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Scott Middlemist

This story was inspired by the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their scars of sacrifice. While writing it, I leaned on my experience as a former infantry officer and current English teacher.

Story: Dog Days


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What is the best writing advice you've ever heard?
Book = Butt In Chair. Also, for the first draft, don't stop, push to the end, and then revise.
When you start a new story do you prepare an outline in advance or do you just jump right in?
I have to let ideas roll around in my mind, and if they excite me after a few weeks or so, then I'll take a few notes on characters and potential scenes. If that fires me up, then I get after the actual storytelling.
How do you deal with writing criticism, apart from just ignoring it?
Criticism is your audience's opinion and if you ignore their feedback, then you are just writing for yourself, which is fine, but limited and restrictive. I don't always enjoy criticism, but it often improves my stories.
America's Next Author has been running for almost 8 weeks. If you could re-submit now, would you change anything about your story?
I would leave the story as it is. However, I'm a social media rookie, so I would better acquaint myself with the many digital venues before jumping in again, so as to reach more readers.


Lisa Rose

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This is a really good story and I enjoyed it a lot. I felt his sorrow when Tom accidentally killed the two boys while trying to do his job. It wasn't his fault, the Colonel gave the go ahead, but that didn't diminish Tom's guilt. The terror he feels as the ghosts haunt him is real, as is Lisa's fear as she tries to help the man she fell in love with. Neither of them are able to fight the demons on their own and then it's Chili to the rescue. The dog can see the ghosts just as Tom does and together they vanquish them. But is it for good? The scene in the tub was my favorite. Lisa returned from the store and found Tom squatting in the tub, peering out from behind the shower curtain, welding a kitchen knife. "They're trying to kill me," he said over and over. The fear is palpable on both sides. If you have the time please read my story 'Drift Away' and leave a review to let me know if you liked it.

Erik Gustafson

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Wow a stunning story! I really felt for the sniper as he experienced all his PTSD symptoms. Chilling imaginary and gripping pace, made this unsettling (in a good way) story oneo f my favs in the contest! Good luck

Scott Harding

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Dog Days is a tremendous story about a sniper at the Green Zone that mistakenly kills two boys because he thought that they terrorists. These boys then haunt the man even in the after life and drive him insane. He and his dog Chili are then able to form a companionship and fight off the kids when ever they showed their presents. It is an exceptionally well written novel.

Grant Schuchter

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The story Dog Days, written by Scott Middlemist, is without-a-doubt one of the most thrilling, suspenseful, and fantastic works of literature I have ever read. From the first word of the story, I felt as if I was right there with the sniper as he accidentally kills two innocent boys in Baghdad and as he narrowly escapes their ghosts seeking revenge. Even more interesting, the two ghosts also affect Tom's marriage, adding to the vivid detail within the story's plot. The ending of this story will leave you with a positive feeling, as you learn how Tom's canine companion, Chili, saves his life and kills the two ghosts, ending Tom Miller's terror. I strongly recommend you take the time to read this amazing story, as I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Paul Bullington

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"Dog Days" is a short story that contains the tales of Tom Miller, a military sniper. Tom accidentally killed two young boys while at work protecting the Green Zone in Baghdad. After receiving serious injuries in the military, Tom returned home only to be haunted by the two young boys. The rigorous detail of the story combined with a hero/heroine twist made for a great read. I would recommend this story to anyone who can read, for it is a story worth reading.

Nicholas Gross

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This book is about an ex-sniper fighting off his past mistakes. Protecting the Green Zone, Tom, the sniper, accidentally killed two children, believed they were a man carrying a bomb. The ghosts of these children haunted and disfigured him until he got a dog named Chili. This fantastic thriller will fill you with suspense until the very last paragraph. Dog Days is a must read, the gruesome fight between man, dog, and the supernatural.

