The Spot Writers – “Rogue Copies” by Phil Yeats

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 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/

***

Rogue Copies by Phil Yeats

 

Yesterday, I saw a copy of Tilting at Windmills sitting abandoned on a park bench. I sauntered by perusing the cover. It was definitely my cover, my title and my pen name.

I’d recently distributed electronic copies of the manuscript, including jpegs of my proposed covers, to eight writing colleagues for final comments before I formatted it for self-publication. I’d also sent the first fifty pages, no covers, to several publishers. But I hadn’t published it.

After sneaking down another path, I approached the bench from a different direction. I stood behind one of the Public Garden’s giant rhododendrons and noted everyone within sight as I tried to understand this strange event.

Had someone stolen my manuscript, printed copies of the book, and placed them for sale in local bookstores? Or had someone left a mock-up of the covers with blank pages where I’d find it? A none too gentle reminder from a colleague telling me I’d taken too long getting this manuscript finished.

I watched for half an hour, but no one approached the book, and no one I recognized loitered nearby. I picked the damn thing up and leafed through it.

Two things were obvious. First, it wasn’t laser printed covers around blank pages. It was a properly formatted and printed versions of my book, one I’d have proudly displayed if I’d produced it myself. Second, someone had sliced out the page that identified the printer.

 

This morning, I looked for a listing on Amazon—nothing. I stopped by two bookstores to see if copies were on their shelves—again, nothing. Finally, I visited the library to search for it in their catalogue.

I saw the second copy on a display table of books by local authors. I picked it up and rushed to the information desk.

The librarian on duty shook his head. “Not ours. Someone must have slipped it into our display.”

I now had two copies of my unpublished book and no idea where they came from. I wandered into the library’s busy café, ordered a coffee, and tried to unravel my little mystery.

A woman appeared, plunked a third copy of Tilting at Windmills on my table and disappeared into the crowd near the café entrance. I grabbed my backpack and chased after her, but realized the futility as I pushed through the crowd inside the café into a larger one outside. I’d only managed a brief glance at the woman, enough to conclude she wasn’t anyone I knew, but little else. She’d been wearing a colourful cape, but she could easily have slipped it off and blended into the crowd.

I returned to my half-drunk coffee slightly wiser. I was now certain someone targeted me with these copies of my book, but I didn’t know why or what to do about it.

An idea popped into my head. I could format the authentic version of Tilting at Windmills and rush it into print. In the meantime, I could write blog posts describing the strange occurrences of rogue copies of my as yet unpublished book. If they caught on, they could form the basis of an interesting publicity campaign.

 

A week later, I passed George Foster, one of my eight beta readers, on Spring Garden Road. “I see your manuscript is finally published,” he said without stopping.

I stared at his retreating back. Was he referring to the e-book version I’d posted on Amazon three days earlier, or more rogue copies floating around Halifax?

***

 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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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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The Spot Writers – “Back to Work” by Val Muller

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places. Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of the spooky novel The Man with the Crystal Ankh.

Back to Work By Val Muller

From the moment her daughter just “had to have it” at the checkout line, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel drove Marie crazy. It should be illegal for stores to have children’s items in the checkout section. Or any items, for that matter. The check-out line was always the worst part of grocery shopping with a toddler and a newborn.

But what is a mother to do? When there’s a fussy toddler and a cart full of items to be placed on the conveyor belt, the easiest thing is just to give in. And the toddler always knew just how to time things just right—messing with the cart items just to the point of causing an actual mess. It was like she knew her mommy would be frazzled enough to buy the small book. In the game of chicken, the toddler always won.

And it was what, $3.95? But it was a four-dollar mistake. Since its purchase, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel kept popping up everywhere, even when Marie tried to hide it.

It wasn’t even a great story. It made its point with alliteration. Each page played with a letter. “Harrison Habbinger loved lemons, licking his lips for lavender lemonade…” The author had labored so much on making the alliteration happen that there was nothing interesting about the story. The toddler didn’t learn any new facts about squirrels, there were no insights, no characterization, no funny jokes put in there for parents. Some children’s books did all these things. They were—well, maybe not quite enjoyable to read, but at least they made an effort at it, eliciting a chuckle at some idiosyncrasy of the grown-up world.

