Sunday, February 28, 2016

Book Review for Henry Franks by Sonja Wolter

Last year, I read 26 books, and although that was pretty good, I noticed that I hadn’t read any “Indie” novels. So, I thought I’d explore the world of independently published stories by doing reviews for them on the Headwaters’ blog.

My first review is for Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon.

Published in 2012, this YA novel is a quick read. It was recommended to me by one of our other members, Patricia Bird, who seems to have the lucky touch when it comes to winning books. So, on her recommendation, I gave this one a go.

Initially, the story moves along at a slow pace. There’s a lot of repetition of description and events for the first twelve chapters, with a few smatterings of foreshadowing, but by chapter thirteen the story starts to pick up and roll.

Henry is a lost soul. The first 16 years of his life have been erased by amnesia from an “accident” in which his mother died. He bears the scars, all four thousand three hundred and seventeen stitches, which constantly remind him of all that he has forgotten. His obsession with pricking himself with push pins to test his ability to feel pain in his limbs leads him to the conclusion that parts of him are dying, as numbness creeps further and further into his limbs.

The sense that he is alone is magnified by the ineffectual psychological treatment of Dr. Saville and the continually absent and emotionally unavailable presence of his father, whose behaviour is decidedly bizarre. Add in to this a series of murders and an impending hurricane and you have the setting for a mystery that reveals horrific conclusions.

With his one and only friend Justine, he finally takes matters into his own hands to unravel the clues left to him in photos and reoccurring dreams. Discovering more and more the lengths his father has gone to in order to hide the truth from him.

When the hurricane hits, all hell breaks loose, and in the aftermath, Henry learns who he really is. The question left with us is whether or not he will continue his father’s legacy.

All in all the story was certainly interesting and kept me guessing until the end. A true modern day Frankenstein story with a twist. 

Need a Murder Mystery Idea? Here’s one. by Sonja Wolter

     A couple of weeks ago, we were asked to come up with an idea for a murder mystery story.
     Murder mysteries aren’t my usual genre, but I gave it a try and came up with, what I think, is an interesting idea. I’ll likely not take it any further, so I thought I’d offer it up as a prompt for anyone out there who is looking for a story idea.

     Perhaps it will help get the creative juices flowing.

     Happy writing!

     She floated effortlessly across the lake, oblivious to the red morning sky, and bumped up against the wooden boat moored to the dock. Drifting a little here and there, her raven hair fanned out behind her. The cross, carved into her forehead, accentuated the imprint of horror still on her face.

     The fisherman didn’t see her at first. Not until he was secured in the boat and ready to push off, did he notice the milky white arm extended outward. He leaned over the edge and saw her deep green eyes staring into eternity.

     Backing away quickly, he nearly capsized the craft, and clambered back up to the dock. He took one more look at the body clinging to the hull and ran back to the cabin.

     Fumbling the phone twice, he finally punched in 911. When the authorities arrived he was already packed and eager to head back to the city.

     More vehicles arrived. Yellow tape around the dock. The fisherman arguing to leave but Detective Jake Mason wouldn’t let him. The detective looked to the hills and spoke quietly to one of the officers, who nodded and followed the direction of his gaze. It seemed as if they were looking right at me.

     The vision ended and I saw my own reflection in the mirror once more. This murder was not the first, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. It was time for me to get involved.

     I can find people. Usually, people who want to be found – dead or alive. But this time, I’d be looking for someone that was hiding in the shadows and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to walk through the veil of darkness that appeared to me in my dreams. I sensed more than a human presence. Something old and hungry. I could feel its teeth reaching out, yet restrained by some force, like a tiger behind a cage.

     A shiver ran down my spine as I looked out the window. The forest surrounding my cottage became suddenly silent. It was out there somewhere. I could feel it.
The following is an extract from Clare McCarthy’s novel, “Tales From Porcupine Junction” (intended publication date: mid 2016).

