Tag Archives: book

Colouring Contest for Easter!

Only a couple more days remain for Oliver the Rabbit colouring contest!

Open to kids 5 to 8.  Deadline March 30, 2018.

For more information, check out OLIVER AND HIS BFF Facebook Page:

Oliver and His BFF

 

OLIVER AND HIS BFF, an illustrated book for children of all ages, will be available soon! (Although this book will be published during the Easter Season, it is not specifically geared toward Easter. It is a book about friendship and includes many different animals. The star, Oliver, and his BFF, Reggie, happen to be rabbits.)

 

Oliver Easter coloring page

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The Spot Writers – “Wolves Don’t Knock,” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme is “monster,” to be interpreted in any way. Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who is hard at work finishing her first (and only) novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. The following is an unedited excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book.

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK: Expected publication date: November 1, 2017.

***

Miranda carefully shut the door behind her. She must not disturb Paul.

Despite wanting to flee far away from the cabin as quickly as possible, she paused to inhale great gulps of crisp woodland smells. The fresh scent of pinecones brought forth memories of Christmas. She exhaled, watching her breath spiral like smoke from a chimney and then vanish.

The wood pile, overflowing with logs for the stove, looked smaller surrounded by clusters of snow that remained after the milder temperature the previous day. Trees around the property, taller and thinner, appeared eerie in the dim light. Paul’s battered pickup truck sat by the cabin. Why hadn’t she snatched the keys?

Paul allowed her outdoors every few days, when he freed her from the chains, but she knew better than do anything foolish. She couldn’t jeopardize the little freedom he gave her. She relished those times—and others in the cabin—when she felt free, for her captivity could have been much worse.

Had it been that long since she had been outdoors, or had the chill changed the surroundings? Everything once green looked dried-up dead. Most of the snow had melted or Paul would be able to track her footprints.

The moon hovered, illuminating her path to freedom—if she could find the path.

The shed! She must investigate the shed.

Owooooo!

She froze. Had he woken? Was he after her? The wolf? More than one?

The shed forgotten, she raced through the woods until she couldn’t run any longer. Gasping, she leaned against a tree in a vain attempt to fade into the blackness and ignore sets of eyes that watched from behind every object.

Shivering, she jerked the threadbare sweater around her chest, her hands resting across her stomach. Her baby. Kevin would be—what? Five? Six? Seven? She shook her head. She could ponder later.

Where was the road?

She glanced around. Too many paths. Which way? And where would they lead?

She shuddered and swiped her hand under her runny nose. She didn’t know the time when she escaped, but it had been closer to morning than midnight. How long had she been outside? Three hours? Four? Frostbite worried her. The night had grown colder. The nubby wool sweater with its overstretched sleeves hanging below her hands didn’t afford much protection, but she had seized the chance when it arrived, not wasting time searching for proper clothing. Thankfully, despite wearing sneakers, her feet were dry. Nothing was more uncomfortable than wet feet. Not that comfort concerned her. She was elated to be out. To be free.

Ahhh wooo!

She jumped at the sudden sound. An animal? Wolves?

Not Paul. Paul the animal would have pounced long ago.

The cold, dank night seemed never ending. Eyes tailed her, glowing in the dark. Lights, white and yellow.

Inch by inch, the moon disappeared, allowing the sun to rise. Cousins trading places. Light overtaking dark. Monsters soon to be revealed for what they were.

Tree limbs lay on the crusty snow. A miracle she hadn’t tripped over them. She discovered a strength she thought lost and sprinted from one tree to the next like a rabid rabbit running from a wicked wolf. She would run for a few minutes, take shelter behind a tree, peer around to ensure the coast was clear, and flee to another tree.

Eventually, she would reach a road and find people. She had to believe that; she had believed that for the previous few hours.

While she mumbled prayers, Paul’s words rattled in her mind. “I’m Paul Wolf. That’s all you need to know.” She would never forget those first words out of his mouth and ones that followed about death to loved ones if she tried to escape. She hadn’t wanted to endure more death. The death of her father had been horrid enough, but selfishly she was relieved he was gone—if one believed, to a better place—because he would be ashamed of her.

Paul had moulded her the way he wanted, but she kept enough of herself intact. She endured pain at his hands but learned to co-exist, and thoughts of escape faded while endless days merged into endless weeks and weeks into nameless months. How long had it been? How many years?

