C.J. Edwards: A Published Dyslexic

The following blog post is an essay by C.J. Edwards about his struggle with dyslexia.  C.J.’s story, “2150: Leave Up Out” is featured in Columbus: Past, Present and Future, and the following essay is presented unedited.

CJ Edwards
C.J. Edwards, Published Author

When I was in elementary school my ability to read and spell was far behind my
classmates. I thought I would never read, it was too hard. It caused me too much frustration and anxiety. In third grade I was diagnosed with dyslexia and then given absolutely no help by a school system which refused to treat me for the diagnosis in any official capacity. Today I am a published author.

There were people who inspired me along the way and gave me tools that helped me to get
around the difficulties many dyslexics face. In an unofficial capacity my fifth grade teacher
Connie Ball took me to a book fair when I was supposed to be in detention for not doing my school work. She showed me a book called My Teacher Is An Alien by Bruce Coville. There was a picture of a green skinned monster pulling off a human mask in a classroom while two kids watched from the window. I was barely literate and the book was far beyond my reading level but the title was so intriguing to a kid who was already disillusioned with the system I couldn’t resist. I had to know what secrets the book would reveal. I took it home and started trying to read my first book.

I read for hours at a time, slowly, painfully slowly, using a note card to keep track of what line I was on as I picked my way from word to word. I asked my mother to pronounce the words I couldn’t read and would then memorize each new word, staring at it and repeating it as I sounded out the letters. When I finished the book I flipped it over and read it again.

Then I had to get the rest of the series.

I started writing on my sister’s electronic word processor a few months later. Then I’d hand off my half finished stories to anyone who would try to read them. Inevitably they would laugh at my misspelling despite not wanting to hurt my feelings. My grasp on spelling was comical but my mother encouraged me to keep at it.

In eighth grade I went to a private school for kids with learning differences. Unfortunately I was not in a place to be receptive to most of what they taught. I did however come away with the idea that I was not learning disabled, I had a learning difference and I could in fact overcome any obstacle to learning with perseverance and trying new ways to get around the things that didn’t work.

Having a computer that highlights misspelled words as I write them helps me to continue to improve my spelling to this day, I can try variations of the word till I get it right and then remember (after several repetitions) how to spell the new word.

Old Man and Fox, Jeff Ockerse
The artwork for C.J. Edward's story "Leave Up Out." Illustration is "Old Man and Fox" by Jeff Ockerse.

I’ll never be ‘cured’ of dyslexia but if publication is a mark of success then I have managed to not let a difference in learning keep me from that success. My story, “2150: Leave Up Out,” which appears in Columbus Creative Cooperative’s anthology Columbus: Past, Present and Future is my first work to see print. I feel like I’ve won a marathon. The words of other writers have made me want to build new worlds in my head and on paper. My desire to conquer that part of me that used to sit in tears, because I couldn’t do something as simple as read the instructions on a homework assignment, lives on and compels me to continue to improve. Now that I can read and spell I turn my attentions to improving the voice, the structure and the development of my stories. This is my first published piece and gods willing it is not going to be my last.

No man is an island. I must say thank you to Connie Ball and Bruce Coville. Thank you to the teachers whose creative writing classes taught me plot points and story development. Thank you Mom for the encouragement. Thank you Jenny, my wife, for being my constant editor and checker of homophones. Thank you to all those who have written books that inspire me to think and wonder and dream. Thank you members of the Columbus Creative Cooperative for the sound advice and brutal honesty at the workshops. My stories are better because of all of you. They are possible because of all of you, thank you.

My favorite quote from one of my favorite movies I saw as a kid is in Rocky 2 where the
character Micky tells Rocky, “What’s can’t? There ain’t no can’t!” And there ain’t. Cue cheesy music…

There are no free rides at CCC.  We don’t publish the authors with the most spirit, or the ones who tried the hardest, or the ones who overcame obstacles.  We publish the best stories.  C.J. Edward’s story is printed in Columbus because he submitted the best story.

To support C.J. Edwards and other Ohio authors (some who have overcome much, and others who have overcome little), please purchase a copy of Columbus: Past, Present and Future.  Every book sold helps CCC to continue our mission of producing fantastic local literature and helping authors on their journey.

