Hannibal Writers Guild founder and president Ryan Freeman, who is also a member of the Missouri Writers Guild, said the group was free and open to everyone.

Vastly different worlds of fantasy, science-fiction and satire encircled a table upstairs at the Mark Twain Brewery, as members of the Hannibal Writers Guild shared their latest creations during their second monthly meeting Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Hannibal Writers Guild founder and president Ryan Freeman, who is also a member of the Missouri Writers Guild, said the group was free and open to everyone. During their second monthly meeting, each writer shared their manuscripts — including science-fiction, a self-aware narrative and news satire — and offered critiques and advice to one another. As each writer took their turn, they shared how their short story, novella or novel was shaping up or read a piece they wrote.

The group of a half-dozen writers smiled and talked about their sources of inspiration, what books they were reading and their projects during the round table session. Jason Sommerfeldt shared the concept of his next book, “The Machinists,” which featured vast wastelands virtually devoid of religion in 2305. His story took place in a large “cluster” called New Constantine, which was built atop the ruins of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Technology was everywhere and “it has been completely stripped of everything natural.” The residents of the lowlands show the story’s protagonist “divine talk.” During this time, the Bible is rediscovered, flying in the face of the highlands’ tech-centric culture centered around energy-producing cruces and the machinists who keep them.

Dana Lockhart shared her “self-aware storybook,” which offered a humorous spin on the traditional narrative. It began “Hey! Yeah, you. Can I have a minute of your time? I promise I won’t bother you long.” The story includes light-hearted jokes as the narrative grapples with its own identity and its relationship with the reader — reaching an epiphany and closure at the conclusion.

Freeman shared “The Ethereal Division Volume 1: The Traveler,” a sci-fi manuscript he was ghost writing with Shannon Owens. The tale takes place 40 years from now, with an experimental serum containing nanobots that could cure any affliction of disease — with the side effect of turning patients into vampires who needed blood to rectify their iron deficiency. Two characters came across a bizarre creature before they discovered the laboratory where the fateful serum was developed.

“‘What do you think it is?’ Lorenzo asked in a low voice, little more than a whisper.

‘I’m not sure,’ Lindsey answered. ‘But it’s looking right at us. It kind of looks like... I don’t know what it looks like.’”

The two characters discovered later that the odd creature was actually the subject of an early experiment. Freeman went on to say how the research leader — who desperately wished to help his daughter — and every other member of the board consumed the serum. As the characters grappled with their newfound addictions to human blood, the line between the traditional “bad” vampire and good characters was blurred. Freeman said that he broke one of his own rules — avoiding beginning with a violent scene, as Shakespeare did — but he felt the results worked well for the story.

Tina Boltinghouse encouraged fellow members to enter writing contests, sharing details about her first-place winning story “Forever Friends,” which featured a magical tree that sparked lifelong friendships for people who rested beneath its canopy of branches.

Lindsey Laughlin shared a humorous satire based on an actual event when a pack of deer were caught on camera in front of the Muffler Shop. An anonymous witness shared his account of the unexplained animals’ visit.

“‘The pack stood there, even as I was passing. There’s something off with these animals. The next morning, the deer were gone. A message was left in their absence. It was “we know,” spelled out in pine cones.’” Laughlin said Freeman helped her with a park ranger whose account sounded very similar

to what a reader might find in a news report.

After each member took their turn, fellow writers offered helpful anecdotes, advice and compliments. The critique session allowed everyone to collaborate their creative efforts, and the future was already promising multiple creative outlets.

Jim Waddell approached the group to discuss a unique writing opportunity. He was in charge of segmenting Hannibal’s history into 21-year episodes — from 1819 to 1945 — and he asked the Hannibal Writers Guild members if they would be interested in writing vintage radio show-style scripts for the various chapters of Hannibal’s history. The group’s members enthusiastically agreed, and everyone planned to begin work on projects for the forthcoming Bicentennial celebrations and share their ideas during their next meeting on Tuesday, March 20.

Freeman welcomed anyone who is interested to come join the group. Their monthly meetings take place the first Tuesday of each month, in the upstairs room of the Mark Twain Brewery, 422 N. Main. St. For more information, visit the Hannibal Writers Guild Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HannibalWrites/.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com