Friday 10 April 2015

Guest Author Diana Stevan of Campbell River, British Columbia.

Originally from Winnipeg, Diana  now resides in Campbell River, British Columbia, and enjoys meeting with her fellow writers twice a month. She’s written a stage play, some short stories and many poems. She’s had a poem published in the UK journal Dreamcatcher. A short story was published in Escape, an anthology put out by Peregrin publishers in 2012. She self-published her debut novel, A Cry From The Deep in October, 2014, and also hopes to publish soon, her baba’s story, No Time For Tears, that takes place between 1915-1929 in what is now Ukraine, as well as another novel that takes place on a psych. ward in the 70s.   
Together with her husband, Robert, Diana has been fortunate to travel extensively throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. They have two children and three grandchildren.  Her links are below.                                                  

                  An excerpt - A Cry From The Deep.


                                                         Chapter Two

Catherine’s view from the airplane, with its endless sky and ocean, triggered thoughts of God and purpose in life. As a child, she believed He was somewhere in heaven, and her guardian angel floated in His realm. That all changed when she learned about other religions. And then, with 9/11, there were more questions, but she still believed in something bigger than herself, something that guided people on some unknown path, for some unknown purpose. She wondered if what she was doing was part of a greater plan.

Three weeks earlier, Catherine had been a contented lavender grower. Well, not completely contented, but pretty good, considering. She frowned as she thought of how soon she’d be meeting Hennesey, a man she despised. From everything she’d read on the Internet, she knew it would take all her resources just to be civil. If these events were not directed by some divine being, then what was this all about?

Distracted by Alex’s fidgeting, she checked her daughter’s seat belt. They were about to land. Catherine hated take-offs and landings, and having a bouncy child by her side didn’t make flying any easier. It hadn’t bothered her when she was in her twenties, but after reading an article that cited the large number of crashes at airports, her body tightened minutes before take-off or landing.

Alex peered out the window. “Mama, I can see the boats.”

Catherine scanned the earth below as the plane flew over a marina. Somewhere down there was Hennesey’s boat.

Maybe he’ll give us a ride,” said Alex.

Catherine frowned. Why had she agreed to this? Everything pointed to disaster.




The Golden Eye, the ultimate in diving boats, was tied up at the far end of the dock. Alex was already running ahead.

“Alex, wait!”

 Catherine caught up with her. “Slow down. The dock might be slippery.”

Alex slowed to a turtle’s pace.

“Very funny. Would you just stop for a minute? I want to take some photos from this angle.”

They were still some distance, but Catherine could see a man hosing down the Golden Eye’s deck. She fastened her long lens onto her Nikon camera and zoomed in on him. She’d have recognized Hennesey anywhere from the press he’d received. He was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, worn loose over his creased khaki pants. The passing years had not been kind; his modest paunch and thinning hair reminded her of Jack Nicholson in his fifties. She snapped a few pictures—one of him with a water hose in his hand and another of him picking up some diving gear.

As they approached the Golden Eye, a woman with ebony skin and a mass of black, kinky hair pulled back in a pony-tail came up from the galley below. She looked about thirty and was dressed in a lime-green halter top and purple capris too tight for her broad hips. When she spotted Catherine, she said something to Hennesey.

Hennesey came forward from the aft and said gruffly, loud enough for Catherine to hear, “They sent a woman.” If he’d intended to be off-putting from the start, he was certainly successful.

The woman stuck her hand out over the side of the boat and said, “You must be Catherine. I’m Joy. We talked on the phone.”

Catherine smiled and shook her hand. Hennesey had been out the time she called or perhaps, pretending to be out. “He didn’t know I was coming?”

Joy smiled at her and then at Hennesey. “I didn’t tell 'im. He has this thing 'bout women on boats.”

“But you…?” asked Catherine.

“I live with 'im,” said Joy. “Besides, I’m a cook, not a diver. Climb aboard. I’ll show ya around.”

“This is my daughter, Alex.”

“Well, how d’you do, Alex?” Joy turned to Hennesey. “Are you just gonna stand there?” Grumbling, Hennesey reached over the side and swung Alex on board.

The boat’s port side was positioned about six inches from the dock and rocked with each passing boat. As Catherine was about to take Hennesey’s hand to climb over the gunwale, she glimpsed the water between the vessel and the dock. Suddenly dizzy, Catherine closed her eyes to calm her nerves.

