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The Spot Writers – “New Year’s Resolution” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story using the following five words: tables, swimming pool, pavement, trees, mailboxes.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. 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.

***

New Year’s Resolution by Cathy MacKenzie

The whoosh of the wind almost knocked Callie to the ground. She was aware the winter wind was in a rage but hadn’t expected it to be this bad. She managed to stand and struggled back to the motel room. Thankfully, the porch extended the length of the motel units, with the two ends enclosed, so she could easily open the door and get in out of the cold.

She looked out the window. The mailbox across the road had blown off its pole and lay on the pavement, waiting for disaster from an oncoming vehicle. She pictured hers and Dan’s house and hoped the flimsy plexiglass around the swimming pool remained intact. Nearby trees would wreak disaster, too, should one of them topple. Would Dan bother checking, or would he be luxuriating in the man cave, cut off from the world’s realities?

She should have stayed home rather than running off like a spoiled brat, especially on New Year’s Day. But would it be too much for her husband to pay attention to her once in a while? Seemed all Dan wanted to do was watch television. He was a movie freak but would watch movies over and over, not realizing he’d already seen them. Two minutes into a movie and Callie recognized a repeat.

Did he even know she wasn’t at home? Several times over the past six months, she’d left the house in the afternoon and gone to the mall. He’d still be sitting in front of the boob tube when she returned, none the wiser. She snickered. Boob tube? How apropos.

This time, though, she’d been gone three days. She had every intention of returning home. In fact, she’d already decided to return the following day. Four nights would be enough to jolt her husband back to reality. He’d have missed her so terribly that he would never again ignore her—but if he wanted her home, why hadn’t he telephoned or texted? She had checked her phone every hour. Nothing. Playing hard to get, no doubt. They’d played silly games in the past.

She yanked the dingy drapes across the window, plopped to the queen-sized bed, and flicked on the television.

The next day, she checked out, cringing at the bill for a second until realizing the money would be well spent if some sense had been knocked into her husband.

She sped home, anticipation coursing through her loins. She had missed him terribly. The feeling would be mutual; she was certain of it.

She pulled into the snow-covered driveway and parked behind his truck. She unlocked the side door, jumping at the shrill beeping. Though they’d cancelled the alarm system, the deafening noise would be enough to scare away even a fearless robber.

She dropped her purse on the counter and flung her coat at the kitchen stool.

She glanced around the kitchen, noting the clean table and empty sink. If he’d cooked, which he must have if he’d wanted to eat, he had cleaned his mess. Score one!

She ambled down the hall. Quiet. Too quiet. Where was he?

Despite the sun shining through the living room windows, the ceiling light glowed at the top of the stairs going to the basement.

She stopped. That noise. Was someone down there with him? 

She shuddered. What if he was angry? What if he never talked to her again? What if he wanted a divorce?

Had she gone too far?

The voices ceased and music blasted, the tell-tale sound of the television. She relaxed. Dan liked the volume loud. But at ten in the morning? She smiled. Definitely bored. A good sign.

Soundlessly, careful to hold onto the railing, she descended the carpeted staircase.

He was sitting on the couch when she reached the bottom. Thank God he was alone. If he’d had another woman, she didn’t know what she would do. Serve her right, though, for trying to teach him a lesson. She regretted her actions, but she’d make it up to him. A New Year’s resolution formed in her head.

“Hi, honey. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

As usual when he was pissed off, he ignored her and continued to stare at the screen.

She crept toward him. “I’m sorry. I just felt like I needed to teach you a lesson. I wanted you to miss me. I wanted to feel needed.”

She sat beside him and grasped his arm. “I was wrong, though. I shouldn’t have gone this far.”

She leaned over to kiss him. Her lips grazed his cheek.

“Honey? Dan?”

His blood pressure machine perched precariously on the armrest. After suffering a heart attack a few years previously, he religiously—and fanatically—checked his pressure.

She touched his face, and his head plopped toward his shoulder. The blood pressure machine fell to the floor.

***

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/

+++

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

+++

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 – “A Waif’s Treasure” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that involves a snow globe.

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Last week, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

***

A Waif’s Treasure by Phil Yeats

Mary gently shook the youth sleeping on the open ground near the communal fire. “Shh, Daniel,” she whispered, placing her index finger before her lips. “Get dressed and follow me.”

