Saturday, 16 June 2018

Guest Author Jeremy Thomas Gilmer of New Brunswick.

I’m always surprised at the fount of talent from our small province and Jeremy is a vibrant part of our writing community. We met through a writing group in Fredericton and I’m pleased to have him as a guest this week. He is nice enough to answer some questions for a 4Q Interview and as a bonus is sharing one of his stories.


Jeremy Thomas Gilmer was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada and spent his childhood in Canada, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. He has worked in a number of different occupations, from climbing instructor to construction, soil mechanics and engineering. He has spent the last twenty years working on international mining projects in South America, Africa and the Arctic. He did not attend University. He has recently relocated to Fredericton, New Brunswick. His short story ‘Congo River, County Antrim’ was long listed for the CBC Canada Writes short story prize in 2015. 


4Q: You are presently the Kira Writer in Residence in ST. Andrews. Please tell us about this experience and how it came about.


JG:  Being selected for KirA came very much out of the blue and I applied without much hope of winning it, but with the idea that the process of applying and getting my name and work in front of people would be a good move. Roger Moore, the poet and academic was the WiR there last year and he was very keen for me to apply. As I write this I am preparing for July and I am so looking forward to fully focusing on writing without the push and pull of other work(s) affecting that. I am hoping to complete a collection of short stories which I have been working on for some time, and of which the included story will be a part. So far the people at KirA have been fabulous to interact with and I am excited to spend time with the other artists who will be there is July, it is quite a group. It’s a truly international endeavor and I encourage anyone with an interest to apply for next year.  
(Photo credit: Dillon Anthony)


4Q: We’re always interested in where an author’s ideas and/or inspiration comes from. What’s your take on this Jeremy?


JG: This is a question that has often baffled me. Most writers I know have a deficit of time and perhaps energy, but almost never ideas. I am struck by story ideas walking down the street, brushing my teeth or driving. To be fair, I have spent much of my life being exposed to new and different places, people and cultures, and this very much shows in my work. For me, it is often an image, a smell, a place or a sound that triggers an idea. It isn’t always fully formed, but seems to shape itself around what mental furniture happens to be filling my head and heart at the time.  As for inspiration, much of my work revolves around war, conflict, migration and their effects on the human landscape. There is no shortage of these things in the world today, and I am trying to tell the stories in between, the strange and sometimes very subtle ways people’s lives intersect and change in reaction to the changing world around them.

To people who want to generate ideas for their own writing, I have a few suggestions. Creative writing classes and courses are where you can learn your craft, the technical skills with which you build the architecture of your stories, but the ideas, the music, must come from you. You need to live to have stories to tell. Go spend time with strangers learning to do things you don’t know how to do. Get away from what you know and get into places that are completely alien to you. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t write about others. I don’t know a single, great writer who has not gone out into the world and lived. Here is a hint, if it doesn’t scare you a bit, you aren’t doing it right.


4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote with us.


JG: My childhood and young adulthood was full of wonder.
Jungles and deserts and oceans, it was not your average childhood. We were living in Jebba, Nigeria and I would have been maybe two or three. It was a very isolated place at the time, where we were. I was playing in the back yard and I fell and deeply cut my forehead. Now, parents know that a cut like that will bleed terribly. We had no doctors close by and my parents were in a panic, so on a neighbor’s advice they took me to a local tailor who was able to sew up the cut with a needle and thread. At the time there were issues with security and children, so my father had hired a Tuareg tribesman named Chin Chin, to basically be my bodyguard. Following the treatment I was extremely sick for three days, and for those three days Chin Chin sat outside my bedroom window and kept watch. My father told me that except for the occasional bathroom break he did not leave that spot for three days. My mother told me they had to force him to eat and drink, so upset was he that I was injured while in his care. The first faces I remember are of my parents and of him. I recall being carried high in the air on his shoulders, walked around the village and I remember being spoken to in Arabic and Tamasheq. These are images and sounds that remain very powerful to me and likely always will. I have a picture with little me, naked as a jaybird sitting on Chin Chin’s shoulders, in what must have been 45 degree heat. I still have this jagged scar on my forehead, I often run my finger over it while I am writing. I guess it is kind of a touchstone.
(Photo of Chin Chin: Bill Gilmer's African Archives.)

4Q: What’s on your agenda for the future Jeremy? What are you working on?