But not Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. Yet for some reason the toddler was obsessed with it. The book followed them everywhere. Even when she thought she put it back on the bookshelf, it would materialize in the pantry, under the TV next to the DVD player, in the passenger seat of the car…

One day, Marie received an email from her husband at work. He’d discovered the book stashed in his briefcase. He’d showed it to his co-workers, and the office had a good laugh at the stupidity of the book.

Every night, the toddler asked for it to be read once, twice, sometimes more. It was excruciating, and the worst part was that the alliteration made it impossible to tune out. It was laborious for a tired mom to read at the end of the day. As the newborn grew, his love of the language patterns only helped encourage the toddler’s obsession.

And it didn’t just stop at the book. The obsession with the squirrel transcended the pages.

The toddler often asked for stories in the car, always about the squirrel. Waiting in line. In the bathtub. At bedtime. Eating lunch. In the car. Everywhere, the toddler demanded a story about Habbinger.

It was getting harder to make up original stories about the squirrel that had very little personality. When trying to put the baby to bed, Marie cringed at the excited cheers downstairs shouting the fact that as soon as the baby fell asleep, Mommy would be free to read Harrison again.

And again.

And again.

When Mommy was stuck for hours at a time and a chair feeding the baby, she was held captive by a toddler and her book.

Marie tried to remind herself that she was only away from work for 12 weeks. The time would fly by quickly, the baby would get bigger, and the toddler would return to daycare as well. The time would fly by fast, even if the hours might seem long. But still: every time she saw that book, she shuttered.

Her seven-hundredth attempt to hide the book failed on the cusp of her return to work. She spent her last waking moments of maternity leave reading the squirrel book several times to the squealing delight of her daughter who seemed nowhere near ready to fall asleep for the night.

The first two days back to work were a sort of reorientation into the work world, with coworkers taking her out to lunch and her regaling people with stories of the birth and the first few weeks and the toddler’s reactions and all the cute baby pictures that leave out the less desirable moments of parenthood—the diaper blowouts and temper tantrums and the obsession with badly-written kids’ books.

But after those first two days of work, things got back into routine. Everyone focused back on their jobs, and Marie realized she had a lot of catching up to do. It was on that Dreadful Wednesday, hump day, dreary rainy blurry Wednesday, when she actually felt a bit tearful dropping the kids off at their daycare. She stared at her desk. Had she done it? Has she been one of those moms to squander her time off? Everyone told her to appreciate every little smile, every little diaper accident, every little change of clothes, every all-nighter, every annoying story, because those hands wouldn’t be little for much longer. They said it was way too easy to squander if you weren’t careful.

Had she squandered all that time?

She dug into her bag to try to find her lunch. She’d packed some Halloween candy, and chocolate always cheered her up. As she dug through her bag, something tattered and worn and colorful peeked out at her.

It was Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. In all its glory. There in her work bag.

How had it got in there? She smiled and knew the answer. That little toddler of hers, as mischievous as she always seemed, always knew how to time things just right.

***

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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The Spot Writers – “The Notepad” by Cathy MacKenzie

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 Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available from her locally or on Amazon, to great reviews.

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

***

The Notepad by Cathy MacKenzie

“Bob, did you see my book?”

“What book?”

“The one I was reading. I had it a few minutes ago.”

“Which one was that?”

Candace and Bernie,” I shouted back, exasperated. “Did you see my book or didn’t you?”

“Nope.”

“I had it a few minutes ago.”

“Don’t know. Haven’t seen it.”

Was I losing it? Books I had been reading had mysteriously disappeared over the last little while. Is this what the Golden Years bring us seniors? Sure, I was forgetful but no more than the average person; at least, I didn’t think so.

I’ve lost other things in the past, like my reading glasses, only to find them perched on top of my head or dangling from the beaded chain around my neck. One time I found them on the bathroom counter, where I’d forgotten them after plucking that unsightly and hard-to-grasp silvery, spidery hair from my chin.

