Tag Archives: C.A. MacKenzie

The Spot Writers – “The Whispering Tree” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story inspired by what you see out your window.

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

The Whispering Tree by Chiara De Giorgi

The tree was the first thing I noticed when I looked out the window the day the real estate agent showed me the apartment. One branch, long, thin and bare – it was Winter – reached to just beneath the window sill.

In just a year or two, on a stormy night it will scratch the window pane, I thought.

I don’t know why the thought thrilled me. A tree branch scratching the window pane on a stormy night sounds like something out of a horror tale, but I guess it appealed to my romantic side: there I was, renting an apartment in one of the busiest cities in Europe, and yet there was a tree outside my bedroom, whose branches would scratch the window as if I were living in a cabin in the middle of the forest.

I moved in shortly after that first visit and for a few weeks forgot all about the tree and its branch. I was busy unpacking, buying and assembling IKEA furniture, hanging pictures and mirrors on the walls.

Then suddenly it was Spring, and I opened the window. The thin branch was now full of small leaves, tender green and delicate. I smiled and silently encouraged it to grow stronger and reach higher.

Seasons came and went, and by the following Spring the branch had finally reached my window. I looked at it and I can swear I heard its voice. Here I am. Now you have to let me in.

I quickly closed the window, then stared at the tree through the glass. I needed curtains.

I’ve probably never bought anything with such urgency: the same night, the whispering branch was hidden behind lace curtains.

A few days later, though, I realized I missed the view from my bedroom window: the soft pink sky at morning, the golden sunsets, the children playing in the nearby garden, the elderly strolling along the street, the dogs, the cats, the birds… I pulled the curtain aside and peered out. The branch was bare and withered!

I opened the window at once and asked the tree: What happened to you? but I got no answer. I felt sad and weirdly responsible, so I removed the pretty curtains.

The following day, the tree was as alive and lush as before, and I thought I must have imagined everything. However, I didn’t dare open the window, in fear that I’d hear the branch speak to me again. That’s why it scratches my window pane at night, every night. It wants to tell me something, it wants me to let it in, but I think a whispering tree belongs in a horror tale, which is where I don’t want to end myself. I’m never opening my bedroom window again.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com/

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Spot Writers – “Counting the Days” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. In honour of these mid-winter postings, this prompt is a story that incorporates the words “will winter ever end.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who dedicates this tale to Val Muller, a fellow spot writer who enjoys winter more than any other season!

Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, with elements of suspense, mystery, romance, and family relationships, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

***

Counting the Days by Cathy MacKenzie

Evelyn stuck out her tongue, catching flakes that immediately melted. Seconds later, she quickly shut her mouth and scanned the busy street, hoping no one had seen her act like a child. She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, watching her breath spiral like smoke from a chimney. She adjusted her wool scarf against the chill and trudged down the snow-covered sidewalk toward Fernwood Tower, where she worked as an administrative assistant.

The Christmas season was over, bringing an end to the hustle and bustle. Except for the cold weather, Christmas was Evelyn’s favourite holiday, but when the festivities ended, she was exhausted.

It had taken her longer to recover this holiday season. The winter was the worst it had been in many years. It was only January 31, and she’d already lost two workdays due to storms—two days docked from her already meagre vacation time. It wasn’t fair that inclement weather forced employees to use vacation days.

“It’s not our fault you live out of town,” Blair Holt, the curmudgeonly CEO of Higgins & McCarthy, spouted to the employees at the last staff meeting. Mostly, though, his barb had been directed at her. Ironically, the firm granted snow days if town employees couldn’t make it into the office.

She caught another flake on her tongue. Will winter ever end?

That morning, she examined the calendar to calculate the number of days until March 20, the first day of spring. Not many left, but who was she kidding? Nova Scotia’s winters could persist into April, and it wasn’t unusual for a snowfall in May; June, even.

“Just get me through February,” she muttered, “and I’ll only have twenty days left.” February, despite being the shortest month, was always the worst weather-wise.

Evelyn had also counted the days until she retired and eagerly anticipated that date when she’d move to a warm climate. Down south somewhere warm—anywhere. Mexico. Florida. Maybe the Caribbean, where balmy evening breezes would waft over her tanned body. Where she would bask in sunshine on a beach and sip Pina Coladas without waiting until the four o’clock cocktail hour. Where every day would be another stress-free day of relaxation and doing whatever she wanted.