JG: First is this collection. Following that, I have a couple of novels in development, quietly sitting in files waiting to have attention paid to them. Both require some further travel to flesh out a bit. I also have another short story collection in the wings, some written and some gestating. I expect the next two to three years to be rather full, but it very good ways. I am someone who deeply enjoys the process, the work, and the roads that lead to the finished thing, whatever that thing is.


For a real treat, Jeremy is sharing one of his short stories.
(Copyright belongs to the author. Used with permission)




              They climbed, higher and higher into the evening. The mass of the mountain was visible even in the dark, the stars obscured by the shape of it against the night sky. Efe lead Thomas by the hand, as they came around the bend and the sky came into view, he felt for a moment as if he could touch it, the blue black rolling with the dots of light and blinking satellites. Thomas’ hand gripped his tightly. It was just below freezing, which for the time of year was a kindness.


They walked up and up the trail following lit signs that told them in French where they were going. They passed a few people descending the trail, heading back to chalets and huts, warm fires and schnapps. They came through a narrow passage in the rock and the flat of the lookout opened before them. Efe sat Thomas down on a rock and he thought of the first time he had come here, with the boy’s mother. Before work and before pregnancy, before perfect mornings and nights of fighting.

              “It won’t be long.”

              “I know, Papa.”

              He remembered their first trip here, it was the first time she had left Nigeria, she had actually only been out of Lagos twice, to see family in Jebba, and he saw her pursed lips and narrow eyes as she looked across Geneva. Nothing was good, or right for her. Not the apartment in Versoix, not the buses or trains, especially not the food.

He thought of those first days, returning to a crying baby in the crib, wet diapers, her hidden under the covers, weeping muffled by the TV and the duvet. It would always take so long before he could touch her, hold her. She would not go near the baby for hours, he wondered what happened during the day, while he worked. He thought of the two of them, mother and baby, her staring at him from across the room.

He could remember her magic, her visions. In Lagos she could see a car accident before it happened. She knew the sex of a cousin’s baby before it was born, she could tell you the color of a Sunrise, dark purple or brilliant yellow, before the sun crept out of its home and burst onto the day’s canvas. He had always loved these things in her, it was honestly what had drawn him to her once they were courting. But there was always a sadness, a knowledge that she would not share. Something that followed her, and later them. He often wondered what she saw, what she feared in their union.

Thomas sat next to him, close to him, and wrapped the wool blanket around them both, leaning into his father in that way he did. He thought of the hours and days he spent away from his boy, in tunnels and labs, blinking lights and screens, graphs and displays. He did his own magic here, playing with the very bits of the universe that made everything. Machines the size of cities were at his fingertips, yet, he could not know who was calling before the phone rang. Her voice calmly telling him, it will ring in a moment, your sister from Accra.

And then, he thought of losing her before he knew she was gone. Nights spent smashing atoms deep underground while the mother of his child struggled with the dark of her night. He remembered her last words, dragging a weary bag to some train she would not name. I cannot even see him, that is what she said.

              Thomas gasped, and sat upright.

“It is coming, Papa! I can hear it!”

Efe looked up into the night, just in time to catch three, perfect flashes. The meteors lit the sky. One for each of them. He felt the sting of a fishhook in his throat as his eyes filled. Thomas touched his wet cheeks.

“Why tears, Papa.”

Efe removed the boy’s dark glasses, his cream colored eyes opening to the bright sky.

“Your Mother also knew when they were coming. You have her gift, my Love.”


The boy smiled at the thought, as the stars spun.


Thank you Jeremy for being our guest this week.

For those of you who are interested in discovering more about Jeremy and his writing, please visit the following links.

Facebook- Jeremy Thomas Gilmer Writer

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Guest Author Sarah Butland of Nova Scotia


It’s always fun to have one of my guests return for a second visit and that’s the case this week. Sarah shared an excerpt from her novel Blood Day on the last visit and you can see it HERE. She is kind enough to participate in a 4Q Interview.

Sarah Butland was born in Ontario, the year was 1982. She moved to New Brunswick for over 15 years and now resides at home in Nova Scotia, Canada. Butland has been married to her high school sweetheart and has a superstar son named William and Dogo Argentino named Lumen. Besides home schooling and working part time, Sarah finds time to follow her dream of being an author and teaching others that they can do the same.


4Q: It’s been awhile since your last visit Sarah. You’ve been quite busy as one can see from your website. Tell us about your latest work, I Saw the Forest.


