Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Interview with Jared Gullage

Jared Gullage was born and raised in Opelika, Alabama. Though at first a slow learner in reading and writing, once he began to do so, I grew to love it. His father always told him that to be a great writer, a person must learn to form pictures with words. Since him brother was the better cartoonist and
visual artist, he worked at creating stories. Role-playing and an excellent education in English throughout high school honed his skills further.

Attending Auburn University, he majored in English. Throughout his life, creative writing and anything that makes it better, easier, or more worthy, has been that which appeals to him most. Often, to understand this world, he took his knowledge to imaginary ones to toy with. He's jokingly told his students that writing is his default setting and what he'd do if he had to decide on one thing to do forever. Writing is much less a thing he does, but a place and time, a brief leap from the boundaries of the mundane.

Jared's book Drinna is available on the eTreasures Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Jared, when and why did you begin writing?

This has almost always been something I've loved doing since I learned how to write. My father always encouraged me to write, and consistently reminded me of the power of words. He told me that writers "create pictures with words," and after I began to write, I learned that I could create my own worlds and people and things that happen. For some reason, I've always felt most confident about my ability to tell stories and toy with ideas. My worlds are my little, mental libraries and laboratories--my refuge to retreat a while from the world to come back refreshed.

Tell us your latest news?

I am, so far as I know, getting yet another story published for eTreasures Publishing. However, things have been kind of slow to get started, both for me and ETP. As for me, I've been swamped at school, but readers be on the look out for The Cagulant, a horror story. Also, Drinna will hopefully be getting a second edition. I'm still waiting to work out the details of this, but I'm looking forward to sort of reawakening her and the characters she interacts with. With any luck and blessings, I may also be able to work on the sequels and/or other works taking place in the world of Trithofar.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Third grade, I began stories that went over a page. I remember sitting down at the living room table with my mother and inventing names for a dragon. We named it something like "Gargantua" after looking up that word in a thesaurus. Simultaneously, I was introduced to the amazing experience of entering into worlds of my own design while also learning to look up words in books like the Thesaurus and the Dictionary. After that, I convinced my mother to buy me my own copy of a thesaurus and dictionary, and learned the smell of those fresh books. That lured me in. More and more, I became addicted to looking things up, learning facts about this world I could weave into my own. Of course, becoming published has helped me become professional.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I experiment with different styles. I am particularly partial to Imagism, and the works of Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, and Fitzgerald. However, I like to experiment with different techniques. I think my style is a bit on the dark side, and I would like to incorporate a bit more humor than I have into it.

How did you come up with the title?

For Drinna, I honestly just picked a name that sounded reasonable for the type of character she is, as well as the culture from which she comes. It's a non-assuming, non-elaborate name for a simple, plain girl who learns to stand up for herself in the face of a difficult time in her life and against nearly impossible odds.

The Cagulant, by contrast, I was very intentional about naming. Suffice it to say, the word comes from the word Coagulate, which has something to do with what a Cagulant does in the fiction. Frankly, I think of these monsters as some of the most insidious and awful creatures that can exist in Trithofar.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Often, my books have messages. I am a believer, and so many times, I experiment with the implications of my beliefs, not only espousing my faith in a life ever after and the god that provides it, but also challenging my beliefs and wondering "what if" about some of the things I take for granted or think I take for granted in my life. I challenge my readers, too, or would like to wherever possible, to truly consider what makes a person's life the way it is, or what drives a person's decisions in life. I strive, also, to see things from perspectives different than my own, through people different than myself.

With Drinna, one of the major themes I worked with though, was learning to control one's own anger and learning to truly look at something before acting on it. This could also be true of The Cagulant, in that it also teaches that simply following emotions is risky and dangerous. We must learn to temper our emotions with self control, but sometimes that can be troubling as well.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Challenging to do? Or challenging for the reader? For me, I try to challenge myself by making more and more believable characters and situations in fantasy where the choices and situations for my worlds make a sort of sense. I am sort of a fantasy realist, in that way, trying to make characters that would do what a person might really seek to do, given the choices my worlds provide. Another challenging aspect of my writing is to try and make characters that humans may sympathize with, but who are not necessarily human. For example, Drinna is a kunjel, and because she is, she has issues to contend with that are different than what a human girl of a comparable age would have, but her struggles are also very human, too, and many of the themes of the novel are things a human can learn to contend with as well.

I also challenge, perhaps, the sensibilities of readers of fantasy. Whereas I appreciate such works as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, and where I just got through rereading the Chronicles of Prydain series by Alexander, I find many works of fantasy that use Christian imagery, symbolism, or allegory to be a bit more heavy-handed. Probably, this is because they were the first of their kind; other books that claim to be Christian fantasy--that I've read--have read like morality tracts or as rather...weak...for fear of offending their readership with magic and dragons. However, after realizing that Rowling's Harry Potter could be taken as Christian allegory in much of its symbolism, or simply enjoyed for the adventure it is, I want to do that. I want readers to find what they want in my writing, so while I am a believer, I don't want to beat people over the head with symbolism and allegory.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Finding time to do it. That seems to be getting harder and harder to do. Daughters and career have made it more and more difficult to find time for creativity. What's continuing to be the most difficult part of being a writer is promotion. I HATE to advertise my books, even though I believe in them. I don't like to brag. I don't like to push myself off on people. I want people to read my stuff because they think it is good, not because I've pestered them. I hate advertisements, unless they are funny, and don't want to be annoying to other people.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Largely, this has been addressed above. However, in addition to that, I will say I started playing outside with friends at an early age, and being left to have fun on my own. Picking up sticks and stones, and negotiating imaginary perils, I learned how to role-play with some other friends in early high school and got addicted, I will admit. Now, I was building maps and people groups and doing all manner of fun things on paper. This only propelled me further towards being a writer.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned humility. Looking back on my writing, I realize how much I want to change it, update it. I also learned that I can complete novels and sell them, and I am not as bad a writer as once I thought. But...mainly humility, much needed as it is.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Show, don't tell. Up the stakes. Just keep trying. For everyone who writes, there are those who read.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. Thank you, anyone who reads my works and finds some nugget of truth or entertainment in it.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The ability to dream. The desire to see myself published.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Not at this particular time. However, eTreasures, if you'd like, you certainly can find an interesting passage for me and put it in here. Actually, to be honest, I would be far more honored by that, than me doing it myself. Jokingly, I made the remarks about my pride above, but truthfully, I am a little shy and do not relish tooting my own horn. Probably not good with relish anyway.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

My work is based on anything I can find that interests me. Stephen King, I believe, said "Write what you know," and I hold to that a lot. No, I've never met monsters, nor has my life ever been put in serious jeopardy like my characters, but many of the details or character traits are based on people I may have met, or things I may have learned.
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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Interview with Joy Brooks About her Beginnings as an Author

Every writer wonders how to go from the pages of their notebook to a published book. Today, Joy Brooks joins us to tell a little about her experience starting out and what she is working on now. Joy is an amazing author who has five books published with eTreasures and more to come. Check out her website for all of her latest news and tidbits, or visit her Amazon page to purchase of of her books. Let's give a warm hello to Joy!

eTreasures: When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing one April morning. I think it was around 2009. I can remember the month because I woke up and decided I was going to finally follow my dream. I had nothing to hold me back. The urge to write has been with me for as long as I can remember. Being an avid reader, I soon discovered I wanted to tell stories too. I have a vivid imagination, and I felt a drive to put words to paper. Also, I have a tendency to immerse myself in my stories. Once I wrote all day and through the night. I hadn’t realized what I had done until the sun came up.

eTreasures: What inspired you to write your first book?