John P. Deever – Across Town Featured Author

John P. Deever’s short story “Where’s Jacob?” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This riveting, fast-paced tale about a parent’s worst fear is an exciting addition to the Across Town collection.

John Deever grew up in Westerville, Ohio — a third-generation resident — and graduated from Otterbein University in 1990. After receiving his M.A. in English from the Ohio State University in 1992, he joined the Peace Corps as a member of the first group of English teachers in newly independent Ukraine. After living in California, Boston, southern Russia, and Washington, DC, where his children were born, he returned to central Ohio. He currently writes for the Ohio State Alumni magazine, Santa Clara Magazine, (614) magazine, and other venues. His recent essay “Back in the USSR” appeared in Volume Three of 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories: A Small Key Opens Big Doors—The Heart of Eurasia.

John Deever, a writer, husband, and father of two, was one of the first Peace Corps volunteers in newly independent Ukraine. There he found people living under an incredible weight—oppressive economic conditions, perpetually overcast skies, diet dominated by heavy root vegetables and alcohol. Yet in that place where even his young students carried the difficulty of daily life like a heavy burden, he also found new friends who took joy in the simplest pleasures and were thrilled to encounter the wider world through the first American most had ever known. With affection for his subject, Deever brings this little-known part of the world to life in Singing on the Heavy Side of the World.

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.

Gabrielle Gold – Across Town Featured Author

Gabrielle Gold’s short story “Hidden Brilliance” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This intriguing, thoughtful story is a wonderful addition to the Across Town collection.

During her senior year of high school, Gabrielle Gold took a class in creative writing. One of the assignments was to “write a story about yourself as an old person.” She portrayed her eighty-year-old self as a purple outfit-wearing, cat-owning attendee of a local science-fiction and fantasy convention, preparing to sign the third book in her fantasy series. While she only owns one purple shirt, and the cats belong to her brother, Gabrielle never gave up on that dream of being an author.  Across Town features the story “Hidden Brilliance,” her first published work of fiction.

As someone who finished out that last year at Bexley High School composing and mixing a CD of original songs, Gabrielle Gold has always been one to infuse reality with bits of her own worlds. Her hometown gave her ample reason to invent absurd fantasies with which to amuse herself. Being born in the Catskills of New York in a location fondly referred to by relatives as East Yechupitz, a Yiddish term for the middle of nowhere, had its indirect advantages. First of all, it encouraged her to use her imagination. The other perk of living in South Fallsburg was that anywhere else seemed just as fascinating as Disneyland, including Bexley, Ohio.

Turning those absurd fantasies into fiction, poems, and songs has been a part of her life since the third grade, when she wrote a forty-two page story purely for her own enjoyment. After high school, she considered earning her B.A. in creative writing, but eventually decided against it. Instead, she majored in Medieval Studies at Ohio Wesleyan University, seeking a grounding in the real-world examples on which most fantasy stories are based. She contributed multiple times to Confiscated, a student-run literary magazine at OWU, and also won third place in the university’s 2006 Global Outreach Talent Show, an intercollegiate contest that raised money for the humanitarian effort in Darfur. After she graduated, she went on to complete her M.A. in Art History. Defying the initial skepticism of her advisor, she successfully completed her master’s thesis on the symbolism of bears in medieval German and Swiss art. She particularly enjoyed analyzing the meaning behind bears on shields with silly hats, otherwise known to more serious people as the code of heraldry. Her story in third grade featured two bears and their adventures, and one of her young adult novels still in the works is centered around a two-tailed creature resembling a cross between a fox and a bear, so she seems to have come full circle.

Outside of academia, Gabrielle has been a loyal attendee of Columbus conventions since high school. She won first place in the 2004 songwriting contest at Marcon, a well-acclaimed fantasy and science fiction convention in Columbus.  She continued her involvement with Marcon, arranging for her own concert as part of the convention’s programming. Just this past October, she attended a local music convention known as the Ohio Valley Filk Festival for the fifth time, and is hoping to start her own Columbus filk music circle. She cherishes her five-year-old “Got filk?” t-shirt, and will likely keep wearing it until it develops holes beyond those necessary for correct shirt-wearing.