SB: My latest work is I Saw the Forest, a short story, a practice in imagery and realizing my own obstacles I was letting keep me down. Being in the writing or any creative industry can be daunting and disheartening at times, frustrating when you feel like you’re beating your head against a wall in hopes someone, anyone, will hear. But for most of us in the creative arts, it would be harder to stop breathing than it would be to cease being passionate. 

I Saw the Forest ties in the saying “see the forest through the trees” as I have always had the opposite problem – dreaming so big I couldn’t see or celebrate the little steps or successes which often mean much more than we give them credit for. So, if you will, I always see the forest and not the trees.



4Q: So, where do your ideas come from Sarah? What inspires you?

SB: Good question and I wish I had an answer. The simplest way I can describe this is the ideas come through my fingers. Whether I’m typing or writing, I seem to be transported out of body to write the tales that come from literally thin air. Since I was a child I would wander through the forest behind my house and simply imagine. I didn’t need video games or role playing, I just needed a moment to enjoy the peace before the voices would visit and create chaos.
I write like I read, by the seat of my pants and not knowing what is coming next. It keeps me motivated to listen to the characters and the freedom to just tell their story with no expectations or fears of insulting anyone.


4Q: Pleased share a childhood memory or anecdote with us.

SB: When I was “taught” to craft stories in school it was mandatory to show a brainstorm or plot layout before writing the real thing. I struggled with this until I realized I could draft a story and go back to brainstorm or “draw the web” in the time it took my classmates to write out their plotline. I would present my scattered thoughts to the teacher, leaving my story on my desk, and then return to my seat to write another story so it looked like I was hard at work. Then, before the deadline, I would present the story I wrote and I don’t think my methods were ever questioned.  

4Q: You have an ongoing story on your website at present and you add to it daily I believe. What is this all about?

 SB: In March I happened to find an organized “AtoZChallenge” which invited participants to write a blog post every day in April starting with the next letter of the alphabet. I felt like I abandoned my blog for other projects at that time so immediately signed up, knowing it wouldn’t be easy but that it was necessary to get me out of my writing funk. And I did it! I wrote random posts about writing and the process of finding time to do what you love.

After I wrote I would occasionally blog hop to see what others participating were writing about and discovered some wrote a short story with each post. I thought it was brilliant and decided to personally challenge myself to keep going with the word a day challenge but write fictional pieces. When I got started I realized the project was turning into something bigger than I imagined as the story the characters were telling weren’t worthy of just one blog, they needed the entire month.

I try to write less than 500 words for a blog post in hopes that someone will actually read it and it just naturally breaks up like that.
*As I am replying to you it is May 27th and I feel like it will either come to a very abrupt and awkward end or could continue. We’ll need to wait and see (or you can go back now as you’re readying this after May 31st and see what happened). 


Thank you Sarah for being our guest this week and sharing your thoughts.

For those of you that want to discover more about Sarah and her writing, please visit her website at, on Facebook at and follow her Twitter feed at

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Wasps - They're back. A short story by allan hudson

Summer is finally here. So are those pesky insects, mosquitos, June bugs, lady bugs, bumble bees (they're not so bad) but worse yet, the damn wasps are back too!
One spring I was stung by one of those despicable critters and not only did it hurt but it inspired a short story.
Who knows where these ideas come from?
Imagine if you killed a bunch of wasps and they sought revenge!

(copyright held by the author)

Seymour Troffmok hightails it out of the baby barn like a scared rabbit with a hungry fox hot on his tail. Four angry yellow jackets, insect warriors, swarm his upper body for the first thirty feet of his escape into the open yard, their stingers dripping with venom. Their intention is to kill. Deeming the threat no longer remains, the determined protectors veer off from the fleeing intruder quickly returning to their hive satisfied the menace has been sufficiently warned.  

Seymour is skinnier than a yard rake and the welt on his neck is a big as a walnut. He’s moaning and cursing, rubbing the sore bump.  It feels as if someone drove a three inch nail in his neck, or at least he imagines it hurts that much. He’s scared too, his bulged out eyes search the yard around him where he stops running by the large pine tree at the edge of his property, fifty yards from the bomb laden storage shed. Confident there are no more of the horrible insects chasing him he rests his shaking body against the tree, eyeballing the open doors of the barn as they swing in the spring breeze.