When she opened them after a few moments, Hennesey said with a puzzled look, “Are you coming?”

Frowning, she took his hand and climbed over. As she crossed the water, the terror of falling in gripped her like a vise.

She must have blanched, because Hennesey said, “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” She hated lying, but she hated exposing her fear more. “The meal on the flight wasn’t great, and we came straight from the airport.”

“Mama, you said the food was good.”

“I meant good for airplane food.” Catherine rolled her eyes, suggesting that Alex had got it all wrong.

Alex shook her head. “Whatever.”

Joy laughed. “Well, if you two want to get started, I’ll show this minx 'round.” Joy took Alex’s hand as if they’d been friends for life. “I may even have an ice cream for you.”

Alex’s eyes grew round. “You have ice cream on the boat?”

“You betcha. We love our sweets. Can’t ya tell by lookin’ at our bellies?”

Catherine took an immediate liking to Joy. With her on board, the assignment might not be so bad.




Hennesey’s office, a short walk from the marina, was on the second level of a small business mall. Piles of books on shipwrecks, navigation, and ocean climates sat on a couple of old wooden chairs, and near them, an ashtray full of cigarette butts revealed an addictive personality. Various papers were strewn on his oak desk and a black phone, a bygone of earlier days, rested on a dusty window ledge overlooking the marina. And on the wall, several photos of Hennesey on the Golden Eye vied for attention with a map of the world showing various diving sites marked by colored pins.

Hennesey pushed aside some papers on his desk and took out a metal box from a filing cabinet behind him. He used a key from the chain he wore under his shirt to open the box, revealing a package wrapped in green silk. He carefully unwrapped it to expose a gold mask about two hands wide, its features simply executed. It was small, but it reminded Catherine of pieces by Henry Moore, a British sculptor who’d used relics from ancient and primitive cultures as inspiration.

She bent down to have a closer look. “It’s exquisite.”

“Inca gold. Worth close to five hundred thousand dollars.”

“And you keep it in a filing cabinet?”

“Not usually. I’m expecting a customer later.”

She was surprised he was showing it to her. Perhaps, he wanted to impress her. “Where did you find this?”

He grinned. “If I tell you, will you cross your heart and spit you won’t tell anyone?”

“On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know.”

He shook his head as he polished the mask with the cloth. “You people have so much morality oozing from your pores, it’s a wonder you’re able to do any work at all.”

She could’ve told him he was an asshole, that she knew he blew a hole in the ocean and was taken to court for dredging a coral reef and killing sea grass, but she said none of this. She didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot.

Instead, she said, “We all have opinions. It’s what makes the world go round.”

“You can keep your fucking opinions. If someone isn’t screaming about the fucking cultural heritage, they’re screaming about the fucking environment. They scream about everything. The last time it was about sea grass, as if there wasn’t enough of it anyway. It’s like lawns, it keeps growing.”

“That’s not what I read.”

“See, the media twists everything.”

She looked him in the eye. “One reporter called you an arrogant son of a bitch, a diver who thinks he’s above the law.”

Hennesey guffawed. “I’ve been called worse. What do you believe?”

She raised an eyebrow. “I’m leaning toward the media.”

“At least you’re honest.”

“I try to be.”

He rewrapped the gold mask, put it back in its box and returned it to the filing cabinet. He locked it and returned the key to its hiding place under his shirt. “So, Frank tells me he wants you for this dive. I find that curious.”


“I did a little background checking of my own. I know about your break from diving and why. Want you to know, I’m no goddamned babysitter.”

She snorted. “You worry about your end, I’ll take care of mine.”

“Yes, sir!” He saluted as he said it.

She hadn’t meant to reply with such a bite, but his attitude, complete with mocking grin, got the best of her. Why was she even considering going? Her instincts were advising her to run. She hadn’t come on board the project yet, and already he was under her skin. The media had one thing right. He was an arrogant asshole.
Thank you Diana for sharing part of your intriguing story. I look forward to reading the entire novel. I'm sure she would appreciate your comments.
You can discover more about this talented writer by visiting her website -

Next week, you can help me with a new short story. I will be posting a first draft, unedited sample of a story I am considering  for a novel someday in the future. Let me know your thoughts.

