Category Archives: zombie

James in His Jeep Getting Java – Port Townsend

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Did I ever tell you about the time I stayed in a haunted hotel and time travelled to Victorian era America? True story.

March 31st I had decided to take a roadtrip to Port Townsend and found a hotel online that looks like a castle. The Manrea Castle in Port Townsend has quite a history,  even claiming to be haunted according to one website. It seemed like the ideal place to stay for a writer.

I took the Chuckanut Drive just south of Bellingham towards Whidby Island, passing through one of my favourite places for lunch: Edison. The Slough had been closed my last few stops (the owner takes a well-deserved vacation) but this time it was open. I always have their soup of the day and grilled cheese sandwich as it never disappoints.

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I can’t say that I wasn’t warned to book ahead for the ferry. Not only was it on the hotel’s website, but there are a million signs posted along the highway telling you to book ahead. I didn’t listen, because I figured it couldn’t possibly be that busy on a Friday afternoon. It can, and it was.

I arrived at 2pm and was told if I wanted to wait I might make it onto the 6:30pm ferry. My other option was to book for the 6:30pm ferry, leave for a few hours, then return. My thought process: I had some writing to do, there was a cafe there, and really a few hours was no big deal. Reality: A few hours is a really long time.

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Keystone Cafe was good for what it was: a cafe by the ferry. If there were choices, it would not win out. However, they did have ice cream so that was good. I spent the afternoon writing for a few hours, thinking, took a nap, ate some ice cream, drank way too much coffee (like there’s a such thing), watched two ferries arrive and leave without me (the 2:30pm and 4:30pm ferries), and finally the 6:30 ferry arrived. I was the final vehicle to make it onto the ferry. Barely. At that point, I think the ferry staff actually felt sorry for me because I was the only one being polite with them and not shouting curses.

Port Townsend is a very beautiful place. It wasn’t my first time here, but it was my first time to spend time exploring the city. I had passed through before on my way to Forks a few years ago.

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As I had arrived late in the evening, there wasn’t much open so I went straight to the castle and checked into my room. At this point, I hadn’t read any of the lore regarding the haunting, but later that night I would swear to hearing footsteps on the ceiling where there should have only been an attic. As well, that night I had one of the worst allergy attacks of my days that could only have been brought on by a ghostly spirit (or the gorgeous flower gardens in bloom around the castle).

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As a place to stay, I’d recommend Manrea Castle. It was comfortable and reasonably priced. However, because my room had a window on my door light from the hallway kept my room from getting dark enough to let me sleep. I did mention that to staff, but you may want to make sure they’ve corrected it before you book. And book ahead for the ferry. Just trust me on that.`

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And apparently I time travelled. The next day there were people wandering the streets dressed in Victorian-era garb, which I would learn later was because of a Victorian Festival that happens every year. These were the townspeople and not actors just out enjoying the amazing place they call home. (I learned this after asking a few people if I could take photos, and one couple asking me, “You know we all live here, we’re not actors or anything, right?” No. No I did not.)

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I ventured over to Point Wilson Lighthouse, which has an interesting history from when it was a working lighthouse. The lighthouse is in Fort Worden Park, which itself was a beautiful, pleasant walk. The day was sunny, and warm — and in one of the photos below, you can see the glimpse of an otter scampering from the lighthouse through the rocks to the ocean.

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I found an old bunker that looked to me like the scene from a zombie apocalypse. Blame my fascination on zombies for that, and probably the book I wrote on the zombie apocalypse.

As road trips go, Port Townsend is one I will do again. It has an interesting history, a friendly town, cool architecture, and next time I’ll make sure to plan to attend the festival.

My theme song for this trip is Clannad’s Robin Hood even though Robin Hood was medieval and not Victorian.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is perhaps my favourite time of year. Partly because it’s an excuse to eat as much candy as I want, but also because I love dressing up as a character. As a writer, I don’t often dress up a someone else’s character, so when I go to parties people have a hard time figuring out who I am supposed to be. “I’m not a character, I’m more of a genre,” I tell them.

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I’m not sure who this character is yet, but this was my version of a steampunk-ish zombie hunter. The jacket (detail is completely lost) is Renaissance in style, the shirt pirate, the boots medieval. I found a very cool machete (plastic, but it looked metal) and a toy crossbow that, again, did not look like a toy. For future: black gloves, facial scars and a severed zombie head on my belt would have made this outfit complete.

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Friend and cake-maker extraordinaire Carrie also arrived at the party as a zombie hunter (completely unplanned that our costumes would be the same genre). She also arrived with a severed zombie head, which turned out to be a cake.

