The strength, the power it gave me, surged like none I’d ever known. I lowered the second bucket, this time with ease. It came back up in seconds with the slightest tug.

I wanted another look at my reflection, my perfection. Wanted proof I hadn’t imagined the change. The water stilled and I gasped. A hideous creature with eyes of burning yellow and fangs meant to maim glared back. The hairy gnarled hand that touched my cheek sent a spark over my face.

A hideous reflection, but suddenly second in worry to my thirst. The yearning returned, yet altered. This pull, aching to the tips of my new hairs, came as a deep longing—uncontrollable. It required more than water. It lusted for bones, flesh, and blood.

The black bird circled once more, its song changed. A mournful tune trilled as its spiral flight came lower and lower. I turned, watching it dip and collapse at my feet with a final, strangled chirp. I knelt, wondering if the small creature could be the first to quench my need.

I reached for its feathered head, and a crack shot up my back, forcing me forward on my elbows. Blood dripped from my mouth, dotting the bird’s frozen eye. My limbs went numb. Life was draining from me; I felt it cascade outward on a swift, but gentle current.

“Cassie,” he said. I searched out his voice with my eyes, the only part of me I could move. My crumpled body shook without permission. “Oh, Cassie,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “You drank. I told you never to drink....”

I squinted through the gun smoke wafting into the sky and growled. But the creature departed me as I exhaled one last breath and whispered, “I’m sorry, Daddy.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shroud #2

This morning I had the chance to finish Shroud's second issue, from spring of 2008. I am happy to say this issue didn't disappoint. Again, Mr. Deal finds enough authors to fill this magazine with scares, thrills, creep-out factors and things that make you think. There is something for everyone.

The best part? Without reading the bio's, you woudln't know who the new authors are and who the established ones are.

The issue started with some letters from readers, who all seemed to love the first issue. After that, we hear a little from Tim Deal, the editor, as he discusses his vision for Shroud and how the magazine will continue on, despite our economy. You can see the resiliency of the magazine reflected through his words.

After reading the second issue, one can only hope they continue publishing for a long time to come (given that the world doesn't end first).

There were a whole lot of great flash fiction pieces, including a well written contest that Shroud ran on Myspace.

Out of the stories, I loved Tom Piccirilli and Ken Bruen's co-write of "Be the Darkness." The voice that was carried through most of the story, despite the two authors, was reminiscent of Henry, from Good Fellas.

Nathaniel Lambert's "Pink Elephant" is a sick tale about a family who keeps collecting checks after the death of their uncle. Eventually, things get pretty bad. Well worth the read.

Kaelan Patrick Burke does well with his story, "Haven," where a man returns home to the childhood he left behind. Will it let him leave?

"Beggar's Blessing," is a nasty treat by Marie Brennan and "Ankle Biters" closed the whole show in a way that the title suggests. There isn't a whole lot of mystery with these two, but they left me satisfied and reading swiftly.

All in all, I love "Home," by Maura McHugh. The story reminded me a movie I saw last year; I think it was A Haunting in Connecticut. Interestingly enough, the POV of this unique story comes from the house.

"The Thing in the Woods" is about a couple who have some serious jealousy issues. When they get lost, arguments ensue and a crash leaves them stranded. But what ran in front of their car?

The other stories, like "Hard Soup" and "Amuse Bouche" were also good, but I really liked the interview with Tim Lebbon. Paul Kane does a really nice job digging below the surface and Tim answers without pause. The conversation had me ready to buy Dead Man's Hand.

Tim Deal even jumps in with a movie review and there is a GREAT article called "The Bloodlust of Elizabeth Bathory," by I.E. Lester. Well worth the read.

And how can we mention Shroud without mentioning their art? The cover is a ghost done by the Haunted Art of Thomas Straub, who turns real people into ghosts. The art put with each story also served to heighten the realism of the stories. I can see a really cool adaptation of Shroud on some electronic readers already. I would love to have the images pop up as I read areas.

When will readers track the motion of our eyes, displaying pictures at the right times?

That sums up a lot of what could be found in Shroud. If you haven't checked out this magazine yet, I suggest you take a moment to order one. Try the newest issue, where friends Ben Eads and Stacey B. Longo will be writing this month? I've even heard Brian Keene will play a part in this issue. Exciting!

Have a wonderful week everyone. Happy Monday you Garfield lovers,

Draven Ames

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ben Eads Comes Full Circle

When I first started writing, almost a year ago, a writer wrote me up with some helpful advice. We started to discuss ethics, stories and critiquing each other's work. He turned out to be one of the most helpful writers I have met.

Shroud came in the mail last month. I've been reading those a bit, but I had to jump ahead and read Ben's story, "Full Circle."

"Full Circle" is a shocking little piece about a man named Arthur. Him and his wife are on a vacation, diving off the shores of Azores. He had heard about monolithic statues under the sea there. While inspecting the underwater ruins, something darts past and cuts his leg.

What follows is a fast paced story that earned him his first spot in Shroud Magazine. I've been finding this magazine to be increasingly good. Mr. Deal does a great job selecting and editing these stories.

"Full Circle" was creepy to read. The way he describes people interacting is smooth and he never forces you out of a story. I can't tell you much, but the end of the story involves body snatcher-like things! The descriptions can make your skin crawl.

Deffinately worth the read. Ben is a great person to follow on Twitter, Facebook and his blog. Check him out in Shroud #11.

Draven Ames

Ben on Facebook.
Ben's website.