On May 2, 2012, Shack Out Back Superstar, Comsie Cality celebrated his birthday!  In the spirit of the event, the Imagine Team got together to create something special for him on his special day.  In the beginning we tried to work with his boyfriend, Erick; however, Erick kept screaming at us about trying to seduce him and threatening to tell the on us, so we had to scrap him. For three long weeks the Imagine Team slaved away, designing a super-special birthday cake, and JayDee spent three whole nights preparing it.  The cake itself, after being baked, had to be flash frozen so that it wouldn’t go off before the party, so poor old JayDee had to work in the freezer! Meanwhile, Pete and TurtleBoy worked together on the decorations, invitations, and super-secret surprise!  All that was left to do was make the arrangements with a super-secret person. Come the evening of May the second JayDee was rushed to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia and frostbite, while PeteContinue reading »

Many people don’t make bread because they think it’s hard to do, or that they don’t have the time.  But guess what?  Anyone can make homemade bread with pretty close to no effort at all!  Best of all, you can save a ton of money, too! You will ‘knead’:  *giggles* 6 ½ cups of flour, semi-sifted! (1.625 L) 1 ½ tablespoons of instant yeast (22 mL) 1 ½ tablespoons of table or fine kosher salt (22 mL) 3 cups of lukewarm water (750 mL)   Grab two large bowls and your bag of flour.  Scoop about 6 cups into one bowl and grab a whisk to give the flour, and only the flour, a good stir to loosen things up a bit.  Now grab a butter knife, a ¼ cup and 1 cup measuring cups and start spooning ¼ cups worth of flour into your 1 cup measuring cup.  Use the butter knife to level it off when it’s good and full, but don’t squish the flour!  We want itContinue reading »

Write faster, better and stronger while reducing the stress and frustration that comes from too much planning. Planning your story is good. In fact, it’s downright smart! However, there is such a thing as too much planning. Constructing your plot and building your characters in advance can only be helpful if what you’ve created is manageable. The trick is to figure out a comfortable in between. When you create your characters, only write the basics and use pictures as often as you can to avoid becoming lazy later on. Sometimes, even for a writer, it’s easier to look at a picture than it is to read over several pages of notes. As you construct your plot, do so in three stages. The main idea The detailed notes The chunks   Think about what your characters are trying to accomplish in your story. This is the main idea. Think about it and write it down. Remember that the main idea doesn’t have to be profound or detailed. For example, your mainContinue reading »

Everything had been going so well. The days were getting warmer, the skies were getting brighter, the treasure hunt was fast approaching, and The Boys of Widow Lake was nearing its release day. Going well, that is, until Thursday, March 29, 2012, at 6:16AM. Up until this point, the Shack had been rather tame, like the quiet before the storm.UKGuy, our dear friend and ally, declared war on peanut butter, and as blasphemous as this was, TurtleBoy was willing to let it slide—until others joined him. Whatifsowhatsit, Aikku, and UKGuy have joined forces in the battle against our beloved spread, and Roran has declared himself as Switzerland, as he has nothing against peanut butter, so long as it’s ‘crunchy’. As a peanut butter lover, supporter, and daily partaker, I, TurtleBoy, have taken it upon myself to defend the defenseless. The peanut has been through enough as it is. Our chocolate bars and snacks have all become ‘peanut free’, all sporting the dreaded image of an unshelled peanut with the redContinue reading »

The two-way radio hummed with never-ending static as Comicality waited for a reply. A smug grin was stained across Orvus’s face as he gazed upon his rival’s defeated expression, and he stood up straight and laughed. “You see, Oh Dark One, even your son is against you.” Comicality didn’t move. He just stared down at his feet in silence. “If you leave now, I might let you live,” added Orvus as he fetched the canister of gasoline. “However, if you don’t leave, I’ll be more than happy to add you to the blaze.” “No.” “Excuse me?” Orvus tipped the canister and poured the remaining accelerant atop the head of a stone gargoyle. “Perhaps you do not understand.” Crouching down in front of Comicality, Orvus retrieved the lighter from his pocket. “If you don’t leave, you will burn, and if you try to stop me your son will burn.” Orvus’s eyes widened with pleasure. “What?!” blared the squeal of the radio, still secured to Orvus’s hip. The moment the child’s voiceContinue reading »

It’s easier than doing a push-up, faster than washing the car, and 15 times more fun than you would ever guess! Let’s face it, life gets busy, and the last thing you want to do after a hard day’s work is spend hours trying to write a story or article. But what if writing wasn’t so hard? What if you could train yourself to write better without working up a sweat? More importantly, what if there was a way to improve your writing skills while fuelling material for future stories and articles at the same time? Well guess what?! There is! All you need is: 1 red pen 1 pen that isn’t red. 1 small stack of plain lined paper A timer, alarm, or clock Step one: Nonsense Equals Excellence. Grab yourself a pen and paper. That’s right! I just told you to step away from your keyboard! For this exercise you’re not going to need it, because computers make it too easy for you to cheat. With a penContinue reading »

Dear Journal and everyone snooping, It’s no secret that Google is changing their privacy policy.  You can’t miss it!  The notices are everywhere, the emails are rushing to inboxes all over the world, and the articles are popping up on search engines almost as frequently as Justin Bieber!  But what does this mean? In the early hours of Wednesday, February 15, the Imagine Team got together to review Google’s new privacy policy.  According to the fine print, all boys’ locker rooms will no longer provide partitions between toilets or privacy curtains around showers.  Unfortunately, this new no-privacy policy violates many European privacy laws, which has left millions of Euro-Googlers in a panic. At first, the new policy sounded wonderful to many people in the Shack community.  It was like that feeling you get when you’re a child, right after all of the presents had been opened on Christmas morning, only to discover that there’s one more hiding deep beneath the branches of glowing pine, and it’s got your name onContinue reading »