When she had been home, before being taken, the odd news reports broadcasted abductions, and rarely had results been good. Paul ensured she had food and allowed her input into the grocery list. At the beginning, he regularly forced himself on her but those incidents gradually lessened. The more he ignored her, the nuttier and crazier he became. Had she turned into a nutcase as well?

Days had been so foggy she wondered if she would ever see clearly. And nights were worse when wolves surrounded her, chased her, howled. Ahhhh woooooooo!

She patted her pocket, which gave her comfort. The photograph she kept hidden. Paul had never found it.

When she glimpsed a road between the trees, she stopped to catch her breath. At the sound of a vehicle, she slipped behind a pockmarked pine and watched the car zoom by. Her stomach sunk.

No, all was okay. She would wait for the next car. The sun had fully risen, and she would see a vehicle in the distance and discern if it was Paul. If not, she would chance that, if he followed, he would be on foot, but she prayed he remained passed out on the floor. Time was running out. The cold would kill her if he didn’t. She must flag down the next vehicle. If he wasn’t already after her, he would soon be waking, and she had to be far away before then.

Minutes passed. Or was it hours? Snowflakes swirled. She stopped, sticking out her tongue to catch them. She hadn’t realized how dry her mouth was.

A vehicle! She dashed into the road, flailing her arms like a crazy person. The driver might run her down, thinking she was a crazed individual, or the driver could be Paul. Either way, she would be dead, but she had to chance it.

 

Wolves front cover FINAL

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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TWO EYES OPEN!

TWO EYES OPEN anthology. Now available! A mix of 16 short stories by 16 authors. Not “horrific horror”…more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Just a “good read”…
 
Available on Amazon, print and e-book:
Two Eyes Open FB

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Teen Anthology – OUT OF THE CAVE

Submissions to the teen anthology, still tentatively titled OUT OF THE CAVE, closed on Sunday, April 30, 2016.

Many great submissions have been received. Too many! Now comes the difficulty to pare them down and select the “best of the best.”

Everyone will be notified before Friday, May 13, 2016, whether his/her story has been selected OR rejected.

The book will be published on or before September 1, 2016, but hopefully sooner than later.

Check back here for further updates and the upcoming TOC!

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story.

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The Spot Writers – Excerpt from DANGEROUS DECISIONS, by RC Bonitz

Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of the new book, DANGEROUS DECISIONS, which was just released. Due to a mix up in the schedule he’s submitting a little news about the book this week instead of the usual short story.

 

I briefly thought to call this book “Shiners” because of things that happen to the hero, but I dropped that idea in favor of DANGEROUS DECISIONS, wisely I hope.

Megan’s live in boyfriend isn’t in very much these days. She’s torn between trying to get the thrill back in their lives or taking after the perfect stranger her daughter invited to live with them. Temptation rears his handsome head, but what will happen if she leaves her on again, off again boyfriend for— the dogcatcher? Not quite- he has a few secrets up his sleeve. The boyfriend has a couple too.

Here’s an excerpt. Enjoy.

Megan left them in the bathroom and went around straightening the house a bit then dumped a load into the washer and decided to start dinner. Occasional snatches of conversation reached her from the bathroom as Jordan and Wade carried on their endless chitchat.

The man was very patient for darn sure. Why did he hang around them so much? Because of Jordan? Was he some kind of pervert who had fixed on her daughter? She shivered at the thought. He couldn’t be interested in her. Could he? A thrill ran up her back. Stop it Megan Weston, you’re a mother and in a committed relationship. She stopped abruptly in the midst of slicing carrots.

The sounds from the bathroom had ceased and Megan strained to hear Jordan’s voice or Wade’s, or the sounds of tools being used. Not a single bit of noise reached her ears.

He liked Jordan? Too much? Oh God! What was he doing in there?

She charged down the hall and threw open the bathroom door. Almost. The door flew open just a little bit before something very solid brought it to a halt. A loud thud was followed by a clatter as something metallic crashed to the tile floor.

“Owww! What the devil?” Wade yelled.

Megan cringed. Oh dear, what had she done?

She stuck her head through the partially open door and grimaced. Wade lay on the floor behind the door, a hand over his right eye, blood streaming down his nose. Across the room Jordan tried to restrain an agitated Betsy, who gave voice to her upset with loud barking. Jordan stared at Megan, a look of utter consternation on her face.

“You don’t believe in knocking, I gather,” Wade growled as he staggered to his feet and turned to face Megan.

Blood streamed from a gash at the bridge of his nose and he still held that hand to his eye. Jordan was absolutely fine. She’d half-killed Wade for nothing.