He slipped from under his rough blanket, rolled it, and secured it with a strap. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly before reaching for his ragged clothes.

She sighed. Those little expressions of affection kept them sane in the cruel world they inhabited.

They’d been together for several years, orphaned children dumped into the unforgiving wilderness where they’d survive by scavenging or die. After six months struggling to avoid starvation, they were rounded up by the Protectors, marauding thugs who enslaved them, branding them as human cattle before setting them to work. Daniel and Mary scavenged the dusty plain and adjacent badlands for anything the Protectors could sell during dry periods. In the infrequent rainy spells, they tended crops of quick growing grasses festooned with blue flowers.

Daniel followed Mary in the half-light that accompanied dawn. An hour later, she pushed aside some sage and squeezed through a narrow opening in the rock. As Dan’s eyes adjusted to the dim light, he realized they’d entered a narrow cavern.

Mary peered into the gloom before turning back toward the entrance. “I’ve returned as promised.”

A girl crawled from a crevice near the opening to the outside world. She stood, eyes darting furtively, ready to bolt at the slightest provocation. She was very young,barely pubescent, and wearing meagre fragments of cloth that made Mary’s tattered clothes appear majestic.

Mary took one step toward her and extended her hands palm up. “I brought my friend Dan. We’ll help you avoid our fate. Together, we can get you to the city and someone who’ll protect you. But you must trust us.”

She crouched and extracted something from her crevice. “It’s too frightening.”

“Please, show Dan your treasure.”

With shaking hands, she held out a clear glass sphere containing a miniature scene. It was attached to a shiny black base. She overturned it, and the sphere filled with white specks that sparkled in the cavern’s dim light.

She smiled as she offered it to Dan. After Dan took it, she reached out and fingered the scars left by the hot branding iron the Protectors applied to his forehead.Mary’s forehead was similarly disfigured, but the girl’s was untouched. Was she trading her treasure for a promise to protect her from branding?

Minimal exploration proved this cave, like others scavengers discovered, contained the possessions of refugees from the global chaos in the 2050s. Decades later,their long-abandoned possessions supported the meagre lives of another generation of outcasts.

Dan and Mary loaded their two-wheeled cart with items they could trade. At the cave entrance, Mary addressed the barefoot girl. “We’ll leave tonight when it’s dark. You know where to meet us?”

The girl nodded without comment. She’d crouched by the entrance fiddling with her treasure while Dan and Mary filled their cart.

“Don’t forget to bring it,” Mary said as she pulled the cart into the heat of the outside world. Dan followed shouldering a large iron bar he would trade with the camp cook for food they’d need on their journey.

The girl peered outside, nodded again. “Thank you.”

She appeared as Dan and Mary reached the rendezvous point. Mary passed her a ragged old shirt to cover her semi-nakedness, and they strode eastward on a two-day trek to the walled city.

At dawn on their third day, they gathered outside the city gates waiting for the morning watch.When the gates opened, they registered for outcasts’ passes and queued at the trading center. With their chit for credits earned, they headed for the professor’s house.

The professor, a frontier town legend, was a renowned collector of unusual stuff. He paid handsomely for relics from the lost era.

The professor barely glanced at the girl’s treasure before hustling Dan’s two companions to a bathroom. They’d soak in a warm bath, a luxury unheard of in their normal existence.

When the professor returned, he picked up the girl’s treasure. “Do you recognize it?”

Dan shook his head. “Never seen anything like it, but it mesmerizes our friend. It must have magical powers.”

The professor laughed as he extracted an old text from his bookshelf. He leafed through the pages stopping at an illustration. “Snow globe. A popular ornament in more civilized times. They’ve always fascinated young girls.”

***

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 (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/

+++

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 – “The Snow Globe” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that involves a snow globe.

Snow glob

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

The Snow Globe by Cathy MacKenzie

For the fourth time that day, Miranda stood in her bedroom. Her mother hadn’t disturbed the room except to clean and move some of her books into Kevin’s room.

She spied her Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland book and Ramona, the over-sized ratty rabbit she’d had since her third birthday, and cradled the soft toy in her arms, inhaling scents of long ago. Stuffing escaped from the seams where the stitching had loosened. One floppy ear hung lopsided where her mother, eons ago, had reattached it, but the ear would never be the same. No one could put Humpty Dumpty together again either, not to its original form.

