By Trina Trice
When Denver Stull was growing up in West Virginia, he remembers reading a lot, especially when it was cold outside.
"I've read all my life, even as a young boy growing up," he said. "There wasn't a lot of things to do in the winter."
Stull's love of reading turned into a love of writing, something he shares once a month when he meets with other local writers who are members of Pen & Pica, a group that critiques each other's writing.
The culmination of the group's meetings has resulted in several published works, including "Georgia Gems" and "Voices of Georgia," says Herbert Denmark, president of Pen & Pica.
Recently, however, the group has published "The Night the Animals Screamed," a collection of short stories from four Pen & Pica members n Denmark, Stull, Erika Stull, Lucy Cline Huie, and Emily Blake Vail.
The first story, written by Huie, relays a childhood memory she had of a family vacation in Yellowstone Park in the West.
Not to give too much of the story away, Huie writes about an earthquake that disturbs not only herself, but the animals in the wild.
"The animals can sense those kinds of things," she said.
Featured in the book are more childhood recollections, yet some stories are clearly made up, Stull said.
While one of Stull's stories, called "Abraham and the Old Car," includes characters based on his real-life brother-in-law and sister, its premise is purely fictional.
"It's about a fella whose mother gives him an automobile that belonged to his daddy," Stull said. "He gets it fixed up a little bit. He gives it to his daughter. The car starts to do strange things when the girl starts to drive."
The ghost of the girl's grandfather rides in the car to protect her, causing other adventures to ensue.
Denmark wrote two stories for the book, too. One story is about a senior citizen who doesn't want to stop driving despite his inability to do so. The story is timely, Denmark said, because of recent incidents, such as the one in California when an elderly man ploughed through a street market with his car, involving car accidents caused by senior citizens.
About writing, Denmark said, "It's a source of relief. Writing is relaxing. I like to make up stories, I like the fiction part of it. With fiction, you can put anything you want to in it. But I enjoy non-fiction, too, especially when it's a subject I'm interested in. I like doing research."
Denmark is currently working on his own book of short stories for "African-American males," he said.
"I'd like to get us to read some more," Denmark said. "(The stories are about) the trials and tribulations, the things we go through that many people don't know we face."
Stull would like to see more people read, too.
"A book is something special to me," he said. "I hope the computer doesn't cause any bad problems with books. I don't think the young people are reading much. I like my books. I read a lot. I read three or four chapters of any book I can find before I go to sleep at night."
Pen & Pica are looking for more members. For more information, call Denmark at (404) 289-9428.