“I’m so sorry. Are you all right?”

“I’m not entirely sure. Let me get out of your way. Jordan, come on. Your Mommy has to use the bathroom.” He started to step around Megan, his hand still plastered against his eye.

“Oh, no that’s all right. Let me get something for that cut.”

He frowned then winced. “You don’t need to use the bathroom? I thought you were in a hurry.”

Heat rose to her face. How to explain she’d thought he was a pervert? She needed an excuse, another reason for braining him with the doorknob. Oh well, she could take the one he’d given her.

“Oh yes. I’m just upset. I have to pee.” Oh crap, why don’t you stick your foot in your mouth Megan? Nobody said you had to be so specific.

***

  Purchase at:

http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Decisions-RC-Bonitz-ebook/dp/B0155768Y4/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442591676&sr=1-2&keywords=Dangerous+Decisions

*** 

The Spot Writers:

RC Bonitz

rcbonitz.com

 

Val Muller

http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 

Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

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The Spot Writers – “Shadow Dance” by Cathy MacKenzie

This month’s prompt is to write about a car. The story this week comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who has chosen a story from one of her two recently published compilations of short stories titled Paper Patches (short fiction for women). Paper Patches is available from Smashwords for $2.99: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/461342

Cathy’s second book, Broken Cornstalks, is also available from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459035

 

Shadow Dance

At the restaurant, in between mouthfuls of Thai chicken bites and Caesar salad, I take stock of Dan, my husband. I’m startled to notice how much thicker—and darker—his hair seems. Has he dyed his white hair a tawny brown? His face, once etched with deep furrows and spattered with red blotches, is smoother than I remembered. His now-burnished skin glows as if he’s spent too much time outdoors.

When we arrive home, I glimpse my own face in the hall mirror, a face I almost don’t recognize. I stare at the drawn reflection bordered with wispy whitish hair. Crows’ feet fan from the outer corners of my sunken eyes, and fleshy bags perch beneath dwindling lower lashes. My jowls sag like soggy dishrags pinned to the clothesline on a breezeless day.

I sense Dan’s presence and move away from the mirror. He stares at me as if he hasn’t seen me before, just as I seemingly viewed him for the first time earlier at the restaurant. I want to hide my face in shame. Does he see tell-tale age on me? Will he search out someone younger? Or has he already?

Without a word, he turns and sprints to the garage to work on his vehicles, specifically his ’65 Mustang. He cherishes that car, caring for it as a mother would her newborn. I’ve spied on him in the past while he caressed its smooth, firm body. I’ve seen him tenderly slide a soapy cloth across the surface and, after carefully spraying off the suds, lovingly rub on the oil paste as if applying sunscreen over a svelte young woman. I’ve watched while he polished the frame to a radiant sheen.

I often wonder what goes through his mind while he continually kneads an ever-immaculate chassis into gloss shimmering like a new black patent shoe. Does he think of me? Someone else? Or is he too immersed to think of anything?

While I watch his backside vanish down the hall, I debate whether to follow. Instead, I remain in the kitchen and gaze around the recently redecorated room—the stark black granite, the matching stainless steel appliances, the resurfaced cupboard doors—and wonder where life begins and ends. Similar to puffs of smoke on a windy day, my years disappeared too fast. What good are material possessions? What happens to us and to those in our past when we’re gone?

Where will that car go? Who will treasure that vehicle as my husband does?

More importantly, who will cherish me when he’s gone? He’ll depart first. If not, I’m certain I’ll live longer than a dratted car that gobbles up his time and money.

A force of courage propels me to again peer into the mirror. The features are displayed before me, etched for all-time in that rectangle of recently cleaned glass. Mirrors don’t lie—they never did; they never will. My eyes can lower to hide what they don’t want to acknowledge; I can’t be scarred by what I can’t see, but unfortunately, I’ve already seen it. I already know. Tearing out my eyes won’t make the years disappear. Time has taken its rightful place. Obvious age has attached itself, and there’s nothing left once those deadly talons have latched.

Maybe luck would have been on my side had Dan succeeded in blinding me that day many years ago. The searing liquid hit me square in the face but didn’t penetrate into my eyes when, instinctively, they closed tight. No one can touch that car of his—except him, of course; I learned that the hard way.

Perhaps not being blinded was my downfall. Had I been blinded that day, I wouldn’t be able to see today how horribly I’ve morphed over the years. I’d forever remember me when I was twenty-five, when I was still desirable.

