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.

photo 2

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/

photo 3

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. 🙂

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?

bookmark front

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! 🙂

 

Scary October – Day 7

Hi, Everyone! Well, we’re finishing off the first week of my Scary October with a Sunday Interview. As promised the other day (see my Friday post where I introduced Chris and his story My Darling), I want to introduce you all to Chris Rutkowski.

Hi, Chris. Please introduce yourself.

Hey, how ya doin’? And http://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/chris-rutkowski/

For those who don’t want to leave this page to read Chris’ bio on the Manitoba Writer’s Guild website, here’s most of what is says:

books by Chris Rutkowski

I’m a Canadian science writer and educator with a background in astronomy. Since the mid-1970s, I’ve also been studying reports of UFOs and writing about my investigations and research. I have eight published books on UFOs and related issues (and few other non-UFO books), including A World of UFOs (2008), I Saw It Too! (2009) and The Big Book of UFOs (2010). I have been involved in many 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). I have been an occasional book reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press. I have appeared on numerous radio programs, podcasts and TV series, including Unsolved Mysteries, UFO Hunters, Sightings, Eye2thesky and A&E’s The Unexplained. I’m on the Board of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and teach courses on writing. I am a past president of both the Winnipeg Science Fiction Society and the Winnipeg Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. My day job is as a public information officer for a university. Oh, and in my spare time I try to help eliminate hunger, cure disease, raise spiritual awareness and bring about world peace.

You’ve definitely been prolific!

How long have you been a writer?

I think I wrote my first story in high school. I had a fantastic English teacher back then, who encouraged us to be creative in many ways and at every opportunity. I think it was a Mrs. Johnson. [Sue – can you verify?] Under her direction, I edited (and wrote most of) one entire issue of the school newspaper.

My first work to see print was something about UFOs (obviously) in a ufozine published in England. I don’t recall what it was exactly about or why they asked me to write something.

Yes, Chris, I can confirm our grade 9 English Teacher was Mrs. Johnson.

Why do you think you became a writer?

That’s an interesting question. If you had asked me a decade or so ago, I would have said it was because I have always been a reader, and enjoyed the art form of using prose to convey ideas. But recently, I have found out that, unbeknownst to me, my father was an award-winning writer as a young adult. Even though I didn’t read anything of his until I discovered his manuscripts later in life, long after his passing, I can only wonder if this is more nature than nurture.

Interesting. Maybe a little of both? 🙂

What does your writing process look like? Where, when, how (computer, pen/paper or both) do you write?

I have a study filled with inspirational paraphernalia. You know – alien spaceships, monster figurines, and hundreds of books about UFOs and the paranormal. That’s where I do most of my writing. I wish I could say I have a writing routine, but between a 9 to 5 job and family matters, I write when I can, although I will try to lock myself in the study and write for a few hours a few times each week.

How is more complicated. I have Scrivener’s palsy, a kind of focal dystonia which makes it impossible to write using a pen or stylus of any kind. So, I type everything on the computer. I still have the manual typewriter I wrote my first few books on.

Yes, I’ve seen your study, Chris. It certainly does have LOTS of ‘inspirational paraphernalia’! lol  And I know how difficult book signings can be for you. 😦

What scary stories have you written?

Some would say that all my books are frightful, although that may be something else. I know that Unnatural History, my first book about unusual experiences in Manitoba, actually scared some readers with its true accounts of encounters with aliens, ghosts and monsters. In terms of explicit fantasy fiction, though, I think I’ve written and published about a half-dozen, including the new one I just gave to you.

Is this a genre in which you normally write?

Normally? No. My profession is as a science writer, and I write hundreds or thousands of words every day as part of my work. As recreation, however, I write almost always in the supernatural or paranormal field. The exception is my current work which is both fiction and biography, but I won’t publicly explain that yet.

What compelled you to write a story like this?

You asked.

Ha, ha! Thanks for that, by the way! 🙂

Do you normally read stories in this genre? If so, what is it about these types of stories that you like?

I usually read SF and mysteries. I’ve never been one to read Stephen King and horror as a rule, but I’ve enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock collections and like some Gothic works.