Gabrielle hopes you will purchase and enjoy Across Town in a similar manner. Be irrationally exuberant and manhandle the pages, be confused by incongruous dog-ears, and dimly know that once upon a time, the bent spine did not magically prompt the paperback to skip to page 53. Because the real reason to own a tangible book is to return to it years from now.

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.

Justin Nicholas Hanson – Across Town Featured Author

The following is an auto-biography from Across Town: Stories of Columbus featured author Justin Nicholas Hanson.  Across Town is available here for $9.35.

Justin’s drama “Old, Young Men” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This serious, intelligent story is a wonderful contribution to the Across Town collection.

Stories have always filled my life. They fuel my understanding of the world around me and my place within it. An imaginative child, I frequently lost myself in worlds of fantasy on the page and on the screen. The Hobbit was the first book to consume me; it was followed by the fantasies and adventures of Rowling, Pullman, Dumas, and Lewis, along with the rest of Tolkien’s oeuvre. Just as I consumed reams of books and hours of film, I also developed an interest in spinning tales of my own and began writing stories when I was just a child.

Although I count “Old, Young Men” as my first publication of literary value, I first published a story when I was a boy of eight, a story featured in a collection of very young writers. I vaguely recall it had something to do with a time machine and dinosaurs, with the kind of convoluted, whimsical narrative that only an eight-year-old can conjure.

My parents saw that I enjoyed writing and encouraged me. They sent me to the Thurber House for its children’s writing camp and also encouraged me to act in youth plays, which I helped write in collaborative efforts—luckily none of us, at ten-years-old, possessed authorial egos to lead to blows over creative content. I showed promise and continued my involvement in writing activities, sometimes to the disbelief of others (a famous family story involves a 6th grade teacher who insisted I’d plagiarized a story for a class assignment, which delighted me as I had indeed authored the work).

In high school, my writing dwindled for other activities: sports, competitive weight lifting, and a variety of extracurriculars occupied me while my creative side lay dormant. But my creativity was reawakened at The Ohio State University. In a beginner creative writing class, a professor rekindled my love of writing, and I’ve been at it ever since. Said professor, Manuel Martinez—gifted author, mentor, and friend—became my faculty adviser, and we keep a close friendship today. My interest in writing was so renewed that I changed my major from History to English, making the best decision of my college career.

As an English major, I met a brilliant group of passionate young writers—including fellow anthology writer Bill Hallal (“Suicide Guys”)—who welcomed me with open arms. While at OSU, I sought out the finest professors to learn from: I studied narrative under renowned critic James Phelan, and I learned the craft of storytelling from Lee K. Abbott, one of finest short story writers in contemporary fiction. Along with my creative writing, I undertook a considerable academic writing project concerning a 1970s civil rights journal called The Body Politic, from which I hope to publish a portion in an academic journal. In that project, I encountered the thrills of journalism and the immense responsibility of writing history.

Since graduating, I’ve worked some odd jobs during a year I intend to spend out in the world living and writing before returning to school for an advanced degree. Although my childhood imagination was awakened by works of fantasy, as a writer I’m a committed realist who bases my stories in a world as true to form as I can render.

My story “Old, Young Men” ruminates on feelings of personal identity within contemporary society and the American Dream. One finds similar themes in the work of Henry Miller, Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and in films by Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, and Copolla, to name just a few, all of whose art on such themes has fascinated me. The story is quite personal, filling itself with scenes and characters from my eclectic Columbus life. I hope the reader enjoys the tale and finds it worthwhile.

Currently, I’m working on three stories that are all in various stages of development: a story of a broken marriage, a story of lost love returned, and a story about an underworld brawler for the 1970s mafia.

My current favorite writers include T.C. Boyle, Richard Russo, Michael Chabon, and Cormac McCarthy as well as my comrades from CCC. Some of my favorite writers of the past include: Will Durant, Hemingway, R.W. Emerson, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tolstoy.

Happy reading and writing.

Justin

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.

Brenda Layman – Across Town Featured Author

Brenda Layman’s short story “A Fish Story” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This bizarre, comical fantasy is a unique member of the Across Town collection.

Brenda Layman is a freelance writer and a member of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, the Ohio Writers Guild, Writers Satellite, All Genres Writers Group, and Columbus Creative Cooperative.

