How to survive becoming an Author…week 5…Surviving Getting Started

So you’re finally ready to sit down and write that novel. It’s been burning in your soul, playing out in your dreams like an Oscar winning movie. You’ve envisioned your characters, what they look like, how they dress, even how they talk. But now in that perfect moment as you look at the un-written white screen in front of you, you draw a blank. The white space on your screen does nothing to inspire the fact that you only have 40,000 to 80,000 words left before you can consider yourself completed.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Getting the ball rolling on this type of project is never easy, not even for the most experienced writer. But there are ways of overcoming the blank, and there is no set preference on how to organize your thoughts. But here are some examples and tips that might help you get moving along in no time.

1)      Outline. Nothing is better in the beginning as organizing your thoughts. Start from the beginning, what happens, then what, how does the first thing affect the next? I’ll give you a simple scenario.

  1. Jack and Jill climb a hill.
    1. They were carrying a pail
    2. They were fetching water (or hard liquor, hard to say)
  2. Jack fell down in a drunken stupor
    1. Broke his crown (damn drunk)
    2. Which caused Jill to tumble down after (no doubt cussing continuously)

2)      Thought Bubbles. This technique is a bit more graphical. It entails writing down your basic idea of your book and circling it. From that idea, you write a corresponding thought on that idea and circle it, drawing a line from idea one to idea two, and so on. It’s really hard to show this idea but a cool example can be found by following this link, http://s3.amazonaws.com/heroku-ldatschool/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/12201259/Web-of-linked-thought-bubbles-demonstrating-an-example-of-a-concept-map..png

3)      Free Writing. This is the preferred method of yours truly. It is simple yet effective. All you do is sit and write whatever comes into your head. No structure, punctuation, grammar rules, paragraphs, or even correct spelling is needed. Just write whatever pops into your brain. Run-on sentences, go for it, gibberish, go for it, Pig Latin, whatever! Whatever it takes to just simply put your fingers on the keyboard and keep writing until you slowly find that you are getting into your groove! Then return to the screen and make that magic happen!

4)      Cut and Paste. So you know where you are going with the story, but you’re not entirely how you’re going to get there. But you know exactly how one scene will play out. So, write your scene. Sometime while you are writing the scene, other ideas jump into your head. Once you’ve written a few scenes and figure out exactly how they fit together, simply connect the dots, and cut and paste your scenes in place. (warning, though I know some writers can do this, I recommend not using this method unless you have completely used up any other method. It is very easy to get lost and forget where you were going, or mix up your scenes out of order.)

The basic idea here is simple, organize, organize, organize.

Of course, sometimes you just have to take life by the horns and just go for the gusto. Writers like Sandra Hults believe in simply sitting down with her ideas and letting the story take her wherever it leads. A lot of successful authors do this as well. It is definitely a whirlwind challenge and can make for an interesting adventure, especially when the writer themselves are uncertain of the outcome.

Next, let’s talk comfort zones. Not every writer has the ability to just sit down, crack open their laptop, and produce award winning novels while sitting in the middle of an out-of-control room of children at a daycare center. In fact, some very famous writers out there had very strange places where they would find their elusive muses. Edith Wharton would write in her bed in the morning before getting up. Benjamin Franklin wrote naked after a soothing “Tonic Bath”. And Dame Edith Sitwell only wrote after taking a relaxing rest in an open coffin.

Now I’m not recommending you run down to your local funeral home and pretend to test drive a body bag, but it is important for maximum creativity to find your “Place”. For the before mentioned Sandra Hults, she prefers to sit in a quiet library with a set of headphones, a place she admits herself sounds “Cliché” but works perfectly for her. For me, it is a warm cup of Joe, doesn’t seem to matter where, as long as I have the coffee. So search your feelings, and find your muse!

For more information on Sandra Hults and her writing, check out her blog at: www.sandrahults.wordpress.com, or her Amazon page at, https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Hults/e/B00JQ2GHNW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473720432&sr=8-1

For more information on me and my writing, feel free to follow me on my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/authorterryjames or on Amazon @ https://www.amazon.com/Terry-James/e/B00HUB1Q6Y/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1471732632&sr=8-2.