Meet Bella Maggs and Rosa Vartanian - a CSIS Operative.

Don't miss out on an exciting adventure with Drake Alexander and his band of ex-soldiers, a French ex-pat and a stalwart Bengali Cop. Dark Side of a Promise  Available at

Friday 3 April 2015

Guest Author Wodke Hawkinson. An excerpt from Dark Longings.

Wodke Hawkinson is the name under which writing duo PJ Hawkinson and Karen Wodke produce their collaborated works. The authors have been friends since high school, but formed their writing team in 2009. Dark Longings is their latest release. They have four other novels which include Betrayed, Zeke, Sue (a sequel to Zeke), and Tangerine, along with three short story collections: Catch Her in the Rye, Blue, and Alone. They have each produced solo works in addition to their co-authored books. Both authors reside in different Midwestern towns and do much of their collaboration via telephone and internet. However, they have been known to discuss ideas while casting their lines at a quiet lake, as they both enjoy fishing.  


By Wodke Hawkinson

The city never slept and even at four in the morning, people moved about. A young mother rushed to an all-night drugstore to purchase medication for a sick child. Music blasted from windows where parties pounded through the night. Teenagers slipped from their slumbering homes to keep forbidden rendezvous. Sirens wailed as emergency vehicles sped along neon boulevards. Women cowered in darkened bedrooms while men bellowed in drunken fury. Shady deals were conducted on dangerous corners and in murky alleys.

A dirt track ran parallel to the broad river that divided the city. Short turnoffs led down to the water every hundred yards or so. The road was largely deserted at this hour, empty lots leading to industrial buildings to one side and dense brush and trees on the riverside. A sedan bounced along the rough road. Two men in the front seat rode in silence. The first turnoff proved occupied by a group of homeless dregs gathered around a small fire. Just as the driver began to turn onto the second dirt ramp, he noticed a pickup truck backed down to the water. He could just make out two forms lounging on the tailgate, holding fishing rods. He swore softly and proceeded onward.

“Tough luck.” The man in the passenger seat shot his partner a horsy smile.

“Maybe the next one,” the driver said, checking the rearview mirror for other vehicles. The roadway remained dark.

At the next turnoff, he scanned the riverside for people. Finding it empty, he backed in and braked smoothly at the water’s edge. After putting the car in park, he and his companion got out, closing their doors quietly.

“Nice night,” the driver remarked, gazing up at the stars.

“Bit chilly, if you ask me,” the other man replied with a grin. His blocky teeth shone in the moonlight.

Together they managed to remove a large tightly-wrapped parcel from the trunk, hauled it to the river, and threw it in. The sound of the splash carried through the crisp air.

Down the riverbank, they heard an excited exchange between a couple of fisherman.

“Holy shit! Did you hear that? Was that a fish?” A man’s voice rang loudly across the water.

“If it was, it was a big one!”

The two men near the sedan looked at each other in the dim glow of the parking lights. “It was a big one alright,” the toothy one snickered.

His partner rolled his eyes, pushed the trunk gently closed with a gloved hand, and got into the car. His associate joined him and they drove back onto the road and into the night.

Sunday - September 30


Ruby hurriedly tossed her apron into the hamper in the kitchen of Margot’s Café where she worked part-time.

“Done for the day?” A chubby redhead with a pretty face asked as she headed for the swinging door with both arms full of plates of food.

“Nope.” Ruby shook her head. “Got a five-to-nine tonight, Tina. An eleven-to-two tomorrow, and the breakfast shift Tuesday. You?”

“I’m done at two and don’t have to come back until Tuesday afternoon. Have a nice weekend.” Tina shoved a hip into the door and exited the kitchen.

Ruby waved to the rest of the kitchen staff and slipped out the back door. Several steps deeper into the alley, she unlocked a small door next to the restaurant and slipped inside. She was careful to relock the door before turning to climb the stairs. Midway down the hall, she unlocked another door; she was home.

Renting the apartment over the café was one of the perks Ruby enjoyed for being its most dedicated employee; she’d never missed a shift in the two years she’d worked at Margot’s. The rent she paid was measly compared to other apartments in the area and even though it was small she was glad to have the place.