What happened a few minutes ago when Dan saw me by the mirror? Did he suddenly encounter an old woman instead of his once-young, pretty wife? Or had he even seen my beauty those many years previously? Perhaps he’s only ever had eyes for his Mustang, for he’s owned that vehicle longer than me. That car’s family, after all. Not to mention the car has retained its beauty and grace throughout the years; its appearance has never changed, thanks to his meticulousness.

I sneak down the hallway and open the door to the off-limits garage. The Mustang leers at me—the headlights glare and the grill sneers like fangs. The body shines as one titanic twinkling star, revealing reflections of youth and lust. At the far end of the triple-car garage, Dan holds a blow torch, hard at work on an old Chevy. He doesn’t hear the door’s creak nor does he see me enter the forbidden room.

When I stumble over a pile of car parts, I lunge to the Mustang rather than tumble to the concrete, where I would chance a bone fracture.

The racket jars Dan from his intense labours. “What you doin’!”  he shrieks. “Get off my car!”

I jump back. But it’s too late. My body and greasy fingerprints have marred the gloss of his favourite friend. Within mere seconds, before I realize he’s leaped in front of me, I feel the heat—hotter than anything I’ve ever experienced previously.

“Take that, you.…” The rest of his words are garbled. Someone else might have been able to decipher them, but not me.

 

The Spot Writers:

 

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 

Val Muller

http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 

Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 

Kathy Price

http://www.kathylprice.com

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“The Stories of John Cheever” – a review

I’m reading an interesting collection of short stories, The Stories of John Cheever, by, of course, John Cheever. The book is a used, huge hardcover that I bought for ten pesos (less than $1.00) here in Mexico—694 pages of 61 short stories (if I’ve counted correctly). It’s an old book, published in 1978. Individual stories were published between 1946 and 1975, some in “The New Yorker,” “Playboy” magazine, “Esquire,” and the “Saturday Evening Post.” This book won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Cheever, who was born in 1912 and died in 1982, lived an interesting life. After reading a few of the stories, I felt possessed to Google him. I had heard his name, but, to be honest, knew nothing of him. I won’t get into his life; if you’re interested, you can Google him, too.

The stories are dated, reminding me of gold shag carpeting and avocado-coloured appliances (yes, I had both). I’m still reading the book, but it’s not been a chore doing so. I was even a bit sad when a couple of the stories ended, perhaps a bit too abruptly, just when I became involved in the characters.

My favourite thus far is “The Enormous Radio.” Wow! What a story. “The Season of Divorce”—well, we can all relate to that one; timeless, but perhaps not a modern day ending. “The Hartley’s” was just too sad, with an unexpected ending. There’s kind of a moral in “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor.”

No doubt I will finish the book before we leave for home. Despite that, and its size and weight, I’m still cramming it, along with a few others, in my suitcase. I just pray I won’t be overweight.

This is a book I want displayed in my library at home.

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Review of COLD MOUNTAIN

I finished Cold Mountain today, a book I had been reading off and on for the past three days. The book had been mentioned in passing by my writing instructor, and someone else in the writing group had mentioned it, too. I had never heard of the novel, but while searching through my favourite used book store here in Ajijic, the title leaped up at me.

“An excellent book,” the cashier said, as I passed over the five pesos.

The synopsis didn’t really appeal to me. I’m not into civil war stories, or even historical novels, to be honest, but to come across it after rave reviews seemed an omen.

Before I delved into the story, I read everything else between the cover and on the back cover. I was intrigued by the author, Charles Frazier. Cold Mountain is his first novel, published in 1997, and was at the top of The New York Times best-seller list for sixty-one weeks. It won numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award. The 499-page book is loosely based on his great-great uncle.

It never ceases to amaze me the writers that can produce a best seller on their first try.

I enjoyed the book. The descriptions were wonderful, phrases I wish I could come up with. The wording felt ancient, like the story had been written back during the civil war, not in the 1990s, and not by an author my age.

The writer in me picked up instances of repeated words throughout the book, like “scrabbled,” a word I had never heard previously, but it fit. Frazier used a lot of “could hear” or “could see”—phrases I’ve been taught to avoid—rather than using the more direct “heard” and “saw.” The author’s a bit long-winded at times, as well, but the book was still a terrific read.

 

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More Used Books!

Hubby and I just returned from the used bookstore, one of my favourite places here in Ajijic, Mexico, IF I can wrap my head around the book lice (see an earlier posting of mine)—either pretend none exist, even if I don’t see any, or do preventative treatments just in case. I’m taking the latter road.