 

So in closing, don’t let anything in between you and the book you’ve always wanted to write! If you get stuck, try organizing your thoughts. Find the comfort zone that’s just “write” for you and get creative! Nothing can slow you down but yourself. See ya for now, check back in later this week for a special edition of “How to Survive Becoming a Writer”. What is it about? Find out later!

Advertisements

How to survive becoming an author…week 4…Surviving Creative Story Telling Stereotypes!

Introduction, The problem or need, The Conflict, The Climax, The resolution. It may sound like the makings of the perfect ‘One Night Stand’, but it is actually the model from which many story tellers arrange their stories when it comes to writing. Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

“Here is Dave (Introductions). Dave needs a ride to the bar so he can hook up with a babe while avoiding the Mob (The problem or need). Dave calls his friend who apparently wrecked his car dodging a squirrel and now needs to ride his bicycle through the Mob’s territory (The Conflict). Dave narrowly escapes the Mob while riding his bicycle to said bar (The Climax), only to find out he’s 30 minutes late and babe has already hooked up with his friend with wrecked car and Dave ends up passed out in dumpster after drinking away his sorrows (The resolution…sort of).”

And so the Formula goes on, and on, and on, in nearly every piece literature. Most stories are also either narrated by a either a narrator (often referred to as ‘third person’ is a person telling the story who is not actually in the story). Another is a secondary character close to the main characters but has limited interaction with the actual story, action, or plot. Yet another is that the narrative of the story is being told by the main character or supporting characters themselves who actually contribute to the overall action and dialog of the story.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these particular models, and for most stories this method is actually best. But for the adventurous few, there are a few ways in which you can tell a story using non-traditional stereotypical means.

An example of a non-traditional method of telling a story can be found in a book penned by Tom Lambert entitled “Living with Earl”. The book is a fictional narrative of the author himself (Tom) and his live-in house guest (Earl) who looks and speaks exactly like the famous author Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain). The inspiration for the book came from the famous author’s thousands of known quotes, which Tom Lambert individually picked out one at a time and wrote a short story for each based on the Mark Twain quote. Though the stories are short, each story builds one upon an other to a crescendo of emotions, and produces thought provoking commentary on such topics as veterans and today’s youth, not to mention a few laughs along the way.

Another example of non-traditional story telling can be found in Jim Beard’s prose series called “Sgt. Janus, Spirit Breaker”. Roman Janus is an ex-soldier who now travels around “Breaking” spirits and demons from various locations in the late 1800’s early 1900’s England. In the first book of the series, the story is told chapter by chapter, by each of the spirit breaker’s clients, who are asked to write a journal accounting for every aspect of their experience while he battles the spirits to the finest details. Once again like Mr. Lambert’s book, the stories are told in short chapters, but the progression of Sgt. Janus’ deterioration as his adventures begin to take a toll on the character is evident  with his described demeanor with each passing story. A very impressive feat of story telling in both instances.

So as you sit down to write that first novel you’ve always dreamed of penning or typing, keep in mind that your creativity does not have to always follow traditional story telling stereotypes. Don’t be afraid to venture into uncharted territories and let your readers see the story in a new and exciting angle and view that only you can tell. Mix it up, break traditions and be, you!

For more information on Tom Lambert and his novel “Living with Earl” go to http://www.livingwithearl.com/ or follow him on facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/LivingWithEarl/

For more information on Jim Beard and his “Sgt. Janus” series, you can look him up on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Beard/e/B004UWVOPE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1471732278&sr=1-1 and while you are at it, show him some love on his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thebeardjimbeard.

For more information on me and my writing, feel free to follow me on my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/authorterryjames or on Amazon @ https://www.amazon.com/Terry-James/e/B00HUB1Q6Y/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1471732632&sr=8-2

Best of luck in your writing and I will see you next week for another installment, and be sure to drop me in a comment on this and my other blogs! Let’s get a conversation started, especially those with experience so we can all help new, budding writers achieve their dream!

How to survive becoming an author…week 3…Surviving Author Etiquette!

