Hunting Shadows: My Tiger King Inspired Short Story

Tiger in shadows

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’re certainly aware of the challenges the world is facing. You’re also most likely aware of a documentary so universal in its appeal some may even consider it more earth shattering than the virus. Indeed, since “Tiger King” debuted, it has occupied a spot in our national conscience like few other documentaries have, and I am not immune to this trend.

However, unlike most other viewers, I was less captivated by the boisterous Joe Exotic and his zoo empire and more intrigued by an event which was presented as little more than a footnote in the first episode: Zanesville. In October 2011, an exotic animal collector in Ohio unleashed a horde of 50 tigers, lions, bears, cougars, wolves and monkeys and then killed himself, forcing the local police to put the animals down with force before they escaped into the surrounding woods and town. The idea of being a police officer in rural Ohio forced to hunt down nature’s greatest predators was captivating enough. The fact that nobody except the owner who committed suicide was harmed is short of miraculous.

The story below came as the result of me asking the question: what if things hadn’t gone so well, as they very well could have in the real incident? What would it be like to be one of those police officers called in to face a horde of massive predators with no training and no grasp of the true magnitude? What would the insanity of this unlikely event feel like to witness first hand? These are the questions “Hunting Shadows” attempts to answer.

Read on for the story!

New Age Writing: Exceptionalism or Visibility?

What comes first? A piece of writing is unique, which gains it views – or a work is popular, which distinguishes it?

SEO: It’s a Metaphor

As a professional marketer, I researched SEO, expecting some magic formula to instantly promote my company’s website, which I then planned to re-purpose for my own budding online brand. Instead, I found that the Internet has changed a bit since SEO first became a field. For instance, did you know you don’t have to capitalize “Internet” anymore? AP style guides got rid of it – spread the word!

Spread more words!

Keep Fighting the Good Fight

College reoriented my worldview over three years that this writing site helped captured in all of its radical flourish and sad nuance. Yet nothing truly prepares you for the working world and the realities of life. I think the “real world” is a convenient dichotomy that we hide behind, but like most stereotypes, it has some essence of truth.

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A New Test for Reality

Partly inspired by The Trouble with Reality by Brooke Gladstone, which the title pays homage to.

This post doesn’t fit into the Writing for the Masses or Satire Saturday series, but it addresses an issue I’ve grappled with for the past few days.

First, some background: I had seen advertisements for The President Show, a new thirty minute block on Comedy Central that would fill the gap left by the cancellation of The Nightly Show. That’s about all I thought about it, other than the fact that it seemed to rely on crude humor to mock the president and didn’t deserve my attention.

Test more!

Satire Saturday 1: CNN Starts Fake News Section

Due to a disagreement between the editors at The Breeze, the multiple satires I wrote will never be published in their paper. However, I realized that I have a website that can distribute them just as effectively. So, the topics may be dated by a few weeks, but they are (sadly) no less relevant.


CNN Starts Fake News Section

Rising to the challenge of Fox News’s “Fair and Balanced” tagline, CNN has committed to equally reporting both real and false news stories. The newly added Fake News tab on the network’s website features compelling headlines such as “Pipeline spills found to increase health,” “DNC planning ‘Real Housewives’ reunion with Bernie Sanders on Bravo” and “CBO finds that less healthcare coverage for elderly boosts funeral industry.”

The news agency made their pushback against the conservative Fox News clear, modifying the channel’s byline for their new section: “They Report, You Decide.”

Satire more!

Writing for the Masses 8: Finding Test Readers

You’ve spent months on this manuscript, discovering your characters and putting their personalities on the page. Just one issue: you forgot to introduce one character in the first chapter.

After all the time invested, we often lose the ability to objectively evaluate and inspect our writing. Any gaps in information are automatically filled in by our mind, which has all the backstories and plot-points catalogued. That’s all well and good if you plan on only writing for yourself, but most of us want to see a return on our investment.

Enter the reader. Our unpublished comrades may not have writing expertise, but their populist perspective will help you gauge how the public may react to your book. More importantly, test readers are great for pointing out errors and slow moments. For that, they’re worth their weight in gold.

Keep finding!

Writing for the Masses 7: Know Writing When You See It

“Keep writing” seems like some obvious advice for anyone with creative writing ambitions, no matter how large or small. There really isn’t much else to writing other than to do it, and continue until you can do it well. You can read fiction, read publishing advice books, read writing websites (like this one!), but at the end of the day, practice is the only way to hone your voice.

I throw the “others have said this much better, but it bears repeating” disclaimer about here in the post. I’m not pretending to have some significant insight, just the experiences of my undergraduate career that I think others could learn from.

First, comrades, we must discuss the idea that we are writing all the time. Many of you will no doubt protest: “But I set aside special time for my fiction/poetry/satire. How can you tell me I’m always writing it?”

Know more!

Creedence Clearwater (and my) Revival

I know what you’re thinking:

Yes, he’s back again. Yet another post about how he had to go off and live his life, but now he’s going to be good to all his readers and followers and never leave us hanging again.

Well, no, actually. If you’re a longtime reader of this website, and I know there are at least a few of you out there, then you’ll know the “I’m back for good” posts are kind of a running gag on this site. Each summer, I write a post asking for forgiveness after school and work wrested my efforts away from writing, and then I promise to keep a consistent stream of content from here on out. After which, I promptly relapse into inactivity.

But I’m not going to do that this time. I won’t make any promises; I’m going to show you, my faithful readers (that haven’t yet found the “Unsubscribe” button), that The Future Writers of America lives on.

Revive more!

Sexual Assault and JMU’s Hidden Figures

As writers, we have a responsibility to use our skills to bring issues to light. I use my journalist experience, sociological studies, and overall concern as a citizen in this article to give statistical grounding to the issue of sexual assault that continues on my own campus at JMU and across the nation.

ShoutOut! James Madison University

The following post was written by guest blogger, Stephen Roddewig.

In 2014, JMU found three fraternity men “responsible” for the forceful sexual assault of Sarah Butters during a spring break trip and sentenced them to “expulsion after graduation.” But the focus of media coverage centered on the university, whose ruling sparked the initial outcry surrounding the case. The university social structure tasked with preventing sexual assault, though attempting to maintain a profile of responsibility, proves that the devil lies in the details.

After waiting 372 days from the report of her sexual assault to the sentencing of the offenders, Butters filed a Title IX lawsuit. According to the complaint, Butters felt discouraged from pursuing the case, and that the university acted to avoid negative publicity. In a statement, JMU responded that it is equipped to deal with sexual assault, yet officials stated to Butters that the university would…

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The Liberal Elite

Recently, I’ve focused on the professional aspects of publications in different genres and platforms, but I’ve also neglected one of the most powerful: the website. So, instead of sending this satire into The Breeze, JMU’s student newspaper, I thought I would share it with you, my loyal writer audience. Without further ado:


“Now watch what you say, or they’ll be calling you a radical.
Liberal, fanatical, criminal.”
Supertramp, “The Logical Song”

It’s morning in Freedomville. At last, our enemy has revealed itself.

No, not you, logic-lovers. You’re only pawns in the web. No, liberty is under threat from the liberal elite. They’ve come within one syllable of stealing my favorite word: eels.

It’s my fault, really. I should’ve seen this coming from the day I came out of the womb red, white, and blue. The doctors said they had never seen a skin condition so bad, only showing my dedication to suffer for this country.

More satire!