Promoting the Manitoba Writers’ Guild

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This past weekend was very busy for me! Both Friday and Saturday, I manned a table at two very different events to promote the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and next Friday I will do the same at ComicCon, for which I am very excited!

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On Friday, my cohort, Jodi Carmichael (author of Spaghetti Is NOT a Finger Food) and I talked to English Teachers attending the annual SAGE conference. We also shamelessly promoted our books! (By the way, next spring she will be launching her teen novel, Forever Julia, so stay tuned for that book launch.) During the conference, we had one person renew her lapsed membership and sold one of our Writer’s Blocks – our infamous fundraising gimmick. I sold 2 of my books (Jody sold most of the ones she’d brought with her!) and I  gave away all but one of my business cards, so I’m hoping to be asked into many classrooms during this school year.

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On Saturday, fellow board member, Donna Besel, and I attended the Mamingwey Burn Survivor Conference. On the table, we had a sign I created that read, “Everyone has a story. Let the Guild help you tell it.”, which became our theme for the conference. We took turns popping in to the conference room to listen to what some of the survivors had gone through and how they courageously chose the difficult road to recovery, ‘turning their demons into diamonds’, which was the conference theme for this year.

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Those of you who have been following this blog for the last couple of years will recall me telling you my brother-in-law’s story and how he came to live with us after he was badly burned when his van caught fire. The organizers of the conference asked him to talk about his ordeal on a panel with three other survivors. He told his story with his usual wry sense of humour, knowing that laughter is the best medicine.

Donna had been asked to give a talk and was prepared to get everyone started with writing exercises, but she had no idea how many people she would be speaking to – over 80! She thought that only those who really wanted to write about their experience would be in attendance. While she was a little nervous at the change in expectations, she took it in stride and had many compliments about her workshop. Many attendees were interested in our programming and we gave away a lot of brochures and a few membership forms.

This coming Friday, I look forward to rubbing shoulders with celebrity guests and authors at ComiCon. It should be a blast. As another fundraiser/promotional gimmick for this event, we are creating a Colouring book with sketches of Manitoba Authors with which the attendees should be familiar – and if they are NOT familiar with them, they will be by the time they colour in all the faces! We at the Guild are trying hard to promote our many local writers of all genres.

Oh, and one last tidbit of information! By Friday, my writers group and I are hoping to have our chapbook, In The Woods, published in e-format so it will be available on-line, as well as sell hard copies at ComicCon. As soon as the e-version is available, I will pass along the details.

So, how was YOUR weekend?

Back to normal – sort of

It’s been a long and stressful summer and fall, but I think things are beginning to normalize. At the very least, there are days when life does return to the way things were ‘before’, the ‘before’ being before Hubby was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It all started when he was having extreme weakness in his extremities, making it impossible for him to do the site visits required with his job. Since he hadn’t been to a doctor in over a decade (our family doctor suddenly gave up his practice with no notice), he finally sought medical advice from his brothers’ family physician.

The doctor was horrified, on that first visit, when he saw the reading on the blood pressure monitor – 265/130! He immediately put him on a regimen of medications; two to control the blood pressure, one to reduce his cholesterol and a diuretic. After a few weeks of taking them, Hubby felt fuzzy-headed, finding it hard to concentrate on work, forgetting things. I read all the information given with each medication and these symptoms were among the side effects listed, so we just assumed things would settle down once his body got used to the medications. That didn’t happen. In fact, things got worse.

His first emergency visit occurred after he collapsed in the bathroom. His legs suddenly gave way under him and he had difficulty getting up off the floor. The strength in his ankles has not been good since he broke them both, almost 40 years and, as he’s aged, arthritis has grown steadily worse, but this episode did not seem to be related to that. The hospital, after running many tests determined that his sodium level was a little low, probably inducing what is known as a vassal Vegal episode – something to do with the main nerve bundle running through the body, determining where to send blood, etc. Obviously, it decided his body needed to concentrate on urinating instead of standing. This was blamed on the low sodium. He was given what he needed and sent home.