Would you like to share any social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc) where we can find you?

facebook.com/chris.rutkowski

@ufologyresearch

uforum.blogspot.com

In closing, is there anything more you’d like to say?

Watch out! Behind you!

Aaahhh! Oh, Chris, you scared me! I thought it was The Blue Lady come to kidnap ME next! (If you don’t get the reference, see Wednesday’s post)

Thanks a lot for joining us, today, Chris!

I hope you all enjoyed a glimpse into the life of one of Off The Wall‘s most prolific writers! 🙂

Scary October – Day 5

Hi, Everyone! Yesterday, my friend, Chris Rutkowski of UFO fame, sent me a rather scary story so without further ado, here it is:

My Darling!

By Chris A. Rutkowski


“My darling! I love you!” said the man.

                  “No, you don’t,” she said to him. “It’s impossible!”

                  “But I do!” he replied. “More than ever!”

                  She laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous! You’re just infatuated with me!”

                  “Oh, my sweet! Even this infatuation is bliss to me!”

                  She rolled her eyes. “Listen, you stupid git! I let you in my house tonight to finally get rid of you once and for all! I know that I never should have asked that witch for a spell to make you love me in the first place. That’s the last time I go on Kijiji!”

                  He wept. Real tears. “But my Beauty, I have longed to be with you every minute of every day, pledging my love for you!”

                  “Yeah, you’ve  been dogging me every day for the past three months since I snuck into your apartment and got some of your hair from your brush for the potion. How was I to know how potent it was? You’ve been calling and texting me every day since then, usually fifty times a day!”

                  She put her hands on her hips and stood over his prone form on her living room carpet. “But enough!” she declared proudly. “That tea that I made for you and watched you drink was laced with pure cyanide that I managed to sneak out of the chemistry lab at work today when I tricked you and left by another door. And even then, you were back here on the porch within an hour anyway.”

                  “I was in agony, being so far from you,” he said, his voice wavering. “I felt my heart reaching to you across space and time, and I followed its pull to your door.”

                  “Things were much, much better when you were ignoring me in the supermarket,” she said angrily. “I realized I didn’t need you in my life after all!”

                  Even in his weakness, he gazed up at her passionately. “No, no, I still love you! I love you more and more, even as I feel the world spinning around me.”

                  He began gasping for breath. “Please—hold me in your arms! The room is—getting dim!”

                  “Hold you!” she guffawed. “Why, I’ve done everything I can to avoid you for weeks! You’ve driven me absolutely crazy with your constant clamouring and hanging onto me whenever I tried to leave my home!”

                  She strode around his sprawled legs so she could look down directly into his ashen, but still enraptured face. “Why I ever thought you were the right guy for me, I’ll never know! Before that love potion, you barely even gave me the time of day when we met at the bus stop every day. Whatever possessed me to ask that weird old woman for the strongest spell she had?”

                  “I can barely see your lovely features any more, my love!” he breathed, straining to speak, and squinting his glossy eyes. “I want to be with you forever!”

                  “Who needs that kind of love?” she spat.

                  “But—I don’t want to leave you!” he moaned, but then he breathed his last.

                  “Finally!” she exclaimed.

                  Slowly and methodically, as she had planned for weeks, she rolled his lifeless body in the carpet, then dragged it down the hall into the attached garage. It’s a good thing she had kept up her membership in the gym, because she was easily able to get the carpet and its occupant into her SUV through the side sliding door.

                  Under cover of darkness, she drove to the gravel pit on the east side of town. She used rope to tie the carpet tightly around the body, then used large pieces of rebar and cement blocks to weigh it down before dropping it into the deep pond at the centre of the pit.

                  “Good riddance!” she exclaimed.

                  She drove home and started planning how she would dispose of the van in the coming days, to cover her tracks.

                  She arrived back at her house and immediately went into her living room. She listened carefully. The room was silent.

                  “Hooray!” she shouted. “No more annoying guy to bug me! I’m free at last!”

                  She quickly walked into her bedroom and lay down.

                  “Finally, some sleep!” she sighed with a smile.

                  “But my darling! I love you and now I can be with you forever!” said his ghost, beside the bed. “The spell was strong enough to conquer even death!”

                  She screamed, and screamed again, until she could scream no more.

I guess the moral of this story is, be careful what you wish for! lol

On Sunday, Chris will be my interviewee so you can find out more about how his mind works and ask him things I may not have thought of but questions you may have after reading this! lol

I’m still open to accepting stories or links if you have something to share. Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

Scary October – Day 3

I was planning to post a Spooky Crafty Wednesday, today, but for some reason the jump drive with the pictures on it isn’t showing up when I hook it to the computer. Yesterday, the computer disconnected it for some unknown reason, so there might be a problem with the drive. I did get it working one other time last night, but this morning, it’s being stubborn. Maybe it’s the ghost in the machine! lol

So, I guess I’ll just go ahead and do something different. I still have some spooky kids stories and a link to a friend’s blog. At Stacks and Ranges, she talks about zombies, so if you’re a zombie-lover, pop over to read Midweek Geekiness – the Zombiefied Edition.

Another scary thing that I discovered this morning is that a good blogger friend of mine has been kidnapped by a Martian called The Blue Lady! Please head over there and plead for Jennifer M. Eaton‘s life. You might even win an ARC of her new anthology Make Believe, which I will be talking about more in December when it’s launched.

Now, let’s see. What story shall I tease you with on this sunny October Wednesday? How about, since I mentioned the Martian, that I tell you a little bit about a WIP I’ve tentatively titled, Little Green Men?

 

Somewhere near midnight, on an access road between two cornfields in southern Manitoba, two young men lay on the hood of an old Chevy pick-up watching diamond chips streak across the star-filled sky.  The two had been friends since the third grade and would soon be starting their final years at the University of Manitoba.

Jake stood just over six feet tall.  His wavy ebony hair was short along the sides but longer on top, parted in the middle.  His square face sported a shallowly cleft chin, a long straight nose and intense brown eyes.  A former quarterback for his high school team, he was well proportioned and prided himself on keeping fit.  His field of study was Medicine and he was looking forward to his internship.

Mark, by contrast, was a couple of inches shorter with sandy hair and hazel eyes that changed colour with his mood and surroundings.  His slim build was deceiving for, beneath the baggy clothes, his wiry muscles poised like a cat’s ready to strike.  He had a youthful energy and enthusiasm, which would help him in his chosen profession as a high school teacher.  He held a double major in English and Science, but his real passion was astronomy, hence the reason they were out in the middle of nowhere watching the sky.

Mid-August was the perfect time to catch the annual series of meteor showers, but this year’s display was especially spectacular.  The boys ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ as though watching fireworks when, suddenly, they were blinded by a bright streak of light and deafened by an ear-splitting whistle as a fireball shot past them, narrowly missing the roof of the truck to land in the field not more than a hundred meters away.

“Whoa!  Did you see that?” Jake exclaimed.

“Kinda hard to miss, bro’,” Mark commented.  “Come on!  Let’s check it out.”

Hopping off the hood onto the dirt road, the pair plunged between the rows of tall corn stalks following the acrid smell of sulphur as a thin trail of smoke snaked skyward from the crash site.  Expecting to find a hunk of burning rock, the college students were surprised to find a teardrop-shaped metal object about the size of a new Volkswagen beetle.  It was almost invisible, its mirror-like surface reflecting images of the surrounding corn.  Jake and Mark could only detect the object by the compression of the stalks and the door that yawned open.

“What do you think it is?” Jake asked.  “Some kind of experimental aircraft?  After all, Shilo’s not too far away.  They could have all sorts of military stuff there.”

“I don’t think it’s from anywhere close to here,” Mark said with awe in his voice.

“Come on!  You don’t expect me to believe it’s a flying saucer!” Jake scoffed.  “It’s not even saucer-shaped.”

“Actually, it could be a life-pod of some kind, you know, like from a bigger ship.”

“You watch too much Star Trek,” Jake said, shaking his head.

Peering into the smoking interior, all they could see were sparks and flashes of colored lights on a control panel.  The symbols visible to them were unusual and definitely not any language or letter system the young men had ever seen before.