As the new GFD Blood Bank neared its unveiling, Comicality scampered about to make everything as perfect as possible, adding final touches here and there and a splash of cobwebs in all the darkest corners.  However, unknown to our Ruler of the Night, an anti-darkness scheme was on the rise. High above, on the rooftop of the Blood Bank, crouched behind a hand-chiselled gargoyle, was none other than Orvus, the Bringer of Light and Justice and All Things Good—or at least that was his title for today.  With a gas canister in one hand and a custom Light Supremacy Zippo in the next, Orvus was about to commit the most heinous of crimes against the vampire world: the GFD Blood Bank would burn! Down below, immerging from behind the large wooden doors of the Blood Bank, Comicality exited the building, carrying a single, tiny box that housed the leftovers of our old Blood Bank home.  If it weren’t for the faint sounds of trickling fluids, and Comicality’s ever-hopeful thoughts ofContinue reading »

Spring is in the air. The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, and the Shack Out Back is waking from a long winter’s nap. With all that happens in a month, it can be really hard to keep up with everything, so in case you’ve slept your winter away, here’s what’s happening in the Shack Out Back Community: In early February, Imagine Magazine announced the launch of the Shack Out Back Summer Collection story drive! Between Valentine’s Day and July 3, 2012 (The eve of America’s Independence Day), we’ve asked the community to write a story with the theme: “First day at/in/as _____.” You fill in the blank! It can be anything from a first day at school, new job, or new town or city. It can be the first time something was accomlished, achieved, or overcame. The only limitations to what you can fill that blank space with is the blank space in your imagination, so be creative! Check out the IM Online section over at Imagine MagazineContinue reading »

Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m not talking about that weirdo down the street who hangs out on the corner in nothing more than a trench coat. The Grabber is a term I like to use for the very first sentence of a story. The way I see it, it’s the single, most important sentence you’ll come across in an entire piece of work. It’s the first impression of your story, the basis of which your entire work will be judged, and the deciding point as to whether or not a reader will continue on to the next paragraph. How many stories have you started to read that begin with “My name’s John Doe, and I’m 15, in perfect shape, and have a really, really big cock!” I mean, seriously? I don’t know about you, but any story that starts like that isn’t something I’m about to waste my time reading. I want something more tangible than a basic description of a character I don’t yet care about.Continue reading »

And that’s the truth!   Don’t you hate it when you’re writing a story and your readers have already guessed the ending before they even finish the third chapter? This can be incredibly troublesome for writers who are trying to build a fan base because when a story is too transparent it’s really hard to keep readers reading. Fortunately, this problem has a very simple remedy: use deception! Deception is found in all sorts of novels, but it’s most obvious in mysteries. Authors use deception in several different ways, one of which is something we’ve all heard at some point in our lives: The Red Herring. But what is this ‘Red Herring’ thing? Red Herrings are used to divert attention away from what’s really happening. They can be found in many forms, like your main character’s sidekick or a dummy villain that appears to be guiltier than a kid holding a slingshot. If you use a sidekick, whenever a crucial clue is revealed have your sidekick come up with aContinue reading »

The Shack’s Tabloid goes Comic-Style in this month’s edition. Check out this month’s Hot Gossip in its full, illustrated glory!

Mardi Gras 2012: February 21 “No Officer, there’s no blood in my alcohol system.” —unknown   Mardi Gras, the time of year where anything goes.  It’s like what you would get if you mixed Halloween with the circus, ten thousand strippers, your crazy Aunt Bertha—thrice removed, and lots and lots of alcohol. It means “Carnival Season” to some, and to others, a picture of you on the front cover of a magazine, wearing 20 pounds of beads, topless, maybe bottomless, and drowning in cheap wine while surfing above a crowd of drunken strangers.  Mardi Gras is celebrated all over the world, by many different cultures, but there’s one particular place that has made Mardi Gras what you think it is today. You guessed it!  The one place in the world that we all think about when we hear “Mardi Gras”, the place that has made Mardi Gras the guilty little secret of so many college-aged teens, the place where Girls Gone Wild look tame, is none other than New Orleans.Continue reading »

When you’re feeling anxious, and know that an attack is on its way, all you have to do to end it is distract your mind.  You can do this in any number of ways, but here are a few suggestions that I have found helpful in the past: Listen to music: Sometimes, all you need is a change in pace.  Turn on a favourite song and listen to it from beginning to end.  Don’t do anything else! Take slow, deep breaths:  When you panic, your breathing increases.  Stretch out, close your eyes, and breathe in through nose and out through your mouth.  Take each breath nice and slow.  If you rush, you’ll only make things worse. Get up and move: It doesn’t matter what you do: stretch, jump, walk, or spin, whatever you want.  Just do something different.  A change in pace, direction, and thought is your primary objective. Talk to someone:  You don’t have to tell them you’re about to have an attack, but that can help, too.  AskContinue reading »

At one point in every person’s life it happens: the dreaded anxiety attack.  For some, it’s only a one off.  You’re over-stressed, losing sleep, bills are piling up, or you’re not eating properly, and you freak out.  Your heart pounds, the room spins, you can’t breathe, and you may even think you’re having a heart attack, but that’s it.  It ends and never happens again. I was not so fortunate.  A lot of people probably don’t know this, but I have an anxiety disorder.  It’s called agoraphobia, which is basically a fear of everything, or that’s how I prefer to describe it.  What I have, however, isn’t important.  It’s what I did about it that screwed me over, tenfold: nothing.  I let it brew for days, and then weeks, until I couldn’t even leave my own bedroom without having an attack. It literally feels like you’re dying, and the sad part is that the longer you let it control you, the worse it gets.  Think about it.  You’re afraid toContinue reading »