His second emergency visit was a result of his blood pressure taking a dive. He managed to drive back to his work after getting the test done, but the folks in his office took one look at him and sent him home, but were conscientious enough not to let him drive himself. The doctor had told Hubby that if he didn’t feel better, to go to the hospital. After a rather starchy lunch, he still wasn’t feeling well, so I took him to the hospital. With all the tests they did, the ER doctor came back and announced, Hubby now has the Big Three – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, because his blood glucose was 12.5. Apparently, it shouldn’t be higher than 10, even after a starchy meal. Oh, and his sodium was a little low. So, on top of everything else, we now had to watch his sugar intake and add another pill to his daily routine.

After that incident, he got steadily worse. He had no appetite, barely touching the meals I so carefully prepared. His insomnia worsened – hardly any wonder with all that had happened! By the end of the weekend, he was so disoriented and weak he didn’t know what he was doing. He’d go lie down for a nap and he’d be up in an hour or two, having barely slept the whole time. He’d wander around and when I asked him what he was doing, he’d say he was looking for the bathroom. We’ve lived in the same house for almost 35 years and he couldn’t find the bathroom! I decided, that if he didn’t get a good night’s sleep, I would take him to emergency. That night, things were worse than ever. He was up almost every hour, couldn’t find the bathroom and when I’d guide him there, he didn’t know what to do or where he should be peeing! A couple of times during his late night wanderings, he collapsed on the floor or fell onto the cedar chest. When he started vomiting at 6 a.m. I knew I had to get him to the hospital. I tried to get him dressed, but he was so out of it, I couldn’t get him to do anything but get his pants on, so I called for an ambulance.

They gave him the whole gambit of tests; CT scan, EKG, blood tests, chest x-ray. The main thing they found was that his sodium and potassium levels were so low they were almost non-existent. Apparently, that makes a person act like a drunk 5 year old. Who knew? They suggested he stop taking the diuretic, which was making him have to pee every five minutes and, with the urine, taking away all his sodium and potassium. Done. Four days later, he was still pretty confused about things, but they let him come home.

His short term memory was . . . and still is . . . a little short. His math skills were barely comprehensible to him. We tried to play Cribbage in those first few days back home, a game he’s played since he was a teen, and he had no idea what to do with the cards. His job, which all involves numbers, was impossible. He was off work for two months. He’s only back, now, half days and that’s only if he is clear-headed enough to drive in the morning. Some nights, even the sleep aid doesn’t work and he’s up half the night, leaving him so tired by morning he can’t concentrate on anything. Despite all the tests done while he was in hospital, there was no conclusive evidence that he’d had a stroke, although the doctor is beginning to believe there was some sort of stroke-like event that occurred that didn’t show up on any of the tests.

We’re still taking each day at a time, hoping things come back to him so he can function the same as before all this happened. Sorry if I bored you all, but I wanted you to know why I haven’t really felt up to blogging, until now. When he doesn’t sleep, neither do I, so I have very little energy to do anything but take care of him, maybe check emails &/or Facebook on a good day. I want you to know, though, that I am going to try to catch up on what you all have been doing and will have some book reviews posted in the coming weeks, so please stay tuned. Thanks to all of you who have showed concern and stuck around through this ‘dark’ time.

Hope you are all having a great day!

In The Woods has launched!

Yesterday, my writers group and I launched our third anthology. The first was called Sex Death and Grain Elevators, because any story told about the Canadian prairies supposedly needed all three ingredients. The second was called, Where In The World Is Carmen Manitoba? which contained stories about aliens and UFOs because in the ’70s the town of Carmen was the home of Charlie Red Star, a strange red light that traveled the highway into town, attracting UFO hunters from all over the continent.