The sun is behind him as it begins its ascension into the sky. The pine tree is thick and wide enough to keep him in shadow, old enough to remember Seymour’s ancestors. The bark is rough, deeply veined and reassuring upon his back.  One of the massive roots has grown from the ground before burrowing back into the rich earth creating a low uncomfortable seat about four feet long.  The rounded top is wide enough for an average bum; hundreds have polished the aged root for the last fifty years.  Seymour buffs it up once more by plopping down on the wood. Dead needles are scattered at his feet. He’s in his comfort zone, far enough away from the damn wasps.

He sits facing the swaying doors. Turning his head slowly in circles trying to ease the pain he glares at the opening as several wasps appear, hovering briefly as if to decide which way they should proceed. Seymour freezes, wills his heart to stop beating, chilled with the thought they might be looking for him. The three bugs bug out to his left at full velocity, uninterested in Seymour any longer. His shoulders visibly droop in relief, an inaudible sigh escapes his lips. A snicker covers his nervousness when he whispers

“What in the blazes am I going to do? And my aching neck…ohhhh…those little buggers.”

Seymour’s fear turns to anger, that some small pest would chase him from his own property. He strikes up a little bravado directing his comment towards the unseen hive.

“That’ll be the friggin’ day!”
Almost in response to the verbal threat, two wasps buzz down from the inside ceiling, holding position in the open doorway, facing Seymour, for several seconds.  Seymour gulps, his Adams apple moving up and down nervously. Before he can react to this new threat the wasps go off in the same direction as those that flew out moments ago. He sighs, trying to calm his jitters. Watching the entry to the small barn, he stares at the top of the opening trying to figure out what he’s going to do. He can see the edge of the patio table inside the shadows of the baby barn. He had been going in to get it out when the wasps attacked him. His first trip had been for the barbeque. They struck when he entered for the second time. The wasps figured that was too many. 

It’s the first Saturday in May.  The yard is covered with dead grass, flattened by the winter’s snow. Small shoots stick up here and there between the brown dried up blades of last year’s lawn, a green promise.  A promise that can be detected in the air, the old tree exuding its piney aroma, the clean earth after April’s rain, the dead seaweed washed up on the shore in front of the house. Breathing deeply through his nose, Seymour continues to rub his neck even though the pain is subsiding. The familiar smells have a calming effect on his nerves. He is embarrassed at himself for being scared to go over there. He hates them. All he thinks of is how he can kill them. 
Seymour arrived early today, a little after 7am at his summer house. Normally his wife Zelda accompanies him as they “open up the cottage” but she and her three sisters are doing the May Run to Prince Edward Island this weekend. They packed tents, coolers, lipstick and gloss, some clean undies, hiking boots and compasses and way too much booze for four women, all in the back of Daphne’s minivan, she’s the youngest. Seymour decided to come to the cottage on his own.

Several wasps are returning to their hive as they zoom into the baby barn and disappear up towards the roof. Seymour realizes they aren’t paying attention to him anymore. Their arrival spurs him to action. He doesn’t bother to lock up, instead jumps into his truck to head out to Melanson’s general store. Knowing Gerry Gautreau will be working today, he’ll ask him what to do; the guy knows everything about outdoors stuff. Everybody calls him Goat, a short take on his last name. Watching the road as it twists along the shore, Seymour’s thinking about the wasps, his animosity growing by the second. Seven miles later he turns into the cracked parking lot.

He loves the smell of the old store, ripe bananas and produce to the right, popcorn by the movie rentals in the back, new shoe and glove leather down the center, an open can of paint and boxes of nails in hardware to the left. The floor creaks as he heads to the left where Goat looks after the nuts and bolts. Seymour finds him at the paint counter hammering the cover back on a fresh can.  He’s chatting up the young lady he’s serving while Seymour waits off to the side studying the man he only knows sparingly. He can’t remember ever seeing Goat without a smile, just about the friendliest grin possible. Full head of white hair, eyebrows and moustache to match, make him look wise.  He’s saying something to his customer while he comes from behind the desk to hand her the can of paint and Seymour can’t hear him. The woman blushes a little and thanks him for his help. I step up to catch his attention.

“Hello there.”

“Hey, hey Seymour, comment ca va?”

“I’m doing great...except for one thing.”

A look of concern crosses Goat’s features. “What’s the problem?” 
Seymour relates what happened at his house and before he can finish his story, Goat is heading towards the back and disappears to the right.