During school I always loved history. My son got me into fantasy. I used to read to him at night and on winter days. So, I put my two loves together. My love of reading inspired me to write my first book. I think you have to have a love of reading to have a desire to write. Writing allows you a chance to step into another life. It is a chance to put your thoughts and feelings into words and actions. Writing is a gift that brings out the artistry within us.

eTreasures: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when my first book was accepted for publishing. When I looked at the contract, it made the idea of writing a reality. I had done it. My dream had been realized. The desire to write grew even stronger within me, and I haven’t stopped, nor will I. Along with every other writer out there, I want my name to be a household word. Royalties are nice, but to have that much publicity connected to my name will mean my books are sought after, and I have been accepted by the public as a good writer. It’s not only enough for me to write, I want others to enjoy my work.

eTreasures: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes, I find it hard sometimes to keep up with my imagination. I might start out with one idea and before my fingers finish typing, the whole scene has changed. As I mentioned earlier, I have an active imagination, so most of the time, I like the changes better. I also struggle with finding new feats to bestow on the hero or to find original challenges. You don’t want to find a sword fight with the villain in ever book you read. Your hero must vanquish the villain in a different manner than the status quo. If you want to use a sword fight, yes, it’s fine. It just might need a touch up to make it a little different.

eTreasures: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned perseverance. When writing a trilogy, you’re writing a lot. After all, you are dealing with three books. You have to remember every aspect of the each book because you don’t want any errors. The traits the hero has in the first book, he needs in last. Everything must be consistent. I have one gift I’m very grateful for. Since I get so caught up in my books, it’s easy for me to remember characters, actions, descriptions, and names which helps me to keep the writing connected. Another thing, I love editing. I’ve learned a lot through the editing process. It has helped my books get better and better.

eTreasures: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, don’t give up. Writing is hard work. It’s not something that will make you rich quick. It takes time for your name to get out to the public. Of course, there are exceptions. However, you don’t need to get into this business thinking you won’t have to work hard. Success is not guaranteed. You have to work for it. But, if you have a desire for writing, you will stay the course no matter what comes at you. The truth of the matter is writing is worth every minute of your time.

eTreasures: What is your latest news?

My latest writing news is the second book in my ‘King’s Trilogy’ is on schedule to be released in November. I’m real excited about this venture. Of all the books I’ve written, this trilogy is my favorite. I think it’s because I can relate to my main character, Rayden. The hardship he faces is reminiscence of my life. I put a lot of myself in my writing, and I think it is very therapeutic for me. In my personal life, I and three of my friends are going on a train ride through the Rocky Mountains. I can mark this off my bucket list.
eTreasures: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Yes, I can. I’m working on the third book of my trilogy, ‘King’. I’m making changes to this book that I made in the first and second books. Through the editing process things have been added to and some deleted. These changes need to be reflected in the third book. The story comes to an end. Rayden preservers and he finally gets the life he fought so hard to obtain. His struggles, for now, are over.post signature

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Characters We Love To Hate by Barri Bryan

I once thought villains were skinny men with bowed legs, wearing cowboy boots and black ten-gallon hats. They smirked and twirled their handle-bar mustaches as they devised plans to defeat my cowboy movie heroes. Time and experience broadened my perspective. Villains come in all shapes and sizes, and are found among both sexes. This article takes a cursory look at some daring and dastardly female villains.

Euripides' play Medea hops immediately to my mind. Media marries Jason of The Golden Fleece fame. Later he puts her aside and marries Glauke, daughter of King Creon. Medea has her bloody revenge. She murders Glauke and Creon, kills the children that belong to her and Jason, and makes a hasty retreat in a chariot pulled by dragons, taking her dead children with her.

Lady Macbeth is a malevolent presence in Shakespeare's play Macbeth. She is ambitious, single-minded, and ruthless in her pursuit of power. After the death of Duncan, she loses her sanity and ultimately, her life. Her treachery and underhanded scheming trigger one of Shakespeare's more famous soliloquies that begins, she should have died hereafter.

Witches make fascinating villains. The Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has one eye and one driving purpose, to take from Dorothy the magical silver slippers. I know, in the movie the slippers are ruby. In Baum's book, published in 1900, the slippers are silver. Dorothy finally melts the witch by dousing her with a bucket of water.

Jadis, the White Witch who appears in C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, has no conscience. She is egotistical and narcissistic. Despite her white skin and great height, she has a small spirit and a heart as black as sin. Her subjects finally rebel and banish her forever.

Queens can be the vilest of villains. The queen in Grimm's fairy tale titled Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs is also the quintessential wicked stepmother. When her magic mirror tells her that she is no longer 'the fairest in the land' because that title now belongs to Snow White, she orders a hunter to take Snow White into the deep forest and kill her. The hunter returns leaving Snow White alone in the forest. The seven dwarfs find and rescue her. The queen locates Snow White. Disguised as a peddler, she gives Snow White a poisoned apple that puts her in a state of suspended animation. Later Prince Charming's first kiss awakens her. At the wedding of Snow White to her prince, the queen is forced to step into a pair of blazing hot iron shoes and dance until she drops dead.

The Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland is a delightful villain and quite a card –pun intended. She is quick to decree death sentences to her subjects for the slightest offence by shouting, "Off with their heads." Her relatively restrained husband rescinds the sentences as fast as the queen declares them. This queen is no real threat since she never gets around to executing anyone.

Caroline Bingley is a character in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She is an attractive and rich young woman who is also a total snob. Her family gained its riches through trade. Caroline desires to become a member of the aristocracy. She sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. Like all villains, she pursues her agenda with persistence and resolve. Her atrocious treatment of Jane and Elizabeth qualifies her as a first-class female villain.

Phillis Nirdlinger is the female villain in James M. Cain's Double Indemnity. She is a complex and mesmerizing woman. She is not beautiful. She is on the back side of thirty. She has a 'washed-out' look. Despite all this, she intrigues Walter Neff, insurance salesman. He recognizes almost immediately that she wants to kill her husband. She soon has him involved in a plot to literally throw her husband from the train. The scheme succeeds but leaves Walter a wounded and wanted murderer.

Mrs. Danvers is the housekeeper female villain in Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca. From the moment she comes on the scene, the reader recognizes her as vicious and mysterious. The heroine of the story is the recent bride and second wife of rich and handsome Maxim de Winter. Rebecca, now deceased, was his first wife. Maxim takes his new wife to live at Manderley, his Cornish family home by the sea. It is also, where less a year ago, Rebecca mysteriously disappeared. The second Mrs.de Winter finally conquers her fear of the conniving Mrs. Danvers, but no before the housekeeper has robbed her of much of her self-assurance and almost persuaded her to commit suicide.

Eight-year-old Rhoda Penmark is a charming, well-behaved, polite child. She is also a serial killer. In his novel The Bad Seed William March creates perhaps the most terrifying of villains, a child who is seemingly sweet and innocent. After a series of deaths of people Rhoda dislikes, her mother Christine, becomes suspicious. Christine then discovers that she is adopted and her birth mother is a sociopathic murderer. She is devastated and guilt-ridden. All this is her fault. She has passed along a bad seed to her child. She gives Rhoda an overdose of sleeping pills and then puts a bullet through her own brain. A neighbor hears the shot and rushes over in time to rescue Rhoda. "Thank God we saved the child."

Do you have a favorite female villain? If you do, leave a message and tell me who it is and why you chose that particular villain.