Off The Wall presents In The Woods is the title of our latest collection of fiction, poetry, actual sighting reports and photos of the elusive Sasquatch. The book was self-published using the Espresso Machine at McNally Robinson Booksellers. The Espresso Machine is a wonderful new invention that creates a book for you in about five minutes, right before your eyes! The machine, located right inside the doors of the bookstore, has glass panels through which you can see the pages printed, the cover printed and bent, glue applied to the binding and the whole thing put together. It really is amazing to watch!

Anyway, here are a few shots of the group, ‘Off The Wall’ – at least, those that could make it to the launch – flaunting their stories:

Me! :)

Me! :)

I was chosen to introduce the group and read first, along with my Sasquatch buddy Sassy. ;)

Fatima DeMelo

Fatima DeMelo

A life-long resident of Winnipeg, Fatima recently rejoined the group, (she was a member back when it first started). We hope this will be the first of many pieces of writing from her. She currently works as a Library Technician for an academic library, taking pride in helping her students learn how to search for creditable information. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going out for walks, and writing posts for her own blog at stacksandranges.wordpress.com

Evelyn Woodward

Evelyn Woodward

Before home schooling her three children, Evelyn’s writing revolved around research, following her graduation from Brandon University. She has come a long way from work she termed ‘not interesting for anyone to know about’ to an accomplished writer and one of the original members of the Off The Wall group. She has published three books, Caught in the Web, I Am The Gatekeeper, and The Way of the Kyma, available on Amazon.

Cas Courcelles was unable to attend because of travel plans that were made before our launch date was set, but she was there in spirit. Cas is a Canadian author who summers on the level lands and winters south of assorted borders. She wrote Harliquin Romances for a number of years under the pen name Samantha Day but has since branched out into the suspense genre. Her novel, Down Dark Deep, can be found on Amazon and you can find her on Twitter @cascourcelles.

Our camera shy member, Russell Corbet, was also unable to attend. After a thorough University of Manitoba education in dead languages, Russell embarked on several failed careers: double-naught spy, professional shark bait, day care provider and cult leader. He now lives somewhere in the Western Hemisphere with a mortgage, a minivan, no cats, and a sage plant. He continues to be bent on world domination. :)

Chris Rutkowski with his mechanical Sasquatch friend (behind & to the left).

Chris Rutkowski with his mechanical Sasquatch friend.

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Chris is a Canadian science writer and educator. Since the mid-1970s, he’s written about his investigations and research on Ufos, for which he is best known. However, he has been involved in many other writing and media projects for more than 30 years, including TV specials (The Monster of Lake Manitoba, 1996), planetarium shows (Moonlight Serenade, 1983, and Amateur Nights, 1989) and newspaper columns, (Strange Tales, in the Northern Times, Thompson, Manitoba,1984 to 1985). He has nine published books on UFOs and related issues, a collection of short stories and has contributed to many other volumes, both fiction and non-fiction. His recent works include A World of UFOs (2008), I Saw It Too! (2009) and The Big Book of UFOs (2010). In addition, he is a book reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press, appears often on TV and radio, teaches courses on Writing and is currently president of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. He is on Twitter (@ufologyresearch) and blogs at http://uforum.blogspot.com/

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Signing books for our fans.

We had a great time. The weather was lousy, strong winds whipping around buckets of rain, but that did not deter our family and friends from coming out to support us. We appreciate every single one of them! As well, we want to thank McNally’s for not only helping us through the process of getting the books printed but also for providing a space to launch the books and all the promotional stuff they did and will do. Wish you all could have been there, too. :)

Launch of ‘In The Woods’

 

Well, my writers group and I finally got the finishing touches on our anthology and settled on a launch date. Here is the official announcement, for those who reside in and around Winnipeg:

McNally Robinson Booksellers
presents the
Off the Wall Writers Group
launching
In the Woods

Sunday June 29, 2:00 pm

Grant Park in the Atrium

Off the Wall is the name the writers chose for their group because so much of their fiction could be classified as such. These diverse writers have created a plethora of Speculative Fiction as well as academic papers and various other non-fiction works. Some members are scientific researchers. Some are linguists, educators, parents and/or grandparents, all with very active imaginations. This collection displays their diversity more eloquently than anyone could describe.

