I was going to write an intro explaining how I wrote this story, the aches and pains of sitting down to write after a long hiatus (it’s terrible!), but decided to just post the story. I’d love to know your thoughts, and if you do have questions about it or the process, I’d love to hear those too.
The Other Foot
I owed Dax my life, yet I was the one who would ultimately kill him. Guilt the size of my pocket communicator burned a hole in my heart. I could barely look at him, and I couldn’t believe how calm he looked sitting beside the fire whittling a chunk of wood, as though he hadn’t a care in the world. Maybe that serenity in the face of danger was why my father had chosen the reformed convict as my protector and teacher. Regardless, I trusted Dax. My father may have been naïve about the Zees, but when it came to judging a person’s character he was as reliable as a compass. I went where Dax went. Except this time. This time was different.
“It’ll be fine,” he said, still whittling away. “I taught you everything you need to know to survive in the woods.”
“Yeah, that’s what you said.” My backpack was stuffed with gear: fire-making tools, blanket, pots for cooking and boiling water, maps, and a few other necessities. “I think I remember most of it.”
“You’d better. If you fail, or the Zees get you, this is all for nothing. Remember that.”
I shuddered. The Zees took adults and every young person on the verge of adulthood they could find. No one knew why or what was done to them. All we did know was that they were never seen again.
He set down the unfinished piece and stared at the sky. I looked up, too. Nothing stirred. There were few stars and no moon. How different to that night nine months ago when it had been aflame with alien lights, aroar with alien engines, the cacophony whipping humankind into a frenzy. The chaos had killed my father, along with millions of others.
“I’m sorry. I really am.”
He snorted and rolled onto his side, his back towards me. “I should have known it was just a matter of time. Teenagers are all the same: sneaky and unreliable. I just hope your excursion was worth it.”
My cheeks flamed red. Luckily, they weren’t visible in the dark. “It wasn’t, especially now. If I could take it back, I would.”
“Well, I guess there’s that.”
He rolled over to face me, firelight reflecting in the whites of his eyes. Then he shook his head, the angle of his down-turned face almost hiding a sad smile. “You still haven’t figured it out, have you? I promised your father I’d get you to the safe zone, remember? Everything I’ve done was to keep that promise. Was I tough on you? Yes. Were you allowed to do what you wanted? No. But, as we came to see, it was necessary because you never could see more than the step ahead.” He ran a hand through his tousled black hair. “Why couldn’t Sero have saddled me with a dog? At least you can train dogs.”
“I said I was sorry, okay?” It wasn’t enough, not nearly, but I had to say something. “Dax, I really didn’t think they’d trace the call or follow me. I did shake them though.”
“Well they did, and now our cover’s blown. Shaking them only gained us a few hours. We’ll be lucky if they wait until tomorrow to pay us a visit. You’d better be gone before then.” Dax lay back and sighed. I knew what that meant. He didn’t want me around when they came for him. Probably didn’t think I could handle it. “Look, Sid,” he went on, “what’s done is done. No point laboring the matter. Get some sleep.”
“How can you be so–?”
“I said, go to sleep. I’m done talking.” A minute later, he started to snore, definitively ending the discussion.
Typical! Adults never listen!
“Yes, dammit!” I threw back. “And you scared the hell out of me. I thought you were sleeping.”
“Nerves, I guess. What are you upset about?”
“Everyone’s making decisions for me! I should have a say in what’s going on, don’t you think?”
He laughed, but it was tired. “When I’m gone, you can do what you want. You’d just better make sure it includes getting to that safe zone in the mountains. That was the plan your father set in motion before the Zee’s got him, and that’s still the plan. Got that?”
I looked away. He talked big and complained, but he expected me to come through. My survival meant sticking it to the aliens. But more importantly to me, it meant honoring the two men who had risked everything for my sake. I had no choice but to live. Even if it was without them.
I curled into my blanket. The ground was cold, the sticks and tree roots making it impossible to find a comfortable position. Truth was, I also talked a big game. All that blathering about having a say, but honestly, what the hell did I know? The world was messed up and the rules had changed. Life was a jostled board game, humans the displaced pieces.
When I awoke the next morning, Dax was gone. At first, I thought the Zees had come for him during the night, but a quick look around revealed only his footsteps. And a gift left beside my pallet.
I packed slowly, picking up Dax’s gift last and placing it in my pocket.
Soon after, I heard the howls of the Zee’s dog-like tracking beasts in the woods. Just as Dax had taught me, I was on my feet in a flash, pouring water into the dirt and covering my shoes with mud. It would mask my scent for a while, at least until I got to the stream.
Once there, I jumped in and slogged through the current, heading north towards the mountains. The birds were awake and trilling their morning songs. I put a hand to my breast pocket. My palm curved over the bump of Dax’s souvenir: the completed carving of a mother bird shielding its young under its wing.
Upstream, I exited the water. The mountains loomed in the distance. It would be a long, difficult walk but Dax had prepared me for it. I listened for the Zees dogs, and when I heard nothing but the songs of birds in the trees, disappeared into the brush.