“Follow me.”
Scurrying around the corner he finds him by a bunch of spray cans, insecticides, pesticides, six sided birdhouses and garden tools. Goat picks up a tall red can from the top shelf. Shoving it towards Seymour he says, “Here’s what you want.” 

On the main body is a giant hornet. The image makes Seymour’s neck throb. The can is a foot high, as big around as a coffee mug, graced with the words in bold black letters, Wasp & Hornet Killer. There is a five inch straw-like plastic taped to the side.

“What’s the little straw for Goat?”
Goat retrieves the can and pops off the top. Pointing to the tiny pore where the spray comes out he says, “Stick it in there and you can spray in tiny holes…” His eyes take on a mischievous glow, his words a bit of a dare. “…or you can stick it right into the hive if you’re brave enough to get that close. Good luck!”

Twenty minutes later Seymour is standing in the garage door.  He’s wearing a one piece gray winter snowsuit with a big silver zipper in the front. A blue Toronto Maple Leafs toque covers his bald dome and is pulled down to his eyebrows. Oversized safety glasses with an amber tint cover his eyes. A red neck warmer graces his neck and face up to his nose. He is wearing black mechanic’s gloves and in his right hand is the large red can.  It’s a mild 18 degrees and he’s dressed for a blizzard. Sweat runs from every pore because he’s hot and nervous. His glasses keep steaming up when he breathes. He counts to ten.

“…eight, nine ten!”
Heading directly to the baby barn which is between the garage and the house set back towards the property line, he enters, turns and immediately sees the hive in the apex of the gable end. He can reach it quite easily. When he lifts the can, a lone wasp escapes from the hole in the bottom of the hive. It attacks Seymour, harmlessly stinging the padding on the snowsuit. Seymour stumbles backwards, scared and swinging his free hand. Luckily he clips the defender with a swipe. The bug bounces off the right wall and slips down behind the lawn mower. Gathering all his courage he rushes forward, jabs the skinny red spout into the soft side of the hive and fills it with foam. Two or three more wasps have escaped before being consumed by the poison. They swarm about Seymour’s head and he runs.

Back to the big pine tree, only this time behind it. Seymour knows the bugs will be mad. Peering from behind the wide bole, he can see foam drip into the open doorway from the roof. A smirk crosses his face when he thinks of how he filled the hive, of how the deadly fumes are working right now. There’s almost a glee in his eyes as he removes the goggles. Several wasps have returned to the nest to find it uninhabitable, toxins emanating from its pores. They buzz about with no pattern. The chemicals in the repellant have eaten away a section of the fine paper the hive is made of, causing a piece to fall to the floor. The wasps flee as if in terror.

After fifteen minutes there’s no action, no wasps. Seymour dons his shades and walks hesitantly towards the open doors, ready to sprint in the opposite direction in a second’s notice. Making it all the way to the front, he can see several wasps on their back, on the floor, in a puddle of killing liquid. Each bug has three sets of legs that paddle uselessly in the air. Seymour feels a tinge of remorse, but only the slightest of shade.

“It’s either you or me boys. Looks like I win.”

Backing into the storage area, Seymour checks out the hive. A portion of the bottom, the size of a child’s fist, has been eaten away exposing a cone like inner structure. More dead bugs fall from the opening. With his foot he sweeps them all in the corner by the snow shovels. Returning to the garage, he tosses the toque, glasses and neck warmer on the work desk. Unzipping the large zipper, Seymour`s dark green t-shirt is sweat stained on the front. His bald head glistens in the sun.  Even though he fells the menace has been effectively dealt with, Seymour decides to keep the padded garment on for a while as a precaution; otherwise he sets about setting up the summer furniture and cleaning up. By mid afternoon, he’s forgotten about the wasps.

Just a bit before 7pm Seymour has showered, changed clothing and is attending to a 10oz sirloin that hisses on the hot grills of the barbeque. The Montreal steak spice and the rich meat flavour fill the air about the bonnet. Seymour has peeled and sliced a couple of potatoes and placed them in an aluminum pan along with butter, garlic, onions, a little water and shredded cheese. The pan sits to the left of the cooking meat on a low burner. All the food sizzles in harmony. The cooker is at the far corner of the deck across from the sliding patio doors. Disturbed by the pleasant calling of the birds gathered at his neighbor’s feeder, Seymour looks around reflecting on what he’s accomplished today.