This anthology contains a variety of imaginative stories interspersed with facts and real sightings collected by one of the group’s members. Each fictional story is a unique perspective on the Prairie Sasquatch, a mythological creature said to roam the woods in remote areas of Manitoba. There is also a bit of poetry thrown in to round out the collection. The non-fiction mostly covers sightings collected by one of the group’s members who researched this gentle creature, as well as ‘facts’ believed to be characteristic of this elusive beast. So, come join us on a roller coaster ride of fun and tragedy, curiousity and wistfulness, as we enter the unknown and go…into the woods.

 

Writing Process Blog Hop

When local teen fiction author, Margaret Buffie, tagged me to participate in this writer-oriented blog hop, I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge. When I first decided to turn Withershins into a novel for a teen/young adult audience, I was unfamiliar with the genre. It had been decades since I was a teen, reading the limited selection of fiction out there at the time, so I went on the hunt for current teen fiction to make sure I was on the right track. I picked up Margaret’s novels, The Dark Garden and My Mother’s Ghost – and I’ve been a fan ever since. She has an impressive list of titles and has been nominated – and won – many awards for her writing. In addition to being a writer, she also has a Fine Arts degree and has created some breathtaking paintings, which she sometimes shares on her blog. I love that she lives in my hometown and I feel honoured that she thought of asking me to participate in this blog hop. To learn more about this extraordinary writer, please check out her blog at http://www.margaretbuffie.com

In order to take my place in the hop, I also have to tag three other writers, who will post their thoughts on the writing process later in the month. I was hoping to feature writers from the huge literary base here in Winnipeg, but most are so busy or too ill to participate, so I turned to my on-line writer friends. You can read their bios at the end of this post.

Okay, on with the show! :)

I was asked four questions, which I will attempt to answer as concisely as I can.

1. What am I working on?

My son designed the cover. Cool, isn't it?

My son designed the cover. Cool, isn’t it?

Currently, I am in the process of getting a chapbook produced with my writers group. It is an anthology of short stories about the Sasquatch, interspersed with poems in Haiku style, as well as reports of Sasquatch sightings collected by our own paranormal investigator and group member, Chris Rutkowski. We’ve also included sketches and photos to round out the content. We should have it ready for sale by the end of June. We are self-publishing through the Expresso Machine at McNally Robinson Booksellers and it will also be available for e-readers. Details to follow in the coming weeks.

I have also been accumulating information on Louis Riel to work into a sort of sequel to my other two books, Withershins and Spirit Quest. Revolution (working title) will be set at the time in which Riel took over the provisional government here in Manitoba, 1869-1870. The daughter of the character in my first two books will be travelling back in time to meet him and learn more about how the Métis people fought for their rights within the French/English community known at the time as Red River.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

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My published novels are historically based time-travel novels set in Manitoba’s past. There haven’t been too many other teen novels that I’ve come across that have been set here with that time-travel theme worked in as well, so I think they are rather unique.

As for the chapbook, my writers group and I decided to write about Bigfoot and the Sasquatch because we thought to get a jump on ‘the next big thing’. Vampires, werewolves, and zombies have been done to death, so to speak, but not much fiction has been written about those huge hairy beasts that peek out at us from the forest. Ironically, there have been recent ‘sightings’ in BC and a local retailer (Two Rivers at The Forks Market) has brought in a truckload of stuffed Sasquatches to sell in his store. (Sassy came from there. She’s cute, isn’t she?) He’s even got a petition to ‘Save the Prairie Sasquatch’, which people can sign when they visit the shop. I think we’re just on the cusp of this wonderful new trend.

 

3. Why do I write what I do?

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Sassy sporting my red hat.