Barri Bryan is an author and poet with poetry collections published through eTreasures and novels published through Desert Breeze Publishing. Check out her website to learn more.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Excerpt from A Ghost Hunt by Jack Horne

A Ghost Hunt
eBook $3.99
Fantasy, Thriller, Paranormal, Occult
Available on:
eTreasures Store

Jack Horne is educated to double A-level standard in Information Technology (RSA Diploma) and currently works for the local theatre in Plymouth, England.

A number of his poems, short stories and articles have been published in magazines, anthologies and webzines, and broadcast on radio programs. He has also had some competition success. Horror is his favorite genre.

Jack Horne has collaborated with two friends to publish a collection of poetry: Shades of Darkness and Light, also available from eTreasures Publishing.

In a rush to get to the library, I phoned Raquel on the way. “There’s so much to tell you, love,” I said. “Fancy helping me research at the library?”
“The library? Hardly exciting, is it?” she snapped. “You do that on your own and you can tell me about it, if you like, over dinner in a decent restaurant.”
Suzy would have gladly helped, I thought as I put the phone down. Suzy would happily go anywhere with me.
The library was a grandiose Victorian building, a stone carving of Sir Francis Drake’s ship over its doorway. I admired the stained glass windows as I made my way up two flights of steps, and, panting slightly, smiled at the librarian. “Have you got any press cuttings about a hanging? I think it was in this month, about fifty years ago.”
“A public execution?” she asked, her gentle voice surprising from a woman of such size and with such a ferocious expression. “Or a suicide?”
I followed her to a huge wooden cabinet and watched as she selected a drawer. “What was the man’s name again?”
“Joseph Pearson,” I said, hardly daring to breathe as she thumbed through the index cards.
She nodded towards a card. “Here’s your man.”
“You have all the newspaper reports on microfiche?”
She nodded, removing the card and closing the drawer. “It says here where to find them. Lucky for you, they’re all on the same reel. I’ll get it for you.”
Thanking her, I suddenly had an idea. “Would it be possible to check a suicide that probably happened fifty years before that?”
“You’re not interested in this one now?” she asked, her mouth a scowl.
“Yes, but I think an actor, a Patrick O’Toole, was found hanged at the theatre about fifty years earlier.”

She studied me curiously. “Are you writing a book on suicides?” she asked, her smile transforming her face. She selected another drawer of the cabinet and flicked through the cards. “That’s strange,” she said with a slight frown. “It happened exactly fifty years to the day before the Pearson hanging.”
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Perfect Hot Spiced Apple Cider

Who doesn't like a warm apple cider on a chilly fall day? It's perfect for when you just want to sit
outside with the beautifully colored leaves and enjoy a good book. There are many shops where you can get spiced cider, and often just warming up some chilled cider from the grocery store will do in a pinch, but really good hot spiced cider takes a little more preparation.


  • Either 1 stick or 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 quart jug of apple cider
  • Optional:
    • Whole cloves- 1 tsp
    • 1 Orange peel
    • 2 tbsp Caramel sauce
In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients except the caramel. Slowly bring the cider to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Select a heat resistant pitcher, or a carafe, and place a strainer over the opening. Pour your cider through the strainer and into the pitcher. If you decided to add a little sweetness to your cider with caramel, you should now pour it into the cider and stir vigorously until the caramel is thoroughly mixed. Pour the cider into your favorite mug and enjoy!

While you drink, don't forget to grab your favorite eTreasures book to read while you appreciate the beauty of fall.

Image courtesy of Naito8 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Interview with RJ Jerome

Welcome to an the eTreasures blog and an interview with our Interview King, RJ Jerome. Welcome back to eTreasures RJ, we are thrilled to have you.

So RJ, how are you today?

RJ: Feeling God Like. I had a great day. I finally located a bottle of Lagavulin 16 after 3 years. Manchester City is number 1 in the British Premier League. And when I arrived home, I received a wrapped up meditation book with a weird note in it. (See pic) My readers are a bit on the crazy side.

So, with an interest in word play, why did you pick the title Pelagius Game for your series? 

RJ: The series is named after the British Monk, Pelagius, who opposed the common belief that God willed all events in the universe. This line of thinking got him branded a heretic. So when I was looking for a title and came across his name, I thought it would work for what I was doing. I actually incorporated him as one of the founders of the secret Order of Pelagius.

Would you say this book is set in this world, or did you bend reality around a little? 

RJ: Both Valstain and Born Villain split time between Earth and the magical realm Valstain. The 3rd book will follow suit, but book 4 will be spent solely in Salem, Massachusetts. (Do you know I can never spell Massachusetts correctly? Thank you spell check.)

Which of your characters would you like to meet in a bar? On the potentially flip side, who is your favorite character to write? 

RJ: Great question. The Scotsman has my blunt personality and sense of humor. He just might be worthy of splitting that $100 bottle of Lagavulin 16 with. However, I really got off on writing for my first evil female character, Seven. I have a thing for bad girls. The first chapter of book 3 opens up with a new villainess. (That’s a word right?)

If you had to pick a character to dress up as for Halloween, who would you pick and how would you dress? 

RJ: One with breasts of course. Seven…just kidding folks. If I have to go full costume, I’d go with Lacroix White. He’s a tall, gaunt albino with log white braids that have tiny razors in them. But it is his eyes, pink spheres devoid of compassion, that mark this man as an instrument of death. Scary right?

Thanks RJ for the interview, and we are happy to have you with us. 

RJ: Thank you for your time and for putting up with me.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Creepy Crawly Stories for the Month of Screams

Welcome one and all to the month of October. This month is many things: the start of fall, the month of horror, time for apple cider, and for Americans it is the month of football. October puts people in the mood to be frightened, and at eTreasures we have enough scary stories to keep you busy until the Halloween.

#1 A Ghost Hunt by Jack Horne

David Andrew reluctantly agrees to accompany his oldest friend, Suzy, an up-and-coming actress, and her fellow actors on a late night ghost hunt at the ruins of Bury Seymour castle, reputedly the most haunted place in England.

Suzy is starring as a ghost in a play at a haunted theatre, where the sinister specter of a hanged actor stalks the building unnerving staff and actors alike. Adding to the mystery, there appears to be some link between the ghosts in both locations.

David refuses to believe in the paranormal, but when he encounters the hostile spirits, he is forced to abandon his lifelong skepticism.

Initial unease soon gives way to fear, and then becomes full blown terror, as David and his friends realize the full extent of the malevolent forces they are up against. When tragedy strikes, they know they must fight to survive, but they are totally unprepared for the battle.

#2 Finding Eden by Pembroke Sinclair

Drunk womanizer Duke, spends his life selfishly taking care of himself and screw the rest of the world. After one particular black-out alcoholic binge, he wakes to find the world changed—the dead are rising from their graves.

Lonely, guilt-ridden Hank is someone who minds his own business, and sympathetic but strong-willed Lana is on the receiving end of harassment by other students.

Forced together for survival, the three misfits must confront their world gone strange. God said the people of Earth would be punished for their sins, and so the end has come. Duke, Hank, and Lana must walk their own paths to salvation, but they also must depend on each other.

#3 Shivers by Robert Freesepost signature

Can your mind withstand shock after shock?

Before reading Shivers, the publisher asks that you complete this short psychiatric evaluation to determine the capacity of shock and horror which your mind will resist before crumbling under the fright assault of the ten terror tales presented.