She clenched her hands, her fingers numb within the thick mittens, and groaned. Only nine thousand one hundred and twenty-seven days left until retirement.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/


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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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Writer Wednesdays – Lisa Kohn

Writing Wicket interviews Lisa Kohn today.

Lisa is the author of to the moon and back: a childhood under the influence, as well as The Power of Thoughtful Leadership. She is a writer, teacher, and public speaker who owns a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm (www.chatsworthconsulting.com) and who works to bring to others the tools, mind-shifts, and practices she’s found that have helped her heal, as well as the hope and forgiveness she’s been blessed to let into her life. She will always tell you that she is a native New Yorker, but she currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children, whenever they’re around.

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

to the moon and back is the only full-form book I’ve written. (The Power of Thoughtful Leadership is a compilation of my work blog.) I had been working on a hybrid book – part memoir, part self-help – and when I finally decided to make it into a full memoir, it took me about a year to write the book.

Q: How does your life unfold in a normal writing day?

Because my writing is not my “day job” (my leadership consulting and executive coaching firm is what I do on a daily basis), I work my writing into my life. I set aside specific blocks of time to write, and I take myself away from my home-office desk, to a designated “writing” spot, so that I can think with that different brain and ignore my work responsibilities for a little while.

Q: If you could start over again in your writing career, what would you do differently?

I would start writing earlier. I had no idea how much I loved to write, to edit, to craft, to delete, to recraft, etc. I would give myself the gift of that much sooner, and I would create even more space and time in my life to write.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

Because my book is a memoir, I am the main character. So, while I don’t think I can say that I’ve cried with myself, I certainly re-experienced many of the situations and emotions as I wrote the book, and now, during my author readings, I certainly re-experience them again.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

I know that it sometimes can take me a while to get started when I’m trying to write – to find the best way into the story or idea – but I don’t believe in writer’s blog, per se, because as soon as I just start writing something, ideas and words seem to flow.

Q: What genre do you favour?

I really enjoy narrative nonfiction and memoir.

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

When I wrote my memoir, I tried to be as true as I could be to my memory, while also being aware of other people’s perspectives. While this is not the same as writing about historical figures, I think you would need to be as aware as you can be of the bias and perspective you bring, which flavors what you notice and what you write.

Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Because my genre is memoir, there isn’t specific research that I do. That said, I do speak with others about their memories and perspectives, and I do go through old journals, calendars, notes, etc., to see what was or seemed true at that time.

Q: What is your favourite childhood book?

I loved all of Louisa May Alcott’s books, especially the Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys series.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The most difficult part of my artistic process is actually one of the most rewarding parts as well. It is the editing, and specifically going through my writing carefully and deleting words, sentences, paragraphs, and full concepts/ideas that don’t move the story along. I have learned to thoroughly enjoy it, but it can be quite challenging to delete anything that I’ve “created” and written.

Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

In some ways, writing both energizes and exhausts me, but I would have to say it is more energizing. I am lucky in that I found that I love to write, and while I pour my heart, soul, and energy into it – especially because I’m writing memoir and narrative nonfiction – it fuels me to write more and more.

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

The two Kryptonite that can bring me down are: 1) getting started – it can be tough to figure out how to start a story or map out what I’m going to write. I can sit with my fingers on the keyboard for what seems like forever, waiting for the inspiration to hit me (and to hit me well). I have learned to “just start” – and then to work with whatever starts flowing. and 2) because I write memoir, I can get stuck trying to remember what “actually” happened. I’ve learned a great deal about memory through this process – largely that memory is subjective and hazy at best – and when I task myself with capturing as “true” a version of the truth/situation as I can, getting words out can be quite baffling.

Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If you write under one now, why?

I have never considered writing under a pseudonym because I am trying to spread a message of hope and love with my memoir, and I believe I will be best able to do this when I am cleary writing as myself.

Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

I don’t necessarily think one must feel emotions strongly in order to write. Just as there are many ways to go through life, I believe there are many ways to be a successful writer. While my writing is clearly influenced by my emotions – and my emotional nature – I think one can just as easily create/capture a story from a different life-viewpoint.

Q: If you could be any author, who would it be and why?

If I could be any author, I would be Mary Karr. She is, in many ways, the “queen of memoir.” Her memoirs have touched many people and also inspired many memoirists go public with their story. I also think she writes beautifully.

Q: What is the first book that made you cry?

I am pretty certain that it was Little Women that first made me cry. I yearned for a family like the March’s.

Q: Why did you decide to self-publish?

While my leadership book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership, was self-published, my memoir, to the moon and back: a childhood under the influence, is not. I decided to self-publish The Power of Thoughtful Leadership because my business partner and I wanted to quickly get our book out to clients and prospects, and self-publishing was the quickest way to do this (with the most control).

Q: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think the most common trap is thinking it will be easy and not being willing to put in the time and/or work. I have found the writing, publishing, and now promoting all to be challenging in their own way, and there are times I’ve wanted (and want) to quit. However, I keep at it because I remember that I’ve written (and am promoting) to the moon and back for a reason – to spread a message of hope and love. When I focus on that, I can keep at this and give it time to have results.

Q: What books have you self-published?

The Power of Thoughtful Leadership

Check out Lisa’s website: www.lisakohnwrites.com

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Spot Writers – “What Do Elves Do After Christmas?” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. In our last prompt for 2018, we had to use the following words in a story: stables, swimming pool, pavement, trees, mailboxes. Today’s prompt comes to us from Val Muller, author of the YA novel The Girl Who Flew Away and The Scarred Letter, a modernization of Hawthorne’s masterpiece.

What Elves Do After Christmas by Val Muller

Most of the elves were at the festival. They’d be there a week longer—every year, the festival ran from Santa’s return until January 6. It was a time to celebrate, to burn off the adrenaline of the Christmas rush. Hot chocolate spiked with crème de cacao and harder stuff, too; candy cane casserole, gingerbread mansions. The feasting hall boasted a swimming pool filled with marshmallows. And, oh, the reindeer games!

For most elves, Christmas was life. It was their only purpose, and Santa’s insistence on waiting until January 7 to begin planning for next year left many elves feeling glum. Which is why, decades ago, the festival was established. It gave the elves purpose while Santa rested and recovered on his yearly stay-cation with Mrs. Claus. For elves, otherwise, two weeks of idle time would be a prison sentence.

It was existentialism, really. But only Ronnie knew it. He was the only one who used his vacation days to read. Or think. It wasn’t even New Years, and he’d already gotten through Hamlet, The Life of Pi, The Stranger, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead—for good measure. Together, the works had wracked his brain. He planned to tackle some Kafka next, and read The Myth of Sisyphus before being summoned back to work.  

He’d read enough to know the elves had become defined as what they did every day, 353 days a year. They were cogs in the Christmas Machine.

The arctic sun rose as high as it was going to, and Ronnie took advantage of the midnight darkness to take a walk. The roads of the North Pole were paved, but the festival meant no one was available to plow, so the pavement remained covered in drifts of snow. Colored light strings showed the way to the Grand Hall, their incandescent bulbs melting some of the snow and causing icicles to form on the wire.

Ronnie passed several mounds—the huge mailboxes, now empty and covered in snow, that would fill in the later part of the year with letters from children asking for sleds and snow globes and dolls and technology.

As he trekked away from the Christmas village, the trees shrouded the perpetual darkness, their piney arms bending in defeat. Ronnie had seen a television show once—televisions played nonstop in the workshops, blasting Christmas movies and TV specials 24/7. It had been about an elf who wanted to be a dentist. Everyone acted like it was the most absurd desire in the world, to want to shake off the mortal coils of toy-dom.

But standing in the twilight snowdrifts and looking back at the colored lighting running up to the Grand Hall, and the gaudy lighting it threw up into the sky, Ronnie could understand that. All year, he had been in charge of placing computer chips. Almost all toys had them nowadays. His name seemed superfluous, even. Ronnie? Why call him Ronnie? He might as well be Chip-Placer. Or maybe give him a serial number. That’s all he was. A cog in a machine.

But what was the alternative, he wondered as he looked over the winter wasteland. Where could he go? Who would employ an elf other than Santa? Humans were known to be prejudiced against the pointed-eared little people. Ay, there’s the rub.

What lay beyond the North Pole? What fate awaited him if he were to leave?

*

The faint echo of a drunken Christmas carol wafted toward the stables as Ronnie opened the door. The stables were maintained by a skeleton crew these few weeks, so the reindeer remained fed as they recovered from their Herculean ordeal. A pile of curly-toed shoes peeked out from the hay, and the snoring of drunken elves suggested the reindeers’ keepers were well-provided for during the festivities.

Ronnie selected one of the reindeer overlooked for Santa’s sleigh ride this year. One of the Dashers, a young one, seemed especially restless. Maybe he, too, wanted to leave this place. So Ronnie saddled him up and left the stables. The gaudy lights of the Christmas village disappeared into nothingness as he rose toward the moon and toward his future.

He could be anything, now. Anything at all. Even a dentist.  

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/


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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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Writer Wednesdays – Rhonda Eichman

Writing Wicket welcomes Rhonda Eichman.

Rhonda is a lifetime resident of Kansas and received her education at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City. She offers an authentic view of life on the Kansas prairie where she lives.  As a history buff, she can relate with unique historical culture to create fiction that is entertaining and features life’s lessons through her characters’ actions. She is the author of articles in Kansas Country Magazine and several technical materials and grants. She lives with her husband, Ray, in Seward County, Kansas.

I asked Rhonda:

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? 

My first book, Bargain On The Prairie, lost 5,000 words during edits.

Q: What motivates you (either in writing or otherwise)?

A desire to leave what I know for others to read and understand.

Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?

They’re actually never finished, and I have to keep going with the next book or sequel.

Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Oh yes, Christian Fiction as a category.  After I started reading Christian Fiction, I can’t go back to regular fiction. It feels flat, missing something.

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

Researching each detail about the historical period I’m writing in to make sure the places, the goods and services, and character actions are correct for the period.

Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The Eagle

Q: Do you ever have trouble coming up with titles for your books?

Yes, the hardest part ever.

Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I read them and try to reflect on what I can do better.

Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, characters’ actions and thoughts that only a reader of Christian faith will get.

Q: What was the hardest scene you’ve ever written?

When one of my characters has a miscarriage.  I cried.

Q: Have you set goals?

Yes, when my next book will be finished.  Horsethief Canyon will be done in March or April, 2019.

Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Hurts. You must be able to take criticism and make corrections to move forward and be a better writer.

Q: Do you Google yourself?

Yes, I do have a larger profile now that my first book is out.

Q: When you were growing up, did you ever expect to be a writer?

Always, that was my goal.

Q: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Housework! Lots of laughs. I often put off tasks I should do so I can write. I take on-line seminars to improve and try to connect with other authors, so I don’t feel isolated and give up.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

Oh yes, when I can make myself cry, I’m finally there.

Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Stop and write everyday, work always waits on you.

Q: Is there a genre you wish you could write that you can’t?

Hot Romance!

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Six to eight months.

Q: What books have you self-published?

None, I am a traditionally published author with my first book, Bargain On The Prairie, released 9-24-18

Check out Rhonda on social media:

Twitter:

 https://twitter.com/EichmanRhonda

Wix Website:

http://rhondaeichman.wixsite.com/website

Instagram:

http://www.instagram.com/rhondaeichman/

facebook author page:

https://www.facebook.com/rhondareichmanauthor/

linked-in:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhonda-eichman-289037160/

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Spot Writers – “Shadows Hanging over Us” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) recently published his first novel. A Body in the Sacristy, the first in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Sacristy-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07CK94SKV/

The current prompt: News these days contain a plethora of depressing stuff from floods and wildfires and other environmental problems, to mass shootings, to refuge problems and other political and social crises, to whatever you like as your favourite example. Write a story focused on one or more of these depressing occurrences and give it a happy ending.

***

Shadows Hanging Over Us by Phil Yeats

Moe plunked his coffee on the table and slumped into a plastic chair, slouching until his chin was level with the table’s surface. “Despite today’s bright sun and oppressive heat, four shadows darken our world.”

“Oh, God, what now,” I replied. Moe, the scruffy overweight killjoy in our midst, had outdone himself with his theatrical entrance and outlandish statement. “Have the four horsemen of the Apocalypse descended upon us?”

“Super,” Jen interjected, smiling. The stately blonde always treated Moe’s outbursts as jokes. “Death, famine, war, and conquest. Which one will you describe first?”

Moe looked up, eyes mere slits. “Why should the horsemen of our modern devastation align with the biblical ones? We’re facing an existential crisis, and you two should bloody well appreciate it. But go ahead, mock me, everyone does.”

Jen was a law student and social activist, and I, an ecologist studying the impact of climate change. We, more than Moe, the philosophy student and jack of no trades, should realize humanity teetered on the brink.

“What’s your greatest threat?” I asked.

“Weapons of mass destruction.”

Jen stared wide-eyed. Getting under her thick lawyer-in-training skin was incredibly difficult, but Moe had inexplicably accomplished it. Somehow. “Are we back in Iraq with George Bush?”

“Symbolism,” Moe retorted. “Weapons of mass destruction are symbolic of our ability to unleash weapons of incredible destructiveness since the atomic bombs that ended World War II.”

Jen wasn’t ready to concede. “But international agreements have effectively controlled the nuclear threat.”

Moe snorted. “But more countries are developing nuclear arsenals, and the new weaponry isn’t limited to nuclear bombs.”

I jumped into the fray hoping to bolster Moe’s case. He’d been madly in love with Jen for months but never bested her in the verbal love jousts he initiated. “With the North Koreans possessing nuclear weapons and dingbats in Washington and Moscow controlling the largest nuclear arsenals, the nuclear threat must have increased dramatically.”

Jen attempted a diversionary tactic. “I suppose you’ll blame the current refugee crisis on these ‘weapons of mass destruction’.”

Moe refused to acknowledge her contention. “The next threat is global warming.”

She snorted, gazing at the ceiling. “Another issue that’s amenable to political management. You need more compelling arguments.”

“Not so. Governments are not curbing their militaries, and the political situation for global warming is no better. Talk and highfalutin’ pronouncements but no action. Consider our so-called progressive government. A few weeks ago, Trudeau walked back from his commitment to tax companies for their carbon emissions. Then when the US government announced they would lower gas mileage requirements, our government meekly followed their lead.”

Jen wagged a finger. “Your biases are showing. You’ve always been anti-Liberal.”

“We live here so I find Canadian examples, but the problem’s global. We’re not reaching our Paris Accord targets, and even if we do, it won’t solve the problem.”

Jen took a deep breath and leaned forward towering over the slouching philosopher. “Your arguments are meaningless. History shows that when humanity needs to, it finds the will to act dramatically and effectively.”

“Not this time,” Moe responded, sitting up with his eyes glinting. “Modern weapons are so powerful and fast-acting they provide no response time, and climate change has too much inertia. If we stopped increasing emissions tomorrow, temperatures would increase for decades.”

Jen and Moe appeared ready to increase the intensity of their sparring perhaps leading to the romantic encounter Moe sought, but I wanted to hear about the remaining shadows.

“Horseman number three?” I asked.

“China,” Moe said as he settled into his seat with the coffee he hadn’t touched.

“China,” Jen spluttered. “You’ve already had weapons of mass destruction, so China’s growing military might is derivative.”

Moe shook his head. “I’m talking about their rapid economic growth. Their political-economic model with an autocratic government directing a market economy beholden to itself is more efficient than our western model of democratic governments and unfettered free market economies.”

Jen’s shoulders slumped, but she hadn’t abandoned the fight. “China will self-destruct as her citizens demand more freedom.”

“You hope, but China has no democratic tradition to dampen the intoxicating allure of wealth and influence. Meanwhile, our western democracies are trapped in downward spirals, unable to mount any opposition to the Chinese juggernaut. If democracy is dead and the Chinese model is the future, we’ll have Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

“We now have weapons of mass destruction, environmental collapse, and efficient economies managed by ruthless autocrats. What’s modern horseman number four?” I asked.

Moe crushed his now empty coffee cup. “I felt four distinct shadows. The final one, a fearsome creature, part lion, part man, remains enigmatic.”

“Bloody hell,” Jen exclaimed, turning to me. “You got it right when you mentioned the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Our atheist philosopher friend has had a religious experience. He’s seen the beast in William Butler’s Second Coming slouching ‘toward Bethlehem to be born’.”

“So, the end is nigh,” I said, pushing matters a little further.

“Damn right,” Jen replied as she tugged Moe from underneath the table. “We should get it on.”

I smiled as Jen led Moe from the café. She looked determined, but his face displayed the silly grin of a surprised lottery winner. The downtrodden knight had finally won a joust.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

***

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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Writer Wednesdays – Brenda Pearson

This week, we showcase Brenda Pearson.