Having an Education background, I want my books to teach kids in an entertaining way. Growing up, I always found history a chore. Trying to link dates with events and historic figures was so difficult for me because I tend to be Mathematically Challenged, a sort of Dyslexia but with numbers. I did like the stories, though. Learning about the people and why they did what they did is fascinating to me. That’s why, when I started writing the first two books in the series, I wanted the story to be historically correct, so readers would get a sense of the time and the attitudes prevalent in the 1800s. Quite often, those who have read Withershins and Spirit Quest comment to me that they didn’t know certain things in Manitoba’s history, so I think my work is done – until the next novel, of course!

I wrote the short stories for the group’s chapbook because I’ve got a soft spot for those big-footed mythical creatures. A few years back, I started writing a novel about them, creating a whole history of their existence and why colonies of them live underground, beneath the outskirts of North Vancouver. While the story has yet to find an ending, I still work on it, occasionally, when inspiration strikes.

That is not all I write, though. Dreams inspire other stories, (science fiction, fantasy, murder mysteries, etc, both for kids and adults) which I start to write, only because the words need to find paper before the memories melt away with the dawn. I have shelves full of novels and short stories that haven’t been published, yet, and just as many (if not more) that are unfinished, to date.

To get at the nitty gritty; why do I write? Teachers used to say I’d achieve better grades if I didn’t daydream so much, so I guess this is something I was destined to do. If the stories don’t get written down, my dreams become more and more bizarre and nightmarish. I write for my own peace of mind!

4. How does my writing process work? 

A good night’s sleep is essential because, as I mentioned earlier, so many of my story ideas occur to me in those first few moments before I wake up. I have very vivid dreams and those that have a lasting image for me are often the dreams that I am compelled to write about and form the first few chapters of a novel or become a short story. One dream, in particular, was one I had when I was 16. It haunted me for decades until I finally wove it into a fantasy novel. Unfortunately, my first writers group wasn’t all that impressed, so it’s sitting on a shelf, awaiting revisions.

When I was creating Withershins, I wasn’t working. I just had to get the kids off to school and then I would sit down at the computer and write my little heart out! If I ran into a snag, I’d think about it as I fell asleep and by morning my brain had worked out enough details that I could write the next chapter before lunch. If there was something I needed to know for the next segment, I’d head off to the library or archives and research it, then weave that newfound knowledge into a scene with my character.

Once a story is finished, however, the work doesn’t stop. Any writer knows that! I must have reworked the beginning of Withershins a dozen times before coming up with the one the publisher liked. Originally, the book was aimed at an adult audience, but my first writers group suggested gearing it to a younger audience. That required some major work because, by then, it was too long for a publisher to consider, so I had to break the book into two novels. That required me to rework the beginning of Spirit Quest many more times until my editor was satisfied with the result. I also needed more research to flesh out the second half of the story. It was a long hard process getting it to the point of acceptance by my publisher.

Sassy going incognito.

Sassy going incognito.

For the chapbook, I thought about the Prairie Sasquatch for days without much inspiration. Then, I mentioned the project to a close friend and her friend at lunch one day. It was suggested I look at the subject from the point of view of the Sasquatch. Brilliant! So that’s how Gemma came into existence. She’s the character I created for the short stories and I have a few more stories I want to tell about her adventures ‘In The Woods’ that will probably meld into a novel for Middle Grade audiences.

Well, I hope that gives you some insight into my writing process. While I look for that elusive third writer who will agree to join this blog hop, please check out what these fellow writers & bloggers have to say. I will let you know when they have their posts ready for the blog hop. In the meantime, you can always pop over to their sites to learn more about them.

 

Jennifer M. Eaton has a lot to say about writing on her blog, which can be found at http://jennifermeaton.com. Her blog is amazing – colourful & always interesting. She calls the East Coast of the U.S. her home, where she raises 3 boys when she’s not writing or being a Corporate Team Leader. She has recently had many short stories published by J. Taylor Publishing.

Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active imagination constructively… creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.