The new yellow chairs add some color to the weathered wooden Adirondacks in the sitting area to his left, equally spaced around his new fire pit, a flat black toad-like thing on legs.  The gazebo is up on the right: the uprights drilled to the floor, the screens tied back neatly, the cloth on the roof is taut. The glass dining table is inside, accompanied with the six complimentary chairs that have fat olive cushions. The yard is raked and free of winter’s mess, the screen is replaced on the back storm door, and the water is back in, the dripping faucet is fixed, the kitchen appliances all cleaned, his bed changed and the sheets washed. He’s beat.

“I’ll sleep like a dead man tonight”

Laughing at his quip, he fills his plate with the cooked meal.  After turning off the gas, he retreats to the kitchen to fetch his glass of merlot and brings the bottle as well. There are no mosquitoes yet, the air is fresh with a tang of salt. The meat is tender, the wine dry and robust, the evening slightly warmer than usual. Seymour eats slowly, watching the shadows of night approach. The land is low to the west and the last rays of the sun reflect upon the water to the east, steel blue horizon with pink and orange wisps. The wine disappears at the same pace and by nine o’clock, Seymour is almost falling asleep. Gathering up the dishes, he leaves them on the cupboard, locks up the doors, makes a pit stop in the bathroom, sheds his cloths across the bedroom floor and crawls into the fresh sheets. He’s asleep in less than ten minutes. All evening he never once thought about the wasps.

In the middle of the night Seymour shifts restlessly upon the bed, the clean sheets tangled about his lower body. Tossing and turning he moans in the darkness, his dream turning into a nightmare. In his mind he has fallen on the middle of the road in front of his house and he’s naked. He tries to rise but his movements are sluggish as if the air is as thick as molasses. Spying a swarm of insects rushing towards him, he is panicking, knowing with a dire certainty that they are coming for him. He urges his body to move more quickly but every effort is useless as if a terrific weight is upon him and he can’t understand why. The insects, closer now, are huge, each one the size of a baseball, they are bright yellow with glossy bodies. Their stingers are visible and poison drips from the sharp points. He can see this as clearly as if they are only inches away. The large wasps are rushing towards him, closer and closer they come with what seems like unbelievable speed and yet, he himself can barely move.

Just before the swarm reaches him, one giant hornet escapes from the buzzing horde, a mini dive bomber propels itself towards Seymour’s exposed body. The stinger is long, gleaming in the sun like a brand new sword. It hovers briefly above Seymour, points its wet dagger towards his prone body and attacks.

Seymour is startled from his sleep, sitting up suddenly in his bed. He is covered with perspiration, his heart pounding and he is shaking from the fright of his dream. He opens his eyes and can’t see anything, the room has never been so dark, no starlight, no moon light, nothing. His neck throbs where he was stung yesterday morning. There is a terrific noise, like the sound of a dozen circular saws running at the same time.  And then he can feel them. Something or some things are all over his body.

He reaches for the switch to his night light. The 60 watt bulb casts a mellow yellowish light and once his eyes focus he gasps. The room is full of wasps, hundreds and hundreds of them. They cover everything. They cling to the walls, to the open door, to the bed; they cover the floor so deep that he can’t see his clothes he shed last night. The room swirls with a cloud of yellow jackets. Staring at the mass of moving insects he screams.

The buzzing stops, every wasp stops moving except those in the air. He feels every insect eye upon him. He experiences an impending doom. He knows they mean to kill him. Reaching for the magazine on the night table, he curls it amid the frenzy of the insects and starts swinging it in the air. The hornets assail him. Trying to untangle his legs from the sheets he swats at the mass, killing a dozen every time he swings the curled paper in his hand. They sting him all over his body, the pain is excruciating. Rising on the bed, his head near the ceiling, he swings with both hands. He needs to escape from the bedroom. When he tries to jump, his tangled feet cause him to fall. He lands on the floor crushing another twenty or thirty wasps. Scrambling to his feet he makes for the stairs. The wasps set upon him even more vigorously, this time about his head. He’s blinded; he slams into the bedroom wall. Feeling with only his hands he finds the open doorway and turns towards the stairs. He can’t see the steps and plunges into the darkened stairway. Missing the first step he falls.