1) I get queasy around sharp objects.
2) Insects frighten me.
3) I truly believe strangers are watching me and want to hurt me.
4) Things I cannot see terrify me.
5) The sight of blood makes me want to faint.
6) I am deathly afraid of hospitals.

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above statements, it may be dangerous to your fragile, mental well being to attempt reading Shivers. These stories may very well drive you to the brink of insanity. You have been warned.
#4 Soylent Red by Jamieson Wolf

Owen is a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder. Inside of him are three other personalities that fill up his waking and dreaming hours.

Residing inside of the Sunny Dale Rest Facility, Owen, at his doctors urging, begins to chronicle the pieces of his past with a black leather journal and a felt tip pen. She believes that through writing, and through movies, memories can be triggered and Owen can be cured.

But then the other personalities within him start writing for themselves.

When people begin to die in the SunnyDale Rest Facility, Dr. Miranda Stapleton knows that Owen may be responsible, but she is willing to do anything to hide Owen’s secret. But it is not Owen who is responsible. It is someone inside of him…

Told entirely in patient assessments, journal entries, poetry, pictures and pop culture references, Soylent Red is a dark descent into a human mind and one personalities quest to live beyond the skin.

After all, what is a little blood and death if you can live forever?

#5 The Ghost Mirror by Jamieson Wolf

After being neglected by her parents for thirteen years, going to live with her Grandmother is like a breath of fresh air. At her Grandmother's, she is not shunned or ignored; instead she is loved for what she is. The Last Witch. 

Following one of the Ghosts that inhabit her Grandmother's house, Mave steps through The Ghost Mirror into a world that is hauntingly like her own. The Town of Elements has many surprises; foremost being the magic that surges through Mave. Another: that something dark is hunting for her.

Mr. Lavender, an eater of souls, knows what Mave is and wants her soul for his own. Mave must learn to use her Magic if she is to succeed. There is more than her life at stake however: If she fails, the entire fabric of Magic will unravel, destroying The Town of Elements and her own world. Mave must fight with all the power she has, if she wants to stay alive.

#6 The Long Hour Before Light by Ronald Joseph Scala

Dare to venture into darkness. Dare to step into the unknown. If you have the courage, you will find horrors beyond your imagination.

In this nightmare world, you will find punishment doled out from the grave, an art gallery whose painted horrors call out to you, and a portal to the fires of perdition.

You will meet Old Gods who crave human flesh and visit terrifying forests where the greenery hungers for flesh and blood and an old barn where people familiar to you by day become monsters at night.

#7 The Spaces Between Your Screams by Christopher Hivner

Real fear lives in the spaces between your screams.

The moment twilight becomes darkness, they are alive again. Whispered doubts, overfed lies, indistinct dreams; these crowd into your mind to create the monsters.

Your fear unleashes demons.

Your desire attracts blood seekers.

Your frailty makes you werewolf prey.

Your trust makes you vulnerable to the obscenity of the human soul.

When you scream we will hear only the silence between your breaths.

And we will know you are doomed.

#8 The Well by Andrew Richardson

When beautiful heiress Connie Straker wakes from a drugged sleep, she has no idea why she is at the bottom of a dry well.

Connie anticipates freedom when her prison floods, but is dismayed to find she remains a captive. If she is going to escape, she must outthink two violent brothers with a grudge against her family, overcome wild animals and find a way through the cage barring her way.

Connie’s best chance of freedom might lie with the college nerd who has had a crush on her for years. But Julian is a creep whom Connie despises, and she has to decide whether to trust him. Can he overcome his fear of the brothers and help her escape? Or will her captors put a violent end to Julian’s efforts? Will Julian take advantage of her desperation and make Connie’s life-or-death situation even worse?

#9 Wait Until Dark by Keith Luethke

Move over Dean Koontz and Stephen King!

The Shambling House of Horrors sits on top of a desolate hill. It’s the place where nightmares walk, and for a nominal fee victims can have their haunted adventure videotaped.

When Erin drags her friends to the haunted house they find the horrors are real. One by one they are hunted down and killed. Only Alicia escapes and the house is closed for business.

Alicia never thought she’d step inside the place again, until a new owner takes over; reopening the House of Shambling Horrors one year later. She contacts her ex and a group of close friends to unravel the mystery behind the previous year’s deaths.

But what she discovers will change her and those around her forever as they wait until dark.

You think there's safety in numbers? Guess again!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Short Story from The Spaces Between Your Screams

Lady Emily

The Spaces Between Your Screams

Stare through her, that’s what they did, and it enraged her. But she couldn’t let the anger out. It just wasn’t proper. She was a lady, and it wasn’t right to wrap her hands around their necks and squeeze until the top of their heads exploded, even though that’s what they deserved. Ladies drank tea, spoke eloquently, and never let their emotions take control.

“A lady always carries herself with dignity,” Mother had told her, but it was so hard.

She was friendly, smiling, and saying hello, yet they treated her like she was invisible. They treated her like her clothes and a home weren’t good enough.

“Mother, you said I was special,” she pleaded. “Someone would take me away to give me the life a lady deserves.”

Emily would not turn to look at the others on the street again. The pretty women laughed, prancing around while the men watched, their filthy thoughts deafening inside Emily’s head.

She ran from the street to an alley and once around the corner. She pressed herself hard against the brick wall, trying to make her body meld with the building so no one could see her. With anger rising, Emily crossed her arms, holding her hands around her neck to repress the feelings. The rage within her fought back though. She trembled, her lips jutting outward as a shriek tried to escape. Spittle crawled from the corners of her mouth, coating her chin.

Slowly, Emily sank to the ground as she finally regained control. At last her mouth burst open, projecting a stream of saliva down her clothes. She breathed in huge gulps of air, choking out the watery feeling in her lungs.

When she was calm again, Emily took a rag from her coat pocket to clean herself. Feeling her way up the wall, she stood. With her eyes staring at the ground, Emily walked briskly down a few streets.

It’s not working, Mother, she thought sadly. I’m trying, but I’m too old. I’ve been out here too long, just like before. No one wants me, and it’s not right. I’m a perfect lady, you would be proud.

Turning into another alley, Emily went through a square hole in an abandoned building. The bottom floor was sixty square feet, and all along the walls were stacks of boxes placed close together to form shelters. A few faces peeked out when she entered, but she ignored them. She raced to the security of her space and the blankets she hung up for privacy.

Emily stood amongst her belongings, wrapping one of the blankets around her waist. She decided to make a cup of tea, pulling out one of her two tea bags that had been used so much they made little more than hot water now, but ladies drank tea.

“See, Mother, I remember everything.”

Emily found a smile as she took a small sip, allowing it to warm her inside. Then she cried out, though it was not sadness she emitted, but indignation at the way people treated her. This was the only proper way to let her anger out, as ladies must compose themselves with grace in public. It had been many years since her mother taught her how to behave, and she remembered it all. People used to care, but now they were like zombies, never seeing around them.

An eerie feeling overcame Emily. Eyes were upon her. She turned to see the man who stayed next to her peering through the blankets.

“You all right?” he asked sleepily.

Emily glared at him, the anger bubbling up again. The tea cup dropped to the floor as she ran toward him grunting, swatting at the blanket-walls. The man managed to back away before getting hit.

Emily stalked about her home, all the rage taking over after she had just buried it. Doesn’t anyone know how to behave in society? You don’t just look into someone’s home without being asked. Who did he think he was, staring at her like that? Like she was different, like she was beneath him.