 

Like the Prairie Sasquatch, C.B. is a little camera shy! :)

Like the Prairie Sasquatch, C.B. is a little camera shy! :)

C.B. Wentworth has a lovely blog that I’ve been following for about 2 1/2 years. She has traveled extensively and often posts gorgeous pictures of the places she’s visited and tells wonderful stories about her adventures.

She is a writer, blogger, and artist who thrives on following her muse. Aside from writing novels, she dabbles in poetry, short stories, and travel writing. Currently, she is working towards her “big break” into the publishing industry with her Young Adult fantasy novel, The Muse. You can visit her at http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com     

 

 

Happy Reading and Writing, Everyone! :)

 

I am alive (contrary to popular belief!)

I apologize for being rather sporadic with my blog posting lately. I’ve been insanely frustrated with my laptop, which refuses to cooperate. It either heats to the point of burning my legs, or suddenly freezes up for no apparent reason. I also have trouble even getting it started in the morning, often having to reboot it because it freezes halfway through the first loading. I know I have to take it in, but I need help backing things up before I do, so I don’t lose any important information.

Because of this, I can’t be on the machine for very long at a time, so I’ve been off doing more stuff around the house and outside, now that we actually have some warmer weather. I’ve created more than three dozen cards & worked on my daughter’s wedding album, which is almost 4 years overdue. I’ve been visiting with friends and family. I took in a movie (Captain America 2). I am helping to plan a fundraising event for the Stroke Recovery Association of Manitoba and working with my writers group to get our latest anthology (chapbook) published. I’ll talk more about that later during a blog hop in which I will be participating, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Some of you have been inquiring as to my health, but I assure you, I am fine and I really appreciate your concern. I sincerely regret that, because of my limited time on the computer, I haven’t been able to read all of your wonderful blogs. I definitely have to get my computer fixed (or get a new one!) so I can get back into the on-line world more often. I will sign off for now, but I’ll leave you to ponder why I have this cutie pie in my possession (wink! wink!):

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Sassy Sasquatch

Lockdown by Maggie Bolitho

When I wrote this post, yesterday, I thought spring had finally sprung. Tuesday, I was reading an ARC copy of Lockdown by Maggie Bolitho with the windows wide open, letting in the balmy plus twelve Celsius air (that’s about 66 degrees Farenheit). This morning, the ground was covered with white stuff. Boo!

Okay, I’m sure you’re sick of me complaining about our awful weather. I suppose it could be worse. We could be in the throes of an earthquake, like the characters in Lockdown. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts about the book:

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The story is a cautionary tale that appeals to the Girl Guider in me. ‘Be prepared’ could be the main motto for this story, but even well laid plans can go awry.

Maggie Bolitho has written a compelling story set in the aftermath of a great earthquake that tears apart the west coast from California to Alaska. Young Rowan Morgan and her older brother struggle to survive the turmoil that follows when The Big One hits Vancouver. Fortunately, they are spending the summer with their survivalist father when it strikes. He has been preparing for just such an apocalyptic event for years and made sure his children were well-trained, but nothing they learned could possibly help them deal with potential looters, crazed citizens with a mob mentality, and hungry neighbours whose homes were destroyed. How do they decide who to help and who to turn away?

Amidst the confusion, their father is injured and hospitalized. They are unable to reach their mother because the phone lines are not operational. They must deal with this dangerous situation on their own. In addition, they are responsible for the care of their neighbour’s teenaged son, who has led a very sheltered life, as well as a cat belonging to their vacationing neighbours. Rowan, worried about her father, decides to risk breaking curfew to visit him at the hospital and runs into more trouble, as a result. They receive some assistance from a stranger, who mysteriously appears at opportune moments, but Rowan and her brother are suspicious of his motives.

Maggie Bolitho’s main character is a typical fifteen year old, who has been trying to break free of her authoritative father’s reign, which has been a source of contention between them. Despite her longing for independence, when she finally has some, she wants to return to the more secure life she had before the earthquake. She is racked with indecision but forces herself to remember her father’s advice and at least pretend to be strong for the sake of those in her care. Some of her decisions prove to be foolish and dangerous for her, but she perseveres, growing in wisdom and strength.