Zelda returns home Monday afternoon. When she enters her house, there is no one home. She finds this odd as Seymour told her he would be returning Monday morning because it is her birthday and he promised her dinner at her favorite restaurant. He is never late. She tries his cell phone only to discover that there is no answer and his mailbox if full. Seymour is meticulous about clearing his messages, almost obsessive with deleting useless data. Immediately she knows something is wrong, a dread she can feel. She leaves her bag and camping gear in the middle of the kitchen floor, hurries to her car and heads to the shore. Forty minutes later she unlocks the front door. Calling out his name and getting no response she heads towards the stairway. Turning the corner from the living room, she freezes in her tracks and screams.

Seymour Troffmok lies at the foot of the stairs, his neck and arms twisted in an unnatural position. From the pallor of his skin, it is obvious he has been dead for some time.

The End.

Thanks for visiting the Scribbler this week. Anyone out there that actually likes Wasps? Would love to hear your comments!

Watch for great guests coming soon to the Scribbler.

Sarah Butland of Nova Scotia

Jeremy Gilmer of New Brunswick.

Stephen Kiernan  of Vermont.

Brigid Gallagher of Ireland.

Sue Vincent of Great Britain.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Guest Author J.A. Dennam of Kansas, USA.

J.A. Dennam writes impossible love stories; literary thrill rides of mystery, suspense, action and spontaneous sex that always conclude with hard-won happy endings.

Sounds like a winning combination.

The Scribbler is most fortunate to have JA as our special guest this week. Read on for an intriguing interview and an excerpt of her latest work.

J.A. DENNAM, an award winning author and RWA member, resides in a small Kansas town with her husband and children. Creativity is her strong suit and she has nurtured a career as a painter of western art and also enjoys dabbling with graphic arts.

Storytelling, however, has been a part of her life since childhood. At six years of age, insomnia forced her to endure many long, sleepless nights staring at the ceiling. After confessing her problem to her older sister, the two of them decided to tell each other stories to entice sleep; however, the inevitable snore always tore through her sister’s nose before she could utter the words Once Upon A Time. So the stories began to flow in silence, her imagination taking her to quiet, private places so enthralling, the sudden trick was to stay awake.

Those habits carried on to adulthood until the need to purge her stories demanded she put them in print. Her fascination with romance, fast cars and adventure films is what structures her novels today.


4Q: When I discovered your author page, I was most impressed with the description of your writing which I’ve copied and used above in the opening sentence. What inspires you to write your novels?

JAD: My inspiration comes from everyday people and their stories, which my imagination automatically takes to the extreme. I see possibilities in the mundane act of standing in line at the grocery store. Who does she meet? What kind of “prize” is in that box of Cracker Jacks she’s about to purchase? Will she make it out of the store before a hot detective arrests her for unwittingly exchanging specially marked bills? I’m also a huge movie buff. I guess I’m always “watching” my scenes as I’m writing them which helps with action and flow.


4Q: Tell us about your newest novel and the excerpt below.

JAD: Sexual Integrity is my first traditionally published novel. This office romance is about an entitled career woman who competes with a sexy, arrogant newcomer for the same job. I love my love-hate romances, and this one is loaded with heat, pranks, colourful side-characters, and a special room that could change one’s life forever.


4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote or memory with us.

JAD: I devoured my first romance novel at the age of twelve, which I thought was quite unique and scandalous of me. (Since joining the writing community, I have discovered that aged twelve falls in the geriatric range of beginner romance junkies.) The book was titled “Dreams of Yesterday” and was singly responsible for my teenaged disillusions about boys. As much as I liked them, none of them were “real men,” though for a long time I believed that sex between two people consisted of lots of kissing and rolling around beneath the sheets. My grandmother’s secret stash of romances only went so far, you know.


4Q: What’s next on your author’s agenda, what can your readers look forward to?

JAD: My next romantic suspense novel is in the good hands of my agent; my first historical western romance is ready to pitch at the RWA convention in July; I am deep in the editing stages of my third and final Flesh Series instalment, which I plan to self-publish this year. I am also four chapters in on my tenth full-length novel, which is quite a milestone for me. As far as other projects go, I would like to record book 1 of my Captive Series, Truth and Humility, as an audio book. I would also like to try my hand at script writing because I have a very cool western that would make a great movie and I just KNOW that Henry Cavill is looking for work. ;-)


An Excerpt from Sexual Integrity:
(copyright held by the author. Used with permission)

Sid slowly leaned forward. Brooke moved in to meet him halfway.

They shared a sensual kiss that was tentative at first and then deepened into something more. His breath smelled good, like rich Napa Valley wine. His lips were firm yet soft. The way he moved told her that he knew how to please a woman.