Brenda Pearson

Brenda was born in the Eastern Township of Quebec, Canada, but has since been happily living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  There she enjoys the salty air, the wildlife, and the warmth and kindness of Nova Scotians.  She hopes to retire one day and write full-time in her peaceful surroundings. Brenda enjoys writing, reading, golfing, and quality time with her dog Molly and her partner Derek. Brenda’s first book was published in 2016.

I asked Brenda:

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

A: Couple of months, if I don’t get distracted.

Q: How does your life unfold in a normal writing day?

A: I work during the day, so nighttime is when I can plug in a few hours, between Social Media, writing.

Q: If you could start over again in your writing career, what would you do differently?

A: I’d start a lot sooner. I’ve only been writing since 2013, when my love of reading turned to writing. Published my first book in 2016 and the second in 2018, with a new one coming out in November.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

A: Yes

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

A: Yes, but it hasn’t hit me yet.

Q: What genre do you favour?

A: Romance

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

A: I don’t write Historical.  Even though that era is fascinating.

Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

A: I like when characters return from book to book. I like series. If research is needed, I Google, but I have friends in health care, law, and the army, so if I have a few questions relating to what I’m writing, I reach out and they are willing to help.

Q: What is your favourite childhood book?

A: The Adventures of Tintin. I used to love reading them.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

A: Getting the love scene done.

Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

A: Energize

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

A: Not getting it right the first time; re-writes are brutal.

Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

A: No.

Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

A: No, you need to feel emotions to be writing or it will not work, for me anyway.

Q: If you could be any author, who would it be and why?

A: H.M Ward. I love how she writes. She keeps you wanting more. Her writing is mysterious and funny, and you never know what will happen in her series.

Q: What is the first book that made you cry?

A: The Anderson series, written by Melody Anne.

Q: Why did you decide to self-publish?

A: Easier to self-publish than traditional. The cost is on you, so you need to work more to get where you want to be.

Q: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

A: Don’t give up. The first manuscript is never perfect, nor even the second or third – but if you believe in yourself, you can do it. That is all that matters. Take advice, learn from your mistakes, and keep going.

Brenda’s books:

Billionaire’s Love  – Book 1 (Max and Megan’s story)

Billionaire’s Forgiveness – Book 2 (Max and Megan’s conclusion) – Pierce Brothers Series

Billionaire’s Mistake –  Book 3 (Novella) Pierce Brothers Series coming November 10th (Josh and Lizzie)

Check out Brenda’s links:

Website

WordPress

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama with elements of thriller, suspense, mystery, romance, and family dynamics. Buy it on Amazon. Also available locally from the author and at other local retailers.

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If you are an author and would like to be interviewed for a Wednesday spot, please send a request to: writingwicket (at) gmail.com

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Cabin” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s post comes to us from Val Muller. She’s the author of the Corgi Capers mystery series (www.CorgiCapers.com) among other works.

The prompt: News these days contain a plethora of depressing stuff from floods and wildfires and other environmental problems, to mass shootings, to refuge problems and other political and social crises, to whatever you like as your favourite example. Write a story focused on one or more of these depressing occurrences and give it a happy ending.

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The Cabin by Val Muller

It was his grandfather’s legacy, something he built by hand with old-school craftsmanship, something they didn’t even really teach anymore. As a kid, grandfather’s cabin had always felt more like a bomb shelter to Ryan in that it seemed indestructible. Its worn wooden boards were solid as the Earth. Its door could take a battering from any kind of weather. Visiting the cabin was a perpetual camping trip, a constant game of fetch, an unending wilderness retreat.

As a teen, the cabin sheltered Ryan in a different way. It was impervious to bullying and breakups, to failed chemistry tests and college rejections. Like Walden, it promised a retreat from the monotony and fatigue of life. There was always a fishing trip to be taken, a stroll to be had in the woods, a fire to be built in its stout little potbelly stove. It had been a place for grandfather to bestow his ancient wisdom, and a place to remember the old man after he had passed.

But not even grandfather’s cabin could withstand the forest fire. Ryan was lucky he got out alive. He’d been there not twenty-four hours before the whole forest was put under mandatory evacuation. He left without a sight of fire, with only the faintest scent of smoke on the wind. He read later that a father and son on a mere two-hour hike had gotten stuck in the fire and perished just yards from a pond that might have saved their lives.

