June 2023 Update

Hi Folks,

An update is way overdue, but I would first like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who provided support throughout the process which culminated in my first published book.

Whether through encouragement, critique, book reviews or friendly advice, this has been a definitive collaborative effort. I have certainly been inspired to continue this incredible journey as an author.  With that said, here is a glimpse into what I have been considering for my next literary ventures.

In truth, I find myself at a point of decision as I attempt to focus on my next course of action. I happen to have two manuscripts already underway.  One is historical fiction, while the other is general fiction.

One takes place between 30 B.C. and 30 A.D. in and around Roman-occupied Jerusalem and deals with the consequences of life choices made when oppression was a common everyday occurrence and violent death was a societal undercurrent for an oppressed people group. There will be assassins, corrupt religious leaders, Roman soldiers and unexpected opportunities for redemption.

The other is a current, modern day adventure, highlighting seemingly random encounters in the life of the protagonist. These will invoke a few life altering decisions for the main character, complemented by high risk escapades in the Canadian mountains of British Columbia, South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Both manuscripts deal with the condition, intent and ultimate capacity for hearts to endure sacrifice and to find love and acceptance.

These are still very early in the conceptual stage, but I am looking forward to sharing elements with you as the themes and characters get fleshed out. So to that end, allow me to share with you a sample draft excerpt from each. Note: these are working titles only, and content, structure and tone are very likely to change.

Two manuscripts at the same time! (Sigh) Now, all I have to do is figure why I do this to myself. 🤔😏

Historical Fiction - The Crimson Veil

Centurion - Outside Jerusalem 15 A.D.

He stood a short distance from the cross where a young man hung dying. He did not know his name, but knew that he had been found guilty of treason and therefore was summarily sentenced to death. It was all too easy to be charged with treason in Roman occupied territory. Ridiculously easy; and Judea was no less so than in Rome itself.

As First Javelin Designate, Darius Vitus Tacitus was the Chief Centurion under the banner of Caesar Agustus’ 1st Imperial Calvary; arguably the most battle hardened Legion in all of the Roman Empire. Initially Darius thought the deployment of an entire compliment of 6000 seasoned troops to this backwoods piece of land was overkill; but time spent here had proven otherwise. Almost three years ago, he had received orders from Rome to march from Caesarea, their original headquarters on the Mediterranean coast, to Judea; ostensibly to maintain law and order, due to rampant insurrections within the Judean borders. 

The additional responsibility for carrying out the decrees of punishment for convicted criminals also rested with his detachment. It was unpleasant business; not that he was in any way squeamish. He had risen through the ranks of the Legionnaires as a lowly foot soldier, surviving countless brutal and bloody campaigns on diverse fronts to get to his current position as an Imperial Roman Officer. No, the distaste he felt was borne out of the fact that he was trained as a warrior. His skills were wasted as an executioner. Where was the honour in that? He had lost count a long time ago of how many crucifixions he had overseen. Since being assigned to the Garrison at Jerusalem these past three years, Pontius Pilate had kept them busy by greasing his unchecked lust for power and dominance with the blood of these people.

He had just given permission for the convicted man’s family, consisting of an older woman, and one young man, to stand close by for his last moments. He looked up at the man on the cross, and if he was being honest with himself, admitted the convict was more a boy than a man. Darius felt a mixture of sorrow, and no small amount of anger at the loss of another wasted young life. For the life of him, he could not see how he could make a lasting difference in this wretched land. A land whose people, against all reason, he had grudgingly begun to love. 

As he gazed up at the dying boy, Darius came to a decision. Later in retrospect, he would likely consider his action rash, but watching the grieving family members suffering while a loved one died in such a horrible manner before them, prompted him to act. He walked over to the man and woman, gesturing for them to follow him a few paces beyond the hearing of his guards stationed around the cross.

They followed him tentatively; misery etched on their faces, compounded by the constant undercurrent of fear most of the local population had for the occupying Romans. He easily read the questioning suspicion on their faces as he turned to face them.

“I know you will not like what I am about to say,” Darius said bluntly, deciding it was best to get straight to the point before changing his mind. “But I feel compelled to at least offer an option to you. The boy may die shortly, or linger for hours. I know it will soon be the start of your people’s Sabbath, but I would rather not order his legs broken to hasten his death. You do not want to witness what he will go through if it comes to that.” He paused, and continued in a softer tone. “If you wish, I can offer him a quick end to his suffering, but I would prefer you not be a witness to that either.”