Porcupine Junction Extract

As soon as Bert heard that Charles wanted to raise a young Osprey that he’d rescued, Bert immediately suggested, “Gary,  you need to talk to Billy Williams.”
            “William Williams, that old fellow who moved into town last summer. He lives in that little white cottage over near the fire hall.”
            “Why him?”
            “Well he recently emigrated here from Wales, and I understand that he knows a lot about birds. I heard that he usta work with folks in Wales who raised raptors, and I think that he even spent a while workin’ with a vet who specialized in an Avian Veterinarian practice. He’s a bit of a strange  old duck, but I think he’s just the person that you need to talk to.”
            When Gary returned home, he explained to his son about what he’d learned at the shop. I think you’d better head over and talk to Mr. Williams as soon as you can. You probably know where his little white house is, next to Chief Joe Snell’s place, over by the fire hall.” Since it was still early afternoon, Charles set out immediately and was soon knocking on Mr. Williams' front door.
            The age of short and pudgy William Williams had pushed well past three score and ten at least half a dozen years ago. Bill usually wore a Deerstalker Sherlock Holmes style hat whenever he went ambling around Porcupine Junction. He was pretty much bald except for the odd salt and pepper sprout of hair which poked out erratically from under his cap. Billy’s peanut- size snout was offset  by  a pointy chin which stuck out between chubby cheeks and over a wobbly double chin.
            Billy usually wore a woolen walking jacket over a matching vest and baggy woolen trousers circled his ample middle while knee-high woolen stockings kept each pant-leg firmly in check. A pair of clumpy chestnut brown walking shoes set off the rest, of  Bill’s sartorial splendor.
            When Charles arrived at the Williams residence, Billy was sitting perched on a relic of a church pew on his front porch. The elderly gent was puffing profusely on his old briar, its bowl blackened from eons of use. Since Bill had no teeth, he had cut off the stem of his pipe and wound the remainder of the stem with black electrician’s tape so he could clamp the pipe firmly in his gums.  No one knew what brand Bill smoked in his briar, but whatever it was, it was always wise to always stand well up-wind whenever he had her fired up.
            “Good afternoon Mr. Williams, my name is Charles Caboose, but you can call me Chuckie if you want. I’ve got a problem that I hoped that you could help me with. I found what I think is a baby Osprey that fell out of its nest. I’m tryin’ to keep it from dyin’ and I wondered if you could help me out since folks say you know all about birds.”
            “Well, lad  I don’t know ALL about birds but I’d be glad to help you out if I can. Where is this wee creature right now?”
            It’s at my house inside in a box with a screen on the front. It’s tucked in on the bottom of the cage sittin’ on a towel to keep warm.”
            “You live at the Big Canoe Marina don’t you?”
            “That’s right.”
            “I’ll drop by tomorrow morning at about nine to see what you’ve gotten yourself into.”
            “Great! I’ll be waitin’” Charlie Caboose slept well that night as he anticipated a visit from Mr. Williams the following morning.
            Chuckie was outside early in the morning just as Mr. Williams turned the corner up the street.
             Billy was wearing his traditional Deerstalker, clumpy walking shoes, woolen jacket and he was puffing as usual on his ever-present briar. With lowered head and peering out from under the peak of his hat, the clouds of smoke billowing forth from Mr. Williams’ pipe made Charles think of a determined steam locomotive chugging up a grade. Arriving at the marina doorway, Billy knocked the glowing dottle from his briar on the heel of his shoe then tucked the pipe into his jacket pocket.  With a greeting of, “Good morning,” Billy followed Charles through the doorway into the marina.  When they reached the bird box, Billy opened the lid, reached inside and gently plucked  out the wee bird which was just beginning to sprout a few fluffy feathers. Billy held the little creature in his thick calloused hand, tilted his head slightly, squinted through both eyes  then declared, “You were right lad, what you’ve got here is a healthy male Pandion haliaetus. I see that you must have been taking good care of him.”
            “What did you say he was?”
            “He’s a Pandion haliaetus! That’s just a five dollar word for what folks around here would usually call an Osprey.”
            “That’s great to hear, I thought that you said he had some sort of disease.”
            “Nope, he looks to be in good shape. Has he got a name yet?”
            “No, I didn’t know if it was a he or she. Since it’s a him, I think that I’ll call him Jester.  Do you think I’d ever be able to train him the way they do with eagles an’ hawks?”

            “Well, the short answer is probably  yes, but you’ve got a long way to go yet before you even reach that stage. I’ll drop by and take a look at him every couple of days and in case of emergency, feel free to drop by my place and between the two of us we’ll do our best to see that Jester has a long and healthy contented life. Your main job right now is to make sure that he’s well looked after.
Drawing by Clare McCarthy

Posted on behalf of Clare McCarthy.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Living the Dream by Sonja Wolter

      It’s easy to know what you want. What we all want. Happiness, ease, financial abundance, material security, enjoying healthy, caring relationships, family, belonging, recognition, joy, peace, love. There’s no question what we want, regardless of the specifics.

     A better question is, “What are you willing to struggle for?”

     If you want an amazing body you must suffer the gym visits, deny yourself foods that don’t promote a healthy body, diligently and persistently devote time and attention to building and nurturing the body. We all want the results, but how many of us will suffer the process?

     You must love the process of what you want as much as you love the end result. All of us want the mountain top experience, but do we really understand what it will take to get there? Are we really willing to endure the physical, emotional and psychological pain? Are we ready to struggle with ourselves and outside forces to endure long enough to realize progress?