Just because something is good doesn’t make it popular, and just because something is popular doesn’t make it good. This one phrase and/or any of the other ten thousand variations are the chief core of what I call “Author Etiquette”. It is a simple set of un-binding rules that (in my opinion) help in day to day meetings and greetings from other authors. 

In general, the author community is very friendly and exciting. New and budding authors mix and mingle daily on the internet via Twitter, Facebook and yes, even MySpace. (yes, it is still around) So here is a quick lesson on Author to Author etiquette that you should live by. (the following reflect the views and opinions of the author, and not necessarily the views of other authors, WordPress, Most people still using MySpace, and small furry creatures crawling around in your crawlspace.)

 

Rule 1: The Review Exchange

 

A lot of authors out there write for two reasons. One, to make their voice heard, their story told, their opinions amplified, or just to make noise. The second to make money. One great way of getting the almighty consumer to part with their cash or worsen their mounting credit card debt is to have others speak highly of your work, a.k.a. the “Review”. If most people hate something, others will not buy it. Likewise, if many people like the work, it may encourage others to buy your book. Thus, a new industry practice is born! Authors helping other authors by simply logging into Amazon, or other online book stores, and simply giving a marvelously stupendous review of the other’s material…without actually reading the said book.

 

Ummmm….NO!!!

 

Believe it or not, there are people out there in the business of “Selling their Reviews”. You pay them, and they post a review. Now if a asked a person on the street to walk up to a stranger and tell them to say something great about my book, they would probably laugh in my face. Now give them a hundred dollars, and they would probably be more than inclined to help. There are a few reasons why I don’t do it. The first is if I’m not earning the review simply by having a good book, then I don’t want it. It is a question of ethics. Second reason is that you don’t know what you are reviewing. If I was handed a box with unknown content and asked to review the food inside, I could spout on for days on the savory smells, the detectible juices, the smooth texture and exquisite taste. But if I opened the box after my mouth and found it full of year old cow manure, what did it say about me? I don’t like cow manure particularly, and I wouldn’t tell people to eat it, point made.

 

Personally, I always let the other author know that I have no intensions on reviewing something I haven’t actually read. By saying this, you have let and ensured the other author that you truly intend to read the hard work and passion they have put into the work. Trust me, you will gain not only truer friends, but if they like what you read and vice versa, both have gained a new fan, and hopefully their fans become fans as well.

 

Rule 2: Do for me if I do for you

 

Floating back to rule 1, just because you read and review a fellow authors work, DO NOT expect the other author to do the same. I have read and reviewed several works by a number of fellow authors. Writers like Jim Beard, Tom Lambert, Pete the Popcorn, and Andy Peloquin. And of the group just mentioned, not one of them have offered or reviewed any of my said work. How does that make me feel, well, happy.

Why you ask? Why would I spend the long hours reading over their material and spend precious moments writing reviews for authors who possibly have no intensions on doing the same? Well, because it goes back to ethics and the first rule. Just because I am willing to do it does not make it a requirement for others to stop their day and do the same. I enjoy reading, and I enjoy supporting of authors and lending advice and grand reviews if the material of worth it, but I’m not going to march to their homes and demand they do the same for you, that’s just plain rude.

 

Rule 3: Speaking of other authors

 

I recently read a blog by another author. In the blog, the author sounded slightly angered by the fact that he/she wasn’t able to gain any publicity in a local paper. The rant carried on about how another writer was featured in the same paper which was, in his/her own opinion, less the sub-par, and that she couldn’t understand how a writer who published 200 pages of “Boo-Hoo” about her life could trump the 600 page plus masterpiece that he/she had written. This actually turned me off about the writer, if they couldn’t help support another writer just because he/she was doing better than himself/herself, why would that writer want to support them. Once again, ethics people! This takes me back to the first line of this blog, partly. Just because you don’t like someone else’s writing, does not make it bad (to others), and if you like someone else’s writing doesn’t mean it’s good (to others). It’s a matter of taste, something you should always remember when speaking of other’s writing.