Despite all that, her heartbeat notably failed to pick up its pace.

The doorbell rang. Brooke wasn’t sure if it was an annoyance or a blessing. She backed out of the kiss, leaving him with an unfocused look that told her he’d enjoyed it way more than she had. “It could only be Mrs. Costa from next door,” she explained as she got to her feet and put her glasses back on. “She always comes over when her computer acts up. I’ll tell her to hold off for now.”

Sid appeared in no hurry to leave his spot on the floor. He drew a knee up, but not before Brooke saw the suspicious bulge in his Bermuda shorts.

When she opened the door, a shockwave of alarm washed through her. Ethan stood there leaning against the doorframe in jeans, a black T-shirt, and an intense focus on the welcome mat. All she could do was stare in abject surprise at a man who couldn’t possibly have sought out her address.

Words escaped her. The silence stretched as he too seemed to wonder what the hell he was doing there. Finally, he looked up. His eyes darted past her and over to the man at her coffee table. Slowly, their blue-gray depths changed into something turbulent.

Her hand slipped from the knob as he stepped over the threshold. He stood so close she could feel his body heat. His voice was rough, barely above a whisper. “We need to talk.”

Now her heart was beating fast enough to power a small locomotive. Dazed and confused, she stepped back and turned to find Sid standing right behind her. “ you mind if we do this another time?”

The man stepped closer, caressed her back in an intimate way. “Isn’t this the guy you were arguing with the other day?”

“And we’ve done a lot of that since then, haven’t we, Brooke?” Ethan chimed in, sounding dangerous. “Well...not all of it was—”

“Ethan, shut up,” Brooke snapped.

A quick look confirmed that Sid was following along just fine. As he nodded at his adversary, the pulse at his freckled temple began to thrum. “I get it.” He turned to Brooke. “Are you sure you want me to leave?”

She took one of his hands and gave it an apologetic squeeze. “Yes, I’m sure. Another time would be better, when I’m all here.”

Sid hesitated a moment and then pursed his lips as he began to leave. When Ethan moved aside to give him clear access to the doorway, Sid stopped, leaned over, and deposited a tender kiss on her temple.

“I’m only a phone call away,” he said, his voice laden with meaning.

She closed the door behind him, swimming in mixed emotions. Why the hell had she just done that? And why the hell was Ethan Wolf standing in her living room? Brooke cleared the uncertainty from her throat. “I don’t want our problems inside my home,” she said.

When she turned to confront him, he was taking a good long pull from the open bottle of cabernet. Her anger rose to a fever pitch as she realized he’d just swallowed about twenty bucks worth of wine in one shot, no doubt to make a point. She moved toward him and was about to tell him to leave when he set the bottle down on the coffee table, turned, and immediately drew her into his arms.

Suddenly she was fully involved in a scorching kiss that completely rendered her senseless. It was not tender or sweet, but rough and demanding. All of her irritation melted away along with her reasons for not wanting him here. She’d been geared up to welcome Sid’s touch. Surely that’s why her body was thrumming with a need so strong, she clung to Ethan as if he were the only thing keeping her upright.

“You drive me insane,” he hissed against her mouth, closing his eyes against the inner struggle she understood all too well.

Brooke dropped her head in a desperate attempt to find sanity. This wasn’t possible. How could he turn her insides into molten lava like that when the mere sight of him pissed her off so badly? When she backed away, he let go of her waist and did the same. A moment of silence followed. “You said you wanted to talk,” she said finally.

Ethan turned his back and jammed a hand through his hair. “Give me a second.”

“Why should I?”

“Look.” When he faced her again, aggravation laced his words. “I don’t want to be here either. In fact I’m still trying to figure out why I’m not in Fort Myers.”

“Because you’d rather harass me, apparently.”

“Because no matter how hard I try with you, I can’t get my bearings—which scares the hell out of me. We’ve been taking one step forward and two steps back since the start of this competition, and for what? Because we hate each other?”

“Yes!” she threw out in a desperate attempt to believe it.

His brow smoothed out with a look of wonder. “Really? Why, Brooke? What makes you want to skin me alive and me want to shake the living shit out of you?”

(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)


Thank you JA for being our guest and sharing part of your story.


For you readers that want to know more about JA and her books, check out the following links.

You can find all novels by J.A. Dennam on her website,

Other links: