Author Event at the Richmond Public Library

For you local folks, I’ll be doing an author event at the Richmond Public Library on October 3, from 4-5:00PM. Topic: Writing Dungeons and Dragons-style.
If you have the time, it would be great to see you there. Please consider registering!

You’ll have a chance to try out some of the techniques I use for crafting a story. And here are a few of the things I’ll be discussing:

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James in His Jeep Getting Java–Kokanee Creek

Crow’s Nest Highway was a spectacular drive, with these statues on the side of the road (there were many, I stopped to photograph two of them). While they made the drive interesting, it bothered me that they seemed to be for entrances to private high-end homes for the uber wealthy. They kind of said, “You can’t afford here. Move on.”

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While researching where I was going to camp, my original plan was to drive to Drumheller. When I saw Kokanee Creek online, it looked so beautiful that I decided to spend a few days there instead. Glad I did.

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I was a short walk to the lake and in a spot where I couldn’t see my neighbours. I could hear them though, as the kids playing in the campsite were screaming at the top of their lungs (one repeated the same Queen’s lyrics “We are the champions” over and over). They even rode their bikes into the washrooms, spreading wet mud everywhere. Thankfully, they were only there for the weekend and I was there for a few days into the week.

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I did have one thunderstorm while I was there, and branches from above broke and fell on my tent. The poles snapped in two, but the tent held up enough to get me through the night and early morning. The day turned out sunny (plus 30), with intermittent sun showers. I bought another tent, and carried on the rest of my trip making a mental note to invest in a much, much better tent..

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This was my view each morning when I woke up. I’d make a cup of coffee, walk to the lake, and sit and stare at the water.

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Instead of an inspirational song, I’ve added a video that I took while sitting on the beach. Enjoy!

James in His Jeep Getting Java – The Camping Edition

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Maybe it’s all the apocalypse writing and reading I’ve been doing over the last few years, but I got back into camping this summer. This trip I took west instead of south, and I stayed in Canada to visit a few places I’d never been.

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My goal was to drive from Vancouver to Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. I booked campsites in Manning Park, Kokanee Creek, and Stemwinder Provincial Park. I drove the Crow’s Nest Highway (Hwy 3) from Hope to Nelson and stopped in a few really great towns.

What I didn’t know when I began was the necessity of booking your campsite ahead of time. Unlike when I was a kid, one cannot simply go into a campsite and expect a great spot. (Get the reference there?) I booked mine the week ahead, but because I was travelling on odd days (I began on a Friday and ended on a Friday) I was able to secure some sweet spots. If you haven’t used Discover Camping yet, it is a really simple service that lets you see photos of your spot. Unlike dating sites, these photos accurately represent what you’ll find when meeting.

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I originally wanted to spend Friday to Sunday in Manning Park, but by the time I went to book the only spots for that time frame were in overflow near the highway. Instead, I changed my dates to just Friday to Saturday, which opened up a spot in the Lightning Lake Large Loop section which was pretty sweet. A close walk to the lake, and a pretty private (and quiet) camping area.

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It was also early enough in the season that there were no fire bans. You do have to remember to bring cash for firewood, as it is illegal to transport out of park wood into your site.

The night I spent in Manning was actually pretty terrible. (No fault to the site at all.) Being summer, I was prepared for summer heat and not for the quickly changing temperatures of the mountains. It got cold that night–no idea how cold, but my tent, sleeping bag, and the sweater/pants/pyjamas I wore were not enough to stave off the cold. To say it was rough is to understate just how cold I got. I’m from Winnipeg–I’ve dealt with -40 and colder.

After Manning, I drove Crow’s Nest to Princeton, BC, a little town of about 3,000 people. It had an old feel to it and very friendly people. I discovered a very tasty cafe, the Cowboy Coffee. Had french toast and coffee there–highly recommend.

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While in Princeton, I knew I’d need a better sleeping bag if I wanted to survive another night. I found the outdoor store, Princeton Outdoor Supply, who was very helpful and had a sleeping bag that should do the trick. He suggested that I take the one I have and put it inside the new one, and sleep with the two if I got cold. It was a great idea, actually, and gave me the leeway to have a cooler night if needed.

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Plus, I saw this deer. Didn’t seem to mind me or the traffic at all.

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While on my trip, I listened to a local singer/songwriter Land of Deborah. Give her a listen–she’s great road trip tunes!

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: To Die, or Not to Die, that is the Question…

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? On every Thursday, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Jane Alvey Harris weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

I already have a ‘Zombie Contingency Plan’ ready to go

My good friend James asked me to write up a guest post about what I would do in the event of a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. I bet he wasn’t expecting to hear that I already have a ‘Zombie Contingency Plan’ ready to go. But I totally DO.

