Tag Archives: novel

My Debut Novel! Wolves Don’t Knock

I’m elated to receive another excellent review. This one is posted on Amazon (along with two others) and was written by a verified purchaser.

I don’t think anyone could receive a better review than this.

I’m sharing it here:

“C. A. Mackenzie’s extraordinary ability to harness psychological drama compelled me to swiftly turn the pages of “Wolves Don’t Knock.” MacKenzie’s grip is so strong that Miranda’s torment became my own. I was unable to rest until the end; exhausted when I did. Without any reservations, I can declare Wolves Don’t Knock a five-star novel. It is, and literary agents should be fighting each other to represent Catherine A. MacKenzie’s future works.

“It would be tragic if Wolves Don’t Knock is undiscovered in Amazon’s Slush Pile Mountain. This novel belongs on Amazon’s Bestseller List….”

Tragic for MY book to be undiscovered? Wow!

This guy does not mince words. He says it like it is, with full honesty. Yes, I know him from online groups, but I know he means what he says. He’s read short stories of mine and rated them according to stars: one to five. He has said a couple of my stories didn’t even rate a one and that they should be trashed. Literally put out at the curb!

The other two reviews on Amazon:

Wolves Don’t Knock is a spell-binding novel that delves into the mysteries of a traumatized young woman’s psyche while she fights to regain a sense of worth. As the story progresses, the variety of well-developed characters will keep the reader turning the pages. Thumbs up and five stars to this talented author.”

“I loved this book so much that I passed it on to a friend. It is a riveting story with the cast of characters and many unexpected plot twists. You never know what’s going on in a small town neighbourhood. A sequel looks like a natural progression. Way to Go!!!”

The first individual was a beta reader. The second individual is a verified purchaser (she purchased the print book), but for some reason she posted a Kindle review so she doesn’t show up as one.

Several other individuals have promised reviews on Amazon (though I did receive some via email and Facebook), but I’m still waiting. Oh, well… Non-writers don’t realize how valuable reviews (good or bad) are to authors. And of course, I want HONEST reviews. No fluff and stuff if the book is horrible.

This is my debut novel. I have Paul’s story in my head (you’ll have to read Wolves Don’t Knock to know who Paul is) and hope to start writing that very soon. Paul’s story will be titled Mr. Wolfe. This second book will be a stand-alone book (as is Wolves Don’t Knock). The reader will not have to read both books in order to enjoy each or get a full understanding of the stories, but there will be some surprises in Mr. Wolfe that the reader will be able to trace back to Wolves. The reader will not spot any dangling threads in Wolves Don’t Knock other than one unanswered question, but whether that question will be answered in Paul’s story is up in the air (and will remain that way). But if Mr. Wolfe unfolds as I want it to and the reader has read Wolves, he/she will be surprised by some revelations.

Have I intrigued you enough to purchase Wolves Don’t Knock? I consider it a blend of suspense, mystery, thriller, and family relationships. A couple of readers have categorized it as a “psychological drama.” If the book were totally about Miranda, I would agree, but the book is told through the points of view of Miranda and her mother, Sharon. I suppose Sharon is traumatized a tad, too, but mostly she just has secrets and guilt.

The book would be suitable for mature teens and up. It’s about a kidnapping so, of course, there is rape, but the images are only implied; there are no graphic scenes or foul language.

The book is set in Nova Scotia, Canada, with references to Halifax, Lower Sackville, Lunenburg, and Peggys Cove.

Anyhow, if you’re local, I have books at my home available for purchase. $15 Canadian.

Otherwise, check it out on Amazon.

Available in print and Kindle, but the print book is much nicer (some fancy formatting). If you purchase, please drop me a quick note to let me know how you liked it. I would appreciate it!

Cathy

 

 

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Wolves Don’t Knock!

I’ve been working diligently on my book WOLVES DON’T KNOCK for several years, off and on, in several evolving versions (short story, novella, novel) and finally had the nerve to send it off to beta readers. (A select few have previously read the manuscript in various stages, but not as it is now, in its—hopefully—last and final revision.)

One beta reader, a stranger, got back to me yesterday: “Absolutely thrilling.  I couldn’t put it down…I love the parallel mother/daughter relationship and once the grandmother gets involved, it truly turns into a generational problem….Jeremy is a good character.  He sneaks in gradually—I like that….Grammar looks good.  Dialog is good.  Character development is good… You have wonderful symbolism and use it well throughout.  And all the “wolf” connections and descriptions are soooo perfect this should be in a lit course to teach symbolism!” Criticism: She wanted more information about the abductor, and the itty-bitty “prologue” (which isn’t labelled as a prologue) threw her off at the start, but by the time she finished reading the manuscript, she got it.