Born in Ashland, Kentucky, Brenda has lived most of her life in the Columbus, Ohio area, but spent two years in Bonn, Germany. Brenda speaks fluent German, and she worked as a supply teacher at the British Embassy Preparatory School in Bonn, where her two sons were enrolled. She is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a degree in English Education and is currently working on a Master of Communication and Marketing degree at Franklin University. While an undergraduate at OSU, Brenda was President of the English Undergraduate Forum and volunteered in the Forum’s English composition tutoring program assisting other students with their writing assignments. Over the years she has worked in a variety of teaching positions while raising a family, but has always pursued her interest in writing.

After self-publishing a book, Song of Joy, a Guide to Recovery from Grief, Brenda became interested in the development and marketing of self-published books. She and her husband, Mark, have created a small internet business called Select Authors which develops and promotes indie authors and provides website design and management services to small businesses. Her father was a passionate outdoor enthusiast, and he inspired her interests in fishing, hiking, and conservation. The Outdoor Writers of Ohio awarded her article, “Casting for Recovery in Ohio”, second place for Best Internet Article of 2010. She writes regularly for Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine, the Pickerington Community Magazine, and Columbus Underground.

Although she has published many articles on topics related to outdoor recreation, wellness, and community events, her CCC anthology contribution represents her first foray into published fiction. “A Fish Story” was inspired by her husband’s encounter with an eccentric fisherman on the Big Walnut River, an encounter that led her to wonder, “What if . . . ?” Her current project is a book, The Bear Lake Carp Contest and Other Tales, a collection of humorous short stories involving the residents of a fictional rural community called Willow Run.

Brenda is also an avid fly angler, a reluctant gym rat, an enthusiastic cook, and a happy bibliophile with full bookshelves who has discovered the infinite storage capacity of e-readers. Read her blogs at www.select-authors.com.

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.

Andrew Miller – Across Town Featured Author

Andrew Miller’s short story “Broken” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This dark, thoughtful story is a fantastic addition to the Across Town collection.

Andrew is a proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades – though he may not be the one to proclaim it. Mechanic, carpenter, tech support, community organizer, all terms that have been used to describe Andrew, and now fiction author. “Broken” is his first recognized foray into short stories, an art Andrew has come to love and produce regularly. His stories are culled from a life lived on the edges of American culture. From small town to big city, the characters in Andrew’s stories aren’t always likeable, but are always recognizable.

Beginning in 2012, Andrew plans to attend Otterbein University to hone his craft as a creative writer. In his spare time from working for the State of Ohio, Andrew is a freelance journalist for a number of local news organizations, such as WOSU, ThisWeek Community Newspapers and Columbus CEO.

He loves playing with his daughter, Sophie, particularly creating works of art with her and making up adventures on his World War 2-esque Ural sidecar motorbike. You’ll see him sun or snow, traversing the streets of Columbus on that bike. Motorbike or bicycle, he believes two wheels are always better than four.

Andrew lives with Sophie, two cats and his partner, Gail, in their Upper Arlington home, which suffers from a constant state of remodel, thanks to Andrew being that Jack of all trades.

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.

David Meeks – Across Town Featured Author

The following is an auto-biography from Across Town: Stories of Columbus featured author David Meeks.  Across Town is available here for $9.35.

David Meeks’ futuristic comedy “The Roots of Madness” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This witty, Shakespearean tale is a fantastic contribution to the Across Town collection.

I will admit it – I used to plagiarize. Actually, I used to rewrite my favorite horror stories while I was supposed to be journaling in fifth-grade English. These acts of mimicry, along with a thirst for reading, started me on the road to creating my own original stories, and cemented in the deep recesses of my mind the desire to continue to do so. It seems that no matter which road I have decided to take in life, I always come back to writing. It’s challenging, comforting, frustrating, rewarding. Writing is a lot of things to me, be they good or bad, but it’s something I feel I’m genuinely good at; and I’m determined to keep at it until my imagination dries up and drifts away – at which point I’ll probably chase it down, soak it in the nearest puddle, and hope for sea monkeys.