 

Let me give you an example of the above rules. While online one day a year or two back, I was blessed to meet an author by the name of Andy Peloquin. He had just written a book and was looking for other authors to review the work. He was quite professional about it, had an e-mail list of perspective readers and reviewers, sent regular messages including review material, blog information, press release kits, the whole nine yards. The book sparked my interest so I agreed to read and review his work. Even though it took me a better part of a year to read it (sorry again Andy), I did finish the material and put out the best review I could. Do I expect him to do the same even though I did furnish him with a copy of my own, absolutely not. If he did, it would be great, but not everyone is into YA, high school, fantasy, romance novels. I wouldn’t expect him to sit and read something he wouldn’t enjoy, it could reflect on his own honest review, that could be bad for me. Then again, they may be busy with other writing or aspects of their lives, like myself who runs two post offices, married with five children, and tries to squeeze in his own writing while keeping up with reading other books that I wish I had more time for.

 

So in closing, be respectful for other’s work. Try to remember the blood, sweat, and tears you yourself put into your own work and imagine other writers doing the same thing, whether you think the end result may be garbage or the best thing since sliced bread. Do what you can in every instance to lift others up and be supportive and helpful, but don’t always expect the others to do the same for you, whether by choice or by life obligations.

 

For information about Andy Peloquin and his writing, check him out at http://www.andypeloquin.com. He is a superb writer, you won’t regret it!

 

For more information on me and my writing, feel free to follow me on my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/authorterryjames or on Amazon @ https://www.amazon.com/Terry-James/e/B00HUB1Q6Y/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1471732632&sr=8-2

 

Good Luck! And I will see you (figuratively of course) next week for another exciting installment!

 

How to survive becoming an author…week 1…Surviving initial disappointment.

So, you want to be an author, congratulations! There is nothing more exciting than surfing Amazon and seeing the novel that you have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into sitting on their website for the whole world to see. That is, until you creep your cursor to the middle of the page and find it ranked at about 800,000,000th out of 799,999,999 books available. It is about this time when you start feeling like you are doing something wrong. You befriend other writers both online and in the real world and wonder what exactly they are doing, then you start trying to do what they are doing to help get your name out there and…

Stop…Right…There

Let me tell you a story, well not a story per say, but let me tell you about my experience. I started off pretty much the same way most writers do, alone in a dark and sinister world, when my over imagination netted me the creation of my very first novel. I couldn’t have been more proud and as I watched my first title grace the catalog at Amazon.com, and as most first time authors do, I waited impatiently for the hundreds and millions of dollars to start flying my way. You can imagine the initial disappointment when I received my very first royalty check in the amount of exactly $1.00.

I had no idea what I had done wrong! I was on the radio promoting it, I was on TV promoting it, I was featured in online and printed news stories. It was about that time, in the very beginning, when I first crossed the starting line of this long race that I nearly gave up. But instead of giving up, I started looking for answers to what I was doing wrong. I will tell you that answer soon enough.

During my initial slew of interviews to promote my book, I was blessed to become acquainted with (now a good friend) another author who was from the general area in which I live by the name of Jim Beard. Now Jim’s specialized in many fields of expertise including a very in-depth knowledge of comic book history and pop culture in general, but his primary writing style was that of the old “pulp fiction” novels. No, I’m not referring to the famous Quinton Tarantino movie, but a particular style of writing in which the story line is driven more by action than by purpose or searching of meanings.

Okay, this part will be difficult to write (not to mention embarrassing), but here it goes. As I got to know Jim, I started watching what he did, what he said, how he confronted buyers at a local signing he attended with me. The more I observed and followed, the more I wanted to do what he was doing, write in the style he wrote, go to the shows he went to, publish with the same people he did. I actually think in a way I started to become jealous of him and the success he had. I wanted to literally attach myself to his hip and do everything he did, like he did. It was about this time when I realized that I had to just…stop…and reassess my situation.

After a long month of pondering, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong, It was…

nothing…

I was doing nothing wrong at all, so simple yet so profound. The reason I don’t write like Jim Beard, or know comics like him, or was an expert in pop culture, or write like a pulp writer is simply because I’m not Jim Beard, I’m Terry James! I write like Terry James writes, and that is not a bad thing!