This is a far cry from my other beta reader (we exchanged beta reads), an online writer acquaintance, who relayed a couple of weeks previously: “I didn’t know what to make of all the visions both women had of wolves. I thought maybe shape-shifter things….I have never read a book with (possibly) wolf man themes and didn’t know what to expect….I have to wonder why the wolf-man theme is even there. What are we supposed to think at the end? That…the babies…half wolves and are now out there somewhere searching for new victims…”

What!?!? I was mystified and stunned as to the latter critique. I politely told her so, too, and she understood my feelings (we’re still friends; no hard feelings). Yes, I “get” that readers have differences and not every reader will enjoy every story, but I hate werewolf and vampire stories and most certainly would never write about them, so when she gleaned that theme from my book I was more than stunned. (Though she didn’t get the gist of my book, she was still helpful and picked up numerous errors.)

I have three other beta readers in the works. I’m hoping they get back to me soon, so I will have a clearer picture of my book. Right now, I’m batting 50/50, right? And then, after perhaps a few adjustments, off it goes to an editor—unless I accept an offered publishing contract. Hmm…

If I self-publish and all goes well, publication date is May 2, 2018.

Stay tuned….

 

Wolves Cover

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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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The Spot Writers – “The Novel,” by Tom Robson

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This weeks fiction comes to you from Tom Robson, author of Written While I Still Remember, a Patchwork Memoir, and contributor to the Evergreen Writers collection of ghost stories, Out of the Mist.

The prompt for this month is: Opening sentence – “It’s still not clear what started it all.” Closing – “What can be done to change that?

***

The Novel.

It’s still not clear what started it all. It depends how far back you want to go. He always liked writing stories until teacher-critics condemned them, less for the content than for his eccentric spelling, convoluted sentences and abominable penmanship. Therefore, in the rest of his school and college days, written assignments were a striving for accuracy. Creativity was insignificant.

In the navy he became creative in his letters from abroad. The lies about his exploits ashore re-cultivated a dormant love of story telling. Back at college it was more lies in criticism, acceptable interpretation or regurgitation of the writings or spoken words of others.The goal was to mould him into the type of teacher who had bored him senseless during his school years. John conformed.

In a ten year absence from teaching John practiced writing good English in reports assessing the treatment needs of disturbed teens or for the courts who had put them away. The improvement in his writing happened because what was drafted, plus the work of others he had edited, went to the elderly British ladies typing pool. Typewriters have no delete button, so penned drafts were re-edited by these demanding ladies before the foolscap sheets, interspersed with carbon paper, were loaded and typed upon. His submissions, were often returned as “imperfect’. He learned to keep these ladies happy by striving for correctness. Then he learned how to dictate.

Perhaps it really started when he went back into teaching when “learning by doing”, “whole language teaching’ and “teaching through themes” were in vogue. He could encourage children to write creatively, to get their stories “down and dirty” and learn how to revise, amend, correct, self edit and to trust others to also edit their creations. It was also suggested that the teacher write with them. When he prompted writing, John also wrote on that prompt.

When this was happening he was in his forties. He was also introduced to an early computer that was donated to his school. The one computer in that school.

He wrote a ‘First Time’ story on it, revised it quickly. printed it off, corrected the many errors, reprinted it and showed his first publication to his colleagues. Perhaps this was the real beginning.

In an attempt to liven up the boring spelling program that tested the twenty words given out on a Monday to be mastered by Friday, he started writing a short story with twenty blank spaces where the week’s words had to fit. The Monday story would be read, the blanks filled in, and Fridays test would require correct “fill in the blanks”. One story became a serial and one page every Monday became a chapter for a demanding audience.The book was submitted in competition and won.

If this happens to you as a writer then you are for ever hooked on feeding an audience. Even if the audience is minuscule, if you publish it will grow. He was plagued by the perks of publication, the principal one being ‘rejection’. John knew it well, as do many writers.
He persisted in writing for his captive, student audience, winning yet another award for that first ever, ‘First Time’ story, years after it was created. After John retired he continued to write, sporadically, for his own satisfaction. Any committed writer knows why that happens.

In retirement he and his wife travelled and he kept a journal, wrote anecdotes, stories and occasional poems inspired by foreign locales. Transcribed and printed after the event, they gather dust which he removes when he takes them out to relive memories of past expeditions.

Perhaps it really began when, at the age of 75, he joined a writing group. He realized that he was not alone. There were others who believed they could write, who enjoyed writing, wanted to share and longed to be published. They wrote on various topics, some according to their interests and experiences, others prompted by suggestions for stories.Eventually the group wrote, had edited and published a collection of ghost stories. Eleven of them enjoyed the satisfaction of holding, smelling, rifling through and finding their contributions in this masterpiece. They then had the problem of marketing and selling it. John was no salesman!

The next event was an awareness that, safe in his computer were sufficient stories to comprise a collection that could become a patchwork memoir. Retrieving, revising, editing and formatting led to a book. A gentle editor helped. She also published it. The rest was all John’s. But the left-over copies still take up space in his closet. Nevertheless, his wife was almost as proud of his publication as he was.

Now this is really when it began. Yes! Writing the novel started it.

Every writer has one inside them, somewhere. He was no exception Unlike many, he found a subject, right there, in a short story he had written. Unlike many still telling themselves to write that novel, he started his in December of his eightieth year.

At his age, there was the prospect of senility or death colliding with his lifelong habit of procrastination. Obsessively, given father time’s constraints, he outlined each chapter, every character and planned a sequence of events. In that same month he began to write the first draft. Six weeks later and 45 000 words in, his previously supportive wife chastises him as “ obsessed”.

He countered with the argument that 5 or 6 hours a day at the computer, creating, is the same as the time her artist father spent with his palette, his sketchbook or his camera. Her criticism of his efforts began with the retort, “but he never neglected me like you are.”

It got worse, much worse. Every time he settled to add to his creation there was acrimony. He could not concentrate. The novel did not progress. His novel, unread by her, was condemned, as was its creator who had come too far to leave the concluding pieces inside his aging mind.

It had to be finished. All his previous, written efforts had led him to this. It could not be denied by the rambling ridicule of a woman who should represent the target audience for his romance for the ages. The novel took precedence over everything, but she would not give him the peace and quiet he needed to finish it.

This set the frustrated John to wondering, now, what can be done to change that?

***

The Spot Writers – our members:

RC Bonitz: rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://wwwvalmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A MacKenzie:  https://writing wicket.wordpress.co./wicker-chitter

Tom Robson: Who is still not blogging because procrastination is afflicting him again.

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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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The Spot Writers – Chapter 26

Chapter 26 of the continuing saga of Remy comes to us from Deborah Dera. Deborah traditionally ghostwrites articles and stories but is in the process of finishing up her first eBook to be released on the Kindle platform later this year. Keep your eyes peeled!

Next week’s chapter will come from RC Bonitz, author of A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL, A BLANKET FOR HER HEART, and the recently released of A LITTLE BIT OF BABY.

The Spot Writers’ blogs appear at the end of this story. Don’t forget to check them out.

***

Chapter 26

Sam Kendrick regarded Remy carefully, surprised by what seemed like a sudden change of attitude towards him. Remy thought she saw the sides of his mouth turn up a bit, but if he was happy to hear her ask him to get a drink, he was doing his best to hide his change in mood.

“Are you in trouble? Are you getting strange phone calls again?” Dr. Kendrick couldn’t keep the concern from his voice.

“No, no. It’s not that. Not recently, anyway. I – I’d just really like to talk.” Remy finished confidently and waited for Dr. Sam to reply.

“Of course. Sure. That sounds great.” Sam assessed Remy as though he wasn’t sure what he was hearing was real. “I have a short phone meeting I have to hop on after the last patient leaves. Why don’t we meet by that bar near your place around six. Would that be alright?”

Remy nodded and was relieved when Sam broke out into a grin before turning out of the break room. Remy let out a sigh of nervous relief.

Turning back to her phone, still open on the table in front of her, Remy felt her stomach flip a bit. As overwhelmed as she had been feeling like two men were fighting over her, she felt a bit better knowing that the cloud of confusion she was feeling was lifting slightly. Maybe she could give Sam a chance. Even if things didn’t work out, she didn’t feel as though they’d be starting off with a fake relationship based on some ulterior motive.

She reread the last two texts:

I need you to come here and pretend to be my fiancé. Barbara needs to see a ring.

            I need to know if you’re coming, the final unread text said, and what size ring.

Deleting the entire inbox, she decided to continue ignoring the texts. She hoped Sam would hear her out as she explained the story from the beginning. Surely he’d understand why she’d been so confused about the situation. Maybe he’d even have an idea.

Remy glanced up at the clock and hurried to gather up her belongings. She was glad Irene had spoken to her so openly and she wanted to stay on good terms with the woman who she’d obviously had another misunderstanding with.

As she rounded the corner into the main office, Irene looked up at Remy and gave her a knowing smile. “I hear you came to your senses, eh?”

Remy blanched a bit, embarrassed. “Word sure travels fast, doesn’t it?”

“Are you kidding? You should have seen that guy fly out of here to get his lunch. He’s walking on air, and you only asked him for a drink. I told you, Remy – he really does care about you. It’s so obvious. It’s obvious you like him, too?”

“What?! Come on, Irene…”

Irene chuckled. “You don’t look nearly as distraught as you looked earlier, either.”

The doorbell chimed as the first patient for the afternoon walked in. Remy smiled, counting the hours until they’d be done for the day.

***

The Spot Writers- our members:

RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

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

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

Deborah Dera
http://www.deborahdera.com

Jessica Degarmo
http://www.jessicadegarmo.com/

 

 

 

 

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