Joseph Mamola

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Dog Days was a wonderfully written story, using many great literary devices. Tom was a sniper on the border of the Green Zone, and accidentally shot two innocent boys. These two boys came back to haunt him, planting an I.E.D. under the Humvee Tom was in which resluted in the loss of a hand and heavy burns throughout his torso and legs. The boys came back several times, each time making poor Tom's life worse. Tom lost his wife and became more insane. Finally, the boys about killed Tom, and that was enough vengeance. This was definitely an exquisite thriller, very well-put together---5 stars!

Max Nicholas

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The short story "Dog Days" was an exciting read and I couldn't wait to turn the page. The book was full of thrills from the accident in Baghdad, the introduction of his dog and savior, Chili, and to the ghost attacks made on Tom towards the end. From start to end this book was very well written and was thoroughly enjoyed. I highly recommend this short story if you are looking for an action-packed thriller.

Carter Van Winkle

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The book was an amazing story that kept me reading without stopping. Setting the seen in Iraq from atop of a building guarding the green-zone got me hooked right away. Wanting to know which scheme the ghosts were going to pull next kept the book very entertaining. And the amazing ending where Chili saves the day was a great way to wrap up the story. The short story was a great way to keep me entertained and busy during my weekend.

Jeffrey Thomas

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The short story, Dog Days, is an exciting war story that blends post-traumatic stress with horror. The story keeps you on your toes and has you feeling hundreds of emothions throughout it. Sympathy, guilt, horror, happiness, and terror all race through your veins. By the time you finish reading the story, all you want to do is hug your dog and treat peppermint candy with caution.

Mike Feeney

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The story "Dog Days" was extremely captivating and intense. Throughout the story, an ex-sniper struggles with the mistakes he has made in the past. The most interesting part of the story was the intense situation the sniper made while shooting two boys (thinking they were a threat) in Bagdad and the self regret that creeps up on him. While back in his home in Phoenix, AZ, the sniper becomes haunted by these two boys and ends up hurting others around, even his own wife. Finally, the sniper's dog becomes a hero to him and the dog helps the man fight these horrific actions the boys partake in.

Oluwatosin Babarinde

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The story Dog Days is an amazingly, and well written story about an ex-sniper that mistakes two very innocent boys for a tall male holding a pipe bomb. Even though Tom, the sniper, was being safe than rather sorry, the two boys then haunt Tom for a while. I personally enjoyed reading and depicting the story. It was one of those stories that I didn't want to end. I recommend this short story to anyone at all who enjoys reading well written stories and stories that are fictional with accurate facts incorporated into it. Good job on the story Mr. Middlemist

Jeremy Lacsa

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The short story, "Dog Days", is an excellent narrative depicting a ex-sniper and the consequences of his decisions. The sniper Tom Miller is in Baghdad, and there he takes the lives of two young boys on accident. After Tom is nearly killed by an IED, the ghosts of the boys go to haunt him. Back at his home in Arizona, Tom finds comfort in his dog, Chili, hoping that the ghosts of the boys will be revenge enough. This story has a riveting plot that made me keep reading until the story was over. I would definitely recommend this story.

Jack White

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Great Story! I loved how the soldier seemed like a cold hearted man when he accidentally killed the two boys. But through their taunting and torment he was humbled by the accidence and of their innocence. I also loved how the man found hope and peace through his new dog, Chili, when he was emotionally distraught. This book makes you think of some of your own mistakes and helps you realize that you can always forgive yourself for mistakes and but must remember not to ever make that mistake again

Gregorio Montalvo

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Dog Days is a horror thriller that captivated me from the first sentence.This thrilling horror story was about a U.S. army sniper Tom Miller who makes a grave mistake, he shoots two innocent boys.When he returns home he starts having these lucid visions about these two boys and everyone thinks he is crazy. But is he? To find out you will have to read this epic masterpiece.

Jim Stickell

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This story show in a creative and ghastly way the sins of every war. There are always casualties that shouldn't have happened and those with blood on their hands are haunted forever. Rarely though, are there ever real hauntings and these specters were innocent little boys off on an innocent little errand. Now, they have threatened every thing about Tom Miller from his sanity to his health to his marriage. Only a brave dog can protect the ex-sniper, but even then, ghosts never die...