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Here’s the thing. I don’t like zombies. Like, AT ALL.

“Well, duh, Jane,” you might scoff. “Nobody likes zombies!” Yeah, yeah. So you say. But I know some of you secretly can’t wait to get out there and dust up some undead. I for REALS want NOTHING to do with them.

Anyone who knows me well knows what I would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I think it’s an important disclosure, and one that can tell you a lot about a person.

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Do YOUR loved ones know about your Zombie Apocalypse Contingency Plan?

XLLS

Mine do, and it’s pretty simple: I would off myself. Immediately. 

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Trust me, I know this isn’t a popular plan, and you’re welcome to try and change my mind. But you won’t.  I promiseI would only choose this plan IF there were an apocalypse, and IF that apocalypse produced brain-eating zombies.

IF, PEOPLE!!!

SLXL Because, (sorry, James) why would anyone want to survive a Zombie Apocalypse?? The living turn into MONSTERS, and like, strap strangers to mattresses for their snacking convenience, (I’m still traumatized after reading Cormac McCarty’s “The Road”) and all the undead are gory, gross, brain-eating machines.

I see no tenable future in that scenario.

Emily, the main character in my current series, the My Myth Trilogy, would XLL Shandle things quite differently. She’s a caricature of my own personality, which makes her simultaneously stronger and weaker than I am. Emily would survive to save her siblings Jacob, Aidan, and Claire (whereas I would kill us all). They’re her whole purpose, her reason for striving, her reason for facing her demons, her reason for doing really difficult things that almost paralyze her.

Emily may joke about zombies, but if they ever threatened her brothers and sister, she would decimate them with her masculine and feminine Fae powers of Blaze and Keen.

Bottom line:

You absolutely want Emily on your side in a zombie apocalypse.

You just want to be very careful not to get to close…

and you definitely never want to piss her off.

As for me? I’m guessing you probably don’t want me on your side.

Jane

I have a Humanities degree from Brigham Young University with emphases in Art History, Italian Language, and Studio Art. I’m CRAZY about the visual and performing arts! I enjoy playing classical piano, painting & sketching, singing & acting, and especially writing poetry & prose.

 But my real passion is PEOPLE. I love to watch and study what makes us tick as human beings. I’m definitely a dreamer, and my favorite thing to do is weave together sublime settings and stories for characters to live and learn in…myself included.

 I currently live in an enchanted fairy-princess castle in Dallas, Texas, with my three often-adorable children and their three seldom-adorable cats.

Zombie Apocalypse: Fast Food Zombie

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Jane Whittingham weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

What is your best skill in the case of a zombie apocalypse?

 

MY SPECIAL SKILL

On first glance I might not appear to be the best person to have on your team in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I’ve never held a gun. I’m not particularly strong or fit. I have no outdoor survival skills. And I’m not exactly a dab hand with a baseball bat.

What I do offer, though, is a very special skill set gained by watching countless hours of cooking competition shows on television.

Stay with me here. In the aftermath of a zombie attack, food will likely be scarce and hard to come by. As the saying goes, though, an army marches on its stomach. How are we going to feed ourselves with no fast food outlets to rely on?

Friends, this is where my special skill set comes in. Thanks to all those episodes of Iron Chef and Chopped, I will be able to take the most random assortment of ingredients and turn them into something (somewhat) nutritious and (hopefully) delicious (or at least edible). I’ve seen chefs turn ground beef into delectable desserts, so I think I’m well prepared to handle even the most challenging culinary scenarios.

Now, this might not seem like the most vital skill in the face of global annihilation, but nutritious meals will help survivors keep up their strength (and avoid disastrous food poisoning), while tasty dishes will help build morale.

So hand me that tinned asparagus of questionable age, those bags of squished marshmallows, that bottle of cola and that squirrel you just trapped and let me work my magic!

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Jane Whittingham is a children’s book author and librarian. Her debut picture book, Wild One, was published by Pajama Press in Canada in November 2017 and will release in the United States in March 2018.

In addition to books, she’s also passionate about travel and does share the occasional travel-themed post on Raincity Librarian. She also adores anime, Korean dramas, strong black tea, sushi, and her home city of Vancouver (aka RAINCITY).

 

Zombie Apocalypse: Long Legs as a Weapon of Choice

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, up and coming author Laurie Crookell weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

 

 WHEN ZOMBIES COME TO TOWN

 Warwick Castle. Warwickshire, England. 2018.

The castle’s walls rise from the ground like oversized tombstones. Majestic towers guard each corner, as if giant knights carved from stone. An entrance way beckons, the drawbridge extended like a hand of greeting. I stroll into the courtyard, where overgrown rose gardens soften the harsh, stone walls.