Ruby sighed as she grabbed her homework from her desk. The day was nice for a change but she knew it wouldn’t last long. She bounced down the front stairway, exited through the nondescript door, and made her way to a table under the awning of the café. Lifting her feet into the chair next to her, she leaned back slightly and watched the bare branches sway in the park across the street. Rain was predicted for tomorrow, but Ruby thought it might come earlier.

Tina stepped out the front door. “Fancy seeing you again,” she said with a grin. “Want something to eat?”

“Just an iced tea, please. No sugar.” When her drink arrived, she pulled her feet from the seat, opened her laptop, and powered up. She hoped to get two papers finished before her evening shift.

Time slipped away as her fingers flew over the keyboard. She was nearing the end of the second paper when she paused to stretch. Her attention was drawn to a young man walking toward her with a slight spring to his step. His dark hair was tousled and his intense brown eyes sought hers. Ruby felt a delightful shiver slide up her back. As quickly as the feeling came, she shoved it down. She and Kenny were no longer a couple; no matter how much chemistry sparked between them, or how much she’d like them to be.

Kenny was equally pleased to see Ruby outside Margot’s. He felt his pulse quicken as he drew near. When she looked up, their eyes met and he smiled. Her green eyes seemed to bore into his and he could almost read her thoughts. His smile slipped a little, knowing she wondered if he was still using. He wasn’t, but how could he make her believe him?

“Have you been working out? You’re looking really good,” Ruby commented as Kenny pulled out a chair at her table and sat.

He knew what she was really asking. “I am good, Rube. I got a job running deliveries for Dick’s Auto Parts and moved out of my dad’s place. I’m living with a friend over on Donder Road; 1426, apartment D.”

“A friend, huh?” Though her tone was skeptical, she grabbed her phone and added the info to his contact list.

“A guy, Ruby; his name’s Terry Campbell. You’re the only girl for me and you know it.”

Before Ruby could change the subject, a young man approached their table, hailing Kenny as he came. Kenny frowned and stood up, meeting him a few steps away.

Ruby pretended to return to her report, but she eyed the stranger furtively. He looked sick, like a prison camp survivor. He was gaunt; his chest appeared sunken through the opening in his light jacket. His hair was unwashed and his clothes looked slept in. He fiddled with a dirty bandage on his neck and tried to pull Kenny into a conversation.

Kenny shoved him away, knocking him to one knee. This action surprised Ruby; she’d never known Kenny to be physical. In fact, he usually went out of his way to avoid violence.

As the guy regained his footing, Ruby heard Kenny say, “Just keep away from me, Chad. I’m not going back. I don’t want anything more to do with…” His eyes darted to Ruby, found her watching. He dropped his voice so she was unable to hear anything more.

Turning quickly, Kenny started backing away from the café. Chad’s eyes pled with Kenny to wait.

“I’ll see you later, Ruby,” Kenny called and gave a half-hearted wave in her direction.

Tina stepped out the door with a couple of menus, but by then Kenny was disappearing around the corner and Chad had crossed the street and was stumbling through the park. Ruby watched until she couldn’t see them anymore.

“Huh! Guess they didn’t want anything.” Tina retreated back inside.

What the hell was that all about? Ruby stared blankly at her computer screen for a while. Once she realized she wasn’t going to get back into her school paper, she gathered her things and took them upstairs to her apartment.

She lay on her sofa, staring out tall windows that overlooked the street and remembered back to the days she used to hang out with Kenny at his dad’s. Lord, how she’d loved him, still did. But she was clean now and she couldn’t take a chance of being dragged back into that pit. She finally drifted into a restless sleep, awakening in time for her next work shift.

Her mind returned to Kenny often throughout the evening and she almost hoped he would call her. Maybe it was better if he didn’t; their new relationship was tender, teetering somewhere between friendship and something deeper. By bedtime, she’d reined in her unruly feelings and pushed her longings to the back of her mind where they belonged.

Thank you so much PJ & Karen for sharing an excerpt from your newest Novel. More about the team of Wodke Hawkinson can be found here.
Our novels  Zeke Betrayed Sue Dark Longings Tangerine
Our short story collections:
Alone  Catch Her in the Rye Blue
Visit our readers/authors website: Find A Good Book To Read
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Next week, I had originally planned to share my latest short story but am postponing it until April 17th. Instead I am featuring guest author Diana Stevan from British Columbia with an excerpt from her novel, A Cry From the Deep.