Grant Gillem

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What a fantastic story! Beginning with a military scene in the Green Zone, a man identified as "The Sniper," mistakenly shoots down two young boys thinking they had a pipe bomb. After seeing the boys' ghosts, the man takes part in a crash sending him back home. Tom Miller, "The Sniper," feels as if he is going crazy back home when he keeps seeing the recurring spirits of the two boys. His only protection ends up being his new dog, Chili. A true masterpiece that is not something you should not miss out on.

Jacob Silver

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This was an exciting read that kept me on the edge of my seat. I was first interested from the immediate start of the story. From when the first gunshot went off. I was then captured by the boys when they appeared again in the corner of the street. I was fascinated on the idea of ghosts and the way they came bck to life. Though my faorite part was when the dog scared off the ghosts and he was reunited with his master. It was a beautful scene between a man and his best friend. This story really made me think about how one misake can change your life.

Herman Bathla

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This story was a dramatic tale about a sniper in Iraq who mistakenly kills two young boys. The boys' ghosts then return to haunt him, but are eventually driven away by the sniper's dog, Chili. This story contained many symbols, such as the red and white candies, that connected all points of the story and made it interesting to read. Another thing that I enjoyed about the story was how the sniper conflicted with his own feelings and how the reader could look at the story and understand both the sniper's and the boys' actions.

Austin Silva

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Wonderful story. Depicts an intriguing plot line about a veteran from the Iraq War, who kills two innocent boys by mistake. The ghosts of the boys haunt his life after his discharge, and affect his home living by influencing his relationship with his spouse because he is so paranoid. His dog seems to be able to fight the ghosts off, but he has to come to terms with his own conscience and deal with his regret to be rid of the hauntings. A fantastic and engaging read.

Austin Egler

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This is a great horror story based on a sniper in the Green Zone in Baghdad during the Iraq War. He accidentally shoots two boys and is later haunted by them. His wife leaves him because he accidentally broke her wrist. He is finally saved from the boys by his new dog Chili. This is a great story and I recommend that if you like horror stories or know anything about the Iraq War that you read this story.

Joe Skelly

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This is an exciting thriller about the life of an ex-sniper and the consequences of his actions in Bagdad. Tom Miller accidentally killed two boys and they go to his house and haunt him.Tom Miller, the protagonist, and his dog chili, are being haunted constantly by the two ghosts. When Tom finds out that they are scared of Chili, he uses Chili to get rid of the ghosts. . This was a very interesting book and it was well written.


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With links to the afterlife and the supernatural, "Dog Days" is a great story showing the limits of a veteran's sanity. In the story the veterans's dog protects him from the evil brothers in which he accidentally killed in Iraq. The dog has the capability to see these ghostly fiends and attack them. Providing suspenseful and scary read, this story is fun, but also leads you to wonder if the supernatural is true.

Collin McGuire

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Dog Days was a captivating story with wonderful pacing. From beginning to the end, it is filled with action, drama and suspense. The buildup to the climax was great and really made you wonder what was going happen next. This story also offers some insight into what our soldiers face returning home from abroad, especially with traumatic events like killing two innocent children. From the moment the book started to its resolution with **Spoilers** the ghosts of the boy's who Miller killed, **End Spoilers** Middlemist uses exceptional imagery to really "paint" a picture inside your mind. All in all, Dog Days is a true thriller.

Harrison Ring

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This short story is about a sniper, Sergeant Tom Miller, who accidentally kills two boys carrying candy right next to the Green Zone in Bagdad. The two boys haunt Miller as ghosts at his house and leave marks all over his body. His wife thought he was going crazy, so she adopted a dog named Chili. Chili and Tom created a great bond as Chili could see the ghosts so Chili killed off the ghosts. After that, all of Tom's scars left him but he would keep the dog because of their strong bond that they had created.

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December 18th, 2012
The winner of America's Next Author 2012 has been announced! [...]
December 7th, 2012
Questions and answers about the Battle Round. [...]
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