Their haunted expressions spoke volumes and he did not think their faces could become any more stricken. He looked up and noticed his men furtively watching him from where they stood. Why am I doing this? This may not have been one of my better ideas. 

“You are a Roman soldier,” responded the old woman with tears streaming down her face. “What prompted you to suggest such a thing to us? What profit is there in this for you?”

Darius blinked in surprise at the old woman’s quiet directness. Truthfully, he was not altogether sure himself what moved him to make such an offer. He had seen numerous scenarios of families watching loved ones being executed. Looking into her face, he uncharacteristically felt only heightened respect for her; even more unexpectedly, he thought he felt the same from her in return; albeit in a limited fashion. He glanced at the younger man beside her; who although obviously nervous, summoned enough fire in his eyes to radiate hatred at him. Despite the circumstances, Darius appreciated the man’s courage. He had known very few with the fortitude to attempt to stare down a Roman Centurion. Looking back at the old woman, he saw no such acrimony in her expression; just unbearable heartache.

“I am a soldier, yes, but my offer was not for any ulterior gain, although I understand why you would feel that way. I have no way of proving this to you, and in as much as I am able to, my goal was to lessen the boy's suffering and in doing so, hopefully offer some semblance of the same for yourselves.”

The old woman’s eye’s grew wide at this last remark. The younger man momentarily exchanged a look with her; his body posture still emanating suspicion. 

Darius, was not only a veteran of military campaigns; he had also been forced to become adept at navigating the tortuous roads of political intrigues and nuances that went along with his position as a high ranking Roman officer. He had caught the brief look between them, and recognized unspoken communication when he saw it. The countenance of the woman subtly changed and in spite of the tears, her eyes took on an even more intense shine.

“Are you of the Way?” she asked simply.

The Way? “I am afraid I am not familiar with that term.” Darius replied with a puzzled expression.

The old woman looked searchingly at the Centurion’s face for few moments longer. Darius was about to ask her to explain what she meant, when one of his sub-lieutenants started walking toward them. He turned to face the approaching soldier and immediately surmised the reason why. He looked beyond the soldier to the boy on the cross and noted that he was now too weak and in too much pain to push up on his nailed feet to facilitate breathing properly. It will not be long now.

Part of him was relieved that he did not have to carry out what he had offered the family. Dying by crucifixion is as much about suffocation as it was about pain, blood loss and trauma. Surely his method would have spared the boy the lingering, excruciating pain. He was not particularly proud of the fact that Rome had always been creative in the production and implementation of instruments of torture and death. He wondered if things would be so different if soldiers made the rules instead of politicians.

He heard the woman’s sharp intake of breath behind him and turned to see the young man supporting her. She had collapsed into his arms when she caught sight of the boy’s condition on the cross. There was not really anything left for him to say, so he turned to the soldier who had by now stopped in front of him with salute.

“Commander, the criminal should be expiring soon,” reported the soldier in a clipped tone.

Knowing that the boy’s family could hear him clearly, the sub-lieutenant demonstrated no hint of remorse in his voice. Darius shook his head slightly.

The old woman behind him began to sob uncontrollably. Darius turned again and glanced at the duo in time to see the eyes of the young man lock onto his with a slightly puzzled look, but still projecting wariness.  He turned back to the soldier and said to him,

“Prepare your men and ensure he is dead before you take him down; but whatever you do, do not break his legs!”.

The soldier seemed surprised at this last remark. “But… ?” the soldier began with uncertainty.

“That is an order sub-lieutenant! I am not accustomed to repeating myself. When you take the body down, handle it with respect when you hand it over to the family. Is that understood?”

“Yes Commander!” responded the soldier standing rigidly at attention.

“Good! I am leaving you in charge of the take down and clean up. You and your men report back to me at the Garrison when you are finished.” I have had enough senseless bloodletting for one day.

Darius turned, not waiting for a response, confident his orders would be carried out to the letter. He started in the direction of his tethered horse when he heard a faint, hoarse whisper from the old woman;


That momentarily brought him up short in mid-stride, but he did not turn towards her. He continued walking again, thinking about the twenty years of slogging through foreign fields of battle which he had survived through hard training, cunning and no small measure of good fortune. In all that time he had never been as unsure of himself as now.

What was it about this accursed place that pulls a man inside out? What makes this patch of arid land so different? I am hated for who and what I am. By Diana, I probably would hate me as well if I were a subjugated people. Yet I am falling in love with this hellish place and Caesar help me, I am starting to care for the people as well! What in damnation is going on?