The stuffed animal’s forlorn amber eyes stared the way Kevin stared at her, forcing her to look away. She heaved the stuffy to the bed and shrieked when she spied the snow globe on the shelf, a gift from her father on his last Christmas. The name tag had displayed both her parents’ names, but he had proudly exclaimed that he had picked it out, so she had always considered the gift from him alone.

She shook the globe. White flakes lifted from the bottom, revealing the bitty brick walkway leading from the log cabin to the edge of the glass. Mesmerized, she watched while the flakes settled and obscured the path.

Why did a cherished object bring forth such horrible reminders?

She sank to the bed, one hand clutching Ramona to her shoulder, letting the threadbare fleece absorb her tears. Too many scenes bombarded her: Paul, Kevin, her parents. What was real and what wasn’t?

How could one object that once held so many fond memories conjure such horridness? And how could one small object be so perfect in its portrayal: a non-descript cabin in the woods, an ordinary path leading to the cabin’s door. Pristine snow.

The more she stared, the more the past surfaced. Memories she wanted to forget were jammed in a plastic object, small enough she could hold it in her hand. Small enough she could toss it across the room, watch water cascade down the wall, and eye fake snowflakes falling to the carpet instead of to the bottom of the globe. She could even crush the trees and the cabin beneath her feet.

She wanted to scream. Wanted to shout to a God she didn’t believe existed.

She shook her head, bringing herself back to the present, and squinted at the innate object in her hand. The scene should be a tranquil one—and it would be to anyone but her—but it showcased where she’d spent six years of her life. She almost hurled the globe as she had Ramona Rabbit minutes previously, but she returned it to the shelf, sliding it behind a china doll.

No matter the horrid memories, she couldn’t trash one of the few treasures she had left of her father.

She must pull herself together. Had it been purely by accident she’d managed to escape the kidnapper’s clutches? Her foggy mind wouldn’t allow her back there, at least not to that last evening. Perhaps God did exist, after all.

She dried her tears, slipped off the bed, and knelt on the floor. “Thank you, Heavenly Father. Thank you.”

 

The foregoing is a passage (slightly revised and with an “ending” to make it more of a “complete” story) from a scene in the book, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. Miranda is kidnapped at sixteen, escapes after six years, and returns home. She and her mother must learn to readjust while constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering if and when the kidnapper will return. Twists and turns will keep the reader turning the pages.

Read this book to discover, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

***

 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/

+++

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 – Bill Thomas

Today, I interview Bill Thomas.

Bill lives in Washington, Missouri, and is on staff at First Christian Church there. He’s been in ministry for over twenty-five years. He is also an adjunct instructor in history, Bible, and education for St. Louis Christian College and Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, MO.  He’s authored two novellas, From the Ashes and The Sixty-first Minute published by White Feather Press of MI and three Bible studies, Surrounded by Grace,The Critical Questions and More and The Road to Victory published by CSS Publishing of OH. He co-wrote Give God and Me a Chance with Laney Jeans from Hear My Heart Publishing and wrote a YA book, The Adventurers: The Store Robbery published by DWB Children’s Line, to be released in the spring of 2019.

I asked Bill:

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The first book I wrote that was published was a Christian book. When I first started writing, I felt like it was an extension of my ministry and I’ve tried to view it that way ever since. Like with anyone who writes, I’d like to write a best seller. That’s not been the case, but I do think some of what I’ve written has helped people in their walk with the Lord.

Q: Do you Google yourself?

I am a bit embarrassed to say that I do. There is something cool, I think, about seeing your name in the search engine by the work that you’ve done.

Q: Which means more to you in your writing career: fame or fortune?

I’d like both 😊. Seriously, I don’t know that either is all that important, at least for me. I will try to keep writing to encourage others and improve as much as I can.

Q: How do you know a story/book is finished?

I usually see a story in my head and try to outline it. I try to write what I see. Sometimes, in the process of writing, the story changes. The events turn out differently than what I’d outlined at the beginning. I usually hope to end the story with the reader wanting to have more.

Q: Does your family support your writing?

I’m single, so there isn’t an immediate family, but my family (at large) and church family are encouraging.

Q: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I think it would have been helpful if I’d taken a few classes in creative writing and been a bit bolder in writing when I was younger. I lacked confidence in what I was doing.

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

I write in different genres over the years. I suppose I’ve tried many of them. I like the variety of writing it affords. I’ve done some Christian novellas, a YA book, three Bible studies, a couple of plays (Christmas), and helped with a non-fiction biography. I’ve also written for three political websites and written devotions for both online publications and magazines. I think I’ve tried to write in several different ones, but one that I haven’t done that would be interesting, I think, is Science Fiction. I suspect that will remain a “wish,” however. I don’t think I have a good feel for that and how it might connect with faith.

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

I would say between six months and a year, depending on the length and the type of book.

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

I work at the church and college, so rarely do I get to dedicate a day to writing. For me, writing comes in spurts. Sometimes it flows easily and other times it doesn’t. While working on a project, I try to write some everyday.

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

No, I don’t think so. I’ve reread emotional scenes I’ve written and felt that, but as far as tears, no.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes. For me, it isn’t so much a lack of story, but more a lack of how to get it down in the best way. That can be challenging and frustrating at times.

Q: What genre do you favour?

I don’t know if I have a favorite. I enjoy the various kinds of writing I get to do.

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

No. I am a minister and Bible college instructor.

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

I haven’t done any historical fiction, but I have read it quite a bit. In my mind, the writer must be true to the actual character of whom he/she is writing. Abraham Lincoln, in your story, has to act consistent with the real character of Abraham Lincoln.

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

I do read them. I don’t know that I’ve had a ton of them. Most of them have been good and a few have been not quite as good. I take that the same way I take feedback on sermons or lessons. I think you have to not dwell too long on either the good or the bad. Take it for what it is. Learn from it and move on.

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

In my fiction stories, I like for there to be a bit of a mystery, so there’s that. I don’t know if they are secrets, per se. I do like to have clues that lead up to a reveal later.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write?

I’d say the scenes in the kids’ book I’m working on that involve a character that has special needs has been the most challenging. I want to do it in a way that is realistic and doesn’t “gloss over” or “mock” the character.

Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I suppose one has to have some ego to put himself/herself out there in writing to be read by and discussed by others. I think that kind of ego is important. You have to have the confidence to do that. At the same time, there is always someone (or many someones) better than you, so don’t get too big.

Q: Have you set goals?

I have goals for when doing a writing project but not necessarily for what projects are next.

Thank you, Bill, for this interview!

+++

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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The Spot Writers – “Home” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that involves a snow globe. The snow globe can contain anything and doesn’t necessarily have to do with or take place around Christmas.

Today’s prompt comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Check it out at www.CorgiCapers.com.

***

“Home” by Val Muller

He’d finally done it. Finally cleared out the whole house. Four dumpsters worth. Seriously. Decades of accumulation from Mom and Dad. Toys they saved, some his and some Maggie’s. Years of school artwork, paintings, grade school worksheets.

Scrabble. Operation. Toy water guns. Flashlights with leaking batteries. Mildewed stuffed animals. The glue that had bound him to Maggie growing up. Things Mom and Dad refused to give up. The toys were too degraded to be worth much, and honestly, the memories were things he’d rather keep buried.

So he’d done a quick Google search and chosen the first company that popped up, a company that brought empty dumpsters and collected them once full. They’d come four times already, and he watched out the window as they left for the last time.

He’d tossed things in remorselessly.Anything that couldn’t be donated had been tossed. He wouldn’t have any metaphorical ghosts on his back, nothing to haunt his home with memories of his sister or parents. Those days were in the past, and they lived on in his memory only. He didn’t need a daily physical reminder of the pain of loss.

Funny, he’d always thought Maggie would be the one stuck with the task. He imagined her old and gray, with children of her own, or possibly even grandchildren, cleaning out the hoarder’s paradise that Mom and Dad built. He’d always thought he’d have gone first, not his sister. But there’d been the car wreck. Maggie never married, never had children, and now the task was his alone.

He returned inside, noticing the creaking groan of the front door. Funny, he hadn’t noticed it the hundreds of times he’d been in and out clearing years of possessions. It had seemed like someone else’s door then. A relic from a past that no longer belonged to him. He’d grown since he’d lived in the house, and he was a new person, all around.

Didn’t they say a body’s cells regenerated every eight years or so? It had been more than thrice that since he’d lived at home. He was a different person, twice removed. No need to dwell in memory.

But there was something about the creaking door.

The living room was empty now, only the faded carpet remaining. But he glanced at the fireplace and was transported back to a Christmas years ago. The darkened room illuminated with the warm glow of Christmas lights against a crackling fire. He and Maggie had been sitting under the tree, guessing at their gifts based on the shape of the packages.They knew, absolutely knew, that Dad had gotten them a train set, and they were secretly plotting where they would set it up. When Mom and Dad finally woke that morning, he and Maggie tried to act surprised when they opened the huge box of train tracks and locomotives. Their feigned surprise was so ridiculous that they simply ended up laughing instead. Simply laughing and smiling, and before they knew it, the room was full of contagious laughter and Christmas morning hugs. That was his quintessential memory, the pure essence of childhood.

He reached to brush something off his face and pulled his hand back when he found a tear. Here was what he held back years ago when his father died, and a year later when Maggie got in the car wreck.She’d never really gotten over Dad’s death, and she’d had a few close calls prior to the crash. He hadn’t cried at her funeral, either, nor when she was conferred a posthumous honorary degree from the university. Relatives commented on how stoic he was, how strong he was being for his mother. But the truth was,he’d simply buried it.

When he learned about Mom, it was more of the same. He’d cleared the house quickly and efficiently, allowing only superficial thoughts to enter his mind. Was it valuable enough to sell? New enough to donate? Old enough to trash? It was only triage and vacuuming and getting the house ready for market by December 26, as the realtor had requested.

But now, standing in the empty room and hearing the creaky door, he mourned. He longed for the possessions he’d thrown out. Not all of them, but some. Just one. If he only had one, he could make it.

He stared into the fireplace, and the memories of crackling fire faded to the darkness of the fading evening. But something glittered there in the fireplace. Hadn’t he cleared out everything?In her later years, Mom had used the fireplace to store Tupperware boxes full of sewing supplies. Maybe he’d missed something.

He reached toward the sparkle and retrieved something cold and heavy. A snow globe. He’d forgotten about it. It had been a staple of Christmastime growing up. They’d placed the globe on the end table near the couch so that it caught the lamplight. The snow was made of white specks and blue glitter, enclosing the globe’s residents in winter magic.

Dad had bought it on a business trip. He remembered because it was a Christmas when money was tight, and Mom questioned the purchase. But Dad couldn’t resist, he’d insisted. The globe not only contained a snowman, Maggie’s favorite, but a boy and a girl who looked almost identical to him and Maggie. The little girl in the globe was pointing at the snowman in awe, and her brother was holding her hand, looking at her. It captured their personalities almost perfectly.

He dropped the globe in his coat pocket and hurried out the front door, locking it behind him, ready for house hunters. His eyes watered in the cold winter evening, but he didn’t mind. The weight in his pocket felt like the tug of nostalgia, the tug of a home that would always be his.

***

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/

+++

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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The Spot Writers – “The Booklet” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places.

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 Booklet by Chiara De Giorgi

I am a small booklet: just a few pages bound together, home-made style, with a blue, battered cover.

I was written by an elderly woman, who gave me to her grand-daughter. She had written her verses and thoughts on my pages, she even put in a couple of beautiful drawings.

Her grand-daughter had just moved to a country far away and was feeling bewildered and a bit dazed by the different language and habits, by all those unfamiliar faces and places. She cherished her grand-mother present, reading and re-reading the short poems and being comforted by the woman’s words.

Every time she flipped through my pages, she smiled softly to herself; she even shed a tear of two, thinking of her grand-mother. From my pages she drew the strength to face her daily challenges with a brave heart.

One day I realized she didn’t need me anymore. I was lying on her bedside table, as usual, and I watched her cuddle her newborn baby, while her husband lovingly hugged them both.

That afternoon, while we were at the park, I discretely slid from the stroller’s blanket, landing on the grass and waiting for someone to find me.

A young boy saw me and tenderly picked me up, a big smile growing on his face. He put me in his coat’s pocket and off we ran.

He wiped my cover and straightened my pages, then put me on his sister’s bed, half hidden under a giant stuffed panda bear’s foot. He watched unseen, as the little girl found me and started flipping through my pages, stopping to admire the beautiful drawings.

The little girl had just moved to a new school and was distressed because she couldn’t make new friends, nor forget her old ones. From that day on, she always brought me with her. I reminded her of her big brother, and every time she felt lonely or afraid, she just opened me, finding a poem, or a few lines in a short story, that helped her feel comfortable again.

One day I was watching her from the bench in the schoolyard: it was summer and she was playing with her school-mates, running around and laughing happily. I understood my time with her had come to an end, and let myself fall under the bench.

The old janitor found me. He picked me up and brought me home. He put me on the table while he ate a quick supper, then we went to his sister’s, all the way across the city.

His sister had recently been widowed and was feeling very sad and lonely. She was unable to sit on her husband’s favorite armchair, or to sleep on his side of the double bed. Every single object reminded her of the man she had shared so many years with, and she could only sit next to the window in the small kitchen, looking out and remembering the time gone.

She didn’t care much for me, at first, but then she decided to open me and read a few words here and there, until she started doing so every morning. One poem, one memory, one aphorism a day, I kept her company and showed her there were still thoughts to be thought and words to be spoken.

One morning she entered the kitchen humming a happy tune. She kept humming and cleaned all the house. She moved the furniture and put her husband’s armchair next to the wood stove, then she chose an old record from a pile and played it, quietly dancing by herself around the room. Her eyes were clear, her face serene, a hint of a smile stretched her lips.

The window next to me was open, and a gust of wind gently lifted me. I was flying towards my destiny 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/

+++

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 – Marie McGaha

This week, Writing Wicket interviews Marie McGaha.

Marie is an ordained minister, addictions counselor,  author, and editor. In real life, she’s a wife, mother, and Nana who loves being in the mountains. She and her husband, Nathan, are members of The Patriot Guard Riders and supporters of Neptune Warriors.

NatenRieAnniversary (2)

I asked Marie:

Q: Do you try more to be original or deliver to readers what they want?

I’m not what you would call trendy. Most of what I write is Christian-oriented, and I write what I feel God puts on my heart to help others.

Q: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

(I seriously don’t know how to answer that.)

Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Most of what I have written over the past several years has been about my own life experiences related to the 30+ years I have in ministry. As far as writing fiction, my characters aren’t necessarily based on real people, but are a conglomeration of people I’ve known.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Seventeen.

Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Making authors pay to be published.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

Other people’s books! The life of an editor means I spend more time getting other people’s work ready to be published than I do my own. But I do have books coming out next year. First, the sequel to Shine His Light Lessons In Life, titled Shine His Light 2 Directions In Life, and Christy Diachenko is currently working on the voice over for Shine His Light Lessons In Life, which will be out on Audible next spring.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be?

A teacher. I actually went to college with the idea of being an English major, so I could teach high school English.

Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

For me it is. Much of what I write is based on my ministerial practice and experience, and biblically based.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

Trying to give them a personality that is likable, yet flawed and real without them seeming too arrogant. I have the greatest husband and I use a lot of him in my male characters, and I also use my sons’ attributes and flaws to round out the characters. None of the male characters are just one man in my life, but a mix of the good men I love.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

The rewrites. I want to do it perfectly the first time so I don’t have to go through a long editing process, but so far, I haven’t hit perfection!

Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?

When I finally hold that book in my hand and know I’ve actually completed something I started.

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

That would be another thing I dislike about writing—there’s never enough hours to write as much as I want. Life keeps interfering and I have to tend to things like cleaning house, cooking, letting dogs in and out and in and out… plus, I have to edit other people’s manuscripts, plus all of the promotions I do, as well as the time required for my ministry, and then there’s grandkids…. I need more hours in the day!

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

When I first decided to be a published author it was because I wanted to be remembered for something, but as I’ve gotten older, that’s been tempered with the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. There are so many hurting people out there, and if any of my life experiences can help, then I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something.

Q: What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I was sexually abused by two uncles from the age of 3 until I was about 11, and that of course, has had a lifelong affect on who I am and how I’ve lived. Coming to terms with that type of abuse isn’t easy, and learning to forgive an abuser is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. So, that period of life and the after effects play a huge role in what I write.

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?

Out of someone else’s book or my own? I’ve edited chapters out of other people’s books, but I’ve tossed entire manuscripts of my own. I’ve read them and thought, wow, that’s crap and started over from scratch. I always put my work away for at least a month before re-reading it. It gives me distance and the ability to read it without my mind seeing what should be there and really isn’t. That way I am more objective and can see my errors.

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

Other people. Through the years of counseling, working with probation and parole, and being a minister, I’ve met countless people in every walk of life and I’ve found that there is much more that binds us together than what separates us. One of the things I’ve remained involved with is prison ministry, although it’s gotten much easier with the internet. The federal prison system has an email service for inmates, and I correspond with prisoners all over the country. I send them daily devotionals, and we have a weekly group called Free To Live that covers subjects like addiction and anger management.

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

Yes. My favorite story by me is Cross The Line. It’s set just after the Civil War and involves a former Southern belle with a former slave. I love the story, the dynamics between the characters, and their relationship. I was so sad when their story ended.

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

Not really. Fiction is like our dreams, anything can happen and it makes perfect sense.

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

I would have to say a bear… I own Dancing With Bear Publishing that is named in honor of my late husband, J. Bear Marler. So, if there is such a thing, my spirit animal is the bear.

Q: What books have you published?

Fiction:

Cross The Line

One Good Man

Closure

Non-fiction:

Comfort & Joy book one: forgiveness

When God Talks, It’s Time To Listen

The Root, The Shoot, The Fruit

Shine His Light Lessons In Life

Fictionalized Non-fiction:

Freedom Worth Dying For

 

For more information on Marie:

www.mariemcgaha.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMarieMcGaha/

https://twitter.com/Marie_McGaha

https://thelightofjesus.blogspot.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/mariemcgaha/

www.dwbpublishing.com

https://www.instagram.com/dwb_publishing/

https://www.facebook.com/DWBPublishing/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DWBFanPage/

https://beforeitsnews.com/contributor/pages/254/684/bio.html

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dancing-with-bear-christian-publishing-2a076b37/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariemcgaha/

Media Kit

+++

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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November 11

I write a poem in memory of my son Matthew every month on the 11th. I don’t always post them to my blog but I am today, being Remembrance Day.

Matt13

Twenty months ago today

I laid my son—not his memory—

to rest.

 

With my every breath

I remember him,

whether my eyes are open or closed.

 

I see dragonflies, ladybugs,

faces in the clouds,

I find a coin beneath papers,

I feel gentle breezes, smell

the outdoors, listen to

whispers in the wind.

 

All for naught!

 

He’s above my computer,

watching while I work.

Some days I want to toss the canvas

through the window,

other days I grasp him to my chest.

 

These many months later

I still hear his last cries:

“I have a heart, Mom,

I have a heart.”

 

I’ll never forget.

 

I don’t want to forget.

 

I try to write my story—his story,

our story,

I need it told

but I face ruthless white

and can’t control tears.

How can I write of my dead son?

How can I put his death on paper?

 

Stately granite guarding remains

rises from the ground,

I caress the stone

and feel its warmth,

running my fingers over the etching

as if reading Braille,

Later when the sun exchanges

places with the moon—

after darkness covers day—

light will peek from Heaven

to highlight specks of blue and grey.

 

I’m a private person

living on repeat,

sharing sorrow with those who listen

and with those who don’t.

Another’s grief is uncomfortable,

and my pain’s not lessened with time served.

 

I didn’t ask for this position—

the grieving mother role—

I had prayed for miracles,

would have assumed the sun’s persona

and given him the moon

had I been able.

 

Death happened too suddenly—

too unexpectedly—

and before our next breath

he was gone,

without time for more prayer

or waiting for a miracle.

 

I’m not looking for sympathy,

I share to honour him.

I don’t need you to mop my tears

or quash my cries.

I fight my own battles

and survive my own wars.

 

I must keep his memory alive

until the day I die,

I need to remember.

 

So on this Remembrance Day

as I did last year and as I’ll do the next

and the next and the next and the next

until I die…

I honour the veterans

and though my son never served,

I honour him too.

poppy

Lest we forget.

+++

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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