And then there were the car keys. Easy to misplace those. Voila, they turned up on the foyer table even though that wasn’t a place I’d ever leave them. I’m always extra careful to put my keys back into my purse because I’ve returned into the house too many times after forgetting them on the kitchen counter. Once, after looking for hours, I found them in my coat pocket.

But this missing book was another matter, one far removed from the usual, everyday age-forgetfulness. Math has never been my strong point, but this particular book has been lost at least six times—all during the past week. Was dementia setting in faster than expected? And was it dementia—or something worse?

I was into the third chapter earlier in the week when it first went missing, but I later found it in the guest bedroom. The next time, I discovered it in the closet in the side porch. I’d never leave a book in those places, let alone read there, so I was mystified. The third time, it turned up in the refrigerator. I wasn’t aware the book was missing then and had breathed a silent prayer that Bob hadn’t found it first. What would he have thought?

The other places were just as silly. Stupid, silly places.

And now, missing again, and I was positive, as I’d always been, that I had left it by my chaise lounger in the living room.

I sauntered to the bedroom and plopped to the bed. Tears cascaded down my face. Too many instances of misplaced objects lately, and I was sick of Bob nattering at me about being so forgetful. He had put his mother in a home when she developed Alzheimer’s. “I can’t handle her anymore,” he had said. He was an only child; there was no one else. I offered to take care of her since I was home all day, but Bob wouldn’t hear of it. “She has plenty of money. She can afford to go to a home.”

Stashing a human away, never again to see the light of day, was cruel. And everyone’s heard horror stories about those places. Bob’s promised daily visits turned into weekly visits that soon morphed into monthly. The month before she passed on, visits had become almost non-existent. Bob seemed grateful at the end as if he’d been absolved of guilt. And duty.

Would Bob do that to me? I’ve always dreaded going into a senior’s home. We’d made a pact when we married thirty years ago that we’d never do that to the other. Instead, we’d care for each other in sickness and in health—‘til death do us part.

But if I were losing my mind? What then? I’d eventually be unaware of my surroundings, and Bob could easily deposit me in one of those institutions. Without a functioning mind, how would I know?

I dried my tears and picked up the phone. I must see my doctor. Luck was on my side. She had an opening on Monday. I didn’t tell Bob. No sense worrying him. He wouldn’t know anyhow; he’d be at work.

Four months until he retired. We’d enjoy the good life then, travelling, dining out, enjoying each other’s company. Bob was excited and eager for that day.

“Did you find your book?” he asked when I returned to the kitchen.

“Yes.” For the first time in my marriage, I lied to my husband.

Minutes later, I found it in the laundry room on top of the dryer.

Hours later, while trying to concentrate on Candace and Bernie—a not-so-happy life for either of those fictional characters—I devised a plan. I’d keep a small notebook in my pocket and when I finished reading, I’d jot down where I left my book. That way, I’d easily find it. Bob would be none the wiser.

The plan seemed ideal to me (as long as I remembered I had a notepad), yet I shivered despite the hot summer day. Is this what my life had reverted to? Losing one’s mind wasn’t pleasant.

Bob seemed distant in bed that night. When I questioned him, he claimed work issues. I returned to my side of the king-sized bed.

On Monday, my doctor assured me I was fine. “Advancing years,” she said. “I’ve experienced the same issues.” She was ready for retirement, too, but I bet she hadn’t experienced missing books that turned up in odd places.

When I returned home, I decided to start the week fresh. A new week. A new notepad.

The notepad didn’t help. Most of my days were wasted while I continually searched for my book. I felt like a child hunting for Easter eggs. I didn’t get much reading done. But I knew one thing for certain: I wasn’t going crazy; I hadn’t lost my mind. But what was going on?

And then, mid-week at noon (Bob always came home for lunch), I caught him scurrying off with my book.

Aha! The mystery was solved. But why?

The next evening, I followed Bob when he was purportedly going to the Silver Seniors’ Centre down the road. Supposedly, guys played crib there once a week.

But he didn’t go to the Seniors’ Centre.