Yes, Ryan was lucky to have left alive. Now, he returned to a smoldering world, a post-apocalyptic one worse than the most painful breakup or the most misunderstood unit in chemistry. He followed the gravel trail there in his off-roader; the remains of the trail were the only sign that he was in the right place. The cabin, tiny in the dense forest, had been nothing for the fire to consume. A mere side dish for its insatiable appetite.

There, in the ashes, stood the stone steps grandfather had stacked himself, still mostly intact. And in the corner of what used to be the cabin, the potbelly stove, black as ever and the only thing that seemed remotely okay to have witnessed such flames, next to a charred chimney.

“I’m sorry, grandfather,” Ryan whispered. He remembered his grandfather’s words, the ones repeated in the will and testament. Take care of the cabin as I did and bequeath it to your children’s children.

Now, there was no cabin left to bequeath. How long did it take forests to recover from such fires? The trees stood around the razed cabin like charred matchsticks. A bit further away, green undergrowth peeked out of the ashes, and several lines of trees seemed untouched. The path of the fire hadn’t taken everything–but it had come straight for the cabin.

The undergrowth seemed to sway in the windless day. What was that? A draft?

No, something else.

Ryan stepped closer. Something brown peeked out of the growth. A coyote? Did those even live around here? A bear cub?

Whatever it was, it looked half dead. It approached on cautious, shaky legs.

A dog?

Ryan blinked. For a moment, it almost looked like the ghost of Blue, grandfather’s favorite dog. Ryan remembered the German Shepherd Dog as a kid. Blue would always be the quintessential dog in Ryan’s mind. Fetch-loving, tail-wagging, bone-chewing Blue.

Yes, it was definitely a dog. Ryan reached into his pocket, pulling out the only thing he had to offer, a granola bar. He unwrapped it slowly, and the dog sniffed, its tail wagging between its legs.

“It’s okay, Boy,” Ryan said, offering the bar.

The dog’s tail raised, and it approached. It made eye contact briefly, then grabbed the granola bar and retreated a few feet to consume its prize. Finished, it looked at Ryan expectantly.

“I have water in the car,” he said.

The dog sat, tail wagging, clearly domesticated.

Ryan tipped the bottle of water into the dog’s mouth, and it lapped at the stream greedily. Ryan noticed it had no tags. No name. No home. He’d read about the animals displaced from the fires. People were setting their animals free in hopes they would save themselves–horses, livestock, dogs, cats… with only moderate chance of being reunited with loved ones. The scope of the fires was simply too much. This dog was one of its victims.

“One less victim,” Ryan whispered, looking at the cabin again and noticing its foundation easily traceable in the ashes.

“Come on, Blue,” he told the dog, jingling his car keys. “Let’s go home.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

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

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

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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Writer Wednesdays – Karen Black

Today, Writing Wicket is showcasing Karen Black.

Karen lives in the eastern United States with her husband and three little aliens who are disguised as cats. She is fascinated by the supernatural and draws on that fascination along with her background in criminal justice to create stories of drama and suspense, with a touch of paranormal. Karen has published a collection of short stories, some of which were also published individually. She is one of the Seven Fates writers and released her first novel, Race into Murder, this spring.

karen black

I asked Karen:

Q: How often do you write?

A: An average of three or four days a week. Sometimes I go into overdrive and spend days hovering over my laptop, but then there are times I don’t even look at a story for a week or more.

Q: What genre(s) do you write?

A: Drama, suspense, mystery.

Q: What is your favourite genre?

A: Suspense.

Q: What motivates you, in writing or otherwise?

A: My primary motivation in writing is my long-time friend and editor, Robert Arend. He is probably the only one who can get me moving when I go into a writing slump. I tend to work on six or eight projects at a time and have found that going back to a story gives me new incentive, as opposed to sticking with one from start to finish. I tend to allow life to interfere with my writing and don’t put it at the top of my priorities.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?

A: I like the way the characters take on a life of their own. I’m never sure how they will develop.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

A: The stiff shoulders from staying in one position too long!

Q: If you could start your life over again, what would you do differently?

A: Strange as this will sound, I wouldn’t change much, if anything. Although there have been some bad times, and some things I’m not necessarily proud of, there have been wonderful times and things I’m delighted to have accomplished. That being said, I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am if my past was different, and right now, I’m happy with both.

Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?

A: No.

Q: What is your biggest accomplishment (in writing or non-writing)?