So, my “new” books are basking in the sun. I did wipe and shake them when I first got them home. I threw away one dust jacket—what an apropos name—since it was extremely dusty, torn, and dirty. I haven’t seen a bug yet. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Want to know what treasures I found? My most precious find was “The Love of a Good Woman” by Alice Munro (a collection of short stories). Also in my bag were: “The Short Stories of John Cleever” (the book with the discarded dust cover), “The Best Loved Poems of American People,” and the “Kiss in the Hotel Joseph Conrad and Other Stories” by Howard Norman.

To be honest, I haven’t read all the previous ones I had purchased. Sometimes I think I’m simply a book collector, not a reader. But, I will read them, and some I will take home to Canada with me to add to my library there.

Why short stories you ask? I have a short attention span lately—more than “lately,” seems like for the past few years. Besides which, I write short stories; ergo, I like to read them.

Short story collections are hard to find, so I scoop them up whenever I can, especially at the prices here. We pay five pesos (less than fifty cents) for soft covers and ten pesos (less than one dollar) for hard-covered books. What a deal! Can’t pass those prices up!

The sun is shining brilliantly this afternoon. I’m heading outdoors to our luscious patio with a glass of wine. I’ll grab one of the sunbathing books, sit in the sun, and read it (and hope I don’t see a bug that I mistake for a period or a comma). Despite the clock showing 2:11, it’s cocktail time somewhere in the world. It might as well be here. Hey…it IS here. I have the glass of wine to prove it.

Happy reading, everyone, wherever you may be!

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Book Lice!

Hubby and I went to the used book store the other day. I was so delighted to find a novel by Joyce Carol Oates that I had wanted to read, as well as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. (Okay, I fess up: I probably won’t read the Shakespeare book, which is laid out like the Bible, in small print and in columns, but it’s a good book to have.) I ended up buying eight books—hard covers at 10 pesos; soft covers at 5 pesos (less than $1.00 and $0.50 respectively). WOW! I almost spent $20 on a used copy of the Oates book before I left home for Mexico.

Back to the subject matter: So I knew such teeny weeny bugs existed in old books. I’ve even seen them, on occasion, in the past. I guess I had a brain lapse when, last night, and then again tonight, I took one such book to bed to read. I didn’t notice any bugs last night, although I think deep down I might have been conscious of them. Double brain lapse!

Tonight, while in bed reading one of the books I had just purchased, The Library of Great American Writing, Volume 2 (oh how I so wanted Volume 1, but alas it was nowhere to be found!), a thick book with writings by authors such as James Thurber, Mark Twain, and Dorothy Parker, including bios on the authors, I thought I saw a dot on the page I was reading—a dot that moved! Or had it? Were my eyes playing tricks? Was it just a misplaced period?  I looked further and couldn’t see anything. I searched the page twice. Then, when I looked on the opposite page—there it was. Luckily, being a grandma, I had a tissue up my sleeve.

I hopped out of bed and slammed the book on top of the others, which were in the living room. I went back to bed feeling dirty. And upset that I probably wouldn’t read the books. I’m not a bug lover, especially not when they’re on something like books that you’d hold close. For certain the teeny critters would be in my bed, if not from tonight, then last night. Is that why I felt itchy the previous night?

I was sure the bugs could be killed by putting the books in the freezer, but, back in bed, I grabbed my tablet and Googled  “bugs” and “books” and found the name for those pests—book lice. Although not real lice, they feed on mold and damp, old papers. Thus, they’d be in old books. Ergo, they’re in my “new” books. ARGH!  And I’m so disappointed, cause I really want to read those books, and even take some of them back to Canada with me. But I don’t like the thought of those book bugs crawling from between the pages and onto my moist areas, or any areas on my body or clothing.

How to get rid of book lice? Insert the book into a zip-lock freezer bag and put in the freezer for 24 hours. Or, open the book and let it sit in the bright sun for a few hours. Those are the easiest remedies. Repeat if necessary. And repeat. (I’m sure I’ll be repeating several times!)

I’ll try the two methods, but the bugs would still have crawled through the books, and I’ll be holding the books. And where do the dead bugs go? Do they magically disappear? Do they fall out of the books when they’re shaken? Do they hide and disintegrate into the spine? Apparently the spine is where they hibernate and feed.

I wonder if I’ll sleep tonight? Or will I forever itch at some imaginary critter? Perhaps there’s something to be said for e-readers after all; no bugs in them, at least not the creepy crawly type!

Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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