And then it all made sense. He wanted to get rid of me, probably wanted to commit me to an insane asylum (did such institutions still exist?) or, at the very least, toss me into a home as he had his mother. If it weren’t for my trusty notepad, I’m positive I would have turned into a crazy.

Yep, you guessed it! (Didn’t you?) Bob, my dear sweet (ahem!) husband, was experiencing itchiness.

Bob had found a young thing to cavort with.

I immediately transferred half of our investments into my name, cleaned out our joint bank account, and left him to his sweet honey. He never contacted me. He knew I had the goods on him, so to speak.

I don’t know what he’s doing now, but I’m enjoying my books in my solitude. And they don’t go missing any longer!

Mwahahaha!

***

 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 – Barbara Carter

This week, Writing Wicket interviews Barbara Carter (Langille), artist and author. She was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and grew up and lived outside the town of Mahone Bay until moving to the Halifax area in 2002.

Barbara Carter

I asked Barbara:

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

I try to be original and also deliver a story to readers. I don’t want to follow a set formula or do as others have done or fit into what is popular at the moment. I’ve always been original when it comes to my visual artwork and I want to try to do the same as a writer.

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

Like in the opening lines of the old TV Star Trek show, I’m talking ‘60s: to boldly go where no man has gone before.

My goal is to keep the reader interested and engaged in the story while taking them to places they may never have personally gone.

Sometimes it could get a bit uncomfortable for some.

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

Well, since I write nonfiction I feel that what I owe the real people in my life is a name change.

I try to reveal as little as possible about them, only including them where it’s necessary in the telling of my story.

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

The only unpublished and half-finished writings are those I’m currently working on.

My first book took sixteen years before it came together. Sometimes I thought it never would. 

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

The most unethical practices in the publishing industry is in the so-called vanity area, with new authors not researching and learning enough about how the publishing industry works. Authors handing over lots of money to a publisher who has no incentive in what happens after the book is printed and paid for by the author.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve several writing projects on the go. Some days it depends on my mood and where inspiration strikes. Most of the fourth memoir is written, and I’m working on the first draft of another memoir. I’m also planning to write personal essays. Also want to try my hand at writing a play and a screenplay.

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

As a child I wanted to be a teacher, thinking at the time my only options were nurse, secretary, and teacher.

In my teens I wanted to be an artist or a writer. For some reason I felt I couldn’t be both.

I guess I’ve always been connected to what I wanted to be. I’ve fulfilled them all. For many years I instructed art classes and more recently writing workshops.

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

If spirituality is what connects you to a sense of a deeper connection to yourself and others, then yes, I view it as a spiritual practice.

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

Since I write non-fiction, from what I’ve experienced, my male characters are based on the actions of the men I’ve encountered.

I like thinking of them not as some kind of alien enemy, but as vulnerable and as human and sometimes as scared as us women.

I gained much more appreciation and understanding of males by raising a son.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

That it takes so long to do!

Other than that I really do enjoy it all, from the first draft, rewriting, editing. All of it..

Q: What your favourite part about writing?

My favourite part of writing is after the first draft when I’m starting to flesh the story out. Balancing showing and telling. The first draft is very draining for me.

I find revisions and edits more relaxing and fun.

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

Because of my chronic pain condition I cannot work long hours.

Everything I do in life is done in small chunks. Pacing myself from one activity to another. Balancing my life as best I can. Fatigue a constant companion.

I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking for dictating.

One hour or two at the most is a good day of writing for me.

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

What I hope to accomplish with my writing is to be able to touch readers in a way that makes them feel less alone. To connect with others.

Also to leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren.

That no one else tell my story as a white-washed fairy tale; I want it raw and real.

So many people leave this world and we never really know who they were.

I want to leave behind who I was.

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

I spend quite a bit of time writing about my early years, teen and young adult.

Learning from those past experiences, seeing them with new eyes.

Exploring what shapes us into the people we become.

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

I’ve taken out several chapters. Parts that weren’t strong enough or important enough in the story. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to leave in, what to take out. It’s a balancing act.

If it bothers me to cut parts out, I stick the writing in another folder where maybe someday it can work in another story. That makes it much easier to cut.

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

What motivates me is believing my writing has a purpose.