     We love to want what we want - to fantasize. But, the reality of what we want is found in the process of it. The manifestation of the ideal is not guaranteed, so we prefer to keep the dream and discard the risk.  We fear that if we commit to the dream and embrace the process, that our goal will not be realized, or only realized in part, and perhaps in a way that doesn’t measure up to the fantasy.

     So the questions then become, “Why do I want what I want?” and “I am prepared to suffer for it?”

     Now suffering and sacrifice have gotten a bad rap in our age of instant gratification. Patience is only as long as our five second attention spans, but in ages gone by, it was a virtue. No longer. Those before us understood how important suffering and sacrifice were to the greater good. Now, we live in a culture of instant fame and self-promotion. Are we even able to endure long enough for the dreams that we hold dear?

     Here’s are some facts about a well-known author J.R.R. Tolkien. He began writing what would become known as The Lord of the Rings at the age of 45 and finished 12 years later at the age of 57. How many of us would have suffered that process to produce that work? 

     Not only did it take 12 years to finish the story, Tolkien had to wait until he was 63 years old before it was published.  That’s waiting six years from finishing a book to seeing it published. Did he know it would take him 12 years to finish what he started? Was he only thinking of the goal when he was writing it, or was he in love with the process of writing it? I’m inclined to believe the later.

     So if you have a dream, if there is something that you are wanting, consider the road you will walk to get there. Knowing that there are no guarantees of the end result, will you do it anyway? Will you do it because you love the journey towards the dream?

     Your life is what you do every day. Choose the dream that is worth living.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

No Man's Land - A Short Story by Judy Zarowny

NO MAN’S LAND                                                                            by Judy Zarowny

Beads of perspiration ooze from my hairline, trace their way under the arms of my glasses, roll over my flushed cheeks, and drip off my chin.  I’m next. The border guard is young, stern, and pumped with importance, ready to launch his inquisition, looking to ferret me out as an “undesirable alien”, and punt me the 5,800 feet back across the Peace Bridge to Canada.

I remove my sunglasses, roll down the window and smile, bland middle-aged woman that I am. Why is it, I muse, I always feel like a convicted felon, a mental incompetent, a drug dealer, or someone ill with Ebola virus every time I come to cross the border?

The guard scrutinizes my passport and knits his brow. “Where do you live?”

“Orangeville, Ontario—you know, just over the br . . .”

“Where were you born?”

“Edmonton, Alberta.” He fixes me with a penetrating stare. “one of our prairie provinces, ha, ha, . . . lots of oil there . . . way north in the tar s . . . ‘

“What are you bringing in to the country?”

“Oh, just my clothes and shoes, and you know, ha ha, undies, toiletries.”


“Well, that would be shampoo and face cream, sun tan lotion, tooth . . .”

“Any cigarettes or alcohol?”
“Oh, no.” I clear my throat, trying to suppress the warble in my voice.

“Where are you going?”

“Lake Cassadaga.”


 “Holiday, just a little getaway . . . three days.”

“Which means you’ll be returning on . . .”

“The seventeenth.”

He enters something on the computer then, unfolds out of his booth like a preying mantis, his right hand resting on his holster. Crouching, he slowly scans with trained eyes, the interior of my car then turns his scrutinizing gaze on me.  “Why are you alone?”


“Why are you alone?”

I stare up at him, confused. What kind of question is this? My feverish mind serves up the following: Well, I was married, you know, back in 1995, and it lasted for 16 years but the jerk cheated on me with the cute little fitness freak in his office he called his executive assistant, and after that, with the Skip on his curling team, a woman with lips full of Botox, and breasts full of silicone, and then with his massage therapist, a man, after which he decided he was gay. I wasn’t the one who broke up the marriage. Not me. He’s the reason I’m alone. I’ve tried, mind you, to find another man.  Nobody likes me.  I’m a sad broken down old discarded woman.  I’m depressed and seeing a therapist, but we haven’t succeeded in routing out my loser complex.  God, the agony of it all. But I can’t tell you how much better I feel after sharing this, with you.

“Well?” he demands.

“Do you mean, why am I travelling alone?”

“I haven’t got all day lady.” He stands up again, hands on hips.

“I—I don’t have a partner.” I blush and wheeze and stumble over my words.

“You don’t have friends either, I suppose?” he barks.

“I’m, I’m visiting friends.” I stutter, and grin stupidly.

“Where do they live?”

“They live on, ah, Lake Avenue. Can’t remember the number—wait a minute.” I dump my purse on to the conspicuously empty passenger seat, to find the note on which I’ve written the information. “Here it is, 765 Lake Avenue. Ha, ha. It’s right on the lake there—lovely spot.”



