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I worked this year right up to Christmas Eve, though I am not complaining, far from it. Commissioned to write another piece for the International arts magazine Contemporary, I had completed my research and carried out my interviews for the article well ahead of deadline. I was then just about to start writing when I received a couple of nice and supportive emails relating to a story I had written for the Christmas edition of the Spanish, English-language, newspaper The New Entertainer.

As I was reading through these pieces of correspondence I began to think how far I had come since meeting with the people from Wordshack, Lynda Blankenship and Ben Bernstein, and having my book 'Dark Ghosts Rising' published.

After Dark Ghosts Rising was launched I was offered work writing a weekly column for The Entertainer website. I also worked on the newsdesk of my local newspaper The Extra temporarily, and was then commissioned by their parent company Archant, to write a book about local heroes who had fought or were involved in the Second World War. This demanded a great deal of research, interviews and, of course, writing, but in the end it was invaluable experience. I still write for The Extra periodically when I uncover a story I think they might be interested in.

The Entertainer then launched the newspaper version of the website, The New Entertainer, and I was commissioned to write a monthly column for them. My brief was to write a news column covering Europe, but with a particular slant on Spain. I chose the title 'Europhoria', taken from the short story 'Europhoria and Other Nightmares' in the Dark Ghosts Rising book.

I also received commissions from the Sunday Herald, The Irish News, Se7en magazine and The Sunday Business Post, spoke at nights organised by bookshops and to other groups - my next engagement is on January 4th in Ardrossan - and was commissioned to write on 'graffiti' for the aforementioned arts magazine Contemporary. This has subsequently led to other work from the same magazine. In addition I have worked for Mike Higgins, a BBC TV journalist who owns his own local magazine KA-Biz. Recently he has given me more work researching and writing on ex-service personnel who leave the forces and become homeless.

For 2007, I already have plans for several projects. I have been speaking to a photographer I interviewed for Se7en magazine about working together on another piece about homelessness, I have a new work of fiction underway (and will be speaking with my mentor Lynda Blankenship about this soon, as I really value her opinion on ALL literary matters), and I have been talking with Italian artist Pietro Maiozzi about collaborating on a graphic novel/comic strip. Add to this continued work with The New Entertainer and another commission from Contemporary (my third) and I have a pretty busy writing life.

Like Kafka, all I ever wanted to do was write, and thanks to Wordshack I am working my way toward that dream. I have a lot to thank Lynda and Ben for, but, essentially,in the first instance, for believing in me and giving me that initial chance.

No, I still haven't given up the day job, and no I am not, as yet, a household name, but now a big part of my life is spent doing what I am most passionate about.

With Lynda and Ben's push I have been able to build up an impressive writing CV, gained credibility and grown in confidence.

I remember Ben once asking me if I liked Michel Faber and when I replied that I thought he was a very talented writer whom I admired greatly, he told me that, in his opinion, I was as good as him. I've always remembered that tiny though significant remark. Such comments are oxygen to aspiring writers, you grow ten foot taller everytime anyone says something like that to you.

Over the past few years I have worked particularly closely with Lynda, especially when working on new material. She has advised, and we have discussed and I am sure she won't mind me saying, at times disagreed over the new stuff. Her help and insight, however, has always proved invaluable and every suggestion she has made with reference to my work has improved the finished material. I do, I admit it, depend on her opinions, but I have learned to trust her judgement, it is always on the money.

I hope Ben and Lynda realise what a monster (someday) they had a hand in creating....

I really cannot praise Wordshack enough and thank them for that start.

I bought your book Cat Thirteen, I loved it so much, I bought another for my father. He loved it so much, he is buying one for my sister. We both agreed it was marvelous.

I can't tell you enough how much I enjoy reading the stories on WordShack. I come every month to see what is new and how the Top Ten ended. Thanks to all the authors who make this possible.

To have a place to tell my stories is just too good to be true, or so I thought. My experience with you tells me that you are for real. I became a member and you put my work on for free. And so quickly. Amazing in today's world to find a friend in publishing.

What a joy it is to see another story of mine in print! I don't think, as a writer, that I will ever tire of that thrill!

Thank you for publishing my story. Feels like you want to tell the world. Last time I had this feeling, I fell in love.

It cost me about a dollar a day to post my work on WordShack, an established website that already has the attention of readers, agents, and publishers. Compare this to the cost of creating and maintaining your own website, not to mention having to promote it, and it quickly becomes clear that WordShack just makes better sense.

As a reader, may I thank you for giving us unfiltered words. So much of what is made available to read has been filtered through the "will people pay for it" prism. Nice to read poetry, essay, and other formats. A special thanks to your authors who are willing to take a chance on we readers. I like the review feature too. Nice to think you can be in contact with the author.

I've been trying to be heard through my poetry but just can't seem to until your beam of light came through. Again my thanks.

Hi Lynda and thanks for the support! In my "spare time" I have been shopping for agents and publishers. The closest I've come so far was Bantam requesting the manuscript, but it was not the type story they were looking for at that time.

This is a very good way for me to practice my English reading. And I love that you helped me understand the few words I did not understand. My thanks.

Since I am strictly an amateur writer without a clue about the whys and wherefores of publishing I am searching for a convenient and simple way to expose my work to others. I have looked at a number of publishing sites on the web, but I found nothing that caught my interest until I looked at Wordshack.

Lynda and Ben, I like your site very much. I wish to write something for you from my point of view as a Swedish man. So good to share ideas. This seems like what the internet was invented to do.

I looked at Wordshack. It is one of the cleanest looking and aesthetically pleasing sites I have seen. Nice job.

Lynda and Ben , THANK YOU for publishing A Place On The Beach on your Website! I am very happy with what you have done and will send an e-mail link to the home page right now. It is people like you who make "the world go 'round", and I truly appreciate it. Thank you!

I was getting so frustrated trying to get my ideas read, and then I found you. I can't tell you how exciting it was to see my name finally in print. Then when people started e-mailing my story to other people, I was beside myself with joy. Thanks for giving me this opportunity.

Your site looks great it is easy to use for us older, non tech types. Thanks for that, and by the way I love your stories.

As a teacher, I used both your IN INDIAN TENTS and EULOGY ON WASHINGTON in my classroom. The kids loved the Indian Myths and they wrote their own stories about them. I learned a great deal from reading the Eulogy, no one can teach history like the people who were there. Keep them coming.

Additionally, here's what the world press is saying!