As far as sales are concerned, they are still light or near non-existent, but I am slowly earning my fan base as I go. It ain’t going to happen over night, but I will achieve my goals eventually. When I do, I’m going to achieve it the way Terry James is going to achieve it, and I’m good with that. (not that having a few writer friends with a little experience ain’t a good thing, but remember that your success is determined by what you yourself put into it, not by jumping on the shoulders of others.)

As far as Jim is concerned, me and him are still good friends, and I am a huge fan of his work. If you are interested in seeing some of his work, you can look him up on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Beard/e/B004UWVOPE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1471732278&sr=1-1 and while you are at it, show him some love on his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thebeardjimbeard.

For more information on me and my writing, feel free to follow me on my Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/authorterryjames or on Amazon @ https://www.amazon.com/Terry-James/e/B00HUB1Q6Y/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1471732632&sr=8-2

I hope if you are a fledgling writer that this blog helps, see you next week when we talk about writing tippers!

Article on 9/14/2015

here is a nice little write up I got from the Swanton Enterprise this week, Enjoy!

Swanton native to have third book released

Terry James knew he had a knack for writing, but felt obligated to pursue a stabler, more conventional career. Still, the desire to be an author lingered.
It was a heartfelt talk with his dying father two decades later that finally convinced James it was time to forego regrets and follow his dream.
This week, his third novel, “Deceased Denise,” will be released. It’s a stand-alone prequel to the first two books in his “Tales From Eerie County” young adult series, which, not surprisingly, has also captured the attention of older readers. Two more books are planned for the series, and beyond that James has a notebook brimming with story ideas.
“I’d been wanting to write since high school,” he said. “The thought of writing had never actually left my mind.”
The 43-year-old Swanton native, who goes by his pen name, fully realized his writing ability after submitting a short story assignment in junior high school. The story followed the trevails of people living underground thousands of years after an apocalyptic event. It earned him an A-plus and the flattering skepticism of a classmate.
“A friend of mine sitting next to me said, ‘Where did you copy that from?’ I thought, maybe I’ve got a talent for this kind of thing,” James said.
He dabbled in poetry and fiction while at Swanton High School, but by then school had become a low priority. After graduating in 1991, he committed a few years to the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Now a Deshler, Ohio, resident and a postal employee in nearby Weston, James got married and began raising a family with his wife, Robin. For 20 years, he had abandoned any serious intent to write. Then, at 39, he had a fateful conversation with his father, also named Terry, who was ill with emphysema.
He had always wanted to be a musician, his father told him. He had played in bands in his youth, but didn’t follow through. The senior Terry died about 18 months later.
“I think that was probably one of his biggest regrets,” James said of his father’s unfulfilled wish. “I thought about what he said, and told myself, ‘I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t want to end up like my dad, regretting not doing it.’”
On the cusp of turning 40, he decided the time had come. He wrote a poem entitled “Deceased Denise,” which he intended to expand into a full novel, “Tabloid Tabby.” The book’s theme was derived from the outlandish tabloid newspapers James read as a youth. Often found at grocery checkouts, they featured far-fetched stories of encounters with Bigfoot, bat boys and space aliens.
“I wondered what it would be like if those things were actually true but we’re so blinded by our own realities that we don’t know these things exist in the background,” he said.
“Tabloid Tabby” morphed into “Tales From Eerie County,” a fictitious series set at the outer banks of the Appalachian Mountains. It features the main character, Tabby Grimshaw, and her high school friends, “who discover that the world around them is not quite what it’s perceived to be. They can see that world in the background, and no one else does.”
The book series follows the ongoing battle between the teens and Corum, an evil wizard who seeks world domination by using an ancient power source to turn humans into mindless servants.
While “Deceased Denise” was intended as the first novel, James decided to shelve the idea until later. Set for release this week, it became a prequel to the “Eerie County” series, a stand-alone novel with story elements that lead to “Tabby and The Hunchback of Eerie County High,” the first book in the series.
James finished the first book in six months, and submitted it to almost two dozen publishing companies before one in Massachusetts offered him a contract. His novel was released in October 2013. Unfortunately, he became disenchanted with what he considered the publisher’s restrictive policies and slow publication process, and ended the relationship.
Undeterred, James re-released the first book as a self-publishing venture, then followed it this past July with the second in the series, “Tabby and The Dissolution of April.” He dedicated the first book to his father, “because I did something I wanted to do all my life. I published a book, and I’m proud of myself for that.”
The series and prequel are available on Amazon.com.
James never imagined his success as a writer.
“If you’d asked me 10 years ago, even two years ago, I would have probably said no. I’m very happy where I’m at, and see myself moving upward and beyond. I’m striving to be the name of choice when people want to read,” he said.
“I truly, honestly believe that I am equal, if not better, than any author you’d find at the bookstore. I’m extremely confident. It’s not arrogance by any means. I believe (confidence) is the true attitude I should have. That’s the attitude I take towards my writing.”
The most difficult part of writing fiction is allowing an established character to change, for better or worse, as people do in life, James said. “You try not to mold your character in steel, then say, ‘That’s my character.’ You have to let them evolve.”
While the series’ first book didn’t sell well, the second has taken off at author shows around Ohio. James will be interviewed by Fred LeFebvre on 1370 WSPD radio on Sept. 21, and featured at an author event from 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg.
His editor, Ashley Eriksen, said James’ novels deserve best-seller status.
“He’s a fantastic writer, and he’s very original,” she said. “His stories keep you guessing. That’s definitely what I look for when I read books.”
James has begun work on his next book, an adult superhero romance, and would like to branch out into different genres. “I get excited about a lot of different projects I want to work on,” he said. “I want to spread my wings and try everything. Becoming a full-time author would be a dream come true. I would say I’m definitely pushing toward that horizon.”
When asked for advice on becoming a writer, he always gives the same response: “You grab a pen, you grab a paper, you brew up a gallon of coffee, and you start writing.”
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

She was a woman of exquisite taste

“Your wife is a woman of exquisite taste!” Miss Elizabeth Strough commented as she was led inside the home of Mr. And Mrs. Andrew Armsden.

Mr. Armsden ushered her in and immediately took her coat, “Miss Strough, please do come in and make yourself at home.”

“Please,” she insisted quickly, “call me Elizabeth. The is no need for formalities, you know why I’m here.”

He took immediate notice of her rather thin frame. She was taller than average for her build and appropriately dressed for a young lady her age whom was attending a formal dinner. But there much more to her visit than idle chat.

“Of course, Elizabeth, if you’d like to take a seat, I’ll have some refreshments brought out as soon as possible.” He replied as he offered her a rather comfortable looking chair.

“Thank you,” she accepted as she eased her way into the chair, noting to herself the exquisite patterns and gothic décor of the room, “will Mrs. Armsden be joining us soon?”

Cooper Armsden seemed to stop in his tracks at the question, though his face remained as confident looking as it had when she first walked in, “I’m afraid The misses has become quite ill in the last few hours and has taken to bed early. She does apologize for any inconvenience and hoped you might still stay for dinner, no used wasting such a delectable meal.”

“That is indeed disheartening, and troublesome for a woman of her age, I hope it is nothing serious?”

“Nothing to worry about I’m sure, now, you’ve come all this way, would you honor a old man’s invitation to dinner? Perhaps in due time, she may feel better and grace us with her presents?”

The young woman thought about it for a moment. She had indeed traveled way to far to just make a waste of her time, “Very well, I accept!”

“Splendid!” The old man shouted excitedly, “it won’t be but a moment I assure you.”

With a bow of the head, he disappeared into another room, leaving Elizabeth alone to her thoughts. She had been on the trail of this elusive collector of rare and one-of-a-kind art work for some time. Many had attempted to interview Lady Armsden for years, and in a moment of shear luck, a representative for the art collector just happen to appear in for office.

It was a writer’s dream to interview a woman such as herself, and she wasn’t going to take this news lying down. She’d camp outside the house if necessary. It was during this time that she paused from her thoughts and gazed in amazement at the absolute beauty of an art collection which nearly covered every inch of the walls in the room.

It was shortly after this discovery when Mr. Armsden made his way back into the room, “if you would like, we may sit at the table now. Dinner will be ready shortly.”

In true gentlemanly fashion, he offered the young lady a arm as he escorted her into a grand dining hall equally adorned with a collage of artwork from nearly every artist the woman could think of. The table itself could easily seat thirty people and stretched onimously from one side of the room to the other. At the far end of the table there were two places set up for them.