Copyright @2017 by Dyane Forde
Welcome to another installment of our Author Interview feature. Today, we have the pleasure of meeting Canadian paranormal author, Martha Jette. I hope you’ll take the time to meet Ms. Jette as well as get to know her writing and her thoughts on writing in today’s world.
Welcome, Martha Jette. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, I went on to acquire two college degrees: Legal Secretarial and Print Journalism. Upon graduating from the latter, I assumed the role of editor of Arts and Entertainment Forum. The following year, I was asked to join the Brabant Newspaper chain and for the next 12 years was employed as reporter/editor/photographer/layout artist of several of the company’s newspapers. I retired in 1996 due to health issues.
Personally, I am a mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three amazing grandchildren, all of whom I love to spend time. Life is fleeting, so it is essential to honor and cherish everyone you love, including other family members and friends.
Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it?
Every so often I need to take a break from writing. When this happens, I have two hobbies that I love. Firstly, I pick up angels of all sizes from resale shops. I refurbish/paint statues of angels and when I am finished, they look beautiful! Secondly, I also love to paint God’s glorious forming galaxies in oils and acrylics from photos taken by the Hubble telescope.
Writing is a daily pursuit, not only because I enjoy it so much but also as a source of extra income. I write weekly for the Examiner.com (http://www.examiner.com/x-35811-Hamilton-Paranormal-Examiner) on a wide variety of topics related to the paranormal. I also provide professional book review (http://www.mjbookreviews.blogspot.com) and full manuscript editing services at reasonable rates on a freelance basis.
I am always kept motivated to write by hearing the stories of others, whether that is a spirit haunting or a personal story that touches me. I have had quite a few paranormal experiences and of course, life experiences myself, so it is easy for me to relate to others on these topics.
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?
I primarily write short stories and novels based on true stories. However, I have dabbled in fiction as well. I love writing poetry but for some reason, I never seem to have time now. I could never have imagined writing on the topic of child abuse because it has touched our own family in so many ways.
However, when I was approached about the horrid abuses suffered by 12 children in one Canadian family, I could not say no. That story needed to be told and it seemed that I was the one chosen to do it. Other genres that I do not wish to write about include science fiction and politics. They say that truth is often stranger than fiction, so for the most part, I avoid fiction as well.
I’ve read books, which annoy me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
I have probably read hundreds of books over my lifetime and there were several things that annoyed me and still do. These include improper or excessive amount of punctuation (commas at every turn!), dangling or incomplete sentences, typos of course and not following the plot/story line. The most distressing are the books that end “in mid-air” so to speak leaving the reader with plenty of unanswered questions.
A good story should consist of a well thought out story-line, characters that are fully developed and described, including important elements of the surrounding scenery to stimulate the reader’s imagination and plenty of conversation that further reveals the characters’ likes, dislikes, personality, etc. It is vital that the reader not only comes to know the characters but also comes to love or hate them.
With the advent of self-publishing more common than ever via ebooks, I am amazed that authors do not either edit their own work or hire someone who is qualified to do it for them. There are thousands of ebooks out there that tell a great story but are essentially ruined because of this.
As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I believe I answered the first question in #5. However, I would add that the story must flow from beginning to end, leaving no questions in the reader’s mind. I believe my strengths come from my experience writing for newspapers where I learned that one must include the – who, what, when, where and why – all crucial elements when writing non-fiction. I would say for the same reason, I am not as good at writing fiction, although I have attempted to do that.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what you write?
The biggest influence in my writing is the people I write about and the information they provide. These are usually personal experiences, which are my favorite thing to write about.
What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique?
My preferred genre is any topic related to the paranormal including ghosts and hauntings, haunted houses and sites, angels, demons, premonitions, predictive dreams, life after death, near death experiences, aliens and UFOs, etc. I find these topics fascinating since I have had many experiences myself. Anyone who has an inquiring mind wants to understand the world of the paranormal and this is the audience I seek. I believe in this age of high technology when these types of events still occur, people want answers to life’s most important questions.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
Since retiring, I have published eight books with Saga Books of Calgary, AB and they will soon be available as ebooks, although some hard copies are still in circulation. They are:
1) “Glimpses” True Stories of the Paranormal See: http://paranormalbooks.webs.com
2) “Glimpses 2” It Could Happen To You! (ISBN# 1-894936-38-8) http://paranormalbooks.webs.com
3) “Talking To My Angel” (children) (ISBN# 1-894936-28-0) See: http://www.talkingtomyangel.blogspot.com
7) Totally Scared: The Complete Book On Haunted Houses (ISBN# 978-1-897512-35-7) See: http://www.totallyscared.webs.com.