“Something must have escaped from the pod,” Mark said, pointing his penlight around the site, illuminating a trail of bent stalks.

Placing his forefinger against his lips, he tugged Jake’s jacket sleeve.  Together, they followed the path until it stopped, almost tripping on the unconscious body lying face down at their feet.  They gasped as Mark’s light panned over a thin, green creature with long slender limbs.  They estimated its length was nearly seven feet but, judging from its width, it could not weigh more than a hundred pounds.  Its hair was the color and consistency of corn silk, flowing from the top of its head to its knees.

“Looks like you were right about it being an alien craft,” Jake whispered.  “This thing is definitely not from around here.”

“Is it breathing?” Mark asked, tentatively reaching for the flaxen hair.

Jake knelt to place his ear against the upper torso.  He heard a steady heartbeat and felt the rib cage expand and relax with an even rhythm.

“It doesn’t seem to be having difficulty processing our air,” Jake said.

With medical curiosity, Jake examined the unusual body, shocked to see many nasty red welts crisscrossing the back and shoulders.  Turning the creature over, he studied its face, which was flat with large eye sockets, two small nostrils with no bulge for a nose, and only a slit for a mouth.  Jake drew aside the hair from the side of its face and noticed an opening, but no earlobe.  It also had no outward indications as to its sex, but what concerned Jake most was the nasty gash on its forehead.

“We’ve got to get this thing out of here,” he said.  “It’s hurt – badly.”

“What about that pod thing?” Mark asked.

“I don’t know.  If we leave it here, someone’s bound to find it and come looking for this, uh  . . . creature.  If that happens, the poor thing will be off to some scientist’s lab table and who knows what will happen to it.  Maybe I can help it recover.”

“So, what do we do about that pod thing?” Mark repeated.

Jake thought a moment.  “Is it hot?”

“I have no idea.  I didn’t touch it.  What if it’s radioactive, or something?”

“We can think about that later.  I think it’s small enough to fit in my truck.  We can take it to my place.  The barn should be big enough to conceal it.”

Jake picked up the creature and carried it to his truck, then drove back through the field to the crash site.  Wrapping their jackets around the pod, he and Mark lifted the surprisingly lightweight object into the back of the pick-up.  Although it didn’t fit inside the deck, they set it on the box sides, securing it with bungee cords before heading for Jake’s place…

books by Chris Rutkowski

 

I’ll leave it there, for the moment, and let you wonder – is the creature dangerous? Where did it come from? Are there others like it that have fallen to earth? What is its intentions? If I get enough interest, I might post a little more, tomorrow.

If you like reading about aliens and UFOs, you’ve got to check out Chris Rutkowski’s blog, and his books.

Chris is a member of my writers group, Off The Wall. I’ve known him since 8th grade and he’s been interested in the unknown as long as I’ve known him and probably long before that. He has investigated all sorts of unusual phenomenon and in Unnatural History, he explores scary sites in Manitoba where ghosts are said to roam. He’s been up to Lake Manitoba where the Manipogo Monster, much like Nessie from Loch Ness, is said to swim. He’s interviewed people who have spotted UFOs in the sky, who claim to have encountered aliens and UFOs, as well as those who say they have been abducted. He keeps track of UFO reports from all over. Not only does he write all this non-fiction, he has written a series of short stories about unusual stuff that happens to a man who owns a diner on the outskirts of town. I will be interviewing him later in the month but if you are at all curious about him, click on the links above.

Happy Wednesday, everyone and don’t forget to send me scary links or stories of your own! 🙂

My Bookshelf

eclectic

When I do school visits to talk about my books, I have often been asked what are some of my favourite authors. This is a hard question, because I have such eclectic tastes. I like Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mysteries, Spy Stories, Adventures, Forensic Science stories, Historical Fiction, Teen Fiction and everything in between as long as I think it’s been well-written.

You might have noticed my historical fiction in the top left corner. James Clavell’s Shogun and Noble House were two of my favourites of all time. On the shelf below that are some very old books saved from my grandfather’s library, including the complete works of Shakespeare. Sprinkled among those are a few romance stories. I don’t tend to read romances as a rule, but I was trying to write one for a contest a while back and thought I should read a few to see if I could pick out the formula. The romance I did come up with was rejected because there was too much story and not enough romance. Go figure!