I am a woman of distinction, her mind screamed. I am not common gutter trash you can sneak a peek at. Oh, how she wanted to strike a match to his castle and watch it burn, the flames leaping to the ceiling of the building. She wanted to watch the fire crawl over the man’s skin like the rough hands of a lover. Watch it enter his mouth, his nose, his anus, burn him from the inside out, cooking him like a Christmas turkey.

Emily had to lie down as the visions became almost tangible. Her head flew from side-to-side as she saw everyone in the building run over to the charred body to tear pieces of him away. They ripped chunks of cooked meat off the bone, feasting on the flesh, licking up the blood from the floor, coating their faces with the grease from the skin.

Pressing her mouth to the mattress, she fought to hold back the feelings. She had to stop the thoughts or she would lose control. She blanked her mind, forcing a picture of Mother Superior from the orphanage, but Emily couldn’t remember her name anymore. What kind of daughter was she, not even remembering her mother’s name?

“Don’t worry about the name,” she yelled. “Think about the mornings sewing dresses, the afternoons learning to walk gracefully, to stand with perfect posture, and the hugs at night before you fell asleep. Think about those things.”

The voices in Emily’s head grew quiet, and the stable thoughts remained. The anger was driven away, but her lungs felt bloated again. When she opened her mouth, a torrent of vomit exploded out. She wretched over and over, bringing up streams of water.

Emily stood on shaky legs, wiping her face and clothes off as she paced around her shelter. She had to control it better. It grew harder to come back, harder to breathe again.

Calm at last, but nervous, she changed into her best dress and best shoes, even though they were old and worn. She lifted up the end of the mattress to pull out a faded picture of her mother. Clutching it to her chest, Emily wrapped herself in her coat and went back out onto the streets.

As Mother taught her, Emily walked with her head held high, looking people in the eye, nodding hello. She couldn’t give up, even though her chest and stomach burned. Inside her coat, her fingers nervously rubbed the photograph, and her mind raced with memories of the orphanage. There was a purpose to everything Mother taught Emily. Mother wanted all her girls to be prepared for the world when they were adopted. But Emily was alone the day she left the orphanage. She was an adult. The building had been sold, and the Mother Superior was already dead.

The feelings came back strong. Emily couldn’t keep the bad thoughts out of her mind, and then the pretty women were there in front of her. They passed by as though she didn’t exist.

“I hear you, Mother. I know I’m not like them, but don’t they know? They hardly wear anything and have no manners. They don’t treat me with respect,” she said.

Three women stood at the street corner, talking and laughing, then smiling broadly when two men walked up. They swayed their hips and subtly touched the men on the arms and chest. Emily watched one of the men run his fingers through the blonde woman’s long hair.

The rage crept back in. The man’s fingers turned to crusty, green tendrils as they weaved through the woman’s hair. His hand sucked into her face, melting like wax, covering her mouth and nose until she fell to the ground, struggling to breathe, raking her fingernails across the man’s groin. He pulled the woman closer to squeeze his massive arm around her head, crushing the skull.

Emily stood in the middle of the sidewalk, shaking. Saliva dripped from her open mouth. A thin line of blood wormed from her nose. The picture of mother folded in her hand.

Yes. They deserve it. Mother, they’re wrong, and they deserve to be punished. Emily’s mind roared at her.

As those men and women stood twenty feet away, talking and laughing, her mind saw the woman dead on the ground, her body collapsed like a deflated doll. The men turned to the other woman, their rough hands peeling away her flesh, wrapping her in a shroud of their own skin.

Emily screamed and the people she watched turned to her. Her visions disappeared, replaced by pointing fingers and whispers. She screamed again and they backed away from her. Covering her face with her coat, she ducked into an alley. She couldn’t escape the bad thoughts. They were like a pack of wolves nipping at her legs and now finally had caught up to her. Thick, yellow fangs sank into her throat but she couldn’t scream for help. If she dared to yell, the anger would take over, rush out of her like a beast clawing its way out of the womb.

Emily stumbled farther back into the alley, squeezing her arms around her stomach, pressing to keep it in. It felt like a hole opening inside of her, talons ripping through her flesh. Her whole body seemed filled with liquid that bubbled underneath the skin. Visions coated her eyes as she saw her veins bursting, exploding blood that drained out of her ears and nose. She held her mouth shut as it gathered in her throat, ebbing like a tide, a spray squirting through her clenched lips.

Sliding into a fetal position on the ground, the cold seeped through her clothes. She cried dense, overwhelming tears, but it was not enough. The harder she pressed inside, the more she felt her lungs fill with bile and blood and anger and hatred and rage and despair and longing.

She wouldn’t let it win, though. Her pride and dignity had always carried her through. Emily swallowed hard, pushing back the beast that wanted out. She closed her eyes, to let her mind play it for her in vibrant color, the anger scratching at her throat as it slid back down into her stomach. Mother reached inside of her with her own claw, black and brittle from previous battles, cutting the rage animal to ribbons. Its blood spilled out, filling Emily up like a balloon.

Her eyes widened, tears flowing over her cheeks. Then her mouth opened so a last breath could escape. Her dead fingers unfurled, the crumpled photograph rolled out, falling lightly against her face. Her mother’s lips, full and cherry with lipstick brushed Emily’s cheek.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Author R.J. Jerome is Burning Up the Interview Scene

Our author R.J. Jerome is quickly becoming the interview king for the month of September. With two interviews in just a week, we know that Jerome is growing as an active author. Want to read his interviews? Then just look for the links below!

Interview with Patti Roberts

Just a little snippet of this stellar interview:

R.J, how many books have you written?
Two books so far in the Pelagius Game series, Valstain and Born Villain.

Tell us a little about The Pelagius Game series.
I compare the series to a chess match between God and Satan where the outcome determines the end of days. Valstain, which is the magical realm between Heaven and Earth, is the game board and the heroes and villains are the game pieces. So our hero, Timothy Anderson, believes he is the only game piece left alive on God’s team. To survive, he must find the sword of the spirit in order to kill his remaining enemies. But the weapon is on Holy ground and he is a vampire. How is he going to succeed?

.... (continued on the actual blog)

Interview with Writer's Community UK

Just a little of this interesting interview: 

We want to talk about your two books in the Pelagius Game series. Valstain and Born Villain. Can you give us a bit of a background on the setting of these books?
The majority of Valstain takes place at a secret, religious order in Cooksburg , Pennsylvania, between 1960 -2009. Valstain is told through the eyes of former priest turned vampire, Timothy Anderson. Born Villain, the second book in the series, continues the journey of immortal heroes, Timothy Anderson and Scott McCree, as they battle evil in an attempt to bring balance back to the Church, and win the Pelagius Game for God’s side.post signature

.... (continued on the website)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Plotters vs. Pantsers: Is One Better Than the Other?

Our first order of business in this post will be to define the plotter and the pantser. There are many, many, many blog posts about this, so we will keep it short. A plotter is a writer that takes the time to organize everything and to outline their story before they write. A panster sits at a computer and begins writing, sometimes with nothing but a wiggle of an idea in their head. Both types of authors have their merits and their downfalls, and we will explore a little of both.


Plotter: Outlining and planning is a good way to focus your writing and avoid the murky middle. This also prevents those random events that should have gone somewhere else but you don't realize it until your editor tells you. It cuts down editing time because you have to take a minute to look at exactly what your book will be about and how it will happen. Something that might have seemed like a good idea in your head may not look goo on paper, and you can delete it before spending the time to write the full scene.