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Halloween Night is now just one more sleep away, so if you’re out and about tomorrow just remember to watch for those dark spaces and howls at the moon. Plus, if you are in the mood for a zombie tale don’t forget that Rise of the One-Eyed King is for sale over at Amazon!

Radio Interview, Culture Days, and a Free Book!

At noon today I’m doing a reading on a pop-up radio station called Leave Your Mark FM outside the Richmond Cultural Centre. In honour of the event, you can get the Kindle version of Rise of the One-Eyed King FREE.

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For more information on the pop up radio station, follow this link!

 

Birch Bay Rollback Weekend

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On August 13th I took a drive down to Birch Bay for their 2nd annual Rollback Weekend. This was a flash back to the cars of the past, with music and hot dogs and people dressed up with clothes from the 50s and 60s.

This has become one of my favourite spots to visit, and is the location where my next book will take place. I’ve been spending a lot of time there over the past few weekends, and this particular day was one of my favourites. Here are a few photos of my favourite vehicles.

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1975 Jeep CJ 5

 

The Jeep, no surprise, has always been among my favourite vehicles. It’s rugged, tough, and just looks cool. In high school and well into my 20s I drove a *cough*deathtrap*cough* 1977 CJ7 3-speed, and so when I saw this CJ 5 I immediately wandered over to it. I have a lot of fond memories driving around Winnipeg in that CJ 7 with my buddies piled in, the roof off, and the music blaring.

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Zombie Apocalypse Vehicle

This vehicle obviously gets a lot of second looks on the road. And I bet no one tailgates him.

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Truck that I’m pretty sure was inspired by Mad Max

 

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VW Camper Van

A big part of my childhood was spent camping in one of these with my uncle. We took trips from Winnipeg to Florida, Winnipeg to Los Angeles, and many, many others. No doubt a big part of why I love the road trip even now as an adult.

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’71 Dodge Charger 440 CI Magnum

This is my second favourite car after the ’72 Cuda.

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There’s much to love about Birch Bay if you’re in the area and looking for a fun spot to spend the day. After the car show (and a very questionable hot dog) I hiked up the highway to the Birch Bay Cafe, where I sat and sipped a latte and wrote. And of course, the theme song for this post should have been obvious. Because black cars do look better in the shade…

Dyslexia in the Zombie Apocalypse

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Took a road trip to Shannon Falls today with a friend of mine, and as we were walking along the trails we came across a sign that warned about the safety of the hike and a caution that you’d best be prepared.

She and I hadn’t discussed what we’d be bringing, but we compared our packs and sure enough we had everything that was required–no doubt this was in due part (for me, anyway) from writing a story about a zombie apocalypse that made me really consider, “Am I prepared for a disaster?”

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Prepared or not, Rise of the One-Eyed King paperback edition comes out on Monday, August the 1st. It’s been blurbed by two of the most well-known children’s authors in Canada–which, I have to admit, was a huge relief for me. Up until now, I wasn’t sure that I had written a book worth reading, but now I’m feeling confident and excited.

“Smart and crisply written.  If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead you’ve found your next read!” –Eric Walters, bestselling author of the Rule of Three series.

“Zombies? Check. Non-stop apocalyptic action? Check! This book will get your heart pumping. Read it with one hand on a machete (just in case).”  –Arthur Slade, bestselling author of Dust.

Click on the cover below for the Amazon page.

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What I haven’t told very many people until now, is that there is also a special paperback edition that features a font called, Opendyslexic. This is a font that increases the readability for those with dyslexia, and I’m hoping that by creating this edition teens (or adults) with dyslexia may have a book to read that will be less of a struggle so they can concentrate on enjoying the story and not just with the mechanics of reading. (Click on the cover below for the Amazon page for the version with Opendyslexic font.)

I should say that none of my characters in the story have dyslexia (not that’s mentioned, anyway), and that my reasons for making this edition was from working in a bookstore and struggling to find books for teens with dyslexia. I’m planning on releasing this format for another paperback edition of Rancor: Vampyre Hunter, as well. But that’s a future project! For now, give Rise of the One-Eyed King a try!

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And for those of you who may have missed the book trailer, here it is again!

James in His Jeep Getting Java–the Terra Nova Rural Park Edition

During my holidays, on May 30th, I visited (as I do on many an occasion) Terra Nova Rural Park. There are many reasons to love island living (Richmond, BC is only accessible by two bridges or a tunnel) and our nature parks are one of them. Terra Nova is 63 acres wide, has walking trails, historic sites, and a playground that will blow your mind and make you wish you could be a kid again.