Thunderous clouds loom overhead. Lightning bolts flash through the sky. Gnashing teeth clatter. Are prisoners still languishing in the dungeons? I glance about. Augghhhhhh!

Zombies! Everywhere. Clawing at me. Grasping for my limbs. Has the apocalypse arrived? Blood oozes down the zombies’ decomposing faces, their matted hair hanging like rats’ tails dripping in sludge. The stench of rotting flesh and putrefied skunk spray rushes up my nose. The zombies moan. Low. Deep. Guttural. Spine-shivering.

Fear slithers through my body, squeezing my insides with gut-wrenching dread. My heart plunges, thumping to the erratic rhythm of panic and fear. Thud-thud. Thump. Thud-thud-thud. Pound. My heart flips inside out.

I run, feet hammering the ground, my brain racing like a Formula One race car. What am I going to do? How do I get rid of zombies? They didn’t teach that in Economics 101. Help, I’ve never even seen a zombie movie. Quick. Think. Wait, that’s it. My long legs! I can outrun and out-climb those zombies any day. To the towers!

The zombies surge forward, their ragged clothing flapping against their limbs. I run even faster. The nearest turret rises before me. I scramble through the open four-foot thick, wooden door, pushing it shut behind me. Thud. Clunk. I bolt the door, metal clanking on metal, as the bolt slides into place.

A spiral staircase swirls to the top. I sprint up the turret stairs, two at a time. Up and up, whirling around in a dizzying coil. My sneakers grip the worn, stone steps. Sunlight filters in through narrow slits along the turret walls. I pant. Beads of sweat drip down my face. I push myself upwards, only a few more stairs.

I reach the top, shove open the wooden door, and then bolt it shut behind me. Clank! I stroll to the edge and gaze out at the vista below. Emerald green grass, like velvety moss, stretches before me, masking the battles of historic times and drawing my attention away from the teeming zombies below.

I’m safe. At least, for now!

Nighttime flies in on raven’s wings. Black. Eerie. Ominous. Shadow’s twin, lurking, like a cloak over earth’s noble throne. Zombies gnash their teeth, while moving en mass against the turret door below. I slump to the cold, stone floor. Hunger sneaks in, my stomach churning. Does anyone deliver pizza this time of day? I pull out my cell phone and dial.

“Air delivery, please.”

A deafening crash echoes through the night. The zombies break through the first bolted door. The apocalypse at ground level has begun. Will my pizza arrive before the zombies?

Before long, a helicopter swirls overhead. A rope drops with a pizza box dangling on the end.

“Hey!” I holler. “Can I hitch a ride out of here?”

The pilot nods. I grab hold of the rope. The helicopter lifts up, its propellers whirring overhead. I hang on tight, swaying back and forth as I dangle midair. Zombies burst through the door and swarm onto the top of the turret.

I laugh. “So long, you zombie devils! My long legs will beat you every time.” I fly off into night’s ebony silk sky, luminescent stars twinkling over my victory. “Take that, you flesh-eating zombies! I win!”

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BIO: Laurie Crookell is an up and coming writer, with 13 awards from provincial, national, and international writing competitions, along with 14 published newspaper and magazine articles. She hopes to soon land a publishing contract for her picture books and young adult novel, after which, perhaps she’ll write a movie script about zombies.

Zombieapocalypse: Knit Your Escape!

Zombie Apocalypse: Knit Your Escape!

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Eileen Cook weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

What is your best skill in the case of a zombie apocalypse?
This is a difficult question to answer. Right off the bat I know my biggest downside- an active imagination. I’m the MASTER at imagining the worst case scenario, which means I would be picturing zombies popping out of every possible dark corner. I would be that person who was always screaming: “ACK Over there! Over there!”  and then once everyone ran over and realized there was nothing but a shadow would start to ignore me, or leave me behind because my constant screaming was both annoying and attracted the wrong kind of attention.
The one useful skill that I could bring is that I can knit. In most zombie shows I can’t help but notice everyone’s clothes look pretty shabby. Not that being fashionable is the most important thing when attempting to outrun the un-dead, but you don’t need to look bad either. Plus, I can make socks. If you spend a lot of time running you’re going to want comfy socks. And, not to freak anyone out, but knitting needles are big giant pointy sticks. I’ve never tried this on purpose, if you stabbed a zombie with one, it would hurt and into the eye would be a sure fire way to kill one. I have managed to stab myself (granted never through the eye) by accident and I can vouch it doesn’t feel great.

 

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Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, THE HANGING GIRL, came out in October 2017. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.

Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.