I have heard many times over to “write what I know”; but this bit of advice has never held much water with me. If I were to write what I know (as far as fiction is concerned) I would tell the tale of a shy, awkward young boy who went camping a lot with his family, joined The Boy Scouts and went camping a lot with them, and then in his late teens joined a garage band that he never went camping with. My point is that, while I have fond memories of all of those things, they aren’t what I enjoy writing about. When I’m staring down that blinding white light coming from an empty Word document I want to create a story that entertains me, not reminisce about my past or create a manual on how to set up a tent. My hopes are that, if I can create something that entertains me, hopefully my readers will agree.

I tend to migrate towards the fantastic and absurd when I’m telling a story. As difficult as it is, I try to be as original as possible. This is always the hardest part of creating something for an audience. It would be easy to create another Lord of the Rings, or another Harry Potter. The conventions are all there; I could just plug in my own setting and characters and maybe have a bestseller. Okay, maybe I’m oversimplifying, but being conscious of the fact that I might be constructing a narrative a bit too close to the proverbial cookie-cutter drives me to create something different and keeps the writing process fresh and exciting.

After the breath of fresh air this current opportunity has given me, I plan on wrapping up two other stories that I have been working on for a while now. The first is a story centered around cats and an epic journey across multiple states. It was inspired by my mother (who thankfully wouldn’t quit pestering me to write a children’s book), and my cat Lester. The second is a dark medieval fantasy and is the biggest challenge I’ve ever…well, challenged myself with. It will be a full-length novel and will likely end up having one or two more entries after that if the first one doesn’t kill me. Ideally, I hope for some success in the land of the novel. Even if they never see the light of day, I plan to keep writing and creating my strange, little worlds.

Aside from fiction, I also hope to enter the world of video game journalism. I’ve always been fascinated by interactive entertainment, and being able to write about my favorite game franchises (The Elder Scrolls, Half-Life just to name a couple) at the professional level would be an amazing experience. I recently started a blog and am currently trying to build a portfolio of sorts to show to various game magazines and websites. Feel free to stop by www.thegamerambler.blogspot.com to bask in my nerdy glow.

Finally, I’d like to thank Brad and everyone else involved in the current anthology for helping me shape “The Roots of Madness” into its current form, and for the chance to share it with so many new people.

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.

Todd Metcalf – Across Town Featured Author

Todd Metcalf’s dystopic futuristic tale “Kweezi and Leek Go Shopping” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This insightful, complex story is a wonderful story in the Across Town collection.

Todd Metcalf was not one to lie when he was growing up. Then he discovered that when he wrote his lies down and called them stories, they became palatable even to those who knew him. Perhaps more amazing, he realized that people would willingly ask to read what he made up. Unfortunately, he told so many fabrications as part of his new hobby that no one believed anything he said. Since he was unable to capitalize on his newfound gift, much less make a decent living, he focused on the lucrative world of business as well as FBI agent, stunt man, base jumper, and comic book collector. Well, maybe not comic book collector, although he intends no offense to pannapictagraphists. Somewhere along the way, his wife and two daughters were the illusion that became reality, just as the corporate ladder became an authentic metaphor. But reality has a peculiar way of distorting one’s life and he fell back on relating stories that kept him sane while making others crazy. The journey has brought many wonderful, interesting characters into his life, with perhaps the exception of the person who adamantly claimed 9/11 was a United States government conspiracy to justify war.

Writing has become a pleasant diversion in a busy life, if not a profitable one, although, with the publication of the Columbus, Ohio anthology, the financial windfall and justification of what had previously been called a questionable pursuit is only days away. Telling stories has provided him with various accolades. He recently won the Columbus Creative Cooperative’s Flash Fiction contest and earned recognition as a finalist in a William Faulkner novel writing contest.  He also has many framed letters from publishing industry professionals claiming his work is superior but not quite right for them.

At times, the complexity and direction of his stories gravitates towards the extreme, primarily to explore reader’s tolerance for outlandish tales. “Kweezi and Leek Go Shopping” is a near future, dystopian tale of two pre-adolescents who go shopping for an item not traditionally sold in the local department store. It is a disturbing vision of the future that explores both conservative and liberal biases. “Kweezi and Leek” is a political satire that is based on Todd’s service as a US Representative. There, he received first-hand knowledge of pending legislation that will soon make Kweezi and Leek a reality. OK, maybe he wasn’t an elected official because everyone knows a political figure would never admit to such a heinous profession. Nevertheless, that knowledge doesn’t detract from the truth and poignancy underlying this fact-based story.