Along the way, you can stop in at the Starbucks at Terra Nova Village on Westminster Highway and First Ave. Then, head over to the park and prepare to enjoy your day.

Below is the entrance just meters from the playground. If you’re not going to the playground, this is a quieter section to enter. You’ll find ample parking along the dyke, or if you have come as a cyclist the paths are quite cycle friendly. (Just remember that you are sharing the path, and it is your responsibility as a cyclist to make sure pedestrians know you are approaching by ringing a bell.)

If you are going to the playground, your kids are in for a treat. The structures look like something from a Flintstones cartoon, and it’s billed as an “off-leash” place for kids. The City of Richmond consulted with children before creating this place, and invested 1-million dollars in it. Click here for a better view and more information.

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The slide.
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The zipline.

Myself, I venture over to the boardwalk that crosses over a (very small) marsh. There are benches to sit on and it’s normally fairly quiet, with the noise from happy children heard as background from the nearby playground.

One note I will make are the cigarette butts that are seen stashed between the floorboards of the walkway. If you must ruin your health by smoking, maybe you can think of others by taking your trash with you when your cigarette is done. It means we can all enjoy the space, not just you. (And to you smokers who do this already, thank-you.)

There are a few First Nations art installations along the pathways that are worth seeing. Below is a stone bench carved with a Raven, and a little history of the Musqueam peoples. It weighs 3200 lbs, so little chance of it getting stolen. It’s a great place to sit for a spell and take in the sounds and scents around you.

As you wind your way through the paths, you’ll come across a community garden. In a day and age where many people are living n condos, this space not only allows for the growing of fresh vegetables and fruits but also a place where neighbours can meet each other. People here are generally friendly and proud of what they are creating, and more than willing to engage in conversation.

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Below are the two objects that made me think of the zombie apocalypse. That bicycle would be great to use to cart stuff around, and that clay oven could either be used for baking bread or disposing of zombies. (Not both.) Ahhhh, the writer brain never rests.

Below is a house that I’m pretty sure was a community building for the gardens, but I wasn’t positive. I may have trespassed that day…

And you will see wildlife in the park. There are several species of birds, below you’ll find the heron and a couple ducks. Usually I see hawks and eagles, but none were out that day.

All in all, this is a great place to visit for a picnic or to let your kids get rid of their energy with the ziplines, slide, and many other cool things in the playground.

Not sure what the Queen song, Princes of the Universe, has to do with the mood of that day except that hikes through the woods sometimes makes me think of the movie Highlander. (There was only one movie–the others never existed. NEVER. EXISTED.) So, I leave this song as the theme for this post.

James in his Jeep Getting Java-The Bird Sanctuary Edition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABird watching or scoping out the territory during a zombieapocalypse?

This past May long weekend I spent the better part of the morning at George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary with good friends Rob, Sarah, and Brianna.

Reifel is a 3 km square area in Delta, British Columbia that is a designated site of Hemispheric Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (as taken from Wikipedia). On a quiet day it’s a nice slow walk with many species of birds to spy, and on a busy day it’s an attempt not to trip over small children that are in constant danger of being attacked by geese as their parents take photos moments before doom sets in.

I’m going to be flat out honest and just say that I have no idea what bird is what except that the one below enjoyed flying into Brianna’s hand like a scene from Snow White (but a kick ass one where the poison actually makes Snow stronger and she takes over the kingdom by force with her army of dwarves.) When I attempted to lure the bird to my hand, it refused to come near me and I’m pretty sure it even cackled with laughter. Sometimes at night I can still hear the laughter.

This below is a sparrow. (I think.) It was tiny and carried sticks presumably to build a nest–or it was weight training knowing that the other birds would probably tease him eventually because he’s small and he wanted to make sure he could fight back. I may be projecting.

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To the left, that’s a blue bird of some sort. On the right is a wood duck perched on a log.

Below is a bird that seems to be saying, “You lookin’ at me?” in a De Niro voice.

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And here are the rest of the photos of the bird sanctuary. I do recommend this as a road trip if you are in the Delta area, especially on a nice day. Rob will warn you that some of the berries are alarmed, thus known as “alarm berries,” to make sure that the foliage is not being tampered with. I’m mostly certain he’s joking…

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And there’s my best bud, Sarah and me, enjoying our outing at what I think will be an ideal place to survive a zombie apocalypse should it ever happen.

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This is the theme song from the day because Rob and I made a joke about this song and the birds flying. Unfortunately, it took me so long to post this that I have completely forgotten what the comment was. It was funny though. Seriously, really funny.