Pantser: The creativity just flows! You never have to worry about running out of ideas, because when you sit and write at your computer the words just flow onto the page. Of course, you may experience writer's block, but we know it doesn't last long. Your stories are full of different aspects that you have no trouble extending to a second, third, or fiftieth book.


Plotter: You lose a little room for creativity if you aren't careful. By no means is this a bad method, but it does take more time than pantsing, and a lot more planning (obviously). If you do feel like plotting is more your style, be aware of the trap of falling into your outline without room to be extra creative.

Pantser: The pitfall of pantsing is the murky middle. What do you want happening to get your characters from Point A to Point B? It's a hard question to answer, and without a little planning you can really get stuck. Another pitfall is the amount of editing you have to do after submission to make your novel publishing ready. The time you spend editing is probably the same amount a plotter takes to plan their story!

Either way both of these methods have good points, and bad points. A good mix of both will lead you to whatever you find to be the perfect method of writing. A writing style isn't uniform, and should be just as unique as the person using it. So all we can say here at eTreasures is good luck, and may your writing process be filled with tears, laughs, and progress!

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Guest Post with Jack Horne

How do I become the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King?

I guess that’s the question we’ve all asked (no doubt even Rowling and King once wondered how to be as successful as their writing heroes). I’ve never guest blogged before so I asked a friend for advice. Suze appeared in my last novel, Cyber Vamps, and she is full of ideas. She’s not a writer - but, as she’s just reminded me, she writes when she takes part in conversations in internet chat rooms. She decided to write this for me (I’ll have to remember to delete the cuss words before submitting this to the eTreasures blog!)

Wotcha. It’s Suze here and I’ve volunteered to talk to you all. How can you become a famous writer? Well, first, you have to write your freaking novel. Then you have to find a publisher. Ain’t that obvious?

As Jack Horne would tell you, if I let him write this: even getting some editors to take a look at unagented work is like buying a lottery ticket and getting six numbers (and you can forget about getting a literary agent until you are world famous! No one wants to back a loser. Savvy?) If you can’t steal energy like I can, it will probably drain you as, time after time, you hold your breath and sweat, your pulse racing as you open the letter or email…and it’s another “we’re sorry but this isn’t quite right for us” reply. You can tell them what you think of them (I would), but know-it-all Chaucer (he’s in the Cyber Vamps book about me) says this isn’t the right response. Well, he would. Creep. Anyway, eventually, after a series of rejections, you’ll get an acceptance. You just have to trust me on this, and keep on sending out that manuscript (or to put it another way: if you give up, no one’s going to publish your book and you’ve wasted your time writing it).

Okay. Let’s jump ahead. So, you’ve found a publisher and you think it’s all plain sailing from now on! Your literary masterpiece will be an international bestseller, made into a blockbuster film, and the figures on your bank statement will look like telephone numbers. Ah, the sweet smell of overnight success…Har!

Now for reality: Friends and acquaintances will gush with congratulations, and tell you what a good writer you are and that they always knew you could do it…and they’ll expect freebies. Freaking tightwads. Just like those guys that ring your doorbell and try to sell you double-glazing or vacuum cleaners or whatever, you won’t win any friends by trying your sales pitch everywhere you go (let’s face it: people will avoid you!) So, instead of making your first million, you sell very few or no copies. Sound familiar?

So how do you become the next big writing star? Well, if I had the answer to that, I’d tell Jack Horne and some young wannabe would want to be like him. (He deserves a break. Poor sad loser!) I’d be richer than old moneybags Aurelia (she’s in Cyber Vamps too) as you’d all pay for my advice.

Look, I didn’t say I had all the answers! Sheesh!

Okay, let me break it gently to you: no one is going to read a book if they don’t know it exists (in printed form or in the cyber world). So get your freaking name out there. If you’ve found a publisher with time and money to waste, I mean, lavish on just you, you won’t have to do this (and you can write this blog, smart ass). Please note this is very unlikely for an unknown author, so you’d better be prepared to work on your own publicity. “Okay, Suze,” you say, “but how do I do this?”

Blogs seem to be a good way of getting noticed. Do lots and lots of blogs. Have your own website and make sure people know about it (as with the book, they won’t look for something if they don’t expect it to be there - the Loch Ness Monster, Martians and the perfect man are the exceptions). Try to get interviewed by the local press. That can be as hard as finding an agent, but, hey, you won’t get if you don’t ask.

When you’ve done all that, and people notice you, they’ll be too freaking curious not to read your stuff. Even if they just hope your books will be garbage (word replaced by Jack).

Anyway, I can’t stick around here all night talking to you. I need to feed. Perhaps I’ll find a nice famous writer to drain tonight. Hey, relax; you’re safe - I said I was looking for someone famous. Har!

Catch ya later. Let me know when you’ve made it and I’ll come calling. You owe me one. 

Note from Jack: I think I’ve deleted all the bad language. My apologies if Suze has offended anyone. Although it seems like pretty sound advice. I wish you all luck. Thanks for reading.

Jack Horne

Suze said I should put my website link here:

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How to Make a Hollowed-Out Book

We have all seen the movies where the characters are discussing something hidden "for all time" and suddenly someone pulls out a book, opens it, and there is the missing object! Not everybody wants this really cool hiding place, but many would love to know how to make their own hidden book hole for their secret stash of favorite items. Luckily, we also wanted to do this super cool project, and you can learn from our mistakes!

Step One: Acquire a large hardcover book.

For this step, we found a copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare at the thrift store (don't use an expensive book if you are just going to cut it up anyway). It was huge, and the pages were thin so it was easier to cut. However, it was harder to glue because of the type of paper in the book.

Step Two: Gather your supplies.

Now you will need an Exacto knife, Modge Podge (we used the Gloss kind because we had it on hand, but Matte would work better), a brush to spread the glue, wax paper, and something heavy.

Step Three: Begin the gluing process.

Yes, process. First, decide where you want your hole to start (ten pages in should do it) and where it ends (do you want it to go to the back cover or leave some pages free?). And glue the inside of the pages at random intervals. Close the book, being careful with glue, and put something heavy on top. Wait for it to dry before you continue gluing. Once your glue is dry, separate the pages you want free from the glued pages. Use the brush to spread glue on the sides of the pages. Make sure to apply the glue liberally here to avoid the pages coming apart too much (if a few do that is fine). Place a piece of wax paper in on top of the pages you just glued and put something heavy back on top. DO NOT close your book! Wait for the glue to dry completely before moving to the next step.

Step Four: Cutting a hole which should be easy, but it is not.

This step is surprisingly difficult. Not only can you not cut all of the pages at once, the deeper you go the harder it becomes to keep the cuts even with the previous ones. This part is messy, so learn from our mistake and put your book on newspaper first and keep a garbage handy. Try to leave about an inch of space on each side of the page while you are cutting to prevent the pages from coming apart. Make sure you have a very sharp blade, again learning from our mistake with a slightly used blade, and begin cutting. Keep cutting until you have a nice, rectangular hole in the pages you have already glued.

Step Five: More gluing!

Once you are done cutting and are satisfied with your work, glue the inside of the hole and glue the pages to the back cover or back pages if you left extra. Put another piece of wax paper over your hole and close the book. Put your heave object on top of the book and wait for it to dry.

You now have a finished hidey-hole book! Make sure to keep your secret chocolate stash in there and give the book an inconspicuous place on your shelf.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Short Story from The Long Hour Before Light

The Letter

Sarah held the opened letter inside of her Cultural Geography book, hiding it from Mr. Thurmond as he droned on about the Balkan Countries in the 1800s. She had found it this morning at the bottom of her locker.