He reached his horse, grabbed the reins and climbed into the saddle and took one last look at the scene before him. The man and woman were now at the foot of the cross and his sub-lieutenant and another soldier were already up on ladders leaning against the cross, preparing to remove the retraining ropes and the nails from the boys hands and feet. By normal standards the boy had passed on quickly. It had been just over four hours. These things sometimes took too long for his taste.

I hope you found peace with whoever your God is lad. Peace seems to be in short supply for those of us that remain alive in this desolate place.

Darius looked away and let his horse have the reins. His horse, also intimately familiar with blood and death through war, seemed just as eager to leave this place behind.


Through hooded eyes the young man watched the Centurion ride away from Golgotha. Skull Mountain. The name spoke volumes, not only about this particular location but the current times. He looked at his sobbing aunt as he held her close to him, somewhat at a loss on how best to comfort her. She had just witnessed the execution of her only son, Benjamin. He looked up and watched the soldiers take down the body of his cousin. The boy had died one year to the day of his Bar Mitzpa, all because he chose not to accede to the Judean Governor’s warning about speaking out against Rome and its occupying force. Pontius Pilate held no lost love for the people of the region.

He looked back at the receding form of the Centurion in the distance and again wondered why the soldier had talked to them the way he had. In all his life and experience with the hated Romans, he had never received an iota of compassion from any of them. While he was sorry to see his cousin die, he was not entirely surprised. They called it treason. 

Eyeing the soldiers by the cross, he noted they were indeed respectful in handing the body of his cousin. Tovi again wondered about the Centurion who gave the soldiers the command to be respectful. Why would he do such a thing? And they obeyed….even in his absence? That demonstrated deference to true authority. This was an enemy he had to be careful around.

General Fiction - Sky Silk

High Noon - Ketchikan Alaska - Present Day

From ten thousand feet above the coastal waters of Ketchikan’s Inside Passage, he scanned the surface. He had been tracking movement along the western edge of the island he currently flew over. An island that would be referred to as Pennock Island in the future. He neither knew about its current name, nor did he care about its future one.

He had been airborne since dawn broke over two hours ago. He was following his usual search pattern when the wind shifted slightly, forcing him to track 15 degrees to the right. As he turned on to a northeasterly heading, he saw his target move under the canopy of Douglas Firs that blanketed the island. He initiated a rapid descent on an intercept trajectory that would bring him just above tree top level, but parallel to the target’s projected path. As he levelled off at 20 feet above the trees, he slowed his speed to 80 mph.

That’s when he heard them. Sounds he recalled hearing several times in the past. He only ever heard them when travelling low to the surface. They were pounding, deep, incessant beats. From past experience, he knew they interrupted his internal navigational sensors, so he automatically switched to visual tracking. Strangely enough, the beats were getting louder. Even more perplexing, the ground seemed to be rushing up to meet him. As he tried desperately to regain altitude, his vision suddenly went black!

The pounding beats continued. And then voices were heard. Voices? I opened my eyes and bolted upright, breathing hard! Looking around frantically on the edge of panic, experiencing an uncomfortable mixture of vertigo and disorientation. I slowly recognized the hotel room I had checked into after my flight in from Stewart yesterday. I shook my head and knew immediately that was a mistake. It was an ill-conceived,  attempt to clear the last vestiges of what had to be the weirdest dream I have ever had the displeasure of bouncing around in my sub-conscious. 

I realized I was now paying for last night’s grand adventure. My original plan for two beers and one shot of Baileys with dinner, had somehow transmuted into one pitcher of beer, three (4-finger) Baileys and one Sex on The Beach…the beverage….and not necessarily in that order. For the life of me, I cannot recall if I ever did get to that lobster and crab dinner.

My foggy thoughts were interrupted by the continued pounding that initially woke me up. It sounded as if someone was trying to break down my room door. I glanced at the clock on the bedside table and saw that it was precisely 12 noon.

“Alright, alright! Hang on a sec…I am coming!”

I shuffled out of bed and walked towards the door. I looked through the peep hole and came instantly awake. All thoughts of being a high-altitude avian hunter of food vanished, as I recognized the spectre on the other side of the door. It was one of the “pilots” that had flown back with me on yesterday's alternate reality flight.

Great. Now what? I unlocked the door and slowly opened the door. There was no expression on his face as he held out a brown manila envelope. I looked at it, then at him; then back down at the envelope, then up at him again. To anyone passing by, it must have looked as if I were nodding like a chicken.

“What’s this?” I asked, nervously remembering what happened the last time I asked what (I thought) was a simple question; which was less than 24 hours ago in fact. He spoke just three words:

“Don’t be late!”