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.

William J. Hallal – Across Town Featured Author

William J. Hallal’s dark comedy “Suicide Guys” appears in the most recent CCC anthology, Across Town: Stories of Columbus.  This intriguing, bizarre, witty story is a fantastic addition to the Across Town collection.

William feels guilty, as you do, about all the books he has not read. He cannot claim to be a lifelong reader—he grew up with a mild addiction to Muppet Babies and Nickelodeon—but reading Peter Pan when he was eight years old and grounded kicked off his reading days.

Since then there have been several other Peter Pans that rekindle his love of reading. In grade school there were book series: Hardy Boys, Animorphs, and of course, the magical world of Harry Potter.

In high school he read a book by Richard Russo, Empire Falls, and his eyes were opened to a different kind of magic. He was amazed at the way Russo could conjure all-too-human characters on the page. There were no great battles between good and evil, as there were in the books of William’s childhood, but Russo managed to take the struggles of ordinary New Englanders and render them extraordinary. It must have been around that time William realized he was doomed to grow up and major in English.

Today William reads contemporary literature for pleasure with the occasional classic to assuage his guilt. He writes as well, though not nearly enough. He is currently reading A.J. Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically as part of a non-fiction kick. William is fascinated by the intimate quirks and details of character that writers of creative nonfiction are able to bring to the page, and he hopes to use similar techniques in his fiction (think Tim O’Brien, or James Frey without the Oprah drama, the lying, or the bad writing). When he is not reading or watching Mad Men on his laptop, William works as a writing tutor at the Younkin Success Center. William is happy to remain, for the time being at least, in the world of academia. He hopes to remain in it for most of his life, in some form or another, because he’s fairly certain he wouldn’t be able to survive anywhere else.

The idea for “Suicide Guys,” which you can read in Columbus Creative Cooperative’s Across Town anthology, came during a bout of homesickness and frustration during the author’s study abroad at the University of Greenwich in London. He had been working on several pieces with a snarky and irreverent narrator, but it was only after reading Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, Kevin Wilson’s seminal debut story collection, that the author had the idea to write a story about a job too strange to be real. The story initially had a much bleaker tone, but a workshop with Ohio State professor Erin McGraw helped bring humor and character to the story. The narrator is not based on the author, but they do share similar concerns and face similar issues: religion, guilt, and growing up.

Since writing the story, the author has learned there are real-life versions of SelfTerminate.com on the internet. He has not visited them, but has realized they might make for an interesting re-write in the future.

In the meantime, readers are encouraged to visit SelfTerminate.com and take the survey themselves.

Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99.  Click here to order.

Cynthia Rosi – Across Town Featured Author

The following is an auto-biography from Across Town: Stories of Columbus contributor Cynthia Rosi.  Across Town is available here for $9.35.

Cynthia’s story, “Near Miss,” is a witty, vibrant romantic comedy that paints a keen picture of Columbus culture.

An editor once told me that being a freelance writer was like putting your head in a meat grinder: why would anyone want to do it?

And yet I’ve been working with words all my life, and my passion for writing doesn’t change.

After landing in Columbus in 2003 from London, England, I spent time writing, editing, and producing 21 episodes of the Conscious Voices program for WCRS, a show which won them a Puffin grant.

I won the Ohio Writer’s Contest, First Place in the short story category for “Salmon” in 2007, and the Christian Science Monitor published my essay, “Tuscan Roots.”  I’ve had articles in The Grapevine, Green Woman, Holistic Discoveries and Dreamweaver magazines.

In London, I’d worked as a Reporter for The Advertiser series of newspapers in North London and The Hornsey Journal. I was a stringer for The Guardian, The Daily Express and The Sun, plus Thames News.

At the same time I chaired the Women Writers’ Network, pitching my novel Motherhunt to a Headline editor and landed a two-book deal, producing my second novel Butterfly Eyes soon after. Since then I’ve written a third novel The LightCatcher, slated for publication this spring as an e-book. I’m currently at work on my fourth novel, and dream of going back to school to take the MFA in Creative Writing.

Order Across Town: Stories of Columbus for $9.35 today and support intriguing local artists like Cynthia Rosi.