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

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

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. 🙂


Scary October – Day 21

Since it’s Sunday, here’s another interview. This time, I am speaking with another of my writer’s group, Evelyn Woodward. I posted an excerpt from her story The Way of the Kyma on Friday. If you haven’t read it you can catch it here. She has published 3 books, all found on Amazon. Please welcome her.

Hi, Evelyn! Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Flin Flon, Manitoba. This is a place named after a character in a Science Fiction novel. Seems like a good start. I have had a diverse career that focused on research and laboratories. I have taught science in high school. I worked on pollution solutions for chemical waste in the fertilizer industry. I worked in quality control at the pregnant mare’s urine plant (so much urine – so much progesterone). I did statistical studies to determine whether deer should be hunted again. And I worked in a Mental Hospital, drawing blood and doing analysis in the lab. These are just jobs. But with each job I had, I learned more about people and what makes them tick.

Product Details How long have you been a writer?

I started putting the stories that lived in my head onto paper about twenty five years ago. My daydreams are weird and fantastic. Sometimes they make good stories.

Why do you think you became a writer?

Out of loneliness. I was tired with two children in diapers and no one to talk to. In order to get everything that was bottled up inside of me out, I had to write it down. But I can’t seem to journal very well. It is too personal. So, I wrote fiction. For all the people who hurt me, I burned their town to the ground in a story that will never be published. It did take away all the anger and confusion and made me realize that I’m actually a pretty good writer and I have something to say.

Remind me never to cross you. I’m not sure I’d like to be a villain in one of your stories! lol

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

I sit on my bed with a notebook and write with coloured pens. I change colour each day so I can keep track of my daily progress. I am still most creative in green.

Product DetailsI wonder if green is usually linked with creativity.
What scary stories have you written?

My stories are more weird than scary, but there is scary in everything.

So true!

In what genre do you normally write?

I write whatever comes to mind. It can be placed in a genre once it is done. Most of my stuff would be considered fantasy, I think.

What compelled you to write a horror story?

A challenge.

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

I read Stephen King because he is a good writer. His stories are not always the greatest, but he can touch something inside of you and cause a reaction.

Would you like to share any social media sites where we can find you?


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

I write about the world around us in the here and now. I just add a what if? 

What if healers really exist and we could learn how to do what they do? 

What if ghosts are in need of someone to send them to the Gate and whatever happens next? 

What if some aliens are stupid and only find their way here because they paid their way?

What if the invisible person that a mental patient is talking to can be seen by more than just her?


All interesting questions and I know more than one of these have been put into stories. Thanks, Evelyn for taking the time to chat with us, today. 🙂

For anyone looking for true entertainment, check out Evelyn’s books. Click on the pics of her books for the links and story info. Thanks for joining us today. 🙂

Scary October – Day #19

Good morning everyone! I want to thank those who left encouraging comments yesterday regarding my brother-in-law’s accident. I really appreciate the concern and will keep you posted as to his condition.

In keeping with yesterday’s theme, the ‘What if’ scenario, I thought I’d feature the story of another of my writer’s group. Evelyn Woodward is one of the founders of the group. I met her back at World Con in 1995 shortly after I entered the writing world. I was invited to join her group and one another, at that time. At first, I joined the other group but kept in touch with Evelyn, eventually deciding to get their opinions of my writing, as well. When the other group disbanded a few years later, I remained with Off The Wall, and we have since invited some of the other members that I have already featured here and here.

I will post her interview on Sunday but, until then, all I will tell you is that she loves asking the question, ‘What if?’ Here is an excerpt from her story, The Way of the Kyma:

The Way Of The Kyma

From the moment Elizabeth looked into the doctor’s eyes, she knew that Andy had finally managed to kill her. All she could do was question his method.

“Dr. Mankowski, I don’t understand. What are you trying to tell me?”

“It’s the results from the lab, Elizabeth. We did all the tests.”

Elizabeth’s mind jumped back to the barrage of tests Dr. Mankowski had ordered. She was poked, prodded, scanned and ultra sounded. Her arms were purple from the blood tests and she felt that if she had to pee on command one more time, she would scream.

“I’ve tried to get more information, but it all adds up to one thing. With this toxic chemical in your system, you will die.”

The young woman sitting across the desk felt like she would shrink down into the hard plastic chair.

“How?” she asked, her voice cracking on the word.

“Like your mother,” the doctor said, looking at the file in front of him. “We didn’t know what was doing it until her autopsy. Her organs just shut down. What we found was a substance only rumoured to exist. It is connected to the military. That’s all I know.”

“Andy,” Elizabeth whispered. Clearing her throat, she went on, “This substance…”

“Is in you. The level is not as high as it was in your mother, but it seems to be cumulative. Now, even if you never have it near you again, it is too late. We don’t know how to remove it from your body.”

The doctor was babbling, telling Elizabeth things she could hardly absorb. Her mind whirled. Time seemed to slow and her focus narrowed. His faded grey eyes behind his old-fashioned wire-framed glasses avoided hers. His hands played with the papers. She absently noticed he had stubby fingers. How could a doctor who performed surgery, work with such stubby fingers? Her mind was avoiding the issue at hand. The desk in front of her was softly finished walnut. She reached out to touch the warm texture, then drew back to the issue again. Death.

“Why?” she asked. “I’m just tired. People don’t die from being tired! I don’t feel poisoned.” But the reality was, she did.

“I know,” he said. His sympathetic tones told her that he really hated telling her the bad news. “I suspect that the pollution levels in the city have aggravated it, but we have no proof yet. We can’t find this substance in any samples that have been taken throughout the city. If you know anything…?”

“How long?”

“Six months to a year,” he sighed, finally looking at her and then quickly looking back down at the file. “Your only hope would be a miracle. I’ve never seen one of those, but I have heard of them. Look, there is a support group that can help you deal with this. Try to stay calm. I will help you with whatever palliative care you need. You can get the contact numbers from my receptionist.”

Stay calm? She thought. Calm? There he sits telling me that I will die in six months and he wants calm. I could tell him what to do with his calm and his six months!

She got up without a word, left the office and went outside, ignoring the doctor and his receptionist as they called her name. A shiver went through her as she passed through the throngs of nameless people going about their busy lives. Many of them looked as tired as she felt. Did they have a possessive spouse who would rather kill them than let them go? Naturally, it was raining and cold. She must have taken the bus home, but she didn’t remember the ride at all. Her mind was numb from the shock.


I know this may not seem like a horror story to you but, for me, I think this part is pretty scary. It’s a real-life sort-of scary. After all, wouldn’t you be terrified if you’d been told you only have six months to live? I’ve known many women who have survived their various bouts of breast cancer, but I also had a few friends who weren’t as lucky, so this part of Evelyn’s story is more than a little terrifying for me, especially if I put myself in her character’s place. If you don’t think this is ‘horror’, imagine that the toxins in Elizabeth’s body were like a serial killer, waiting for the right moment to jump out and kill her! 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this excerpt and will come back on Sunday to learn a little more about Evelyn. 🙂