A: I have always loved to read. When retired, I wondered how hard it could be to write a novel. I found out.  After publishing a variety of short stories, I recently completed a crime novel, which was published this year. I think my biggest writing accomplishment is getting the next one underway, even though I realize how much time and effort the first one took.

Q: How does your life unfold in a normal day?

A: Two cats harass me until I agree to get up and feed them. My husband and I have coffee on the deck if the weather is accommodating, in the house if it isn’t. From that point, all bets are off. It becomes a decision about what needs to be done, as opposed to what we’d prefer to do, and we try to balance the two.

Q: Who are your favourite author(s)?

A: James Patterson, Dan Brown, Lee Childs, Dick Francis

Q: Do you have a favourite book? What is it?

A: I love books, particularly reference books, but I don’t have a favorite.

Q: If you could be any author, who would you pick and why?

A: Karen Black, because overall I’m happy with my life.

Q: Have you set goals? If so, what are they?

A: My current goals are to have a first draft of my next novel completed by the end of this year and to have at least two short stories finished and ready to publish, within the same time frame.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A: I have begun two novels and half a dozen short stories, all in various stages of completion. I jump between them.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

A: Right now, I simply hope to entertain readers.

Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

A: Don’t believe everything you hear or are told. Do the research and trust your instincts.

Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?

A: A Veterinarian.

Q: Is writing your full-time job? If not, what is?

A: I’m retired, so writing is as a full-time a job as I have, though I spend less than forty hours a week doing it and I take as many vacation days as I want to.

Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

A: I believe in research, research and more research. If an actual historical figure is used in writing, I think the truth about that figure should be incorporated in the publication.

Q: What book(s) have you self-published?

A: Long Stories Short and Race into Murder.

Check out Karen’s book, Race into Murder, on Amazon.

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama with elements of thriller, suspense, mystery, romance, and family dynamics. Buy it on Amazon. Also available locally from the author and at other local retailers.

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Wolves Don’t Knock – an excerpt

Wolves Don't Knock FINAL PRINT COVER

An excerpt:

Light flooded the closet. He hauled her into the room, where the glaring overhead bulb blinded her and weakness threatened to buckle her legs. When he let go of her arm, she collapsed, and he wound a chain around her right ankle.

“What are you doing? Why are you doing this?”

Except for thick, raspy breathing, he remained silent.

“Please let me go. Please. I won’t tell. Just let me go. I’ll disappear, and no one will ever know.” Tears shed in the closet had dried stiffly on her T-shirt and jacket. She was soggy between her legs. She cringed, realizing her bladder had let loose. Was she leaking blood, too? Had he seen?

He read her mind. “You’ll be able to get to the bathroom but nowhere else. And no tricks or I’ll stick you back in the closet and throw away the key.”

She glanced around the room. A closet and a tiny window. A bed.

“I need to go now. To the bathroom.”

He pointed to the doorway.

Shackled like a criminal, she managed to stand. She held out her arms, silently begging him to untie her.

“No funny business,” he mumbled, removing the rope.

She stumbled into the hall and slipped into the nearest room, which happened to be the bathroom. She shoved the warped door against its frame, unable to close it completely because of the chain, and completed her business.

Three rolls of toilet paper sat on the shelf over the toilet, and she stuck a roll under her T-shirt, in her armpit.

Infused with newfound strength, she returned to the bedroom. “What are you doing?” She could handle this. She could talk her way out of this stranger’s clutches, having wheedled her way out of awkward situations with her parents.

He ignored her.

“Please let me go. I promise not to tell.” She held her left arm stiffly at her side to keep the toilet paper in place.

He mutely stared.

“Please.” She clenched her hands, her unkempt nails digging into her palms. “Who are you?”

“Paul Wolf.”

“Wolf?” Was that a joke? “What do you mean?” She had never heard of anyone with that last name. Or was it Wolf with an “e”? His name must be spelled with an “e” to distinguish it from the animal, wouldn’t it? Then again, wasn’t he an animal?

“I’m Paul Wolfe. That’s all you need to know. And don’t even think of escaping.” A yellow-nailed finger jabbed into her face. “I’ll kill your parents if you even think about running. I’ll get even. Even…” His eyes glazed until he shook himself out of an apparent stupor and glared at her.

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WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available on Amazon, print or e-book. Also available from the author.

 

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