Against my better judgment, I reached out and took the envelope. Immediately he turned and walked down the corridor without so much as a by your leave. I watched with a dumb, slack-jawed expression on my face as he entered the elevator at the end of the hall. He then turned to face my direction. Just as the elevator doors began to close, I swore I saw his eyes begin to glow and the beginnings of what looked like a smirk crease his stone face.

I closed the door and walked back into the room wishing I was anywhere else but here. I berated myself for not catching a flight to Vancouver yesterday, but remembered there were none available to Canada from Ketchikan until today. That thought made me pause and I wondered if these people, whoever they were, had the capacity to manipulate the scheduled commercial flight system. I looked at the envelope in my hand as if it had grown two heads with sharp teeth. With curiosity warring with trepidation, and by a sheer act of will, I placed it on the kitchenette table unopened. I needed to grab a shower and really clear my head.

I was about to step into the shower when the phone beside the bed rang. I walked back into the room and picked up the phone.

“Hello?” I answered, unconsciously holding my breath.

“Wayne, did you get it?” The voice on the other end said without preamble. Wait a sec…I know that voice!

“Jeff? Is that you? What on earth is going on?” I demanded, literally shouting into the phone.

Jeff was technically my boss. Well, more of a manager;  like singers or actors have managers. The only thing was my compensation package did not have as many zeroes attached to it when compared to people like Rihanna or Johnny Depp. I had contracted him to get me ferrying gigs. Some international, most domestic. Somehow, he had managed to wrangle himself an office inside of the UPS hangar located in the northeast corner of the Vancouver’s Sea Island property at CYVR; Vancouver's International airport. The fact the UPS hangar was right by the threshold of RWY 26R also allowed for some distinct advantages. To this day I am yet to discover how he managed to not only score private office space inside the UPS sorting facility, but hangar space as well for the different types of aircraft he seemed to find for delivery.

“Will you calm down for a…?”

I cut him off.

“Calm Down? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!! Are you trying to tell me you knew all about this spooky hocus-pocus crap with the Men in Black and Atilla’s Mistress all along? Nurse my Ass!” I shot back.

“Will you shut up and give me a chance to explain?” he shouted back. “I only knew a part of what was happening until just this morning. Meet me in the hotel restaurant in a couple hours.”

Wait a minute. Something didn’t feel right here.

“Where exactly are you Jeff?” I asked, that familiar sense of foreboding rising again. “Aren’t you in Vancouver?”

“Actually, I am about ninety minutes out from Ketchikan. I am bringing in a Juneyao Airlines Airbus which needs to be ferried to Shanghai. Their flight crew should be arriving tomorrow to pick it up. I will explain everything in person when I get to the hotel. Gotta go; ATC is yapping at me. See you soon.”

The connection terminated. Wrapped only in a towel, I stared stupidly at the phone for a good minute, all the time wondering if I was being filmed by hidden cameras for some Pranked Reality TV show.

After finally finishing my shower and rummaging for some clean clothes, I felt more myself. It was now getting close to 1:00pm and Jeff was scheduled to arrive in short order. I was starting to feel hungry and decided to go downstairs and grab something to eat while I waited for him. Glancing at the still hot-to-the-touch envelope on the table, my agitation spiked once again. Feeling frustrated, I picked up the envelope, collected my jacket and left the room.

The restaurant was located on the second floor of Ketchikans's Best Western Landing Hotel. It not only offered a clear view of the waterfront docks, but also  Ketchikan's International Airport, which could be seen on the opposite side of the channel. A short ferry ride connected the airport to the town. Thankfully the restaurant's dining room was not too busy and I was able to choose a table by a window. This afforded me a view of the ferry terminal, as well as the entrance to the dining room. Maybe I was being paranoid, but the last 24 hours had been in a word, weird. I now felt the need to establish sight lines within my vicinity. I wanted to be able to see what, or who was coming; even if only peripherally. I still had no idea what was going on and I could not possibly imagine how or why Jeff and I were mixed up in all of this. Whatever this was.

The waiter came by, filled a glass on the table with cold water and offered coffee, which I gladly accepted. I then ordered their seafood lunch special. As he turned to go, I glanced out the window and noticed a Juneyao Airlines Airbus 320 on short final to RWY29. That would be Jeff arriving. As I watched the plane land, I had a vague sensation of a presence close by. I turned expecting to see the waiter. Instead, standing right beside me was the nurse from yesterday's flight.

Before my brain could fully process what my eyes were seeing, she smiled and asked,

"May I join you?"