“Won’t you have a seat?” The man gestured to one of the chairs.

Elizabeth did so as the man assisted with pushing the chair in before retiring to his own. Before her was a small plate covered in a cloche with a empty wine glass, silverware, and a napkin.

“I hope you will forgive me,” the old man started as he leaned over his own plate, “but I had sent the butler and chef home a few hours before your arrival. But if it helps, in my many travels around this world, I have become something of an accomplished chef when it comes to preparing food.”

Elizabeth was taken aback for a moment as she stared at her setting once again, then smiled, “I would be honored to taste the culinary wonders of a eccentric and elusive multimillionaire with a fine taste in visual masterpieces.”

The man smiled, “I am glad to hear it, please, help yourself!”

She reached up and lifted her cover, an amazing aroma welcomed her as she began to inspect the contents of her plate. Meats, cheeses, and a small variety of small bread wafers covered in a sauce that she could not quite identify. A quick glance across the table revealed the similar contents on her host’s plate as well. She took a moment to take in the sweet aroma before speaking again, “it smells absolutely wonderful, what do you call this?”

“I haven’t really got a name for it. It is from way back in my younger days when I was on the hunt in Africa when I discovered this particular entrée from some of the locals.” He confessed.

“Do please go on,” Elizabeth said as she scooped up a spooned up a cautious amount and brought it to her lips, I am most intrigued to hear of your travels.”

The man took a healthy bite on wiped his mouth, “I’m afraid that the story is much less glamorous than it sounds, Miss Elizabeth. Myself, my good friend Thomas Thayer, and our expedition was on the hunt for an elusive lion that had been terrorizing a few of the local villages. We’d tracked it for weeks into the Lybian Dessert and somehow lost our way.”

“How horrible!” She replied as she continued to eat. The dish was absolutely delicious and she caught herself beginning to take very un-womanly bites. She cautiously forced herself to keep to the small bites despite the fact that as unlike her it was, all she wanted to do was pick up the plate and pour it in her mouth all at once.

“It was a horrible experience to say the least.” The man continued, “Both our trackers were lost to the lions during our hunt and we’d all but given up the search. By the thirtieth day, we were lost and exhausted of all our rations. It seemed almost hopeless until…”

Elizabeth leaned into the table completely enthralled by his tale. His long pause felt like an eternity, she felt the need to push him forward into the story but at the same time felt it to be rude. Perhaps a painful memory he was trying to word very carefully.

“My friend was the first to go. I supposed it was better that way. I wouldn’t wish our experience on my worst enemy. We were found luckily by a native tribe who nursed us back to health. And it was this very meal that they served us again and again.” He finally smiled, “of course I’ve embellished and tinkered with the recipe on and off, but the basic ingredient is still the same.”

“And that is?” she asked as she looked down at the plate and noticed it was empty. She was surprised yet mortified as to how quickly she had eaten it, almost embarrassed that he might notice. Instead, as she raised her eyes back at the gentleman, she was greeted with a warm and kindly smile.

“relax my dear, your eyes say it all, and it is the same reaction I had when I first had it. It is quite an intriguing and wonderful dish do you agree?”

“Quite,” she hesitated as she stared back down at the plate.

“Would you like another helping,” the man asked with the same quirky smile on his lips, “I will understand if you say no, but there is no need for lady-like courtesies around here, no one in this house goes hungry.”

“If it be no trouble…”

“No trouble at all. But if you don’t mind, perhaps you may join me in the kitchen,” he gestured towards the kitchen door, “my old legs don’t get me around quite as quickly as they used to.”

“But of course.”

“And maybe while we are there, we can make a dish for the misses as well, perhaps the aroma may wake her naturally and you can still get your interview.”

“That would be lovely.”

Elizabeth stood and walked to the old man’s side. After helping him from his chair, she began to walk him to the kitchen door. He stopped her just short of the door and turned to her, “we must take care to be silent as not to wake her before she wakes on her own.”

“I understand,” she replied with an excited grin on her face, “silent as a mouse.”