Running late as usual, Sarah hadn’t the time to open it until third period, World Cultures class. She hoped it was a note from Ryan Adams, prayed he was asking to see her tonight or maybe tomorrow after his Saturday match. He was on the soccer team and asked for her telephone number last week at the Dairy House.

But as she read it she was disappointed to discover it was a chain letter. Chain letters were not permitted in Fallsbury Secondary School. Besides, at sixteen years old Sarah was too mature for such childish practices.

She would have crumpled it up and tossed it except the letters and script were graceful and elegant. And the words, written in verse, were mysterious. She pressed it open against the book’s pages and read the letter again.

Once upon a late night Dreary
Whilst I pondered Things untold
Henceforth came this ominous Query
Predicting Bedlam to unfold

Charged the Memo’s bold instructions
To follow each to dot and ‘T’
Else will rain down grave Destructions
On whom Fails to heed this plea

To five others you must Dispatch
Identical Letters with this call
And each, five more will send this Batch
And all will Prosper, and none shall fall

Five days, five souls shall Ye contact
Else none may prosper and all may Fall.

Send this letter to five others in five days. Are you brave enough to heed, or fool enough to ignore, this forewarning?
“Are you with us, Miss McHenry?” asked Mr. Thurmond, startling Sarah from her momentary trance.

“Yes, yes, Mr. Thurmond,” she answered quickly as she closed the geography book on the mysterious letter.

In the hallway between classes Sarah saw Ryan Adams talking with a few other soccer players. He looked her way but didn’t register her presence with even a nod or grin. Later at lunch she saw him again, this time sitting with a small group that included Cassie Hughes.

Sarah was devastated. Cassie was one of the wilder girls at Fallsbury. Unlike Sarah, Cassie was allowed to stay out past eleven and to go into cars with boys. Ryan had a red sports car and Sarah imagined him pulling up to the Hughes’ and Cassie jumping in.

Sarah was heartbroken, jealous, angry, everything at once. Ryan asked for her number though he hadn’t called. Maybe he was shy too. Being a star athlete didn’t automatically mean you were immune to shyness. Maybe she should make the first move.

But how? Then she remembered the chain letter. She would send the chain letter to Ryan. It was safe. If he made fun of the letter she would laugh along, pretending it a prank. But, if he needed an opening to contact her, the letter would give it to him.

That night she posted an envelope to Ryan with the chain letter she copied in the Administrator’s office that afternoon. She made four other copies on a whim to send out all five like the instructions dared.

One each went to Emily Harris, Jenny Jeffers and Elizabeth Hutton, her best friends. The fifth was addressed to her cousin Harriet in Avery. Sarah mailed four the next morning. Ironically, she couldn’t find Ryan Adams’ address until her older brother Van made some calls on Sunday. She mailed Ryan’s on Monday on the walk to school.

For the next five days things began to look brighter for Sarah McHenry. She passed her history and science exams. On Wednesday, her cousin Harriet. She told Sarah she didn’t believe in chain letters but was glad to hear from her and they talked for two hours. Harriet received her letter on Monday.

So had her three friends Emily, Jenny and Liz. Sarah was talking to them between classes, and when Liz announced she had no intention of carrying on an elementary prank like a chain letter, the other two quickly agreed. Sarah didn’t care. She only cared whether the prank would work in getting Ryan to notice her.

And it did. On Thursday, Ryan talked to her in the hall between classes. He mentioned he’d received the letter last evening, but soon turned the conversation to other things. Sarah didn’t mind. She was surprised when Ryan asked her to a cinema. He had a match Friday night but was free on Saturday. She cleared it with her mother, and Ryan honked the horn of his 1995 Mini at 6 pm.

After the movie, an American flick, they drove to the Dairy House for a shake. As they were leaving he asked her to stop by after school the following Monday to watch soccer practice and maybe have a soda afterward. At her house, Ryan didn’t push things, but asked if he could kiss her goodnight. Everything was like a dream.

When she walked into her house, her good mood and high spirits were dashed. She immediately saw something was wrong. Her mother was speaking softly on the telephone with a tense, worried look on her face. When she saw Sarah she said, “Oh, Millie. It’s Sarah. I must tell her.”

“What, Mom?”

“It’s Harriet. She’s had a dreadful accident. Porch railing gave way and she toppled to the walk. She’s in a coma at the hospital. Aunt Millie and Uncle John are there with her now.”

Later in her bed, Sarah was unable to sleep. She thought about Harriet. Such a strange coincidence. She had just spoken to her last Wednesday. In fact, Sarah had planned to call Harriet in the morning and tell her all about her date with Ryan. Now she could only hope Harriet would get well.

At ten the next morning, Sarah’s mother was preparing to drive to Avery to console her sister, Millie, while they waited for a change in Harriet’s condition. Sarah was staying behind with her brother so not to miss any school. While Van and her mother were packing the car, the phone rang. It was Mrs. Harris.

She asked Sarah if she was with Emily, if she knew where she might be, if she had spoken to her. She was hysterical, but eventually was able to tell Sarah that Emily, Jenny and Liz had disappeared yesterday after leaving the arcade in town. Several others saw them leave at dinnertime, but none of the girls had returned home.

Sarah raced to the door to tell her mother, but Mrs. McHenry had already pulled away. Van was lumbering back to the porch. She told him about her friends, and he listened in a mildly interested way, then said “Full moon, you know. Might be the werewolves got them.”

“That’s not funny, Van. They could be in real trouble, or worse. They might be hurt.”

At Sunday service, Sarah said a special prayer for her friends and her cousin. For the rest of the day, she prayed for a call telling her they were safe. None came.

She had plenty of homework that had been neglected all weekend, so Sarah spent Sunday evening in the books while Van watched soccer on the television. Her mother called at eight. There was no change in Harriet, and she was staying on at least another day or two. Van would see Sarah off to school before going to work in the morning.

They said their goodnights and she prepared for bed. She had nightmares that evening but they raced out of her memory as soon as she tried to recall them upon waking. With her friends missing and no one to accompany her, Van walked Sarah to school before trotting off to work. She was gloomy all day at school. Others gossiped openly about the missing girls, but Sarah had difficulty discussing it. They were her best friends.

She didn’t see Ryan at school, in the halls or at lunch. She wanted to tell him she wouldn’t be the best company for a soda after practice. Now, although she was depressed, Sarah would have to stop at the ball field where the soccer team was practicing. Oddly, she didn’t see Ryan there, either.

During a practice break she asked one of his mates, Ian Fielding, if he was coming.

“Haven’t seen him all day,” answered Ian before running off to the coolers.

Sarah sat alone on the bleachers, wondering about Ryan, worrying about her friends and Harriet and feeling helpless. A light rain began to fall. Her eyes welled up, and she fished inside her purse for a tissue. That’s when she saw the chain letter, folded and tucked in the corner. Absent-mindedly, she opened it and once more read the cryptic verse. Then it hit her.

The letter. The bloody letter.

It foretold of good fortune to those who obeyed, to those who sent out five copies within five days. She had, and things between her and Ryan had gone splendidly. But, it also warned of doom to those who didn’t heed. Emily, Jenny and Elizabeth all said they would not continue the chain. All received their letters on Monday. Five days later, Saturday, each disappeared. A similar disaster had befallen her cousin, Harriet. She too, had indicated unwillingness to carry on the chain, and exactly five days later she was in a coma.

“My God.” Sarah jumped up.