The shelves on the left contain my professional books as well as my husband’s, which also includes handyman & DIY books. (My man is quite handy.) Above the National Geographic magazines are my favourite Sci Fi and Fantasy stories as well as the ‘based on TV series’ stories (Star Trek, Babylon 5, Earth 2, X-Files, Stargate, etc).

Some of Clive Cussler’s adventure novels

Here is a stack of Clive Cussler’s rollicking Dirk Pitt stories. You may have seen the movie Sahara, which was based on one of his novels. As with any movie based on a book, there were definitely some inconsistencies. The most glaring was the producer’s choice for the actor who played Dirk Pitt. Normally I would not complain about any movie starring Matthew McConaughey, but he certainly isn’t the ‘tall, dark & handsome’ type that I had envisioned Dirk to be.

Anne McCaffrey

Hiding behind some of the other books are SciFi & Fantasy novels by Ann McCaffrey, one of my favourite authors in the genre. While I have never read her Dragon Rider series, I loved her Powers That Be series among others. I had the opportunity of meeting her when she came to WorldCon back in 1995. She was a kind and gracious lady whose talent will be greatly missed.

If you look closely at the bookshelf, again, you should see the photographs and the scrapbook of our Las Vegas adventures. When we were there in 2005, my hubby & I went to the Star Trek Adventure at the Hilton Hotel. What a trip that was! Hubby got his picture inserted into the Borg pic on the right. (Have you ever seen a Borg with a moustache? ha! ha!) I ‘joined’ the Enterprise crew in the picture on the left.

There are also books from some of my favourite local authors: Chris Rutkowski, Alison Preston, Karen Dudley and Michael Van Rooy. First, I will talk about Chris, our ‘Fox Mulder’ of Manitoba.

books by Chris Rutkowski

He investigates and writes about strange phenomenon such as UFO sightings, and Alien Abductions, among other things. His book, Unnatural History, includes information on the Lake Manitoba monster called Manipogo (something like the Loch Ness Monster). He also reveals local places where ghosts have been sighted, as well as discusses crop circles and alien encounters. He has even written a children’s book, I Saw It Too based on the eye witness accounts of children who have seen UFOs and alien creatures. He also writes a blog to keep his readers apprised of the current UFO sightings. (see the Blogroll below for his link)

Alison Preston, Karen Dudley and Michael Van Rooy are all local writers of mysteries but each has their own distinct style.

Alison Preston

Alison’s books are set in the Winnipeg neighbourhood called the Norwood Flats. She has created a set of interesting characters who reside there and the unusual goings-on are investigated by one of Winnipeg’s finest, a cop nearing retirement, Frank Foote.

Michael Van Rooy’s Criminal series

Michael’s books are set in Winnipeg’s north end, a seedier sort of neighbourhood which suits the ex-con character quite well. Montgomery “Monty” Haaviko is trying to forget his criminal past for the sake of his wife and baby son, but finds it difficult as his past often comes back to haunt him. I love his dry humour and his innovative ways of dealing with the criminal elements while keeping the police off his back. Sadly, Michael was taken from the literary world too soon, suffering a massive heart attack, so we will not have the chance to read any more of his brilliant adventures.

Karen Dudley’s Robin Devarra mysteries

Karen Dudley’s books all have wonderful titles. Each one has a bird reference that is also a pun on a murderous expression: Hoot To Kill, Ptarmigeddon, Red Herron and Maccaws of Death. Her humour is evident, not just in the book titles, but also in the way her character, Robin Devarra solves the ecological mysteries. Each story revolves around a particular bird and their environment, which is being threatened by unsavoury people and/or corporations. Karen is currently writing a completely different set of books called Food For The Gods. If you would like to keep apprised of her activities, check out her blog (in the blogroll).

Well, I think I will wrap it up for now. Next time, I will discuss all the wonderful Canadian teen-fiction authors and the books of theirs I have on my shelves. Until then, happy reading…and writing!