8) Playing With The Devil (ISBN# 1-894936-51-5)
Ebooks available now on Amazon.com:
1) Phenomenal Paul: An Incredible True Tale of Insect-like Creatures & UFOS http://www.amazon.com/Phenomenal-Paul-Incredible-Insect-like-Creatures-ebook/dp/B00FZ0785U/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1385486700&sr=8-3&keywords=Martha+Jette
2) Terror In The Night I – Alien Abduction Exposed! http://www.amazon.com/Terror-In-The-Night-Abduction-ebook/dp/B00GUR8MMK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385488982&sr=8-1&keywords=Martha+Jette
3) The Borg Files – A Case of UFOs & Alien Abduction http://www.amazon.com/The-Borg-Files-Alien-Abduction-ebook/dp/B00H8XU26O/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1386844835&sr=8-9&keywords=Martha+Jette
(Note: see reader comments at the end of the interview)
I am currently working on two different projects. One is a personal biography and the other is a sequel to Terror In The Night, which will delve deeper into the UFO and alien phenomenon including what is already know by world governments, NASA, the NSA, the Vatican and so on. I have already completed a great deal of research for this one, including a number of documents unknown to the public. As well my co-writer, Dawn Colclasure, has asked me to co-write another paranormal book that she is working on.
Why is promoting writers on your blog or web site important to you?
My book review site offers information on other authors and what they are writing about. I am also a member of the Book Marketing Network (http://www.bookmarket.ning.com) where I run a book review group and other authors can post their own as well. In this business, it is vital that we do everything we can to support each other.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
For me, the most difficult part of my writing is the amount of research involved. I have to set aside time for this because it forms the basis of many of my books.
Who are your favorite writers and why?
Well, when I was young, I used to read works by Shakespeare, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Into my teens, however, I wanted answers to life, likely because I was adopted and had no known roots. That’s when I began reading everything I could by such writers as Hans Holzer, Whitley Strieber, George Orwell, John E. Mack, David M. Jacobs, Aldus Huxley and Dan Brown. As to current day writers, I am extremely impressed by Vancouver author, Veronica Knox, who weaves amazing fictional tales that include aspects of the paranormal.
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?
First of all, it is imperative that you get the facts right when writing non-fiction. Secondly, unless you are also a professional editor, make sure you hire one. A good editor will tell you straight up what is wrong with your work and offer tips on how to improve it.
I would suggest that you create a web site or blog to feature some of your work in order to draw attention to it. Networking through various book and/or topic related sites/groups that focus on your genre is also important. As well, become your own book agent. Do everything you possibly can to spread the word about your book(s) on every site possible. Finally, make sure that whenever you send an email or make a posting, include info on your book(s) and how readers can get a copy.
How can readers get in contact with you?
Readers can always get in touch by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or through my other sites including:
Playing With The Devil
“This is a horrific story of child abuse in the 1960s, researched and written by Martha Jette. The mother of these twelve children from Grand Banks, Newfoundland, Canada not only severely victimized these children herself, she sold them into prostitution, allowing them to be victimized by others in that small town… May Almighty God exact His justice on the perpetrators of these atrocities.” – Kevin Leland, who was compelled to include this book on every page of his web site at http://bangaricontentgallery.com
“The abuse of children in Canada and around the world can only take place in secrecy. As a society and as a community, we have a moral and legal obligation to expose crimes against children so that the arms of justice may intervene. Martha Jette has performed just this duty by writing Playing With The Devil. We owe it to our children and all children to read this book.” – Lisa Haeck, Director, Canada Children First
Totally Scared: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses
“I love this book! Not only are there true encounters of spirits from the other side and the world’s most haunted places but there is also a section in this book teaching you how to make your home a haunted house and being a Halloween lover that was awesome. 🙂 I found this book to be very interesting and hard to put down.” – Mrs. Brooks, Night Owl Reviews
“Authors Jette and Colclasure did a spectacular and imaginative job in compiling real ghost stories from around the world, mincing with your average Joe to celebrity tales. For those who are new to the field of the paranormal or want to learn more on many different levels this is a read to pick up as I highly recommend it.”- Author and Paranormalist, Alexandra Holzer, daughter of the renowned Hans Holzer
Glimpses: True Stories of the Paranormal
“I just finished reading Glimpses and I must say from the very first page to the very last page, I was hooked. I could not put the book down! A must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about the higher and unknown powers.” – Leesa Dawn Nauss, Hamilton, Ontario
“This is a book you cannot put down in anticipation of the next page. Really well written and totally blew me away! – Peter Wills, New Zealand
Talking To My Angel
“I absolutely love and believe in angels. I cannot stop crying. You have touched my heart and soul, in all sincerity. My daughter, Monique, is 9 years old and read your book. She and I loved it – really loved it! – Australian celebrity Suzanne Leigh
I have also been a guest on a variety of on and off line radio shows including CHML and The X-Zone in Hamilton, Midnight Highway Radio, BUFO Radio, Global Talk Radio, The Graveyard Shift, Quantum Radio, Late Night in the Midlands and Spirit Rescuers, 2012 Blog Talk Radio.
“I have had the pleasure of having Martha Jette on the X-Zone Radio Show a number of times, and in her latest book Glimpses 2: (it could happen to you!), her many years as a journalist and editor in the newspaper industry shines through in this paranormal piece of work.” – Rob McConnell, host & executive producer of the X-Zone. Archive link: http://www.xzone-radio.com/archives
Thank you so much for visiting, Mrs. Jette. I appreciate you sharing about your books, your passion for creativity, and what makes for good writing. Readers, thank you for sticking with us, and I hope you will let Mrs. Jette know how much you appreciated her interview.
Until next time!