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If Thine Eye Offends Thee

In the snowy woods of Northern Ontario, two stories are fusing into one. One is contemporary; the other as old it seems as time itself.

In the first, twelve students are rehearsing Shakespeare's Macbeth during a freak snowstorm which has them trapped in their school and worrying about "the curse of the Scottish play" as it affects not only their production but their lives. Their fears are hardly allayed by their teachers who both have their private problems—one with a fear of accepting responsibility, the other with an irrational terror of blizzards.

One student in particular has the greatest cause to fear, for she knows that a vicious avenger known as the Storm Gatherer is stalking her. Her family long ago sinned against the rules of their ancient clan and she, as the last survivor, must now pay the price. The blizzard can only mean that the avenger has found her and the bloody end is near.

Thus the words—"Pine Hollow District High School has been deserted since that first Friday in December. Perhaps—some residents of nearby North Ridge say—for a day or two longer than that. No one alive knows for sure. And the dead may walk, but they aren't talking"—may serve equally as both an appropriate prologue and epilogue to If Thine Eye…

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T.K. Sheils

1935—2004

Favorite Quote: "Man is the only creature who laughs...or needs to." (Anon. maybe himself)

On October 12, the bell tolled for electronic publishing pioneer Terry Sheils. As author and editor, he put his indelible stamp of creative genius and literary excellence on e-publishing.

Terry could write in almost any genre. He moved easily from the erotic fictional biography of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, in Dreams for the Wind, and the dark Mayan fantasy, Knights Tiger, to chilling horror novels like Butterfly House, then on to lighthearted romps like his hilarious Hunter Knox mystery novels.

His interests had always been varied. As an undergraduate maintaining scholarship level marks in Philosophy at the University of Toronto, Terry wrote and directed musical comedies, sang Gilbert and Sullivan patter songs, and played John Worthing in “The Importance of Being Earnest” on stage with actors the caliber of Donald Sutherland. At the same time, he wrote a weekly news and comment column entitled “Terry a While.” While he was at it, he married the singing lead of his musical comedies, Dee Lloyd.

An inveterate innovator, Terry always found a fresh new way to achieve excellence in every field he entered. In his teaching career, he created and taught one of the first high school Theater Arts courses in Ontario, wrote curriculum for the education ministry of the Province of Ontario, and became assistant coordinator of English for the North York Board of Education. In that position he published collections of student writing and initiated a Performing Arts festival for students of all grades.

His own writing was always a constant in his life. Plays, poetry, short stories—first for his students and then for his children and grandchildren—flowed from his pen. Later, thankfully much more legibly, they poured from his computer. From the moment he took his retirement from teaching in 1992, Terry wrote novels in all genres, over thirty of them. Most were published by mundania, but others found homes with five different small independent publishing houses.

Terry firmly believed that books in the future would be read electronically. He argued that there were already millions of handheld reading devices, each capable of holding ten to a hundred novels, in the hands of potential readers. Besides, it was obvious that children and young adults loved electronic games and were comfortable with new media devices. The eventual adoption of this medium by the reading public was inevitable. With his usual enthusiasm, he plunged into e-publishing.

As one of the founding editors and authors of mundania (www.mundania.com), Terry became known for his talent, quick wit and quirky sense of humor. His hilarious Hunter Knox mystery novels (Par for the Corpse, Poe--The Musical and 50 Ways to Kill Your Lover) received critical acclaim and a wide following. His Pendragon paranormal detective series (the latest of which is Rara Ibis) proved that sex, as well as humor, can be an integral element in a mystery novel.

However, Terry was best known for his award-winning horror novels. Writing as T. K. Sheils, he won an Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) for Butterfly House, the first of his “Sabrina and Jackson” horror novels. Butterfly House was the very first electronic book ever to win an IPPY, and was selected from among the over 700 competitors. Butterfly House also won the 2001 EPPIE Award for Horror presented by EPIC (the Electronically Published Internet Connection ). Terry’s subsequent horror novel, The Craving, won a second IPPY in 2003.

Terry Sheils had strong, well-thought-out opinions but listened carefully to opposing points of view. His wit was quick but never cutting. The most often repeated phrase at his memorial was: “I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.” In his novels, however, pretensions were fair game for satire. Hunter Knox is devastating and wildly funny in his performances as a singing country evangelist.

Terry Sheils ... a fascinating man of infinite imagination and humor.

He will be missed.

—by Dee Lloyd; originally published in The Bell at ReadersRoom.com

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