I would give this story a two-thumbs-up and highly recommend it for teens as well as adults. There were a few time that I, as a parent, yelled at the girl to think a little smarter, but overall I enjoyed it and think any teen would like it, too. There’s just the right mix of suspense and action that keeps the reader barreling along at break-neck speed. I was glad I had no major commitments so I could finish it in a day with few interruptions.

The official launch of Lockdown will be May 2nd, so if anyone in the Vancouver area is interested in getting an autographed copy, be at the Lynn Valley Library at 7:30 pm. If that is not an option for you, click on the picture of the book cover above and it will take you to the publisher’s website. It’s also available on Amazon.

 

Book Blurb:

When a great earthquake rocks the Pacific Northwest, fifteen-year-old Rowan Morgan is hiking in a suburban forest. Tremors rip the coast from Oregon to Alaska and turn Rowan’s world upside down. After her father is wounded and taken to the hospital, he orders Rowan and her brother to stay inside his earthquakeproof, survivalist home. While the electrified fences offer some protection, it isn’t long before mobs gather, desperate for some of the food and water rumoured to be held inside.

Rowan knows that if the hungry neighbours had any true idea of the riches in her father’s cellar and water tanks, they wouldn’t be so easily sent away. Early one morning, Rowan leaves the compound and sets off in search of her father. She is turned away from the hospital and so goes to check on nearby friends where she finds a local gang has moved in. She escapes from them only to run into a stranger she met in the forest the day before. Why is he following her and what does he want?

About the author:
MAGGIE BOLITHO is curious by nature and over the years has been a soccer player, a horsewoman, a martial artist, a scuba diver (volunteer diver for the Vancouver Aquarium) and a cyclist. Before making her home in British Columbia, Bolitho lived in Australia. In Sydney her home was in a red-zone, the highest bushfire risk possible and it was there, when she trained as a member of the CFU (Community Fire Unit) as a firefighter, that her interest in disaster scenarios came to life.

 

Do you think YOUR winter was bad?

It’s official. My home town has experienced the worst winter in over a hundred years, according to our local newspaper.

Our front sidewalk, April 5th, 2014

Our front sidewalk, April 5th, 2014

The Winnipeg Free Press quotes the national meteorologist, Dave Phillips, who says, “Nobody alive can say they’ve had it colder in Winnipeg . . . The story about this winter was the relentlessness of it. There was really no break. It was from the get-go. Even October was a half-degree colder than normal. Nobody had the look and feel of winter more than Winnipeg,” he said. “So if we award the prize for citizens who’ve endured the toughest winter, I think you guys would win gold.”

Another view from our front window.

Another view from our front window.

There were days when we were colder than Syberia and even Mars! To read more about our record-breaking cold and snowfall, follow the link above.

Our back deck. For reference, our fence is 6 feet high.

Our back deck. For reference, our fence is 6 feet high.

And it’s not over, yet. We still have several feet of snow in our yard and had a few more inches fall yesterday. While we weren’t hit as hard as North Dakota & Minnesota to the south of us, or even east of us over the past few days, we are dreading what will happen when all that snow melts. With the Red River bringing in all that additional snow form down south, it’s anyone’s guess as to how high the flood levels will get. Our only consolation is the fact that the Floodway was recently expanded to hold more water, so the city itself should not be affected by floodwaters as much as the outlying areas.

Our back yard, with our trailer buried in the snow.

Our back yard, with our trailer buried in the snow.

However, the frost has dug so deeply this winter that thousands of Winnipeggers have experienced frozen water pipes. As of yesterday, according to the Free Press, 2, 359 properties have been affected. “While the city has been successful in thawing some lines, it can’t keep up.” There are still 1, 363 property owners who are on the waiting list. Most of those live in older neighbourhoods where pipes were laid closer to the surface. Fortunately, our neighbourhood is only about 30 years old.

