Cover Reveal–Chasing Down the Night

Here we go, folks. With a flourish and a bow, a drumroll and a trumpet blast, I give you the cover for the third book of the Crater Lake Series – Chasing Down the Night.

CDN ebook cover A

Back of the Book Synopsis

One might be excused for assuming that an idyllic life unfolds for those who have chosen to live and work near the shores of Crater Lake. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Long-time resident, Izzy Montgomery juggles the stress of a new job with her burgeoning home life. Family dynamics go into overdrive when Alexander and Cynthia launch plans to build a home nearby and Liam’s sister, Fiona shows up to do an internship with the local doctor. Lisa-Marie and Justin are back for the summer and sparks fly. While crusty, old Reg keeps sawmill production booming, Beulah runs the organic bakery and plans the First Annual Caleb Jenkins Memorial Ball Tournament. Bethany discovers her own hidden talents working with young people at Micah Camp.

As a nine-year-old’s dreams reflect a dangerous reality, many encounter issues of the past. This is a novel for those who work at building family ties by strengthening the traditional and creating the new. Chasing Down the Night explores a wide-ranging emotional landscape while highlighting the many aspects of day-to-day, rural life. Tears and laughter are inevitable.

Newest chasing down the night cover jpeg

Cougar photo courtesy of Father Charles Brandt. Background photo and cover design by Bruce Witzel. Publication date is set for mid-May. I can’t wait. What about you?

Cougars and Dogs

san josef wagon road @ ronnings garden

A while ago I posted a short piece of flash fiction entitled Helplessness. This story was about a woman who takes her dog for a walk and they encounter a cougar. I received an email from a friend not long afterwards telling me that my story had her opening up a file on her computer to retrieve a little piece she had written years ago – a story that runs along a similar vein. It didn’t surprise me that we would have both created stories on the theme of cougars and dogs. We’ve both lived for years in an area where cougar sightings are common and my friend has loved dogs and walking dogs for as long as I’ve known her.

She sent me the story. I offered to do a bit of editing before giving her story a guest feature spot on my blog. (Just for the record, was it ever fun to edit someone else’s work for a change!)

So – I give you Becky – My Hero, a short story by my friend, Cheryl.

Becky – My Hero

It was my son Jeff who found me that morning, while memories of a gentle friend flooded my thoughts. becky 1I had tears running down my cheeks as I held Becky in my arms, her long, blond fur caked in blood. Beautiful, mischievous, dark-brown eyes were now closed by the trembling sweep of my fingertips. She had given her life for me.

I looked up at Jeff, and shook my head – as if to say, it’s too late. Time seemed to have no meaning. I wondered how long I had been sitting there on the dyke path. I hadn’t been able to carry Becky’s body away and I wouldn’t leave my dear old friend there, not like that.

Becky was a golden retriever born in the village of Port Alice on Vancouver Island. When she was just eight-weeks old, Becky joined our pack of friends and dogs for morning walks. She was a fluffy, mischievous little ball, but even as a pup she was a thinker and oh so curious.

Our group consisted of my dear friend Cathy, Sis my Chocolate Lab, Bootsie – a dog who was a mighty mouse mixture of sorts, and me. We would pick Becky up every morning as we started out on our walk. Often I would cart her along in my arms when her puppy legs tired out.

Our favourite walking spot was the dyke, a meandering path behind the Village. Puddles and streams often crossed our way. At the right times of the year, bears, deer, and sometimes even cougars could be seen. Cathy always packed the whistle and the bear spray. In the late summer and early fall the bears would be attracted to the plentiful berries. Becky and Sis made a game of chasing them away from their favorite treats. Bootsie, too old to join in such antics, watched from the sidelines.

When Becky was two-years old, my son Jeff adopted her and she became part of our family. Over the years our little dog-walking group lost both Bootsie and Sis. Cathy moved away and the pack dwindled to me and Becky.

On this fated morning, Becky was running free along the dyke. I had left her leash at home and was kicking myself for my forgetfulness. A Village Bylaw states that dogs must be on leash and in a small community, people can be picky about things like that.

I had been avoiding the dyke for a couple of days because reports of a cougar sighting in the area had been making the rounds. On this morning, the moon had fallen behind the mountains early and the sun had risen in a clear blue sky, warming the ground as steam rose all around us – it was too beautiful to resist the dyke. The smell of the forest, after the rain of the day before, filled my nostrils. Becky sniffed at every bush as was her usual practice.

image._p1442206A strange silence suddenly surrounded us. I saw Becky lift her nose, then her tail, and finally her hackles rose in a golden ruff down her neck and back. She stared up and past me toward the tree tops. I turned, with my heart beating wildly, to see what had drawn her attention. Becky’s gaze was riveted on a rock formation in front of us and before I could move, I saw the cougar leap at me.

Did I know what to do? Yes – I’ve lived in the North Island forever. Did I remember what to do? No, I did not. As the cougar bore down on me, I dropped to the ground and felt a tremendous weight skid across my back. Everything seemed to freeze. Becky lunged at the cougar and immediately the huge cat leapt from my back, accepting the dog’s heroic challenge. Lifting my head, I saw the cougar grab Becky by the back of her neck. I stumbled to my feet, clutching at the few rocks that came to hand, throwing these wildly at the cougar. My brain refusing to accept the sight of Becky held tight within the cat’s grip. I finally picked up a large tree branch. I took a deep breath and got myself within striking distance. With all my strength, I whacked the cougar on the side of the head. I managed to stun the animal enough that it released its hold on Becky and silently padded away into the trees at the side of the path, its tail making a menacing swish back and forth as it disappeared.

Becky’s brown eyes were calm but distant. Blood was flowing without check from her neck, soaking down her golden coat. I hastily pulled my sweat shirt over my head and tried to stop the bleeding. I applied pressure to the gaping wound, but it was no use.

I held her tight. I could feel her life force slipping away. She looked up at me and I saw her take her last laboured breath. As I cradled the body of this courageous animal in my arms, I felt that I had never known a greater love or felt a greater loss.