That my stories can offer hope to someone else.

To inspire others to be themselves, not to worry what others think, to be follow your dreams, believe in yourself.

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

Well, since most of my characters are nonfiction, I can only be upset with what they’ve done in real life. Some left much too soon. Some could have said so much more.

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

One book that stands out in that regard is: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson.

In that book she says… “I wrote a story I could live with. The other one was too painful. I could not survive it.”

Some may need that escape into a world easier than the one they know. I get that.

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

I think I would stick with a bird image. I use a lot of bird imagery in my artwork. Dah! The covers on my memories all feature bird images.

A bird can glide above it all, look down, land if it wants, and simply fly away again.

Q: What books have you published?

Floating in Saltwater: a young girl’s search for answers

Balancing Act: memoir of a teenage breakdown

Loose Gravel: memoir of running from grief

SAD Girl, BAD Girl, and I  (a collection of poems & art)

Check out Barbara on social media:

Barbara’s Facebook Page:

Barbara’s Web Page:

Goodreads

Draft2Digital (Floating in Saltwater):

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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 – “If You Can’t Kill It, Make It Your Friend” by Chiara De Giorgi

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.

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.

***

If You Can’t Kill It, Make It Your Friend by Chiara De Giorgi.

Up to 60% of the human body is water. If left without water, a human being dies in three or four days. That’s seventy-two to ninety-six hours. Plants die: a desert is what you have when there’s no water. No water means nothing alive. Water is life.

But water is death, too.

Have you ever noticed how many times water is involved in a natural disaster? Floods, heavy rains, hurricanes, tsunamis… Water can save you from burning in a fire, but then water can freeze and kill you with hypothermia.

After losing friends, family, and belongings to water, in one form or another, more than enough times, I realized I hated it. And yet, the supremely annoying fact was, I couldn’t live without it. I felt helpless when, during a torrid summer, all I could dream of was a lake of crystal clear water to dive into; a frothing waterfall; an iced glass of pure water.

Water had become an obsession. I feared it, I craved it.

I spent years researching ways to survive without this hateful dependency on water, trying to figure out a way to substitute it with something, anything else. I even went so far as designing living beings that were not carbon-based, thinking that maybe it would be possible to operate just a small genetic modification on humans, to make them not water-dependant.

It didn’t work, nothing worked. I was left sad, frustrated, empty-handed, and alone.

Then one day I woke up with a totally different strategy on my mind: if you can’t kill it, make it your friend.

If I could not come up with a way to survive with no water, I’d come up with a way to survive too much water.

My studies changed direction: no more chemistry, biology, and genetics. I turned to myths and folklore.

When I felt ready, I moved to Maldives. There are often hurricanes and tsunamis there, lots of unexpected water, and it’s a lovely place when the weather’s good.

When the rain started falling, and the wind started blowing, and the earth started shaking, and the waves started climbing towards the sky, I was there. While everybody was fleeing to the backland, I ran to the beach. While everybody was wearing a raincoat, I stripped down to my bikini. While everybody screamed for help, I let out a triumphant cry and dove.

See, I am a mermaid, now. Too much water will never kill me, and I’ll never suffer from the lack of it, as oceans are limitless and everlasting. I won’t ever lose my friends and family to water, and it will never steal my belongings again. I won. If you can’t kill it, make it your friend.

***

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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Writer Wednesdays – Jane Doucet

This week, Writing Wicket showcases Jane Doucet, author of The Pregnant Pause.

Jane Doucet photo by Rachael Kelly (2).jpg

After earning an honours journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax in 1993, Jane Doucet began her career in Toronto at FLARE, Canada’s leading fashion magazine. She spent the next six years working as a staff writer, editor, researcher and copy editor for several award-winning national magazines, including Chatelaine and Maclean’s.

In 1999, Jane decided to pursue freelance writing and editing full-time in Toronto. A year later she returned home to Halifax, where she expanded her freelance clientele. She wrote dozens of feature articles on health, parenting, gardening, entertainment, education, business and more diverse topics for national magazines and newspapers. In 2015, she joined the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University as a communications specialist.