In the Free Press article it states, “Even with warmer weather, the ground remains frozen and properties will be at risk of frozen lines until late May or early June.” Those affected have been asked to keep their water running 24/7 until the ground thaws to avoid pipes being damaged by frozen water. Their water bills will supposedly be ‘adjusted’ once the crisis is over.

Oh, in case you were wondering if I took the photos above during mid-winter, be assured, they were taken from my windows a few moments before posting this. While some snow has melted since mid-winter, all this still remains – and it’s already April 5th! Is there any wonder why I haven’t felt much like blogging? :(

So, tell me about YOUR winter.

Buttermilk, just for Mike (and my other blogging buddies, of course)

While quickly perusing Facebook this morning, I noticed a friend had posted a video about Buttermilk, an energetic and adorable little goat. I immediately thought of fellow blogger, Mike Allegra, who LOVES goats. His blog, Heylookawriterfellow, is always worth the read. Whether he’s discussing actors-turned-writers or setting up doodle contests, his posts are always a delight. He’s also a published children’s author. After extensive research on the woman who began a crusade to celebrate the first Thanksgiving, Sarah Gives Thanks was born.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the video that inspired this post:

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Hope you enjoyed the show! :)

I’ve been cyber-hibernating

Have you ever found it difficult to get back into your daily routine after an extended holiday? Well, following the Christmas break, I went into turtle mode, tucking myself inside my shell, ignoring most things on the internet and my in-box on my computer. I can’t say I’ve done anything useful to replace all the time I used to spend reading blog posts and Facebook comments, except to admit I got hooked on a particular game I downloaded on my Hubby’s new iPad.

Yes, I have to admit, my name is Susan and I am a game-a-holic. It all started out innocently enough. Hubby went to a work-sponsored poker tournament and came home with a brand new iPad Air. He’s not much of a techno-geek, and neither am I, really, but he asked me if I could get the thing set up for him. I was a little nervous, at first, afraid I’d do something wrong and crash the device, but it was actually pretty simple. Since he wasn’t around to consult with when it came to setting passwords, etc. I came up with things I thought he’d find easy to remember.

All seemed fine until Grandson came for a visit. In anticipation of our precious little whirlwind, I thought I’d check out a few simple apps that might hold his attention for more than a nanosecond. There were a few free Disney games – or at least, a taste of them – and one that completely hooked me: Nemo’s Reef. I suppose it’s like the Farm games where you collect animals and feed them, except this one immersed the gamer in the wonderful colours found under the sea, with relaxing Caribbean-style music. I found myself tapping the screen thousands of times a day, harvesting ‘sand dollars’ and ‘algae’ from the corals and other living flora I planted. The sand dollars were used to buy the plants, the algae was used to feed new plants as well as the fish I collected. It became a total obsession, I am ashamed to say. I even went so far as to create a list of all the fish and when I last fed them because I had collected so many that I was having trouble keeping track of them! I finally realized I couldn’t possibly keep up with all those hungry fish unless I was tapping the screen 24/7. A few days ago, I deleted the game and feel so much better – and I’m finally getting stuff done around here!

So, I apologize that I haven’t been around to read any of your wonderful blogs. I have missed a lot, I’m sure, and I will try to catch up. That, however, might take awhile as I have about 4500 unread messages (mostly blog post announcements) in my in-box, right now. Please forgive my total lapse in judgement and I promise to be a better blogger. :)

However, I may have to make a quick trip out to visit a sick friend in Edmonton in the next few weeks, which might set back my blog reading, again. I assure you that’s not just an excuse to return to the game. My lifelong friend with MS has been suffering with some minor brain aneurisms, causing short term memory loss and, as of the past few days, some aphasia and paralysis along her right side. I want to get the chance to see her before things get worse (although I pray that won’t be the case) and, maybe, having me there will help in her recovery.

See you all on the flip side! :)