The fifth letter had been to Ryan. His letter had not arrived until Wednesday, making today the fifth and last day for him to comply. Had he sent out five copies? She didn’t think so. It wouldn’t be manly, not the sort of thing a boy would do. Now, he too was missing. She had sent the letters to them. Had she placed the curse on each one? Were they all victims of the chain letter?

Not wanting to believe, but more and more coming to that very conclusion, Sarah read the letter one more time. Something odd. The last stanza read Five days, five souls shall ye contact, Else none may prosper and all may fall. It didn’t say “would” or “shall” fall. It said “may” fall. Maybe it was possible to save her friends, if she could convince Ryan to send out five copies before his time was up.

Sarah raced home. His address was stored in her phone. She would have Van find her a lift to Ryan’s, explain what was happening and persuade him to copy the letter to five friends.

When she arrived Sarah found, to her dismay, that Van was not home. He was likely at the pub near work. She couldn’t wait.

With Ryan’s address, she dashed down the lane. As she ran, she calculated how much time was left. He had been at practice last Wednesday and found her chain letter afterward. That would be about 6 pm. It was now 5:30. She might make his street by ten of, but would there be time to convince him of the plot, copy the letters and place them in the post? She ran faster.

When Sarah reached Pinkerington Road, where Ryan lived, she was soaked through and gasping for breath. She glanced at her watch. 5:46. She had time.

Onward she ran, checking each box for the Adams’ name or their number, 772. At last she found it and ran to the door. Gasping harder, Sarah rang the bell and pounded on the door. After what seemed like an eon, a puzzled and astonished Mrs. Adams came to the door.

Before she could speak, Sarah exhaled. “I must see Ryan. It’s an emergency, a matter of life and death. May I come in?”

“He’s unwell. He’s been ill all day.”

“Please, Mrs. Adams, it’s a grave matter,” Sarah pleaded.

“And who might you be?”

“My name is Sarah. Sarah McHenry. But I must see him immediately. Please.”

“Well, I suppose. Come in. I’ll fetch him right away. Please wait here.”

Sarah hesitated as Mrs. Adams walked to the stairs and began to ascend, then she followed silently several steps behind. At Ryan’s room, she heard Mrs. Adams ask if he was well enough to have a visitor, a Sarah McHenry.

When he replied he wasn’t, she burst into the room. Ryan was in bed, shivering beneath the covers. He looked as if he’d be dug up from a crypt. Pale, shrunken.

“Ryan, I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault.”

Spinning, Mrs. Adams shouted, “How dare you. You leave this instant.”

Sarah rushed around the older woman and knelt beside the bed. “Ryan, please listen to me. There’s no time. You must listen to me. It was the letter.”

Mrs. Adams ran from the room shouting, “Vince, Vince, come quick.”

Sarah ran to the door and locked it, then continued, “The letter. It’s a curse. I sent out five and nothing bad happened to me. Instead, wonderful things happened. You called me and we went out. But to the five people I sent the letters, terrible things have happened. You see, they didn’t listen, didn’t send out five more. My cousin Harriet is in a coma in the hospital, Liz and Jenny and Emily are all missing. And everything happened exactly five days after they opened their letters.

“Your letter came exactly five days ago today. You must send out five more letters before the fifth day is done. You must or my friends and cousin will die and so will you. Please Ryan, you must believe me. You must make five copies and send them right away.”

“Sarah, that’s nonsense.”

Sarah sobbed. “It’s not. It’s all true.”

With difficulty, Ryan sat up. “All right, I’ll believe you. But what can I do? I’ve tossed the letter. It’s long gone.”

“I have my copy here, in my bag. I’ll help you to make duplicates. When did you open my letter on Wednesday? What time?”

Struggling, Ryan tried to remember. “It was after practice, when I got home. Should be about six-thirty. I remember I noticed it while mom was putting out my plate.”

“We have time. We have half an hour.” Sarah pulled out Ryan’s desk chair and paper and pen.

When she was done making the first copy Mrs. Adams hammered on the door. “Ryan, are you all right? Open the door this instant.”

“I’m fine, Mom. We’ll be out in a minute.”

Sarah handed Ryan the copy with a sheet and pen. “Make another, quickly.”

In ten minutes they had the five letters. “Who can you send them to, Ryan?”

He addressed the letters to three team members. The fourth and fifth were to his brother and his wife who lived across town.

Looking at her watch, Sarah said, “We must stamp these and put them in the post. We only have ten minutes left.”

Ryan slowly pulled himself up. He pulled on his jacket and shoes and wobbly walked to the door. “Mom, we have to go out for a minute. Be right back,” he called out.

Almost immediately Mrs. Adams appeared. “You’re in no shape to be going anywhere. Who is this girl? What are you up to?”

“I’ll explain it all later. I need postage for five letters.”

“Not a chance, mister. You’ll be going right back to your bed.”

“Please, Mom, I haven’t the time to explain now. Please get the stamps and I will explain it all when I come back.”

Mrs. Adams gave them both a stern gaze, then sighed. She walked to the den and returned with five postage stamps. “You’ll have a lot to explain, young man.”

Ryan drove dangerously fast toward town. He condition was worsening along with the weather and the roads. When they pulled into the postal office it was 6:29 pm.

“Quickly. Drop them into the box.”

Gripping the letters, Ryan staggered out of the car and toward the night box. As he approached it, he lost his balance and dropped to the gravel.

Sarah ran to him and pulled him on his side, trying to help as he crawled toward the box. Another car pulled in, bathing them in its headlamps. It was the Adams’ car. Ryan’s father ran to the two struggling in the parking lot as Mrs. Adams cried, “Vince, we must get him to the hospital.”

“No,” shouted Sarah. “He doesn’t need to go to a hospital. He must get to the postal box.”

“Are you mad, girl?” barked Mr. Adams. “Get back and let me help him.” He pulled Ryan to his feet and began to turn toward his wife.

Out of time, Sarah, in a last desperate act, pulled both men toward her with all her strength, spinning Ryan toward the night-box. As he stepped, then tripped and began to fall, she held open the mail drawer. Ryan dropped the letters into the drawer as he fell against it, slamming it shut.

Mr. Adams regained his balance and shoved Sarah to the ground. Ryan had slumped and was sitting with his back against the box as his mother arrived.

“What have you done?” she screeched at Sarah, now sitting on the wet gravel.

But, as she reached for Ryan, Sarah immediately saw he had changed. Though he was shaking his head as if to clear an unpleasant thought, his pallor had lifted and his face was full again. Color and vigor rose in his face even as the raindrops ran down it.

Ryan held out his hand to stay his mother, and then rose to his feet. One more shake of his head and the old Ryan was back. He was young, healthy and energetic.

Mr. Adams helped Sarah up, apologizing, and Ryan came over with his mother who wore a look of bewilderment and relief.

After assurances that Ryan was no longer ill, Mr. and Mrs. Adams decided a discussion in a rainy post office parking lot was not the best of ideas. They all drove back to Ryan’s home to dry off and have tea.

While the Adams’ checked and rechecked Ryan, Sarah called Van. Her brother told her that their mother was driving back tonight. Harriet had miraculously awakened. And more, a call came from Mrs. Harris. The three lost girls had been found wandering along an abandoned lane. All were in good health.

After a hot cup of tea, Mr. Adams agreed to let Ryan drive Sarah home. They would sort everything out later.

On the drive to her home, Sarah solemnly turned to Ryan. “It’s not over. We sent five more letters. Five more people. We’ve sealed their fates if we don’t make sure they continue the chain. What we’ve begun will never end. Never. Have we done the right thing?”

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