The two finally walked quietly into the kitchen. The room was pitch black with a very ominous feel that clung to her like rain soaked clothing. A stale stench filled her nostrils as the door behind them shut with a uncommonly loud click. It was about that time when she noticed that the old man was no longer beside her. She began to franticly wave her arms around her immediate area in hopes of finding him.

“Is this a joke?” she asked loudly as she continued her search, “if it is, I’m not very amused.”

“Relax my dear,” the man replied, his voice sounding as though it were coming in all directions, “I just need to find the light switch. It will be but just a moment.”

Elizabeth was frightened at this point but continued to feel her way through the dark until she finally found his hand and held it for dear life. “I am terribly scared of the dark, please hurry!”

“Ah!” he shouted, “Eureka!”

The lights suddenly turned on with a blinding glow. Elizabeth had to squint her eyes momentarily as she became accustomed to the glare. Once adjusted, she was finally able to focus on the man who was standing across the room from where she was.

“I’ve been meaning to have a switch placed closer to the door, will you forgive me?”

Suddenly, she began to wonder to herself that if he was across the room, who’s hand was she holding at the moment. She also noticed the cool clammy feeling the hand she held offered. She slowly turned and stared down at the hand and instantly began to scream.

The hand was attached to the body of an elderly woman who was laying pale on the kitchen counter. Her lifeless face was frozen with the look of extreme terror. But even more horrifying was that a portion of her leg looked as though it had been sheered with a kitchen blade.

As hard as she tried, Elizabeth could not tear her eyes off the woman as the old man approached her from behind, the sound of a kitchen knife being unsheathed from a wood block was nearly deafening.

“Well my dear,” the old man replied calmly, “you did say she was a woman of exquisite taste…or as it would turn out…a woman that taste…exquisite.”

Becoming Undead

I guess I got about five minutes or so, funny how your life really comes into prospective when facing your own death head on. Why on earth did I open that door? I’m such an idiot! Even the reports on TV said not to open your doors to anyone, especially this poor sap. My god I made a mess of him! He was pounding on the door moaning, I was afraid if I didn’t help him he’d of thought badly of me later. Little did I suspect that he was wanting to help himself to me. He wasn’t being polite about it either, bout chewed my arm off not even a moment from the time he stumbled in the door. I must have hit him at least a hundred times before I finally found my trusty Louisville Slugger beside the stove in the kitchen instead of the closet I normally keep it. No use telling my son to stop moving things around I guess. I must have hit him hard for his head to split open like that. He barely resembles the man I used to know from down the hallway. Now he just lying in a heap on my floor, head completely smashed in, and brain matter leaking all over the rug. Perhaps I should clean it before- NO… I will not spend the few fleeting moments I have left on earth cleaning up after this guy. I just feel really tired and need to retire to the living room and sit a spell. Maybe reflect for a moment, whatever good it may do me. In a few moments or so, I will be no better than this guy. I hope I’m too dumb to open a door so I don’t hurt anyone. I’d knock myself off, but I was stupid and sold my gun for cash at one of those buy back events. Didn’t even get what I paid for it. It’s funny, so some odd reason, I can’t seem to recall my childhood. Maybe it is an effect of the poison that now courses through my veins. Try to think man, think! Nothing. I can remember my wedding day though. Oh, what an awesome event, we had the most delicious chicken and…and…funny, that seems to elude me now as well. Good thing my wife is out of town with our son, she won’t have to worry about walking in on this mess right away. Hopefully someone will come in and off me before she returns. This chair feels amazing, always has but this time, wow! I can’t feel my legs. Guess this is how it ends, alone and numb from the waist down. My skin color is starting to change now too, all pale and greenish, and is that puss pouring out of my arm? Not to mention this god awful taste in my mouth and this now constant ringing in my ear. I can’t move now, I am completely numb and can do nothing but stare up at this ceiling, I always hated the color, wanted to paint it on a few occasions but… I hear something…daddy? Who could be…the sound of a kid’s voice is ringing in my head. It just keeps calling out… daddy, daddy, daddy…and another voice now…screaming. I want to cry for help, but right now…the only thing I can seem to think of is…this terrible, dreadful hunger…