“Their name!” His saliva strafes the side of my car.

“Oh, ha, ha, Hobson, Damien and Ethel Hobson.”

He goes back into the booth and enters something on his computer. More sweat courses down the sides of my face, and back.

“Where did you meet them?”

“In Chautauqua, last time I was here.”

“When was that?”

“August um, last year, I think…”

He’s busy on the computer again. My heart is pumping double time.
“Where do you work?” He steps out of the booth.

“Peel District School board.  I’m a teacher.”

“Huh!” he grunts, pulling himself up to his full height.
I shrink down into my seat. Oh God, he hates teachers.

“It’s Tuesday,” he proclaims, one hand on his hip, the other poking the air with the index finger.  “Why aren’t you in school?”

I pause. My mouth drops open. Is he serious? “It’s July,” I say struggling to keep a straight face.

He retracts the darting hand, and clamps his arms across his chest, clenching his teeth and squeezing his lips together into a thin white line. I hold my breath. He stands there, probing me with his accusatory eyes for what seems like an eternity, waiting, I think, for one glimmer of mirth to escape from me, which miraculously never comes. Finally, he simply nods, and waves me through.

As I drive up onto 90 South, my tightly corked laughter erupts in waves of hysterical giggles. I’ve survived the ordeal of guilty till proven innocent and even though I almost fumbled the ball, I’m free now, suspicious-lonely-single-alleged-hooky playing-teacher notwithstanding, to enjoy the company of my friends in the great United States of America.

This story won third prize in the adult short story division in the Caledon Public Library’s contest “Click, Create, Celebrate” in 2015

Posted on behalf of Judy Zarowny

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Photo Prompt - February 7, 2016 - Mary Patricia Bird

This was the photo I chose for our prompt this week. We were to write a letter to or from one of the people in the photo.

Hi Ash,

How are you? I miss you so much. I'm still totally pissed at my parents for moving across the country and enrolling me in the stupid private school. I hate it. I haven't made any friends there. When I wait at the bus stop every morning I am the only kid wearing this damn uniform. No one else in our neighbourhood goes to St. Bart's. So I haven't made friends there either.

Remember when we used to walk to school together? We'd always be following those boys from the higher grades, ogling over them. Especially that Terry Watsworth guy. Do you still see him? I know he was supposed to graduate, but did he? Did he stay in town? You know, I keep looking around hoping I'll see him here. The university here is a good one. He could be here. I know, wishful thinking on my part.

The boys here are stupid, and ugly and don't talk to me, don't even look at me.

Dang, Ash. I had so much fun with you and the old gang back home. But moving here? A new life, my mom said. A new start, new friends. Well that's bullshit. I want to be back in Redwood. I'm saving my allowance and as soon as I have enough money I'll come out to see you. Maybe I'll even stay. Would your parents mind if I moved in?

Private school is okay in that we're all wearing the same damn thing, the teachers are nice but it's kinda hard to stand out in a crowd, know what I mean? It's like I'm invisible. I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE!

We'll work something out. Give Adam a hug for me.

Write back soon.

Your BFF Sienna.

HWG Meeting February 7, 2016

Last week we were given homework to do as we had no time left to write. We were to write an opening to a story, something that would grab the reader. Almost everyone brought something to read because of this. Perhaps we should be given homework every week.

Marilyn has three clients who are recently published. All three books are available on Amazon.

As per last week's homework, Jayne submitted the following opening:

Northbend, by Jayne Self

Some secrets lose their power when shared. Others destroy and are better left hidden. Mine was a secret I should have shared. But when I first met Cooper Sullivan it seemed too personal to tell, and then, when it came to matter, it was too late.

Dust mushroomed behind the pick-up, spreading over the old orchard like a desert sandstorm. It had been an unusually hot summer - weren't all summers unusual these days? - and the earth was talcum dry. August sun beat through the cab windows, and despite the air conditioning, Cooper's t-shirt clung to his chest. I didn't care. At the moment I was too focused on what lay ahead to enjoy the sight. Not the normal attitude of a newlywed, I admit, but this was an extraordinary day.

Jayne also shared what she thought was an intriguing opening to Midnight in the Garden of Good by John Berendt, a 1900's nonfiction.

He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features:  a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning silver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine - he could see out, but you couldn't see in.

As leader this week, Jayne handed out some pictures to choose from for prompts. We were told to write a letter to the person in the photo or from the person in the photo. Hopefully some of our members will post their prompts.

Diane is leading our next meeting. Our homework is to come up with a murder mystery idea.

Next Meeting is Sunday, February 21st, 1:30pm