In 2003, Jane wrote the first draft of The Pregnant Pause, her debut novel. Following a negative experience with a literary agent in London, England, she shelved the manuscript for 14 years, dusting it off in the fall of 2016 and choosing to self-publish it in order to maintain creative control. While the story is loosely based on some of her own experiences, it’s also representative of many women’s journeys.

“I wrote my novel to empower women who assumed they’d have children but, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen,” says Jane. “It’s really for everyone, though—women and men, parents and non-parents—because it’s about relationships with romantic partners, family, friends and coworkers. People will be able to relate to different parts of the story.”

I asked Jane:

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

I try to write a story that I’d like to read and hope the readers who like the genre and topic will also enjoy it.

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

I’m almost finished the first draft of a manuscript for my second novel.

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

Not paying authors more. Except for the big names, ordinary authors don’t receive much money from each book sale.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A novel about a married couple in their late 50s who open a sex shop in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It has some racy bits, but it’s really about love—long-time mature love, love in a rut, new love, lost love, unrequited love, even the love of beloved animal companions.

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

Until Grade 7 a teacher, because both of my parents were. Then when I was 12 I started taking ballet lessons, and I wanted to be a ballerina. I earned a dance performance studies diploma at George Brown College in Toronto, then did a short stint at the Washington School of Ballet before enrolling in journalism school when I was 20. I’ve been writing ever since, and I turned 50 in September.

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

Hardly! I find it painful.

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

Everything.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

Revisions, and feeling like you could still improve it even after it has gone to the printer.

Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?

Finishing! Seriously, though, rereading certain passages in my manuscript after taking a break and thinking, “Hey, that isn’t half bad.”

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

I have a full-time day job so I don’t have a writing schedule. I write when I have the time, energy and ideas. I never watch the clock, but I’m obsessed with checking word count. I rented a house in Lunenburg the first week of October solely to work on my second novel and averaged 1,500 words a day over five days.

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

To entertain and educate with humour.

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

I put the manuscript for The Pregnant Pause in a drawer for 14 years before I self-published it. When I went to revise it, I was a stronger writer than I had been since I had written the previous draft. I cut 20,000 words out of it and the flow was much tighter as a result. So, no, it didn’t bother me; it felt necessary.

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

In writing, when an idea won’t leave me alone. Then I’m like a dog with a delicious bone—I won’t let go of it till it’s good and done.

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

Not at all. It’s a release and a relief—and time to send it out into the world and see how it’ll be received (hopefully well).

Q: What books have you published?

My debut novel, The Pregnant Pause, in 2017. I’m proud to say that it was shortlisted for a 2018 Whistler Independent Book Award.

Jane’s Website

Facebook: @thepregnantpausenovel

Twitter: @allmywords2017

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If you are an indie author and would like to be “showcased” on this blog, please send a request to writingwicket at gmail.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 – “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.

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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/

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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 – 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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Cover Contest!

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK has successfully entered the third round of the Cover of the Month contest (AllAuthor.com). It has amassed 62 votes so far and is among the top 50 book covers of the month. (The final round will narrow it down to the top 24 covers). I truly don’t expect to advance much further, but it’s not in my  nature to give up.

The online voting for the third round is now open. You can vote again in this round. (I believe you can vote every day). Please take a few seconds to vote for me! Thank you!

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK is a psychological drama/thriller, with suspense, mystery, romance, and family relationships. Twenty-two-year-old Miranda escapes from her abductor and the wolves that have tormented her soul for six long years. She returns to her childhood home where her mother, Sharon, caring for Miranda’s son, Kevin, has feared for her daughter’s fate. Uncertainty and distrust taint the first year after Miranda’s return. Miranda and Sharon hide secrets they dare not reveal while constantly wondering when Miranda’s kidnapper will reappear. Can mother and daughter bury their demons and repair their strained relationship? Can Miranda bond with the baby she never knew and find the love she so desperately wants? Will Kevin’s father play a role? Will Sharon find the answers she needs to recover from her own troubled past?

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK is available direct from me or on Amazon.

 

To Purchase!

 

Wolves Don't Knock FINAL PRINT COVER

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